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And for this reason we should here make most use of the reasonings from philosophy, which introduce us into the knowledge of things sacred, that so we may think piously of whatever is said or acted in religion; lest—as Theodorus once said that, as he reached forth his discourses in his right hand, some of his auditors received them in their left—so what things the laws have wisely constituted about the sacrifices and festivals we should take otherwise than as they are meant, and thereby fall into most dangerous errors and mistakes. That therefore we are to construe all these things by reference to reason, we may easily perceive by the Egyptians themselves. For upon the nineteenth day of the first month they keep a solemn festival to Hermes, wherein they eat honey and figs, and withal say these words, ‘Truth is a sweet thing.’ And that amulet or charm which they fable Isis to hang about her is, when interpreted into our language, ‘A true voice.’ Nor are we to understand Harpocrates to be either some imperfect or infant God, or a God of pulse (as some will have him), but to be the governor and reducer of the tender, imperfect, and inarticulate discourse which men have about the Gods. For which reason, he hath always his finger upon his mouth, as a symbol of talking little and keeping silence. Likewise, upon the month of Mesore, they present him with certain pulse, and pronounce these words: ‘The tongue is Fortune, the tongue is God.’ And of all the plants that Egypt produces, they say the Persea is the [p. 126] most sacred to the Goddess, because its fruit resembles the heart, and its leaf the tongue. For there is nothing that man possesses that is either more divine, or that hath a greater tendency upon happiness, than discourse, and especially that which relates to the Gods. For which reason they lay a strict charge upon such as go down to the oracle there, to have pious thoughts in their hearts and words of good omen in their mouths. But the greater part act ludicrous things in their processions and festivals, first proclaiming good expressions, and then both speaking and thinking words of most wicked and lewd meaning, and that even of the Gods themselves.

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