In England neare Salisbury there is a piece of antiquity called Stonehenge {illeg} \wch seems to be an ancient Pyrethæa|rytanæum|. For {illeg} it is/ an area compassed wth two circular row circularly wth two rows of \very/ great stones & seems to be an ancient Pyræum \wth passages on all sides for people to go in and out at./ Tis said th that there are some pieces of antiquity of the same kind form & structure in Denmark. \For its to be conceived that the Vestal Temples of all nations as well as of the Medes & Persians were at first nothing more then open round areas wth a fire in ye middle, till {illeg} \towns & cities/ united under one city & {illeg} common councils & built them more sumptuously./ In Ireland one of these fires was conserved \till of late years/ by the Moncks of Kildare under ye name of Brigets fire & ye Cænobium was called the house of fire. The same worship was in use also till among the Tartars, as William de Rubruquis & Iohn Plancarpinius inform us.[1] And ye t[2] Indians still keep this sacred fire & call it Homan. v[3] Benjamin Tudensis found the s this|e| \same/ fire worshipped by in ye certain Il|s|lands of ye East Indies wch he calls Chener Chenerag. And travellours report the same thing of China ‡ < insertion from f 3v > ‡ And travellors report the same thing of China. And b[4] Bardasanes the a Syrian who lived in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, writes that amongst the Seres (or inhabitants of China) the worship of Images was then prohibited by a law & that in all that very large region there was not a Temple to be seen. Whence I seem to gather that the Chineses till those days had only open Prytanea without houses such as were in use among the Medes or Persians. And the same seems to be true of the Bactri old & ancint {sic} Indians & Bactrians. For the same c[5] Bardasanes tells us that that though {illeg} some Indians worship{illeg}ped Idols & were vicious yet the Brachmans who were th very numerous in India & Bactria absteined from ye worship of Idols & lived virtuously προσέχοντες τω θεω. Some tell us that Zo\ro/aster from whome the Persians had their sacra, was king of Bactria & for this assertion there could have been no pretence had not the \old/ religion of ye Brachmans been ye same wth that of ye Persians.

And in general the \the worsh Vestal worship was of old so common and universal that/ a[6] it was part of the ancient Theology of the ancient inhabitant {sic} of the Island Crete that Vesta found out the building of houses & for this benefit almost all men placed her in their houses {illeg} & vouchsafed her honours & sacrifices. < text from f 3r resumes > \And indeed it seems to me that Temples in all nations had their original from ye Prytanea/anea\. For when several citi cities uniting under one common council let their proper fires go out: their Temples still continuing seem to have given a beginning to such Temples as were wthout a fire. And therefore the Medes & Persians who united wthout a common standing Council T{illeg} temples in other nations had their original fire {illeg} Prytanea. For {illeg} had no other Temples yn the Prytanea./ So then this religion of conserving a {illeg} sacred fire for ye use of Sacrifices seems to have been as well the most universal as ye most ancient of all religions & to have spread into all nations before other religions took place. There \are/ many {illeg} instances of other nations receiving this \other/ religions after this but none (that I know) of any nations receiving this after any other \Nor did any other religion wch sprang up later become so general as this./ < insertion from f 3v > |See ye backside.| And tho divers fals others sprang up after it yet this f kept the precedency as an argument \mark/ of its {illeg} primogeniture & birthright. ffor b[7] Strabo tells us that when ye Persians sacrificed to any God they first p\r/ayed to the fire. And Servius in illud 1 Æn. Cana Fides et Vesta: Vestam religionem dicit, quia nullum sacrificium sine igne est, ipsaqꝫ in omnibus invocantur, & a[8] Tully: Quod sacrificium tam vetustum quam hoc [Vestalium] quod a Regibus æquale huic urbi accepimus? And c[9] Aristocritus: that Of all things which were sacrificed the first fruits were offered to Vesta, & this by ye concession \he represents was granted her/ of|by| Iupiter in the silver age, so that it was ye law of Nations. Whence that of d[10] Aristophenes {illeg}

ἀλλ᾽ ἱνα

Ἀφ᾽ Ἑστίας ἁρχόμενος ἐπιτρίψω τινά

A Vesta incipiens ut contundam quempiam.

