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want of veracity in one point, would have justly invalidated their testimony in every other. The
same may be pronounced of works, whose authors are unknown. Anonymous testimony does not destroy the reality of the facts which it affirms. Had Lord Clarendon published his History of the Rebellion, without prefixing his name to it, the events recorded in it would have remained equally certain.
The Deist asserts, that "the miracles recorded in Tacitus, and in other profane historians, are quite as well authenticated as those of the Bible." To this assertion, utterly destitute as it is of proof, it may be replied, that the evidence for the Bible-miracles is, both in kind and degree, so greatly superior to that for the heathen prodigies, as to have justified the most candid and enlightened of men in deeming the first the work of God, and in wholly disbelieving the latter. There is one signal difference, however, between ancient and modern scepticism. The unbeliever of the third and fourth century allowed, that Jesus wrought miracles; but he contended, that his Apollonius, &c. wrought miracles also; whereas the later Deist denies the fact of Jesus having ever wrought miracles at all. Aware that if he admits the contrary, he must admit Christianity to be true, he has fabricated a sophistical axiom, that " no human testimony can establish the credibility of a miracle;" and upon this, though it has been an hundred times refuted, he still pertinaciously insists, as if it could not be disproved!
Beginning with the first five books of the
Bible-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the Deist affects to show, that "Moses was not the author of them, as they were not written till several hundred years after his time; being, in fact, no other than an attempted history of his life, and the times in which he is said to have lived, (as well as of the times preceding) drawn up by some very ignorant and stupid pretender to authorship.' This difficulty, though no new discovery, was never heard of till the twelfth century; when Aben Ezra, a Jew of great erudition, (with no purpose, however, of discrediting the work in general), noticed some passages, which he thought had been inserted in these books, after the death of Moses. Hobbes, Spinoza, and Le Clerc, believed that the books of Moses were so called, not from their having been written by him, but in consequence of their containing an account of his life. The latter, however, who was an able theologian of the eighteenth century, upon attaining maturity, was ashamed of what he had written in his younger years, and publicly retracted his error.
Neither is the Bible the only book which has undergone the fate of being reprobated as spurious, after having been received as genuine and authentic for many ages. It has been maintained, that the History of Herodotus was compiled in the time of Constantine; and that the classics, in general, are forgeries of the thirteenth or fourteenth century y!"
As a preliminary objection, the Deist asserts, that "there is no affirmative evidence that Moses was the author of the books in question." No
affirmative evidence! Maimonides drew up a confession of faith for the Jews, which is admitted by them all at this day. It consists of only thirteen articles, of which one affirms the authenticity, and the other the genuineness, of the books of Moses. This has been the faith of the Jews ever since the destruction of their city and Temple; it was their faith when the authors of the New Testament wrote; it was their faith during their Captivity in Babylon; it was their faith in the time of their kings and their judges; and no period can be shown, from the age of Moses down to the present hour, in which it was not their faith. Is this no affirmative evidence? Josephus affirms these books to have been written by Moses; Juvenal speaks of the volume which Moses had written. But why enumerate the long list of profane authors, all bearing testimony to the fact of Moses being the leader and lawgiver of the Jewish nation? And if a giver, surely a writer, of their laws. The Scriptures teem with passages * to the same purport.
In the eleventh century,
Even if it were admitted, that some learned Jew composed these books from public records many years after the death of Moses, it would not follow (as it has been already stated) that there is no truth in them. And it cannot be said that the Jews had no public records; for the Bible itself furnishes abundance of proof to the contrary. But the arguments (so they are denominated) adduced to prove that these books were not, as to the main part of them, written by Moses, are both weak and trite.
• Exod. xxiv. 7. Deut. xxxi. 24, &c. &c.
The first is, that "they are written in the third person; "The Lord said unto Moses, ΟΙ "Moses said unto the Lord, &c. This, the Deist asserts, is the style used by historians in speaking of a person whose life they are drawing up. True; and it is the style also used by eminent men, such as Xenophon and Josephus, in speaking of themselves. If General Washington had written the History of the American War, in which, from his great modesty, he might have spoken of himself in the third person, would it be reasonable that on this account, two or three thousand years hence, the truth of his narrative should be called in question? Cæsar writes of himself in the third person; "Cæsar made a speech, "Cæsar crossed the Rhine," &c.; and yet every schoolboy knows, that this is no argument against his being the author of his own Commentaries.
"But Moses," it is alleged, "could not be the author of the book of Numbers, because he there pronounces himself to have been very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.* Now, admitting that this little verse was inserted by Samuel, or any of the other countrymen of Moses, who knew his character and revered his memory, would it follow that therefore Moses did not write any part of the five books ascribed to his pen? And yet he might allowably have given this character of himself, upon the occasion by which it was extorted. Calumniated by his nearest relations, Aaron and Miriam, as guilty of pride and fond of power, he might justifiably affirm in his own vindication, that "his temper was naturally mild and unassuming.
*Numb. xii. 3.
Again, the Deist comments on what he invidiously calls "the dramatic style" of Deuteronomy. He might as reasonably ask, "Where the author of Cæsar's Commentaries got the speeches of Cæsar," as, "Where the author of Deuteronomy got the speeches of Moses?" But his argument, that "Moses was not the author of this book, because the reason assigned in it for the observation of the Sabbath is different from that assigned in Exodus, " merits a fuller reply.
The name "Deuteronomy" imports, in Greek, the "repetition of a law." And this repetition was a wise and benevolent proceeding in Moses; that those who were either not born, or were mere infants, when that Law was, forty years before, first delivered in Horeb, might have an opportunity of knowing it; especially, as their leader was soon to be taken from them, and they themselves were about to be settled in the midst of vicious and idolatrous nations. Where then is the wonder, that some variations should be introduced in a law, republished many years after its original promulgation.
Of the institution of the Sabbath, the most probable account is, that the memory of the Creation was handed down from Adam to his posterity; and that the seventh day was, for a long time, held sacred by all nations, in commemoration of that event; but that the peculiar rigidness of its observance was enjoined by Moses to the Israelites alone. However this may be, the two reasons given for its being kept holy-one, that on that day God rested
§ Compare Exod. xx. 11, with Deut. v. 15.