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affords a new demonstration, drawn from the justice of the Divine Being, of the falsehood of the common hypothesis, according to the representation given of it by those who maintain that the magicians were not plainly vanquished till they were restrained from turning the dust into lice. Had this been the case it would have been right in Pharaoh to suspend his judgment till that time; nor would God have punished him by the two intervening plagues, that of turning the waters of the Nile (to which Egypt owed its fecundity) into blood, and covering the land with frogs: punishments so severe as imply the most criminal obstinacy on the part of Pharaoh.

2." With regard to the next attempt of the magicians to imitate Moses, who had already turned all the running and standing waters of Egypt into blood, there is no difficulty in accounting for their success in the degree in which they succeeded. For it was during the continuance of this judgment, when no water could be procured but by digging round about the river, that the magicians attempted by some proper preparations to change the colour of the small quantity that was brought them (probably endeavouring to persuade Pharaoh, that they could as easily have turned a larger quantity into blood). In a case of this nature imposture might, and, as we learn from history, often did take place. It is related by Valerius Maximus,1 that the wine poured into the cup of Xerxes was three times changed into blood. But such trifling feats as these could not at all disparage the miracle of Moses; the vast extent of which raised it above the suspicion of fraud, and stamped upon every heart, that was not steeled against all conviction, the strongest impression of its divinity. For he turned their streams, rivers, ponds, and the water in all their receptacles, into blood. And the fish that was in the river (Nile) died ; and the river stank.2

3. "Pharaoh not yielding to this evidence, God proceeded to farther punishments, and covered the land of Egypt with frogs.3 Before these frogs were removed, the magicians undertook to bring into some place cleared for the purpose a fresh supply; which they might easily do, when there was such plenty every where at hand. Here also the narrow compass of the work exposed it to the suspicion of being effected by human art; to which the miracle of Moses was not liable; the infinite number of frogs which filled the whole kingdom of Egypt (so that their ovens, beds, and tables swarmed with them) being a proof of their immediate miraculous production. Besides, the magicians were unable to procure their removal; which was accomplished by Moses, at the submissive application of Pharaoh, and at the very time that Pharaoh himself chose, the more clearly to convince him that God was the author of these miraculous judgments, and that their infliction or removal did not depend upon the influence of the elements or stars, at set times or in critical junc


4. "The history of the last attempt of the magicians confirms the account here given of all their former ones. Moses turned all the

1 Lib. i. c. 6.

2 Exod. vii. 19-21.

3 Exod. viii. 6-8. Nor indeed can it be imagined, that, after this or the former plague had been removed, Pharaoh would order his magicians to renew either. 4 Ch. viii. 8.

dust of the land into lice; and this plague, like the two preceding ones, being inflicted at the word of Moses, and extended over the whole kingdom of Egypt, must necessarily have been owing, not to human art, but to a divine power. Nevertheless, the motives upon which the magicians at first engaged in the contest with Moses, the shame of desisting, and some slight appearances of success in their former attempts, prompted them still to carry on the imposture, and to try with their enchantments to bring forth lice; but they could not. With all their skill in magic, and with all their dexterity in deceiving the spectators, they could not even succeed so far as they had done in former instances, by producing a specious counterfeit of this work of Moses. Had they hitherto performed real miracles by the assistance of the devil, how came they to desist now? It cannot be a greater miracle to produce lice, than to turn rods into serpents, water into blood, and to create frogs. It has indeed been very often said, that the devil was now laid under a restraint: but hitherto no proof of this assertion has been produced. The Scripture is silent, both as to the devil being now restrained from interposing any farther in the favour of magicians, and as to his having afforded them his assistance on the former occasions. But if we agree with Moses, in ascribing to the magicians nothing more than the artifice and dexterity which belonged to their profession; we shall find that their want of success in their last attempt, was owing to the different nature and circumstances of their enterprise. In all the former instances, the magicians knew beforehand what they were to undertake, and had time for preparation. They were not sent for by Pharaoh, till after Moses had turned his rod into a serpent: and previous notice had been publicly given of the two first plagues. But the orders in relation to the third, were no sooner issued than executed, without being previously imparted to Pharaoh. So that in this last case they had no time for contriving any expedient for imitating or impeaching the act of Moses. And had they been allowed time, how was it possible for them to make it appear that they produced those animals, by which they themselves and all the country were already covered and surrounded? or what artifice could escape detection, in relation to insects, whose minuteness hinders them from being perceived till they are brought so near as to be subject to the closest inspection ?1 Now therefore the magicians chose to say, This (last

work of Moses) is the finger of God.

