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would have been granted, and they would have beerx spared.
With regard to the particular sin of the inhabitants of those cities, for which the divine judgments were ready to fall on them, and which this pious good many prayed might be averted; it is a crime which bespeaks the highest depravity, if not a total moral insensibility and alienation of mind front God and goodness. And it is probable that such an-carly declaration from heaver against it, in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha by fire, the traces of which remain unto this day, displayed in so tremendous 2 inanner before Abraham and his family; with the severe stigma and condemnation passed upon all such crimes afterwards, in the law of Moses: these circunstances, all together, fixed and left such a deep indelible impression and horror upon the minds of his chosen race, as have been the means of preserving them at all times from such unnatural debasing vice. For we never find their prophets, in the long catalogue of their crimes, laying this particularly to their charge. And in their dispersion into other countries, foretold by their prophets, whilst the heathens among whom they sojourned were many of them infamous for it, the Greeks and Romans in their most polished and improved state by no means exccpted; and the followers of Mahomet horribly guilty, the nation of the Jews has in general been unpolluted with it.
Of Lot, the nephew of Abraham, it is recorded, 2 Peter ii. 6, 7, 8, that he was filled with deep con
cern for the extreme wickedness of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, a. mark of a truly virtuous mind, to be concerned for God and his holy laws, and the happiness of his fellow-creatures in their. obedience to them. - But concerning these distinguished persons, Noah, Abraham, and Lot, and some other worthy characters among the ancestors of the Israelites in those early ages, there are unquestionably some things recorded which are by no means to their credit, or to be imitated by us: a circumstance which does honour to the sacred historian, shewing him to be actuated by a regard to truth only in what he related, and resolved to tell things as they really hap-, pened, however it might make against some of the most favourite characters of his nation.
Of Moses, the divine lawgiver of the Israelites, and his early preference of virtue and obedience to God to the highest worldly dignities and enjoyment, we have an important testimony; Heb. xi. 24, 25, 96, confirmed by every thing we know concerning him. From the time that he had a divine call to deliver his countrymen out of bondage in Egypt, and to settle them in the land of Canaan, he led a life of incessant toil, and anxiety, and contradiction, in having to struggle with their low base minds, and obstinate untractable tempers, which their long slavery had generated and riveted in them; by which his tience and magnanimity were called forth and exercised ; devoting himself and all his powers to bring them off from this slayery of vice and evil passions,
the worst of all others : for which he had no reward to look for in this world, but the satisfaction of doing thein good and approving himself to God.
His wisdom and virtucs we find were known and: revered far and near among the gentiles ; and the ex-r cellent laws which he laid down for his people, taught and excited many in different countries to honour the true God, and to be serviceable to their fellow creatures in bringing them from a rude and savage and immoral life to a subjectiou- to laws for the public good.
No one can rise-up fşom perusing the history of his life and times, as given us by himself; the admirable laws arrd institutions he prescribed, to teacl the Israelites the knowledge and worship of Jehovah, the one true God, and of him alone; the laws for their living together in society, and promoting their mutual happiness, with the mighty works he was enabled to do in Egypt for the establishment of his divine mission, and for the emancipation of his countrymen, and to preserve them afterwards in their duty and obedience; without seeing throughout the extraordinary hand and leading of God.
And it is against ali credibility, that one, governed by such excellent principles ; exhibiting in all his actions such an example of true piety and goodness; suggesting, continually to his countrymen the great things God had done for them, appealing to thein frequently at the time and upon the very spot, and exhorting them to gratitude and obedience on that
account; should be under a delusion himself, or should in all this be acting a part and deceiving them. The mind revolts at the supposition: an unperverted understanding can need no other proof that Moses had a commission and authority from God to teach and to act as he did.
And in the same way of argument, it was not in the nature of things, if human beings were the same then as now, that the Israelites should be persuaded of their being delivered out of Egypt by a miraculous interposition from heaven in their favour, and of their being supported afterwards by the divine power in the wilderness; should continue to be as. sisted in the same extraordinary way in overcoming their enemies, by walls of defence (Joshua vi. 20, 21.) falling down before then; by rivers dividing (Joshua iii. 5, to the end) to make way for their passing them ; that these and the like miraculous events in their favour should be the theme of their sacred songs and public hymns of thanksgiving to God their almighty deliverer at the time and ever after to this hour, and yet never to have really taken place, but to have been a mass of priestly and political contrivance; in which the whole nation combined or were imposed on, till in these later ages the imposition was discovered.
Assuredly those persons -are true objects of pity, who, through some unfortunate bias on their minds, are led to reject a history of facts so well authenticated as those which have Moses for their author;
which, besides this most cogent internal proof now produced, is supported by all the external evidence which can reasonably be required; for which Grotius and others may be consulted by all who are coinpetent to make the research.
One is the more concerned for this incredulity, because the rejection of the important truths conveyed in these books, most commonly springs from a fixed determination not to admit any accounts, however well attested, of divine extraordinary communications and revelations to mankind; by which they deprive themselves of the unspeakable satisfaction thereby afforded; that the world and all things in it, especially the moral world, have been from the first and are der the special government and direction of its Creator; who appoints the different and successive advantages of light and knowledge, and means of virtuous improvement.
Indeed where any one, for instance, is persuaded, that Moses in his history ascribes to the Almighty what is inconsistent with his attributes of justice and goodness; or introduces him as enjoining or giving encouragement to any thing vicious or immoral, or that is injurious to their fellow-creatures ; so long as he renrains under this persuasion, and cannot be brought to see his error by the arguments laid before him, you can only be sorry for him, and wish him a mind more teachable and better informed.
With regard to the extermination of the Canaanitish nations, the great stumbling-block of the day,