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in an allegorical, and other parts in a literal sense ; but this is to act in a manner utterly inconsistent with the tenor and spirit of that history, and with the views of a writer, the distinguishing characteristics of whose production are simplicity, purity, and truth. There is no medium nor palliation; the whole is allegorical, or the whole is literal (i).”
The practice of allegorizing Scripture has been attended with the worst consequences. Though the Bible abounds with figurative language, and the sacred writers continually use metaphors to illustrate or enforce their meaning, yet we may venture to pronounce, that in no one book of the Old or New Testament, which professes to relate past occurrences, is there a single instance of allegory. This observation, which is meant to be confined to the historical parts of Scripture properly so called, is perfectly consistent with the typical nature of many circumstances of the Jewish history. It is only maintained, that the narratives of past events are universally to be taken in their plain and literal sense ; and it is to be wished that all readers of the Scriptures, and particularly young students in divinity, would keep that principle constantly in their minds. If allegory be allowed
to (i) Maurice's History, v. 1. p. 368.
to be applicable in all cases, there is an end of certainty in Scripture history, and a door is opened to the wildest suggestions of the most extravagant imagination. Our own ideas of probability or propriety are not to be the criterion, by which we are to decide upon the reality of transactions recorded in the Bible; nor are we to question the truth of Scripture history, because we cannot always reconcile God's dealings with mankind to our notions of justice and mercy. Our partial and imperfect knowledge of the great plans of Divine Providence should teach us to judge of the counsels of the Almighty with humility and diffidence. The short-sighted reason of man is but ill qualified to pass sentence upon the decrees of infinite wisdom; and the consciousness of this incompetence will be the best preservative against the bad effects of that arrogant and irreverent presumption, with which the Word of God is treated in the present age.
Among the objections to the divine authority of the Pentateuch, the command to destroy the nations of Canaan is considered as being absolutely irreconcilable with divine justice, and therefore as impossible to have proceeded from God. It is a curious example of the inconsistency of sceptical arguments, that the destruction of the inhabitants of a small part of the earth is pronounced to be incompatible with the divine attributes, while the destruction of the whole world by the deluge is passed by without any such comment. But the deluge is a fact authenticated by such variety of proofs, and so universally acknowledged in all ages and countries, that its consistency with the justice of God must be allowed, or his moral government must be at once denied. And yet, in reality, the general destruction of the human race by the deluge, and the partial extermination of the inhabitants of Canaan by the Israelites, are to be accounted for upon precisely the same principle. In both cases it was the enormous wickedness of the people which drew upon then such signal punishment : “ The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence: and God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through thenı ; and behold, I will destroy them from the earth (k).” And Moses expressly declared to the people of Israel, when they were about to take possession of Canaan, the cause which brought upon the inhabitants the punishment of destruction; “Speak not thou
in thy heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out froin before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord bath brought me in to possess this land; but for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord doth drive them out from before thee: not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart, dost thou go to possess their land ; but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee (1).” When God first promised the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, he expressly declared that they were not to take possession of it till the fourth generation after they should remove into Egypt, « Because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full (m)," that is, would not till then be full. It will scarcely be disputed that God might have given the children of Abraham more immediate
possession of the land of Canaan, had he seen fit. It therefore appears, that the comparative righteousness of one nation postponed the fate of several others above 400 years; and that it was not till the measure of wickedness was completed, that they were destroyed by the outstretched arm of the Almighty, who led on his chosen people, and commanded them to execute his judgments upon
(1) Deut. c. 9. V. 4
5. (m) Gen. c. 15. V. 16.
these incorrigibly wicked nations, which were designed at the same time to be a warning to themselves (n). And thus this command, so far from being repugnant to the attributes of God, affords an example of his mercy and forbearance, and establishes rather than invalidates the truth of the Pentateuch, and its claim to divine authority.
With respect to the marks of a posterior date, or at least of posterior interpolation, so often urged with an insidious design to weaken the authority of the Pentateuch, it will be sufficient to observe, that it may safely be admitted that Joshua, Samuel, or some one of the succeeding prophets, wrote the account of the death of Moses, contained in the last chapter of Deuteronomy; and that Ezra, when he transcribed the history written by Moses, changed the names of some places, which were then become obsolete, to
(n)“ Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day—It shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them; I testify against you this day, that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.” Deut. c. 8, V, 11, 19, and 20.