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general dealer, doing considerable busi- leaving this in doubt, they passed ness in a country district, was called on through the other items, when the cusby a customer who wished to pay his tomer, who was a carpenter, said, “ You bill. The characters and symbols con- have, I think, made one omission; for I stituting the account were called over ; recollect I had a grindstone of you, and amongst them the shopkeeper read, which you have not inentioned.” “ Ay,” “A cheese, 78. 6d.” The customer replied the seller, "a grindstone ! so it declared that this must be a mistake, as is a grindstone : look for yourself. What he had never bought a cheese in his life. I took to be a cheese is really a grindThe dealer contended that his bill was stone. My sight not being very good, I certainly correct; for there was the did not perceive the little hole in the account of the cheese, marked “78. 6d.” middle ; but you see it is a grindstone : After much talk and some uneasiness, it is all right.” (Page 56.)
Mr. Smith goes on to prove the existence of early literature from Scripture facts, profane records, and ancient tradition ; and then adds some valuable observations on the existence of science in the early ages, as illustrated by the history of astronomy. This is the stronghold of our author's argument, and the conclusion to which he conducts us is irresistible. If it can be shown that the science of astronomy was cultivated to any extent, and with any precision, in the ancient world, it will be undeniable that a considerahle amount of intellectual improvement must have obtained among its inhabitants; for, as our author justly remarks, “ this science could not have been cultivated without a knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, and other kindred branches of knowledge.” The researches of the celebrated French astronomer, M. Bailly, have cast a flood of light on this subject. The testimonies which he furnishes from Chinese and Hindoo records, clearly show that the principles of astronomy were understood, even beyond the limits of authentic history. We have only space to refer to one of these records,—the astronomical tables which were communicated by a learned Brahmin of Tirvalore (Trivalore) to M. le Gentil, known commonly as “the Tirvalore tables." These tables have been examined with much patience and ability by Bailly, who, says Dr. Robertson, “ with singular felicity of genius, has conjoined an uncommon degree of eloquence with the patient researches of an astronomer and the profound investigations of a geometrician.” The calculations of the French astronomer have been verified by Professor Playfair and Sir David Brewster, the latter of whom Mr. Smith quotes on the subject. “We are not,” says Sir David, "left to the guidance of facts contradictory or ill-authenticated, or of deceitful observations founded merely on conjecture. The astronomical tables of the Indians are in our own hands; and with evidence almost as irresistible as that which attends the principles of the science, we can trace the remoteness of their origin, and survey the advancement of the human mind in the earliest ages.”
The most complete refutation of the opinion which some philosophers have entertained, that the calculations of the Brahmins were carried backwards, is furnished by Mr. Smith :
This notion, however, can scarcely be scarcely possible they could have been entertained, when it is considered, “ that acquainted with the theory of gravitaall the elements, as assumed at the tion, and the refinements of modern epoch B.c. 3102, are nearly the same as analysis, at that time but just discovered if they had been determined by observa. in Europe. Yet we have only one of tion ;” and that the tables containing the two alternatives,-either to believe them were brought to Europe in A.D. that the Brahmins were in possession of 1687. If, therefore, the Brahmins of this knowledge, or that the epoch of B.C. that day had compiled them, tracing 3102 is real, and founded on observatheir way upwards to B.c. 3102, it is tions previously made. (Page 91.)
In closing his investigations into the chronology and learning of the ancient world, our author intimates that they had occupied more time than he anticipated ; "but,” he continues,
-their importance demanded that, if world. Although we are aware that the possible, we should place before the subject is not exhausted, that it might reader evidence sufficiently conclusive to with greater ease have been expanded enable him to decide with satisfactory into a volume than condensed into a and well-grounded confidence on the Preliminary Dissertation, we hope the chronology and learning of the ancient result will be satisfactory. (Page 97.)
