« السابقةمتابعة »
frequently induced to employ their attention almost exclusively on such passages, as seemed obscure or objectionable; and pass with less distinct notice the clear and direct arguments and proofs, which were to be derived from those parts of the sacred history which scepticism itself could scarcely venture to attack: -thus suffering the adversary of revealed truth to lead its advocate from the strongest to the weakest ground; and to prevent him from employing those topics which would operate most. powerfully on every candid and unprejudiced mind. Works constructed entirely on this plan, have sometimes a most pernicious effect on the young, the uninformed, and the wavering. They lead them to consider Revelation as consisting chiefly of obscurities, and founded chiefly on questionable facts. While on the contrary, the great truths it establishes are as clear and intelligible as they are important: and the series of proofs on which it rests, when viewed in their natural order, are so firmly connected and plainly conclusive, that, if considered with attention and candour, they carry with them the fullest conviction. And when contrasted with the improbabilities which must be credited without proof, and the wild conjectures which must be admitted as certain, by those who reject all supernatural interposition in the history of religion, they render it evident that blind credulity* is much more imputable to those who believe the sacred history to be false, than those who admit it to be true: and that sound reason and philosophy, far from being opposed to religious faith, do in reality coalesce with and support it.
In what I have now said, I beg that I may not be misunderstood; as if I undervalued the labours of those Writers, who have stepped forward with such manly and pious zeal, to repel
* Vide for some instances of this, the Appendix, Sect. II. in the review of the manner in which Dr Geddes attempts to account for the Mosaic Miracles.
the assailants of Revelation. No, their exertions have been most praiseworthy and useful. They have shown, that the most obscure parts of Scripture admit a fair and natural explanation, and that the most plausible objections to it are founded on misconception and mistake. They have exposed in the strongest colours, the disingenuousness and the unreasonableness of infidel writers and in various important particulars, have illustrated many truths of Revelation with great clearness, and strengthened its evidence by new proofs. I only mean to say; that works entirely or chiefly controversial, are not the best calculated for impressing conviction on the yet wavering mind of youth, or conveying that information which is most necessary to the uninstructed. They rather prepare the way for, and facilitate the labours of, the direct and general advocate for the truth of Revelation, than pre-occupy his office or supersede the necessity of his exertions.
It was on this view I undertook, and with these feelings I composed, the following Treatise. In that part of it, which is entitled a Review of the chief Effects of Judaism, as connected with and preparatory to Christianity, I hope it will be found, that I have endeavoured to attend to the principles I have now stated; and to combine the answer to each objection with the statement of the positive evidence for the truth of the facts, or the reasonableness of the principles, objected to; in such a manner, as may prevent this Work from having any tendency to perplex the minds, or unsettle the faith of that class of Students, to whom the different parts of it were separately addressed; and to whom it is my most ardent wish and humble prayer that it may now be useful.
If it be asked, why I have separated the evidences of Judaism from those of Christianity? I answer, not only because the
admirable works of many eminent writers, particularly of Archdeacon PALEY,* had already exhibited the distinct evidence of the Gospel history in the clearest view; but because I conceive the combination of these two subjects in most preceding works, in which the divine original of the Jewish Law has been defended, has in some measure prevented the distinct evidence for this part of Revelation from being as fully and clearly stated as it ought to be. Where the Law and the Gospel are at once in a writer's contemplation, the immediate and as it were practical importance of the latter must appear so much greater than that of the former, that it is natural this should engross almost the whole of his attention. Besides, the proofs and principles of the Mosaic Law are so distinct from those of the Gospel, and the period of human history with which they are connected so different, that it is not easy to combine them in one system of reasoning with clearness and effect. At the same time, I am fully sensible of the inseparable connexion between these two grand parts of the divine economy of grace; and that to represent either as independent of the other, would be to misrepresent and undermine it. I hope it will be found that this principle has not been neglected in the following Work.†
If it be asked why I have exhibited the internal evidence of the Mosaic Law separate from the external? I answer, because I conceive it a completely distinct topic of argument, to which the external evidence is properly a supplement, which may be resorted to with much more advantage and effect when the internal has been first distinctly considered. Besides, the external testimonies for the truth of the Mosaic history have been lately
* In his Evidences of Christianity, and his Hora Paulina; which last I consider as one of the most original, most convincing, and most important illustrations of the truth of the Gospel History, ever published.
+ Vide Part III. Lect. V. & VI.
