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the most obstinate infidelity, and demand a serious examination on the part of the most careless indifference.

Moses then wrote a history of God's dealings with man at the transitionary period between the freshness and accuracy of traditionary memorial, and the obscurity and vagueness of fable. He wrote it, besides, at a very remarkable era in the history of that people for whose special use it was then intended. They had already been separated and kept separate, as a family and a tribe, by peculiar customs and ceremonies, from all the nations around them; but they were henceforth to be located in a defined country, as a people and nation, under the most peculiar system of government that the world ever witnessed. Those rites and ceremonies were intended as a wall of complete separation and exclusion from intercourse with all the nations around. Henceforth they were the subjects of God in a pecuJiar sense; he was the temporal head of their government, the immediate sovereign who claimed all their service; who, as an ever present judge, observed all their actions, and punished or rewarded immediately, as their conduct was in accordance with his laws, or in contradiction to them. Before Moses was released from the arduous duty of their depute-leader and judge, he set before them the prophetic history of their future fateof their disobedience, of their prosperity and adversity. As from the lofty top of Nebo he viewed from afar the promised land, to the borders of which he had led the pilgrim tribes, so did he, from the high vantage ground of the knowledge of God's designs, look down through the many generations of their existence as a nation, and lay the whole before them as a lesson of warning and instruction. This divine history was that of the future as well as of the past. Here, again, was a test of unerring and awful strictness of his authority as a lawgiver, of his commission as a teacher of truth. He commits his credit to be established or refuted by the foretold events of a whole nation's history, by the chances and changes of fifteen hundred years. But clearly to establish or nullify to us that authority and those predictions, it was necessary that a succession of historians, as faithful and impartial, should record the revolutions of time, as generation after generation passed off the scene of that grand and protracted experiment. Such writers did arise, one after another; such a faithful record has been composed for the instruction and faith of all future ages.

It is not our object at present to show how history quadrated and synchronized with prophecy, how period after pe

riod was only a filling up of the predicted destiny of that peculiar people; it is sufficient for our argument to state here, that a regular historic record was established and carried down, as the tide of events moved onwards with the destiny of that little nation of divine witnesses, and, with theirs, the destiny and

prospects of the world. Whoever were the writers of the passing events, and whatever was their authority, it is amply sufficient for the purpose for which we now quote their testimony, that they were witnesses of the events passing around them, and had sufficient knowledge of the nature of that government, the history of which they were recording, and were so much under the safe check of the living memory of all their countrymen, as to place them beyond the suspicion of falsifying or colouring those events. The books of Joshua and Judges, and Kings and Chronicles, are only an unique continuation of the history of Moses, a commentary upon his laws, an exposition of the practical working of his government, religious and civil. Viewed as a simple detail of historical facts, that record is one of the most momentous that is contained in the annals of time. It is the exhibition of principles in their operation—it is an appeal to that nation, and to the world, in regard to the truth of predictions, and promises, about the necessity, or probability, or fulfilment of which, there were many other and independent means of judging.

On the slightest examination, we find that the course of that history extends onwards as long as the series of increasing predictions point-to hopes to be realised—to the perfection of the whole plan, which was held out from the beginning, and held out as the grand and sole object of the whole of that gorgeous and preparatory system. Moses did not enact that law as the perfection of legislation—he did not propound those doctrines as the highest and purest which were to be given; he directed expectation forward to another prophet, and teacher, and king, who was to come with other doctrines, and other sanctions, and another power. This same spirit pervades the whole of the subsequent history. The separate existence of that nation is always represented as tending to some object of future revelation-an object of mighty and mysterious import, more brightly or more obscurely pointed to, throughout the long lapse of one thousand years. And when that history closes with the winding up of the long series of prophecy, those promises are all confirmed, and those hopes all cheered, by the predicted approach of a brighter and happier day, when the messenger of that covenant, who had watched over all, and di


rected all, should come to his own temple, and, like the rising of the sun, should shed light, and life, and happiness over the mysterious darkness of hitherto anxious hope, and disappointed expectation.