"It has been generally thought, that the magicians here acknowledge that the God of Israel was stronger than the gods of Egypt, who had hitherto assisted them, but were now restrained from doing it by his superior power. But the text makes no mention of their allowing the God of Israel to be superior to the gods of Egypt, much less of their admitting the former to be Jehovah and the only true God. Nor do they refer to any supernatural restraint upon the Egyptian deities, but to the last miracle of Moses, when they say, This is the finger of God, or of a god; for the original word admits this sense, and very probably was used in no other by the magicians, who believed in a plurality of gods. But, unable to turn the dust of

1 There being lice upon man and upon beast, seems to be assigned as a reason of the magicians being unable to counterfeit this miracle.

the earth into lice (and even to seem to do it), they allow that this surpassed the science they professed, and argued the special miraculous interposition of some deity. There is no sort of evidence that this language of the magicians proceeded from a desire of doing justice to the character and claims of the God of Israel, or that it was not merely designed as the best apology they were able to make for their own failure of success, and to prevent Pharaoh from reproaching them with the want of skill in their profession. Certain it is that this declaration of the magicians had no good effect upon Pharaoh, but seems rather to be mentioned as an occasion of his continued hardness. Nay, the history plainly intimates, that the magicians themselves afterwards confronted Moses, till, in punishment of their obstinacy, they were smitten with ulcers.1 I add, that the sense here assigned to their language, is perfectly agreeable to the account before given of the state of the controversy between them and Moses: for it implies, that the magi cians had not so much as pretended to any miraculous interposition of the gods in their favour, but relied entirely upon the established rules of their art; and consequently that Pharaoh's view in sending for them, was to enable himself to determine, whether the works of Moses lay within the compass of it.

"I cannot conclude this subject without observing, that the strenuous but unsuccessful opposition to Moses added strength to his cause; as it seemed to manifest the divinity of his miracles, by clearing him from all suspicion of magic. This art was thought equal to the most wonderful phenomena. In Egypt it was held in the highest esteem, and carried to its utmost perfection. Pharaoh, without doubt, on the present most important and interesting occasion, engaged the assistance of the most able professors of it, who from a regard to their own reputation and interest, would try every possible method to invalidate the miracles of Moses. Nevertheless their utmost efforts were baffled; and the vanity and futility of the claims of magic were detected and exposed, agreeably to the censure passed upon them by Saint Paul; for, speaking of certain persons, whose opposition to genuine Christianity was the sole effect of their corrupt minds, without the least colour of reason, he compares them to Jannes and Jambres,2 who withstood Moses; and did it, he must mean, with as little pretence, or there could be no justice in the comparison. He adds, their folly was manifest unto all men ;3 and thus he taxes the conduct of the magicians with the most glaring absurdity. He cannot therefore be supposed to admit, that they imitated and equalled for a time the miracles of Moses, and then desisted as soon as they found themselves unable to continue the contest to advantage (which would have been a sort of prudence); but to assert, that they wickedly and absurdly attempted to place the feats of art on a level

1 The magicians could not stand before Moses, because of the boil; for the boil was upon the magicians. Exod. ix. 11. Does not this imply, that till this time the magicians had in some method or other opposed or disparaged Moses?

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2 Jannes and Jambres, mentioned by St. Paul, 2 Tim. iii. 8. from the Chaldee Paraphrase on Exod. vii. 11. are supposed to have been the two chiefs of Pharaoh's magicians. Numenius, the Pythagorean philosopher, (apud Euseb. Prep. Ev. 1. ix. c. 8.) says, They were inferior to none in magic skill, and for that reason chosen by common consent to oppose Museus, for so the heathen writers called Moses. See Le Clerc on Exod. vii. 12. and Pliny's Hist. lib. xxx, c. 1.

3 2 Tim. iii. 9.



with the undeniable operations of a divine power; and so shamefully miscarrying in their undertaking, they exposed themselves to the contempt of those, who had once held them in high veneration."

No. III.


[Referred to, in p. 456. of this Volume.]

