Imatges de pÓgina


in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, and the belief of the Pagans in every age and climate, it must appear evident that they had all one original, and that that original was true. It will appear as evident as that the su-perstition of the Romanists, and other Christians, is founded on the simple facts and doctrines of Christ and his apostles. That they wereall(Pagan, Jewish, and Christian) theeffect of wild, irrational, and unconnected conceits, without any source in truth, and that the two last were derived from the first, is a supposition of the most extravagant and improbable kind, and totally contradicted by the fair deductions of history. The on ly rational and consistent account of the origin of things, and of religion, is the Mo. saic. By admitting its truth, (and, as a piece of ancient history, it is doubtless entitled to some credit,) the whole affair ad. mits of a very easy and natural solution. If we deny it this credit, we destroy, at the same time, every mode of rational argument, probable proof, and moral evidence. Infidels are so much busied in raising objections, that they have no leisure to attend to such considerations. The antiquity of Moses, however, cannot be disputed ; and such parts of his history as in their estimation contribute to blacken the character of the Jews and Patriarchs, they admit the truth of, and expound with all the virulence and animosity of narrow minds. To the account

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of the Creation, &c. which they assert to be false, they oppose the absurdities of Sanchoniatho, and of the Eastern Bramins, from which some of them dare to assert that the account of Moses was borrowed.

“ Few men, perhaps nore, were ever bet. ter acquainted with Eastern literature, and particularly with such investigations as I refer the sceptics to, than the late Sir William Jones. He was the most inde. fatigable and accomplished scholar perhaps of this or any other period, not even excepting the renowned Dr Francis, or any of his philosophic brethren! His researches into the history and religion of Eastern nations were most extensive and accurate, and they were always directed, not to the raising heterogeneous masses of information, or, by detached views, to excite scepticism, but to some useful point and general origin. By comparing the result of his enquiries together, and with what he knew before, he has brought forward additional support of the most convincing kind, to the mass of evidence which before existed, respecting the Mosaic account of the Creation, and of the origin of religion. . In the end of his eighth anniversary discourse to the Asiatic Society, we find these important remarks, by way

of deduction from a long enquiry. “ The seat of the first Phenicians," says he,“ having extended to Idume, with which we began, we have now completed the circuit of

though, if it were, the catalogue would

Asia ; but we must not pass over in silence a most extraordinary people, who escaped the attention, as Barrow observes more than once, of the diligent and inquisitive Herodotus : I mean the people of Judea, whose language demonstrates their affinity with the Arabs, but whose manners, literature, and history, are wonderfully distinguished from the rest of mankind. Barrow loads them with the severe, but just, epithets of malignant, unsocial, obstinate, distrustful, sordid, changeable, turbulent; and describes them as furiously zealous in succouring their own countrymen, but implacably hostile to other nations; yet, with all the sottish perverseness, the stupid arrogance, and the brutal atrocity of their character, they had ibe peculiar merit, among all races of men under heaven, of preserving a rational and pure system of devotion in the midst of wild polytheism, in human or obscene rites, and a dark labyrinth of errors produced by ignorance, and supported by interested fraud."

"Iam'not disposed to trust any part of the defence of our religion to the authority of a great name, nor is it necessary to do so.;


neither be short nor despicable. The above quotation, however, is important, as it is the result of enquiries totally free and unfettered

system or profession. That part of it which mentions the odious part of the Jewish character, which no Christian attempts

either to defend or palliate, infidels will of course admire. But why they should not receive the other with equal credit, since it is equally an historical fact, they will find it difficult, with all their philosophy, to give a satisfactory reason. Facts are stubborn things; and the most specious reasonings of philosophy must give way to them. We find, on the mosť unquestionable historical evidence, in a period very remote and comparatively little improved, a people possessing a degree of knowledge and refinement with respect to religion and the Deity, far surpassing that of any other nation. Men may talk of virtue, and philosophy, and science, as much as they please'; but, I repeat it, we possess historical evidence for the fact, which, however our modern philosophers may sneer at it, they cannot controvert,—that, whilst other nations were drowned in ignorance, vice, and superstision, this nation alone possessed sentiments,-and such of them as attended to the institutions of their religion, possessed virtue,-superior to the most refined nations of their time.

Idolatry, so common in all other nations, though often practised by them from the example of their neighbours, was severely punished, and at length prevented. Yet the Jews, in general, and independent of their religion, were no ways superior to any other people, either in character or science ; nor do their historians who relate, without any comment, simple matters of fact, claim such superio

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rity. From whence, then, could arise so striking a superiority in point of religion and divine knowledge ? Human science has been considered as the hand-maid of re. ligion; and, had religion been a human invention, scientific improvement must have preceded religious excellence. But the fact is historically otherwise.

The Jews never possessed any acquirements, either in science or the arts, superior to other nations. At the time of Moses's mission, they were the slaves of an enlightened people. But slaves are seldom benefited by the science of their task-masters. In such circumstances, there was no room for progressive improvement, either in religion or learning. Slaves are the most abject, and the most ignorant, of human beings; and, whilst they continue slaves, subject to the capricious cruelty of their masters, and to endless labour, it will be found to be a task beyond human power, to improve their minds in knowledge or religion. The most assiduous and successful labours on a few, will be overpowered by the

corruption of the rest; and could we suppose, contrary to universal experience, that such improvement would at length become progressive, it could not possibly become general, till after the revolution of many ages. Without any superiority in human science, either real or pretended, and amidst the greatest external disadvantages in which any set of men could be placed, the Jews did entertain notions of religion, of the

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