« 이전계속 »
Bigland's: “Egypt, where the rudiments of arts and sciences were invented; where philosophy was first studied; where civil polity was first reduced to a regular system; where human grandeur was displayed in every variety of form; and Greece, where the learning of Egypt was improved, corrected and methodized; and where every art and science that could embellish a nation, and improve the human intellect, were carried to a degree of perfection which has excited the admiration of all succeeding ages-are now plunged in the grossest barbarity and ignorance, and their magnificent edifices laid in ruins."
Scarcely any vestige remains of the magnificent productions of antiquity, except those amazing structures, the pyramids of Egypt, which have baffled the deepest researches of antiquarians; or the ruins of Balbec and Persepolis, the descriptions of which are in characters that cannot now be deciphered. But they serve for a confirmation of the authority of ancient history, and of the fulfilment of prophecies.
ON THE GRECIANS AND ROMANS.
HOW awful are the revolutions which we have traced in the kingdoms of men ! Cyrus was a fit instrument for the subversion of Babylonian superstition and idolatry, for the emancipation of the Jews from their long protracted captivity, for their restoration to their city, and to enable them to rebuild their temple. His descendants abolished much of the polytheism of the Egyptians, and the extension of their conquests opened the way, as we have seen, for spreading the koowledge of the Jews, and of their religion, throughout the eastern empires.
But tbe Persians degenerated exceedingly upon the acquisition of power and wealth. It is said, that Cyrus himself was in some degree the cause of that alteration ; for after his conquests, he affected the magnificence of the Medes, and desired the people should prostrate themselves in adoration before him..Darius Codowanus, one of his successors, was sunk in sensuality and effeminacy to that degree, that all wisdom and prudence seemed to be taken away from his councils ; and then his prodigious army fell an easy prey to the comparatively small force of Alexander, whose extensive conquests spread the knowledge of the Grecian language throughout the known world.
In consequence, the books of the Old Testament were translated into Greek, about one hundred years after the prophet Malachi. By these means the prophetic writings were communicated to the heathen nations ; and prepared them the more readily to submit to the authority of the Messiah, whom they knew by those characters which the Old Testament gave of him. This was an important and necessary step; because the Jews, by rejecting the Messiah when he came, disqualified themselves from being instrumental in converting other nations to Christianity.
Alexander had considerable dominions in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The division of his empire, which put an end to the Persian, caused a new dispersion of the Jews into Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Cyrene, and Lybia, whereby their synagogues became common in all those countries. Though the knowledge received from the
Jews did not effect a public reformation of Pagans, yet it greatly disposed men to receive the gospel, when it should be brought to them, Some even became Jews, and worshipped no other than the true and living God. Thus was the way gradually prepared for the introduction of the kingdoin of the Messiah.
But we saw in the explication of Daniel's vision of the great image having ten toes, and of the fourth beast with ten horns, that the Romans were to break in pieces and subdue all the for. mer kingdoms. The conspicuous figure which that people make in the prophecies, required that they should be distinguished beyond all other nations, which, we shall find by the suoceeding sketch, was fully demonstrated.
Rome, once the mighty mistress of the uni. verse, owed her rise, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, to a small colony of Albans, under the conduet of Romulus, the supposed grandson of Numitor, king of Alba ; according to the most authentic records, its foundation may be dated five hundred and seventy years before Christ; about one hundred and twenty years after the time when Lycurgus established his laws; and one hundred and forty years before the Athenians received those of Solon. The government first instituted by Romulus, the founder of this ex
traordinary empire, was that perfect sort, as it is termed by Dionysius and Polybius, which consisted of a due admixture of the regal, aristoeratic, and democratie powers.
'Whether the Romans would have continued regal power in their founder's family by hereditary succession, cannot be determined; because when komulus was put to death by the Patri. cians, (the nobles) for aiming at more power than was consistent with their limited monarchy, he left no children. Numa Pompilius, his successor, lived a retired life in the country, and unwillingly accepted of power; he was as great a lover of peace as Romulus had been of war; he thought it right to soften the manners of an intractable people by the introduction of good laws. Piety, and the art of governing, two qualities rarely to be met with in one person, were found united in Numa.
He took care to have a dread of the invisible Being, who sees and punishes offences, deeply engraven upon their hearts. According to Plutarch, the Romans had no images till 160 years after the foundation of the city, when Grecian deities were introduced, in opposition to a law of Romulus, which forbade the admission of strange gods. Numa introduced agriculture as a source of virtue and happiness to the people, and for