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books were forged, and for the first time published. The contents of the books themselves, therefore, supply an insuperable hindrance to their being received as inspired by any generation except that one which saw the miracles, and thereupon commenced the celebration of the commemorative ordinances.
If any man or set of men in this country were now to write a book, and say in it, that all the British people had been in France; that they had been miraculously brought through the sea into their own land ; that a great national feast had been established in remembrance of their escape from their enemies; and that all the people of England went once a year to London to keep that feast : who among us would not laugh at the silly absurdity of imagining that such a book could be received by the nation, and cause us now, for the first time, to believe that miraculous escape; and now, for the first time, to celebrate that feast? This line of argument applies to any and every period of the history of England.
We conclude, therefore, that the Jewish books were written and made public at the time when the miracles recorded in those books are said to have been performed : or, at least, during the lifetime of those persons who were eye witnesses of the miracles : because no other persons could have received the books, and because we do actually see with our own eyes, that the books are received.
This, then, establishes the important fact, that the miracles were indeed performed. For observe how the argument stands in this respect. If any minister were now to publish a book, and declare in it that on a certain day last year, or the year before, he had wrought a miracle in the presence of his whole congregation : that they were fainting with thirst, for example, and that he had struck a rock with a rod, and brought out for them all an abundant supply of water: and if he were now to come and announce a number of laws and regulations, some of them exceedingly inconvenient and disagreeable to his people; and command the universal observance of those laws on pain of death, appealing for his authority to the miracle which he said he had wrought before their faces last year;what would they say to him ? Would not their indignation be roused against such intolerable effrontery? And might they not well say, Away with your laws and regulations; you have no authority over us : as for your pretended miracle, we were upon the spot when you say it was performed, and we never saw it; yet you allege it was of such a nature, that had it been performed we must have seen it, and could not but recollect it?
If Moses had written a book and made it public among the Israelites, saying, that on a certain day when they were all pursued by Pharaoh, king of Egypt, he had stretched his rod over the sea; that the waters had divided, leaving a dry passage between; and that the whole congregation had passed safely through, which the Egyptians assaying to do, were drowned; that on another day, when they were murmuring for water in the wilderness, he had smitten a rock, and procured a rich supply for the whole multitude ; that on another day, when some of them had rebelled against him and his brother Aaron,, he summoned the rebels before all the people, and said, (Numb. xvi. 29, 30,) “ If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men, then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit ; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.”-And if Moses had come afterwards to the Israelites, with a number of laws and regulations, some of them exceedingly inconvenient and disagreeable to the people ; and had commanded them to obey, on pain of death, appealing for his authority to the miracles · which he said he performed before their eyes : and if these miracles had not taken place, what would the Israelites have said to Moses ? Would they not very naturally have said-away with your laws and regulations; we reject your authority: as for those miracles which you allege you performed, we were upon the spot when you say they took place; you describe them as of such a nature, that they could not possibly have escaped our notice or our
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memory; yet we never saw them. Your book wears falsehood upon the face of it. —Would not this have been the result, if Moses had been an impostor?
But on the other hand, if the Israelites had acknowledged the justice of his appeal ; if they had yielded to his authority, and entered upon a long course of self-denying obedience to his laws; would not this be a conclusive proof that they had verily and indeed seen the miracles which he alleges they had seen? For the miracles of Moses were not done in a corner, but in the presence of the whole congregation of Israel, about six hundred thousand that were men, besides children.
We see then, that the avowed publicity of the miracles, connected with the circumstance (already proved) of the books having been written during the lifetime of multitudes, who were said in the books to have seen the miracles; would render a successful imposture morally impossible. : What then is the truth? Is it that six hundred thousand men were persuaded at once to yield to an authority, founded upon an assertion, that certain great miracles, affecting even the lives of every one of them, had taken place before their eyes; which miracles, they must all have known perfectly well, had never taken place ? Or is it, that a whole nation, at some time unknown, and by some influence unknown, were persuaded to embrace, as the truth of God, a record, which declared, that they and their ancestors had religiously observed certain annual festivals ; which festivals they must have known had never been observed or heard of, till the fabrication of that record? Or is it, that Almighty God himself did interfere in a miraculous manner, on behalf of the nation of Israel, to make known in the earth his power and providence? On which side does credulity range herself ?--and on which side, rational conviction ? .
We are not, therefore, proceeding without our proof, when we say, that the Jews are what they say they are- the descendants of that nation, that ancient nation, which sprang from Abraham of Ur of the Chaldees; which was divided into twelve tribes in the family of Jacob; which was brought into Egypt, and settled in Goshen, under the superintending care of Joseph; which was oppressed by Pharaoh; which was miraculously delivered under the guidance of Moses ; which triumphed over the nations of Canaan, by the victo. rious sword of Joshua; which rebelled against God, was chastened, repented, and was delivered, and rebelled again ; which disregarded the warnings of the inspired messengers of God; which was carried away captive by the king of Babylon, and oppressed seventy years ; which was restored to their own land; which turned again in obstinacy, against God, despising, rejecting, and cruci. fying the Lord of glory; which was rooted out by the conquering arms of the victorious Romans ;