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We shall devote this Theological Disquisition, to an enquiry into the Characteristic Peculiarities of the Jewish Dispensation, respecting Religion and Morals.
They who believe that the history of the Jewish nation, as recorded in the writings of the Old Testament, was written under the directing influence of the Deity, will not be surprised that it should deviate, in many respects, from the modes of composition observed by uninspired writers. The historical parts consist of a plain, unadorned narrative of facts, which are of a peculiar nature. The narrative is given without any attention to the beauties or elegance of style, which distinguish the works of men of genius and taste; but with a dignified simplicity, far beyond their imitation. The sacred writers indulge in no speculations; affect not a sentimental language; seek not to display their sagacity; form no conjectures; draw no inferences. They mention facts as they were, or as they appeared to be, in the eyes of the spectators, without comments or expletives. They record the goodactions of the Upright, with appro
bation, void of panegyric; and their crimes with fidelity, without palliatives or censure. They publish the important truths of religion, with an elevation suited to the sublimity of the subject, and with an interest which affects the heart. They instruct in all the moral duties, with simplicity and perspicuity; they promise rewards and denounce punishments, with a solemnity correspondent to the authority under which they act. This plan was adopted by the author of the Pentateuch, and was strictly followed by every succeeding writer. The sacred history commences with a slight sketch of man, from his creation; and also of his subsequent state, in the early periods of human existence, as introductory to its grand object; which is, to present the world with a theological and moral history of a select people, for a series of many hundred years. It gives us a minute detail of the Divine conduct towards this people, respecting religion and morals; respecting the means pursued to promote a spirit of obedience ; to correct their perverseness; to inspire a confidence in the divine administration; to extricate them from dangers and difficulties; and to lead them through a long train of extraordinary and important events, which occurred from the days of Abraham, to the final establishment of his posterity, in the land of Canaan. It farther informs us that, in consequence of this divine or theocratic government, the Jewish people—and the Jewish people ALONE,-were in a great measure preserved from the religious ignorance, idolatries, and gross immoralities, in which every other nation was deeply involved; that by these means the worship of idols was gradually abolished; a knowledge of the true God was widely diffused; and a path was prepared for the advent of the Son of God, to complete the plan of the Deity, in promoting the happiness of man. The peculiarities of this dispensation, which respect our subject, are the following: - I. The Jewish religion promulgates those doctrines relative to the Being and Attributes of God, which are so consonant with our reason; and it enjoins the practice of all those moral duties, which are essential to human well-being. II. The Jewish history informs us of the manner pursued by divine Providence, to preserve the doctrines of Religion and Morality from the corruptions of surrounding nations. III. The same history informs us, that the selection of the Jewish nation, for this purpose,
84 PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
was not for the exclusive benefit of that people, but introductory to a dispensation, by which all the nations of the earth were to be blessed; and it enables us to trace the preparatory progress. IV. The union of the above peculiarities in the Mosaic dispensation, presents us with strong . internal evidences of its divine origin.
ON THE DOCTRINES CONCERNING THE BEING AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD, THE DUTIES of MORALITY, AND THE SANCTIONS OF THE MORAL LAW, AS REVEALED IN THE JEWISH DISPENSATION.
The sacred penman commences his history by asserting the existence of One God, and ascribing to him the creation of all things. He gives us, with a sublime simplicity, a distinct account of the process of creation, as it was accomplished at different periods,--by that Word which is omnipotent, from the darkness of chaos, to the preparation of inanimate nature for the reception of living beings; and from the creation of the inferior race of animals, to the formation of man. Although theinspired historian particularlyenlarges upon the formation of this earth, with its various inhabitants, yet, lest the creation of other worlds should be ascribed to other beings, he attributes the existence of the heavenly bo