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Laws had been of his own contrivance, lest his own "Reputation, or the Authority of his Laws, or perhaps both, might have suffered by it, Exod.v'i. 14,20. He sets forth the Ingratitude, Idolatry, and perpetual Revolts and Murmurings of his whole Nation, and relates the Failings and Faults of their Ancestors the Patriarchs, and particularly of Levi, from whom he was descended, Gen. xxxiv. 30. and xlix. 6. He spares neither hisPeople, nor his Ancestors, nor himself, in what he relates j and these are all the Characters of a faithful Historian, and a sincere Man, that can be desired.
And as Moses was not ambitious of Praise, so neither was he ambitious of Power and Dominion. For besides that he entered upon such an Undertaking, as no sober Man would have attempted without a Revelation, it appearing otherwise impossible to accomplish it, his whole Conduct shews, that he had no design of advancing his own Interest or Dominion. If he had been never so Ambitious, he needed not have gone into the Wilderness to seek his Preferment, amongst a wandring and stubborn People, when he had been bred up to all the Honours and the Pleasures that •Ægypt or Pharaotfs Court could afford: but he refused to be called the son os Pharaoh's daughter , chusing rather to suffer affliftion with the people ofGod^ than to enjoy the pleasures offin for a season esteeming the reproach os Christ greater riches than the treasures of *Ægypt, Heb. xi. 24, 25. He undertook to lead the People of Israel, for Forty Years, through a barren Wilderness; where he could promise himself but a very uneasie and inglorious Reign, if that had been his Design j and, by the course of Nature, he could not hope to outlive that period of Time: and tho1 he was preserved, in his Old Age, in the full strength and vigour of Manhood j yet, upon their entrance into the promised Land, he meekly resigned himself to death, in the very sigbjwind borders of Canaan j knowing before-hand
that he must not be suffered to possess the Land which he had been so many years, in so great dangers, leading the People of Israel to enjoy; though he doth not conceal how desirous he was to pass over Jordan, Deut. iii. 23, &sf. The History of his Death is like that of his Life, related with a peculiar kind of native simplicity: He is not said to be taken up into Heaven, as Enoch and Elijah were, and as the Romans feigned of Romulus, but to die; and his Sepulchre was hidi to prevent the Superstitious and Idolatrous Veneration which might have been paid to the Remains of so Great a Person. And tho' he had Sons, yet they were but private Men, no otherwise known to us, than as they were his Sons; the Government he conferred upon Jojhua, one of another Tribe. Moses therefore was the farthest of any Man from Vain-glorious, or Ambitious and Aspiring Designs; and could propose no other Advantage to himself, but the fulfilling the Will of God, in delivering his Commandments to the People of Israel, and following his Directions in his Conduct and Government.
Aaron was of a different Temper from Moses, and was envious of him, and both Aaron and Miriam murmured against him. It is so notorious, that there could be no contrivance between them to deceive the People; that it was the immediate and visible Power of God, which kept Aaron as well as the rest in obedience to Moses. Upon Mofes\ absence, Aaron complied with the People, in making a Golden Calf-, and his two eldest Sons offered strange Fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded; for which they were both destroyed by Fire miraculously issuing out from the Presence of the Lord: And Aaron held his pace, knowing that this Punishment was inflicted by God himself, and having nothing to reply to Moses, when he declared to him the Justice of it. And both Aaron and his other two Sons are forbidden, upon pain of Death, to mourn for them, Lev. x. 1, 2, 3,6. At last, by the Commandment of God, Aaron goes up into Mount Hor, to die there, not being permitted to enter into the Land, of Prdmise.
Thus Moses and Aaron were sometimes at disagreement, Aaron envying Moses: Aaron lost two of his Sons, by a signal Judgment from Heaven; and Moses- advanced neither of his, Numb. xx. 12. Deut. i. 37. and both Moses and Aaron died by the particular Appointment and Command of God, for their Offences against him, never enjoying, nor, for some time before, expecting to enjoy the Land of Promise. And therefore, as they could never have performed what they did, but by the Almighty Power of God \ so they could have no Motive or Inducement to attempt it, but his Command and Promise of Assistance revealed to them.
