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may still be maintained without its painful imposition. We have heard that our fathers went down to Egypt, and returned thence, but we never heard from them of those plagues which humbled the Egyptians, and procured the deliverance of our ancestors from that bondage-of their miraculously guided march through the sea, and through the wilderness, and of the giving of the law; and therefore cannot now commence the commemoration of such wonderful events, which are for the first time brought to our ears.” Especially the law, with all its terrible and strict severity and burdensome rites, would never have been submitted to, had it not been given with that sanction which their history represents, and the commemoration of it constantly kept up among them. And in regard to the Sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee, how could it have ever entered the imagination of an impostor to attempt to persuade the whole nation that their land was thrice more prolific during the preceding year, had their own experience not borne witness to the fact ? And finally, what a terrible and rash test of any unsanctioned lawgiver to promise, that all their borders and all their helpless families should remain unharmed amidst ever watchful and exasperated foes, while all the males went thrice every year, to the temple or tabernacle, to worship on the occasions of the three great national festivals? Their history very impartially informs us, that from their want of faith or religious feeling, they occasionally neglected the national and strict performance of one or all of these ritual observances, and suffered in consequence, according to the threat denounced against the breach of these sacred ordinances; but we never read of their having complained that the promise of miraculous protection was not made good, when they adhered, on their part, to a sincere obedience.
Now, we are fully entitled to assert, fearlessly, that no lawgiver durst have appealed to such supernatural tests of his divine commission, had he not been thoroughly persuaded of the divine sanction to second and maintain its authority, both in threats and promises, and that through the whole course of national history. And we may venture farther to assert, with little fear of contradiction, that no nation, and especially such a nation as the Jews, would for almost any time have submitted to such laws, had they not felt, in their daily experience, that they were upheld and enforced by such omniscient knowledge, and such irresistible power. It is not necessary to specify the proof of the fulfilment of those divine sanctions, for it lies over the whole extent of the history: our object at present is to raise argument upon the basis of facts, which have their own internal authentication, and have been so fully authenticated externally, that they can be questioned by no candid reasoner. The legitimate conclusion, then, to which we think no counterstatement or argument can prevent us from coming, is, that such a system of laws, and such a form of government, if not maintained vigorously, according to their ostensible claim, could not have stood the test of the experience of one generation, much less of the many centuries that elapsed from the time they were given, till they were designed to be abrogated, in all their temporary ordinances and enactments. The volume, then, which contains them, and narrates the history of the people upon whom they were imposed, is dictated by divine wisdom, and sanctioned by divine authority.
Finally, we have no reason to doubt that these writings, little in extent, but of mighty importance in the nature of their contents, are the very same, in all essential points, as when first penned by their authors. Our plan and limited space will allow us only to indicate briefly the line of argument by which this proposition is proved. It would be utterly impossible in the present day to mutilate, or add to, or adulterate these books. Even suppose the world were all of one belief, and that belief based upon the Bible, yet the languages into which it has been translated are so numerous, and the copies so multiplied, to an almost infinite extent, that we may say it is altogether beyond human ingenuity or human power to accomplish the corruption or destruction of them. But, besides, there are multitudes of different sects, who all profess to draw their principles of belief from these volumes, who watch over each other's proceedings with too zealous care ever to allow the slightest attempt of the kind, without exposure and condemnation. Then there is the ancient nation to whom they were originally given, who, in the mysterious providence of God, still stand aloof from all others, and guard them with jealous and almost superstitious care, as the only manifestation of the divine will to them as the peculiar people of God. This same jealous relation of parties has existed for about eighteen hundred years, ever since the Jewish polity was broken up, and the people scattered over the whole world. Again, starting in our backward examination, from the commencenient of Christianity, we find four or five different translations existed of these books into the most prevalent language of the age, and were in the hands of heathen, Christian, and Jew. One of these translations at least, that of the Septuagint, had been in existence for
nearly three hundred years; so that, for such a period, the same safeguard existed against tampering with or corrupting these writings for sectarian purposes. Then, backward from the period of the Alexandrian translation, there were different sects among the Jews themselves, and multitudes of the nation scattered over almost every part of the earth, who would have prevented, or rendered collusion impossible. Lastly, in this system of checks, there were the Samaritans, who received with reverential belief the books of Moses, but who hated the Jews with fell enmity, and were equally hated and despised by them. Between their copy of the volume of Moses and that of the Hebrews there is no difference of the slightest consequence; the only one being a discrepance in numbers as to the ages of the patriarchs before the flood, which also runs through the Septuagint version. However this difference is to be reconciled, it affects not the authenticity of the facts, nor the truth and purity of the doctrines, which rest upon different grounds. If we suppose, besides, as there is very good reason for doing, that, from the Babylonish captivity downwards, there were translations of the whole of these books into the Chaldee, the language they had acquired in Babylon, this would also have contributed to preserve their purity, as it would have greatly increased the difficulty of corruption, and the certainty of detecting such an attempt.
