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They could not mistake as to his ascension into heaven; salem, and himself a respectable person, well known, as to the fact whether they themselves were suddenly did not occur--that the circumstances of the trial, con endowed with the power of speaking in languages demnation, and crucifixion of Christ did not take place which they had never acquired; and whether they as stated by his disciples; in particular, that Pilate did were able to work miracles, and to impart the same not wash his hands before them and give his testimony power to others.
to the character of our Lord ; that there was no preThey were not only disinterested in their testimony; 1 ternatural darkness from twelve to three in the afterbut their interests were on the side of concealment. noon on the day of the crucifixion; and that there was One of the Evangelists, Matthew, occupied a lucrative no earthquake; facts which if they did not occur could situation when called by Jesus, and was evidently an have been contradicted by thousands: finally, that these opulent man; the fishermen of Galilee were at least well known unlettered men, the Apostles, were not in circumstances of comfort, and never had any worldly heard to speak with tongues by many who were preinducement held out to them by their master; Nicode- sent in the assembly in which this was said to take mus was a ruler among the Jews; Joseph of Arima- place. But we might select almost all the circumthea “a rich man;" and St. Paul, both from his edu- stances out of the four Gospels and the Acts of the cation, connoxions, and talents, had encouraging pros- Apostles, and show, that for the most part they were pects in life: but of himself and of his fellow-labourers capable of being contradicted at the time when they he speaks, and describes all the earthly rewards they were first published, and that the immense number of obtained for testifying both to Jews and Greeks that circumstances mentioned would in after-times have Jesus was the Christ,-“ Even unto this present hour furnished acute investigators of the history with the we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are means of detecting its falsehood had it not been indubuffetted, and have no certain dwelling place; we are bitable, either by comparing the different relations with made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring each other, or with some well authenticated facts of of all things unto this day.” Finally, they sealed accredited collateral history. On the contrary, the their testimony in many instances with their blood, a small variations in the story of the Evangelists are circumstance of which they had been forewarned by confirmations of their testimony, being in proof that their master, and in the daily expectation of which they there was no concert among them to impose upon the lived. From this the conclusion of Dr. Paley is irre- world, and they do not affect in the least the facts of sistible, " These men could not be deceivers. By only the history itself; while as far as collateral, or immenot bearing testimony they might have avoided ail diately subsequent history has given its evidence, we their suferings, and have lived quietly. Would men have already seen, that it is confirmatory of the exactin such circumstances pretend to have seen what they ness and accuracy of the sacred penmen. never saw; assert facts of which they had no know- For all these reasons, the Scriptures of the Old and ledge; ge about lying, to teach virtue; and though not New Testaments are to be taken as a faithful and unonly convinced of Christ's being an impostor, but corrupted record of the transactions they exhibit; having seen the success of his imposture in his cruci- and nothing now appears to be necessary, but that fixion, yet persist in carrying it on, and so persist, as this record be examined in order to deterinine its claims to bring upon themselves, for nothing, and with a full to be admitted as the deposite of the standing revelaknowledge of the consequence, enmity and hatred, tions of the will of God to mankind. The evidence of danger and death ?"