examined and exhibited by many learned and able writers (particularly by Mr FABER, in his Hora Mosaica) so fully, that it would be as unnecessary as it would be arrogant to attempt to supersede their labours, when I can do my reader so much more service by simply referring to them.*
* As this Work may come into the hands of some theological Students desirous to acquaint themselves with the external evidences for the truth of the Old Testament, I annex the following references to some of the chief authors who have treated of them. JOSEPHUS, in his first book against Apion, quotes many testimonies to the antiquity of the Jewish nation; the circumstances attending their emigration from Egypt, and the later periods of their history, from a number of authors then extant, and whom he appeals to as perfectly known, though only fragments of a few of their works now remain. He appeals also to the public records of the Tyrians, "which (says he) are "kept with great exactness, and include accounts of the facts done among them, and "such as concern their transactions with other nations also." These records state the building of the temple of Solomon, and the time it took place, and various circumstances connected with it.-Josephus also quotes Manatho, Dius the historian of Phonicia, and Menander of Ephesus, to the same purpose. He also quotes Berosus the Chaldean, "well known (says he) by the learned, on account of his publication of the "Chaldean books of astronomy, and philosophy among the Greeks. This Berosus "therefore, following the most ancient records of that nation, gives us a History of "the Deluge of Waters that then happened, and of the destruction of mankind thereby, "and agrees with Moses's narrative thereof; he also gives an account of the Ark "wherein Noah the origin of our race was preserved, when it was brought down to the "highest part of the Armenian mountains; after which he gives a catalogue of the pos"terity of Noah, and adds the years of their chronology, and at length comes down to "Nabolassar (or Nabopollassar) who was king of Babylon."-I earnestly recommend the entire Book to the perusal of the Student.
The concurrence of the Sacred Records with those of Pagan history, and the probable derivation of much of the ancient philosophy from the Scripture, is confirmed by EUSEBIUS in his Præparatio Evangelica, much more fully than by Josephus-a work of such signal importance that it may be useful to give an Abstract of its Contents, to excite the attention of the Student. In his first book, Eusebius exhibits a view of the Theology of the Ancients, particularly of the Phoenicians and Egyptians, and of the progress of idolatry, and the ancient opinions on the origin of the universe; in his second book he carries on his view to the Theology of the Greeks and Romans, the fables of the heroic age, and the Arcana of the mysteries; and also introduces a brief exposition of the absurdities of this theology, and these superstitions. In his third, fourth, and fifth books, he exposes at large the absurdities of the fables and superstitions attending idolatry, especially the fallacy of its divinations and oracles; and though he intermixes opinions of his own in accounting for facts, of which a more enlightened philosophy will not approve, yet the facts themselves, and the original authorities on which they are supported, are most highly important. In his sixth book, he exposes the pagan system of fate, &c. In his seventh and eighth books, he illustrates the superiority of the Jewish religion, in its theology, its moral principles, and its effects. But in his ninth, he adduces what is most directly connected with the object of our
Some Friends, whose judgment I most highly respect, have stated to me, that I ought to have included the book of Genesis in my plan; and that even now I ought to prefix some preliminary Lectures on this important part of Sacred History, before
present enquiry, an accumulation of testimonies from works then extant, but very many of which are now lost, to confirm the sacred history. He here produces the strongest testimonies of Grecian writers to the excellence of the Hebrew principles of theology and morals,* to the vain attempts of the Egyptian magicians in opposition to Moses,† Abydenus's tradition of the deluge, and Tower of Babel,§ Eupolemus's testimony to the history of Abraham,|| and various other confirmations of the Jewish history preserved by Alexander Polyhistor-from Theodotus, to the history of Jacob; from Artapanes, to that of Joseph and of Moses, and a long and accurate testimony to the plagues of Egypt and the passage of the Red Sea;¶ from the tragic poet Ezekiel, to the same facts; and Demetrius, to the same, in an abstract evidently taken from the sacred writings as unquestioned and certain records. I omit the testimonies to later facts in the Jewish history-the entire book is peculiarly worth the Student's attention. In the tenth book, he adduces many facts and arguments to prove the philosophy of the Greeks was borrowed from the Barbarians, and illustrates the superiority of the Jewish theology. In his eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth books, Eusebius considers the system of Plato, and proves its agreement in a variety of particulars with that of the Jews, and its having been probably derived from that source; while at the same time he points out the degrading turpitude of Plato's moral theory in his Republic, and strongly contrasts it with the purity of the Mosaic code. The fourteenth and fifteenth books contain a view of the chief systems of philosophy among the Greeks, comparing them with the Jewish Law, and decidedly establishing the superiority of the latter. In a word, this great Work, though not entirely free from the prejudices and the errors prevalent at the period when its Author lived, yet exhibits a most important monument of the necessity and advantages both of the Jewish and Christian Revelations, the confirmation of the Sacred History by various records and authors extant at that period, though now in a great measure lost, and the probability that the Grecian philosophy derived its only just views, whether in theology or morals, from the lights of Revelation, though broken and obscured by the gross and impure mediums through which they were conveyed.
Amongst modern writers, STILLING FLEET, in his Origines Sacra, has with great learning and acuteness "proved the reconcileableness of the account of times in Scrip"ture with that of the learned and ancient heathen nations the consistency of the "belief of the Scriptures with the principles of reason-and that no clear account can "be given of the origin of things, from the principles of philosophy without Scripture." In his sixth book, this learned Author has proved the uncertainty of ancient history, as opposed to the Scripture accounts:-in Book iii. chap. 4. he has confirmed the Scripture accounts of the Creation, the Deluge, and the peopling of the world, by the testimonies of Heathen traditions and Heathen history: and in Book v. he has traced the origin of Heathen mythology to the corruption of the Scripture accounts.
In the first seven Chapters.
|| Cap. xvii,
+ Cap. xii.