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For this opinion of Thales seems to have been part of CHAP. that universal tradition which was continued in the world concerning the first principles of things; for I do not see any reason to aver, with so much confidence as some do, that those philosophers who spake any thing consonantly to Moses, must presently converse with the Jews, transcribe their opinions out of the Scriptures, or have them conveyed to them in some secret cabala of the creation, as it is affirmed of Pythagoras and Plato, and may with no less reason of Thales. But this I suppose may be made evident to any considerative person, that those philosophers of Greece, who conversed most abroad in the world, did speak far more agreeably to the true account of things, than such who only endeavoured by their own wits to improve or correct those principles which were delivered by the other philosophers; which I impute not so much to their converse with the Mosaic writings, as to that universal tradition of the first ages of the world, which was preserved far better among the Phonicians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, and others, than among the Greeks. For which we have this evident reason, that Greece was far more barbarous and rude in its elder times, than those other nations were, which had means of preserving some monuments and general reports of the first ages of the world, when the Grecians wanted them: and therefore we find that Greece, from its beginning, shined with a borrowed light; and saw not by an extramission of rays of knowledge froin itself, but by an intromission of those representations of things which were received from other nations. Those who formed Greece first into civil societies, and licked it into the shape of well ordered commonwealths, were such who had been traders for knowledge into foreign parts. To which purpose Diodorus Siculus informs
BOOK us, that Lycurgus and Solon, as well as the poets Or
- pheus, Museus, Melampus, and Homer, and the phiDiodorus. losophers, afterwards Pythagoras, Plato, and others, ed: Wes- had gained most of their knowledge and wisdom out V. Euseb. of Egypt; nay, he saith in general, őool Tūv trap' "Eaan, on Evangel. Seda facuévwvêni oUvérei kai taideia, Tapéßanov eis AsyUTTOV £v
τοϊς αρχαίους χρόνους, ίνα των ενταύθα νομίμων και παιδείας μεtáoxwoiv. All those who were renowned among the Greeks for wisdom and learning, did in ancient time resort to Egypt, to be acquainted with their laws and knowledge. On this account, therefore, we are not to seek for the ancient and genuine tradition of the world from the native and homebred Greeks, such as Aristotle and Epicurus, but from those who took the pains themselves to search into those records which were preserved among the elder and more knowing nations : and although the nations they resorted to sought to advance their own reputation in the histories of their ancient times, of which we have already given a large account, yet they were more faithful in the account they gave of the origin of the whole universe. For it appears
from Diogenes Laertius, that the Egyptians did conDiog. La- stantly believe that the world had a beginning, and
was corruptible; that it was spherical, and the stars were of the nature of fire; that the soul was of an immortal nature, and did pass up and down the world: which Laertius cites from Hecatæus and Aristagoras. So that we need not make Pythagoras acquainted with such a cabala of the creation, which in all probability neither the Jews nor he ever dreamt of: we find a fair account may be given of most of the opinions of Pythagoras, and whence he derived them, without forcing the words of Moses into such a sense, which the plainness and perspicuity of the writings of Moses argue them not capable to admit of. But I will
not deny, from those concurrent testimonies of Her- CHAP. mippus and Aristobulus, besides Origen, Porphyry,
V. Selden Clemens Alexandrinus, and others, that Pythagoras de JureNat.
the et Gen. might have had an opportunity of conversing with the air
who apud EbræJews, (which it is most probable was in Chaldæa, after os, l. i. c. 2. the captivity, at which time Pythagoras was there among them ;) but that Pythagoras should converse with the successors of Elisha on Mount Carmel, as Vossius thinks; or that Moschus, the Sidonian philo-Voss. de
Sectis Phin sopher, in Iamblichus, should be Moses, as others losoph. c.6. fancy; or that preexistence of souls should be part of sect. 5. the Mosaic cabala ; or that the Pythagoric numbers, as they are explained by Nicomachus Gerasenus in Photius, should be adequate to the days of the creation, cabalistically understood, are fancies too extravagant and Pythagorean to be easily embraced. If Pythagoras was circumcised, it was more for love of the Egyptians than the Jews, among whom he spent twenty-two years; if preexistence of souls be a rational hypothesis, we may thank the Egyptians for it, and not Moses; if numbers be so expressive of the work of creation, we are beholden to the arithmetical hieroglyphics of Egypt for them. But although Py-V. Mathem.