So b[11] Herodotus tells us of the Scythians that they worship first Vesta & then Iupiter & ye other Gods. < text from f 3r resumes > And hence And hence {sic} I gather these things.

ffirst that this \was the/ religion was \of Noah & from him/ spread into all nations at ye first peopling of the earth. For when \so soon as/ Noah used sacrifices by fire Gen. came out of ye Ark <4r> {he} built {illeg} \an/ altar & offered burt {sic} offerings of all the \every/ clean Beasts & fowls every clean ffowl unto ye Lord. Gen. 8 & therefore ye religion of sacrificing by fire was in use before ye flood. ffor it seems to have been ye religion of Cain & Abel when they offered the first fruits of their corn & heards, & {illeg} therefore to have been the religion instituted by God {illeg} in the beginning. And as they {illeg} distinguished beasts \& ffowls/ into clean & unclean that is into such as were consecrated or set apart for sacrifices & into others wch were rejected as an abomination: so 'tis reasonable to beleive that they sacrificed \also/ wth a consecrated fire & in a consecrated place, & accounted it as abomi irreligious to use \{illeg} sacrifice wth/ strange or prophane fire as to sacrifice an unclean Beast. And therefore as Noah when he went into ye Arck provided for sacrifices by taking in wth him a greater number of Clean Beasts & \clean/ ffowls than of unclean ones: so \no doubt/ for ye same end he took in wth him also ye sacred fire wth wch he was to offer them. And afterwards as a[12] Noah \& his sons/ carried wth their|m| ye sacred fire & from thence from ye Mountain Ararat \Tower of Babylon/ into ye land of Shinar \as was mentioned above/, & Abraham carried it wth him to offer Isaac \& Æneas carried it wth him from Troy/ & the \ancient/ Kings of Greece & Persia b[13] carried it \along/ wth them \into the field/ when they went to make war: so the sons of Noah when they went from him into their several countries took \this fire/ along wth them, the sacred fire & \each of their several families/ & the like was done by their sons & grandsons as oft as they went \wth their families/ to live at any considerable distance from one another in a distinct gover polity. & that \And by/ by this means |I conceive it came to pass yt| the sacred fire at ye first plantation of ye earth was to be found in every City, as an essential part of the government. ffor in ye first ages when ye whole world was distinguished into as many kingdoms as cities, I understand not how this religion could one and the same religion could \so soon/ spread into them all had it not been propagated wth mankind in ye beginning. The Mahometan religion was sp tho spread by conquest is not yet grown so universal, the Christian tho spread by ye divine assistance & \at length/ backt by ye Roman Empire is less general \universal/ then ye Mahometan. The scrificing {sic} by a sacred fire would be now more hard to propagate then these & yet \was/ spread wthout conquest {illeg} into all ye world {illeg} \wthout conquest/ so early yt there is no memory of its original in any kingdom \nation/, notwithstanding that ye world then consisted of as many kingdoms as cities, |wch must make a new religion very hard to be spread. By what name the first. |

Secondly I gather that {illeg} ye sacrificing clean birds & beasts by a consecrated fire \in a consecrated place/ was ye true religion till ye nations corrupted it. For it was ye religion of Noah, & tis not to be doubted but that ye religion wch Noah propagated \down/ to his posterity was the true religion. According to <5r> ye first constitution of things, every Pr \ye/ Father of every family did ye office of ye Priest. No doubt When Noah & his three sons came out of ye Ark, no doubt it was Noah yt sacrificed. Abraham was Priest as well as Prince. ffor he built an Alter {sic}, laid ye wood \went/ alone to sacrifice Isaac \& took ye knife to do it/ Gen. 22.5. Melchisedeck was both king of Salem & Priest of the high most high God, that is, according to ye received religion received from Noah & still \till then/ conserved \pure/ in some of ye cities \kingdoms/ of Canaan. And according to ye same religion the care of ye Pyræa \Prytanea in ye cities/ of Greece belonged in ye first an first ages to ye chief magistrate \of ye city/ as you heard above, & therefore the Court in which the Elders of ye City sat \in Council/ was in ye Pyræum |Prytanæum. And hence it was that ye Roman Emperors were Pontifices maxims {sic} & in Egypt where all the people were divided into three sorts, the Priests, the Soldiers & artificers, the Priests were the nobility & if one of the military order was made king he was presently instructed & initiated by the Priests in their sacra. So also when Christ is called a Priest after ye order of Melchisedeck ye sense is that he is a Priest of a higher order then was Aaron, that is a King as well as a Priest. By what name &c. See ye page above \{illeg}/ sheet above| < insertion from f 3v > |See ye next sheet.| By what name the first nations called ye God of nature is uncertain. No doubt they had names for him, {illeg} & as ye Platonists from his nature called him ὁ ὤν so they might call him by names of like signification in their language, ffor wch I rather think that ye names ἰαω, & such \such as were Iah & Iehova among the Iews/ ffor I rather think that {illeg} his name Iuba \or {illeg} ιουβα/ amongst amonst the ancient Carthaginians {illeg} Mauri \Moores/, Iovis or Ιου-piter among ye Latines & Phrygians, {illeg} ἰαὼ & ιαοὺ {illeg} among ye Greeks \ἰα Χους among the Arabians or Chaldeans/ & Ιευὼ among the Phœnicians \/ < insertion from higher up f 3v > ‡ & ἰα or ἰαὼ or ἰουὰ (if Ἰακχος & Bacchus may come from ἰαὼ Chus & ἰουὰ Chus) \as Dionysus does from D Διὸ-Nysus) ἰὰ, or ἰαὼ or ἰουὰ/ among the eastern {illeg} more eastern nations, And so also might some names taken from his might be brrowed {sic} &c < text from lower down f 3v resumes > \& ἰα {illeg} or ἰαὼ (if Ιακχος come from ιαω-Χους) among the Arabians & Chaldeans/, might be borrowed as well from ye Noah & his sons as from Moses (at least by some of the nations) as from Moses: especially since Noah calls God by this name Gen. 9.26. And so also might some names taken from his \power &/ dominion, as those of Lord & King |Creator,| ffather, Lord & King be given him in ye firs before the flood.

