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of Moses, then the latter is set aside as having no more authority than an affirmation of Diodorus or Livy. Thus these apparent conflicts between philology and natural science are inconsiderately made the ground of denying the credibility of the written history.

Another cause which may be mentioned, is the contradictory views which have been entertained in respect to certain usages tolerated or regulated in the Pentateuch, but which a more spiritual dispensation has been supposed to abolish. In relation to these usages, opinions diametrically opposite have been defended. According to one party, the customs referred to have the immediate divine sanction. They are not simply the growth of an early state of society, or of oriental institutions, but they meet necessities which are common to man. They are essential to, or at least are admissible in, the most perfect condition of humanity. Another party, by doing violence to the language of the Pentateuch, virtually deny the existence of these customs, or endeavour to rid them of their most essential characteristics; affirming that certain usages of modern times are in their own nature and always wrong, they wrest the plainest texts of the Pentateuch from their obvious sense, in order to free the inspired Word from the calumny of their opponents. Others, in the mean time, look with equal contempt upon both of these conflicting opinions. Their scepticism is only augmented by this radical diversity of ideas in those who believe in the divine authority of the Pentateuch. They regard the custom which has been proscribed or eulogised, as merely an evidence of a very barbarous state of society, and the regulations of the lawgiver respecting it, as well as the record of the historian, as unauthoritative and uninspired. And it must be acknowledged, that nothing could be better fitted to cherish an unbelieving spirit than the extreme opinions that have been alluded to. In fact, every text distorted, every interpretation far-fetched or unnatural, does something towards subverting the authority of the entire Scriptures, as it becomes a source of doubt and incredulity which extends far beyond itself.

The superficial philanthropy and religion, which find not a little currency in our land, is an additional cause of the scepti cism in question. The special design of the New Testament, it is alleged, is to reveal, or render more impressive, the doctrines of the immortality of the soul and the paternal character of God. An unavoidable inference from such an allegation is, that the Deity of the Old Testament is different from, or hostile to, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Mosaic Divinity is a stern tyrant or an inflexible judge, not a Being of overflowing benignity. The theophany on Sinai is the

fiction of oriental fancy, portraying the avatar of some malignant demon. A view of the Divine character extensively prevails at the present day, which is adverse to the entire spirit of the New Testament, and which virtually leads to the denial of the most explicit declarations made by the Saviour himself. Religion is divested of its commanding features, and is made to meet the necessities of a part of our constitution only. The susceptibilities of fear, and of reverence for law and authority, though as much original properties of man as pity or any other power that has been most abundantly appealed to, are degraded and cast out as worthless.

These superficial views of religion naturally lead to a superficial philanthropy. The tenderest compassion is felt for the criminal, or rather for the "unfortunate individual, overtaken in a fault," while few tears are shed for injured virtue or for society menaced with dissolution. A sacredness is attributed to human life, which has no warrant either in the New Testament or the judgment of a pure-minded philanthropist, and which would annihilate the right or possibility of national or individual self-defence. The reformation of the delinquent, it is confidently alleged, is the only or the principal object of human laws. The Old Testament, and the Pentateuch especially, standing as obstacles in the path of these charitable. sentiments, must be set aside. Though the representation that the books of Moses breathe an implacable spirit, is altogether unfounded, yet there is much in them of a rigorous character, and which would be repugnant to the opinions and feelings to which we have alluded. It is unquestionable that there is a strong tendency at present towards an indiscriminate philanthropy, and a religion divested of those stern features which the representations of the New Testament imply, as certainly as those of the Old. Now, just so far as this tendency prevails, an influence adverse to the authority of the Pentateuch is brought into active existence. The question is judged subjectively, in accordance with the feelings and opinions of the objector. A fair estimate is not of course to be anticipated. Yet no topic in the whole compass of literature demands greater freedom from theological prepossession than one pertaining to the infancy of our race (fifteen centuries before the gospel was published), to an oriental state of society, and to a pastoral mode of life. What might seem perfectly unreasonable and distasteful to us might be most befitting to the incipient Hebrew commonwealth, and might, therefore, have come from God.

Again, some of the causes of this scepticism have multiplied themselves. The tendency to doubt has been greatly strengthened by exercise. The rejection of all supernatural agency

from the Mosaic narratives is an effect as well as a cause. Parts of the Christian records have before been violently impugned. Doubts had been thrown upon the authenticity of no inconsiderable portion of the New Testament. In opposition to the best critical authorities, suspicions were cast on various passages. If the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, are obnoxious to attack, a book composed sixteen hundred years earlier, and consequently supported by much less external testimony, would hardly escape. If parts of the New Testament are seriously menaced, the whole of the Old would seem to totter on its foundations.

For these and other reasons which might be named, it is proposed to discuss several topics that have relation to the authenticity and genuineness of the Pentateuch. New light is constantly thrown upon the interpretation of this part of the Bible by the studies of eminent scholars and the discoveries of archæologists and travellers. A somewhat extended range of observation and of reference to authorities may be allowed, from the bearing of such remarks and references on a number of points which may be subsequently considered.

What has been already stated may suggest, not unnaturally, the first topic for consideration.