Mr. Smith seems to have prepared his mind for a charge, which those who are bigoted in favour of the abbreviated chronology may be disposed to prefer against him,—that of tampering with revealed truth; and offers the following explanatory remarks, the truth of which, we can assure our readers, is fully borne out in the body of the work :
No one who will be at the trouble of falsely so called,” in its proud and insiperusing the entire work will charge us dious aggression on the truth of revela with any disposition to shrink from
tion. But this determination imposes upholding the authority of holy Scrip- on us the necessity of the utmost vigiture, however it may be impugned by lance fully to ascertain what is actually the professed wisdom of this world. revealed truth, lest, by vindicating error There is no part of our duty to which on the hallowed plea of inspiration, we we shall address ourselves with greater injure the cause we are so anxious to diligence and devotedness, than to the uphold, and truth be impaired in the resistance of the pretensions of “science, hands of its friends. (Pages 98, 99.)
Our author remarks in conclusion :
It is an important consideration, that age confirms and establishes the chronothe results of the investigation perfectly logy. When inquiries independently harmonize. The chronology casts light conducted produce these harmonious upon the state of learning and science, esults, it is a circumstance which must and allows the admission of historic greatly strengthen our confidence in the evidence which on any other theory soundness of the principles upon which would stand arrayed against it; while, they have been conducted, and in the on the other hand, the whole scope of conclusions which have been elicited. our inquiries into the literature of the
(Page 100.) The reader will be amply repaid by a careful and studious perusal of this Preliminary Dissertation. It will prepare him to accompany our historian in his researches into the patriarchal age. It will, in most cases at least, settle his mind on subjects respecting which he ought to have some decided opinion before he investigates the history and religion of the antediluvians and their immediate successors; and though the author's reasoning should fail to carry conviction to every mind, the reader will at least understand the principles on which the work is written. For our own part we have been at once gratified, instructed, and convinced.
But it is to the work itself that we are chiefly anxious to introduce our readers; premising, however, that the limits within which we are of necessity confined, leave us no hope of being able to present an adequate view of its value and importance.
Mr. Smith has followed the plan which he carried out with so much success in his “ Religion of Ancient Britain,”-that of introducing, at the close of his historical investigation of each of the periods discussed, a chapter on the religion of that period. For us this plan has great attractions. It imparts variety to the narrative, and, consequently, relief to the student. It is calculated to shed light over many of the incidents and circumstances which have been previously brought under consideration, and frequently
accounts, in a satisfactory manner, for the emergent actions of individuals and communities. Indeed, no history of any age, but especially of a remote one, can be considered complete, which does not give prominency to its religion.
We give another part of the author's plan in his own language :In referring to the various works sents to the reader, in all their integrity, which the author had occasion to quote, the authorities on which any reliance has he had to choose between giving the been placed; and thus affords every one substance of those extracts in his own the means of judging of their value, and language, or citing the very words of the appreciating their true character, to an writers themselves. He was strongly extent that would have been impossible advised by some literary friends to adopt if their substance had been incorporated the former course, as a means of prevent- into the narrative, and a mere reference ing those frequent alternations of style, to the authorities had been made at the and breaks in the narrative and argu- foot of the page. Although the adopment, which must necessarily result tion of this course may render the from the other. After mature consider- volume less acceptable to some persons, ation, it has, however, been decided to it is hoped that this defect, if such it be, submit to these inconveniences, and act is more than counterbalanced by its upon the plan of citing from all the deriving from the same cause, notwithimportant treatises which have been con- standing its limited size, the character of sulted, either in the exact phraseology a cyclopædia of all that is certainly employed in them, or in approved trans- known of the history and religion of that lations. The principal reason for pre- early period. (Pages vii, viii.) ferring this mode has been, that it pre
We agree with Mr. Smith that this arrangement greatly enhances the value of the work. If he had given the substance of his quotations in his own language, with only a marginal reference to the several works, the necessity of consultation would not have been obviated, and the student would still have been obliged to procure a large number of rare, valuable, and, consequently, expensive works: as it is, however, we have the opinion of these writers fairly and accurately recorded ; and though there are, in consequence, occasional “ alternations of styles,” we have failed to perceive those “ breaks in the narrative and argument” to which the author refers. The judgment and skill with which the quotations are interwoven into the work have truly surprised us, and we have little doubt that the great majority of Mr. Smith's readers will heartily thank him for acting upon this plan. We may add, that, having collated several of the quotations with the originals, we can speak with confidence as to the scrupulous fidelity and accuracy with which they are adduced. This is a characteristic on which, in historical works especially, we cannot set too high a value.
