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WHEN the Friends of Irreligion and Anarchy in this country, some years ago, disseminated with a malignant industry the First Part of Mr Paine's "Age of Reason," containing a bold and virulent attack on the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the Heads of the University of Dublin judged that it might be expedient to direct the attention of the Students to the clear and convincing evidence by which this part of Revelation is sustained. On that occasion, the Subject of the following LECTURES was selected for the ensuing year, when it was my duty to deliver them. But before that period arrived, so many able and satisfactory answers* appeared to Mr Paine's pamphlet; and the extreme ignorance of its author, the futility of his reasonings, and the grossness of his misrepresentations, were so clearly exposed; that I judged it unnecessary to conduct my researches or form my arguments with any particular reference to the objections urged in that tract; and determined on taking a wider range, and entering into a more radical discussion of the divine original of the Jewish Scheme, than I had at first
* Amongst these, the excellent Apology of Bishop Watson undoubtedly ranks the first. Ir this country, the Rev. Mr Hincks, of Cork, produced a very useful compilation on the same subject; and Dr Stokes, of Trinity College, Dublin, published a briel but able answer to Mr Paine, which was circulated with excellent effect amongst the Students.
designed. For that purpose I resolved to examine the four last books of the Pentateuch with all the attention in my power, and discover how far they carried internal evidence of their genuineness and truth, in the detail both of the common and the miraculous events. The following Work is the effect of that determination.
The Friends of Religion will, I trust, receive this attempt to explain and defend a part of Revelation most frequently assailed by infidels,* with candour and indulgence. I am deeply sensible of the importance of the subject, and would not have presumed to enter upon it, had I found it already pre-occupied by any writer of established reputation. But it appeared to me, that all, or very nearly all the distinguished authors, whose labours have been employed in illustrating the Old Testament in particular, or stating the proofs of Revelation in general, have been in some degree led away from bestowing on this subject that continued attention which its importance deserved, and combining the various characters of truth incidentally dispersed through the writings of the great Jewish Legislator, in one distinct view, in which each would communicate new lustre to the rest. Such authors as have illustrated the Scriptures with continued commentaries, were, by the very nature of their undertaking, prevented from uniting in one view the many important observations and proofs which the separate parts of the sacred text suggested. Those who were employed in refuting the objections of any one particular antagonist, were almost inevitably led to magnify these objections beyond their relative importance in any general consideration of the subject. The same writers also were
* That infidels or sceptics still direct their chief attacks against the Old Testament, is daily experienced. The reader will see some very recent instances, in the publications of the late Rev. Dr Geddes, and of Mr De Wette, noticed in the APPENDIX
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 credu lity* 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