Page images
PDF
EPUB

sages of the law by way of frontlets and signs, if it had not really been so ?

Could the whole people have been persuaded to submit to the pain of death, upon all the offences which the law makes capital, unless their fathers had done, so, upon the evidence of the authority of that law?

Could the whole people have been persuaded that they had kept exact genealogies, in order to entitle them to the blessings, and to the inheritances severally, unless they actually had done so ?

Could the whole people believe that they had kept passovers, feasts of tabernacles, &c. down from the date of the law, commemorative of the great events they relate to, unless they had really done so ?

Could the children of Israel have been imposed on to receive an ark and a tabernacle, then forged, and a complete set of service and liturgy, as descending from Moses by the direction of God, unless that ark and that service had come to them from their ancestors, as authorised by God?

Could the whole people have submitted to pay tithe, first-fruits, &c. upon any feigned revelation? Or, could the tribe of Levi, without divine authority, have submitted, not only to the being originally without a portion in Israel, but to the being incapable of any, in hopes of the contributions of the people? which, however large when the whole twelve tribes served at the same temple, became very scanty when ten of them with drew their allegiance from heaven.

[ocr errors]

Could ever the book of the law, if consigned to the Levites, and promulgated, have been lost, so as to give room for new fictions? Or could a book of the law have been forged, if there was none precedent, and put upon the people as a book that had been delivered to the Levites by Moses? If no book at all ever was delivered by him to them, what authority could be pretended for such a book?

Had a book been to be forged, in order to be received by the people, could it have contained so many scandalous reflections and accusations against the people, and so many fatal threats and predictions concerning them? and, if it had been so framed, could it have been received as authentic?

If the law, &c. was forged, it must have been before the days of David : because by the sacred hymns, in his time, the publication of the law is celebrated, and the law was observed : and yet the time between the entry of Israel into the land, and the reign of David, being but about four hundred years, is too short a space for forgetting the real manner of the entry, and forging another, to be received by a people, whose genealogy was so fixed, and whose time was reckoned by such periods.

If the book of the law was not forged before the reign of David, it could not possibly be forged after, unless the whole history of the kingdom, the tabernacle, the temple, and all the sacred hymns and prophecies, are looked upon as one complete fiction; because the tabernacle, the temple, the economy of the kingdom, the sacred

hymns, and all the other writings said to be sacred, bear formal relation to the law.

But, that all these things were not suppositions, is evident from the anxious zeal that possessed the Jews who returned from the captivity; from their solicitude to restore the city, the temple, and the sacred service; from their strict examination of their genealogies, and scrupulous care to comply with the law.

The space between the captivity and the return was so short, that some who saw the first temple, saw also the second, and many who were themselves, or at least whose fathers had been of ficers in the first temple, returned to the service of the second : so that it is utterly impossible that the history, the liturgy, the service of the Jews, preceding the return, should be a fiction, at least that it should be a fiction earlier than the return.

And the story of this nation, from that period, falls in so much with the history of the rest of the world; their sacred books have been so soon after that translated, and they have been so famous for the tenaciousness of their laws, that there is no possibility of suspecting that their law and history was forged later than the return. And, if it is granted, that the devotions, the precepts, the institutions, and rites, and ceremonies of this law, and the great lines of their history, are not forged; one needs, as to the present consideration, be but little solicitous concerning the accuracy of the copy of the books of the law, and of the other sacred books; and whether there may not have been some mistake and interpolations. It is not with one or one hundred words or sentences we have to do; it is with the system of the sacrificature, and the other religious laws and services of the Jews, and with the political establishment of their theocratical government, and the authority for the establishment of both, that we have, at present, concern.

For, if such a system of religious services and ceremonies was revealed and commanded by God; if, for the greater certainty, it was reduced into writing by Moses, by divine direction; if such a model of government was framed, as is manifestly calculated for keeping up the observance of those services, and preserving the memory of the institutions, and keeping up the authority of the book wherein it was recorded : and if the nation, to whom this institution was delivered, have preserved it accordingly; complete evidence thence arises to us of the divinity of the institution; and leads to a demonstrative proof of the truth of the Christian religion, to which all the emblematical institutions tend, and in which they centre.

Lord Forbes.

THE MOSAIC ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN OF MAN.

KIND, AND OF THE DELUGE, CONFIRMED BY

REASON AND HISTORY. I ADMIT without hesitation the aphorism of Linnæus, that, ' in the beginning God created one pair only of every living species, which has a diversity of sex; but, since that incomparable na. turalist argues principally from the wonderful diffusion of vegetables, and from an hypothesis, that the water on this globe has been continually subsiding, I venture to produce a shorter and closer argument in support of his doctrine.

That Nature, of which simplicity appears a distinguishing attribute, does nothing in rain, is a maxim in philosophy; and against those who deny maxims we cannot dispute : but it is vain and superfluous to do by many means, what may be done by fewer, and this is another maxim, received into courts of judicature from the schools of the philosophers. We must not, therefore,' says our great Newton, ' admit more causes of natural things, than those which are true, and sufficiently account for natural phenomena:' but it is true, that one pair at least of every living species must at first have been created; and that one human pair was sufficient for the population of our globe in a period of no inconsiderable length, (on the very moderate supposition of lawyers and political arithmeticians, that every pair of ancestors left on an average two children, and each of them two more,) is evident from the rapid increase of numbers in geometrical progression, so well known to those who have ever taken the trouble to sum a series of as many terms as they suppose generations of men in two or three thousand years. It follows, that the Author of nature (for all nature proclaims its divine Author,) created but one pair of our species; yet, had it not been (among other reasons) for the devastations which history has recorded, of water and fire, war, famine, and pestilence, this earth would not now have had room for its multiplied inhabitants. If the human race then be, as we may confidently

« PreviousContinue »