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tion of LETTERS: for which no good reason can be assigned but this, that they were applied to the same · purpose before. Now LETTERS were in use amongst them before the time of Moses.
2. Again, it is shewn that the ONIROCRITICs borrowed their art of deciphering dreams from hieroglyphic Symbols : but hieroglyphic Symbols were the mysterious vehicle of the civil science and of the Theology of the Egyptians. Now ONIROCRITIC or the art of interpreting of dreams was practised in the time of Joseph.
3. And again, It is shewn that ANIMAL-WORSHIP in Egypt arose from the mysterious use of the same hiero, glyphic Symbols. Now ANIMAL-WORSHIP was established amongst them before the time of Moses.
From all this, it appears, that EGYPT was of that high antiquity which Scripture and the best Greek Writers concur to represent it. By which, we come to understand what were the specific manners and superstitions of Egypt in the time of Moses; these being, as it now appears, identically the same with what the Greek Writers have delivered to us.
In the course of this proof from Reason, which opens at large the nature, origin, and various kinds of EgypTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS, I interweave (as the explanation of my subject necessarily required) a detailed history of the various modes of ancient communication amongst men, as well by real and literary characters, as by words and action; and shew how SPEECH and WRITING ran parallel in their progress; and influenced, and were influenced by, one another. On the same account, when I come to the origin of BrutE-WORSHIP, I give the history of the various modes of ancient Idolatry, in the order in which they rose, one out of another.
These things I have not only made to serve in support of the question I am here upon, but likewise in support of one question preceding, and of one which is to follow.
For in the bistory of the various modes of ancient communication was laid, as the Reader will find, the foundation of my discourses on the nature of ancient Prophecies in the sixth Book.
And, in the history of the various modes of ancient Idolatry, the Reader hath a necessary supplement to what had been said before on the same subject, in the latter end of the third book, against the Atheist's pretended origin of Religion.
So studious have I been to observe, what a great master of Reason lays down as the rule and test of good order in Composition, That every former part may give strength to all that follow; and every latter bring light unto ull before *
But the high antiquity of Egypt, though proved from Antiquity itself, seemed not to be enough secured, while the authority of one great modern remained entire, and his reasonings unanswered.
In the next place, therefore, I examine Sir ISAAC Newton's Chronology of the Egyptian Empire; a Chronology erected on the supposed identity of Osiris and Sesostris; which is a fancy that not only contradicts all sacred as well as profane antiquity, but, what is still more, the very nature of things.
In the course of this confutation, the causes of that endless confusion in the early Greek history and Jythology, are inquired into and explained : Which serves,
at the same time, to confirin and illustrate all that hath .. been occasionally said in the latter end of the third book,
and, here again, in this fourth, concerning--the origin. and progress of Idolatry---the genius of Pagan peligioutheo Gentile inodes of worship--and their Theological opinions.
Thus far concerning the high antiquity of Egypt. Which, besides the immediate purpose of leading us into the true idea of the Jewish Institution in general, hath tle se further uses : * Hooker.
We have seen, in the foregoing Volume, that EGYPT, as it was most famed for the arts of legislation, so it most of all inculcated the doctrine of a future state of Rewards and Punishments. Now, if Egypt were indeed of the high antiquity here assigned unto it, that doctrine must needs be of national belief, at the time the Hebrew's lived there in slavery. But then they having, as we find in Scripture, thoroughly imbibed the religious notions of the place, must needs be much prejudiced in favour of so reasonable and flattering a Doctrine: Consequently their Lawgiver, who likewise had been bred up in all the learning of Egypt, would, if he had acted only by human direction, have, in imitation of his Masters, taken advantage of this favourable prejudice to make the doctrine of a future state the grand Sanction of his Religion and Law.
