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Here then the obvious question arises, whether it be, not merely probable, but possible, that doctrines so deeply interesting could have been wholly obliterated in the course of so very brief a period.
At the time when Jacob died, the twelve patriarchs were all acquainted with them : accordingly, St. Paul specially mentions Joseph in his list of those ancient worthies; who distinguished themselves by their faith in the remotely beheld promises of a Redeemer, and who desired a better country that is an heavenly'. But, if the twelve patriarchs were all acquainted with them, we may be morally sure that they would not fail to communicate them to their children. In fact, Jacob himself lived to see and converse, not only with his grandchildren, but in some of the patriarchal lines even with his great-grandchildren; so that, when he descended into Egypt, exclusive of his sons' wives though inclusive of the family of Joseph, he was the head of no less than seventy souls'.
Now, according to the pastoral habits of that early and simple period when a man's sons were not dispersed into various regions to acquire a maintenance as best they could, all these seventy souls, with the exception of Joseph's household which sprang up in Egypt, would have constituted the patriarchal family of Jacob in the land
| Heb. xi. 22.
? Gen, xlvi, 26, 27.
of Palestine: and tô them, in every matter of religious instruction, would be added the children of Joseph subsequent to the emigration of Jacob. Hence it appears, that, at the time when Jacob died, full seventy persons, exclusive of women and children, must have been acquainted with those doctrines, which Bishop Warburton allows to have been well known to the whole family of Abraham, and which (according to St. Paul) must have been equally Well known to the whole family of his grandson. .
But these seventy persons were the ancestors of the whole Israelitish nation: and, out of their number; Levi died only 128 years before the exodus; whence of course his nephews and great nephews, a large proportion of whom was included within the specified seventy persons, must have died very much nearer to that epoch. The same remark applies to the posterity of Levi himself. His daughter Jochebed married his grandson Amram 41 years after the death of her father Levi: and, as Amram must have been somewhat younger than his wife and àunt (for. Jochebed at the time of her marriage could scarcely have been less than 60 years old), and as Amrám himself lived 137 years, we connect their sons, Aaron and Moses, with their ancestor Levi by only a single intervening link; fór Amram and Jochebed conversed with Levi, and Aaron and Moses conversed with Amram and Jochebed. Doubtless, in the other patriarchal lines,
similar instances, though not specifically recorded, must often have occurred : so that many persons living at the time of the exodus, must have conversed with the twelve patriarchs through the medium of only a single link, or at the most of two links; and a yet greater number of persons must have conversed, some immediately and others more or less mediately, with the younger members of those seventy that constituted Jacob's family at the time when he descended into Egypt.
Such being the case, let any reasonable being judge as to the degree of probability, that the doctrines of redemption and a future state should have been perfectly well known to the whole family of Jacob, and yet that they should have been perfectly unknown in the day of the exodus.
If the posterity of Abraham in the time of Moses had thus forgotten what the household of Abraham once knew, which is the position asserted and maintained by Bishop Warburton: then must the seventy members of Jacob's family, even to say nothing of their wives, have formally entered into an agreement, that they would unanimously bury within their own bosoms the doctrines which they had received from their pious ancestors, that they would carry these doctrines with them out of the world, and that thus they would résolutely withhold from their children the comfortable certainty to the pious of a glorious immortality in a state of
happiness through a redemption to be effected by the promised Deliverer.
What possible motive any set of men could have for such extraordinary conduct, it is hard to say: yet, if we receive the system of Bishop Warburton, we must believe that something of this sort actually took place. For, at one end of the chain, his lordship admits, that the whole family of Abraham, and thence by a necessary consequence the whole family of Jacob, were well acquainted with the doctrines before us : but, at the other end of the chain, he contends, that all the posterity of Abraham in the day of the exodus had totally forgotten them. What then is the medium, by which the bishop would conduct us from one extreme to the other? If any person can point out a medium different from that which I have just described, namely the unanimous consent of the seventy members of Jacob's family to carry the doctrines with them to their graves, he will possess a degree of ingenuity to which I venture not to make any pretensions. So far as I can judge, if the doctrines were known to the successive households of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, which the bishop does not pretend to deny; it is utterly impossible, that they could be wholly unknown to the Israelites in the time of Moses. Doctrines of this description might be corrupted in the lapse of some generations, which was the case in all the gentile lines of Shem and Ham
and Japhet: but I will venture to say, though in plain opposition to Bishop Warburton, that, if once known, they could never be forgotten. Accordingly, let us direct our researches where we please, we shall not find a single people upon the face of the globe, without some notion of piacular atonement, and without some belief in a future state of existence. The doctrines have been corrupted indeed, but they have not been obliterated.
An examination of the arguments adduced by Bishop
As a full reply to every argument of this description, Bishop Warburton urges what he contends to be the naked matter of fact : that the Israelites, however extraordinary such a circumstance may be, did in reality not believe in the doctrine of a future retributory state.
His lordship states this matter so forcibly, that it were an injury to his cause if I were to employ any other words than his own.
We now advance a step further, and shew, that, as Moses did not teach, yea forbore to teach, the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments; so neither had the ancient Jews, that is to say, the body of the people, any knowledge of it. The proof is striking, and scarce to be resisted by