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their figure is the same, the comparison determines the |A doctrine which would impugn these attributes is not case, and at once detects the error; but of these bodies, therefore to be deduced from such a revelation; but 60 different in figure, it may be affirmed without contra- here the rule can only be applied to such cases as we diction, that they are of the same specific gravity, for fully comprehend. There may be an apparent injustice the difference of figure is not that in respect of which the in a case, which, if we knew the whole of it, would be comparison is made. We apply this to the interpretation found to harmonize with the strictest equity; and what of a revelation of God and his will. The rule which re-evidence of conformity to the moral attributes of God it quires us to reject as a true interpretation of that revela- now wants may be manifested in a future state, either tion, whatever is contrary to reason, may be admitted in by superior information then vouchsafed to us, or, when all cases where we know the real nature of things, and the subject of the proceeding is an immortal being, by conduct the comparison with the cautions just given; the different circumstances of compensation in which but it would be most delusive, and would counteract the he may be placed. intention of the revelation itself, by unsettling its autho- Upon the whole, then, it will appear that this rule of rity, if it were applied in any other way. For, interpreting a revelation is necessarily but of limited
1. In all cases where the nature of things is not application, and chiefly respects those parts of the record clearly and satisfactorily known, it cannot be affirmed in which obscure passages and figurative language may that a doctrine contradicts them, and is therefore con- occur. In most others, a revelation, if comprehensive, trary to reason.
will be found its own interpreter by bringing every 2. When that of which we would form a rational doubtful case to be determined by its own unquestionable judgment is not itself distinctly apprehended, it cannot general principles and explicit declarations. The use he satisfactorily compared with those things, the nature of reason, therefore, in matters of revelation, is to invesof which we adequately know, and therefore cannot be tigate the evidences on which it is founded, and fairly said to be contrary to reason.
aud impartially to interpret it according to the ordinary Now in such a revelation as we have supposed neces- rules of interpretation in other cases. Its LIMIT is the sary for man, there are many facts and doctrines which authority of God. When he has explicitly laid down a are not capable of being compared with any thing we ade- doctrine, that doctrine is to be humbly received, whatquately know, and they therefore lie wholly without the ever degree of rational evidence may be afforded of its range of the rule in question. We suppose it to declare truth, or withheld; and no torturing or perverting criti. what God, the infinite first cause, is. But it is of the nature cisms can be innocently resorted to, to bring a doctrine of such a being to be, in many respects, peculiarto himself, into a better accordance with our favourite views and and, as in those respects he cannot admit of comparison systems, any more than to make a precept bend to the with any other, what may be false, if affirmed of our. love and practice of our vicious indulgences. A larger selves, because contradictory to what we know of scope than this cannot certainly be assigned to human human nature, may be true of him, to whom the nature reason in matters of revelation, when it is elevated to of things is his own nature, and his own nature alone. the office of a judge--a judge of the evidences on which The same observation may be made as to many of his a professed revelation rests, and a judge of its meaning natural attributes; they are the attributes of a peculiar after the application of the established rules of internature, and are therefore peculiar to themselves, either pretation in other cases. (8) But if reason be considered in kind or in degree; they admit of no comparison, each as a learner, it may have a much wider range in those being like himself, sui generis : and the nature of fields of intelligence which a genuine revelation from things, as to them respectively, is their own nature. God will open to our view. All truth, even that which The same reasoning may, in part, be applied to the to us is most abstruse and mysterious, is capable of rageneral purposes of God, in making and governing his tional demonstration, though not to the reason of man, creatures. They are not, in every respect, capable of in the present state, and in some cases probably to no being compared to any thing we adequately know, in reason below that of the Divine Nature. Truth is order to determine their reasonableness. Creatures do founded in reality, and for that reason is truth. Some not stand to each other in all the relations in which they truths, therefore, which a revelation only could make stand to him, and no reasoning from their mutual rela- known, will often appear to us rational, because contions can assist us in judging of the plans he has sistent with what we already know. Meditation upon formed with respect to the whole, with the extent of them, or experience of their reality in new circumwhich, indeed, we are unacquainted, or often of a part, stances in which we may be