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as mankin l emerged out of a state of barbarism, and their wants anıl employments multiplied, more euphonious and complicated sounds were added; or, as he was pleased to call it, were 'agged' to the pristine and primitive elements. The work was loudly applauded, and language was exhausted in finding terms to express the universal admiration which the learned philologer’s ‘waggery'excited. Seriously, the book was widely and extravagantly applauded.

“Now, it certainly can excite no surprise, that an ingenious and amusing theory, however absurd, should have found a class of followers and admirers ; but, in a Christian country, where the Bible was in every person's hands, and generally acknowledged to be, at least, respectable authority, that no one should have been found bold enough to point out the utter inconsistency between such a theory and the facts recorded there, proves, most undeniably, how much less importance is attached to the plainest statements of Scripture than to the wildest vagaries of that which is called 'genius' among mankind. The truth seems to be--and it is a lamentable one that the sneers of those who have gained a name for talent, by affecting to despise the words of inspiration, and the cautionof those who will not admit that the Bible addresses itself to the understanding, make men shrink from the weakness of admitting its authority, or afraid to look into it for information, save through the spectacles 01 shose who, in searching for mysteries, overlook the plainest facts.

“ Having based our inquiry on the irrefragable truth and certainty ut very statement in the sacred records, and on their infinite superiority, in point of authority, and in respect of satisfactory explanation, over every theory that ever was, or ever will be, broached, we should not have thought it necessary to refer at all to the preceding theory concerning language, had it not furnished an instance, which almost every reader will at once appreciate, of the folly into which wisdom degenerates, when it attempts to penetrate the past or the future without the aid of revelation; and did it not serve as a useful warning against the fashionable philosophy of the day, in which man himself, with all his faculties, is viewed as a thing of spontaneous growth, a walking vegetable, an improved zoophyte, or, at best, a civilized orang-outang.

“Let us give these theorists the benefit of their suppositions for a moment. Suppose the vegetables or animals become men; and that all the operations of mother earth have reached the point where men remain men, and beasts continue beasts, without any chance of further metamorphosis: the vegetable is checked in its attempts to become a zoophyte; the zoophyte is ordered to remain on its native spot; the ass is warned that it will in vain strive to become a lion; and the ape, though within a step of humanity, is denied the faculty of speech. Men begin to walk abroad, proud of their pre-eminence over the other

less fortunate natural productions. They discover that they can make a noise as well as the other animals; and of course the noises the brutes make, being the first sounds the men hear, they naturally begin to imitate them. Having sprung out of the earth at various places, they meet each other accidentally. The one wishes to tell the other that he saw a lion -he roars like one: there is no other way so easy, or so intelligible, of describing the creature which frightened him. Another has seen an ass, and accordingly brays; or a hog, and grunts. A third whistles like a bird, or chirps like a cricket; chatters like a monkey, or screams like a cockatoo. Thus language would become a compound of screaming, whistling, roaring, and grunting. The learned may write as long and laboriously as they choose on the origin of speech; this is the natural origin of language among self-taught savages, destitute of revelation.

“How beautifully does the Scripture account of the origin of mankind contrast with the philosophy which admits of such objections as may thus be suggested ! How satisfactorily does it account for the general resemblances, as well as for the endless variety, in language! Proceeding from one family, the parents of which were placed on the earth, perfectly fitted in body and in mind for the situation they held in creation, mankind, wherever they emigrated, or spread abroad, carried knowledge and language with them. The changes on these were produced by time, by distance, and by differences of habit and situation ; but were never sufficiently great to obliterate all traces of their common origin, and of a primeval intercommunity of ideas as well as of speech.