It is this constant blending of the future with the present and the past, that gives to the historic record of the Old Testament a lofty character, that distinguishes it from all other history in the annals of time. It is founded on prophecy, and prediction pervades and mingles with it all. The historians, as they arose one after another, at longer or shorter periods, never seem to have forgot, for a moment, that they were witnesses for God that they were recording events in which his hand was ever visible. They write with the full confidence of men who possess a perfect knowledge of the principles of that law, under which they were placed, and who trace, with unhesitating certainty, events to their moral causes, exhibiting the result of a people's conduct, in the prosperity or adversity that is their lot. Civil history, indeed, affords general data for judging of the future; and clear-sighted politicians, forming conclusions from a long series of concatenated events, and established political principles, may frequently form pretty accurate conjectures in regard to the future, on the large scale, in the destinies of nations. But this mere political sagacity, depending upon the regular operation of known principles in human nature, influencing the movements of human society, is very different from the spirit of that style of prediction which pervades the whole Old Testament history. There nothing is conjecture—no statement is made, as if it were a matter of doubtful opinion—no future event is pointed out to the hopes or fears of the people, as depending upon an uncertain contingency. All the writers express themselves with the evident consciousness of being amanuenses to a king, who had an unchecked control over every event which he called upon them to record.

Though our present topic of argument is the Old Testament record, as the history of God's interference with the affairs of this world, we cannot cast out of sight this its prophetic character. Prophecy, according to the definition of Bacon, is the divine history of the future; and it is this which is the grand characteristic of the records we are examining. We remark, besides, that though we are considering the question of the divine authority of the Old Testament, we do not, by any means, intend to view it as an isolated and independent system, which throws full light of itself upon the bearings of all

the re

its doctrines and institutions. We view it as a plan, which is proved to be the contrivance of infinite wisdom, and under the ever present superintendence of infinite power; but still a plan which can be explained, in all its extent and spirit, only as preparatory for, and subservient to, a fuller and clearer, without which most of its institutions have no meaning, and no efficiency. The law of Moses, and the history of the chosen people, give instruction of a kind, and to an extent, which no other law of human legislation ever gave; still it was intended only as a schoolmaster to bring the world to Christ, the great giver of that law, as he was the great object of all its institutions.

Considered, however, as a mere history, written through the long period of more than one thousand years, it is the most unique and most wonderful production that exists among cords of human composition. If we examine all other histories of ancient and modern times, we find all of them pervaded with different principles, inconsistent with, and most opposite to each other, pursuing different objects—censuring or applauding, in direct opposition, as these writers are biassed by prejudice or interest. Almost all are written with the design of aggrandizing the nation of the author, celebrating its virtues, or palliating its vices and crimes, and proportionally depreciating the virtues, and aggravating the vices of their enemies. With regard to many events and characters, civil history has changed its tone repeatedly in the course of ages. We find nothing of all this discrepancy and uncertainty of verdict in the sacred history. If one individual had existed through the whole of the generations that passed over the scene from its commencement to its close—had witnessed all the events recorded--known intimately the character of all the men who were actors in these events_had possessed all the experience and combined wisdom and philosophy of the four thousand years the world's existence, he could not have written with greater unity of design, nor more unwavering decision, in pronouncing condemnation or approval upon the conduct of individuals and of nations. It is this unchangeable and inflexible certainty of judgment—for it is not in the shape of opinion that these judgments are pronounced--that makes us feel we are under the guidance and instruction of a wisdom that is unerring. We are made to feel that the writers decide, not by outward acts and specious appearances, but lay open, with the unerring certainty of omniscience, all the windings of the human heart, all the secret springs of human conduct. In a word, the Scriptures of the Old Testament, considered as the history of responsible


agents, under the moral government of God, and designed to teach men the unchangeable rules of his eternal law, and the pure doctrines of his heavenly truth, are as much above all other histories, as the certain rules and connected demonstration of the Newtonian philosophy are above the unfounded conjectures of barbarous ignorance. Taking such a view of this history as we have given above, we cannot come to any other conclusion, than that the author of it was far above all human prejudice and error; that he was possessed of a knowledge far above all human acquisition—a knowledge that looked through all the events of time, and recorded the history of time thousands of years before these events took place; that he was omniscient and divine.

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