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startling fact that the Hebrew language, which appears from the writings of Moses to be at least as old as Nimrod and the foundation of Nineveh, nay, even as that of Babel shortly after the deluge, is in fact a comparatively modern language, composed of the debris of an earlier speech, and containing in its original biliteral roots a considerable portion of Teutonic.f And even metaphysics have been compelled by those great refiners--who darken every subject which they mysteriously handle with their cobweb-arranging fingers—to confirm the too prevailing doubts of the existence of a Deity.
As Atheism is a negation, the most useful mode of attacking it may be to shew its results; and to point out how invariably the Atheism of the instructors of a nation is concomitant with the superstition of the vulgar; how the yoke of superstition at length becomes intolerable even to the vulgar mind; how Atheism then steps forward to its relief; and how, when its merits have been fully tested, it is found necessary to recur son's authority: [Upon the subject of Chwolson's imaginary Nabatean literature, a long and elaborate article appeared in the Timex newspaper of Jan. 31, 1862. We are probably not far wrong in assigning that paper to the learned Max Müller.- Ed.]
I The merit of this discovery is due to Gesenius. It ought, however, to have been so obvious to any one who even carelessly looked over an Arabic lexicon, that the only subject for surprise is, that the first suspicion of so important a fact should have been reserved for the nineteenth century. Before we were aware of the discovery of Gesenius we had ourselves been led to the same conclusion, and had deduced from our observations the following rules :
I. All the pure Chamo-Semitic roots appear to have been originally biliteral.
II. They were rendered triliteral upon settled and uniform principles, either, 1. By joining two biliteral roots, of such a description that the last letter of the
first root should be the same as the first of the second. Thus
manu) is formed from pad (prope fuit, tetigit), and juro (tetigit). It may be observed that lamh, in Keltic, signifies a hand. 2. By adding a preposition at the beginning or end of the biliteral root. By prefixing to the biliteral root one of the letters x, 17, ', or 9. 4. By adding 1 in the middle of the root. doubling the last letter of the root.
III. Many of the original biliteral roots are Teutonic, some Celtic, and others may be traced to other languages.
The important result of this discovery is, that the Hebrew, which the Jewish Rabbins assert to have been the language of Paradise, --an opinion in which they have been supported by many Christians of distinguished learning, -is, together with its kindred dialects, proved to have been a derivative language, and either more modern than the Teutonic, or formed, collaterally with the Teutonic, from the wreck of a language earlier than either. In this surprising fact we have the evidence of great revolutions between the time of the deluge and the era when the Chamo-Semitic, with its triliteral roots, is first known to have existed; and for these revolutions we seem to have no adequate period of time allowed us, in the most enlarged system of Biblical chronology. This becomes of still more importance, because it is corroborated by the evidence of the Egyptian monuments, and by numerous other arguments which might be adduced, and which lead precisely to the same conclusion.
again to superstition, as a desperate relief from the kindred monster.
The same thing “has already been of old which was before us," and we may especially discern it in the example of that people which all the nations of civilized Europe agree in representing as the most enlightened of antiquity.
We propose, therefore, to recall to the recollection of our readers the old and familiar, but still instructive picture of Grecian Atheism and superstition, that modern Europe may, if it is wisely inclined, reflect upon the example of that acute and highly favoured people, -the great guide in science, and model in arts, and the true leader of modern civilization, and may derive from them the instructive lesson, how inevitable is the fall from superstition to Atheism, and the counter-recoil, and how pernicious is the influence of each to the prosperity of a people.
These enquiries, we presume, will not be considered as foreign to the proper scope of a work dedicated to Biblical science, since the cause of truth cannot be better served than by exposing the errors and false steps of its opponents.
Chap. I. Early Greek Atheism and its Egyptian origin.