the genuineness and authenticity of the books of which To complete the character of their testimony, it is in it is composed, at least such of them as is necessary to the highest degree circumstantial. We never find that the argument, is full and complete; and if certain of forged or false accounts of things abound in particu- the facts which they detail are proved to be really milarities; and where many particulars are related of raculous, and the prophecies they record are in the time, place, persons, &c., there is always a strong proper sense predictive, then, according to the prinpresumption of truth, and on the contrary. Here the ciples before established, the conclusion must be, THAT evidence is more than presumptive. The history of THE DOCTRINES WHICH THEY ATTEST ARE DIVINE. the Evangelists and of the Acts of the Apostles is so This shall be the next subject examined ; minor objecfullof reference to persons then living, and often persons tions being postponed to be answered in a subsequent of consequence, to places in which miracles and other chapter. transactions took place publicly and not in secret; and the application of all these facts by the first propaga. tors of the Christian religion to give credit to its Divine authority was so frequent and explicit, and often
CHAPTER XV. so reproving to their opposers, that is they had not been
THE MIRACLES OF SCRIPTURE. true, they must have been contradicted; and, if contradicted on good evidence, the authors must have been It has been already proved, that miracles are posoverwhelmed with confusion. This argument is ren-sible, that they are appropriate, necessary, and satis. dered the stronger when it is considered, that “ these factory evidences of a Revelation from God, and that, things were not done in a corner," nor was the age like other facts, they are capable of being authenticated dark and illiterate and prone to admit fables. The by credible testimony. These points having been esAugustine Age was the most learned the world ever tablished, the main questions before us are, whether
The love of arts, sciences, and literature was the facts alleged as miraculous in the Old and New the universal passion in almost every part of the Ro- Testaments have a sufficient claim to that character, man empire, where Christianity was first taught in its and whether they were wrought in confirmation of the doctrines and proclaimed in its facts; and in this in- doctrine and mission of the founders of the Jewish and quisitive and discerning era, it rose, flourished, and es- Christian religions. tablished itself, with much resistance to its doctrines, That definition of a true miracle which we have but without being once questioned as to the truth of its adopted may be here conveniently repeated : historical facts.
A miracle is an effect or event contrary to the estaYet how easily might they have been disproved had blished constitution or course of things, or a sensible they been false--that Herod the Great was not the so- suspension or controlment of, or deviation from, the vereign of Judea when our Lord was born-that wise known laws of nature wrought either by the immediate men from the East did not come to be informed of the act or by the concurrence or by the permission of God, place of his birth-and that Herod did not convene the for the proof or evidence of some particular doctrine, Sanhedrim, to inquire where their expected Messiah or in aitestation of the authority of some particular was to be born--that the infants in Bethlehem were person. not massacred--that in the time of Augustus all Judea The force of the argument from miracles lies in this was not enrolled by an imperial edict--that Simeon --that as such works are manifestly above human did not take the infant in his arms and proclaim him power, and as no created being can effect them, unless to be the expected salvation of Israel, which is stated empowered by the Author of nature, when they are to have been done publicly in the temple, before all the wrought for such an end as that mentioned in the defipeople-that the numerous persons, many of whose nition, they are to be considered as authentications of names are mentioned, and some, the relatives of a Divine mission by a special and sensible interposition rulers and centurions, were not miraculously healed of God himself. nor raised from the dead--that the resurrection of La- To adduce all the extraordinary works wrought by xarus, stated to have been done publicly, near to Jeru- | Moses and by Christ, would be unnecessary. In those
we select for examination, the miraculous character of the event are:-The waters are divided, and stand will sufficiently appear to bring them within our defi- up on each side ;-the instrument is a strong east wind, nition, and it will be recollected that it has been already which begins its operation upon the waters, at the established, that the books which contain the account stretching out of the hand of Moses, and ceases at the of these facts must have been written by their reputed same signal, and that at the precise moment when the authors, and that had not the facts themselves occurred return of the waters would be most fatal to the Egypas there related, it is impossible that the people of the tian pursuing army. age in which the accounts of them were published It has, indeed, been asked, whether there were not could have been brought to believe them. On the basis some ledges of rocks where the water was shallow, so then of the arguments already adduced to prove these that an army, at particular times, might pass over; and great points, it is concluded that we have in the Scrip- whether the Etesian winds which blow strongly all tures a true relation of the facts themselves. Nothing summer from the north-west, might not blow so viotherefore remains but to establish their claims as mi- lently against the sea as to keep it back“ on a heap." Tacles.