placed, may enlarge that whose relations to the whole we know not. Were we evidence; and thus our views of the conformity of many to subject what he has commanded us to do, or to leave of the doctrines revealed, with the nature and reality undone, to the test of reasonableness, we should often of things, may acquire a growing clearness and disbe at a loss how to commence the inquiry, for it may tinctness. The observations of others also may, by have a reason arising out of his own nature, which we reading and converse, be added to our own, and often either know not at all, or only in the partial and authori- serve to carry out our minds into some new and richer tative revelations he has made of himself; or out of his vein of thought. Thus it is that reason, instead of being general plans, of which we are not judges, for the reasons fettered, as some pretend, by being regulated, is enlightjust given; or its reason may lie in ourown nature, which ened by revelation, and enabled from the first principles, we know but partially, because we find it differently ope- and by the grand landmarks which it furnishes, to rated upon by circumstances, and cannot know in what pursue its inquiries into many subjects to an extent circumstances we may at any future time be placed. which enriches and ennobles the human intellect, and
With respect to the moral perfections of God, as they administers continual food to the strength of religious are more capable of a complete comparison with what principle. This however is not the case with all subjects. we find in intelligent creatures, the notion of infinity Many, as we have already seen, are from their very nabeing applicable to them in a different sense to that in ture wholly incapable of investigation. At the first step which it is applied to his natural attributes, and adequate we launch into darkness, and find in religion as well as ideas of justice and mercy and goodness being within in natural philosophy, beyond certain limits, insurour reach, this rule is much more applicable in all cases mountable barriers, which bid defiance to human pene. which would involve interpretations consistent with or tration; and even where the rational evidence of a truth opposed to these ideas; and any deduction clearly con- but nakedly stated in revelation, or very partially detrary to them is to be rejected, as grounded not upon veloped, can by human powers be extended, that cirthe revelation but a false interpretation. This will be cumstance gives us no qualitication to judge of the truth the more confirmed, if we find any thing in the revelation of another doctrine which is stated on the mere authority itself in the form of an appeal to our own ideas of moral of the dispenser of the revelation, and of which there subjects, as for instance of justice and equity, in justifi- is no evidence at all to our reason. It may belong to cation of the Divine proceedings; for then we have the the subjects of another and a higher class; and if it be authority of the giver of the revelation himself for found in the record, is not to be explained away by attaching such ideas to his justice and equity as are principles which we may have drawn from other truths implied in the same terms in the language of men.(7) though revealed, for those inferences have no higher an
authority than the strength of our own fallible powers, (7) Thus in the Scriptures we find numerous appeals and consequently cannot be put in competition with the of this kind. “ Judge between me and my vineyard.” declarations of an infallible teacher, ascertained by just
Are not my ways equal ?" “Shall not the Judge of rules of grammatical and literary interpretation. the whole earth do right?" All of which passages suppose that equity and justice in God accord with the (8) See note A, at the end of this chapter, in which ideas attached to the same terms among men.
two common objections are answered
Note A.--Page 43.
difficult to be reconciled with other truths of equal In whatever point of view," says an able living an- certainty, as to carry the appearance of being contrathor," the subject be placed, the same arguments which dictory and impossible. This will serve to show, that show the incapability of man, by the light of Nature, to it is not contrary to reason to believe, on sufficient discover religious truth, will serve likewise to show, authority, some things which cannot be comprehended, that, when it is revealed to him, he is not warranted in and some things which, from the narrow and circumjudging of it merely by the notions which he had pre- scribed views we are able to take of them, appear viously formed. For is it not a solecism to affirm, that to be repugnant to our notions of truth. The ground man's natural reason is a fit standard for measuring the on which we believe such things, is the strength and wisdom or truth of those things with which it is wholly certainty of the evidence with which they are accomunacquainted, except so far as they have been super- panied. And this is precisely the ground on which we naturally revealed ?"
are required to believe the truths of revealed religion. “But what, then," an objector will say “is the pro- The evidence that they come from God is, to reason vince of Reason ? Is it altogether useless? Or are we itself, as incontrovertible a proof that they are true, as to be precluded from using it in this most important of in matters of human science would be the evidence of all concerns, for our security against error ?"
