Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing of such ancient transa£tions hath not only been neglected by the other states of Greece, but even among the Athenians themselves also, who pretend to be aborigines, and to have applied themselves to learning, there are no such recordsextant; nay, they say themselves, that the laws of Draco concerning murders, which are now extant in writing, are the most an. cient of their public records ; which Draco yet lived but a little before the tyrant Pififtratus.* For as to the Arcadians, who make such boasts of their antiquity, what need I speak of them in particular, fince it was still later before they got their letters, and learned them, and that with difficulty allo?

5. There must therefore naturally arile great differences a. mong writers, when they had no original records to lay for their foundation, which might at once inform thole who had an inclination to learn, and contradi&t those that would tell lies. However, we are to suppose a fecond occasion besides the former of these contradictions ; it is this : That those who were the most zealous to write history were not solicitous for the discovery of truth,+ although it was very easy for them always to make such a profeflion ; but their business was to demonstrate that they could write well, and make an impref. fion upon mankind thereby ; and in what manner of writing they thought they were able to exceed others, to that did they apply themselves. Some of them betook themselves to the writing of fabulous narrations; some of them endeavoured to pleate the cities or their kings, by writing in their commendation ; others of them fell to finding faults with transac. tions or with the writers of such transactions, and thought to make a great figure by lo doing. And indeed these do what is of all things the most contrary to true history ; for it is the great character of true history, that all concerned therein both speak and write the same things ; while thele men, by writing dit. ferently about the same things, think they fall be believed to write with the greatest regard to truth. We therefore who are Jews muft yield to the Grecian writers as to language

* About the days of Cyrus and Daniel. + It is here well worth our observation, what the reasons are that such ancient authors as Herodotus, Josephus and others, have been read to so little purpose by many learned critics ; viz. that their main aim has not been chonology or hiftory, but philology, to know words, and not things, they not much entering oftentimes into the real contents of their authors, and judging which were the most accurate discoverers of truth, and most to be depended on in their several histories, but nther inquiring who wrote the fineft Ayle, and had the greatelt elegance in their expressions ; which are things of small consequence in comparison of the other. Thus you will sometimes find great debates among the learned, whether Herodo. tus or Thucydides were the finest historians in the lonic and Attic ways of write ing; which fignify little, as to the real value of each of their histories; while it would te of much moment to let the reader know, that as the consequence of Herodotus's history, which begins so much earlier, and reaches so much wider than that of Thucydides, is therefore vastly greater ; fo is the most part of Thucydides, which belongs to his owa umes, and fell under his own oblervation, much the most certain,

and eloquence of composition; but then we shall give them no such preference as to the verity of ancient history, and least of all as to that part which concerns the affairs of our own feveral countries. : 6. As to the care of writing down the records from the earJiest antiquity among the Egyptians and Babylonians; that the priests were intrusted therewith, and employed a philosophical concern about it; that they were the Chaldean priests that did so among the Babylonians, and that the Phenicians, who were mingled among the Greeks, did especially make use of their letters, both for the common affairs of life, and for the delivering down the history of common transactions, I think I may omit any proot, because all men allow it so to be. But now as to our forefathers, that they took no less care about writing such records (for I will not say they took greater care than the others I spoke of) and that they committed that mat. ter to their high-priests and to their prophets, and that these records have been written all along down to our own times with che utiroft accuracy; nay, it it be not too bold for me to say it, our history will be so written hereafter, I shall endeavour briefly to inform you.

