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Opinions concerning the time when Homer lived; the first of which, places him in the time of the destru&ich of Troy; the last, Five hundred Years after it. Was there never therefore any such Poet, but were the Books under his Name made by chance, not only without Truth, but without Design, by the lucky meeting together of Letters and Words? It is uncertain
when the City of Rome was first built ; for * Salust, and others, contrary to the common Opinion, that it was founded by Romulus, have ascribed the Foundation of it to the Trojans. And those who make Romulus the Founder, yet are at a strange disagreement concerning the Parents of Romulus, and the time of his Birth. Some h have called his Mothers Name Ilia, fome Rhea, fome Silvia ; others, as Livy, Rhea Silvia ; yet still there is a farther diffe-. . rence about the time of the Foundation of the City, which has occasioned great Disputes among Chronologers. What then must follow from hence? Why, if the uncertainty of the time when any Fact was done, imply the uncertainty of the Fact it self, we must fairly conclude, that it is uncertain whether Rome was ever built at all, or at least, we must, with rarius believe, that there never was any such Man as Romulus. The Copies of Diogenes Laertius place the time of Epicurus's Death nine years before he was born, as " Menagius has observed ; but the Enemies of Religion have too great a value for Epicurus, to give him up for that reason, and to conclude that there never was such a Man. But it is yet more strange, that the time of fo late and so remarkable a thing as the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, should be placed by some á Year fooner than by others. This was an Action known and discoursed of throughout all
Saluft. Bell. Caralin. Dionyf, Halicar. l. 1.
Europe, and is a pregnant instance, how little Reason there is to dispute the Certainty, of a thing from any Uncertainty of Time, if other Circumstances concur to assure us of the Truth of it. The Chronologers are not a little ashamed, says Mr. Gregory, that they should not be able to satisfy us , concerning fo late and famous a Calamity, as the Siege of Constantinople by Mahumed the Second'.
II. The differences in Chronology do not imply, that there was any Chronological Mistake made by the Pen-men of the Holy Scriptures, but they arise from the Mistakes of Transcribers or Expositors. To be convinced of this, we need only reflect a little upon some of those things, which are apt to cause Mistakes in the Computations of Chronology; and it will soon appear, how unreasonable it is to imagine, that no Book can be of Divine Inspiration, which is not fitted to secure Men from the Errors, which it is natural for them to commit in things of that Intricacy.
1. Many difficulties in Chronology are occasion d . by not observing, that that which had been said before in the general, is afterwards resum'd and deliver'd in the Particulars contain’d under it. For the total Sum of any Term of Years being set down first, before the Particulars have been infifted upon and explain’d, has led some into Mistakes, by supposing, that the Particulars afterwards mention'd were not to be comprehended in it, but to be reckon'd apart, as if they had happen'd afterwards in order of Time, because they are laft related in the course of the History, Thus Gen. xi. 26. it is said that Terab lived seventy years and begåt Abram; and verf. 32. that the days of Terah were two bundred and five years : and Terab died in Haran. But Gen. xii. 4. it is written that Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran : which is inconsistent, if we suppose that Abram
! Jo, Greg. de Æris & Epochis, c.iii,
liv'd in Haran till the Death of his Father Terah : but if we consider that the whole number of years which Terah liv’d, is set down Gen. xi. 32. and that the Departure of Abram out of Haran, which is related Gen. xii. yet happen'd before his Father's Death, there will be no Inconsistency; but it will be evident, if Terab. was but seventy years old when Abram was begotten, and Abram was but seventy five years old when he went out of Haran, that Abram left his Father Terah in Haran, where he liv'd after Abram's departure from him to the Age of two hundred and five years. Though during his Father's Life, he did upon occasion return to Haran. For the final Removal of Abram was not till the Death of his father, as we learn from Axts vii. 4. And if this way of relating that in General first, which is afterwards set forth in the Particulars, be attended to in the Interpretation of the Scriptures, it will afford a Solution of many Difficulties, as m St. Austin has observ’d, which otherwise are inexplicable. Others suppose Abram was the youngest of Terab's Sons, though mention'd first, and then there is no Difficulty in the Chronology; only by this and other Instances we may observe that the eldest Brother is not always placed first in Scripture, but sometimes the youngest, out of respect to him, for his Favour with God, and his greater Dignity and Worth: and therefore whatever Difficulties in Chronology arise upon this Supposition , that the Son first named must therefore necessarily be first born, proceed from a Mistake.
