« AnteriorContinuar »
as we now have it in the Pentateuch? that under all Afflictions and Adversities j they lhould impute their Sufferings to the violation of the Law \ and that fb many should die, rather than depart from it?
Upon the Revolt of the Ten Tribes, Jeroboam would certainly have discover'd it, if he had but suspected any such thing as an Imposture, or could but have hoped to make the People believe that the Laws of Moses were not of Divine Institution, but of Humane Invention and Contrivance: but he supposed the Truth of its Divine Original, whilst he tempted the People to the transgression of it; Behold thy Gods,
0 Israel, which brought thee up out os the land of \Ægypt,
1 Kings xii. 28. he supposes them brought out of the Land of es£gypt, and brought out by a Divine Power j and endeavours to persuade them, that the two Calves which he had set up in Dan and Bethels were the Gods who delivered them, and by whose Authority the Law was given them *, and that therefore either of those Places was as proper to sacrifice in, as Jerusalem: which however absurd it were, yet he did not think so absurd, as to endeavour to make them believe that their Law it self was no better than an Imposture: he had some hopes to succeed in this Project; and the Event shews, he understood the Temper and Principles of the People he had to deal with i but the other was too gross for him to attempt.
The true Prophets of Israel were ever as zealous for the Law of Moses, as the Prophets of Judah, and the False Prophets of either Kingdom, never durst deny its Authority: these False Prophets affronted and contradicted the Prophets of the Lord, but they ever owned the Law, and pretended to speak in the Name of that God who had deliver'd it to Moses.
And this Division of the Ten Tribes made it impossible afterwards for either the Kingdom of Israel-, or of Judah, to make any Alterations in the Books of Moses; because there was so great emulation and en
mities betwixt the two Kingdoms, that they could never have agreed to insert the same Corruptions and if either of them had attempted such a thing, it would soon have been discovered by the other ^ and therefore the agreement of the Samaritan with the/ftbrevo Pentateuch, is a plain argument that they are but different Copies of the fame Book, and that it is undoubtedly genuine- The Children of Israel, notwithstanding their great proneness to Idolatry, never cast off the Law of Moses, as they would certainly have done, being so often brought'into bondage by their neighbour Nations, if they had not been well assured of the Authority of that Law which they transgress'd; but they were reduced to the Obedience of the Law, by the Oppressions of Idolatrous Nations; they hoped for Deliverance upon their Repentance, according to the Promises made in it, and could by no Temptations or Torments be persuaded or forced to renounce it: But the long Captivity in Babylon wrought a perfect cure in the Jews, as to their inclination to Idolatry; which could never have been, unless by their own experience, in seeing the Prophecies fulfilled, and by other Arguments, they had been fully convinced of the Truth of their own Religion beyond all others.
If it had been of their own Invention, the People would have made their Law, in every respect, more favourable to themselves ; they would not have cloyed it with burthensom Ceremonies,to distinguish themselves from the neighbour Nations, whose Idolatries they were so long prone to, and which these Ceremonies were designed to restrain them from. They who were for a long time so fond of the Idolatries of the Heathen, would never have invented Laws so uneasie to themselves, and so contrary and odious to other Nations, they would never have framed them themselves, and then have pretended a Divine Revelation for those Laws which they were so little pleased with.