Mr. Smith's arrangement of the subjects discussed in the several chapters is clear and comprehensive. The first chapter, on “ The Creation of the World and of Man,” is written with judgment and ability, and displays extensive research into ancient literature. The writer occasionally rises with his subject, and produces passages of great strength and eloquence. Speaking, for instance, of the insufficiency of human reason to discover the origin of the world, Mr. Smith refers to the failure of the Greeks in the following language :
If ever a people were placed by Pro- truth now under consideration. They vidence in circumstances which war. were ignorant of creation. They did not ranted the hope that they would evince perceive the possibility of any other superhuman powers of understanding, change than one of forin, and the giving the Greeks were that favoured commu- a new mould to pre-existent materials. nity. Yet even their gigantic intellect- This was the plague-spot of their entire ual efforts failed to elicit the elementary philosophy. It was this that shed the
withering curse of darkness and super- researches of the greatest minds served stition over the wide range of their intel- only to plunge them into all the subtle lectual effort. The truth enunciated in ties and absurdities of pantheism ; the the first verse of the Bible would have universe
confounded with its emancipated their minds froin benighted Maker: and, imbued with this false thraldom, and thus have given spirit and principle, the more they reasoned, the life to the philosophy of the world. The deeper they sank into error; it haunted Scripture doctrine of creation would them on every side, and blinded them to have overturned the fundamental errors every just notion of God, of nature, and which corrupted the learning of Greece ; of themselves. Thus it has always and not of Greece only, but of all other been, wherever revelation has been countries unenlightened by revelation unknown, or its teaching rejected. Ignorant of this truth, the most profound
(Pages 107, 108.) This chapter is followed by another of equal ability, on “The Primitive Condition of Man, his Fall, and the Promise of a Redeemer.” The doctrinal views of the author are here elicited ; and, we need hardly say to those who have read his former productions, are clear and evangelical. The corroboration of the three circumstances that form the subject of the chapter, which Mr. Smith has been able to furnish from ancient tradition, history, and mythology, is full and satisfactory, and will not fail to impart an interest to the entire discussion. We cannot resist the temptation to transcribe the author's reflections at the close of the chapter.
How deeply interesting, how truly sublime, is the view here presented to Midway from nothing to the Deity! our consideration ! A creature so won
A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt! derfully formed, yet so deeply fallen ;
Though sullied and dishonour'd, still divine !
Dim miniature of creature absolute ! possessing such high intellectual powers,
An heir of glory, a frail child of dust! yet spiritually prostrated in consequence
A worm! a God!” of sin ; a being who had held intimate communion with his Maker, subjected How instructive, how pregnant with to punishment on account of sin ; and important teaching, must the history of yet again restored by a divine plan of
a race of such beings be, when composed redemption into covenant relation to his of the most authentic materials which God !
have come down to our time, arranged “How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
and illustrated in the clearer light which How complicate, how wonderful, is man!
the holy Scriptures afford ! From diff'rent natures marvellously mix'd,
(Pages 184, 185.) Connexion exquisite of distant worlds !
