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the ancient nations, we may, from detached passages in fa. cred writ, ascertain the progress which had been made in it during the patriarchal times.
21. We know, from the history of civil society, that the commercial intercourse between men must be pretty confid. erable, before the metals come to be considered as the me. dium of trade ; and yet this was the case even in the days of Abraham.
22. It appears, however, from the relations which eftablish this fact, that the use of money had not been of an ancient date ; it had no mark to ascertain its weight or fine. ness : and in a contract for a burying-place, in exchange for which Abraham gave silver, the metal is weighed in prefe ence of all the people.
23. But as commerce improved, and bargains of this fort became more common, this practice was laid aside, and the quantity of silver was ascertained by a particular mark, which faved the trouble of weighing it. But this does not appear to have taken place till the time of Jacob, the second from Abraham..
24. The refilah, of which we read in his time, was a piece of money, stamped with the figure of a lamb, and of a precise and stated value. It appears, from the history of Jofeph, that the commerce between different nations was by this time regularly carried on.
25. The Ishmaelites and Midianites, who bought him of his brethren, were travelling merchants, resembling the modern caravans, who carried spices, perfumes, and other rich commodities, from their own country into Egypt. The same observations may be made from the book of Job, who, according to the best writers, was a native of Arabia Felix, and also a contemporary with Jacob.
26. He speaks of the roads of Thema and Saba, that is, of the caravans which set out from those cities of Arabia. If we reflect, that the commodities of this country were rather the luxuries than the conveniences of life, we hall have reason to conclude, that the countries into which they were fent for sale, and particularly Egypt, were considerably improved in arts and refinement : for people do not think of luxuries, till the useful arts have made high advancement among them.
27. In speaking of commerce, we ought carefully to distinguish between the fpecies of it which is carried on by land, or inland commerce, and that which is carried on by fea : which last kind of traffic is both later in its origin, and flower in its progress.
28. Had the descendants of Noah been left to their own ingenuity, and received no tincture of the antediluvian knowledge from their wife ancestors, it is improbable that they should have ventured on navigating the open seas so soon as we find they did.
29. That branch of his posterity, who settled on the coasts of Palestine, were the first people of the world among whom navigation was made fubfervient to commerce : they were distinguished by a word, which, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies merchants, and are the same nation afterwards known to the Greeks by the name of Phænicians. Inhabiting a barren and ungrateful foil, they fet themselves to better their situation by cultivating the arts.
30. Commerce was their capital object': and, with all the writers of pagan antiquity, they pass for the inventor's of whatever is fubfervient to it. At the time of Abraham they were regarded as a powerful nation ; their maritime commerce is mentioned by Jacob in his last words to his children ; and, if we may believe Herodotus in a matter of such remote antiquity, the Phænicians had by this time nav. igated the coasts of Greece, and carried off the daughter of Inachus.
31. The arts of agriculture, commerce and navigation, fuppose the knowledge of several others ; astronomy, for inítance, or a knowledge of the situation and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, is necessary both to agriculture and navigation ; that of working metals, to commerce ; and so of other arts.
32. In fact, we find that before the death of Jacob, fev. eral nations were so well acquainted with the revolutions of the moon, as to measure by them the duration of their year.
33. It had been an universal custom among all the na. tions of antiquity as weil as the Jews, to divide time into the portion of a week, or seven days : this undoubtedly arose from the tradition with regard to the origin of the tvorld. It was natural for those nations who led a pastorri life, or who lived under a serene sky, to obferve that the various appearances of the moon were completed nearly in
four weeks : hence the division of a mouih. :: 34. Those people again who lived by agriculture, and
who had gotten among them the divifion of the month, would naturally remark, that twelve of these brought back the same temperature of the air, or the same seasons : hence the origin of what is called the lunar year, which has every where taken place in the infancy of science.. ,
35. This, together with the observation of the fixed stars, which, as we learn from the book of Job, must have been very ancient, naturally paved the way for the discovery of the folar year, which at that time would be thought an immense improvement in astronomy. . 36. But with regard to those branches of knowledge which we have mentioned, it is to be remembered, that they were peculiar to the Egyptians, and a few nations of Alia. Europe offers a frightful spectacle during this period. . .
37. Who could believe that the Greeks, who in later a. ges became the patterns of politeness and every elegant art, were descended from a savage race of men, traversing the woods and wilds, inhabiting the rocks and caverns, a wretched prey to wild animals, and sometimes to one another? This, however, is no more than what was to be expected.