< text from f 5r resumes >

Thirdly \I gather from hence yt/ the religion wch Moses propagated down to his posterity taught ye Iews was the true religion no other then ye religion of Noah purged from the superstitio corruptions of ye nations. ffor Dr Spencer has shewn yt Moses retained all ye religion of ye Egyptians concerning ye worship of ye true God; & rejected only what belonged to ye worship of their fals Gods Osyris, Isis \the Sun Planets & Elements, Isis Iupiter Hammon, Osyris, Isis, Orus & ye/ & ye {sic} rest, & that ye Iewish worship of Mosaical religion concerning ye true God conteins little else besides what was \then/ in use amongst the nations Egyptians. And if so, then its' certain that ye \old/ religion of the Egyptians was ye true religion & retained tho corrupted before the age of Moses by the mixture of the worship of fals Gods wth that of ye true one: & by consequence ye religion of ye Iews was no other then that of Noah propagated down in Egypt till ye age of Moses. And that this is so appears further by ye consent of ye religions ffor both consisted in of Noah and Moses. For in both there was kept a perpetual sacred fire \in a consecrated place/ for sacrifices. And as And as there was but one fire \Pyræum Prytaneum or Temple/ in The ye kingdom of ye Iews so in the first kingdoms of the Nations so there was but one fire in a kingdom. When the first heathens every city was a kingdom there was a fire \Pyræum Prytaneum/ in every City. When many cities \united under one common council & thereby/ grew into one kingdom, there was a Pyræum in ye chief City \where ye Council met a Prytaneum of a nobler structure/ common to all ye cities & ye private P|r|yræum|tanea| in time grew out of use. \Thus it happened in Greece, Italy, Egypt & perhaps in divers other countrys: but where the cities grew in one kingdome \under a king/ without a common council \& by consequence wthout a commō Pyræū/ there the Pyræa continued in their several cities, & this was the case of the kingdome of the Medes & Persians./ The distinction of birds & beasts into clean & unclean & appointing only ye first for sacrifices \& prohibiting the eating blood & things strangled/ was as old as Noah, & the offering the first-born of the flocks & the first fruits of ye ground \& prohibiting the eating blood & things strangled/ was as old as Cain & Abel. ‡ < insertion from f 4v > ‡ & continued in the Prytanea. ffor in all sacrifices the first fruits there was nothing eat or drunk \whether Beasts fruits or wines/ a[14] till the /Priests\ had offered the \primiæ or/ first fruits {illeg} & those were all offered to Vesta. Nothing was sacrificed to any God No b[15] feast was celebrated where they did not first offer wine to Vesta. No sacrifice was made to any God where Vesta \the primitiæ were/ not offered to her. And therefore they feign that this law was made \at her request/ by Iupiter in the silver age. When the Titans, saith c[16] Aristocritus, were ejected & Iupiter took ye kingdom, he granted Vesta her request of having what she would. She first requested \first/ virginity & then that men should offer to her ye first fruits of all things wch were sacrificed. And so it was thenceforth made a law in sacred things that of all things wch were offered \sacrificed/ they should \first/ offer the firs {sic} fruits to Vesta. The meaning is that Iupiter Belus then set apart ye first fruits to ye Vestal fire, {illeg} as d[17] Ovid thus sings

Ante tuos ortus aræ sine honore fuerunt

Liber, et in gelidis herba reperta focis #

< insertion from higher up f 4v >

# Te memorant, Gange totoqꝫ Oriente subacto,

Primitias magno reposuisse Iovi.

