Imágenes de páginas

hymns, and all the other writings said to be sacred, bear formal relation to the law.

But, that all these things were not suppositions, is evident from the anxious zeal that possessed the Jews who returned from the captivity; from their solicitude to restore the city, the temple, and the sacred service; from their strict examination of their genealogies, and scrupulous care to comply with the law.


The space between the captivity and the return was so short, that some who saw the first temple, saw also the second, and many who were themselves, or at least whose fathers had been officers in the first temple, returned to the service of the second: so that it is utterly impossible that the history, the liturgy, the service of the Jews, preceding the return, should be a fiction, at least that it should be a fiction earlier than the return.

And the story of this nation, from that period, falls in so much with the history of the rest of the world; their sacred books have been so soon after that translated, and they have been so famous for the tenaciousness of their laws, that there is no possibility of suspecting that their law and history was forged later than the return. And, if it is granted, that the devotions, the precepts, the institutions, and rites, and ceremonies of this law, and the great lines of their history, are not forged; one needs, as to the present consideration, be but little solicitous concerning the accuracy of the copy of the books of the law, and of the other sacred books; and whether there may not have been some mistake and interpolations. It is not with one or one hundred words

or sentences we have to do; it is with the system of the sacrificature, and the other religious laws and services of the Jews, and with the political establishment of their theocratical government, and the authority for the establishment of both, that we have, at present, concern.

For, if such a system of religious services and ceremonies was revealed and commanded by God; if, for the greater certainty, it was reduced into writing by Moses, by divine direction; if such a model of government was framed, as is manifestly calculated for keeping up the observance of those services, and preserving the memory of the institutions, and keeping up the authority of the book wherein it was recorded: and if the nation, to whom this institution was delivered, have preserved it accordingly; complete evidence thence arises to us of the divinity of the institution; and leads to a demonstrative proof of the truth of the Christian religion, to which all the emblematical institutions tend, and in which they centre. Lord Forbes.



I ADMIT without hesitation the aphorism of Linnæus, that, in the beginning God created one pair only of every living species, which has a diversity of sex;' but, since that incomparable naturalist argues principally from the wonderful diffusion of vegetables, and from an hypothesis, that

the water on this globe has been continually subsiding, I venture to produce a shorter and closer argument in support of his doctrine.

[ocr errors]

That Nature, of which simplicity appears a distinguishing attribute, does nothing in vain, is a maxim in philosophy; and against those who deny maxims we cannot dispute: but it is vain and superfluous to do by many means, what may be done by fewer, and this is another maxim, received into courts of judicature from the schools of the philosophers. We must not, therefore,' says our great Newton, admit more causes of natural things, than those which are true, and sufficiently account for natural phenomena:' but it is true, that one pair at least of every living species must at first have been created; and that one human pair was sufficient for the population of our globe in a period of no inconsiderable length, (on the very moderate supposition of lawyers and political arithmeticians, that every pair of ancestors left on an average two children, and each of them two more,) is evident from the rapid increase of numbers in geometrical progression, so well known to those who have ever taken the trouble to sum a series of as many terms as they suppose generations of men in two or three thousand years. It follows, that the Author of nature (for all nature proclaims its divine Author,) created but one pair of our species; yet, had it not been (among other reasons) for the devastations which history has recorded, of water and fire, war, famine, and pestilence, this earth would not now have had room for its multiplied inhabitants. If the human race then be, as we may confidently

assume, of one natural species, they must all have proceeded from one pair; and if perfect justice be, as it is most indubitably, an essential attribute of God, that pair must have been gifted with sufficient wisdom and strength to be virtuous, and, as far as their nature admitted, happy, but entrusted with freedom of will to be vicious, and consequently degraded. Whatever might be their option, they must people in time the region where they first were established, and their numerous descendants must necessarily seek new countries, as inclination might prompt, or accident lead them. They would of course migrate in separate families and clans, which, forgetting by degrees the language of their common progenitor, would form new dialects to convey new ideas, both simple and complex. Natural affection would unite them at first, and a sense of reciprocal utility, the great and only cement of social union in the absence of public honour and justice, for which, in evil times, it is a general substitute, would combine them at length in communities more or less regular; laws would be proposed by a part of each community, but enacted by the whole; and government would be variously arranged for the happiness or misery of the governed, according to their own virtue and wisdom, or depravity and folly so that, in less than three thousand years, the world would exhibit the same appearances which we may actually observe on it in the age of the great Arabian impostor.

The most ancient history of the human race, and the oldest composition perhaps in the world, is a work in Hebrew, which we may suppose at


first, for the sake of our argument, to have no higher authority than any other work of equal antiquity that the researches of the curious had accidentally brought to light. It is ascribed to Musah; for so he writes his own name, which, after the Greeks and Romans, we have changed into Moses; and though it was manifestly his object to give an historical account of a single family, he has introduced it with a short view of the primitive world, and his introduction has been divided, perhaps improperly, into eleven chapters. After describing with awful sublimity the creation of this universe, he asserts, that one pair of every animal species was called from nothing into existence; that the human pair were strong enough to be happy, but free to be miserable; that, from delusion and temerity, they disobeyed their supreme benefactor, whose goodness could not pardon them consistently with his justice; and that they received a punishment adequate to their disobedience, but softened by a mysterious promise to be accomplished in their descendants. We cannot but believe, on the supposition just made of a history, uninspired, that these facts were delivered by tradition from the first pair, and related by Moses in a figurative style: not in that sort of allegory which rhetoricians describe as a mere assemblage of metaphors, but in the symbolical mode of writing adopted by eastern sages, to embellish and dignify historical truth; and, if this were a time for such illustrations, we might produce the same account of the creation and the fall, expressed by symbols very nearly similar from the Puranas themselves, and even from the

« AnteriorContinuar »