38. The descendants of Noah, who removed at a great distance from the plains of Shinar, lost all connection with the civilized part of mankind. Their posterity became still more ignorant ; and the human mind was at length funk into an abyss of misery and wretchedness.
39. We might naturally expect, that from the death of Jacob, and as we advance forward in time, the history of the great empires of Egypt and Assyria would emerge from their obscurity. This, however, is far from being the case: we only get a glimpse of them, and they disappear entirely for many ages.
40. After the reign of Ninius, who succeeded Semira. mis and Ninus in the Assyrian throne, we find an astonish. ing blank in the history of this empire, for no less than eight hundred years. The filence of ancient history on this sub. ject, is commonly attributed to the softness and effeminacy of the fuccessors of Ninus, whose lives afforded no events worthy of narration.
41. Wars and commotions are the great themes or the historian, while the gentle and happy reigns of wise princes pass unobserved and unrecorded. Sefoitris, a prince of wonderful abilities, is supposed to have mounted the throne of Egypt after Ameniophis, who was swallowed in the Red Sea about the year before Christ one thousand four hundred and ninety-tivo ; by his assiduity and attention, the civil and military establishments of the Egyptians received very considerable improvements.
42. Egypt, in the time of Seloitris, and his immediate fucceffors, was in all probability the most powerful kingdom on earth, and, according to the best calculation, is fupposed to have contained twenty-seven millions of inhabitants. But ancient history often excites, without gratifying our curiosity : for, from the reign of Sefoftris to that of Bocchoris, in the year before Christ seven hundred and eighty-one, we have little knowledge of even the names of the intermediate princes..
43. If we judge, however, from collateral circumstances, the country must still have continued in a very flourilling condition ; for Egypt continued to pour forth her colo. nies into distant nations.
44. Athens, that feat of learning and politeness, that fchool for all who aspire after wisdom, owes its foundation to Cecrops, who landed in Greece with an Egyptian colony, and endeavored to civilize the rough manners of the
original inhabitants. From the institutions which Cecrops · eitablished among the Athenians, it is easy to infer in what fituations they must have lived before his arrival.
45. The laws of marriage, with which few nations are fo barbarous as to be altogether unacquainted, were not known in Greece. Mankind, like the beasts of the field, were propagated by accidental rencounters, and with little knowledge of those to whom they owed their generation. Cranaus, who succeeded Cecrops in the kingdom of Attica, pursued the same beneficial plan, and endeavored by wife institutions, to bridle the keen passions of a rude people.
46. Whilst these princes used their endeavors for civiliza ing this corner of Greece, the other kingdoms, into which this country, by the natural boundaries of rocks, mountains and rivers, is divided, and which had been already peopled
by colonies from Egypt and the east, began to affume fome appearance of form and regularity.
47. This engaged Amphictyon, one of those uncommon geniuses who appear in the world for the benefit of the age in which they live, and the admiration of pofterity, to think of fome expedient by which he might unite in one plan of politics the several independent kingdoms of Greece, and thereby deliver them from those intestine divisions, which must render them a prey to one another, or to the first ene, iny who might think proper to invade them. . .
48. These reflections he communicated to the kings, or léaders of the different territories ; and by his eloquence and address engaged twelve cities to unite together for their mu. tual preservation. Two deputies from each of these cities allembled twice a year at Thermopylæ, and formed what, after the name of its founder, was called the Amphictyonic counců.
49. In this assembly, whatever related to the general in terest of the confederacy was discussed, and finally determined. Amphictyon likewise, sensible that those political connections are the most lasting which are strengthened by religion, committed to the Amphictyons the care of the temple at Delphi, and of the riches which, from the dedi. cations cf those who consulted the oracle, had been amall. ed in it.
50. This assembly, constituted on such solid foundations, was the great spring of action in Greece, while that country preserved its independence ; and, by the union which it inspired among the Greeks, enabled them to defend their liberties against all the force of the Persian empire. :51. Confidering the circumstances of the age in which it was instituted, tlie Amphictyonic council is perhaps the most remarkable political establishment which ever took place among mankind. In the year before Christ one thou. fand three hundred and twenty-two, the Isthmian games were instituted at Corinth; and one thousand three hundred ! and three the famous Olympic games by Pelops. .
52. The Greek states, who formerly had no connection with one another; except by mutual inroads and hoftilities, foon began to act with concert, and to undertake distant ex. peditions for the general interest of the community. The