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Concerning the beginning of the World, that the time thereof

is not precisely known, as commonly it is presumed.

CONCERNING the world and its temporal circumscriptions, whoever shall strictly examine both extremes, will easily perceive, there is not only obscurity in its end, but its beginning; that as its period is inscrutable, so is its nativity indeterminable; that as it is presumption to enquire after the one, so is there no rest or satisfactory decision in the other. And hereunto we shall more readily assent, if we examine the information, and take a view of the several difficulties in this point ; which we shall more easily do, if we consider the different conceits of men, and duly perpend the imperfections of their discoveries.

And first, the histories of the Gentiles afford us slender satisfaction, nor can they relate any story, or affix a probable point to its beginning. For some thereof (and those of the wisest amongst them) are so far from determining its beginning, that they opinion and maintain it never had any at all; as the doctrine of Epicurus implieth, and more positively

'ils beginning.) The beginning of the world.

Aristotle, in his books De Cælo, declareth. Endeavouring to confirm it with arguments of reason, and those-appearingly demonstrative; wherein his labours are rational, and uncontrolable upon the grounds assumed, that is, of physical generation, and a primary or first matter, beyond which no other hand was apprehended. But herein we remain sufficiently satisfied from Moses, and the doctrine delivered of the creation; that is, a production of all things out of nothing, a formation not only of matter, but of form, and a materiation even of matter itself.

Others are so far from defining the original of the world or of mankind, that they have held opinions not only repugnant unto chronology, but philosophy; that is, that they had their beginning in the soil where they inhabited ; assuming or receiving appellations conformable unto such conceits. So did the Athenians term themselves avr6mSoves or Aborigines, and in testimony thereof did wear a golden insect on their heads: the same name is also given unto the Inlanders, or Midland inhabitants of this island, by Cæsar. But this a conceit answerable unto the generation of the giants; not admittable in philosophy, much less in divinity, which distinctly informeth we are all the seed of Adam, that the whole world perished, unto eight persons before the flood, and was after peopled by the colonies of the sons of Noah. There was therefore never any autochthon, or man arising from the earth, but Adam ; for the woman being formed out of the rib, was once removed from earth, and framed from that element under incarnation. And so although her production were not by copulation, yet was it in a manner seminal : for if in every part from whence the seed doth flow, there be contained the idea of the whole; there was a seminality and contracted Adam in the rib, which, by the information of a soul, was individuated unto Eve. And therefore this conceit applied unto the original of man, and the beginning of the world, is more justly appropriable unto its end; for then in

? autochthon,] Autochthon, [rising by God. The second Adam might bee himselfe from the earthe] which was not trulyer called Autochthon, in a mystical to bee granted of the first; who did not sense, not only in respect of his birthe, spring (as plants now doe) of himselfe. but of his resurrection alsoc.-Wr. For Adam was created out of the dust

deed men shall rise out of the earth : the graves shall shoot up their concealed seeds, and in that great autumn, men shall spring up, and awake from their chaos again.

Others have been so blind in deducing the original of things, or delivering their own beginnings, that when it hath fallen into controversy, they have not recurred unto chronology or the records of time; but betaken themselves unto probabilities, and the conjecturalities of philosophy.* Thus when the two ancient nations, Egyptians and Scythians, contended for antiquity, the Egyptians pleaded their antiquity from the fertility of their soil, inferring that men there first inhabited, where they were with most facility sustained; and such a land did they conceive was Egypt.

The Scythians, although a cold and heavier nation, urged more acutely, deducing their arguments from the two active elements and principles of all things, fire and water. For if of all things there was first an union, and that fire over-ruled the rest, surely that part of earth which was coldest would first get free, and afford a place of habitation: but if all the earth were first involved in water, those parts would surely first appear, which were most high, and of most elevated situation, and such was theirs. These reasons carried indeed the antiquity from the Egyptians, but confirmed it not in the Scythians: for, as Herodotus relateth, from Pargitaus their first king unto Darius, they accounted but two thousand years.