sense or of mathematical demonstration. Our answer is, that we do not lessen either the utility or the dignity of human reason, by thus confining the exercise of it within those natural boundaries which the Creator himself hath assigned to it. We admit,
CHAPTER XII. with the Deist, that “ Reason is the foundation of all certitude:” and we admit, therefore, that it is fully
ANTIQUITY OF THE SCRIPTURES. competent to judge of the credibility of any thing which From the preparatory course of argument and obis proposed to it as a Divine revelation. But we deny servation which has been hitherto pursued, we proceed that it has a right to dispute (because we maintain that to the investigation of the question, whether there are it has not the ability to disprove) the wisdom or the truth sufficient reasons to conclude that such a revelation of those things which revelation proposes to its accept- of truth as we have seen to be so necessary for the inance. Reason is to judge whether those things be struction and moral correction of mankind, is to be indeed so revealed : and this judgment it is to form, found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testafrom the evidence to that effect. In this respect it is ments; a question of the utmost importance, inasmuch “the foundation of certitude," because it enables us to as, if not found there, there are the most cogent reaascertain the fact, that God hath spoken to us. But this sons for concluding that a Revelation was never vouchfact once established, the credibility, nay, the certainty sased to man, or that it is irretrievably lost. of the things revealed, follows as of necessary conse- No person living in an enlightened country will for a quence; since no deduction of Reason can be more moment contend, that the Koran of Mahomet, or any of indubitable than this, that whatever God reveals must the reputed sacred writings of the Chinese, Hindoos, or be true. Here, then, the authority of Reason ceases. Budhists, can be put into competition with the Bible; so Its judgment is finally determined by the fact of the that it is universally acknowledged among us that there revelation itseif: and it has thenceforth nothing to do, is but one book in the world which has claims to Divine but to believe and to obey.
authority so presumptively substantial as to be worthy “But are we to believe every doctrine, however in- of serious examination,--and therefore if the advantage comprehensible, however mysterious, nay, however of supernatural and infallible instruction has been afseemingly contradictory to sense and reason!”
forded to man it may be concluded to be found in that We answer, that Revelation is supposed to treat of alone. This consideration indicates the proper temper subjects with which man's natural reason is not con- of mind with which such an inquiry ought to be apversant. It is therefore to be expected, that it should proached. communicate some truths not to be fully comprehended Instead of wishing to discover that the claims of the by human understandings. But these we may sately Scriptures to Divine authority are unfounded (the case, receive, upon the authority which declares them, with it is to be feared, with too many), every humble and out danger of violating truth. Real and evident con- sincere man, who, conscious of his own mental infirmitradictions, no man can, indeed, believe, whose intel- ity, and recollecting the perplexities with which the lects are sound and clear. But such contradictions are wisest of men have been involved on religious and mono more proposed for our belief, than impossibilities are ral subjects, will wish to find at length an infallible enjoined upon our practice : though things difficult to guide, and will examine the evidences of the Bible with understand, as well as things hard to perform, may an anxious desire that he may find sufficient reason to perhaps be required of us for the trial of our faith and acknowledge their Divine authority; and he will feel resolution. Seeming contradictions may also occur: that, should he be disappointed, he has met with a but these may seem to be such because they are painful misfortune, and not a matter for triumph. If slightly or superficially considered, or because they this temper of mind, which is perfectly consistent with are judged of by principles inapplicable to the subject, full, and even severe examination of the claims of and without so clear a knowledge of the nature of the Scripture, does not exist, the person destitute of it is things revealed, as may lead us to form an adequate neither a sincere nor an earnest inquirer after truth. conception of them. These, however, afford no solid We may go farther and say, though we have no wish argument against the truth of what is proposed to our to prejudge the argument, that if the person examining belief: since, unless we had really such an insight the Holy Scriptures in order to ascertain the truth of into the mysterious parts of Revelation as might ena- their pretensions to Divine authority, has had the ble us to prove them to be contradictory and false, we means of only a general acquaintance with their conhave no good ground for rejecting them; and we only tents, he ought, if a lover of virtue as well as truth, to betray our own ignorance and perverseness in refusing be predisposed in their favour; and that, if he is not, to take God's word for the truth of things which pass the moral state of his heart is liable to great suspicion. man's understanding.
