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to alter the name. For he is there said Artes Magicas primo invenisse, i. e. “ that he was the first inventor of Magianism," which Zoroastres only was generally taken to be, though in truth he was not the founder of that sect, but only the restorer and reformer of it, as shall be hereafter shown.
"He was the greatest impostor, except Mahomet, that ever appeared in the world, and had all the craft and enterprising boldness of that Arab, but much more knowledge. For he was excellently skilled in all the learning of the East that was in his time; whereas the other could neither write nor read; and particularly he was thoroughly versed in the Jewish religion, and in all the sacred writings of the Old Testament, that were then extant, which makes it most likely, that he was as to his origin a Jew. And it is generally said of him, that he had been a servant to one of the prophets of Israel, and that it was by this means that he came to be so well skilled in the Holy Scripture, and all other Jewish knowledge, which is a farther proof, that he was of that people, it not being likely that a prophet of Israel should entertain him as a servant, or instruct him as a disciple, if he were not of the same seed of Israel, as well as of the same religion with him; and that especially since it was the usage of that people by principle of religion, as well as by long-received custom among them, to separate themselves from all other nations, as far as they were able. And it is farther to be taken notice of, that most of those who speak of his original, say that he was of Palestine, within which country the land of Judea was. And all this put together amounts with me to a convincing proof, that he was first a Jew, and that by birth, as well as religion, before he took upon him to be prophet of the Magian sect.
"The prophet of Israel to whom he was a servant, some say was Elias, and others Ezra ; but as the former was too early, so the other was too late for the time in which he lived; with this best agreeth, what is said by a third sort of writers, that it was one of the disciples of Jeremiah, with whom he served, and if so, it must have been either Ezekiel or Daniel. For besides these two, there was no other prophet of Israel in those times, who could have been of the disciples of Jeremiah. And as Daniel was of age sufficient at his carrying away to Babylon (he having been then about eighteen years old) to have been some time before under the discipline and tutorage of that prophet, so having continued till about the end of the reign of Cyrus, he lived long enough to have been contemporary with this impostor, which cannot be said of Ezekiel. For we hear nothing more of him after the twenty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, which was the year next after the taking of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. And therefore it is most likely, that he lived not much beyond that time. It must therefore be Daniel under whom this impostor served. and besides him there was not any other
master in those times, under whom he could acquire all that knowledge, both in things sacred and profane, which he was so well furnished with. And no doubt his seeing that great, good, and wise man, arrive to such an height and dignity in the empire, by being a true prophet of God, was that, which did set this crafty wretch upon the design of being a false one, hoping that by acting this part well he might obtain the same advancement, and by pretending to that which the other really was, arrive to the like honour and greatness; and it must be said, that by his craft and dexterity in managing this pretence he wonderfully succeeded in what he aimed at. It is said, that while he served the prophet, under whom he was bred, he did by some evil action draw on him his curse, and that thereon he was smitten with leprosy. But they who tell us this, seem to be such, who finding Eliah, said to be his master, mistook Elisha for Eliah, and therefore thought Gehazi to have been the person.
"He did not found a new religion, as his successor in imposture, Mahomet, did, but only took upon him to revive and reform an old one, that of the Magians, which had been for many ages past the ancient national religion of the Medes as well as of the Persians. For it having fallen under disgrace on the death of those ringleaders of that sect, who had usurped the sovereignty after the death of Cambyses, and the slaughter which was then made of all the chief men among them, it sunk so low, that it became almost extinct, and Sabianism every where prevailed against it, Darius and most of his followers on that occasion going over to it. But the affection which the people had for the religion of their forefathers, and which they had been all brought up in, not being easily to be rooted out, Zoroastres saw, that the revival of this was the best game of imposture that he could then play, and having so good an old stock to graft upon, he did with the greater ease make all his new scions to grow, which he inserted into it.
"He first made his appearance in Media, now called Aderbijan, in the city of Xiz say some; in that of Ecbatana, now Tauris, say others. For Smerdis having been of that province, it is most likely, that the sect, which he was of, had still there its best rooting. And therefore the impostor thought he might in those parts with the best success attempt the revival of it. And his first appearing here is that, which I suppose hath given some the handle to assert, that this was the country in which he was born.
"The chief reformation which he made in the Magian religion was in the first principle of it. For whereas before they had held the being of two first causes, the first light, or the good God, who was the author of all good; and the other darkness, or the evil God, who was the author of all evil; and that of the mixture of these two, as they were in a continual struggle with
each other, all things were made, he introduced a principle superior to them both, one supreme God, who created both light and darkness, and out of these two, according to the alone pleasure of his own will, made all things else that are, according to what is said in the 45th chapter of Isaiah, v. 5, 6, 7, "I am the Lord and there is none else; there is no God besides me; I girded thee, though thou hast not known me, that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things." For these words being directed to Cyrus, King of Persia, must be understood as spoken in reference to the Persian sect of the Magians, who then held light and darkness, or good and evil, to be the supreme beings, without acknowledging the great God, who is superior to both. And I doubt not it was from hence that Zoroastres had the hint of mending this great absurdity in their theology. But to avoid making God the author of evil, his doctrine was, that God originally and directly created only light or good, and that darkness or evil followed it by consequence, as the shadow doth the person, that light or good had only a real production from God, and the other afterwards resulted from it, as the defect thereof. In sum, his doctrine as to this particular was, that there was one supreme Being independent and self-existing from all eternity. That under him there were two angels, one the angel of light, who is the author and director of all good; and the other the angel of darkness, who is the author and director of all evil; and that these two out of the mixture of light and darkness made all things that are; that they are in a perpetual struggle with each other; and that where the angel of light prevails, there the most is good, and where the angel of darkness prevails, there the most is evil; that this struggle shall continue to the end of the world; that then there shall be a general resurrection, and a day of judgment, wherein just retribution shall be rendered to all according to their works. After which the angel of darkness and his disciples shall go into a world of their own, where they shall suffer in everlasting darkness the punishments of their evil deeds. And the angel of light and his disciples shall also go into a world of their own, where they shall receive in everlasting light the reward due unto their good deeds, and that after this they shall remain separated for ever, and light and darkness be no more mixed together to all eternity. And all this the remainder of that sect, which is now in Persia and India, do without any variation, after so many ages, still hold even to this day.* And how consonant this is to the truth is plain enough to be understood without a comment. And whereas he taught, that
This doctrine has been borrowed by the Christians from the Persians and Indians; but it is not found in the books of the Jews.--R. C.