§ 1. The Importance of Caution in an Inquiry of this Nature.

Nothing can be more out of place than dogmatic assertion, or that cavalier tone which is sometimes assumed. After the most laborious inquiries, we are necessarily left in ignorance on some points; while on others, we can only approximate towards the truth.

In the first place, the Pentateuch professes to stand altogether by itself. There is no contemporary literature. Not a fragment of any record besides has floated down the stream of time. The lapse of ages has buried up every other chronicle. Centuries elapsed after the Exodus of Israel before Hesiod or Homer wrote. The monuments of Egypt are silent on the first twenty centuries of the history in Genesis. We have nothing, therefore, with which to compare the Pentateuch. We are left to judge of its credibility by its own independent testimony.

Again, a state of civil and religious society, manners and customs, useful arts and domestic institutions are delineated or alluded to, with which we have little analogous. The principles of human nature are, indeed, the same. Man's heart beats alike under an oriental or a western sky. But the whole external contour is widely diverse. Even the development of Asiatic character

and morals often seems to us very anomalous. We are tempted to look with perfect incredulity on incidents or narratives, which, to an oriental, have the clearest verisimilitude. We often set up European taste as a standard for Asiatic manners, and wonder at the oddity of patriarchal usages, while an Arab or a Syrian would look with equal incredulity or contempt upon many things which have become as a second nature to us. From this dissimilarity or contrariety of manners and customs, the inquirer must needs be cautious in coming to his conclusions. He may pronounce that to be a myth or a saga which is veritable history.

Furthermore, it is to be remembered, that the Pentateuch lays claim to divine inspiration. Moses is the organ of the will of God. The five books profess to be a record of immediate revelations from heaven. This demands at least an external respect, a show of decency. Even portions of the mythology of Greece and Rome cannot be contemplated with levity. If there was nothing acceptable to the Deity in the countless sacrifices which were offered on Roman altars, yet the human soul is here revealed in its deepest aspirations. In the immolation of the innocent victim was prefigured the necessity of the shedding of more costly blood. In these misapplied and unauthorised services, some vital doctrines of the Christian system may be faintly shadowed forth.

So in respect to the Mahometan Bible. It claims to be a revelation from heaven. These claims ought to be candidly and fairly met. A system even of religious imposture is not to be dismissed with a sneer; much less if, with its absurdities, it contains some acknowledged and fundamental truths. Every principle of literary justice, not to speak of moral obligation, demands that we should carefully examine, rather than dogmatically decide.

Yet how different has been the treatment to which the Pentateuch has often been subjected! It assumes to be a revelation from the true God, and a history of real events. It appears, in the first aspect of it at least, to be plain prose, not poetry, or fable, or allegory. Yet it has often been treated, as though it were, à priori, fictitious, as though it bore the marks of falsehood on its face. A respectable uninspired author has seldom been compelled to submit to such manifest injustice. Multitudes of critics, not a few of them [professedly] Christian ministers, have regarded it as a mixture of truth and falsehood, or as an interpolated document, and have accordingly tried to sift out some facts from the mass of errors. Where patient investigation would be a too painful process, an inuendo, a covert sneer, or a bold assertion, have been substituted. Decisions have been pronounced with that categorical assurance,

which would not be respectful in relation to a common historian, which would not be authorised, were the writers contemporaries of the men on whom they sit in judgment. Many of those who have impugned the authority of the Pentateuch, have betrayed a state of mind which would not well befit a student even of the Koran or Vedas.

§ 2. Historical Scepticism less prevalent now than formerly.

It is an important consideration in its bearings on the question under discussion, that the spirit of extreme literary scepticism which prevailed a few years since, especially in Germany, is giving place to sounder and more conservative views. The day of unlimited suspicion in respect to ancient authors has passed by. A more enlightened criticism has shown that incredulity may involve as many absurdities as superstition, and that the temper of mind in which such men as Gibbon looked at certain parts of the records of antiquity, was as truly unphilosophical as that of the most unreflecting enthu


In the latter part of the last century, and during the first twenty years of the present, several causes conspired to give an extraordinary growth to this doubting spirit. Some of these are still more or less operative; the influence of others has disappeared. It may be well to advert to some of the more prominent.

One of these causes is itself a consequence of the intellectual and moral condition of Germany. The number of highly educated men in the German States is very large in proportion to the population, much larger than the intellectual wants of the country demand. The government, having in its hands nearly all the places of trust and emolument, looks of course to the abler and more promising candidates for public favour. This awakens among the thousands annually emerging from the university life a spirit of rivalry and a strong desire for notoriety. Attention must be aroused, a name must be created at all events. If the promulgation of correct opinions will not effect the object, paradoxes may. While sound reasoning will fall heavily on the public ear, ingenious, though baseless, hypotheses will be certain to awaken discussion. To attack the credibility of an ancient historian, with great confidence and with a profusion of learning, may procure an appointment, if it does not accomplish its professed object. Thus the aim often is, to make a sensation, rather than to elicit the truth, to show off one's smartness, more than to comprehend a subject in its various bearings and worthily present it. A prurient love of novelty and innovation is fostered. Well ascertained facts in

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