« הקודםהמשך »
“ Is it to be conceived by any man, who hath the least “ pretension to common sense, that the several simple “ relations recorded in the books of Moses, JOSHUA,
JUDGES, and those which follow, can be founded in “ truth?"
Most of our misapprehensions of this kind arise from not duly considering the infant state of the world, the progressive nature of civil society, and the different manners of the several ages and countries of the earth. The customs of the eastern nations, where the Bible was originally written, were then, and, indeed, are at this day, extremely different from our own; almost as much so as between the manners of the inhabitants of the south-sea islands, and those of this country. And while we are wondering at the simplicity of their customs, they are entertaining themselves with the novelty of ours*.
“ But then, what occasion was there for a Mediator? “ Is not God the wise and good parent of all his creatures ? " and cannot he pardon our offences, and make us happy « in the future state, with the interposition of any other
being whatever ?"
What God can do, what he hath done, and what he will do, are very different considerations. If it were equally consistent with his wisdom and goodness to save mankind without a Mediator, we may be asured it would have been done. But as the DIVINE BEING hath thought proper to institute the mediatorial scheme, we may be assured there are the best reasons for the appointment,
* This objection is well answered in the first Letter of Bishop Wat. SON's Apology:
The character of Moses and his writings is very amply and satisfactorily vindicated from all the usual objections of Infidels, in the first of Bishop Newton's Dissertations on some parts of the Old Testament. Little more either need or can be added to what this learned man hath advanced. If the reader is disposed, he may add Gray's Key to the Old Testament. After reading such authors, it is scarcely possible to avoid entertaining an opinion extremely contemptible of THOMAS PAINE.
Mr. Hervey's Remarks on Lord BOLING BROKE's Letters on the Study and Use of History, contain many pious and satisfactory observations on the History of the Old Testament, especially on the writings of Moses.
though we may be incapable of discovering, and even comprehending, what all those reasons are. Indeed, even in this state, few of the blessings of PROVIDENCE are conveyed to us by the intervention of mediators. The whole plan of the world is carried forward by the assistance of others. How many mediators must there be, before we can be supplied with our daily bread * ?
“ If a revelation must be made to mankind, why was « it. chelivered in the historic form? Why was it not “ rather given in some set and regular composition, worthy w of its author ?".
The reason of this must be resolved into divine wisdom. He, that best knew the nature of man, chose this method in preference to every other ; and there is no reason to question, but that the variety of compositions, of which the Bible is formed, is much better adapted to the circumstances of the great bulk of mankind, than any set and regular discourse in the didactic form f.
« The books of Moses are thought by many to have “ been written some ages after his time?”
* See SOAME JENYN's View of the Internal Evidence of the Chris. tian Religion, and Butler's Analogy, passim, where the doctrine of the mediatorship of MESSIAH is considered at large, with unanswerable evidence.
+ Let the reader consult Mr. WAKEFIELD's Evidence of Christianity, where he will find a number of remarks well adapted to display the excellence, recommend the purity, illustrate the character, and evince the authenticity of the Christian religion. See too COBBOLD's Essay on the Historic form of Scripture.
# LE CLERC was of this opinion in his younger days, but after more reading, and a better informed judgment, he changed his mind, and wrote in defence of their genuineness and authenticity.
“ The first, and truly original historians," says another learned man,
are those of the Hebrew Scriptures. The sacred writers, to the un. equalled dignity of their subject, unite a majestic simplicity and perspi. cuity of stile and narration. Moses, the most ancient, is the most per. fect of historians. His stile is copious, even, and clear. Like a deep river, he bears his reader with a calm and majestic course. It was his purpose, to give a body of laws, as well as a thread of history; and by interweaving them together he has authenticated both: for it is impos sible forge the civil and religious policy of a great nation."
The ingenious reader will find much entertainment and instruction, and various difficulties obviated, in BRYANT'S Obiervations on the Plagues of Egypt.
The authenticity of those books is unquestionable, and has been amply vindicated by men every way furnished for the inquiry *
“ Though some parts of the books of Moses are « written with great beauty and simplicity, yet many " of his laws are trifling, and unworthy of a great legis. • lator?"
This objection arises from a want of due attention to the state of the people for whom those laws were enaded. When the circumstances of the Jews are properly considered, the Mosaic institutions will appear to be adapted with the most consummate propriety to those circumstances of.. It is extremely hard the Bible should be made accountable for our ignorance.
« The character and conduct of DAVID, who is called a man after God's own heart, can never be defended
by any person who has the least regard to truth and “ moral excellency?"
It is not the business of these papers to enter into a minute defence of all those parts of the Bible which may seem objectionable. The character of David, however; stands high in our estimation, except in the case of URIAN; and as it has been virulently attacked by some considerable men, so it has been no less ably defended.
And to such defence, we beg leave to refer those readers who find themselves concerned 1.
* See PRIDEAUX's Connection, b. 6; Kidver's Commentary on the Books of Moses; Witsi Miscellanea Sacra; MARSH's Discourse on the Authenticity of those Books, and Du Pin's Bibliotheca.