For that the theological system of the Scriptures is in The simple question, indeed, to be considered, is, favour of the highest virtues, cannot be denied. It whether it be reasonable to believe, upon competent both prescribes them and affords the strongest possible authority, things which we can neither discover our motives to their cultivation. Love to God and to all selves, nor, when discovered, fully and clearly compre- mankind; meekness, courtesy, charity; the governhend? Now every person of common observation ment of the appetites and affections within the rules must be aware, that unless he be content to receive of temperance; the renunciation of evil imaginations solely upon the testimony of others a great variety of and sins of the heart; exact justice in all our dealinformation, much of which he may be wholly unable ings;--these, and indeed every other virtue, civil, soto account for or explain, he could scarcely obtain a com- cial, domestic, and personal, are clearly taught, and petency of knowledge to carry him safely through the solemnly commanded ; and it might be confidently put common concerns of life. And with respect to scien- to every candid person, however skeptical, whether the tific truths, the greatest masters in philosophy know universal observance of the morality of the Scriptures, full well that many things are reasonably to be be- by all ranks and nations, would not produce the most lieved, nay, must be believed, on sure and certain beneficial changes in society, and secure universal grounds of conviction, though they are absolutely in- peace, friendship, and happiness. This he would not comprehensible by our understandings, and even so deuy; this has been acknowledged by some infide.
writers themselves; and if so,-if after all the bewil- / any opposing evidence, and can only be denied on some dering speculations of the wisest men on religious and principle of skepticism which would equally shake the moral subjects, and which, as we have seen, led to no- foundations of all history whatever. thing definite and influential, a book is presented to us The same observations may be made as to the existwhich shows what virtue is, and the means of attain- ence of the Founder of the Christian religion. In the ing it; which enforces it by suflicient sanctions, and records of the New Testament he is called Jesus points every individual and every community to a cer. Christ, because he professed to be the Messias preiain remedy for all their vices, disorders, and miseries; dicted in the Jewish Scriptures, and was acknowledged -we must renounce all title to be considered lovers as such by his followers; and his birth is fixed upof virtue and lovers of our species, if we do not feel wards of eighteen centuries ago. This also is at least ourselves interested in the establishment of its claims uncontradicted testimony. The Christian religion exto Divine authority; and because we love virtue, we ists, and must have had an author. Like the institushall wish that the proof of this important point may tions of Moses, it bears the evidence of being the work be found satisfactory. This surely is the temper of of one mind; and, as a theological system, presents no mind we ought to bring to such an inquiry; and the indications of a gradual and successive elaboration. rejection of the Scriptures by those who are not under There was a time when there was no such religion as its influence, is rather a presumption in their favour that of Christianity, and when pagan idolatry and Juthan a consideration which throws upon them the least daism universally prevailed; it follows that there once discredit.
flourished a teacher to whom it owed its origin, and all In addition to the proofs which have been given of tradition and history unite in their testimony that that the necessity of a Revelation, both from the reason of lawgiver was Jesus Christ. No other person has ever things, and the actual circumstances of the world, it been adduced, living at a later period, as the founder of has been established, that miracles actually performed, this form of religion. and prophecies really uttered and clearly accomplished, To the existence and the respective antiquity ascribed are satisfactory proofs of the authority of a communi- in the Scriptures to the founders of the Jewish and Chriscation of the will of God through the agency of men. tian religion, many ancient writers give ample testiWe have, however, stated, that in cases where we are mony; who, being themselves neither of the Jewish not witnesses of the miracles, and auditors of the pre- nor Christian religion, cannot be suspected of having dictions, but obtain information respecting them from any design to furnish evidence of the truth of either. some record, we must, before we can admit the force MANETHO, CHEREMON, APOLLONIUS, and LYSIMACHUS, of the argument drawn from them, be assured that the besides some other ancient Egyptians whose histories record was early and faithfully made, and has been are now lost, are quoted by Josephus, as extant in his uncorruptly kept, with respect to the miracles; and, days; and passages are collected from them, in which with respect to the prophecies, that they were also ut- they agree that Moses was the leader of the Jews when tered and recorded previously to those events occurring they departed from Egypt, and the founder of their which are alleged to be accomplishments of them. laws. STRABO, who flourished in the century before 'These are points necessary to be ascertained before it Christ (Geog. 1. 16), gives an account of the law of is worth the trouble to inquire, whether the alleged Moses, as forbidding images, and limiting Divine wormiracles have any claim to be considered as miracu- ship to one Invisible and Universal Being. Justin, a lous in a proper sense, and the predictions as revela- Roman historian, in his 36th Book, devotes a chapter tions from an omniscient and, consequently, a Divine to an account of the origin of the Jews; represents Being.