They They would never have exposed themselves to the whole World, through all Ages, as a stubborn and rebellious People, notwithstanding so many, and so convincing Miracles so long wrought amongst them. The Miracles which I have mention'd, were most of them Judgments upon the Israelites, for their Disobedience j and they would never have set down these Miracles, but would rather have left them out, though they were true, as disgraceful to their Nation. For thus Jofephus has omitted some things, to avoid the Scandal which, he was aware, would have been given to the Heathen, by a full and punctual Relation of the whole History of the Jews, as it is described in the Books of Moses. And they could be as little ignorant as Josef hits, what would prove disgraceful to them, and what would make for their Honour and Renown •, and when the design of these supposed Forgeries and Falsifications must have been to advance the Glory of the People of Israel, they would never have made such as these. N,o, if they had made any Alterations, it would have been, to strike out those numerous Passages which are so reproachful to their Nation, and to have inserted others, which might raise the Fame and Glory of Themselves, and of their Ancestors; and to have changed those Ceremonies that were so burthensom and so singular, for those which would have been more easie to themselves, and might have recommended them to the good opinion and esteem of the neighbour Nations. But when so refractory a People became so zealous for such a Law , so uneasie at first, and so distastful to them; it is an undeniable argument, that they had the greatest Assurance of its Divine Original, and that they would neither falsifie it themselves, nor suffer others to falsifie it.
The People of Israel must be supposed to be unanimous to a Man, in the making these Laws, if they •
were of their own making •, for if any one had dissented, he could not fail of Arguments to draw others after him. In making Laws, the Interests and Conveniences of the Law-makers are always the Motives for the enacting them •, and besides the Publick Honour and Welfare of the Nation, which too often are less considered, the particular Interest of every single Man would have made him concerned to put a stop to such Laws. No People can be supposed to consent to the making Laws, by which they are forbidden to sow their Land every Seventh Year, and are commanded to leave their Habitations, and go up to the capital City, from every part of their Country, thrice in a Year: no People could agree to enact such Laws of their own contrivance *, because none could subsist in the observation of them, without a Miracle. How can we conceive it possible for any People to subsist by such Laws, if they had been of their own making? or, that any Nation should agree in the enacting such Laws as must provoke all their neighbour Nations to make War against them? nay, by which they actually declared an irreconcilable War against seven Nations at once? For one Nation to distinguish themselves, by their Laws and Constitutions, from all other People; to lay the very Foundations of their Government in the disgrace and infamy of all their neighbour Nations ■■, to report, that after so many loathsom and grievous Plagues , inflicted upon Pharaoh and his People, they came out of sÆgyyt, and at last, by the destruction of him and his whole Army in the Red Sea, made their escape, and that they forced their way through all the other Nations that withstood their passage into Canaan, and vanquished and destroyed them as they went j and then to proclaim a sacred Waragainstall the Nations whose Land they were to possess, and many of whose Posterity were "remaining to theTime of the Captivity, and were sometimes struck with Terror, at the Remembrance, * which
which was retained among them, of these Judgments, (1 Sam. iv. 8. vi. tf.) but might have been able to confute great part of what the Israelites affirmed of themselves, if it had been false, and of a late invention: For any People, I say, to invent such Accounts of Themselves and their Ancestors, and then to make such Laws, and to have the one believed, and the other obeyed, is altogether incredible. When they had enraged all the neighbouring Nations to their destruction, they obliged themselves, by their Laws, to leave all their Borders'naked, thrice every year, and to give them an opportunity to destroy them; and no People could have lived half an Age, in such a condition, under such Laws, unless they had been protected by God himself, the Author of them.
It appears therefore, that as neither Moses himself, nor any Party of Men either in his time, or after it, could either invent, or change and falsifie the Books which are under his Name •, so it is still more extravagant (if possible) to conceit, that the whole People of Israel should either in Moses's time, or afterwards, be conscious to such an Imposture ■-, and yet that no Man should ever discover it, but it should to this day be concealed from all other Nations •, and that neither at the time of the Division of the Ten Tribes, when Jeroboam was forced to set up Altars in other Places, to keep the People from going up to Jerusalem to worship, nor upon any other occasion, this Secret, if that may be called so, which must be known to so many thousands, should ever come to light. Besides that, they could never have invented those Laws, by unanimous consent.amongst themselves, which they were so hardly brought to obey % and if they lnd not been disobedient, they would never have pretended they were, and have invented Miracles to make it believed ■-, and if they had been never so forward in their obedience, they could not have lived in the observation of the Law, without a perpetual Miracle,