But if there were any force in these questions, it is plain Out of the numerous miracles wrought by the agency that such suppositions would leave the destruction of of Moses we select, in addition to those before men- the Egyptians unaccounted for. To show that there is tioned in chapter ix., the plague of DARKNESS. Two no weight in them at all, let the place where the pascircumstances are to be noted in the relation given of sage of the Red Sea was effected be first noted. Some this event, Exodus x. It continued three days, and it fix it near Suez, at the head of the gulf; but if there atllicted the Egyptians only, for “ all the children of were satisfactory evidence of this, it ought also to be Israel had light in their dwellings.” The fact here taken into the account, that formerly the gulf extended mentioned was of the most public kind: and had it at least twenty-five miles north of Suez, the place not taken place, every Egyptian and every Israelite where it terminates at present.(5) But the names of could have contradicted the account. The phenome- places, as well as tradition, fix the passage about ten non was not produced by an eclipse of the sun, for no hours' journey lower down, at Clysma, or the valley eclipse of that luminary can endure so long. Some of of Bedea. The name given by Moses to the place where the Roman writers mention, a darkness by day so the Israelites encamped before the sea was divided, was great that persons were unable to know each other; Pihahiroth, which signities “the mouth of the ridge,” but we have no historical account of any other darkness or of that chain of mountains which line the western 80 long continued as this, and so intense that the coast of the Red Sea; and as there is but one mouth of Egyptians "rose not up from their places for three that chain through which an immense multitude of men, days." But if any such circumstance had again oc- women, and children could possibly pass when flying curred, and a natural cause could have been assigned before their enemies, there can be no doubt whatever for it, yet even then the miraculous character of this respecting the situation of Pihahiroth; and the modern event would remain unshaken; for to what but to a names of conspicuous places in its neighbourhood prove, supernatural cause could the distinction made between that those, by whom such names were given, believed the Israelites and the Egyptians be attributed, when that this was the place at which the Israelites passed they inhabited å portion of the same country, and when the sea in safety, and where Pharaoh was drowned. their neighbourhoods were immediately adjoining. Thus, we have close by Pihahiroth, on the western side Here then are the characters of a true miracle. The of the gulf, a mountain called Attaka, which signifies established course of natural causes and effects is in deliverance. On the eastern coast opposite is a headterrupted by an operation upon that mighty element, land called Ras Musa, or “the Cape of Moses;" somethe atmosphere. That it was not a chance irregularity what lower, Harnam Faraun, “Pharaoh's Springs;" in nature, is made apparent from the effect following while at these places the general name of the gulf itselt the volition of a man acting in the name of the Lord of is Bahr-al-Kolsum, “the Bay of Submersion," in which nature, and from its being restrained by that to a cer- there is a whirlpool called Birket Faraun, “the Pool tain part of the same country—“ Moses stretched out of Pharaoh.” This, then, was the passage of the Ishis hand," and the darkness prevailed, every where raelites; and the depth of the sea here is stated by but in the dwellings of his own people. The fact lias Bruce, who may be consulted as to these localities, at been established by former arguments; and the fact about fourteen fathoms, and the breadth at between three being allowed, the miracle of necessity follows. and four leagues. But there is no "ledge of rocks,"
The destruction of the FIRST-BORN of the Egyptians and as to the “ Etesian wind,” the same traveller obmay be next considered. Here, too, are several circum- serves, “If the Etesian wind blowing from the northstances to be carefully noted. This judgment was west in summer, could keep the sea as a wall, on the threatened in the presence of Pharaoh, before any of the right, of fifty feet high, still the difficulty would remain other plagues were brought upon him and his people. of building the wall to the left, or to the north. If the EteThe Israelites also were forewarned of it. They were sian winds had done this once, they must have repeated directed to slay a lamb, sprinkle the blood upon their it many a time before or since, from the same causes." door-posts, and prepare for their departure that same The wind which actually did blow, according to the hisnight. The stroke was inflicted upon the first-born of tory, either as an instrument of dividing the waters, or, the Egyptians only, and not upon any other part of the which is more probable, as the instrument of drying the family-it occurred in the same hour—the tirst-born of ground, after the waters were divided by the immediate the Israelites escaped without exception—and the fes- energy of the Divine power, was not a north wind, but an tival of “ the passover” was from that night instituted "east wind;" and, as Dr. Hales observes, “seems to be in remembrance of the event. Such a festival could introduced by way of anticipation, to exclude the natunot in the nature of the thing be established in any sub- ral agency which might be afterward resorted to for sequent age, in commemoration of an event which solving the miracle ; for it is remarkable, that the monnever occurred; and if instituted at the time, the event soon in the Red Sea blows the summer half of the year must have taken place, for by no means could this large from the north, and the winter half from the south, neibody of men have been persuaded that their first-born ther of which could produce the miracle in question.” had been saved and those of the Egyptians destroyed, The miraculous character of this event is, therefore, if the facts had not been before their eyes. The history most strongly marked. An expanse of water, and that therefore being estalvished, the miracle follows; for water a sea, of from nine to twelve miles broad, known the order of nature is sufficiently known to warrant the to be exceedingly subject to agitations, is divided, and a conclusion, that if a pestilence were to be assumed as wall of water is formed on each hand, affording a pasthe agent of this calamity, an epidemic disease, how- sage on dry land for the Israelites. The phenomeever rapid and destructive, comes not upon the threat non occurs, too, just as the Egyptian host are on the of a mortal, and makes no such selection as the first point of overtaking the fugitives, and ceases at the moborn of every family.