them as sprung from ten sons of Israel, and speaks of The first step in this inquiry is, to ascertain the exist- Moses as the commander of the Jews who went out of ence, age, and actions of the leading persons mentioned Egypt, of the institution of the Sabbath, and the Priestin Scripture as the instruments by whom, it is pro- hood of Aaron. PLINY speaks of Moses, as giving rise fessed, the revelations they contain were made to a sect of magicians, probably with reference to his known.
contest with the magicians of Egypt. Tacitus says, With respect to these PERSONS it is not necessary “ Moses gave a new form of worship to the Jews, and that our attention should be directed to more than two, a system of religious ceremonies, the reverse of every Moses and Christ,--one the reputed agent_of the thing known to any other age or country.” JUVENAL, Mosaic, the other the author of the Christian Revela- in his 14th Satire, mentions Moses as the author of á tion; because the evidence which establishes their ex- volume, which was preserved with great care among istence and actions, and the period of both, will also the Jews, by which the worship of images and eating establish all that is stated in the same records as to swine's flesh were forbidden; and circumcision and the subordinate and succeeding agents.
the observation of the Sabbath strictly enjoined. LONThe Biblical record states, that Moses was the leader GINUS cites Moses as the lawgiver of the Jews, and and legislator of the nation of the Jews near sixteen praises the sublimity of his style in the account he hundred years before the Christian era, according to the gives of the creation. The Orphic verses, which are common chronology. This is grounded upon the tra- very ancient, inculcate the worship of one God as redition and national history of the Jews; and it is cer- commended by that law " which was given by him tain, that so far from there being any reason to doubt who was drawn out of the water, and received two the fact, much less to suppose, with an extravagant tables of stone from the hand of God."(9) Diodorus fancy of some modern irifidels, that Moses was a my- Siculus, in his first book, when he treats of those who thological personage, the very same principles of his consider the gods to be the authors of their laws, adds, torical evidence which assure us of the truth of any “Among the Jews was Moses, who called God by the unquestioned fact of profane history, assure us of the name of law, lað,“meaning Jehovah. Justin Martyr truth of this. It cannot be doubted but that the Jews expressly says, that most of the historians, poets, lawexisted very anciently as a nation. It is equally cer- givers, and philosophers of the Greeks mention Moses tain, that it has been an uninterrupted and universally as the leader and prince of the Jewish nation. From received tradition among them in all ages, that Moses all these testimonies, and many more, were it neces-led them out of Egypt, and first gave them their sys- sary, might be ariduced, it is clear that it was as comtem of laws and religion. The history of that event monly received among ancient nations, as among the they have in writing, and also the laws attributed to Jews themselves, that Moses was the founder and lawhim. There is nothing in the leading events of their giver of the Jewish state. history contradicted by remaining authentic historical As to Christ, it is only necessary to give the testirecords of those nations with whom they were geogra mouy of two historians, whose antiquity no one ever pbically and politically related, to support any suspi- thought of disputing. SUETONIUS mentions him by rion of its accuracy; and as their institutions must name, and says, that Claudius expelled from Rome have been established and enjoined by some political those who adhered to his cause.(1) Tacitus records authority, and bear the marks of a systematic arrange- I the progress which the Christian religion had made; ment, established at once, and not growing up under the violent death its founder had suffered; that he the operation of circumstances at distant periods, to fourished under the reign of Tiberius ; that Pilate was one superior and commanding mind they are most rea- then procurator of Judea ; and that the original author sonably to be attributed. The Jews refer them to Moses, and if this be denied, no proof can be offered (9) Eus. Præp. Ev. I. 13, c. 12. in favour of any other person being entitled to that (1) Judæos impulsore Christo assidue turnultuantex honour. The history is therefore uncontradicted by Româ ex pulit.--Sukt. Edit. Var. p. 544.
of this profession was Christ.(2) Thus not only the could be received as truth, because it was not then to real existence of the founder of Christianity, but the be found (as it professed to be) either in the ark or with period in which he lived is exactly ascertained from the king, or any where else; for, when first invented, writings, the genuineness of which has never been every body must know that they had never heard of it doubted.