"Still it may be argued, by those who contend for the savage-like simplicity of primeval language, that as speech was only required for expressing the wants of mankind, when these wants, and consequently the arts, were few, the vocabulary would be small, and the verbs scanty; and that this would be the case, eve if the earth had originally been peopled in the manner recorded in the Bible. But what a miserable and sterile philosophy is this ! as if man had been placed on the earth for no other purpose but to feed, at first, like the beasts that perish! Besides, if language had only been used to express wants, our first parents would have required no language in Eden; for there they had no wants ! Such reasoners forget, too, that unless theology, in the proper sense of the word, be a thing of man's invention, which has grown up with the other wants and weaknesses of human nature, the knowledge of God and his worship must have been a matter of as much importance to the first man as the last.”—Morison's Relig. Hist. of Man, pp. 62–66.

This case is ably summed up by an author who has been before referred to. He “ The statements of Scripture leave to infidels, who have originated it, their utterly untenable theory, of Egypt or Ethiopia covered, some myriads of years ago, with a horde of speechless


savages, gradually improving themselves, through the long lapse of lazy-footed centuries, until they had attained a pitch of civilization and refinement, which enabled them to meet together, and agree upon the sublime harmony of sounds and pictures which constitutes the language of Egypt. For, in spite of the constant repetition of such absurdities, we know that all analogy, as well as all Scripture, is against them. The savage never improves until he comes in contact with civilized man. Left to himself, his race is always sinking to deeper degradation and final extinction. This is probably a rule without exception. The traditions of all savages are, on this point, in accordance with the Bible. They all tell of past days of greatness and prosperity, evidently meaning civilization. The savage state, then, is not one of nature, but of degradation; and it is in modern, rather than in ancient times, that this deplorable consequence of the sin that is in man is to be looked for. The whole history of man since the creation has likewise taught us, that, ignorant of the art of writing, he would soon become a savage; for we are not aware that a race of human beings, entitled to be called civilized, ever existed who were without it: and this consideration certainly renders it probable, that in this art also, man, in his primitive state, was taught of God." - Antiquities of Egypt, p. 167.

Although we think the few preceding paragraphs, if carefully studied, will be found to contain a triumphant refutation of the absurd notions which have been promulgated respecting the low and degraded origin of human nature, we cannot but feel a measure of discouragement from the fact, that it has been necessary to repel dogmas so entirely opposed to the true character of man, so fully at variance with the teaching of the word of God. If the rationality of the first human beings be denied ; if they be supposed to have waded through years of darkness before they attained the gift of speech ;—if such doctrines have obtained in a Christian country, then the attempt to prove that letters, literature, and science, in the earliest ages of man's history, shed their benign influence on his career, would appear to be a task as daring as it would be hopeless. Still, as the simple application of Scripture truth has dispelled one delusion, we trust that a calm inquiry into the subject on Bible principles will dissipate the other.

In our attempt to carry out this part of our purpose, we shall endeavor to show that alphabetic characters were known and used by mankind in the earliest ages of their history.

We now find the world in possession of these characters; and perceive, that, by their use, all the requisites for intellectual intercourse between man and man are amply furnished. We see that the same means would have rendered the same advantages to mankind in every past age as they do to us; and the very natural inquiry arises, Were

they coeval with our race, or were they subsequently invented ? and, if the latter, when and by whom was the discovery effected ?

In attempting to obtain satisfactory answers to these questions, the first and more obvious course will be, to examine with care the records of history, that we may ascertain whether they give us any information respecting so great a discovery. In pursuing this course, we refer to the records of Greece, one of the oldest nations with whose literature we have any extensive and particular acquaintance. We are there informed that alphabetical characters were brought into that country by Cadmus, who is supposed to have lived B. C. 1493, and that he came either from Phenicia or Egypt. Extending our researches to the annals of the latter nation, we have to encounter greater difficulty, as they possessed hieroglyphics, and a sacred kind of writing, as well as the use of an alphabet : the inquiry, therefore, becomes greatly involved. Yet the best authorities concur in ascribing the introduction of letters into Egypt to Thoth or Theut, the Hermes of Greek, and the Mercury of Latin, mythology. It, consequently, becomes an important part of the inquiry to ascertain at what time this individual lived. As in Egyptian annals we meet with several of that name, this seems to be a difficult task. It appears, from a general view of the subject, that, in the earliest age of Egyptian history, or, rather, prior to the commencement of authentic history, a person of this name flourished, who from his great knowledge was supposed to be more than mortal. From this circumstance, when an individual, in after ages, appeared to surpass his cotemporaries in wisdom, he was said to be inspired by the spirit of Thoth, or to be another incarnation of that deity.