ment when the latter reach the opposite shore in safety, The miracle of dividing the waters of the Red Sea and when their enemies are in the midst of the passage, has already been mentioned, but merits more particu- in the only position in which the closing of the wall lar consideration. In this event we observe, as in the of waters on each side could ensure the entire destrucothers, circumstances which exclude all possibility of tion of so large a force ! mistake or collusion. The subject of the miracle is the The falling of the MANNA in the wilderness for forty sea; the witnesses of it the host of Israel, who passed years is another unquestionable miracle, and one in through on foot, and the Egyptian nation, who lost the xing and his whole army. The miraculous characters (5) Lord VALENTIA's Travels, vol. iji. p. 344.
which there could be neither mistake on the part of fused to deliver the body for burial until he had exthose who were sustained by it, nor fraud on the part pressly inquired of the officer on duty, whether he were of Moses. That this event was not produced by the or- already dead. Nor was he taken away to an unknown dinary course of nature, is rendered certain by the fact, or distant tomb. Joseph of Arimathea made no secret that the same wilderness has been travelled by indi- of the place where he had buried him. It was in his viduals, and by large bodies of men, from the earliest own family tomb, and the Pharisees knew where to diages to the present, but no such supply of food was rect the watch which was appointed to guard the body ever met with, except on this occasion ; and its mira- against the approach of his disciples. The reality of the culous character is farther marked by the following cir- death of Christ is therefore established. cumstances :-1, That it fell but six days in the week: 2. But by both parties, by the Pharisees on the one 2, that it fell in such prodigious quantities, as sustained part, and by the disciples on the other, it was agreed, three millions of souls : 3, that there fell a double quan- that the body was missing, and that, in a state of death, tity every Friday, to serve the Israelites for the next it was never more seen! The sepulchre was made day, which was their Sabbath: 4, that what was ga- sure, the stone at the month being sealed, and a watch thered on the first five days of the week stank and bred of sixty Roman soldiers appointed to guard it, and yet worms if kept above one day; but that which was ga- the body was not to be found. Let us see, then, how thered on Friday kept sweet for two days: and, 5, that each party accounts for this fact. The disciples affirm it continued falling while the Israelites remained in the that two of their company, going early in the morning wilderness, but ceased as soon as they came out of it, to the sepulchre to embalm the body, saw an angel and got corn to eat in the land of Canaan.(6) Let these descend and roll away the stone, sit upon it, and invery extraordinary particulars be considered, and they vite them to see the place where their Lord had lain, at once confirm the fact, while they unequivocally esta informing them that he was risen, and commandblish the miracle. No people could be deceived in these ing them to tell the other disciples of the fact ;-that circumstances; no person could persuade them of their others went to the sepulchre and found not the body, truth, if they had not occurred; and the whole was so though the grave clothes remained; that, at different clearly out of the regular course of nature, as to mark times, he appeared to them, both separately and when unequivocally the interposition of God. To the majority assembled ; that they conversed with him; that he of the numerous miracles recorded in the Old Testa- partook of their food; that they touched his body; ment the same remarks apply, and upon them the same that he continued to make his appearance among them miraculous characters are as indubitably impressed. for nearly six weeks, and then, after many advices, If we proceed to those of Christ, the evidence becomes, finally led them out as far as Bethany, and, in the preif possible, more indubitable. They were clearly above sence of them all, ascended into the clouds of heaven. the power of either human agency or natural causes: This is the statement of the disciples. they were public: they were such as could not admit of The manner in which the Jewish Sanhedrim accounts collusion or deception: they were performed under such for the absence of our Lord's body from the sepulchre circumstances as rendered it impossible for the wit- is, that the Roman soldiers having slept on their post, nesses and reporters of them to mistake: they were of the disciples stole away the corpse. We know of no ten done in the presence of malignant, scrutinizing, and other account. Neither in their earliest. books nor traintelligent enemies, the Jewish rulers, who acknow- ditions is there any other attempt to explain the alleged ledged the facts, but attributed them to an evil super-resurrection of Jesus. We are warranted, therefore, natural agency; and there