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to which answers were requested from themselves and the missionaries. The communications made in consequence of these queries were published in the work above mentioned. In these communications, and especially in those which relate to the Chinese language, Fathers Amiot and Cibot make the most respectable figure, and have given the most valuable information. Besides these, M. LE GENTIL, M. SONNERAT, and M. LANGLES, of France; and Sir WILLIAM JONES, Sir GEORGE STAUNTON, and others, of Great-Britain, have given the public some instructive accounts relating to the letters, arts, and philosophy of the Chinese empire.
The last conspicuous labourer in this field of inquiry is the Reverend Dr. HAGAR, a learned German, who resided a number of years in the east, and gained an uncommon acquaintance with the Chinese language. His knowledge enabled him to present the public with a work on this language, in which he entered into a more full and satisfactory explanation of its elementary characters than had been before attempted. This is the first systematic work that has been published in Europe on Chinese writing and reading, and evinces great industry and apparent skill in the author
It is worthy of remark, that all the investigations in oriental literature by which the last age was distinguished, furnished new and very im
* See Memoires Concernant l'Histoire, le Sciences, les Arts, &c. extending to a number of volumes in 4to.
y See An Explanation of the Elementary Cbaracters of the Chinese Language, with an Analysis of their Ancient Symbols and Hieroglyphics, &c. by JOSEPH HAGAR, D. D. Though this work was not actually published till the beginning of January, 1801; yet as both the acquisition of Dr. Hagar's Chinese learning, and the composition of this work belong to the eighteenth century, they have a place assigned them within that period.
portant arguments in favour of the truth of Revelation. Early in the century which is the subject of this retrospect, it was supposed, and some zealous adversaries of revealed religion diligently propagated the idea, that inquiries into the chronology and other sciences of several eastern nations, strongly opposed, and were in a fair way wholly to destroy the credibility of the Mosaic history. Assertions of this kind were, in particular, made with great confidence, by certain sceptical philosophers of France, who were always ready to believe any thing which might release them from the obligation to believe in Christianity. Later and more accurate investigations, however, have shown that this opinion is totally erroneous, and that the more deeply we penetrate into the literature and science of the east, the more striking evidence we find in favour of the scripture account of the creation and age of the world, and also in support of several important doctrines of the Gospel.
The light which modern oriental inquiries have thrown on the Mosaic system of chronology was before mentioned. Those who undertook to assail the sacred history by means of arguments drawn. from the high assumptions of the Brahmans, and of the literati of other eastern nations, have been completely refuted; indeed the annals of science scarcely furnish an instance of hostile invaders being more entirely defeated, and their arms turned more directly against themselves. It has been proved by indisputable authorities,
" that the personages who are said to have flourished so many thousand years in the earliest ages, were of celestial, not terrestrial origin; that their empire was the empire of imagination in the skies, not of real power on this globe of earth; that the day and year of Brahmah, and the day and year of mortals,
are of a nature widely different; that the whole jargon of the Yugs, or grand periods, and, consequently, all those presumptuous `assertions of the Brahmans, relative to the earth's antiquity, have no foundation but in the great solar and lunar cycles, or planetary revolutions."
Very rich and curious information has also been derived from late oriental inquiries, which serves at once to illustrate and confirm the scripture doctrine of the Trinity. One of the most learned and accurate orientalists of the age considers the following facts as decisively established by recent investigations, viz. “ First, that in the Sephiroth, or three superior splendours of the ancient Hebrews, may be discovered the three hypostases of the Christian Trinity; secondly, that this doctrine flourished through nearly all the empire of Asia, a thousand years before Plato was born; and, thirdly, that the grand cavern-pagoda of Elephanta; the oldest and most magnificent temple in the world, is neither more nor less than a superb temple to a Tri-une God.” If the doctrine of the Trinity be contained in the Old Testament scriptures, as it certainly is; and if some knowledge of this stupendous mystery of our holy religion were conveyed to the faithful in the earliest times, which we may safely presume to have been the case; then it was natural that some ideas of this doctrine, more or less distinct, and connected with a greater or less portion of fable, should be found, as the result of tradition, in most nations of the world. That this is really the case, the learned have long had increasing reason to believe. But the inquiries of the eighteenth century, and especially those instituted in the east, have rendered this truth more indisputably apparent than ever, and have thus
Sec Mavrica's Indian Antiquities, and his History of Hindostani
furnished new evidence in favour of those precious doctrines which are connected with it, and which are fully brought to light in the gospel.
Similar references to the Fall of man, and the Deluge, have also been found by discoveries in the east, as well as allusions of the most remarkable kind to the mission and character of the MESSIAH; all tending to support the idea of a common faith having descended by tradition from the family of Noah to their posterity; and thus to furnish a new, and, considered in all its relations, a most powerful argument in favour of the authenticity of the sacred history.
This tendency of literary and scientific discoveries in the east, to confirm the sacred history, has been ably displayed by Sir WILLIAM JONES, and other contemporary writers whose inquiries appear in the Asiatic Researches; but by none so exten, șively, and in a manner so convincing and popular, as the Reverend Mr. MAURICE, of Great-Britain, who, in his Indian Antiquities, and his History of Hindostan, has presented a view of the subject, so incontrovertible and satisfactory as to place him among the most meritorious defenders of Revela. tion which modern times have produced.
The illustration of sacred scripture by means of circumstances incidentally mentioned in books of eastern travels, is a most interesting and instructive field of inquiry, both to the philosopher and the Christian. Services of this nature, more rich and valuable than ever before, have been rendered to biblical criticism, during the eighteenth century. One of the most useful writers on this subject which the age produced, was the Reverend Mr. HARMER, of Great-Britain. He published an extensive and learned work, in which, by means of information derived from voyagers and travellers in the east, he placed many passages of scripture in a light altogether new; ascertained the meaning of others, not discoverable by the methods commonly used by interpreters; and proposed many probable conjectures highly instructive to the sacred critic. Several other writers of considerable note have also presented the public with useful observations on the same subject.
IN this chapter it will only be attempted to present some brief and general remarks on the improvements which have been received during the last age by the more cultivated living languages of Europe. To propose a discussion of greater extent would be to engage in an inquiry altogether incommensurate with the design and the limits of the present sketch.
There is no living language in Europe which can boast of greater antiquity than five or six centuries. Derived from various sources, and rising from rude beginnings, to a regular and consistent character, they have been gradually becoming more rich, copious, and polished during the greater part of this time. To trace the causes and the means of these improvements through their interrupted and devious course, is here neither necessary nor possible. It would be a task of great magnitude and difficulty to the most accomplished philologist.
a See Observations on divers Passages of Scripture, &c. 4 vols. 8vo. 1776 and 1787