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These are niceties that become not those that PART I. peruse so serious a Mystery. There are others
others, which more generally questioned and called to the Bar, are often yet methinks of an easie and possible truth.
he easily 'Tis ridiculous to put off or drown the gene- solved ; ral Flood of Noah in that particular inundation of Deucalion. That there was a Deluge once, seems not to me so great a Miracle, as that there is not one always. How all the kinds of Creatures, not only in their own bulks, but with a competency of food and sustenance, might be
Gen. vi. 14, served in one Ark, and within the extent of three hundred Cubits, to a reason that rightly examines it, will appear very feasible. There is another secret, not contained in the Scripture, which is more hard to comprehend, and put the honest Father to the refuge of a Miracle ; and that is, not only how the distinct pieces of the World, and divided Islands, should be first planted by men, but inhabited by Tigers, Panthers, and Bears. How America abounded with Beasts of prey and noxious Animals, yet contained not in it that necessary Creature, a Horse, is very strange. By what passage those, not only Birds, but dangerous and unwelcome Beasts, came over ; how there be Creatures there, which are not found in this Triple Continent; (all which must needs be strange unto us, that hold but one Ark, and that the Creatures began their progress from the Mountains of Ararat :) they who, to salve this, would make the Deluge particular, proceed upon a principle that I can no way grant ; not only upon the negative of Holy Scriptures, but
Gen. v. 27
PART 1. of mine own Reason, whereby I can make it
probable, that the World was as well peopled in the time of Noah as in ours; and fifteen hundred years to people the World, as full a time for them, as four thousand years since have been
to us. others may
There are other assertions and common Teadmit a free dispute ;
nents drawn from Scripture, and generally believed as Scripture, whereunto, notwithstanding, I would never betray the liberty of my Reason. 'Tis a Postulate to me, that Methusalem was the longest liv'd of all the Children of Adam ; and no man will be able to prove it, when, from the process of the Text, I can manifest it may be otherwise. That Judas perished by hanging himself, there is no certainty in Scripture :
though in one place it seems to affirm it, and by απήγξατο. . a doubtful word hath given occasion to translate
it ; yet in another place, in a more punctual description, it makes it improbable, and seems to overthrow it. That our Fathers, 'after the Flood, erected the Tower of Babel to preserve themselves against a second Deluge, is generally
opinioned and believed ; yet is there another inGen. xi. 4. tention of theirs expressed in Scripture : besides,
it is improbable from the circumstance of the place, that is, a plain in the Land of Shinar. These are no points of Faith, and therefore may admit a free dispute.
There are yet others, and those familiarly are incon
concluded from the Text, wherein (under favour,) I see no consequence. The Church of Rome confidently proves the opinion of Tutelary Angels
Acts i. 18.
from that Answer, when Peter knockt at the PART I. Door,'Tis not he, but his Angel; that is, (might Acts xii. 13. some say,) his Messenger, or some body from him ; for so the Original signifies, and is as likely ärgedus. to be the doubtful Families meaning. This exposition I once suggested to a young Divine, that answered upon this point; to which I remember the Franciscan Opponent replyed no more, but That it was a new, and no authentick interpretation.
These are but the conclusions and fallible dis- sect. xxu. courses of man upon the Word of God, for such the best of I do believe the Holy Scriptures : yet, were it of books. man, I could not chuse but say, it was the singularest and superlative piece that hath been extant since the Creation. Were I a Pagan, I should not refrain the Lecture of it ; and cannot but commend the judgment of Ptolomy, that thought not his Library compleat without it. The Alcoran of the Turks (I speak without prejudice,) is an ill composed Piece, containing in it vain and ridiculous Errors in Philosophy, impossibilities, fictions, and vanities beyond laughter, maintained by evident and open Sophisms, the Policy of Ignorance, deposition of Universities, and banishment of Learning, that hath gotten Foot by Arms and violence : this without a blow hath disseminated it self through the whole Earth. It is not unremarkable what Philo first observed, that the Law of Moses continued De Vitâ
Mosis, ii. 3. two thousand years without the least alteration ; whereas, we see the Laws of other Common-weals do alter with occasions ; and even those that
PART 1. pretended their original from some Divinity, to
have vanished without trace or memory. I believe, besides Zoroaster, there were divers that writ before Moses, who, notwithstanding, have suffered the common fate of time. Mens Works have an age like themselves; and though they out-live their Authors, yet have they a stint and period to their duration : this only is a work tog hard for the teeth of time, and cannot perish but in the general Flames, when all things shall confess their Ashes.
I have heard some with deep sighs lament “Of making the lost lines of Cicero; others with as many many books there is no groans deplore the combustion of the Library of end.". Eccl. Alexandria : for my own part, I think there be )
too many in the World, and could with patience behold the urn and ashes of the Vatican, could
I, with a few others, recover the perished leaves 1 Kings iv. of Solomon. I would not omit a Copy of Enoch's
Pillars, had they many nearer Authors than Antiq. Jud. Josephus, or did not relish somewhat of the
Fable. Some men have written more than others have spoken ; Pineda quotes more Authors in one work, than are necessary in a whole World. Of those three great inventions in Germany, there are two which are not without their incommodities, and 'tis disputable whether they exceed not their use and commodities. 'Tis not a melancholy Utinam of my own, but the desires of better heads, that there were a general Synod ; not to unite the incompatible difference of Religion, but for the benefit of learning, to reduce it as it lay at first, in a few and solid Authors; and
i. 2. $ 3.
to condemn to the fire those swarms and millions PART I. of Rhapsodies, begotten only to distract and abuse the weaker judgements of Scholars, and to maintain the trade and mystery of Typographers.
I cannot but wonder with what exception the sect. xxv. Samaritans could confine their belief to the the Jews, Pentateuch, or five Books of Moses.
I am ashamed at the Rabbinical Interpretation of the Jews upon the Old Testament, as much as their defection from the New: and truly it is beyond wonder, how that contemptible and degenerate issue of Jacob, once so devoted to Ethnick Superstition, and so easily seduced to the Idolatry of their Neighbours, should now in such an obstinate and peremptory belief adhere unto their own Doctrine, expect impossibilities, and, in the face and eye of the Church, persist without the least hope of Conversion. This is a vice in them, that were a vertue in us; for obstinacy in a bad Cause is but constancy in a good. And herein and want of I must accuse those of my own Religion, for
among Christhere is not any of such a fugitive Faith,
such an unstable belief, as a Christian ; none that do so oft transform themselves, not unto several shapes of Christianity and of the same species, but unto more unnatural and contrary Forms of Jew and Mahometan; that, from the name of Saviour, can condescend to the bare term of Prophet; and, from an old belief that He is come, fall to a new expectation of His coming. It is the promise of Christ to make us all one Flock ; St. John x. but how and when this Union shall be, is as obscure to me as the last day. Of those four