is no interruption in the tes in concluding that the Pharisees had nothing but this to timony, from the age in which they were wrought to oppose to the positive testimony of the disciples, who this day. It would be trifling with the reader to exa- also added, and published it to the world, that the Roman mine instances so well known in their circumstances; soldiers related to the Pharisees “all the things that for the slightest recollection of the feeding of the multi- were done,” the earthquake, the appearance of the an. tudes in the desert ;-the healing of the paralytic, who, gel, &c.; but that they were bribed to say, “ His discibecause of the multitude, was let down from the house-ples came by night and stole him away, while we slept." top ;-the instant cure of the withered hand in the syna- On the statement of the Pharisees we may remark, gogue, near Jerusalem, where the Pharisees were that though those who were not convinced by our Lord's “watching our Lord whether he would heal on the Sab- former miracles were in a state of mind to resist the bath-day ;'--the raising from the dead of the daughter impression of his resurrection, yet in this attempt to of Jairus, the widow's son, and Lazarus: and many destroy the testimony of the Apostles they fell below other instances of miraculous power, will be sufficient their usual subtlety, in circulating a story which carried to convince any ingenuous mind, that all the characters with it its own refutation. This, however, may be acof real and adequately attested miracles meet in them. counted for from the hurry and agitation of the moment, That great miracle, the resurrection of our Lord him- and the necessity under which they were laid to invent self from the dead, so often appealed to by the first something to amuse the populace, who were not indisteachers of his religion, may, however, be here properly posed to charge them with the death of Jesus. Of this it adduced, with its convincing and irrefragable circum- is clear that the Pharisees were apprehensive, “fearing estances, as completing this branch of the External Evi- the people," on this as on former occasions. This apice.
pears from the manner in which the Sanhedrim adThat it is a miracle in its highest sense for a person dressed the Apostles, Acts v. 28: “Did we not straitly actually dead to raise himself again to life, cannot be command you that ye should not teach in this name? doubted; and when wrought, as the raising of Christ and behold you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, was, in attestation of a Divine commission, it is evi- and INTEND TO BRING THIS MAN'S BLOOD UPON US." dence of the most irrefragable kind. So it has been re- The majority of the people were not enemies of Jesus, garded by unbelievers, who have bent all their force though the Pharisees were; and it was a mob of hase against it; and so it was regarded by Divine Provi- feilows and strangers, of which Jerusalem was full at dence, who rendered its proofs ample and indubitable the passover, who had been excited to clamour for his in proportion to its importance. Let us, then, examine death. The body of the Jewish populace heard him the circumstances, as recorded in the history.
gladly; great numbers of them had been deeply imIn the first place, the reality of Christ's death is cir- pressed by the raising of Lazarus, in the very neighcumstantially and fully stated; though, if no circum- bourhood of Jerusalem, and had in consequence accomstantial evidence had been adduced, it is not to be sup- panied him with public acclamations, as the Messiah, posed that they who had sought his death with so much into Jerusalem. These sentiments of the people of Jeeagerness would be inattentive to the full execution rusalem towards our Lord were transferred to the Aposof the sentence for which they had clamoured. The tles; for after Peter and John had healed the man at execution was public; he was crucified with common the gate of the temple, and refused to obey the Council malefactors, in the usual place of execution ; the sol- in keeping silent as to Christ, when the chief priests diers brake not his legs, the usual practice when they had farther threatened them, they let them go, finding would hasten the death of the malefactor, observing not how they might punish them, BECAUSE OF THE PEOthat he was dead already. His enemies knew that he PLE.” had predicted his resurrection, and would therefore be It was in a state of considerable agitation, therefore, careful that he should not be removed from the cross that this absurd and self-exposed rumour was hastily before death had actually taken place; and Pilate re- got up, and as hastily published. We may add, also,
that it was hastily abandoned; for it is remarkable, that (6) Universal History, 1. 1, c. 7
it is never adverted to by the Pharisees in any of those
legal processes instituted at Jerusalem against the first stances of credibility in the testimony of the disciples
The absurdity involved in the only testimony ever peached his accomplices? or discovered his pretended
the ancient enemies of Christianity, never complained.
