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him feel that his nature is degenerate, and that he lives among beings who are very different from what even his partial reason tells him they ought to be.
Now can philosophy account for this anomalous deformity in the beauty and harmony of creation; or do all nations look back to a time when evil was introduced into the world ? Philosophy has tried it in vain, and the universal voice of humanity over all the earth sends us back to tradition; and this tradition is again in accordance with the account of Moses. He gives us the simple fact, that the first pair of the human family were tempted by a serpent to transgress a direct prohibition of their Creator_were thereupon driven from their original state of happiness, became liable to death, were subjected to hardship, and pain, and sorrow. We are, indeed, left to collect the effect of this transgression upon their moral constitution, from the future history of the race; but the whole of that history is only a proof of that corruption—and full and mournful it is, to the utmost extent of bitterness. We afterwards learn that the serpent, the visible agent in the temptation, was nothing more than a passive instrument in the hands of a malicious spirit, who had previously rebelled and been driven out of heaven and from the presence of God.
The fact of the temptation and the fall, then, was known to mankind, though the particular nature of the agency was at first obscurely communicated. The corresponding tradition also exists with this obscurity and vagueness accompanying it. In the ancient Persian theology, we find Ahriman, the spirit of darkness, contending with Mithra, the spirit of light and goodness, and dividing dominion with him. Nearly the same belief pervades the Indian theology. In the fabling mythologies of Greece and Rome, we read of a rebellion among the aristocracy of their celestial Olympus against their sovereign king, and some of them being banished thence. We read of Pandora, gifted with favours from all the gods, with the single test of her prudence in the box given her by Jupiter, which was not to be opened. Curiosity prevailed; she broke open
the lid, and a host of diseases and evils flew abroad over the world, which they have ever since infested—hope alone remaining. Here, again, we have evidently a representation of the effects of the first transgression, as well as the intimation of some hope of deliverance.
We cannot in this brief sketch extend similar references, or substantiate them by quoting books. This has been done often, and copiously; and the fact of such traditionary belief is as well known as any in the history of human events or human opinion. The fact itself of their being universally preserved and believed, proves the felt necessity, on the part of man, for such facts to account for existing appearances, which his reason could not otherwise explain. Their universal prevalence also proves the existence of one source, from which they have been all derived;—for though the tradition itself would be easily coloured and distorted, as it was conveyed downwards through different ages and nations, we must suppose that it had the basis of an original and universally credited occurrence to rest upon, else it would not have been possible to palm it upon the religious belief of all nations.
It would be a matter more of curiosity than usefulness, though still adding to the evidence of the authenticity of Moses as a historian, to multiply recorded traditions, out of ancient heathen history, regarding the millennial age of the antediluvian race of men, or the existence of a race of giants, or traditions analagous to the translation of Enoch. Such traditions do exist in abundance, and are well known to those who are at all acquainted with ancient profane history. These, viewed as matters of mere record, can be scarcely accounted for, unless we suppose they had real counterparts in history to give them a permanent existence among the annals of human events.
Upon the deluge also, as a historical fact, we need be very brief; for if there be one fact in the history of ancient time that has most ample proof to establish its reality, it is this. Let the infidel talk as he chooses of the natural impossibility of the waters of the ocean covering the highest mountains of the earth, we treat of the fact of a history, the conducting of which was in the hands of the Lord of nature, who could suspend all its laws, by his word increase or diminish all its elements, and command them to execute his pleasure. What change, or whether any, has been produced, in the course of the seasons, on the constitution of our atmosphere, or on the surface of the globe, by that event, philosophy, by all her induction of facts, and all her theories, will probably never tell. The violent disruptions yet visible, and the upheaving of mountain ridges, and all the remaining effects of a mighty and terrible energy, may have been produced then, or at an earlier period of the world's existence. To explain how that agency did produce these effects, it would be necessary to have witnessed the operation—to have comprehended the law and the mode in which that power was applied. That mind indeed must have strong reasons for scepticism, which can be shaken in the principles of its belief by mere geological conjecture or unsupported theory.
. We have only to say, then, that universal tradition, of all ages, of all nations, in every stage of society, is in perfect accordance with the history of Moses, as that is with the equally universal phenomena of every part of the earth that has been examined;—all coincide in proving it to have been merged for a considerable time under the waters of the ocean. The Andes and Himala, strewed over with the fossilized remains of fish and shells as thickly as the shores of the sea; the bones and skeletons of extinct species of animals, found in alluvial deposits of all countries—afford strong proofs of a deluge, that was no partial flood, but universal over the whole world. This is acknowledged as a fact even by men, upon whose belief the Divine Authority of Scripture has no influence, and who show that they would not be biassed in the slightest degree by the authority of Moses as a truthful historian.
