« AnteriorContinuar »
It is also objected to this part of the history, that God is said to have hardened the heart of Pharaoh, in order that he might do the very things for which he is expressly said to have been punished. · But in the language of fcripture, God is often said to do, whatever comes to pass according to the ordinary course of nature and providence; and therefore God's not interposing to soften the heart of Pharaoh, may be all that is meant when he is said to harden it.
Besides, it is sufficiently intimated, in the course of the narration, that the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, not by any proper act of God, but in consequence of its own depravity, and the circumstances he was in. For when the frogs were removed, we read, Exod. viii. 15, that when Pharaoh faw that there was respite, be hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had faid. Pharaoh does not seem to have been more infatuated than the rulers of the Jews were, with respect to the murder of Christ; and yet nobody supposes that they did not, in D 2
thať case act, naturally, or as their own evil dispositions prompted them.
· It is said that, by the account of Moses himself, miracles were wrought by the Egyptian magicians, as well as by himself and Aaron; and therefore that his miracles were no proof of a divine miffion. But all that Mofes really says, is that the Egyptians did (by which he could not possibly mean more than that they seemned, or pretended to do) by their arts and tricks, what he performed by the finger and power of God. The word which we render so, only means a general fimilitude, and by no means, neceffarily, a perfect fuineness, respecting both the effect and the cause. Nay, this very word is applied when the magicians failed of success. Exod. viii. 18. They did so, to bring forth lice, but they could not, that is, they practised the same arts, but in vain. Also the words which we render enchaniments, &c. only fignify covered arts, and secret Neights, in which the Egyptians are known to have excelled,
If the Egyptian magicians were really poffeffed of supernatural power, why did they not employ it to defeat the purposes of Moses's miracles, and relieve their country?' More especially, why did they not guard themselves from the boils which are expressly said to have been upon the magicians, as well as upon Pharaoh, and the rest of the Egyptians; and why did they fail in the case of the lice? The reason of this failure plainly appears, from the history, to have been, that, with respect to this miracle, they had no notice before-hand what they were to do, and therefore could not prepare themselves as before.
Pharaoh himself would naturally imagine, that the miracles of Mofes were only such tricks as his own magicians excelled in, and therefore very properly called them in, to see whether they could do the same, and detect the imposition ; and so long as they could contrive to seem to do any thing like what Mofes performed, it is no wonder that, circumstanced and prejudiced as he C D 3
was, he shut his eyes to the evidence of the divine power which accompanied Mofes.
In fact, the Egyptian magicians themfelves seem to have confessed, that there was nothing above the art and power of man in what they did, when, upon their failing to · produce lice, they acknowledged that the firger of God, or, as it might be rendered, the finger of a God, or something supernatural, was in it.
It has been said that, in several respects, the present state of the world, and of mankind, does not correspond to what is said of the hisory of them in the books of Mofes. But the more we understand of natural and civil history, the less weight there appears to be in all objections of this kind.
It has been said, that the peopling of America is inconsistent with the supposition of the derivation of the whole race of mankind from one pair. But it is now almost certain, that America was, in fact, peopled from the continent of Europe and Asia, and especially from the North Eastern parts of the latter, which is found to be very near, and may perhaps have been joined to it. This is argued from a similarity in features, customs, vegetable, and animal productions, &c.
Objections have been made to the Mosaic account of the creation, and the general delure. But even in these cases the history of Moses is found to supply a more probable hypothesis, to account for the present state of things, than any other that has yet been proposed; and improvements in philosophy do, upon the whole, rather strengthen than weaken this conclusion.
It is alledged, that the origin of the Blacks cannot be accounted for on the principles of the Mosaic history. But there are several ways by which this fact may be reconciled with what Mofes has advanced concerning Adam and Voah. If natural means be not thought fuñicient to produce this effect, on a few individuals, in fome early age, that change may have been produceri D 4