7. For our forefathers did not only appoint the best of these priests, and those that attended upon the divine worship, for that design from the beginning, but made provision that the stock of the priests should continue unmixed and pure ; for he who is partaker of the priesthood must propagate of a wife of the same nation, without having any regard to money, or any other dignities ; but he is to make a scrutiny, and take his wife's genealogy from the ancient tables,* and procure many witnefles to it. And this is our practice not only in Judea, but wheresoever any body of men of our nation do live ; arid even there an exact catalogue of our priest's marriages are kept; I mean at Egypt and Babylon, or in any other place of the rest of the habitable earth, whitherloever our priests are scattered; for they send to Jerusalein the ancient names of their parents in writing, as well as those of their remoter ancestors, and signify who are the witnesses allo. But if any war falls out, such as have fallen out a great many of them already, when Antiochus Epiphanes made an invasion upon our country, as also when Pompey the Great and Quintilius Va. rus did so also, and principally in the wars that have happen. ed in our own times; those priests that survive them compole new tables of genealogy out of the old records, and examine the circumftances of the women that remain ; for ftill they do not admit of those that have been captives, as suspecting that they had conversation with some foreigners. But what is the ing of such ancient transaétions hath not only been negle&ted by the other states of Greece, but even among the Athenians themselves also, who pretend to be aborigines, and to have ap. plied themselves to learning, there are no such recordsextant; nay, they say themselves, that the laws of Draco concerning murders, which are now extant in writing, are the most an. cient of their public records ; which Draco yet lived but a little before the tyrant Pisistratus.* For as to the Arcadians, who make such boasts of their antiquity, what need I speak of them in particular, fince it was still later betore they got their leiters, and learned them, and that with difficulty allo?

* Of this accuracy of the Jews before and in our Saviour's time, in carefully preserving their genealogies all along, particularly those of the priests, see Josephus's Life, $ a. Vol. II. Tinis accuracy seems to have ended at the destruction of Jerwa falem by Titus, or however at that by Adrian,

5. There must therefore naturally arile great differences a. mong writers, when they had no original records to lay for their foundation, which might at once inform thole who had an inchination to learn, and contradict those that would tell lies. However, we are to suppose a fecond occasion besides the former of these contradictions ; it is this : That those who were the most zealous to write history were not solicitous for the discovery of truth, t although it was very easy for them always to make such a profesion; but their business was to demonstrate that they could write well, and make an impref. fion upon mankind thereby ; and in what manner of writing they thought they were able to exceed others, to that did they apply themselves. Some of them betook themselves to the writing of fabulous narrations; some of them endeavoured to pleate the cities or their kings, by writing in their commendation ; others of them fell to finding faults with transactions or with the writers of such transactions, and thought to make a great figure by lo doing. And indeed these do what is of all things the most contrary to true history ; for it is the great character of true history, that all concerned therein both ípeak and write the same things ; while thele men, by writing dit. ferently about the same things, think they shall be believed to write with the greatest regard to truth. We therefore who are Jews muft yield to the Grecian writers as to language

• About the days of Cyrus and Daniel. + It is here well worth our observation, what the reasons are that such ancient authors as Herodotus, Josephus and others, have been read to so little purpole by many learned critics ; viz. that their main aim has not been chonology or hiftory, but philology, to know words, and not things, they not much entering often:imes into the real contents of their authors, and judging which were the most accurate discoverers of truth, and moit to be depended on in their several histories, but rither inquiring who wrote the finest style, and had the greatest elegance in their expressions ; which are things of small consequence in comparison of the other. Thus you will sometimes find great debates among the learned, whether Herodotus or Thucydides were the finest historians in the Ionic and Attic ways ut write ing; which fignify little, as to the real value of each of their historics; while it would te of much moment to let the reader know, that as the consequence of Hesodotus's history, which begins so much earlier, and reaches lo much wider than that of Thucydides, is therefore vastly greater ; so is the most part of Thucydides, which belongs to his own uimes, and fell under his own oblervation, much the most certain,

and eloquence of composition ; but then we shall give them no fuch preference as to the verity of ancient history, and least of all as to that part which concerns the affairs of our own feveral countries. . 6. As to the care of writing down the records from the earlieft antiquity among the Egyptians and Babylonians; that the prielts were intrusted therewith, and employed a philosophical concern about it ; that they were the Chaldean priests that did so among the Babylonians, and that the Phenicians, who were mingled among the Greeks, did especially make ule of their letters, both for the common affairs of life, and for the delivering down the history of common transactions, I think I may omit any proot, because all men allow it so to be. But now as to our forefathers, that they took no less care about writing such records (for I will not say they took greater care than the others I spoke of) and that they committed that matter to their high-priests and to their prophets, and that these records have been written all along down to our own times with the utiroft accuracy ; nay, it it be not too bold for me to say it, our history will be so written hereafter, I shall endeavour briefly to inform you.