OBJECTIONS TO THE PROOF TROM MIRACLES stances the loss of the body became itself an extraordi
CONSIDERED. nary event. The tomb was carefully closed and sealed The first objection to the conclusiveness of the arguby officers appointed for that purpose, a guard was set, ment in favour of the Mosaic and Christian systems and yet the body is missing. The story of the Phari- which is drawn from their miracles, is grounded upon sees does not at all account for the fact; it is too absurd to be for a moment credited ; and unless the history of (7) The evidences of our Lord's resurrection are the Evangelists be admitted, that singular fact remains fully exhibited in West on the Resurrection, SHERstill unaccounted for.
LOCK's Trial of the Witnesses, and Dr. Cook's Illustra. But in addition to this presumption, let the circum-) tion of the Evidence of Christ's Resurrection.
facts and doctrines supposed to be found in the Scrip- , was to show, that their gods were as powerful as the tures themselves.
God who had commissioned Moses, and that they could It is stated, that the Scriptures assert miraculous protect them from his displeasure, though they should acts to have been performed in opposition to the mis- refuse at the command of his commissioned servant to sion and to the doctrine of those who have professed let his people go. themselves accredited instruments of making known But whatever pretence there was of supernatural asrevelations of the will of God to mankind; and that sistance, it is contended by several writers of great and the sacred writers frequently speak of such events as deserved authority, that no miracles were wrought at possible, nay, as certain future occurrences, even when all on these occasions; that, by dexterity and previous they have not actually taken place. The question there- preparation, serpents were substituted by the magicians fore is, how miracles should be conclusive proofs of for rods; that a colouring matter was infused into a truth, when they actually have been, or may be, wrought portion of water; and that as frogs, through the prein proof of falsehood. “Shall a miracle confirm the vious miracle of Moses, every where abounded in the belief of one, and not confirm the belief of more gods land of Egypt, a sufficient number might be easily prothan one, if wrought for that purpose ?"(8) The in-cured to cover some given space; and they fariher stances usually adduced are the feats of the Egyptian argue, that when the miracles of Moses became such Magi in opposition to Moses, and the raising of Samuel as to defy the possibility of the most distant imitation, by the witch of Endor. The presumptions that such at that point the simulations of the Magi ceased. works are considered possible are drawn from a pas- The obvious objection to this is, that “Moses describes sage of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy; a predic- the works of the magicians in the very same language tion respecting false Christs in St. Matthew's Gospel; as he does his own, and therefore there is reason to conand the prediction of the man of sin, in the writings clude that they were equally miraculous.” To this it is of St. Paul : all of which caution the reader against replied, that nothing is more common than to speak of being seduced from the truth, by “ signs and wonders” professed jugglers as doing what they pretend or appear performed by false teachers.
to do, and that this language never misleads. But it is With respect to the miracles, or pretended miracles, also stated, and the observation is of great weight, that wrought by the magicians of Pharaoh, prelinis the word used by Moses is one of great latitude nary considerations are to be noted.