ALTHOUGH the sacred writers, being divinely inspired, were necessarily exempted from error in the important truths which they were commissioned to reveal to mankind, yet it is not to be concealed, that, on comparing Scripture with itself, some detached passages are to be found, which appear to be contradictory; and these have been a favourite topic of cavil with the enemies of Christianity from Spinosa down to Voltaire, and the opposers of Divine Revelation in our days, who have copied their objections. Unable to disprove or subvert the indisputable FACTS, on which Christianity is founded, and detesting the exemplary holiness of heart and life which it enjoins, its modern antagonists insidiously attempt to impugn the credibility of the sacred writers, by producing what they call contradictions. It is readily admitted that real contradictions are a just and sufficient proof that a book is not divinely inspired, whatever pretences it may make to such inspiration. In this way we prove, that the Koran of Mohammed could not be inspired, much as it is extolled by his admiring followers. The whole of that rhapsody was framed by the wily Arab to answer some particular exigences. If any new measure was to be proposed, — any objection against him or the religion which he wished to propagate, was to be answered, - any difficulty to be solved, any discontent or offence among his people to be removed, or any other thing done that could promote his designs, his constant recourse was to the angel Gabriel, for a new revelation: and instantly he produced some addition to the Koran, which was to further the objects he had in view, so that by far the greater part of that book was composed on these or similar occasions to influence his followers to adopt the measures which he intended, Hence not a few real contradictions crept into the Koran; the existence of which is not denied by the Mussulman commentators, who are not only very particular in stating the several occasions on which particular chapters were produced, but also where any contradiction occurs which they cannot solve, affirm that one of the contradictory passages is revoked. And they reckon in the Koran upwards of one hundred and fifty passages thus revoked. Now this fact is a full evidence that the compiler of that volume could not be inspired: but no such thing can be alleged against the Scriptures. They were indeed given at sundry times and in divers manners, and the authors of them were inspired on particular occasions: but nothing was ever published as a part of it, which was afterwards revoked; nor is there any thing

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1 Prideaux's Life of Mohammed, pp. 158, 159,

in them which we need to have annulled. Errors in the transcription of copies, as well as in printed editions and translations, do unquestionably exist but the contradictions objected are only seeming, not real, nor do we know a single instance of such alleged contradictions, that is not capable of a rational solution. A little skill in criticism, (as we have already observed,) in the original languages of the Scrip tures, their idioms and properties, (of which the modern opposers of revelation, it is well known, have for the most part been and are noto riously ignorant,) and in the times, occasions, and scopes of the several books, as well as in the antiquities and customs of those countries, which were the scenes of the transactions recorded, will clear the main difficulties.

To the person who honestly and impartially examines the various evidences for the divinity and inspiration of the Bible, (and it not only invites but commands investigation,) most of the alleged contradictions, which are discussed in the following pages, will appear frivolous: tor they have been made and refuted nearly one hundred and fifty years since. But as they are now re-asserted, regardless of the satisfactory answers which have been given to them in various forms, both in this country and on the continent, the author would deem his inquiry imper fect if he were to suffer such objections to pass unnoticed, particularly as he has been called upon, through the public press, to consider, and to obviate them. Should the reader be led to think, that an undue portion of the present volume is appropriated to this subject, he is requested to bear in mind that, although the objections here considered have for the most part been clothed in a few plausible sentences,1 yet their sophistry cannot be exposed without a laborious and minute examination. Wherever then, one text of Scripture seems to contradict another, we should, by a serious consideration of them, endeavour to discover their harmony; for the only way, by which to judge rightly of particular passages in any book, is to consider its whole design, method, and style, and not to criticise some particular parts of it, without bestowing any atten tion upon the rest. Such is the method adopted by all who would investigate, with judgment, any difficult passages occurring in a profane author: and if a judicious and accurate writer is not to be lightly accused of contradicting himself for any seeming inconsistencies, but is to be reconciled with himself if possible, unquestionably the same equitable principle of interpretation ought to be applied in the investigation of Scripture difficulties. Some passages, indeed, are explained by the Scriptures themselves, which serve as a key to assist us in the elucida tion of others. Thus, in one place it is said that Jesus baptised, and in another it is stated that he baptised not: the former passage is explained

1 The late excellent Bishop Horne, nearly forty years since, when speaking of the disingenuity of infidels in bringing forward objections against the Scriptures, has the following remarks. "Many and painful are the researches, usually necessary to be made for settling points of this kind. Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject. And as people in general, for one reason or other, like short objections better than long answers, in this mode of dispu tation (if it can be styled such) the odds must ever be against us; and we must be content with those for our friends, who have honesty and erudition, candour and patience, to study both sides of the question." Letters on Infidelity, p. 82. (Works, võl. vi. pp 447, 448. 8vo. London, 1809.)

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