Hierogl. thagoras might not be acquainted with such a philo- Kircheri, sophic cabala of the creation, which none of the Jews, adip. as far as we can find, understood, till one more versed Ægypt. in Plato and Pythagoras, than in the learning of his own nation, viz. Philo of Alexandria, began first to exercise his wit on the text of Moses, with Platonic notions; yet I shall easily grant that Pythagoras, by means of his great industry and converse with the learned nations, might attain to far greater knowledge of many mysterious things in natural philosophy, and as to the origin of the universe, than any of the homebred philosophers of Greece, or it may be, than any
ne of the L
BOOK one of the nations he resorted to, because he had the _ advantage of comparing the several accounts of them
together, and extracting out that which he judged the Plutarch.de best of them. And hence Plutarch tells us, that the Plạc. Pilos. i. 1. first principles of the world, according to Pythagoras, Ane. were these two: the one was το ποιητικών αιτίων και ειδικών
(Örep Coti voūs ó Geòs), an active and forming principle, and that was God, whom he called mind (as Anaxagoras likewise did ;) the other was tò taOntikov te kai Únekòz (őrep éotiv o opatós kópos), passive and material, which is, the visible world.
And thus we see these two renowned founders of the Ionic and Italic societies of philosophers, both giving their concurrent testimony with Moses as to the
true origin of the world, and not at all differing from Diog. Laer. each other; for thus Thales speaks in Diogenes LaerV. Tbalet. P: 9; tius, apeo Bútatov Tūv Övtwv beós åyévunTOV yáp. Kárdoo TOV cd. Lond.
kéouose noínua yàp Begū. God is the eldest Being, because unbegotten; the world the most beautiful, because it
is God's workmanship. To which those expressions Plato in of Plato, in his Timæus, come very near, (whose phi1047.
losophy was, for substance, the same with the Pythaed. Ficini.
gorean,) when he had before ascribed the production of the world to the goodness of God; which goodness of his did incline him to make all other things like himself. Ofuis cúr’ žu oŭr’ čo ti tớ ápictw dpãr ända tann tò Káal.otov. For the most excellent Being cannot but produce the most excellent effects. And as to the material principle out of which the world was made, there appears no great difference between the ydwp of Thales, and the Őam of Plato and Pythagoras; for Plato, when he tells us what a kind of thing the material principle
was, he describes it thus, cin vouxíar ayov, áraà kivoúpevov Chalcid. Tagunen@s kai &TAKTWs, which, as Chalcidius renders it, d. Meurs: is motu importuno fluctuans, neque unquam quiescens,
it was a visible corporeal thing (Tão őoov ju spatóv) CHAP. which was never at rest, but in continual disorderly motion and agitation : which is a full explication, I suppose, of what Thales meant by his water, which is the same with that inùs, or mixture of mud and water together, which others speak of as the principle of the universe; as Orpheus in Athenagoras, and the scholiast on Apollonius, cited by Grotius and others. Which Grot. Anwe have the more reason to believe, because the succes- de Ver. sors of Thales, Anaximander and Anaxagoras," express themselves to that purpose. Anaximander called the sea, της πρώτης υγρασίας λείψανον, the remainder of the primitive moisture: and Anaxagoras says, before the Noūs, or God, set things in their order, návra xpýuata mtu êu cũ tepupuéva, all things were at first confused together; which must needs make that which Chalcidius Chalcid. in
h: Tim.p.394. tells us Numenius attributes to Pythagoras, which his translator calls sylvam fluidam, or fluid matter. Which is the same likewise with the Phænicians' Mùr, which, as appears by Eusebius, some call inùv, others üdatódous Euseb. mixews oñiv, some, mud or slime, others, the putrefac-Er
IC- Evang. 1. i. tion of watery mixtures, which they say was popà Calpe Ktíoews, kai yéveots Tūv őrwv, the seed-plot of the creation, and the generation of things. Thus we see how Thales, with the Phænicians, from whom he was derived, as Laertius tells us, and Pythagoras, with the Egyptians and others, concur with Moses, not only in the production of the world, but in the manner of it, wherein is expressed a fluid matter, which was the material principle out of which the world was formed; when we are told, that the earth was without form and void, Gen. i. 2. and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, i. e. that all at first was but fluid matter; for P. Fagius, from R. Kimchi, renders 77 by ýan, which fluid matter was agitated and moved by the Divine