Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee."* These passages are of immense value, as demonstrative of the care taken for the diffusion of religious knowledge among the people; and the latter particularly so, as affording a most signal demonstration of the safe keeping of their sacred records. For there is great reason to believe, that, after the book of the law of Moses was deposited in the ark, copies of all the other canonical writings, when once their authority was established, were placed there along with it. Certain it is, that, over and above the Pentateuch, we read of words written by Joshua,f in the book of the law of God; and which would therefore, in all probability, have the same high place of memorial assigned to it—and, more especially, as they were the words of a solemn and enduring covenant between God and the people. It is true that when the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, all the autographs that had been deposited there were most probably destroyed along with it. But there is every likelihood that, when the temple was rebuilt, and the canon of the Old Testament was established by Ezra and his colleagues—an ark was constructed for the reception of a copy of it, and placed in the Holy of Holies. It forms a strong confirmation of this, that, in the triumph of

* Deut. xxxi. 9—13, 24—26. We would further direct the attention of the reader to 2 Chron. v. 4, 5, where is recorded the transference of the ark and of all the holy vessels to the temple. We cannot doubt that on that solemn occasion when the tabernacle and all that was in it was brought up, the book of the law would be similarly deposited as before.

f Josh. xxiv. 26.

Titus at Rome, of which Josephus was both the historian and the eye-witness, the Book of the Law was carried in procession along with the other spoils of the temple. "But for those that were taken in the temple of Jerusalem, they made the greatest figure of them all; that is the golden table, of the weight of many talents; the candlestick also, that was made of gold, though its construction were now changed from that which we made use of: for its middle shaft was fixed upon a basis, and the small branches were produced out of it to a great length, having the likeness of a trident in their position, and had every one a socket made of brass for a lamp at the tops of them. These lamps were in number seven, and represented the dignity of the number seven among the Jews; and the last of all the spoils, was carried the law of the Jews."* This book of the law, Josephus informs us, was not deposited in the temple which Vespasian built to Peace, along with the golden vessels and instruments that were taken out of the temple at Jerusalem. This book, along with the purple veils of the holy place, the emperor reserved for himself, and kept in his own royal palace. And accordingly, it is a very general faith among learned men, that an authentic copy of all the canonical and authorized scriptures, was placed as they were successively written, in the sanctuary; and which copy could be appealed to, if indeed there ever was occasion for it, in every question of doubtful or different readings—and that thus, a paland transmission of the elder revelations to the latter ends of the world; and this one purpose at least, of their marked and singular economy, has been fully accomplished by them.

* Josephus, Jewish War, Book VII. chap. V. § 5.

8. But, whatever obscurity maybe conceived to hang over the methods of this more remote and ancient dispensation, we at length emerge into full assurance, when we come to the days of the New Testament; and gather thence our third general argument, the strongest of all, we think, for the canonicity of the Old Testament writings. Nothing can be more certain than the use, the frequent use, made by the Jews from very early times, of written language as the vehicle of their alleged revelations. And the books to which they were thus committed, were signalized above all others by the religious estimation in which they were held. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them."* "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God"| "And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides: on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables."| "And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first; and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest."* "And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire, in the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them unto me. And I turned myself, and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me."f "And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life."J "And it .shall be, on the day when you pass over Jordan unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over," &c.| These quotations serve to prove how early writing was resorted to, in the communications between heaven and earth. The book that was "before the priests the Levites," we have no doubt, was that laid up in the ark of the covenant, from which each king was required to write a copy ; and we cannot imagine a more effectual device for the preservation of an autograph, and for the transmission of a book in its original integrity to future ages. But beside this, we may observe in these passages, what the written revelations were, in their earliest and most rudimental form—before they were expanded into books, whether smaller or larger, for circulation among the people. "Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it to the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel." "Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel."* "Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord."f "Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever."} "The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book."|| "The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah."§ "So JeVemiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, even all these words that are written against Babylon."^" "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end."** These last quotations exhibit to us the origination of books, or parts of books, in the Old Testament; and did we offer, in addition to

* Exod. xxiv. 12. f Ex. xxxi. 18. t Ex. xxxii. 15, Ifi.

* Ex. xxxiv. 1. f Deut. x. 4, a. J Deut. xvii. 18, 19. II Deut. xxvii. 2, 3.

• Deut. xxxi. 19, 22.

+ 1 Sam. x. 25. This act of laying up what he had written before the Lord, may he regarded as another example of the deposition of the Sacred Writings, in a sanctuarv or consecrated place. J Is. xxx. 8. || Jer. xxx. 1, 2. § Jer. xlv. I.

% Jer. li. 60. "Daniel xii. 4.

« AnteriorContinuar »