Of the Pentateuch.
AS the Books entitled to Moses are confessed by all to be of the greatest Antiquity; so we have it confirmed to us, by the Authority of Heathen Writers themselves, that the Books which go under his Name, are indeed of his writing } besides the unanimous Testimony of the whole Jewijh Nation, ever since Mofes\ time, from the first writing of them: which is infinitely better proof of their being Authentick, and entitled to the true Author, than can be pretended for any Books but the Holy Scriptures. Divers Texts of the Pentateuch imply, that it was written by Moses j and the Book of Jofoua., as well as other Books of Scripture, import as much j and though dome Passages have been thought to imply the contrary,
xy, yet this is but a late Opinion, and has been sufficiently confuted by learned Men.
It is observable, whoever wrote these Five Books, that there is no Partiality shewn to any one whomsoever. Noah is said to be overcome with Wine, and exposed to the mockery of one of his Sons. Lot is described not only to have been drunken, but to have Iain with his own Daughters. Abraham himself denies his Wife twice; and Isaac imitates him in it. Jacob gets the Blessing, by fraud and subtilty, from his Brother Esau. Joseph's Brethren sell him into *Ægypt; and he, when he is there, learns to swear by the Life of Pharaoh. The Faults of Aaron, and of Moses himself, (as I have already observed) are non concealed. On the other side, particular notice is taken how Melchiz.edeck blessed Abraham, and received Tythes of him: And without all contradiction, the less is blessed of the better, Heb. vii. 7. The Advice of Jethro is recorded ; and the Prophecies of Balaam him' self are punctually set down. It was no Design of the Sacred Pen-man to write a Panegyrick upon any Man, but to represent the Failings and Infirmities, as well 8s the Excellencies of each Person; and to shew by what various Methods the Providence of God brought to pass his gracious Designs; how he turn'd Evil into Good, and made use eyen of the Infirmities and Sins of Men, to accomplish his Purposes,
In the Book of Genesis, we have a short Account of the most memorable and remarkable Things, which had past, to the times of Moses; as. the- Creation of the World, the Institution of the Sabbath, the FaJI of Man , the Promise of the Messiah, and the Custom of offering Sacrifices as Types of his Death: who first committed Murther, and who first brought in Polygamy; the Invention of divers Arts, the Flood, the Confusion of Tongues"-y the Original of the several Nations of the World, with the Chronology of the whole:-all which is-coHiprehended iu a little Com-?
K 3 pass*
pass, but a larger and more particular Account is given of Abraham and his Family: For here the Scene begins to open to the main Design of the Work, the Book of Genesis being as an Introduction to the reft of the Pentateuch, and containing such things as were requisite to be premised. And in the beginning of the History of Abraham, it is noted , that the Canaanite was then in the land, Gen. xii. 6. even at that very time when Abraham erected an Altar to the Lord, ver. 7. this being a great Encouragement to the Israelites, to excite them to follow the Example of their Father Abraham, who worshipp'd the True God , in a publick and solemn manner, in that Land which they were now going to possess , and amongst that People which they were now to drive out, and which, at that time when the Land was promis'd them, were the Inhabitants of it; and God, who had protected Abraham in so signal a manner, would no less assist them.
And if we consider those things particularly, wherein Moses himself is concern'd as an Agent, as well as 3n Historian, there can be no pretence for any Man to doubt, but that at least the principal Points of the History of Moses are true; that is, that Moses was the Governor or General of the People of Israel, who conducted them out of sAlgyft; that they travell'd for many Years in the Wilderness ; that they fought divers Battels with the several Nations who oppos'd their journeying into the Land of Canaan , and, that Moses gave them the Laws which we find there recorded. These are the chief Points of the History of Moses, Which are, as it were, the Foundation of all the rest; thferest being but as Circumstances to shew the Manner of doing it, and the Power by which all this was done. And that these main Points are true, it was never deny'd' by those Heathens themselves who most reproach'd and vilify'd the Jewish Nation : They icknowledg'd that fdoses was the- great General and "■' "' Lavv