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' In case,' says Bishop Watson to Mr. Paine, ' In 'case any of your readers should think that you had not put forth all your strength, by not referring for proof of your opinion to ancient authors; lest they should suspect that all ancient authors
are in your favour ; I will venture to affirm that, 'had you made a learned appeal to all the ancient · books in the world, sacred or profane, Christian, Jewish, or Pagan; instead of lessening, they would have established the credit and authority of the Bible as the word of God.'
AGE OF REASON.
THE BOOKS OF MOSES.
MR. PAINE undertakes to demonstrate, that Moses did not write those books which are ascribed to him; and that consequently they are destitute of authority. They would not, however, be destitute of authority, though it were known that Moses did not write them: for they may be authentic records even if written by another author. Yet I am far from conceding this point : and, having answered other objections, I shall give my reasons for believing, both that Moses wrote these books, and that he wrote them under the immediate superintending inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The arguments by which Mr. P. endeavours to overturn the authority of these ancient records are of two sorts : some more directly tend to shew that Moses could not be the author of them; and
others to prove them unworthy of God, and thus to fix a charge of imposture on the writer, for delivering his doctrines and commands in the name of the Lord.—I shall begin with the former.
I. It is alleged that Moses could not be the author, because the writer generally speaks in the third person. But what weight is there in this argument? Xenophon and Cæsar, admired writers among the Greeks and Romans, do the same when recording their own actions : and suppose I should argue thus— Cæsar's commentaries and Xeno
phon's Anabasis could not be written by Cæsar ' and Xenophon, for the writers speak in the third
person. If learned men believed me to be in earnest, what would they think of my intellect, or of my competency upon such a subject? In Deuteronomy, however, Moses speaks principally in the first person ; and Mr. P. finds great confusion in the arrangement of that book, and says it is dramatical. Whereas it is obvious that the historian records facts in the third person, and delivers exhortations in the first : and the changes of person are only pauses of the speaker, giving an account of the occasion on which each speech was delivered, and of some coincident circumstances. Mr. P. must therefore have strange ideas of the drama, if he applies that term to a single speaker addressing the same audience, at different times, almost in the manner of a modern preacher !
No accurate student of the Bible needs to be
P.ii. p. 7,8.
informed that the city. Laish did not receive the name of Dan, till long after the death of Moses.? Yet it would be difficult to prove that no such place as Dan existed in the days of Abraham, in whose history that name occurs.? Dan signifies judgment : and perhaps a city in those parts might be so called because some person was stationed there to administer justice. Admitting however, that Laish was meant, must we thence infer that Moses did not write the book of Genesis. If the word Dan were substituted for Laish by Ezra or some other person, as more intelligible to his readers than the ancient name, this can prove nothing against the substance of the history having been written by Moses, in opposition to the many proofs that it was so.--Nay we may say with Bishop Watson, 'I desire it may be proved that Dan,
mentioned in Genesis, was the name of a town, ' and not of a river....A river was full as likely as ‘a town to stop a pursuit :... and Jordan, we know,
was composed of the united streams of two rivers, ' called Jor and Dan.'—Arguments must be very scarce with infidels, when this single word is brought forward with great parade and confidence, as if it contained a full demonstration that the books of Moses were anonymous impostures !
It may perhaps be proper to inform some readers, that the Bible and the Bible-chronology are entirely distinct: we contend that the former is the infal
Judg. xviii. 29.—By the way, whence did Mr. P. derive his information concerning Dan, but from one of the books which he explodes as of no authority? · P. ii. p. 10–12. Gen. xiv. 14.