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NOTE S

APPERTAINING TO

THE FOURTH, FIFTH, AND SIXTH

SECTIONS

OF

BOOK II.

P. 29. [D].

P

AUL ERNEST JABLONSKI, a learned German Divine, in his book called Pantheon Ægyptiorum, sive de Diis eorum Commentarius, having taken it into his head, for some reason or other, to contend that the Ægyptian Gods were not dead men deified, thought rightly that this account of the Mysteries stood in his way. "Inter omnia argumenta (says he) quibus utuntur viri docti, ad probandum, Ægyptios coluisse homines, post mortem divinis honoribus, donatos illud sine dubio primum meretur locum, quod ex MYSTERIIS Græcorum et ipsorum quoque Egyptiorum petitum est. Observavit nempe Theologus Anglus præstantissimus, omnique doctrinæ genere cultus, in Mysteriis Græcorum, hanc etiam initiatis doctrinam tradi consuevisse, Deos illos, quos vulgo adorarent omnes, re ipsa mortales extitisse homines, idque testimoniis quibusdam e CICERONE perquam opportune allatis demonstrasse, et extra omnem dubitationis aleam posuisse videtur. He then quotes this passage of the Tusculan questions, and the following from the first book, Of the Nature of the Gods: and

thus

thus proceeds-Cui quidem loco ex priori, lux est accendenda. Jubebantur ergo omnes, initiati Græcorum Mysteriis, credere Deos quos Græcia coleret cunctos, in lucem hanc aliquando editos fuisse, inter homines vixisse et tandem mortem quoque oppetiisse. All this is said with the candour of a true scholar. How unlike to that miserable chicane lately published at home on this question! Where things are denied no less incontestible than that two and two make four. However the learned Doctor Jablonski must not desert his System. His first evasion therefore of the force arising from my account of the Mysteries is this,I had represented them as the invention of Legislators; and had shewn that it was the practice of ancient Lawgivers and Philosophers to teach one doctrine openly and another secretly. Having got me at this advantage, Who knows then, says he, Whether these Institutors of the Mysteries believed what they taught? But hear him in his own words-" At quæri non immerito potest, fuerintne Legislatores & Conditores Mysteriorum, de eo, quod credere volebant alios, ipsi certo persuasi. Docere nos voluit ingeniosus ille Auctor, qui arcana Mysteriorum Eleusiniorum nobis non sine successu explicare conatus est, Legislatores et Philosophos veteres permulta suis inculcasse, et vehementer commendasse, quæ credebant hominibus fore utilia, etiamsi ea reipsa judicarent esse falsa. Quid vetat nos credere ex illorum numero fuisse etiam doctrinam in Mysteriis traditam de mortalibus ad honores divinos evectisProlegom. Sect. xii.-Nay I know of nothing that hinders us from believing, but common sense: Which assures us, that if these men practised the method of the double doctrine, one set of opinions taught publicly to all, and another secretly to a few select Auditors, in

whom

whom they could particularly confide, the opinions believed by them were certainly the latter. But he has another evasion, in support of his System. Though the Grecian Mysteries taught the human nature of the National Gods, how does it appear that the Egyptian Mysteries taught the same? I answer, From the Grecian Mysteries being borrowed from the Egyptian, and from a thousand testimonies besides; particularly from the fanious transaction between Alexander the Great and Leo the Egyptian priest. This the learned Writer considers as a fable; a very ready way of getting rid of difficulties which obstruct our Systems.-He endeavours to prove, that in the accounts which Minutius Felix and Athenagoras give of this matter, there were some circumstances inconsistent with the avowed history of Alexander: and from thence he concludes "Ita ad constituendam illam Fabellam, mendaciis merisque figmentis opus erat." Sect. xv. But if this be sufficient to convict the adventure of imposture, the best attested facts of Antiquity will be in danger; such, for instance, as the defeat of Julian's impious purpose to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem; to the true circumstances of which defeat, the Relators of it have added many very fabulous and absurd. However he acknowledges, that if Alexander did write such a Letter to his mother, the Fact will admit no further controversy. But the Letter, he says, was a forgery of some indiscreet Christian Writers, who being notorious Tricksters, and at the same time got into the general Opinion that the national Gods of the Pagans were dead men-what then?" Estne igitur mirum Tenebrionem nescio quem, in eorum gratiam talem Alexandri Epistolam confinxisse, eamque postea certatim alios in usum suum convertisse." Sect. xvi. VOL. II.

Falsarys,

Falsarys, of whatever time or profession, I suppose never forge but to supply some imaginary or real want. Thus these Christian Falsarys (as this learned writer observes) forged some Sibylline Oracles and books of Hermes Trismegistus. But why did they so? Because they foolishly imagined the FAITH wanted some support from the Prophecies and doctrines of the Pagans themselves. But with regard to the Opinion, that their Gods were dead men deified, the Profane Writings of best Authority were now full. Nothing therefore can be less founded than this suspicion. His next argument against the authenticity of the EPISTLES is indeed a pleasant one. If, says he, the ancient Philosophers had known any thing of this Epistle, their eternal disputations concerning the essence, nature and origin of the Egyptian Gods musthave been at an end. «Si Epistola illa, quam Patres laudant, genuina esset, tum quæstio de essentia, natura, & origine Deorum Ægyptiorum quæ veteres Philosophos tantopere exercuit, sic decisa et penitus finita fuisset, ut nemini amplius dubium superesse potuerit." Sect. xvi.-Did not the ancient Philosophers dispute full as much concerning the essence, nature and origin of the Grecian Gods? And yet this learned Writer confesses that the Grecian Mysteries taught that they were dead men deified. He must know little of the temper of the ancient Philosophers, who supposes that even an ORACLE, whether without or within the walls of the Mysteries (for oracular Responses were given there as well as at Delphi), could stop them in the career of Disputation. Cicero (we know), who is the Representative of them all, did not suffer his knowledge of what the Eleusinian Mysteries taught, to debar him from advancing a hundred different tenets and conjectures

i

conjectures concerning the essence, nature and origin both of the Egyptian and Grecian GODS.

But, continues the learned Doctor, "none of the profane Writers, Greek or Roman, ever mention this Epistle." "Non certe videmus unquam aliquem ad hoc oraculum confugere, aut ejus vel levissimam mentionem facere; non Varronem-non Ciceronemnon Diodorum Siculum-non Plutarchum"-Sect. xvi. Nothing indeed is more common, yet nothing is more sophistical, than to argue against a fact recorded by one single Ancient, or by one set of Ancients, because we cannot find it in any other. As if we had all Antiquity before us, and did not know that a few fragments only of that rich Cargo remain, of the Wreck of Barbarous Times. Beside, the silence (on this head) in those fragments we have gathered up, may be naturally accounted for. What the Mysteries every where taught, was so well known to the Learned, from numerous and authentic testimonies, concerning the Eleusinian and others, that it was nothing strange that neither Varro, Cicero, nor Diodorus Siculus should take any particular notice of this EPISTLE. I do not put Plutarch into the number of the silent, because the learned Dr. himself is forced to confess that, in the opinion of some learned men, this Ancient hath alluded to the Epistle in question. The words of Plutarch quoted above run thus, Alexander in his Epistle to his mother says, that there were certain Oracular Mysteries imparted to him, which, on his return, he would communicate to her under the same seal of Secrecy. Our learned Dr. thinks otherwise : and that what is said, in the Epistle quoted by Plutarch, means the response of a Common Oracle; while the Epistle mentioned by the Christian Writers refers to

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