Again, the proof of the high Antiquity of Egypt was necessary to vindicate sacred Scripture; which all along declares for that Antiquity; and which the Deist having endeavoured to take advantage of, in opposing Moses's pretence to inspiration, some imprudent BELIEVERS were grown not unwilling to explain away. Sir Isaac Newton's CHRONOLOGY afforded them the aid they wanted : And while it offered itself in support of the Bible-divinity, they seemed little attentive to the liberties it had taken with the Bible-history.
2. In order to bring on this Truth of the high antiquity of Egypt nearer to my purpose, I proceeded to the second Proposition, That the Jewish People were ertremely fond of Egyptian manners, and did frequently fall into Egyptian superstitions : and that many of the Laws given to them by the ministry of Moses were instituted partly in compliance to their prejudices, and partly in opposition to those superstitions. In the proof of the first part of this Proposition, I shew the high probability that the Law was instituted with reference to Egyptian manners; and through the proof of the sea
cond, is deduced a demonstration that it was actually so framed.
For a further illustration of this Argument, I give an historical account of the degeneracy of the Hebrew People, and of their amazing propensity to imitate the manners of Egypt, from the time that Moses was first sent upon his Mission, to their entire settlement in the land of Judea :Which fully shews (what will stand us in stead hereafter) that a People so perverse and headstrong needed, in the construction of their civil and religious Institutions, all possible curbs to disorder : Now of all such curbs, the doctrine of a future state was ever held the chief in ancient policy; and as this doctrine was so peculiarly Egyptian, they must needs have the most favourable prejudice towards it.
But then, as it might perhaps be objected, that while I am endeavouring to get this way into the interior of the Jewish Constitution, I open a back door to the ravages of Infidelity: it was thought necessary, in order to prevent the Deist's taking advantage of the great Truth contaiired in the preceding Proposition (which is the second), to guard it by the following (which is the third), viz. That Moses's Egyptian Learning, and the Laws instituted in compliance to the People's prejudices, are no reasonable objection to the divinity of his Mission. Where, in explaining the first part, which shews what this learning was, and how well it suited with Moses's Mission, I had occasion to inquire into the origin and use of the scirools OF THE PROPHETS: Which the Reader will find of this further use, viz. To give strength and support to whát is said in the sixth Book of the NATURE OF THE JEWISH PROPHECIES ; and particularly to what is there observed of Grotius's fatal error, in his mode of interpreting them.
And in explanation of the second part, having proved the Proposition, That to institute Laws in compliance to popular prejudices, is no reasonable objection to their divine original ; having proved this, I say, from the
nature of things; the Discourse proceeds to exansine all the Arguments which have been urged in support of the contrary opinion, by HERMAN WITSIus, in his learned Treatise intitled Ægyptiaca, that Book having been publicly recommended by Dr. IVaterland, for a distinct and solid confutation of Spencer's De Legibus Hebræorum ritualibus.
And the answer to Witsius's last argument bringing into question the intrinsic value of the ritual Law; the famous character of it given by the Prophet EZEKIEL, of statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live is explained in a large analysis of the whole Prophecy, against an old foolish notion revived by Dr.Shuckford, that these Statutes and Judgments, here said to be given by God, were the Pagan Idolatries; which, in defiance of God, they took without leave.
But I go yet further in support of the fourth Proposi, tion, and prove, that these very circumstances of Moses's Egyptian Learning, and the Laws instituted in compliance to the People's prejudices, are a strong confirmation of the divinity of his Mission.
1st, For, that one bred up in the arts of Egyptian Legislation could never, on his own head, have thought of reducing an unruly people to government, on maxims of Religion and Policy, fundamentally opposite to all the principles of Egyptian WisDOM, at that time the universal Model on which all the Legislators worked, in reducing a barbarous People to Society. Yet Moses went upon principles diametrically opposite to that WISDOM, when he enjoined the PUBLIC worship of the one true God only, and OMITTED the doctrine of a future state of Rewards and Punishments, in the institucion of his Law and Religion.
2dly, For, that One who falsely pretended to receive the whole frame of a national Constitution from God, would never have risked his pretensions by a ritual Law, which the people might see was politically insti