before. The ANTIQUITY OF THE BOOKS which contain the “ Could any man, now at this day, invent a book of history, the doctrines, and the laws of the Jewish and statutes or acts of parliament for England, and make the Christian lawgivers, is next to be considered, and it pass upon the nation as the only book of statutes the evidence is not less satisfactory. The importance that ever they had known? As impossible was it for of this fact in the argument is obvious. If the writings the books of Moses (if they were invented in any age in question were made at, or very near, the time in after Moses) to have been received for what they dewhich the miraculous acts recorded in them were per- clare themselves to be, viz. the statutes and muni. formed, then the evidence of those events having oc- cipal law of the nation of the Jews: and to have percurred is rendered the stronger, for they were written suaded the Jews, that they had owned and acknowat the time when many were still living who might ledged these books, all along from the days of Moses, have contradicted the narration if false; and the im- to that day in which they were first invented; that is, probability is also greater, that in the very age and that they had owned them before they had ever so place when and where those events are said to have much as heard of them. Nay, more, the whole nation been performed, any writer would have dared to run
must, in an instant, forget their former laws and gothe hazard of prompt, certain, and disgraceful detection. vernment, if they could receive these books as being It is equally important in the evidence of prophecy; their former laws. And they could not otherwise refor if the predictions were recorded long before the ceive them, because they vouched themselves so to be. events which accomplished them took place, then the Let me ask the Deists but one short question; was only question which reinains is, whether the accom- there ever a book of sham laws, which were not the plishment is satisfactory; for then the evidence becomes laws of the nation, palmed upon any people, since the irresistible.
world began? If not, with what face can they say this With respect to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, of the book of the laws of the Jews? Why will they the language in which they are written is a strong say that of them which they confess impossible in any proof of their antiquity. The Hebrew ceased to be nation, or among any people? spoken as a living language soon after the Babylonish “ But they must be yet more unreasonable. For captivity, and the learned agree that there was no the books of Moses have a farther demonstration of grammar made for the Hebrew till many ages after. their truth than even other law books have; for they The difficulty of a forgery, at any period after the time not only contain the laws, but give an historical acof that captivity, is therefore apparent. Of these books count of their institution, and the practice of them from too, there was a Greek translation made about two that time: as of the passover, in memory of the death hundred and eighty-seven years before the Christian of the first-born in Egypt :(4) and that the same day, all era, and laid up in the Alexandrian library.
the first-born of Israel, both of man and beast, were, Josephus gives a catalogue of the sacred books among by a perpetual law, dedicated to God: and the Lethe Jews, in which he expressly mentions the five vites taken for all the first-born of the children of Isbooks of Moses, thirteen of the Prophets, four of Hymnsrael. That Aaron's rod which budded, was kept in the and Moral Precepts; and if, as many critics maintain, ark, in memory of the rebellion and wonderful destrucRuth was added to Judges, and the Lamentations of tion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and for the conJeremiah to his Prophecies, the number agrees with firmation of the priesthood to the tribe of Levi. As those of the Old Testament as it is received at the pre- likewise the pot of manna, in memory of their having sent day.
been fed with it forty years in the wilderness. That The Samaritans, who separated from the Jews many the brazen serpent was kept (which remained to the hundred years before the birth of Christ, have in their days of Hezekiah, 2 Kings xviii
. 4), in memory of that language a Pentateuch, in the main exactly agreeing wonderful deliverance, by only looking upon it, from with the Hebrew; and the pagan writers before cited, the biting of the fiery serpents, Num. xxi. 9. The feast with many others, speak of Moses not only as a law- of Pentecost, in memory of the dreadful appearance of giver and a prince, but as the author of books esteemed God upon Mount Horeb, &c. sacred by the Jews.(3)
“And besides these remembrances of particular acIf the writings of Moses then are not genuine, the tions and occurrences, there were other solemn instituforgery must have taken place at a very early period; tions in memory of their deliverance out of Egypt, in but a few considerations will show, that at any time the general, which included all the particulars. As of this was impossible.