2. Sometimes the principal number is set down, and the odd or lesser number is omitted, which being added to the great or principal number in some other place, causes a difference not to be reconciled, but by considering that it is customary in the best Authors not always to mention the lesser numbers, where the
Aug. Qu. Sup. Genef. c.25.
matter doth not require it. And we have evident Proof of this in the Scriptures. . The time of the fojourning of the Children of Israel in the
Land of Canaan , and of their dwelling in Egypt is said to be the space of four hundred years, Gen. xv. 13. Afts vii. 6. which yet was in all four hundred and thirty years, Exod. xii. 40. Gal. iii. 17. The Ifraelites, who came out of Egypt, are computed to be fix hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty, Num.i.46. ii. 32. but Moses speaking of them, Num. xi. 21. leaves out the three thousand and five hundred and fifty. Ferubbual or Gideon is said to have had threescore and ten Sons by his Wives, besides Abimelech, whom he had by a Concubine, Judg. viii. 30, 31. and Abimelech is often said to have slain
these threescore and ten Brethren, though Jotham the youngest of them is at the same time said to have escaped, Judg. ix. 5, 18, 24, 55. The Benjamites that were slain, Judg. xx. 35. are said to be twenty and five thousand and an hundred men, whereas verf. 46. they are reckond only twenty and five thousand Men. I Cor. xv. g. we read that our Saviour was seen of Cephas', then of the twelve, though St. Matthias was not chosen into the number of the Apostles till after the Ascension of Christ, and S. Mark says precisely that he appeared unto the eleven, as they samat meat, Mark xvi. 14. Thus in Heathen Author's the Trojan "Fleet is said to consist of a thoufand Ships, whereas Homer makes them two hundred more, as • Thucydides reckons them, or one hundred fixty lix, by his Scholiast's counting, but the Historian did not care to be so punctual. An Phundred Acres of Land
* $i, inquam, numerus non eft ad amuffim ; ut non est, cum dicimus mille naves iiffe ad Trojam, centumvirale effe judicium Romæ. Varro de Re Rust. I. ii. c. I.
Thucyd. 1. i. c. 10. P Cencuriam nunc dicimus (ut idem Varro ait) ducentorum juge. rum modum : olim autem ab ceņtum jugeribus vocabatur Centuria ;
was by the Romans calld Centuria ; but in process of time the same Name was given to double that Number of Acres. The Tribes had that Denomination, because they at first were but Three; but still kept that Name, though they were 9 Thirty five. The Judges styled Centumviri, were at first five more than an hundred, and afterwards * almost twice that number, yet ftill they retain’d the same Name; as the LXXII İnterpreters are commonly styled the Septuagint. Since therefore it is manifest, that the lesser Numbers are sometimes omitted both in the Old and New Testament, as well as in other Authors, and the principal and greater numbers, whether more or less than the precise Calculation, are only set down, and at other times the lesser Numbers are specified, it is reasonable to make Abatements for this in adjusting the accounts of Chronology.
3. Sometimes an Epocha may be mistaken by Chronologers : as Gen. vi. 3. And the Lord said, my Spirit shall not always strive with man : for that he also is flesh, yer bis days shall be an hundred and twenty years. But from Gen. V. 32. compared with Gen. viii. 13. the Flood must happen but an hundred years after these Words seem to have been spoken : though if we compute not from the time, when this was threatned but from the beginning of Man's Apostasy, which we may suppose then to have been already Twenty years, there will be no Difficulty in it. Or else the Threatning , though placed after it , might be denounced Twenty years before the Five hundredth year of Noab's Age, which falls under the Observation abovemention’d of St. Austin. * St. Jerom indeed says, that the time allow'd Mankind for Repentance was fed mox duplicata nomen recinuit : ficuti Tribus dictæ primum à par. tibus populi tripartito divisi, quæ tamen nunc multiplicatæ priftinum nomen poflidenr. Columell. lib. v. C. I. 9 Cic. in Rullum,
Plin, I. vi. Epift. 33.