“they did so," that is, in like manner, importing that 1. That whether the persons called magicians were they attempted some imitation of Moses; because it is regular priests, or a distinct class of men, they were used when they failed in their attempt—“they did so known to be expert in producing singular effects and to bring forth lice; but they could not.” Farther, Mr. apparent transformations in natural objects, for after Farmer, Dr. Hales, and others contend, that the root of Moses had commenced his marvellous operations, they the word translated "enchantments” fitly expresses were sent for by Pharaoh to oppose their power and any “secret artifices or methods of deception, whereby skill to his.
false appearances are imposed upon the spectators." 2. That they succeeded, or appeared to succeed, in For a farther explanation and defence of this hypothethree attempts to imitate the works of Moses, and were sis, an extract from Farmer's Dissertation on Miracles then controlled, or attempted a work beyond their is given, at the end of the Chapter (1) power, and were obliged to acknowledge themselves Much' as these observations deserve attention, it may vanquished by “the finger of God.” The rest of the be very much doubted, whether mere manual dexterity miracles wrought by Moses went on without any at- and sleight of hand can sufficiently account for the eftempt at imitation.
sects actually produced, if only human agents were en3. That these works, of whatever kind they might gaged; and it does not appear impracticable to meet be, were wrought to hold up the idols of Egypt as any difficulty which may arise out of an admission of equal in power to Jehovah, the God of Moses and the supernatural evil agency in the imitation of the three Israelites. This is a consideration of importance, and first wonders performed by Moses. the fact is easily proved. If they were inere jugglers It ought, however, in the first place, to be previously and performed their wonders by sleight of hand, they stated, that the history before us is not in fairness to be did not wish the people to know this, or their intuence judged of as an insulated statement, independent of the over them could not have been maintained. They principles and doctrines of the revelation in which it is therefore used "enchantments,” incongruous and found. With that revelation it is bound up, and by the strange ceremonies, rites, and offerings, which among light of its doctrine it is to be judged. No intidel, who all superstitious people have been supposed to have a
would find in Scripture an argument against Scripture, powerful effect in commanding the intuence of super- has the right to consider any passage separately, or to natural beings in their favour, and subjecting them to apply to it the rule of his own theory on religious subtheir will, We have an instance of this use of “en-jects, unless he lias first, by fair and honest argument, chantments” in the case of Balaam, who lived in the disposed of the evidences of the Scriptures themselves same age; and this example goes very far, we think, He must disprove the authenticity of the sacred record, to settle the sense in which the Magi used'"enchant- and the truth of the facts contained in it,- he must rid ments;" for though the original word used is different, himself of every proof of the Divine mission of Moses, yet its ideal meaning is equally capable of being ap
and of the evidence of his miracles, before he is enplied to the rites of incantation, and in this sense it is titled to this right; and if he is inadequate to this task, confirmed by the whole story.(9) Whatever connexion he can only consider the case as a difficulty, starding therefore may be supposed to exist between the "en- on the admission of the Scriptures themselves, and to chantments" used and the works performed, or if all be explained, as far as possible, on the principles of that connexion be denied, this species of religious rite was general system of religion which the Scriptures themperformed, and the people understood, as it was in- selves supply. In this nothing more is asked than artended they should understand, that the wonders which gumentative fairness. The same rule is still more oblithe Magi performed were done under the influence of gatory upon those interpreters who profess to believe their deities. The object of Pharaoh and the magicians in the Divine authority of the sacred records ; for by
the aid of their general principles and unequivocal (8) Bishop FLEETWOOD on Miracles.
doctrines, every difficulty which they profess to extract (9) “ They also did in like manner with their en
from them is surely to be examined in order to ascer
tain its real character. chantments. The word Dion), lahatim, comes difficulty in the present case, supposing it to be allowed
What, however, is the real from 977', lahat, to burn, to set on fire; and probably that the magicians performed works superior to the signities such incantations as required lustral fires, power of any mere human agent, and therefore supersacrifices, fumigations, burning of incense, aromatic natural ? This it is the more necessary to settle, as the and odoriferous drugs, &c., as the means of evoking difficulty supposed to arise out of this admission has departed spirits, or assistant demons, by whose minis- been exaggerated. try, it is probable, the magicians in question wrought It seems generally to have been supposed, that these some of their deceptive miracles; for as the term miro- counter-performances were wrought to contradict the cle properly signifies something which exceeds the Divine mission of Moses, and that by allowing them to power of nature or art to produce (see verse 9); hence be supernatural, we are brought into the difficulty of ihere could be no miracle in this case, but those wrought supposing, that God may authenticate the mission of through the power of God, by the ministry of Moses and Aaron."--Dr. ADAM CLArke in loc.
(1) See note A, at the end of the charter.