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constitution and settlement of the Jews," as of itself a decisive proof of the genuineness of the Pentateuch; "Can we," says he, "have more undoubted evidence that there were such persons as Solon, Lycurgus, and Numa, and that the laws bearing their names were their's, than the history of the several commonwealths of Athens, Sparta, and Rome, which were governed by those laws? When writings are not of general concernment, they may be more easily counterfeited; but when they concern the rights, privileges, and government of a nation, there will be enough whose interest will lead them to prevent impostures. It is no easy matter to forge a Magna Charta, and to invent laws; men's caution and prudence are never so quicksighted as in matters which concern their estates and freeholds. The general interest of men lies contrary to such impostures, and therefore they will prevent their obtaining among them. Now the laws of Moses are incorporated with the very republic of the Jews, and their subsistence and government depend upon them; their religion and laws are so interwoven one with the other, that one cannot be broken off from the other. Their right to their temporal possessions in the land of Canaan depended on their owning the sovereignty of God, who gave them to them, and on the truth of the history
history recorded by Moses concerning the promises made to the patriarchs; so that on that account it was impossible those laws should be counterfeit, on which the welfare of the nation depended, and according to which they were governed ever since they were a nation. So that I shall now take it to be sufficiently proved, that the writings under the name of Moses were undoubtedly his; for none, who acknowledge the laws to have been his, can have the face to deny his history, there being so necessary a connexion between them, and the book of Genesis being nothing else but a general and very necessary introduction to that which follows (b)." Let then those who are disposed to doubt the Authenticity of the Pentateuch, consider its real importance to the Jewish people, and the high veneration in which it was unquestionably held, and surely they must be convinced of the impossibility of ignorance or mistake concerning any fact relative to it; and in particular, it will appear searcely credible, that the Jews should err in attributing it to any person who was not its real author, or that they should not know who it was that digested it into the shape in which we now have it, from materials left by Moses, had it been
(b) Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. b. 2. c. 1.
compiled in that manner in some subsequent age. The silence of history and tradition upon this point is a sufficient proof that no such compilation ever took place. If we believe that Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, why should we not believe that he wrote the account of that deliverance? If we believe that God enabled Moses to work miracles, why should we not believe that he also enabled him to write the history of the creation?
But there are some who admit that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, and yet contend that the narrative of the Creation and of the Fall of Man is not a recital of real events, but an ingenious Mythologue invented to account for the origin of human evil, and designed as an introduction to a history, a great part of which they consider as poetic fiction. If it be granted that Moses was an inspired lawgiver, it becomes impossible to suppose that he wrote a fabulous account of the Creation and the Fall of Man, and delivered it as a divine revelation, because that would have been little, if at all short of blasphemy; we must, therefore, believe this account to be true, or that it was declared and understood by the people, to whom it was addressed, to be allegorical. No such declaration was ever made; nor is there any mention of
such an opinion being generally prevalent among the Jews in any early writing. The Rabbis indeed of later times built a heap of absurd doctrines upon this history; but this proves, if it proves any thing, that their ancestors ever understood it as a literal and true account: and in fact, the truth of every part of the narrative contained in the book of Genesis is positively confirmed by the constant testimony of a people who preserved a certain unmixed genealogy from father to son, through a long succession of ages; and by these people we are assured, that their ancestors ever did believe that this account, as far as it fell within human cognizance, had the authority of uninterrupted tradition from their first parent Adam, till it was written by the inspired pen of Moses. The great length to which human life was extended in the patriarchal ages, rendered it very practicable for the Jews, in the time of Moses, to trace their lineal descent as far as the Flood, nay even to Adam; for Adam conversed 56 years with Lamech, Noah's father, Lamech being born A. M. 874, and Adam having died A: M. 930; and Methuselah, Noah's grandfather, who was born A. M. 687, did not die till A. M. 1656, according to Archbishop Usher; so that he was 243 years contemporary with Adam, and 600
with Noah. Shem, the son of Noah, was probably living in some part of Jacob's time, or Isaac's at least; and Moses was great grandson of Levi, one of the sons of Jacob. How easily then, and uninterruptedly, might the general tradition be continued to the time of Moses! Could the grandchildren of Jacob be ignorant of their own pedigree, and of the time when they came into Egypt? Can we think that so many remarkable circumstances, as attended the selling and advancement of Joseph, could be forgotten in so short a time? Could Jacob be ignorant whence his grandfather Abraham came, especially as he lived so long in the country himself, and married into that branch of the family which was remaining there? Could Abraham be ignorant of the Flood, when he was contemporary with, and descended from Shem, one of the eight persons who escaped in the ark? Could Shem be ignorant of what passed before the Flood, when Adam, the first man, lived so near the time of Noah? And could Noah be ignorant of the Creation and Fall of Man (c) when he was contemporary with those
(c) Although general accounts of these great events might be conveyed thus easily by tradition from Adam to Moses, yet, it should be observed, that there are many circumstances relative to them recorded in Genesis, which could be known only by immediate revelation from God.