the Sabbath, Deut. v. 15. Their daily sacrifices and These books could never have been surreptitiously yearly expiation; their new moons, and several feasts put forth in the name of Moses, as the argument of and fasts. So that there were yearly, monthly, weekly, LESLIE most fully proves :“ It is impossible that those daily remembrances and recognitions of these things books should have been received as his, if not written “And not only so, but the books of the same Moses by him, because they speak of themselves as delivered tell us, that a particular tribe (of Levi) was appointed by Moses, and kept in the ark from his time. And it and consecrated by God as his priests; by whose hands, came to pass when Moses hail made an end of writing and none other, the sacrifices of the people were to be the words of this law in a book until they were finished, offered, and these solemn institutions to be celebrated. that Moses commanded the Levites who bore the ark That it was death for any other to approach the altar, of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take the book of | That their high priest wore a glorious mitre, and magthe law, and put it in the side of the ark of the cove- nificent robes of God's own contrivance, with the minant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a raculous Urim and Thummim in his breastplate, witness against thee.' ---Deut. xxxi. 24–26. A copy of whence the Divine responses were given.(5) That at this book was also to be left with the king : 'And it his word, the king and all the people were to go out and shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his king to come in. That these Levites were likewise the chief dom that he shall write him a copy of this law in a judges even in all civil causes, and that it was death to book out of that which is before the priests the Levites; resist their sentence.(6) Now, whenever it can be supand it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all posed that these books of Moses were forged in some the days of his life,' &c.—Deut. xviii. 18. This book ages after Moses, it is impossible they could have been of the law thus speaks of itself, not only as a history received as true, unless the forgers could have made or relation of what things were done, but as the stand the whole nation believe that they had received these ing and municipal law and statutes of the nation of books from their fathers, had been instructed in them the Jews, binding the king as well as the people. Now when they were children, and had taught them to their in whatever age after Moses this book may be sup- children; moreover, that they had all been circumcised, posed to have been forged, it was impossible that it and did circumcise their children, in pursuance to what
was commanded in these books: that they had ob. (2) Auctor nominis ejus Christus, qui Tiberio impe- served the yearly passover, the weekly Sabbath, the ritante, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat,--Annal. 1. 5.
(4) Nunbers viii. 17, 18. (3) See note A, at the end of this chapter, for a larger (5) Numbers xxvii. 21. proof of the above particulars.
(6) Deut. xxvii. 8-13. 1 Chron. xxii. 4.
new moons, and all these several feasts, fasts, and cere- that nation, at that time when it was said to be done; it monies commanded in these books: that they had never was as wonderful and miraculous as their passage eaten any swine's flesh, or other meats prohibited in through the Red Sea. these books: that they had a magnificent tabernacle, “For notice was given to the Israelites the day bewith a visible priesthood to administer in it, which was | fore, of this great miracle to be done, Josh. iii. 5. It confined to the tribe of Levi; over whom was placed a was done at noon-day before the whole nation. And glorious high priest, clothed with great and mighty pre- when the waters of Jordan were divided, it was not at rogatives, whose death only could deliver those that any low ebb, but at the time when that river overflowed were fled to the cities of refuge.(7) And that these all his banks, verse 15. And it was done, not by winds, priests were their ordinary judges even in civil matters : or in length of time, which winds must take to do it I say, was it possible to have persuaded a whole nation but all on a sudden, as soon as the feet of the priests of men, that they had known and practised all these that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, things, if they had not done it? or, secondly, to have then the waters which came down from above, stood received a book for truth, which said they had practised and rose up upon a heap, very far from the city Adam, them, and appealed to that practice?
that is beside Zaretan; and those that came down "But now let us descend to the utmost degree of sup- toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, position, viz. that these things were practised before and were cut off: and the people passed over, right these books of Moses were forged; and that those books against Jericho. The priests stood in the midst of Jordid only impose upon the nation, in making them be- dan till all the armies of Israel had passed over. And lieve that they had kept these observances in memory it camo to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of of such and such things as were inserted in those books. the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst
"Well then, let us proceed upon this supposition of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were list (however gronndless), and now, will not the same im- up upon the dry land, that the waters of Jordan repossibilities occur, as in the former case? For, first, turned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks this must suppose that the Jews kept all these ob- as they did before. And the people came out of Jordan servances in memory of nothing, or without knowing on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in any thing of their original, or the reason why they kept Gilgal on the east border of Jericho, and those twelve them. Whereas these very observances did express stones which they took out of Jordau did Joshua pitch the ground and reason of their being kept, as the Pass-in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, over, in memory of God's passing over the children of saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in the Israelites, in that night wherein he slew all the first time to come, saying, What mean these stones ? then born of Egypt, and so of the rest.