+ Consult LOWMAN's Dissertation on the Civil Government of the HEBREWS, and Dr. RANDOLPH's Excellency of the Jewish Law vindi. cated. See too Forbes's Thoughts on Religion.
# Delany's Historical Account of the Life and Reign of David is valuable. Bishop Porteus's Sermon on the Chara&ter of David abounds with just remarks. But CHANDLER's Critical History of the Life of DAVID enters at large into the subject, and is particularly satisfactory. Another learned man says :
“ If we consider David, in the great variety of his fine qualifica. tions; the ornaments of his person, and the far more illustrious endow. ments of his mind ; the surprising revolutions in his fortune ; sometimes reduced to the lowest ebb of adversity ; sometimes riding upon the highest tide of prosperity ;-his singular dexterity in extricating himself froin
« The characters and manners of the ancient Prophets
were uncouth, and unworthy of the God who is said « to have sent them?”
In general, they were moral and religious men; and their manners were in perfect conformity to the times in which they lived, and the people among whom they conversed. Besides, it is not essential to the character of a prophet of the true God, that he should be a good man. BALAAM is an instance to the contrary, Gup, indeed, in the course of his providence, frequently uses bad men as instruments to accomplish his own purposes.
“ But there are many actions ascribed to the servants of " God in the Old Testainent, which very much wound the
feelings of every good man. Noah was guilty of ina toxication ; ABRAHAM of dissimulation; JacoB of
lying ; AARON of idolatry ; JAEL of treachery and “ murder; David of adultery and murder; SOLOMON of
idolatry and lewdness; and many others of crimes of “ several kinds ?"
The relation of all these instances of wickedness in the servants of God, is a proof of the disinterestedness and impartiality of the sacred historians! and these crimes are recorded, not for our imitation, but for our adınonition. If we attend to the consequences of these several transgressions, we shall see no good reason to imitate them. It is not any where recorded, that these faulty parts of their conduct met with the approbation of HEAVEN.
“How may the horrible destruction of the nations of “ Canaan be reconciled with the principles of mercy and
difficulties, and peculiar felicity in accommodating himself to all cir. cumstances ;---the prizes he won, as a youthful champion ; and the victories he gained, as an experiencrd general ; his masterly hand upon the harp, and his inimitable talent for poetry ;-the admirable regulations of his royal government, and the incomparable usefulness of his public writings ;-the depth of his repentance, and the height of his devotion; -the vigour of his faith in the divine promises, and the ardour of his love to the divine Majesty :- If we consider these, with several other marks of honour and grace, which ennoble the history of his life ; we shall see such an assemblage of shining qualities, as perhaps were never united in any other merely human character,"
Just Just as pestilence, fainine, storms, tempests, and earth. quakes may be reconciled with those lovely perfections. The MORAL GOVERNOUR of the world is at liberty to destroy offending nations and individuals in any manner he judges meet*. We see this to be the constant course of DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
“ But, you should like to have been eye-witnesses of " the mighty works wrought by Moses mo and JESUS “ CHRIST ?"
So should we. Has not every man, in every age, and in every country under heaven, the same right to expect
* See this vindicated in BRYANT's Treatise on the Scriptures; in the first Letter of WATSON'S Apology; and in almost every other author who has treated upon subjects of this nature.
† The writings of Moses have received much confirmation and eluci. dation from the learned labours of the late Sir WILLIAM Jones, and the present Mr. MAURICE. All the leading circumstances of the Mosaic history are found detailed with various degrees of corruption and perversion among the writings of the East Indies. The following account of Noah and his three sons, from Mr. Maurice's Sanscreet Fragments, is very remarkable, and strongly corroborative of the Mosaic history.
1. " TO SATYAVARMAN that sovereign of the whole earth, were born three sons, the eldest SHERMA; then CHARMA; and, thirdly, JyAPETi, by name.
2. They were all men of good morals, excellent in virtue and virtuous deeds, skilled in the use of weapons to strike with or to be thrown; brave men, eager for victory in battle.
3. But SATYAVARMAN, being continually delighted with devout meditation, and seeing his sons fit for dominion, laid upon them the burden of government.
4. Whilst he remained honouring and satisfying the gods, and priests, and kine, one day, by the act of destiny, the king, having drunk mead,
5. Became senseless, and lay asleep naked. Then was he seen by CHARMA, and by him were his two brothers called :
6. To whom he said, What has now befallen? In what state is this our sire? By those two was he hidden with clothes, and called to his senses again and again.
7. Having recovered his intellect, and perfectly knowing what had passed, he cursed CHARMA ; saying, Thou shalt be servant of servants :
8. And, since thou wast a laughter in their presence, from laughter shalt thou acquire a name. Then he gave to Sherma the wide domain on the south of the snowy mountains.
9. And 10 JYAPETI he gave all on the north of the snowy moun. tains ;- but he, by the power of religious contemplation, attained supreme bliss."
Asiatic Researches, vol. 3, p. 467, and Mr. MAURICE'S Sanscreet Fragments, p. 44.