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teuch; the translation of the Scriptures into Greek, which, no doubt, became more known, and more generally dispersed, in consequence of the extensive victories and numerous colonies of Alexander the Great. By degrees, the history of Israel was interwoven in the histories of other nations, and Heathen writers became evidences of the peculiarity of the religion, and of the manners of the Jews.
The bounds within which I must confine myself, prevent dilating on these particulars; but the double cheek on the Jews, against altering or falsifying their Scriptures, by the Samaritan Pentateuch on the orte hand, and by the Septuagint translation on the other, cannot well fail to strike every considering man.
It is generally known, how natural, how deep and inveterate an enmity, subsisted betwixt the Jews and Samaritans: the Jews despised, and hated, and anathematised the Samaritans. There is no danger of collusion, and concerting a scheme, especially a scheme of such a nature, between neighbours of this character: but the Samaritan- and Hebrew Pentateuchs do not differ more than can be easily accounted for, by the small errors of transcribers, and the peculiar pretensions of the Samaritans. Their Pentateuch had been translated into the Greek tongue, and the translation is frequently quoted by writers of the first ages of Christianity: from their days, till the beginning of the last century, the Samaritan Pentateuch remained unknown to Europeans. When brought to the West by Scaliger, Usher, and others, it was found, that the Greek translation of it quoted by the fathers, was a faithful one: and the simplicity and inoffensive character of these Samaritans at Sichem or Naplouse, add, if this were necesiary, or, I might say, possible, to our security, that the conveyance of their Pentateuch may be fully depended on *.
The consideration of the sects which soon arose in the Jewish church after the days of Ezra, and their great opposition to each other, in many doctrines; and their entire agreement respecting the divine original of
* See Kennicot, Prideaux, Calmet, &c.
the law; lead to reflections of the fame kind: it is to be observed also, that it is by no means so certain, as some have concluded, that the Sadducees rejected the writings of the Prophets, and every other book of the Old Testament, excepting the Pentateuch.
We shall conclude this part of the subject, by bringing in view the predictions of the Old Testament, respecting a future dispensation: these predictions place the character of the Jews in transmitting their Scriptures far above exception or suspicion.
Who but must allow, that there are predictions in Moses and the Prophets, relating to a new covenant, a better dispensation ? or, to use- a scripture-phrase, which has lately been well illustrated by Bishop Hurd, " The "testimony of Jesus is the spirit of pro"phecy." These predictions are, many of them, of such things "as eye had not seen, *' ear had not heard, and had not," nay could not have, "entered into the heart of man
to have conceived," not to say contrived. Thus, events contrary to the prejudices and expectations of the Jews are foretold; as,
the the rejection of their nation, and the receiving of the Gentiles into the church of God. The time of the appearing of the Messiah is pointed out in the prophecies: this time is pasted many ages ago: the Jewish temple is destroyed: Judea is the feat of Mahomedisin: and Israel, as a nation, is no more; though the number of Israelites on the face of the earth is exceeding great. When we consider the antiquity and the nature of these predictions, and compare them with the New Testament; then let us say, Who are the guardians of the law and of the prophecies? And when we are told, or reflect, that a people who have no place on the face of the earth they can call their own; a people different from every other in their manners and worihip, a people shunned, and hated, and often persecuted, for their attachment to the law, and refusing the Gospel; that such a people preserve the law and the prophets with great care, and transmit them unto us as divine: then let us say, if incredulity itself could have devised characters of those we can more safely confide in, than what belong to the Jews, the guardians of the Old Testament writings?
I Shall proceed to the second part of the subject, after I have said, that on putting together the considerations now suggested, the evidence appears to me complete and irresistible, that the Old Testament fcriptures are divine; their prefervation and transmission are evidences of their truth.
We proceed to consider in the same manner the preservation and transmission of the New Testament.
We might here with equal propriety as in the former part, bring in view the doctrines, and morality, and instructions, and prophecies, and histories of Christianity: but for the sake of brevity and variety, let us overlook these presumptions or evidences of divine origin, let us indulge scepticism to the utmost, respecting the characters of those we may safely trust, in communicating histories or writings to the world; let us neglect whatever can be objected to. And can the most backward and cautious incredulity except against the evidence of those who arc