shall ye let your children know, saying, Israel came * But, secondly, let us suppose, contrary both to rea- over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God son and matter of fact, that the Jews did not know any dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye reason at all why they kept these observances; yet was were passed over; as the Lord your God did to the Red it possible to put it upon them--that they had kept these Sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were observances in memory of what they had never heard gone over, that all the people of the earth might know of before that day, whensoever you will suppose that the hand of the Lord that it is mighty: that ye might these books of Moses were first forged ? For example, fear the Lord your God for ever.:--Chap. iv. from suppose I should now forge some romantic story of verse 18. strange things done a thousand years ago; and, in con- “Now, to form our argument, let us suppose that firmation of this, should endeavour to persuade the there never was any such thing as that passage over Christian world that they had all along, from that day Jordan; that these stones at Gilgal were set up upon to this, kept the first day of the week in memory of such some other occasion in some after-age; and then, that a hero, an Apollonius, a Barcosbas, or a Mahomet; and some designing man invented this book of Joshua, and had all been baptized in his name; and swore by his said that it was written by Joshua at that time, and gave name, and upon that very book (which I had then this stonage at Gilgal for a testimony of the truth of it: forged, and which they never saw before), in their pub- would not every body say 10 him, we know the stonage lic judicatures; that this book was their gospel and law, at Gilgal, but we never heard before of this reason for which they had ever since that time, these thousand it, nor of this book of Joshua. Where has it been all years past, universally received and owned, and none this while? And where and how came you, after so otlier. I would ask any Deist, whether he thinks it pos- many ages, to find it? Besides, this book tells us, that sible that such a cheat could pass, or such a legend be this passage over Jordan was ordained to be taught our received as the gospel of Christians: and that they could children from age to age; and, therefore, that they were be made believe that they never had any other gospel ? always to be instructed in the meaning of that sionage
“Let me give one very familiar example more in this at Gilgal, as a memorial of it. But we were never case. There is the Stonehenge in Salisbury Plain, taught it when we were children; nor did ever teach every body knows it; and yet none knows the reason our children any such thing. And it is not likely that why those great stones were set there, or by whom, or it could have been forgotten, while so remarkable a in memory of wbat.
stonage did continue, which was set up for that and no “Now, suppose I should write a book to-morrow, other end ! and tell them that these stones were set up by Ilercules, “And if, for the reasons before given, no such imPolyphemus, or Garagantua, in memory of such and position could be put upon us as to the stonage in Salissuch of their actions. And for a farther confirmation bury Plain, how much less could it be to the stonage of this, should say in this book, that it was written at at Gilgal ? the time when such actions were done, and by the very “And if, where we know not the reason of a bare actors themselves, or eye-witnesses. And that this naked monument, such a sham reason cannot be imbook had been received as truth, and quoted by authors posed, how much more is it impossible to impose upon of the greatest reputation in all ages since. Moreover, us in actions and observances, which we celebrate in that this book was well known in England, and en- memory of particular passages? How impossible to joined by act of parliament to be taught our chil- make us forget those passages which we daily comdre't
, and that we did teach it to our children, and had memorate; and persuade us chat we had always kept been taught it ourselves when we were children. I ask such institutions in memory of what we never heard any Deist, whether he thinks this could pass upon Eng- of before; that is, that we knew it before we knew it!" land? and whether, if I or any other should insist upon
This able reasoning has never been refuted, nor can it, we should not, instead of being believed, be sent to be; and if the books of the Law must have been writBedlam?
ten hy Moses, it is as easy to prove, that Moses him“Now, let us compare this with the Stonehenge, as self could not in the nature of ihe thing have deceived I may call it, or twelve great stones set up at Gilgal, the people an imposture, and a pretence of miracuwhich is told in the fourth chapter of Joshua. There lous attestations, in order, like some later lawgivers it is said, verse 6, that the reason why they were set up among the heathens, to bring the people more willingly was, that when their children, in after-ages, should ask to submit to his institutions. The very instances of the meaning of it, it should be told them.
miracle he gives rendered this impossible. “Suppose,” " And the thing in memory of which they were set says the same writer, “ any man should pretend, that up was such as could not possibly be imposed upon yesterday be divided the Thames, in presence of all
the people of London, and carried the whole city, men, (7) Numb. xxxv. 25. 28.
women, and children, over to Southwark, on dry land,