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And therefore they could less believe it to be the Book of their Statutes, and the standing Law of the Land, which they had all along received, and by which they had been governed.
Could any Man now at this Day invent a Book of Statutes or Acts of Parliament for England, and make it pass upon the Nation as the only Book of Statutes that ever they had known? As impossible was it for the Books of Moses (if they were invented in any Age after Moses) to have been receiv'd for what they declare themselves to be, viz. The Statutes and municipal Law of the Nation of the Jews: And to have persuaded the Jews that they had own'd and acknowleg'd these Books, all along from the Days of Moses, to that Day in which they were first invented; that is, that they had own'd them before they had ever so much as heard of them. Nay, more, the whole Nation must, in an instant, forget their former Laws and Government, if they could receive these Books as being their former Laws. And they could not otherwise receive them, because they vouch'd themselves so to be. Let me aft. the Deists but this one short Question, Was there ever a Book of sham Laws, which were not the Laws of the Nation, palmd upon any People fince the World began? If not, with what Face can they say this of the Book of Laws of the Jews? Why will they say that of them, which they consess impossible in any Nation, or among any People?
But they must be yet more Unreasonable. For the Books of Moses have a further Demonstration of their Truth than even other Law-Books have: For they not only contain the Laws, but give an historical Account of their- Institution, and the Practice of them from that Time: As of the Paffover, in Memory of the Death of the First-Born in Egypt: And that, the same Day, all the First-Born of Israel, Numb. viii. both of Man and Beast, were, by a 17, 18. perpetual Law, dedicated to God; and the Lcvites taken for all the First-Born of the Children of Israel: That Aaron's Rod, which budded, was kept in
the the Ark, in Memory of the Rebellion and wonderful* Destruction of Korah, Dathan aniAbiram, and for the Consirmation of the Priesthood to the Tribe of Levi: As likewise the Pot of Manna,\n Memory of their having been fed with it 40 Years in the Wilderness. That the Brazen Serpent was kept (which remained to the Days of Hezekiah. 2 Kin. xviii. 4.) in Memory of that wonderful Deliverance, by only looking upon it, from the biting of the fiery Serpents. Numb. xxi. 9. TheFeast of Pentieofi, in Memory of the dreadful Appearance of God upon Mount Horeb, Sec.
And besides these Remembrances of particular Actions and Occurrences, there were other solemn Institutions, in Memory of their Deliverance out of Egypt in the general, which included all the Particulars: As of the Sabbath. Deut.v. 15. their daily Sacrifices, and yearly Expiation; their New-Moons, and several Feasts and Fasts. So that there were yearly, monthly, weekly, daily Remembrances and Recognitions of theseThings.
And not only so, but the Books of the same Moses tell us, that a particular Tribe (of Levi) was appointed and consecrated by God, as his Priests; by whose Hands, and none other, the Sacrifices of the Peopl e were to be offered, and these solemn Institutions to be celebrated: That it was Death for any other to approach to the Altar: That their High-Priest wore a glorious Mitre, and magnisicent Robes of God's own Contrivance, with the miraculous Urim and Thummim in his Rreast-plate, whence the divine Responses were given: That at his Word the King Num. xxvii. and all the People were to go out and 11. to come in. That these Levites were
Deut. xvii. 8. likewise the Chief-Judges, even in all so 1 3. Civil Causes; and that it was Death to
1 Cor. xxiii. resist their Sentence: Now whenever 4. it can be fuppos'd that these Books of
Moses were forged in some Age after Moses, it is impossible they could have been received as true, unless the Forgers could have made the whole Nation believe, that they that had received these Books from their Fathers, had been instructed in them when they were Children, and had taught them to their Children : Moreover, that they had all been circumtis'd, and did circumcise their Children, in pursuance to what was commanded in these Books: That they had observed the yearly Passover, the weekly Sabbath, the New-Moons, and all the several feasts, Fasts, and Ceremonies commanded in these Books: That they had never eaten any Swines Flesh, or other Meats prohibited in these Books: That they had a magnisicent Tabernacle, with a visible Priesthood to administer in it, which was consined to the Tribe of Levi; over whom was placed a glorious High Priest, cloathed with great and mighty Prerogatives; whose Death only could deliver those that were fled to the Cities of Refuge; and that these Priests were Num. xxxv. their ordinary Judges, even in Civil 25. 28. Matters: I say, was it possible to have persuaded a whole Nation of Men, that they had known and practised all these things, if they had not done it? or, Secondly, to have received a Book for Truth, which said they had practised them, and appealed to that Practice? So that here are the third and fourth of the Marks above-mentioned.