“ The History of Mankind from the Fall to the Flood” forms the subject of the third chapter. Our author takes up each generation from Adam to Noah consecutively, and presents us with everything important that has been written respecting thein, either by sacred or profane writers. The rapid sketch of the history of this period, with which the chapter is concluded, is in Mr. Smith's best style. Here is a description of the licentiousness which prevailed amongst mankind previously to the Flood :
But, as we have seen, licentiousness God, an abandonment of his service, an and wickedness subsequently sprang up idolatrons substitution of earthly or imain connexion with elegance and luxury. ginary creatures on his throne, must, in Various indications are given, among the very nature of things, induce, in any the fragmentary traditions relating to age, or among any people, degradation this period, of rebellion against God, and ruin. and the profane assumption of divine In the present case, this was acconpames and titles; while it is asserted panied by other evils. Licentiousness that idolatry arose, with all its evil influ- prevailed: the moral dignity of woman ence, to shed its withering curse over the was not respected. She was not sought as family of man. This is the root of all a help-meet for man. Her loveliness and social and political evil. A rejection of amiability, her angel power to support. the distressed mind, and to minister malign influence, pride and power tramblessings to man in every circumstance pled on order and right, and ravished of life, as his partner, as the friend of his the daughters of men. Polygamy was bosom, his wife, were all overlooked, introduced, and all its concomitant evils and only served to raise and to fan a were realized. (Page 226.) base and sensual desire. Under this
A chapter on “ The Religion of the Antediluvians” immediately succeeds. The subjects which are introduced and discussed are of great moment; and Mr. Smith has proved, we think, that a considerable knowledge of the character and will of God obtained in those early ages. The nature and origin of sacrifice forms a principal topic of inquiry, and the author's reasoning upon it is clear and conclusive. We were especially delighted with his critical investigation of the much-controverted passage in Gen. iv. 3—7.
The fifth chapter, entitled, “ The Deluge,” contains a full and complete review of the entire subject. The principal circumstances of this tremendous event, as furnished by Moses, are graphically narrated, the different objections to an universal deluge which have been made by geologists and others are answered, and historical corroboration of the event is furnished from Egyptian, Persian, Chinese, Hindoo, Scandinavian, and other records, as well as from the traditions and mythology of those nations. It is a chapter which will well repay a careful and attentive perusal. We call especial attention to the manner in which our author deals with the advocates of a partial deluge :
But the words of the sacred narrative And this is put forth to sustain the refer as distinctly to the entire surface of Bible against the objections of freethe earth, as to the whole animal cre- thinkers, against “profane and vain ation : “And the waters prevailed ex- babblings and oppositions of science, ceedingly upon the earth; and all the falsely so called ! ” We blush to see high hills, that were under the whole such criticisms from men holding the heaven, were covered.” (Gen. vii. 19.) office of Christian teachers. We ask, What language can be more fearlessly and deliberately, that the truth explicit than this? And yet it has been of the Bible is not worth sustaining by contended that this earth under the these means. ... ... ...Give us the unques. whole heaven”
a small and tioned right to use these canons of interlimited locality in central Asia ; and pretation, and we will engage to prove that “all the high hills, that were under any proposition, however monstrous or the whole heaven," means no hills at absurd, by quotations from the pages of all ! that the water did not cover the Scripture. (Pages 302, 303.) hills, but only inundated a low district !
We are told that a universal deluge leave his father's house, and to journey was unnecessary.
We ask, Can any into another land ? Such a pilgrimage thing be conceived more unnecessary as that taken by the latter Patriarch than the erection of the ark, and the would, according to the theory of a parcrowding it with living animals, if a few tial deluge, have abundantly sufficed to waggons and the journey of a few days carry Noah to a place of safety. Should would have effected the object designed ? those whose scheme is open to such Why, in such a case, was not Noah, like objections talk to us of what is unnecesAbraham afterwards, called of God to sary ? * (Pages 303, 304.)
“* Dr. Pye Smith, while labouring to show that a universal deluge was unnecessary, expresses his ' humble opinion' that the population of the antediluvian world
was really small, that it was in a course of rapid progress towards an extreme reduction, which would have issued in a not very distant extinction.' And so a partial deluge was necessury to desiroy the few men who remained, before they all died off !”