« AnteriorContinua »
fame arts, but in vain. Also the words which we render enchantments, &c. only fignify covered arts, and secret sleights, in which the Egyptians are known
to have excelled. · If the Egyptian magicians were really possessed of supernatural power, why did they not employ it to defeat the purpoles of Moses's miracles, and relieve their country? More especially, why did they not guard themselves from the boils which are expressly said to have been upon the magici. ans, as well as upon Pharaoh, and the rest of the Egyptians; and why did they fail in the case of the lice? The reason of this failure plainly appears, from the history, to have been, that, with respect to this miracle, they had no notice beforehand what they were to do, and therefore could not prepare themselves as before.
Pharaoh himself would naturally imagine, that the rniracles of Moses were only such tricks as his own magicians excelled in, and therefore very properly called them in, to see whether they could do the same, and detect the imposition; and so long as they could contrive to seem to do any thing like what Moses performed, it is no wonder that, circumstanced and prejudiced as he was, he shut his eyes to the evidence of the divine power which accompanied Mofes..
In fact, the Egyptian magicians themselves seem to have confessed, that there was nothing above
the art and power of man in what they did, when, upon their failing to produce lice, they acknowledged that the finger of God, or, as it might be rendered, the finger of a Gori, or something supernatural, was in it.
It has been said that, in several respects, the present state of the world, and of mankind, does not corre?pond to what is said of the history of them in the books of Moses. But the more we understand of natural and civil history, the leis weight there appears to be in all objections of this kind.
It has been said, that the peopling of America is inconsistent with the supposition of the deriva tion of the whole race of mankind from one pair. But it is now almost certain, that America was, in fact, peopled from the continent of Europe and Asia, and especially from the North Eastern parts of the latter, which is found to be very near, and may perhaps have been joined to it. This is argued from a similarity in features, customs, vegetable, and animal productions, &c. · Objections have been made to the Mosaic ac-, count of the creation, and the general deluge. But even in these cases the history of Moses is found to supply a more probable hypothesis, to account for the present state of things, than any other that has yet been proposed; and improvements in philoso
phy do, upon the whole, rather strengthen than weaken this conclufion.
It is alledged, that the origin of the Blacks can- not be accounted for on the principles of the Mo. faic history. But there are several ways by which this fact may be reconciled wi.h what Mofes has advanced concerning Adam and Noah. If naLural means be not thought fufficient to produce this effect, on a few. individuals, in some early age, that change may have been produced supernaturally, though not mentioned by Moses; and the propagation of Blacks from Blacks, whenever that variety in the species took place, is allowed to be according to the common course of nature. The copper colour of the Americans, and the low: ftature of the Laplanders and Esquimaux, have also been alledged by unbelievers, but to as little purpose. '. The objection to the Mosaic history of the long lives. of the Antedi'uvians, and the gigantic stao ture of some of the inhabitants of Palestine, may be easily passed without any answer ; because there is no contradiction in supposing it to be true, nor is it so very improbable that the state of mankind
may have been very different in former times from - what it is at presente
The history of the fall of man is said to have much the appearance of a fable. But it is sufsi
cient for the purpose of revelation, if it be true in general, that the evils of the present state were not introduced till the sins of mankind made this state of labour and death appear to be the fittest for them. 'The fabulous circumstances may poffibly have been introduced by the hieroglyphical manner in which that early history might be first written. But even the literal account may, in most partie culars, have been true:
As to the history of transactions so much older than Moses, fo general an account as he has given of them might very well have been transmitted through the few generations which preceded him, or it might have been communicated to him by revclation. This, however, is not very probable, fince Moses no where asserts it; and he seems to be exceedingly exact in diftinguishing all that he seceived' from God, from what he relates of his own knowledge, or the information of others,
Of the Objection to revelation from the supposed In
fpiration of the scriptures, and others of a similar nature.
COME objections to the Jewish and christian W revelations are founded on small inconsisten. cies, and mistakes in the canonical books of scrip- . ture. But such objections as these do not by any , means affect the divinity of the system of religion, which they contain; because the contents of those books may be true in the main, notwithstanding, fuch inconsistencies and mistakes. All historians, even those of the most approved credit, have been subject to small inadvertencies and errors. No history of Rome or England was ever written without them; but, do we therefore say, that there is no truth in them. Nay, the discovery of such small mistakes is never imagined to affect the credit of the important facts.
Allowing, therefore, that, in the books.of Kings, a prince is said to have reigned one number of years, and in the books of Chronicles another ; that one of the Evangelists speaks of both ihe thieves reviling Christ, whereas another fays, that only one of them did it; that in one of the Gospels