But now let us descend to the utmost Degree of Suppofition, viz. That these Things were practised before these Books of Moses were forged; and that these Books did only impose upon the Nation, in making them believe, that they had kept these Observances in Memory of such and such Things as were inserted in those Books.
Well then, let us proceed upon this Supposition (however groundless): And now, will not the sameZwpostibilities occur as in the former Case? For, First, this must suppose, that the Jeius kept all these Observances in Memory of nothing, or without knowing any thing of their Original, or the Reason why they kept them: Whereas these very Observances did express the Ground and Reason of their being kept; as
the Pastowr, in Memory of God's passing over the Children of the Israelites in that Night wherein he slew all the First-born of Egyft; and so of the rest.
But, Secondly, let us suppose, contrary both to Reason and Matter of Fact, that the Jews did not know any Reason at all why they kept these Obfer<vances; yet was it possible to put it upon them, that they had kept these Observances in Memory of what they had never heard of before that Day, whensoever you will suppose that these Books of Moses were sirst forged? For Example: Suppose I should now forge some romantick Story of strange Things done a iooo Years ago; and, in Consirmation of this, should endeavour to persuade the Christian World, that they had all along, from that Day to this, kept the sirst Day of the Week in Memory of such an Hero, an Apollonius, a Bartostas, or a Mahomet, and had all been bapti2ed in his Name, and swore by his Name, and upon that very Book (which I had then forged, and which they never saw before), in their publick Judicatures: That this Book was their Gospel and Law, which they had, ever sinGe that Time, these iooo Years past, universally receiv'd and owned, and none other: I would alk any Deist, whether he thinks it possible, that such a Cheat could pass, or such a Legend be received, as the Gospel of Christians? And that they could be made believe, that they never had any other Gospel? The same Reason is as to the Books of Moses; and mast be, as to every Matter of Fail which has all the four Marks before-mentioned. And these Marks secure any such Matter of Fail as much from being invented and imposed in Aster-Ages, as at the Time when such Matters of Facl were said to be done.
Let me give one very samiliar Example more in this Cafe. There is the Stonage in Salisbury Plain; every body knows it; and yet none knows the Reason why those great Stones were set there, or by whom, or in Memory of what.
Now, suppose I should write a Book To-morrow, and tell there, that these Stones were set up by Hercules,
PolyPolyphemus, Or Garagantua, in Memory of such and such of their Actions; and, for a further Confirmation of this, should say, in this Book, that it was wrote at the Time when such Actions were done, and by the very Aiiors themselves, or Eye Witnesses; and that this Book had been received as Truth, and quoted by Authors of the greatest Reputation in all Ages fince. Moreover, that this Book was well known in England, and enjoined by AB of Parliament to be taught our Children, and that we did teach it our Children, and had been taught it ourselves when we were Children: I ask any Deist, Whether he thinks this could pass upon England? And whether if I, or any other, should infist upon it, we should not, instead of being believed, be sent to Bedlam?
Now let us compare this with the Stonage, as I may call it, or twelve great Stones set up at Gilgal, which is told in the fourth Chapter of Joshua. There it is said, ver. 6. that the Reason why they were set up, was, that when their Children in After-Ages should ask the Meaning of it, it should be told them.
And the Thing, in Memory of which they were set «p, was such as could not possibly be imposed upon that Nation at that time when it was said to be done: It was as wonderful and miraculous as their Passage thro' the Red-Sea:
And withal free from a very poor Objection, which the Deists have advanced against that Miracle of the Red-Sea; thinking to salve it by a Spring-Tide, with the Concurrence of a strong Wind, happening at the same time; which left the Strand so dry, as that the Israelites, being all Foot, might pass thro' the ouzey places and Holes which it must be supposed the Sea left behind it: But that the Egyptians, being all Horse and Chariots, stuck in those Holes, and were entangled, so as that they could not march so sast as the Israelites: And that this was all the Meaning of its being said, that God took off their (the Egyptians) Chariot-Wheels, that they drove them heavily. So that they would