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ings and persecutions for their constancy and unbending perseverance in defence of the religion and laws, which had been handed down to them from remote antiquity. Indeed, his writings, although a heathen historian, so clearly confirm the antiquity of the Jews and their religion, that the most important facts concerning them, seem to be placed beyond a reasonable doubt. The facts which I have noticed, are principally embraced by Josephus, in his first book against Appian, and may also be found in the first vol. of Bishop Watson's Theological Collections.
Numerous other testimonies might be mentioned, were it not, that their introduction would be an unnecessary trespass upon your patience. I will therefore only add; that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, is a fact which has obtained the consent of all nations. The learned Huetius fairly arrives at the conclusion, that all religions have borrowed their theology from the writings of Moses; whose history they have altered and corrupted, so as to accommodate the fabulous accounts with which they have amused and deluded their credulous and superstitious subjects: That all the fabulous deities of the ancients were indebted for their origin to gross misapprehensions and corruptions of the important truths which the five books of Moses contain. This truth is obvious from the consent of the most ancient authors, of which we have any account For several of them have taken entire passages from his books; particularly Sanchoniathan, Homer, Hesiod, Thales, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Socrates, and Plato while Manetho, Philochorus, Eupolemus, and several others, of the ancient writers, explicitly declare that Moses was the lawgiver of the Jews and the founder of their religion; and not a few of them treat distinctly of his laws Nay, even Porphyry, and Julian, the apostate, acknowledged that the five first books of scripture, which are attributed to Moses, were written by him! These facts are gathered from Du Pin's first vol. of ecclesiastical history, the first vol. of his scripture Canon, the first book of Grotius, and the first vol. of Jenkins' Christianity.
It may therefore be asserted, without the fear of contradiction, that no historian whose writings have come down to our times, stands supported by such a respectable num
ber of witnesses, as does the celebrated lawgiver of the Jews. And I here ask; is there a single historian, either ancient or modern, who has denied the fact that Moses wrote the history which is ascribed to him? This will not, it cannot be pretended, with the least colouring of truth. The history of Moses, therefore, stands upon an immoveable foundation, against which all the storms of skepticism must rage, and for ever rage in vain. And every man of sober and candid reflection, cannot but view it as the madness of delirium, to suppose that a numerous and intelligent nation, like the Jews, consisting of many hundred thousands, could be duped by the grossest imposture and wickedness, be led by the force of pretended miracles, performed in open day; miracles on which their very existence depended, and continued to hang, for forty years, if these pretensions were all a cheat, and destitute of divine reality for their support. Whoever can arrive at such a stupid and absurd conclusion, must think himself a paragon of wisdom, and that the Jews were a nation of the most consummate blockheads that ever disgraced the earth!
The history which this highly favored and celebrated prophet has left for the instruction of the generations that were destined to follow him, is evidently the most ancient of all that have been presented to the world, as well as the most interesting for the facts which it contains, and the variety of the subjects which it embraces. It carries us back to a period when "the earth was without form and void" of inhabitants, and acquaints us with the origin of our existence. It makes us acquainted with the character and manners of the ante-deluvian ages, and recounts the most astonishing changes which have transpired since the morning of creation.
It displays in a plain and simple succession, the order of the most ancient generations, and contains the only account with which the inhabitants of this world have ever been furnished, of the creation, which wears the appearance of probability; inasmuch as it traces the origin of all things to the will and power of God. It accounts for the introduction of moral evil in a manner perfectly consistent with the dictates of reason, if we but keep in remembrance
the universal custom which prevailed among the ancients, of clothing their descriptive narrations in highly figurative language. Were it not incompatible with the design of this discourse, the credibility of the Mosaic history could easily be demonstrated by the evidences of his prophetic inspiration But this is designed to form the subject of a future lecture.
We will now leave out the question of his inspiration, and show that Moses might be qualified to furnish the brief history of the ante-deluvian world, and the intervening ages from that general catastrophe to his own times, which his writings contain, by means of oral tradition, which was the earliest and only method, (aside from revelation,) of handing down the knowledge of important events, from the creation of the world to the period of the invention of letters. In doing this, however, let it be distinctly understood, that we inflexibly maintain the inspiration of this venerable prophet of God.
The longevity of man, before the flood, certainly was most favorable to this mode of conveying truths which were deemed of the most importance to preserve: And it is not unreasonable to suppose that the first of human beings should have some knowledge of their origin, and the elevated rank which they held in the scale of being. From the chronology of the Mosaic history, it is easy to discover how these truths could be communicated from age to age, without exceeding the bounds of reasonable probability.
According to the Mosaic chronology, Methuselah lived two hundred and forty-three years with Adam, and about ninety-seven years with Shem, the son of Noah: So that all the important events which transpired before the flood had only to pass through one person, to a period long after the general deluge. Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, which went with him into Egypt, lived with Shem fifty years: So that only three persons, Methuselah, Shem, and Jacob, were necessary to communicate this knowledge from the days of Adam down to the time when the children of Israel went to dwell in the land of Goshen ; through a period of 2238 years. Nor is it more difficult to perceive how Moses might come into possession of
these facts: For his grand-father, Amram, lived a considerable time with Joseph, the son of Jacob, and also with Moses, the author of the history in question: So that only two persons, Joseph and Amram, were necessary to communicate the same knowledge from Jacob to Moses : Making in the whole, but six persons, through whom this intelligence would have to pass, from Adam to Moses.
The general corruption, however, which soon prevailed throughout the earth, by the introduction and practice of idolatry; together with the fact, that the life of man became shortened, were causes which rendered oral tradition an unsafe medium for conveying any important information from generation to generation. Hence it became necessary to commit to writing all the important truths of history, as well as a revelation of the mind and will of God, that they might be preserved in their purity for the instruction of future ages.
In this discourse I have confined my remarks to a few particulars, as leading traits in the character of the Mosaic history, and have found them supported by the testimony of the most ancient historians among the heathen. Indeed, they have, in all ages of the world, been so well attested as to be acknowledged by all the ancient nations, who have ever been represented to the world by a respectable historian of their own.
But as modern skepticism affects to deny and abuse the Mosaic history, we now demand, what evidence has it ever produced to prove this history false? We answer, without the fear of contradiction, not a particle of evidence has it ever produced to invalidate the truth of this history, nor can any such evidence be obtained, from any of the authentic records of ancient or modern lore. The voice of history refutes their cavils and condemns their unbelief; while it yields an assent to the truth of these ancient and venerable records.
These facts show with great clearness that the Mosaic history is the only rational account of the creation, and the original state of mankind, which has ever been presented to the world.
The supposition that Moses could palm a fiction of his own upon the Jewish nation, as the authentic history of
themselves and their ancestors, is without a parallel for absurdity, in all the annals of ignorance, superstition, credulity, and fanatical madness. And I greatly marvel that a rational being can be found, to deny the authenticity of a record so clear, and so amply attested.
And I trust, that all those who are disposed to attend to the evidences which have been adduced, and which still remain to be set before them, will be fully confirmed in the belief of their faithfulness, as well as of their importance in the history of the human race.