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Our infidels seem inclined to deny that Moses was the author of the books which go under his name. To this purpose they observe (and the observation is certainly a judicious one), that he could not have written the account of his own death, which occurs in the last chapter of Deuteronomy. There are likewise, as we all very well know, a few other passages, here and there, allowed both by Jews and Christians to have been inserted since his time. But these will never prevent us from looking upon him as the author of the Pentateuch, any more than a few interpolated passages in the works of Josephus prevent us from ascribing those works to that author. The Pentateuch and the institutions it prescribes have been in being ever since the days of Moses : how, when, and by whom, could they have been forged?
But they themselves do not build much on this part of their performance; for they say, page 4,
Supposing these and other objections of the like
nature to be removed”-which they therefore suppose may be removed—“the Scripture is frequently “ contradictory with regard to facts.” Perhaps not. At least we must have some proof; and so, in their own words, vide infra.
“And represents the all-wise Creator as angry, repenting, unjust, arbitrary, and”-in short—"as a demon." * That it represents him “as angry and repenting,” is true; it likewise "
represents him as coming down, and going up”-all in condescension to our capacities, and “after the manner of men,” as every child knows among us.
Nor can we speak of the Deity in any other manner, if we would speak intelligibly to the generality of mankind'. That the Scripture should represent God as “unjust, arbitrary, and a “ demon," is very bad indeed. Let us hope better things than these of the Scripture, however. When the several charges are brought forward, we must endeavour to answer them. And notwithstanding the jokes of these gentlemen about the pillory, one or other of us, I am afraid, will be found to deserve it.
Page 5. “Did God create light before the sun?" Most assuredly. Why not? When the orb of the sun was formed on the fourth day, it became the appointed receptacle of light, from whence that glorious fluid was to be dispensed, for the benefit of the system. Before the formation of the solar orb, light was supported in action by some other means, as seemed good to the Creator.
to the Creator. The earth might be made to revolve by the same agency, and then another question is answered : “How could time be di“ vided into days, before the creation of the sun;
* See a remarkable acknowledgement of this point by Collins, in Leland's View of the Deistical Writers; Letter xxix. vol. ii. p. 125. edit. 4th.
" since a day is the time between sun rise and sun 6 rise?"
Page 5. “How could God divide the light from darkness, since darkness is nothing but the mere “ privation of light?
The light was divided from the darkness, as it is now, by the interposition of the earth. This is plain ; because it follows, “God called the light day, and “ the darkness he called night.” Day was the state of the hemisphere on which light irradiated; and night was the state of the opposite hemisphere, on which rested the shadow projected by the body of the earth. I see no absurdity in all this. But may not the assertion, that “ darkness is only the mere “ privation of light,” be controverted? When “Moses
says, that darkness was upon the face of the deep,” he did not mean that nothing was there. Of the darkness in Egypt, it is said, that it "might be felt.” And if the fire at the solar orb could be suddenly extinguished, would not the whole body of the celestial fuid instantly become a torpid congealed mass, and bind the creation in chains of adamant? At the beginning, “light was formed out of dark“ness ;” and therefore may not the truth be this? In Scripture language, may not light be the celestial fluid, in a certain condition, and a certain degree of motion; and darkness the same fluid in a different condition, and without that degree of motion, or when such motion is interrupted by the interposition of an opaque body? A room, for example, is full of light. Close the shutters, and that light instantly disappears. But what is become of it? It is not
annihilated. No: the substance, which occasioned the sensation of light to the eye, is still present as before, but occasions that sensation no longer. Let philosophers consider and determine.
Page 5. “How could the firmament be created,
since there is no firmament, and the false notion " of its existence is no more than an imagination of be the ancient Grecians ?"
Never again let critics, while they live, undertake to censure the writings of an author, before they understand something of the language in which he wrote. The Greek version of the Seventy has indeed given us the word tegewua, which has produced in our translation the corresponding word firmament. But these terms by no means furnish us with the true idea of the original word, which is derived from a verb signifying, to spread abroad, expand, enlarge, make thin, &c. The proper rendering then is, the expansion. But expansion of what? Doubtless, of the celestial fluid before mentioned, of light, air, ether, or whatever you please to call it. In Scripture it is styled the heavens. 6 Who stretcheth out " the heavens like a curtain ! -That stretcheth out " the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out " as a tent to dwell in"."
How far this expansion of the heavens extends, is another question. That portion of it diffused around the earth is well known by the name of the atmosphere; and its force may at any time be felt by the hand, when laid on the aperture of an exhausted receiver. Sir Isaac Newton appears to have thought, that it might reach to the t Psal. civ.
u Isa. xl. 22.
orb of Saturn, and beyond, even through all the ce
It seems to go out from one part of the system, and circulate to the other, and nothing is hidden from its influence; to be in every place, and to possess powers which nothing is able to withstand. The Royal Society, by its late worthy president, earnestly requested Dr. Priestley to make inquiry after this same wonderful substance; so that, by and by, it is likely, we may hear more of it*: and gentlemen may by degrees be induced to entertain a more favourable opinion of the Jewish legislator; as it is said of a great man, some years ago, that having, in the decline of life, accidentally dipped into a Bible, he declared," he found Moses to be a “ clever fellow; and if he had met with him a little
sooner, he did not know but he might have read “ him through."
Page 6. “How shall we explain the business of “ the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and of a “ tree of life?"
As my lords the bishops have kindly taken so much pains to bring the infidels into a good way of spending their Sunday evenings at home, I think it would not be amiss, if they were, now and then, at such times, to read a sermon. Let me therefore recominend to them four discourses, by the present
* Many curious particulars concerning that, and other subjects connected with it, have already been communicated to the world by the reverend and learned Mr. Jones, in his very
valuable work, entitled, “ Physiological Disquisitions, or Discourses on the “ Natural Philosophy of the Elements :" printed for Rivington and Robinson