Cinnama tu primus, captivaqꝫ thura dedisti,

Deqꝫ triumphato viscera tosta bove.

Nomine ab autoris ducunt libamina nomen;

Libaqꝫ, quod sanctis pars datur inde focis. The use of salt

< text from lower down f 4v resumes > < insertion from higher up f 4v >

The use of salt in all sacrifices as it was commanded by Moses (Levit. 2.13.) so it use was generally used by ye heathens. For Pythagoras in Symbolis tells us that salt enjoyn præscribes that salt be used in all sacrifices & oblations & Numa an hundred years before instituted this rite according to ye doctrine of ye Hetruscans. a|A|nd Pliny lib. 31 cap.7 testifies this practice. Maxime autem in sacris intelligitur salis authoritas quando nulla conficiuntur sine mola salsa. And Plato in Timæo that salt according to ye law of ye divine worship is a sacrum very grateful to ye Gods: whence he calls it θεοφιλὲς σωμα & thence \also/ Homer calls it {illeg}divine. < text from lower down f 4v resumes > < text from f 5r resumes > The erecting altars of unhewn stones seems to be conserved by Moses in memory <6r> of ye first Altars, when ye use of iron was not yet known |to shape them.| Such Altars once consecrated no doubt continued in use long after the working of iron was known & thereby became a president. < insertion from f 5v > The \ancient/ nations built the a[18] front of their Temples toward ye East & therefore Moses in doing so followed their example retained ye religion of his ancestors. < text from f 6r resumes > The placing ye fire in the common center of the court Priests Court & of ye outward court or court of ye people I speak of Ezekiel \in the Tabernacle &/ in Solomons Temple [& the framing ye Tabernacle & Temple so as to make it a symbol of the world] is a part of also of ye religion wch ye nations received from Noach. ffor they placed ye fire in ye middle of |ye| Pyr Pyrethæa \Prytanea/. < insertion from f 5v > The paying of tenths to the Priests was the also ye religion of the nations before the days of Moses. ffor Abraham did it to Melchizedeck \& Iacob did it at Bethel/ & there are ✝[19] instances of its being done by ye Heathens to Iupiter, Apollo & Hercules. And lastly as the Tabernacle was contrived by Moses to be a symbol of ye heavens (as St Paul & Iosephus teach,) so were ye Prytanæa amongst ye nations. < text from f 6r resumes > And as the Tabernacle was a symbol of the heavens, so were the Prytanæa of ye {illeg} Nations amongst ye nations. The whole heavens they recconed to ye|be| ye true \& real/ Temple of God & therefore that a Prytanæum might deserve ye name of his Temple they formed it according to ye contrived it so framed it so as most fitly to \as that it might in the fittest manner to/ represent the whole systeme of the heavens. A point of religion then wch nothing can be more rational. Vniversus mundus Dei templum vocatur a Cicerone propter illos qui æstimant nihil aliud esse Deum nisi cœlum ipsum. Quicquid humano subjicitur aspectui templum ejus vocavit qui sola mente concipitur, ut qui hæc veneratur ut templa, cultum tamen maximum debeat conditori, sciatqꝫ quisquis in usum templi hujus inducitur ritu sibi vivendum sacerdotis. Macrob. l. 1 c. 14. From this comparison the center fire in the center of middle of ye Prytaneum was taken for a symbol of ye center of ye world, & thence ye generality of ye Latines took Vesta for ye earth So Dionysius Halicarnassa\arnasseus/ l 2 Antiq. {illeg} [20] Vestæ autem dicatum esse Ignem putant quod cum Dea hæc sit Terra mediumqꝫ teneat mundi locum, ignes illos in sublimi ex sese accendat. But Numa, who instituted ye Vestal Temple of Vesta those who placed ye Sun in ye center & particularly Numa \& the Persian magi/ made this fire a symbol of the Sun. So Florus:[21] Imprimis [Numa] focum Vestæ virginibus colendum dedit ut ad simulachrum cœlestium siderum custos imperij flamma vigilaret. And Plutarch:[22] Ferunt Numam ædem Vestæ sacro igni orbicularem circumjecisse ut ibi asservaretur, adumbrans non effigiem terræ sed quasi ea Vesta sit sed universi mundi cujus in medio ignis sedem locant Pythagorei eamqꝫ Vestam nominant & unitatem. Terram vero non putant immobilem neqꝫ mediam orbis regionem tenere sed esse in gyrum circa ignem suspensam. Plutarch mentions also this <7r> sanction of Numa. Circumagas te dum Deos adoras, sedeas cum adoraveris, & then subjoyns Conversio adorantium simulachrum orbis mundi dicitur. \so Pliny.[23] In adorando dextram ad osculum referrimus totumqꝫ corpus circumagimus, quod in lævum fuisse Galli religiosius credunt./ Which is as much as, He who ador worships, by turning about, becomes a symbol of ye earth. Whence ye Greeks called a man Microcosmus And this the Greeks intimated by also signified by calling a man Microcosmus Whence ye Greeks called a man microcosmus. So then twas one designe of the true sy |The same custome is mentioned also by b[24] Pliny. In adorando dextram ad osculum referimus totumqꝫ corpus circumagimus, quod in lævum fuisse Galli rectius credunt.|