Again, if we take a wider view of the subject, and look into the history of nations, we find that none can, with any pretence to authenticity, trace its origin farther back than toward the time that Moses records the food to have come upon the earth. It has been most satisfactorily proved, that twelve or fifteen hundred years before the birth of Christ is the highest period to which the authentic records or traditions of any nation can reach. At that distant period all the tribes of the earth are represented in a migratory condition, spreading in every direction in search of new settlements before the swelling tide of population, diverging from a common centre. By the general tradition of all nations who have preserved any record of their origin, that point is represented to be somewhere in central Asia. Here Moses relates that the ark, which contained all the remains of living beings that were to re-people the earth, rested, in the assuaging flood, on the mountains of Ararat. It has been noted as an interesting, and it is a most important fact, bearing upon the authenticity of the sacred history, that the traditions of all nations, wherever they are situated on the surface of the globe, point toward that country as the fatherland of their ancient progenitors. And when we trace back these radiating and divergent points of traditionary knowledge from any national colony of settlers where we meet them, and can follow them through ascending ages, we find that knowledge becomes clearer and more particular, till we discover in the Babylonian historians the name of Noah, and some of the particulars of the history of the ark. It is even mentioned that for many ages the wreck of that ark remained on the -mountains of Armenia. We know that Berosus, who mentions these traditions, is considered by many as spurious; but even supposing him a pseudo-historian, he durst not have mentioned such things as facts, had they not had existence in the traditional belief of the country. In the history of the surrounding nations, these traditions became fabulous, and led to the mythological deification of the chief persons concerned in that event. But it is unnecessary to say that, had it been a fable from its origin, or the commemoration of a partial event, we could not have found it, as we do, clearer and more explicit, as we trace it backward into the distant vagueness and obscurity of primitive and barbarous ages. In a word—for we need not be more particular on a point which has been so fully proved, and which affects the credit of Moses only as a faithful historian—the universal voice of all nature, and all time, and all tradition, of every age and of every nation, over every part of the globe, for four thousand years, bears testimony to this grand and leading event in the ancient history of Moses; so that there is not a fact in the record of primitive times that is more satisfactorily established.
We could easily pursue the subject of reference and quotation from collateral authority through the whole period of the sacred history; for the materials are very numerous, and have been collected with immense erudition. In fact, as a history to be tried by the usual tests of faithfulness, it has been shown to stand upon higher grounds of evidence than any other that has ever recorded the events of any nation. The brief and bare specimen we have given may serve to indicate the kind of evidence that has been adduced, when the collateral sources become more authentic and copious in neighbouring nations. This has been often done so convincingly and triumphantly, that infidelity itself has ceased to cavil at the facts, and now only exercises a little and pitiful ingenuity in trying to detect and carp at imaginary discrepancies or supposed absurdities. We
too important argument before us to stop for the purpose of considering or refuting cavils, which have been often advanced, and as often silenced, for two thousand years;—it is not the facts themselves at which the infidel's reason is outraged—for in
every other history that has ever been written, he will find many that are ten times more difficult of explanation, which, however, he assents to, without hypercritical cavilling;- it is the principles with which these are connected, and which they are designed to establish, that excite his antipathy. Provided the history and the laws of Moses, and the varied literature of Jewish genius, in wisdom, and philosophy, and poetry, did not come down upon the minds of all its readers with a moral authority and strictness of command, and a severe scrutiny into the heart and the conduct, which no other human composition pretends to, there is little doubt but it would be held up to the enthusiastic admiration of the taste and the sentiment of the learned and sentimental of our day.
Were we to take up the argument of those who urge the probability of the religion having been imposed upon the people at a later day, it is easy to show, from internal evidence and its native character, that such a supposition is utterly extravagant, and incapable of being for a moment entertained. Throughout the whole history of that religion there are commemorative rites, mentioned as having been instituted upon the occurrence of particular facts, or miraculous interferences of deliverances or judgments. We do not say that there was a moral impossibility in the composition of such a work, or collection of works, by Ezra, and his contemporaries and successors, after the Babylonish captivity, considering these as merely human compositions; but we say that, in the circumstances of the case, there was a moral impossibility in imposing upon the faith of a whole people such a history, with all its commemorative ordinances and ceremonies, every one of which was a standing appeal to the nation in regard to their recollection of facts, thus stamped as the oldest traditionary memorial of their separate existence as a nation. Circumcision, for instance, might have been easily introduced at any one imagined period, but certainly it could never have been imposed at any given time of the Jewish history, as a rite which had existed among them for many ages as the commemorative symbol of a most particular national covenant. The same remark applies to the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, to the Sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee. Had the most extraordinary facts which these commemorated never occurred, it would have been utterly impossible to have persuaded the Jews of their reality. Yet captious and rebellious as that people were, we do not find them, at any one period of their history, objecting to any one of these painful, or laborious, or expensive rites and ceremonies, as an innovation, or novel tax, and imposition. Had these been the inventions and innovations of a later age, they might with justice have said, and we cannot doubt but they would have said, “ We have heard of Abraham as the head of the nation, but we never heard of such a covenant as this new rite is intended to represent.
It may have existed without the rite; but if it did, the memory and efficiency of it