The Grecian polytheism was based upon the chaotic philosophy; and the origin of that philosophy must be sought for in Egypt. In that country it appeared the natural offspring of the soil and its phenomena. It was precisely that theory of the origin of things which the annual new-birth of Egypt from the inundation of the Nile was likely to suggest, in the infancy of philosophy, to an inquisitive people. It may be useful, therefore, to take a cursory view of the staple philosophy of Egypt, rendered permanent by the traditions of a priesthood not much inclined to change, before we proceed to the Greek philosophy, constantly varying and changing its face from the variety of its teachers, and from the temper of a people fond of novelty, and infinitely more inclined to rash speculation than to laborious research.
According to Diodorus Siculus (whose statement in this respect may be accepted from its inherent probability, and the corroboration which it receives from other sources), the cosmogony of the Egyptian philosophers strongly resembled that of which Ovid presents to us the picture (poetically expanded and richly embellished), in the first book of his Metamorphoses. The Egyptian priests, in their esoteric philosophy, held that the materials of which the world was composed were originally mixed in that confused mass which the Greeks termed chaos; and which seems equivalent to the any vin of the Hebrews. The Egyptians could not conceive the creation of matter ; in their opinion nothing could be made out of nothing. They, therefore, held that matter in the shape of chaos was eternal. From this “rude and indigested mass," in which all the elements (confusedly intermixed yet constantly jarring), existed in perpetual strife, that happy and beautiful arrangement which the Greeks termed cosmos, and we the universe, was at some period engendered. If the Egyptians had admitted even of a plastic, formative, and arranging deity-for the idea of a creative deity was absolutely beyond their conceptions—their cosmogony would have been as simple as that of Milton, who like them believed in the eternity of matter, and who represents the Deity as merely arranging the universe out of chaos. But the Egyptian priests refused to admit the idea of a God; and they appear to have attributed the formation of the cosmos to the mutual attraction of congenial, and the repulsion of discordant particles.
At some period in the illimitable vast of eternity the rude mass was subjected to a change; the jarring particles of chaos separated, each elementary particle was attracted to its similitude; and each of the four elements, separated from the rest, assumed the position best adapted to its peculiar nature. Fire and air, from their inherent lightness, ascended upwards ; earth and water gravitated downwards. The two former elements, light and unstable, were, from their nature, subject to a perpetual motion; and hence the sun and fixed stars revolved (according to Egyptian ideas), in a perpetual whirl round the earth; and the planets and comets were subject to changes in their courses of a still more complicated description.
By the separation of earth and water, continents, islands, rivers, lakes, and seas were formed; and it then only remained for the earth to produce the various tribes of animals which now
& Nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus unquam.--Lucret., i., 151.
* Compare Paradise Lost, ii., 884-916, and vii., 205—242. The original chaos, according to the poet, extended from the gates of heaven to those of hell. From matter, in this chaotic form, the universe, according to the Miltonic theory, was arranged by the Abyos,-an idea which reminds us of the volls of Anaxagoras. That Milton believed chaos to be eternal might have been inferred from the language of his poem,
"Where eldest Night, And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, held
Eternal anarchy.”—Par. Lost, ii., 894–896. ny doubts upon this subject have been completely removed by the Essay on the doctrines of Christianity, discovered in 1823. [In this work Milton says that the Logos, or Word, “ was the first of the whole creation, by whom afterwards all other things were made both in heaven and earth.”—Ed.]
inhabit it. This task, in the rich fecundity of its primal nature, it was competent to perform. In its original soft and moist condition, alternately warmed by the solar beams, and cooled by their absence, it possessed a generative vigour, which it ultimately lost, when it became hardened by the continued heat of the sun, and the action of the winds. During this primeval vigour of production, the slime of the earth produced the various races of beasts, birds, and reptiles, and lastly, man.