As for the Egyptians, they invented another way of trial; for as the same author relateth, Psammitichus their king attempted this decision by a new and unknown experiment; bringing up two infants with goats, and where they never heard the voice of man; concluding that to be the ancientest nation, whose language they should first deliver.3 But herein he forgot, that speech was by instruction not instinct, by imitation, not by nature; that men do speak in some kind

* Diodor. Justin.

: As for the Egyptians, &c.] “It is the Phrygian language signifyeth 'bread,' said that after they were two years old, whence it was conjectured that the Phryone of the boys cried becchus, which in gians were the first people.”Jeff.

but like parrots, and as they are instructed, that is, in simple terms and words, expressing the open notions of things; which the second act of reason compoundeth into propositions, and the last into syllogisms and forms of ratiocination. And howsoever the account of Manethon the Egyptian priest run very high, and it be evident that Mizraim peopled that country, (whose name with the Hebrews it beareth unto this day,) and there be many things of great antiquity related in Holy Scripture, yet was their exact account not very ancient; for Ptolemy their countryman beginneth his astronomical compute no higher than Nabonasser, who is conceived by some the same with Salmanasser, As for the argument deduced from the fertility of the soil, duly enquired it rather overthroweth than promoteth their antiquity; if that country whose fertility they so advance, was in ancient times no firm or open land, but some vast lake or part of the sea, and became a gained ground by the mud and limous matter brought down by the river Nilus, which settled by degrees into a firm land,--according as is expressed by Strabo, and more at large by Herodotus, both from the Egyptian tradition and probable inducements from reason; called therefore fluvii donum, an accession of earth, or tract of land acquired by the river.

Lastly, some indeed there are, who have kept records of time, and a considerable duration, yet do the exactest thereof afford no satisfaction concerning the beginning of the world, or any way point out the time of its creation. The most authentick records and best approved antiquity are those of the Chaldeans; yet in the time of Alexander the Great they attained not so high as the flood. For as Simplicius relateth, Aristotle required of Calisthenes, who accompanied that worthy in his expedition, that at his arrival at Babylon, he would enquire of the antiquity of their records; and those upon compute he found to amount unto 1903

years, which account notwithstanding ariseth no higher than ninety-five years after the flood. The Arcadians, I confess, were esteemed of great antiquity, and it was usually said they were before the moon; according unto that of Seneca; sidus post veteres Arcades editum, and that of Ovid, lunâ gens

prior illa fuit. But this, as Censorinus observeth, must not be taken grossly, as though they were existent before that luminary; but were so esteemed, because they observed a set course of year, before the Greeks conformed their year unto the course and motion of the moon.

Thus the heathens affording no satisfaction herein, they are most likely to manifest this truth, who have been acquainted with Holy Scripture, and the sacred chronology delivered by Moses, who distinctly sets down this account, computing by certain intervals, by memorable æras, epochs or terms of time: as, from the creation unto the flood, from hence unto Abraham, from Abraham unto the departure from Egypt, &c. Now in this number have only been Samaritans, Jews, and Christians.

For the Jews; they agree not in their accounts, as Bodine in his method of history hath observed, out of Baal Seder, Rabbi Nassom, Gersom, and others; in whose compute the age of the world is not yet 5400 years. The same is more evidently observable from two most learned Jews, Philo and Josephus; who very much differ in the accounts of time, and variously sum up these intervals assented unto by all. Thus Philo, from the departure out of Egypt unto the building of the temple, accounts but 920 years; but Josephus sets down 1062: Philo, from the building of the temple, to its destruction, 410; Josephus, 470: Philo, from the creation to the destruction of the temple, 3373; but Josephus, 3513: Philo, from the deluge to the destruction of the temple, 1718: but Josephus, 1913. In which computes there are manifest disparities, and such as much divide the concordance and harmony of times.

For the Samaritans; their account is different from these or any others; for they account from the creation to the deluge but 1302 years; which cometh to pass upon the different account of the ages of the Patriarchs set down when they begat children. For whereas the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin texts account Jared 162 when he begat Enoch, they account but sixty-two; and so in others. Now the Samaritans were no incompetent judges of times and the chronology thereof; for they embrace the five books of

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