So then twas one designe of ye true systeme of ye first institution of ye true religion to propose to mankind by ye frame of ye \ancient/ Temples, the study of the frame of the world as the true Temple of ye living \great/ God they worshipped. And therefore the Priests ought above all men to be w thence it was |yt| ye Priests anciently were above other men well skilled in ye knowledge of ye true frame of Nature & accounted it a great part of their Theology. Amongst ye Persians ye Priests were ye Magi or wise men: amongst ye Babylonians ye Priests were ye Chaldæans skilled in \Astronomy &/ all sorts of their learning {illeg} of that nation & {illeg} when ye Greeks travelled into Egypt to learn Astronomy & Philosophy they went to ye Priests. S The learning of ye Indians lay in ye Brachmans who were their Priests, that of ye Persians in ye Magi who were their Priests, that of ye Babylonians in ye Chaldeans who were their Priests. & \They/ studied nature & the stars {very} {illeg} studied much the Astronomy \& Nature/ very much And if when ye {illeg} Greeks {illeg} travelled into Egypt for to learn astronomy & philosophy they went to ye Priests. And what there was of |ye| true knowledge \of Nature/ amongst ye Greeks lay chiefly in ye brest of some of their Priests In mysterijs Græcis, saith Clemens,[25] primo loco sunt expiationes, ut et lavacrum apud exteros: post has sunt mysteria parva, quæ fundamentum habent aliquod habent doctrinæ et præparationis ad futura. Magna autem mysteria sunt versantur circa universum. Non amplius dicendū est sed inspicienda et animo comprehendenda rerum natura. And so Seneca: [26]Eleusinia initiamenta sunt per quæ non municipale sacrum sed ingens omnium Deorum templum, Mundus iste reseratur: Cujus vera simulachra verasqꝫ facies cernendas mentibus protulit. Nam ad spectacula tam magna habes est visus est. So then the first religion was the most rational of all others \till the nations corrupted it/. ffor there is no way \(wthout revelation)/ to come to ye knowledge of a Deity but by the frame of Nature.

[1] Rubruq. cap. 3 Plancarp. cap. 3

[2] t Vide Rog. Ian. reserat. p. 69, 72. & in nuptijs p 85, 474.

[3] v Vide Vossium Orig. Idol. l. 2. c 64.

[4] b apud Euseb. Prep. Evang. l. 6. c. 10 p 274d & 275a.

[5] {illeg} c ib.

[6] a Diodor. l. 4. p. 336.

[7] b lib. 17

[8] a Oratione de Haruspicum responsis {illeg}

[9] c lib. 2

[10] d in Vespis

[11] b in Melpomene

[12] a See above

[13] b Quintus Curtius l. 3. p.     Alexander ab Alexandro l. 1. c. 37. Ammian. Marcelin lib. 23, p. {illeg}

[14] a Plin. l. 18. c. 2

[15] b Homerus in Hymno

[16] c apud Natalem Comit. l. 8. c. 19

[17] d Fast. l. 3. prope finem.

[18] a See Schedius de Dijs Germanis cap 30. & Natalis Comes

[19] ✝ Vide Droughteium in Analectis sacris ad Gen XIV.20, [a Clerico citatis p. 9.] et Goodwini Arch. Attic. l. 2. c. 9. p. 59, 60. Euseb. Præp. Evang. l. 4. c. 16. p. 159. Macrob. Saturn. l. 3. c. 1 Clemens Alexand. Strom. l. 1. p. 349a Dionys Halicarn. l. 1 p 8, 18. Diodor l. 4 p 228.

[20] Dionys. Halyc. l. 2. Antiq

[21] Florus cap. 2

[22] Plutarch in Numa.

[23] b. l. 28. c. 1

[24] b. Nat. Hist. l. 28 c. 1.

[25] Clemens Strom l. 5. p 582

[26] Seneca Ep. 90

© 2022 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL -

Privacy Statement

  • University of Oxford
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • JISC