Imatges de pÓgina

of that family: hence all lands sold, returned at the jubilee to the proprietor, or his nearest a-kin; he who had a right to revenge blood might redeem.

3. This right of blood, depending upon knowledge of descent and genealogy, made it absolutely necessary for the children of Israel to keep very exact records and proofs of their descent: not to mention the expectation they had of something surprisingly singular from the many promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that the blessing to mankind should spring from their seed; and, in tracing their genealogy, we see they were very critical, upon their return from Babylon : so that, before their records were disturbed by the captivity, it could not well be otherwise, but that every body of any note amongst the Jews could tell you the name of his ancestor, who first had the family possession, in the days of Joshua, and how many degrees, and by what descent he was removed from him. And as these first possessors, pursuant to the custom of the nation, must have been described by their father's name, it is highly probable, they could have quoted by name that ancestor who saw the miracles in Egypt, who saw the law given, who entered into the covenant, and who contributed to the setting up the ark and tabernacle.

4. The very surprising care taken by the Deity to keep the breed of the Jews pure and genuine, by the proofs of virginity, and by the miraculous waters of jealousy, is a circumstance that merits attention, and will easily induce a belief that descent and birth was a matter much minded amongst them. And,

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5. The appointment and observance of the sabbatical year, and, after the seventh sabbatical year, a year of jubilee, for the general release of debts, lands, &c. is a circumstance of great moment, not only as these notable periods were useful towards the easy computation of time, but as it made inquiry into titles, and consequently genealogy, necessary every fiftieth year; and as the cessation from culture every seventh year gave continual occasions for the Deity's displaying his power in increasing the crop of the sixth, pursuant to his promise.

Now, taking these circumstances together under consideration, could any human precaution have provided more means to keep up the memory and evidence of any fact? Could this have been done by human foresight or force? Has any thing like to it ever been in the world besides?

What could tend more to perpetuate the memory of any event, than to deliver a whole people, by public glorious miracles, from intolerable slavery? To publish a very extraordinary system of laws immediately from heaven? To put this law in writing together with the covenant for the obeying it? To make the tenure of the estates depend on the original division of the land, to men who saw the miracles, and first took possession, and on the proximity of relation, by descent to them? To appoint a return of lands every fiftieth year, which should give perpetual occasion to canvass those descents? To order a sabbath every seventh year for the land, the loss of which should be supplied by the preceding year's increase? And to select a whole tribe consisting of many

thousands, to be the guardians, in some degree the judges and the executors of this law: who were barred from any portion of the land, in common with their brethren, and were contented with the contributions that came from the other tribes, without any fixed portion amongst them. This must keep up the belief and authority of the law amongst the descendants of that people, or nothing could and if such a belief, under all these circumstances, prevailed amongst a people so constituted, that belief could not possibly proceed from imposture because the very means provided, for proof of the truth, are so many checks against any possibility of imposition. Lord Forbes.


If any man will suggest that the law of the Jews is no more than human invention, and that the book of the law is a forgery; let him say when it was imposed upon that people, or at what period it could have possibly been imposed upon them, so as to gain belief, later than the period they mention, and under other circumstances than those they relate.

Could the whole people have been persuaded at any one period, by any impostor, that they were told severally by their fathers, and they by theirs, that the law was given with such circumstances, and under such promises and threats, if they were not really told so; or that they, throughout all their generations, had worn certain pas

sages of the law by way of frontlets and signs, if it had not really been so ?

Could the whole people have been persuaded to submit to the pain of death, upon all the offences which the law makes capital, unless their fathers had done, so, upon the evidence of the authority of that law?

Could the whole people have been persuaded that they had kept exact genealogies, in order to entitle them to the blessings, and to the inheritances severally, unless they actually had done so?

Could the whole people believe that they had kept passovers, feasts of tabernacles, &c. down from the date of the law, commemorative of the great events they relate to, unless they had really done so?

Could the children of Israel have been imposed on to receive an ark and a tabernacle, then forged, and a complete set of service and liturgy, as descending from Moses by the direction of God, unless that ark and that service had come to them from their ancestors, as authorised by God?

Could the whole people have submitted to pay tithe, first-fruits, &c. upon any feigned revelation? Or, could the tribe of Levi, without divine authority, have submitted, not only to the being originally without a portion in Israel, but to the being incapable of any, in hopes of the contributions of the people? which, however large when the whole twelve tribes served at the same temple, became very scanty when ten of them with drew their allegiance from heaven.

Could ever the book of the law, if consigned to the Levites, and promulgated, have been lost, so as to give room for new fictions? Or could a book of the law have been forged, if there was none precedent, and put upon the people as a book that had been delivered to the Levites by Moses? If no book at all ever was delivered by him to them, what authority could be pretended for such a book?

Had a book been to be forged, in order to be received by the people, could it have contained so many scandalous reflections and accusations against the people, and so many fatal threats and predictions concerning them? and, if it had been so framed, could it have been received as authentic?

If the law, &c. was forged, it must have been before the days of David: because by the sacred hymns, in his time, the publication of the law is celebrated, and the law was observed: and yet the time between the entry of Israel into the land, and the reign of David, being but about four hundred years, is too short a space for forgetting the real manner of the entry, and forging another, to be received by a people, whose genealogy was so fixed, and whose time was reckoned by such periods.

If the book of the law was not forged before the reign of David, it could not possibly be forged after, unless the whole history of the kingdom, the tabernacle, the temple, and all the sacred hymns and prophecies, are looked upon as one complete fiction; because the tabernacle, the temple, the economy of the kingdom, the sacred

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