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Pillar of Cloud and Fire,
Guided the Israelites in the Wilderness, not Miraculous:
B U T A
Thing equally practis'd by other nations,1 and in those places not only useful but necessary.
Perticam,£#<w undique conspici pojsetjfupra PraeTorium flatuit ; ex qua Signum eminebatpariter omnibus conspicuum. Observabatur Ignis no6tu> Fumus interdiu. Quint. Curt. lib. f. cap. 2.
LO NDON, Printed in the Year 1720.
H G D E G US:
; o R,
The Pillar of Cloud and Fire not Miraculous.
H AV E often wonder'd why many persons, deservedly famous for their literature and politeness, have in a manner cxprefly neglected the History of the most antient and famous nation of the Jews \ while they bestow'd abundance of pains, and show'd no less discernment, in their inquiries concerning the Greec, the Roman, and other Antiquities. The reason at first I thought to have been the small extent of the Jewish territories, the sterility of their warlike exploits (in comparison of those nations I have mention'd) with their ignorance of arts and useful inventions: ungrateful subjects for pleasure or instruction. But how just soever this censure
B z may may be of the Jews in certain particulars, yet their affairs were at all times intimately link'd, either with those of the Egyptians, or the Assyrians, or the Persians, or the Phenicians, or the Arabians j which were Nations, wherof some yielded not to the Greccs for Learning, but rather exceded them in that as well as in Commerce, others' of 'em equall'd the Romans in feats of Arms no less than in the arts of Government, and all of 'em went farr beyond both the Greccs and the Romans in point of Antiquity: not to fay that the Jews in process of time had, as every one knows, matters of the greatest concern to transact with these same Greecs and Romans, to whom they were likewise subjects or tributaries in their turns. Strange therfore they sliou'd be so much neglected!
II. BUT Experience taught me at last, that the true reason why Judea has lain thus uncultivated by the Laity, is the Clergy's wholly ingrossing that province for a long time to themselves, on the improvement of which they laid out -neither sufficient labor nor expense. This has made a soil appear very barren, that is otherwise fruitful enough, and capable to reward the industry of a judicious Critic. Now as some nations, the better to preserve their Mines to themselves, reported they were haunted by frightful dragons, or infested with noxious vapors: so those Clergymen preceded with no less art, and they often us'd violence, to deterr others from the study of the antient Jewish books. They made it sacrilege so much as to peep into them, without their licence. They gave out chat the reading of them wbu'd turn men's heads, and fill them with strange fancies. Nay we all know, that at length they quite and clean extorted them out of the