Such is the outline of the cosmogonical theories (so far as they can be vaguely and imperfectly collected from the Greek writers), of a people not yet enlightened by Darwinian speculation, and who rushed too hastily upon the idea of the multiform genera of animals in the primal ages of the world, without grasping at the gigantic conception that five genera at the most are sufficient for the necessities of primal production, and that out of these five genera a million of species might spring, each gradually perfecting itself by a law inherent in its nature. The later Egyptians conceived and asserted that mice, in their own days, sprung (to their certain knowledge, founded on observation), from the slime of the Nile; but they could not grasp the great truth that these mice might be perfected into elephants in one divergence, and to men in another. Such profundities were reserved for the enlightened speculations of the nineteenth century, and for men who are convinced (for reasons most familiar to themselves), that monkeys must have been the not very remote ancestors of mankind, apes their cousins, and the gorilla a still nearer relation.
There were great and obvious difficulties attached to the Egyptian cosmogony. Matter, in its chaotic form, they asserted to have been eternal; the duration of the world might be defined by time. For innumerable centuries—indeed for a period which
· The flattering reception given to M. du Chaillu's travels can scarcely, be attributed to the intrinsic merit of the work. It is true Mr. Spurgeon, who lectured on the subject of these travels at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, assured his hearers that " it would take ten De Foes to write Du Chaillu's travels in Africa;"' but Mr. Spurgeon's critical opinion will do little injury to the fair fame of De Foe. Its only effect will be to remind the world of the confidence of the late Alexis Soyer, on a similar occasion, when that Frenchman ventured to flatter M. Scribe in terms equally extravagant. We believe that if the great genius of Mr. Darwin had not excited a popular rage for monkeys, the gorillas would have been handed over, for a valuable consideration, to itinerant showmen. As it is, nothing can be more natural than that these monsters should be warmly embraced and welcomed by sympathizing friends, who perceive in them the living indications of a profound philosophy. For ourselves, we should say to these esti
mable philo-gorillists, in the words of the Koran, mala í Sölds.
, (Surats, ii. 62, and vii. 165.)
time could not measure the üln of the world must have remained in its rude and inorganized state. The principle which first introduced order into the mass must always have been inherent in it, unless we admit of some collateral and independent motive power. If the principle of order were inherent, and not collateral, it would naturally be objected that this principle could not have remained dormant for countless ages, and then on a sudden have roused its energies, and asserted its activity. Rejecting the idea of a plastic and formative deity, there remained nothing to suggest but the influence of chance or destiny, and such vague phrases, which satisfy the vulgar ear, without possessing any intelligible meaning. We shall see, as we advance, how the Greek philosophers, when they borrowed the chaotic theory from Egypt, floundered with respect to this first motive principle.
The physical system of the Ionic school of philosophy, which was confessedly borrowed from Egypt, and which (as taught by Anaxagoras), agrees in its leading views with the theory attributed to the Egyptians, leaves us no reasonable ground for doubting that the details of the Egyptian philosophy, as given by Diodorus Siculus, are essentially correct. But there have not been wanting in modern times, writers of some eminence who have boldly denied the Atheism of the Egyptian philosophy. Among others, Cudworth defended the Egyptians from this impeachment; and J. C. Wolfius, in a work intended as a general gaol-delivery for sects and nations charged with Atheism, supports the opinion of Cudworth. They urge the argument (which, of course, is perfectly correct), that the Egyptians may be proved from history to have been a people rather inclined to superstition than to incredulity in matters of religion,
“Quis nescit qualia demens
Ægyptus portenta colat ?” But the charge of Atheism was never made against the people of Egypt; the Atheistic philosophy is attributed to their priests ; and, as a general rule, wherever a people is found sunk in abject superstition, we may assume, as an almost invariable concomitant, that the priests believe in no religion whatever. The priests, who invented the oracles at Delphi, assuredly believed neither in Apollo, nor in Jupiter, nor in any of the Deities of Olympus. The priests of Egypt, whose iniquitous deceptions were brought to light when their temples were destroyed on the triumph of Christianity, neither believed in Isis, nor Osiris, nor in Ammon, nor in Khem, nor in Mut, nor in Num, nor in any of the eight Egyptian gods of the first order, nor in the twelve of the second,