We are, however, distinctly informed by Diodorus Siculus,* that the Thoth, to whom the Egyptians attributed the invention of letters, was sacred scribe to Osiris, king of Egypt, who is said to have been the son of Jupiter. His words are : “They say Osiris was much given to husbandry; that he was the son of Jupiter. He found out the use of the vine; and then, planting it, was the first that drank wine. Above all others, he most honored Hermes; one of an admirable ingenuity and quick invention in finding out what might be useful to mankind. This Hermes was the first, as they report, that taught how to speak distinctly and articulately, and gave names to many things that had none before. He found out letters,

* Diodorus, the Sicilian, lived in the reigns of Julius Cæsar and Augustus. Having in early life traveled into Asia, Africa, and Europe, he, on his return, established himself at Rome, and devoted thirty years to the compilation of his Historical Library, in forty books, containing a history of the world from the earliest times to B. C. 40, a small part of which now remains. He possessed opportunities of collecting information as extensive as the world then afforded. His judgment is praised; and he is esteemed as a man of sense and probity.

and instituted the worship of the gods; and was the first that observed the motion of the stars, and invented music, and taught the manner of wrestling, and invented arithmetic, and the art of curious graving and cutting of statues. He first found out the harp with three strings. To conclude, he was Osiris's sacred scribe.”—Book i, chap. i.

There can be no doubt that this extract gives the opinions which prevailed in Egypt in the time of Diodorus. Yet, instead of affording satisfactory information respecting the invention of letters, it appears rather to exhibit an individual who had collected and taught the various sciences and useful arts, as far as they were then known. It is further evident, from the references to Jupiter, husbandry, and wine, that the time to which the tradition refers was very soon after the deluge, the language being too analogous to the Scripture account to be mistaken.

It was, however, an opinion which prevailed from the earliest antiquity, and is recorded by Cicero, that Egypt had received “both laws and letters from the Phenicians.” It will, therefore, be necessary to refer to the ancient history of this people; and it is a very fortunate circumstance, that, although we have only one vestige of Phenician literature which has survived the wreck of ages, yet it contains important information on this subject.

Sanchoniatho,* whose writings are the oldest of any that have been preserved to our time, with the exception of the Holy Scriptures, has given an account of the generations from Adam to Noah. He calls the latter patriarch "Agrouerus the husbandman.” He then says,

his descendants, Amynus (Ham) and Magus, taught men to construct villages and tend flocks. By these were begotten Misor (Misraim.) He also adds: “From Misor descended Taautus, who first invented the writing of the first letters: him the Egyptians called Thoar; the Alexandrians, Thyoth; and the Greeks, Hermes.”—Cory's Fragments, pp. 8, 9; Astle on Writing, p. 33.

There can be no reasonable doubt that we have here the person of whom Diodorus speaks; and the knowledge of letters is by these means traced up to within two generations of the deluge.

We will now advert to the early annals of other countries, in order to ascertain whether they support this high antiquity of the use of letters. Passing over, for the present, the Syrians, Indians, and some other ancient nations, particular attention is called to the earliest records of

* This writer is supposed to have flourished a few years before the Trojan war. The credit of his history is supported by Porphyry, Pliny, Curtius, Lucan, and other ancient authors. He wrote, in the language of his country, a history, in nine books, in which he treated of the theology and antiquities of Phenicia. This production is lost, with the exception of a few fragments. His works were translated into Greek by Philo-Biblius.

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