Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

did not the Israelites all constantly believe it? What, not they who would sooner part with their lives and fortunes than admit any variation or alteration as to their Law (x ) ?”

The first submission to such a Law as that of Moses, must have been while all the tremendous circumstances of its promulgation were fresh upon their minds; and indeed the nature and design of the institution demanded that it should be carried into immediate effect (y). And could the Israelites have continued for any length of time in observance of all these numerous ordinances and regulations, religious and civil, without

any

written authority to refer to ? Is there any instance of this sort in the history of the civilized part of mankind ? of a legislator

requiring

(*) Stillingfleet Or. Sacræ, book 2. ch. 1.

(y) Stillingfleet observes, that it is not easily believed that a people whose characteristic was stubbornness, would have been brought to submit to such a law, unless they had been habituated to it previous to their settlement in the land of Canaan; or that a nation, whose subsistence was derived from agriculture and pasturage, would have submitted to laws apparently so contrary to their interest, as those relating to the sabbatical and jubilee years, unless they had been convinced that miraculous plenty and security would be the certain consequence of obedience. For observations on the sabba tical and jubilee years, see Whiston on the Chronology of Josephus.

requiring obedience to laws orally delivered, without giving a lex scripta as a rule of conduct (2), a criterion by which disputes were to be decided, and offenders were to be judged ? Among the many peculiarities of the Jewish nation noticed by profane authors, is any circumstance of this kind mentioned or alluded to ? Had any such thing ever existed, it must have been known to the Jews, who were living when the Law was put into its present form; and remarkable as it would have been, the memory of it must have been transmitted to all succeeding ages. Moses not only required obedience to his laws, but he ordered that no alteration should be made in them; “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it (a)." There must surely have been a written copy of the Law, which was to be thus strictly observed. Bishop Stillingfleet considers the “ national

constitution

(2) It is said that Lycurgus did not commit his laws to writing ; but whoever reads an account of them in Plutarch will observe, that they were merely general political regulations, and very different from the minute and particular laws of Moses, which extended to every point, civil, moral, and religious. Besides, Lycurgus's regulations were introduced into a city with a very small surrounding territory, which had a kingly governmenta previously established in it.

(a) Deut. c. 4. v. 2,

constitution and settlement of the Jews," as of itself a decisive proof of the genuineness of the Pentateuch; “ Can we,” says he,“ have more undoubted evidence that there were such persons as Solon, Lycurgus, and Numa, and that the laws bearing their names were theirs, than the history of the several commonwealths of Athens, Sparta, and Rome, which were governed by those laws: When writings are not of general concernment, they may be more easily counterfeited; but when they concern the rights, privileges, and government of a nation, there will be enough whose interest will lead them to prevent impostures. It is no easy matter to forge a Magna Charta, and to invent laws; men's cauțion and prudence are never so quicksighted as in matters which concern their estates and freeholds. The general interest of men lies contrary to such impostures, and therefore they will prevent their obtaining among them. Now the laws of Moses are incorporated with the very republic of the Jews, and their subsistence and government depend upon them; their religion and laws are so interwoven one with the other, that one cannot be broken off from the other. Their right to their temporal possessions in the land of Canaan depended on their owning the sovereignty of God, who gave them to them, and on the truth of the

history history recorded by Moses concerning the promises made to the patriarchs ; so that on that account it was impossible those laws should be counterfeit, on which the welfare of the nation depended, and according to which they were governed ever since they were a nation. So that I shall now take it to be sufficiently proved, that the writings under the name of Moses were undoubtedly his; for none, who acknowledge the laws to have been his, can have the face to deny his history, there being so necessary a connexion between them, and the book of Genesis being nothing else but a general and very necessary introduction to that which follows (b).Let then those who are disposed to doubt the Authenticity of the Pentateuch, consider its real importance to the Jewish people, and the high veneration in which it was unquestionably held, and surely they must be convinced of the impossibility of ignorance or mistake concerning any fact relative to it; and in particular, it will appear scarcely credible, that the Jews should err in attributing it to any person who was not its real author, or that they should not know who it was that digested it into the shape in which we now have it, from materials left by Moses, had it been

compiled

(b) Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. b. 2. c. 1.

compiled in that manner in some subsequent age. The silence of history and tradition upon this point is a sufficient proof that no such compilation ever took place. If we believe that Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, why should we not believe that he wrote the account of that 'deliverance? If we believe that God enabled Moses to work miracles, why should we not believe that he also enabled him to write the history of the creation ?

But there are some who admit that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, and yet contend that the narrative of the Creation and of the Fall of Man is not a recital of real events, but an ingenious Mythologue invented to account for the origin of human evil, and designed as an introduction to a history, a great part of which they consider as poetic fiction. If it be granted that Moses was an inspired lawgiver, it becomes impossible to suppose that he wrote a fabulous account of the creation and the fall of man, and delivered it as a divine revelation, because that would have been little, if at all, short of blasphemy; we must, therefore, believe this account to be true, or that it was declared and understood by the people, to whom it was addressed, to be allegorical. No such declaration was ever made; nor is there any mention of

such

« ПредишнаНапред »