תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

we glorify oracles. But neither written history nor philosophy will support the work of Moses as a wonder of mere human intellect, without ignoring the declarations of Moses himself and the settled belief of all Christian ages.

It is not my object to make an argument in defence of the divine legation of Moses; nor is it my design to reply to the learned criticisms of those who doubt or deny his statements. I would not run atilt against modern science, which may hereafter explain and accept what it now rejects. Science – whether physical or metaphysical — has its great truths, and so has Revelation ; the realm of each is distinct while yet their processes are incomplete : and it is the hope and firm belief of many God-fearing scientists that the patient, reverent searching of to-day into God's works, of matter and of mind, as it collects the myriad facts and classifies them into such orderly sequences as indicate the laws of their being, will confirm to men's reason their faith in the revealed Word. Certainly this is a consummation devoutly to be wished. I am not scientist enough to judge of its probability, but it is within my province to present a few deductions which can be fairly drawn from the denial of the inspiration of the Mosaic Code. I wish to show to what conclusions this denial logically leads.

We must remember that Moses himself most distinctly and most emphatically affirms his own divine legation ; for is not almost every chapter prefaced with these remarkable words, “And the Lord spake unto Moses ” ? Jehovah himself, in some incomprehensible way, amid the lightnings and the wonders of the sacred Mount, communicated His wisdom. Now, if we disbelieve this direct and impressive affirmation made by Moses, — that Jehovah directed him what to say to the people he was called to govern, — why should we believe his other statements, which involve supernatural agency or intluence pertaining to the early history of the race? Where, then, is his authority? What is it worth ? He has indeed no authority at all, except so far as his statements harmonize with our own definite knowledge, and perhaps with scientific speculations. We then make our own reason and knowledge, not the declarations of Moses, the ultimate authority. As a divine oracle to us, his voice is silent; ay, his august voice is drowned by the discordant and contradictory opinions that are ever blended with the speculations of the schools. He tells us, in language of the most impressive simplicity and grandeur, that he was directly instructed and commissioned by Jehovah to communicate moral truths, — truths, we should remember, which no one before him is known to have uttered, and truths so important that the prosperity of nations is identified with them, and will be so identified as long as men shall speculate and dream. If we deny this testimony, then his narration of other facts, which we accept, is not to be fully credited; like other ancient histories, it may be and it may not be true, — but there is no certainty. However we may interpret his detailed narration of the genesis of our world and our race, — whether as chronicle or as symbolic poem, — its central theme and thought, the direct creative agency of Jehovah, which it was his privilege to announce, stands forth clear and unmistakable. Yet if we deny the supernaturalism of the code, we may also deny the supernaturalism of the creation, in so far as both rest on the authority of Moses.

And, further, if Moses was not inspired directly from God to write his code, then it follows that he — a man pre-eminent for wisdom, piety, and knowledge — was an impostor, or at least, like Mohammed and George Fox, a self-deceived and visionary man, since he himself affirms his divine legation, and traces to the direct agency of Jehovah not merely his code, but even the various deliverances of the Israelites. And not only was Moses mistaken, but the Jewish nation, and Christ and the apostles, and the greatest lights of the Church from Augustine to Bossuet.

Hence it follows necessarily that all the miracles by which the divine legation of Moses is supported and credited, have no firm foundation, and a belief in them is superstitious, -as indeed it is in all other miracles recorded in the Scriptures, since they rest on testimony no more firmly believed than that believed by Christ and the apostles respecting Moses. Sweep away his authority as an inspiration, and you undermine the whole authority of the Bible; you bring it down to the · level of all other books; you make it valuable only as a thesaurus of interesting stories and impressive moral truths, which we accept as we do all other kinds of knowledge, leaving us free to reject what we cannot understand or appreciate, or even what we dislike.

Then what follows? Is it not the rejection of many of the most precious revelations of the Bible, to which we wish to cling, and without a belief in which there would be the old despair of Paganism, the dreary unsettlement of all religious opinions, even a disbelief in an intelligent First Cause of the universe, certainly of a personal God, — and thus a gradual drifting away to the dismal shores of that godless Epicureanism which Socrates derided, and Paul and Augustine combated ? Do you ask for a confirmation of the truths thus deduced from the denial of the supernaturalism of the Mosaic Code? I ask you to look around. I call no names; I invoke no theological hatreds; I seek to inflame no prejudices. I appeal to facts as incontrovertible as the phenomena of the heavens. I stand on the

CO

platform of truth itself, which we all seek to know and are proud to confess. Look to the developments of modern thought, to some of the speculations of modern science, to the spirit which animates much of our popular literature, not in our country but in all countries, even in the schools of the prophets and among men who are “ more advanced,” as they think, in learning, and if you do not see a tendency to the revival of an attractive but exploded philosophy, the philosophy of Democritus; the philosophy of Epicurus, – then I am in an error as to the signs of the times. But if I am correct in this position, — if scepticism, or rationalism, or pantheism, or even science, in the audacity of its denials, or all these combined, are in conflict with the supernaturalism which shines and glows in every book of the Bible, and are bringing back for our acceptance what our fathers scorned, — then we must be allowed to show the practical results, the results on life, which of ne cessity followed the triumph of the speculative opinions of the popular idols of the ancient world in the realm of thought. Oh, what a life was that! what a poor exchange for the certitudes of faith and the simplicities of patriarchal times ! I do not know whether an Epicurean philosophy grows out of an Epicurean life, or the life from the philosophy; but both are indissolubly and logically connected. The triumph

« הקודםהמשך »