« AnteriorContinuar »
making fo vexatious and dangerous a law be em braced by fo perverse a people.
Agreeably to these observations, we find him, in the law appealing to miracles which are faid. to have been wrought before their eyes. This appeal is a proof, that they were actually wrought; for Mofes would not have risked his credit and influence among his countrymen, by boafting of atteftations from heaven, which, it must have been known by all who heard him, or read his, writings, were never given. He would not have dared to affirm, that Egypt was fmitten with terrible plagues, if none had been inflicted upon it; that the Red Sea was divided before them, if they had not paffed through the midft of its waves; that manna fell from heaven around their tents, if they had never eaten that heavenly food; or that God fpake to them out of the midt of the fire, if they had not heard his voice publishing the decalogue from Sinai. These events, if they really took place, were expofed to the fenfes of all the people; and no man, who had not witnessed them, could have been perfuaded that he had. If, however, it be conceived poffi ble for one man to be reasoned or cheated out of
his fenfes, we may, without hefitation, deny the poffibility of fuch a deception in the cafe of fix hundred thousand.
If the miracles, to which Mofes appeals, were actually wrought, he was declared to be a prophet, and his law to be a revelation from God; for, as we have seen in the cafe of the apoftles, the miracles were the feal of heaven fet 'to his commiffion. Hence we infer, that his writings, in which the law is contained, were inspired, becaufe the fame fupernatural affiftance, which he enjoyed in delivering it to the congregation, we may be certain, was vouchfafed to him in recording it for the benefit of fucceeding generations. It is unneceffary to repeat the reasoning under the firft argument for the infpiration of the New Teftament, which might be employed, in this perfectly fimilar cafe, without any alteration. But it being once admitted that he wrote his law by inspiration, we can feel no difficulty in belie ving, that he was under the fame infallible direction in the other parts of his writings. We may be confident that he, whom God hath empowered to make a revelation to mankind, will not be permitted to mingle his own stories and opinions
with it. All thofe things, therefore, which are inferted in the fame volume with the law, as the hiftory of the creation, and of the world from the first ages to the deliverance from Egypt, are equally authentic as the law itself, and the account of the miraculous transactions in the wilderness. It would be highly unreasonable to limit the proof of inspiration from his miracles to one part, or to fome parts of his writings. In ftrict language, the miracles attefted his character, or pointed him out as a divine messenger; and from fuch a person we are bound to receive as equally true and authoritative, every thing which he delivers in the name of God, whether law, hiftory, doctrine, or prediction.
I have been the longer in proving the infpiration of the five books of Mofes, because they are the fundamental part of the Jewish Scriptures; and a firm belief of their divinity will prepare us . for the reception of thofe other books, which we proposed in the next place to confider.
II. Let us now direct our attention to the Hiftorical Books.
It is not my defign, under this divifion, to dif
cufs separately the proofs of the infpiration of each particular book; nor perhaps is it neceffary, that I should attempt to prove their infpiration at all, because, since the days of the Samaritans, few, who admitted the divinity of the five books of Moses, have réfused to acknowledge the autho rity of the remaining parts of the Old Teftament. There is no fatisfactory evidence in fupport of the vulgar notion, that the historical books were rejected, along with the prophetical, by the Sadducees. Jofephus brings no fuch charge against them; but on the contrary he says, that, though they difregarded the traditions of the elders, they received regrepes, the written books. They are not accused of this crime by the Rabbies, nor is it likely that fo great an offence would have been tolerated by their zealous countrymen; and they are reprefented by the Talmudifts as reafoning from the other books, as well as from the law. Indeed the infpiration of the Pentateuch being fuppofed, that of the hiftorical books feems naturally and almoft unavoidably to follow. And it is no inconfiderable argument for their infpiration, that they are neceffary to exhibit a complete view of that plan of providence refpecting the Jews,
Jews, of which the giving of the law constituted, I may fay, the first step. The following obfervations will illuftrate this idea.
On the fuppofition that the books of Mofes were infpired, and that the law contained in them
is divine, it might have been expected, that we fhould be furnished with a narrative of the fettlement of the Ifraelites in the land of Canaan, which their Lawgiver had promised them, in the name of God, as their inheritance, and in which alone his law could in all its parts be obferved. A hiftory, too, of the divine difpenfations towards them fubfequent to that event, might have been looked for, to fhew, that, in their national capacity, they were treated according to the fanctions of their law; and that, as they profpered by obedience, fo they were vifited for their crimes with temporal calamities. In confequence of the change of the form of government, which was adminiftered for a long period by judges, but afterwards became regal, an account was wanted of the caufes which gave rife to this revolution; and in particular, of the elevation of the family of David to the throne, from which the Meffiah was to fpring. As of the twelve tribes, which originally compofed