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1 | 8 - Conversations on the
which, unfortunately, it is forced, more or less, to drudge to this very hour. Your account and illustration of the history of mankind, as delivered by Moses, and of the divine government exercised over them from the beginning, and also of the useful moral purposes answered by the deluge, has at last removed all my difficulties. And I am now persuaded that for these events, which had appeared to me out of nature and all credibility, there was a just foundation in fact, and the concurring testimony of antiquity to their truth, to which no unprejudiced person could refuse assent: and for this let me say I was beholden to Mr. Hume himself, which shews how wise and prudent, as well as just and right in itself, it is to allow the utmost latitude of discussion, and liberty of publishing their sentiments to ingenious men on all subjects, especially those of religion, however contrary they may be to what is publicly received and believed. For, in the reply of an excellent person to that gentleman’s “Essay on Miracles,” (which unquestionably is calculated and was intended to overthrow all belief of the divine revelation contained in the Bible, and of the Christian religion in particular, and has certainly influenced many unwary readers to turn away entirely from it) there are given, with much good temper and liberality, a solid confutation of his arguments against miracles, and a defence of the people of the Jews, and of their sacred history, in opposition to
the subtle objections and attacks of this shrewd and bold
bold adversary, with much other important remark connected with it; all which the Christian world would have been deprived of, to their great loss, had not Mr. Hume drawn it forth and given occasion to this work.
I would here refer you to “ An Essay in answer to Mr. Hume's Essay on Miracles," by William Adams, M. A. Minister of St. Chad's, Salop. The second edition, with additions, 1749.
Towards the close of the work Mr. (since the very eminent Dr.) Adams remarks: “ The remainder of this Essay is little more than a rude insult on the Scriptures and the Christian religion. For fear his (Mr. Hume’s) readers should mistake his meaning, and not apply his argument where he intended, the author proceeds, with a smiling grimace, to tell us,
that our most holy religion is founded on faith, not on reason; and it is a sure method of exposing it, to put it to such a trial as it is by no means fitted to endure.' This he pretends to make evident by examining the miracles related in the Pentateuch." "Here,' says he,
we are to consider a book presented to us by a bare barous and ignorant people, wrote in an age when they were still more barbarous, and, in all probability, long after the facts it relates, corroborated by no concurring testimony, and resembling those fabulous accounts which every nation gives of its origin. Upon reading this book we find it full of prodigies and miracles : it gives an account of a state of the world and of human nature entirely different from the present ;
of our fall from that state; of the age
of man extended to near a thousand years ; of the destruction of the world by a deiuge; of the arbitrary choice of one people as the favourites of heaven, and that people the countrymen of the author ; of their deliverance from bondage by prodigies the most astonishing imaginable : I desire any one to lay his hand upon his heart, and, after serious consideration, declare, whether he thinks that the falsehood of such a book, supported by such a testimony, would be more extraordinary and miraculous than all the miracles it relates; which is, however, necessary to make it be received, according to the measures of probability above established.'--So far Mr. Hume's representation of the contents of the Bible.
Reply to the alrove by Dr. Adams.
If the Jews were thus more than barbarous at the time when these books were written, whence, without a miracle, could they learn all the great truths relating to the being and attributes of God, which the most learned part of the world were for iany ages after in total ignorance about ? Whence could the religion and laws of this people so far exceed those of the wisest heathen, and come out at once, in their first infancy, thus perfect and entire, when all human systems are found to grow up by degrees, and to ripen after many improvements into
perfection. The Jews had but little commerce with other nations, and therefore did not excel in literature and the arts of Greece : but the same scriptures, which prove that they were earlier in possession of the most useful and sublime parts of knowledge, secured them likewise from ever sinking into that barbarity which the author charges upon them. Let any one compare the book of Genesis, which he treats with so much freedom, and which is, by many centuries, the oldest book in the world, with any of the earliest heathen historians ; let him compare the Psalms of David with the Hymns of Callimachus or Orpheus; let him read the History of Josephus, who was just contemporary with Christ and his apostles ; and he will incline to judge more favourably of this people.
“ The great events recorded in this history have no connection with the argument of iniracles, and therefore do not belong to this place. But these are corroborated by the strongest concurring testimony that can be desired to facts that are, most of them, older than the use of letters itself. The traditions of every country seem all to point to one and the same original. The late invention of arts and sciences, the foundation of cities and empires, the manner of peopling the world, and the number of its present inhabitants, seem all to prove that the world had its beginning no earlier than the period assigned by Moses, and agree perfectly with the account of the deluge. There are no monuments of antiquity which give
room to suspect the world of earlier original. The first authors of Greece and Egypt speak of the chaos, of the abyss of waters that covered the earth, of man's being formed out of the ground, and of his first innocence. From these, one of the Latin poets has described the creation, the state of innocence, the gradual corruption of mankind, and the deluge, in a manner very nearly resembling that of Moses. The memory of a general flood, which destroyed the whole race of men and animals, except one family, seems to have been preserved for some ages among almost all nations. Lucian tells us, the tradition among both the Greeks and Syrians was, that this was a judgment from Heaven on the wickedness of mankind ; he describes the manner of the flood, the ark in which some of every kind were preserved, and many other particulars, just as we have them in the book of Genesis. Plutarch, alluding to the same tradition, mentions the ark, and even the dove that was sent forth to see if the waters were abated. A great number of antient authors, who mention the deluge, and gave witness to the building of Babel, the burning of Sodom, and many other great events in the Mosaic history, are reckoned up by Josephus, Grotius, and others. The present surface of the earth, the shells of fish that are found in midland countries, and even on the tops of mountains, and the remains of land-animals at very great depths in the earth, are still surviving monuments of the deluge. It is almost 1 in that the world began to be peopled about the