God originally created the good angel only, and that the other' followed only by the defect of good, this plainly shows that he was not unacquainted with the revolt of the fallen angels, and the entrance of evil into the world that way, but had been thoroughly instructed how that God at first created all his angels good, as he also did man, and that they that are now evil became such wholly through their own fault in falling from that state, which God first placed them in. All which plainly shows the author of this doctrine to have been well versed in the sacred writings of the Jewish religion,* out of which it manifestly appears to have been all taken, only the crafty impostor took care to dress it up in such a style and form, as would make it best agree with that old religion of the Medes and Persians, which he grafted it upon.
"Another reformation which he made in the Magian religion, was, that he caused fire-temples to be built wherever he came. For whereas hitherto they had erected their altars, on which their sacred fire was kept, on the tops of hills, and on high places in the open air, and there performed all the offices of their religious worship, where often by rain, tempests, and storms, the sacred fire was extinguished, and the holy offices of their religion interrupted and disturbed, for the preventing of this he directed, that wherever any of those altars were erected, temples should be built over them, that so the sacred fires might be the better preserved, and the public offices of their religion the better performed before them. For all the parts of their public worship were performed before these public sacred fires, as all their private devotions were before private fires in their own houses, not that they worshipped the fire (for this they always disowned) but God in the fire. For Zoroastres, among other his impostures, having feigned, that he was taken up into heaven, there to be instructed in those doctrines, which he was to deliver unto men,† he pretended not (as Mahomet after did) there to have seen God, but only to have heard him speaking to him out of the midst of a great and most bright flame of fire, and therefore taught his followers, that fire was the truest shecinah of the divine presence; that the sun being the perfectest fire, God had there the throne of his glory, and the residence of his divine presence, in a more excellent manner, than any where else, and next that in the elementary fire with us; and for this reason he ordered them still to direct all their worship to God, first towards the sun (which they called Mithra) and next towards their sacred fires, as being the things, in which God chiefly dwelt, and their ordinary way of worship was to do so towards both. For when they came before these fires to worship, they always approached them on the
*Or the Jews to have borrowed from the Persians. But the truth is, the Jew Books say nothing about the revolt or falling of angels.- R. C. + So, has it been said, for Moses, Jesus, and Paul.-R C.
west side, that having their faces towards them, and also towards the rising sun at the same time, they might direct their worship towards both. And in this posture they always performed every act of their worship. But this was not a new institution of his. For thus to worship, before fire and the sun, was, as hath been said, the ancient usage of that sect, and according hereto is it, that we are to understand what we find in the sixteenth verse of the eighth chapter of Ezekiel, where it is related, that the prophet being carried in a vision to Jerusalem to see the abominations of that place, among other impieties had there shown him "about five-and-twenty men standing between the porch and the altar with their backs towards the temple of the Lord, and their faces towards the east, and they worshipped the sun." The meaning of which is, that they had turned their backs upon the true worship of God, and had gone over to that of the Magians. For the holy of holies (in which was the shecinah of the divine presence resting over the mercy-seat) being on the western end of the temple at Jerusalem, all that entered thither to worship God, did it with their faces turned that way. For that was their kebla, or the point towards which they always directed their worship. But the kebla of the Magians being the rising sun, they always worshipped with their faces turned that way, that is, towards the cast. And therefore these five-andtwenty men, by altering their kebla, are shown to have altered their religion, and instead of worshipping God according to the Jewish religion, to have gone over to the religion and worship of the Magians.
"Zoroastres having thus retained in his reformation of Magianism the ancient usage of that sect in worshipping God before fire, to give the sacred fires in the temples which he had erected the greater veneration, he pretended, that when he was in heaven, and there heard God speaking to him out of the midst of fire, he brought thence some of that fire with him on his return, and placed it on the altar of the fire-temple, that he erected, (which was that at Xiz in Media) from whence they say it was propagated to all the rest. And this is the reason, which is given for their so careful keeping of it. For their priests watch it day and night, and never suffer it to go out or be extinguished. And for the same reason also they did treat it with that superstition, that they fed it only with wood stripped of its bark, and of that sort, which they thought most clean, and they never did blow it either with bellows or with their breach, for fear of polluting it; and to do this either of those ways, or to cast any unclean thing into it, was no less than death by the law of the land, as long as those of that sect reigned in it, which from the time of Zoroastres to the death of Yazdegerd, the last Persian king of the Magian religion, was about cleven hundred and fifty years; yea, it went so far, that the priests themselves never approached this fire, but with a cloth over their mouths, that they might not breathe