Upon the whole, the Old Testament, considered simply as a record of facts and events, has more internal and collateral proofs of its authenticity and genuineness than any other history existing. Viewed simply as an authentic history from the beginning of time, through nearly four thousand years, it is of immensely more general interest to the world than any or all others composed by man. From the generally great simplicity of style in its narrative, and from our familiarity since infancy with its facts, we are apt to overlook the immense importance of these facts, both in regard to the progress of mankind in civilization, and to the only true foundation of all religious and all moral truth. The ancient traditions of all other nations are generally fables or poetic imaginations, which bear absurdity on their very face. Even Herodotus, the earliest of Greek historians whose writings deserve any credit, is extremely credulous in regard to events connected with the history of neighbouring nations. Of all other ancient historic records in general, we may say that their narrative is connected with the demonstration of no grand and universal principles in human nature. Their interests are merely local, and limited in their application and instruction to a single nation, or form of government, or stage of social advancement. The great subject of the Bible, on the contrary, is man considered as an intellectual and moral agent, but fallen and corrupted, in mind and heart, in constant danger of forgetting the end of his being, of going downward into ignorance and idolatory—it is the history of man as a being of high capabilities of improvement in intellectual grandeur and moral purity, but one who has constantly stood in need of surer and higher guidance and instruction than any that mere humanity could afford him-it is the history of man as a sinful being, who needs another and more efficient mediation than any repentance, or prayers, than any sacrifice or atonement of his own. All these objects and views are blended into one simple and solemn narration, deeply interesting and overwhelmingly affecting to every heart of right feeling. It is a history that bears the stamp of truth upon every page, as it has an indelible evidence of its authenticity written in every bosom. Without it man would have long ago lost all record of his origin, of the God who created him, of the end of his existence, of his present state and future destiny. The preservation of this record, then, we hold to be equivalent to the preservation of the moral dignity of man, the only means of keeping or rescuing him from the debasing and deadening systems of atheism, and idolatry, and superstition, and of advancing him in progressive grandeur in the scale of moral and intellectual elevation, as heavenly knowledge expands his mind and sanctifies all his views.
THE DIVINE EVIDENCE IN AUTHENTICATION OF THIS RECORD OF FACTS AND
We have seen that the history of the Old Testament is by far the most ancient and most important, and best authenticated of all human records. Even had it no other authority and sanction than this to recommend it, it would still be the most instructive and useful of all the recorded experience and knowledge of the ancient world. It would not, however, come to us with the unquestioned sanction of supreme authority and unerring certainty. Man might reasonably say, “ This book indeed contains information of great consequence, and the principles of a simple and pure religion, and strict morality; but who can give me the assurance that this is indeed the truth of God, the unerring guide of human reason? How shall I know that these facts, great and important though they be, are not the common and contingent events of history, from which a system of conclusions has been drawn, which time and the ingenuity of man have compiled into a regular code of belief, and of moral duties?” Could such questions as these not be satisfactorily answered, the supreme authority of the Bible must be renounced, and its highest doctrines be viewed as the conjectures of human imagination and fallible reason. It has, however, an authority that is far superior to all human reason, and independent of all human sanction. It is accompanied with a system of evidence that carries home to the mind the conviction that it is the dictation of divine wisdom, the plan of infinite justice and goodness.
We need not define what a miracle is, nor repeat the arguments that have been triumphantly used, in many various shapes, to prove that miracles may be wrought in attestation of the truth, and that they are capable of being proved by human evidence. Neither need we enter into a train of reasoning to prove that a divine revelation to man is probable and possible. Its possibility no man of sober reason can se