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Lastly, These miracles were confirmed by succeeding ones equally important, and equally authenticated. Among others—the pillar of fire and cloud, which preceded the Israelites, and which was so serviceable to them, and so injurious to Pharaoh, during their passage through the Red Sea, is mentioned by Eus EB1 Us, who says, “that the remembrance of it was preserv“ed, to his time, at Memphis.”—Diodorus Siculus also, when he is recording the history of the Troglodytes, mentions a tradition, among the native inhabitants of the spot, of the division of the Red Sea *.
Such was the slavery and the deliverance of Israel, according to Moses: such are the reasons upon which we present this account to you as strictly true; and such are the testimonies which we have been able to select from other ancient historians; and we think we may venture to affirm, that God has not left his word without a witness. It is easy for infidelity to imagine, that such and such things are imposi
last books of Moses: the general arguments used above will be found in this work, which is preserved in Bishop Watson's Theological Tracts. Vol. I. p. 295. * Diod. Sic. lib. iii. p. 122. This tradition is noticed also in Bruce's Travels, Vol. II. p. 136, 137, new 8vo. edition. For the original passage, see note 4, at the end of this Lecture. .*
tions now : the question is, how were they imposed upon mankind at the time & And by what means, supposing they were impositions, did they obtain credit in the world? Why have they not been detected, and overthrown, with other impositions? How is it that these fables have survived the attacks of time, when so many authentic histories have sunk under them? In short, it is much easier for scepticism to raise objections against revelation, than to remove the difficulties which clog it's own system. When you consider the distant period in which these events took place: the darkness and idolatry of the heathen world: the separation of the Jews from all other nations: the difficulties of a language no longer in use: the mere fragments of heathen historians which have come down to us—the wonder is not, that obscurity should rest upon the evidences of the Mosaic account of things so remote, but that such decisive and numerous testimonies of other writers should remain. It becomes scepticism to urge it's objections against the Bible with caution, and to oppose it with decency. The testimonies which we have produced deserve, at least, some small regard, and are not to be overthrown by ridicule, by witticisms, by the sneer which distorts the countenance, the contempt which swells upon the lip, or the scorn which looks from the eye, of a deist. We feel no apprehensions in submitting this volume to the attacks of infidelity. These writings have stood too many ages, to excite any alarm in our bosom, from assaults such as those which are levelled against them in the present day. Let it's adversaries produce a better system: let them invent something more consolatory to the heart, and more adapted to human feelings, and human expectations, living and dying: let them overturn the evidences which have resisted the devastations of so many centuries: let them prove it useless and injurious: and then shall our hearts begin “to tremble for the ark of God.”—Till then, we adhere, with perfect cheerfulness, to a just and acknowledged principle, and calmly abide all it's consequences: “If this counsel, or “ this work, be of men, it will come to nought: “but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it!”
Nore 1.-The discussion respecting the nature of the miracles performed by the magicians, which was declined in page 832, of the preceding Lecture, because it would have prolonged the exercise beyond all reasonable bounds, because the opposite opinions of different writers might have bewildered the attention of the hearers, and because it would have digressed too far from the object, and would have broken the chain, of the narrative, may perhaps not be deemed uninteresting as an appendix, and may be allowed the place of a note.
The sentiments of the writers of the ENcyclopx.DIA BRITANN1ca are thus expressed:
“The first magicians of whom we read are those who in Egypt “opposed Moses. And we are told, that when Aaron cast down his “rod, and it became a serpent, they also did the like with their “enchantments; “for they cast down every man his rod, and they “‘became serpents.’ This was a phenomenon which, it must be “confessed, had a very miraculous appearance; and yet there seems “to have been nothing in it which might not have been effected by “slight of hand. The Egyptians, and perhaps the inhabitants of “every country where serpents abound, have the art of depriving “ them of the power to do mischief, so that they may be handled “without danger. It was easy for the magicians, who were favoured “by the court, to pretend that they changed their rods into serpents, “by dexterously substituting one of those animals in place of the “rod. In like manner they might pretend to change water into “blood, and to produce frogs; for if Moses gave in these instances, “as we know he did in others, any previous information of the na
“ture of the miracles which were to be wrought, the magicians “might easily provide themselves in a quantity of blood and number “ of frogs sufficient to answer their purpose of deceiving the peo“ple. Beyond this, however, their power could not go. It stopped “ where that of all workers in legerdemain must have stopt—at the “failure of proper materials to work with. Egypt abounds with “ serpents; blood could be easily procured; and without difficulty “ they might have frogs from the river; but when Moses produced “ lice from the dust of the ground, the magicians, who had it not in “ their power to collect a sufficient quantity of these animals, were “compelled to own this to be an effect of divine agency." Encyclop. Brit. Vol. r. Pt. II. Art. Magic.
I am neither convinced by this reasoning, nor can admit into ing belief, this representation. It goes upon the supposition that Moses announced his miracles previous to the performance of them, which it is admitted he did in some instances, but it cannot be proved that he did it in all, neither does it appear from the sacred history, that he did it in relation especially to the first miracle. Whatever might be their skill in legerdemain, it would cost them some trouble to conceal the quantity of serpents, frogs, blood, &c. necessary to rival the miracles of Moses; and if there was not something like rivalry, and that successful rivalry, it was not a principle on which Pharaoh could be encouraged; and the circumstance of the magicians performing correspondent miracles with those of Moses, appears to be that, in the first instance, upon which his heart was hardened. And it is improbable that Moses should not have the power to detect the imposition, and to expose the cheat, which would certainly have been both his duty, and his interest, if the fact were as this hypothesis supposes.
The learned writers of the ANCIENT UNIvers AL IIIsroRY, state fairly the divided sentiments of different commentators on this difficult subject, but appear to lean to the opinion that these miracles were performed by the agency of evil spirits, and not by legerdemain. They thus express their sentiments generally, on the possibility of the operations of such spirits. “That such a commerce is, or at “least formerly was, possible, we cannot but confess; and we con“ceive it very difficult to account for several passages in Scripture, “without allowing it to have been practised. However, much the