7. For our forefathers did not only appoint the best of these priests, and those that attended upon the divine worship, for that design from the beginning, but made provision that the stock of the priests should continue unmixed and pure ; for he who is partaker of the priesthood must propagate of a wife of the same nation, without having any regard to money, or any other dignities ; but he is to make a scrutiny, and take his wife's genealogy from the ancient tables,* and procure many witnefles to it. And this is our practice not only in Judea, but wheresoever any body of men of our nation do live; and even there an exaćt catalogue of our priest's marriages are kept; I mean at Egypt and Babylon, or in any other place of the rest of the habitable earth, whitherloever our priests are scattered; for they send to Jerusalemn the ancient names of their parents in writing, as well as those of their remoter anceftors, and signify who are the witnesses allo. But if any war talls out, such as have fallen out a great many of them already, when Antiochus Epiphanes made an invasion upon our country, as also when Pompey the Great and Quintilius Varus did so also, and principally in the wars that have happened in our own times ; thole priests that survive them compole new tables of genealogy out of the old records, and examine the circumftances of the women that remain ; for ftill they do not admit of those that have been captives, as julpetting that they had conversation with foine foreigners. But what is the

* Of this accuracy of the Jews before, and in our Saviour's time, in carefully preserving their genealogies all along, particularly thole of the priests, see Jofephus's Life, . Vol. II. Tivis accuracy seems to have ended at the destruction of Jerufalem by Titus, or however at that by Adrian.

ing of such ancient transa£tions hath not only been negle&ed by the other states of Greece, but even among the Athenians themselves also, who pretend to be aborigines, and to have applied themselves to learning, there are no such recordsextant; nay, they say themselves, that the laws of Draco concerning murders, which are now extant in writing, are the most an. cient of their public records ; which Draco yet lived but a little before the tyrant Pififtratus.* For as to the Arcadians, who make such boasts of their antiquity, what need I speak of them in particular, fince it was still later before they got their letters, and learned them, and that with difficulty allo?

5. There must therefore naturally arise great differences a. mong writers, when they had no original records to lay for their foundation, which might at once inform thole who had an inclination to learn, and contradi&t those that would tell lies. However, we are to suppose a fecond occasion besides the former of these contradictions ; it is this : That those who were the most zealous to write history were not solicitous for the discovery of truth, t although it was very easy for them always to make such a profession ; but their business was to demonstrate that they could write well, and make an impref. fion upon mankind thereby ; and in what manner of writing they thought they were able to exceed others, to that did i hey apply themselves. Some of them betook themselves to the writing of fabulous narrations; some of them endeavoured to pleate the cities or their kings, by writing in their commendation ; others of them fell to finding faults with transac. tions or with the writers of such transactions, and thought to make a great figure by lo doing. And indeed these do what is of all things the most contrary to true history ; for it is the great character of true hiftory, that all concerned therein both Ipeak and write the same things ; 'while thele men, by writing dit. ferently about the same things, think they shall be believed to write with the greatest regard to truth. We therefore who are Jews must yield to the Grecian writers as to language

• About the days of Cyrus and Daniel. + It is here well worth our obfervation, what the reasons are that such ancient authors as Herodotus, Josephus and others, have been read to so little purpole by many learned critics ; viz. that their main aim has not been chonology or hiftory, but philology, to know words, and not things, they not much entering oftentimes into the real contents of their authors, and judging which were the most accurate discoverers of truth, and most to be depended on in their several histories, but ra. ther inquiring who wrote the finest style, and had the greateft elegance in their expressions ; which are things of small consequence in comparison of the other. Thus you will sometimes find great debates among the learned, whether Herodotus or Thucydides were the finest historians in the Tonic and Autic ways of write ing; which signify little, as to the real value of each of their historics; while it would te of much moment to let the reader know, that as the conlequence of He. rodotus's history, which begins so much earlier, and reaches so much wider than that of Thucydides, is therefore vastly greater ; lo is the most part of Thucydides, which belongs to his own umes, and fell under his own observation, much the most certain.

« PreviousContinue »