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harmony and mutual subordination of every one of its parts, he comes forth with an accumulated and greatly strengthened argument for the oneness of the authorship, and the divinity and unerring truth of the whole. If the final dispensation be established by evidence sufficient to convince every rightly constituted mind, all that is necessary to insure certainty to the more general conclusion in regard to the truth of the whole, is to prove their inseparable unity, and the genuineness and authenticity of the books that claim to be admitted as parts of the Canon of truth, as it gradually discloses itself from the beginning of time. It is also the mode which first presents itself to the mind which is examining into the dealings of God towards man, with the design of establishing its faith upon a firm and satisfactory foundation. The first impulse of such an inquirer must be to look back, from the point of progressive knowledge, on which the history of truth and the lapse of time have placed him, over the long and wondrous course of that experience through which the successive generations of men have been led.
He can trace upward, with cautious and inquiring step, through the whole of that great record of the history, and the fate of the world; he can examine at leisure, and with matured knowledge, every stage and onward movement of a work of power, combined with a system of truth, which, he must be more and more convinced as his search proceeds, has been all along under a higher and more unerring guidance than the unsanctioned conjectures of imagination, and the ever-varying opinions of human philosophy. In respect of this examination, we have an immense advantage over the men who lived in the earlier periods of the history of our religion. From the light that Christianity, in its unveiled perfection, throws back on all the preparatory dispensations, we can now see clearly that all the elementary doctrines of its high theology were exhibited through the senses to the faith of the believer from the dawn of time. It was only, however, with dim and uncertain prospect, that the eye even of strong, faith could pierce through the golden mist of the thousands of years which intervened between that time and the arising of the brighter day destined to dispel all the doubts and ignorance of man-it was only with effort that man could raise himself above the materiality of those symbols which prefigured realities that the wisdom of the world could never have discovered nor invented.
When the whole system of revealed truth is before us, however, though it is of no essential consequence, as affecting the
soundness of the conclusion, at what part of that system we commence our investigations, still that process seems more natural and likely to prove more satisfactory, which would commence with the early dispensations, and trace them down through the course of time, as they gradually expand, and prepare the mind of those who were under them for the reception of that crowning system, which explains all the mysteries, and spiritualizes and removes all the temporary rites, most of which, of themselves, had no obvious meaning, and no moral efficacy. In entering upon the discussion of the question regarding the Divine Authority of the Old Testament, then, a field of boundless extent and immense riches opens to our view. To treat it in a manner adequate to the grandness and divinity of the subject, is what no uninspired mind can pretend to. God has indeed set all his work of power, and wisdom, and goodness before us, and has, with the tender affection of a father, and the condescending indulgence of an unwearied teacher, trained the world from its infancy for four thousand years, through the simple elements of those divine truths that elevate and purify the mind, that he might lead his believing and trusting children up through the ascending steps of the visible and created, of the temporal and perishing, to his own throne, and dwellingplace, and presence in eternity. On this side of time, justice will never be done to a subject, which, in its relations in the councils of eternity, ascends above the stretch of the highest created intellect, and, in its consequences, through the history of an undisclosed eternity. It is the history of that work in its preparation, through which the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the principalities and powers of heaven—it is the contemplation of that plan of divine government, the awful mysteriousness of which angels desire to look into in profound meditation, upon which they find delighted exercise for their highest and purest spiritual intelligence, and matter of rapturous song, to tune those golden harps, that day and night sound forth the Hallelujahs of Heaven round the throne of the Eternal.
It is this very grandeur and vastness of the subject, which, while it ascends so high, and stretches so far, is, in its elementary and practical principles, level to the apprehension and feeling of the child and the unlearned, draws the mind onward to contemplate it in its ever-varying wisdom and ever-changeless certainty. It is no tower of Babel, constructed of the illassorted and crumbling materials of the many-tongued and jarring philosophies of vain and ambitious men—it is a celestial temple, reared by those hands that laid and support the pillars of the universe, every column and stone of which is of heavenly mould and living energy, the top of which indeed reaches to heaven, and bears up the throne of the Judge and Saviour of the world. Though we cannot enter without awe the portals of this palace of the King of Glory, we may yet enter it with humble confidence, since every word he has uttered from its sacred shrine, he calls upon every one of the sons of men who have ears, to hear. None can pretend that he has entered into the council-chamber of heaven, and understood the reasons and motives of all God's dealings and dispensations with men; yet standing on this high tower of eternal truth, which rises far above all the mists and fogs of human error and prejudice, we are enabled to see deeper into the wisdom and goodness of those plans of the divine government of this world, and become wiser and holier, as we come into closer contact with the holiness and truth of heaven.
Our design in the following Essay is not to bring forward the whole array of the usual historic and external evidence for the truth of the Old Testament Scriptures; nor to repeat the common arguments of the internal evidence of their divine origin, which has been done convincingly in several of the treatises of the First and Second Volumes of this work. Our line of argument will be very general, and, we trust, will exhibit strongly the constant presence and superintendence of God over the whole, and bring forth the internal light of that truth which pervades the record. We cannot, however, altogether overlook that external evidence, for it comes to us as an echo of the truth from every clime of this round earth. That evidence is written in enduring characters on her everlasting hills and flinty rocks, in her lowly valleys and ocean caves. Fragments of this evidence are found in all records of ancient heathen wisdom, and heathen folly; the speculations of philosophy found their data, as well as deductions, upon the scattered remains of tradition, that ascend beyond even the elements of all civil history. All nations of the earth, however remote from each other in time and in space, however barbarous or civilized, have transmitted, from generation to generation, remains of these truths, both in fact and doctrine, and ritual observance, which, isolated and of themselves, are unintelligible and unaccountable, but all speak a clear language when brought back to the temple of God, and placed in juxtaposition with the records of that book, which has preserved the history of the changes of material nature, and the history of the condition, and fate, and future destiny of the intelligent beings who people it.
God has never left himself without many witnesses of his being and his attributes. They are numerous as the stars of heaven, numerous as the works of his hands, as his ways of providence, as his word of revelation, as his institutions of positive observance, spread over the earth, and preserved among men. These all speak one language, which is understood by every tribe of every clime; and we will find that they all point harmoniously to that recorded system of truth, whose contents and spirit we are about to study. In short, we will find that the divine authority of our truth is based upon evidence that nothing can shake or weaken—that every thing recorded, either in fact or opinion, since the world began, contributes to establish and confirm. We cannot doubt that as the history of time flows on; as the destinies of the human race draw to their completion; as the outstanding prophecies, of mighty import and mysterious meaning, are, one after another, fulfilled; as the spirit and power of that truth are understood and felt; as its adaptation to the wants and weaknesses, as well as to the loftiest and noblest energies of the human soul, are perceived and felt —all the nations and tribes of men will be brought, by a willing and delighted obedience, to submit to its teaching and its power.
THE OLD TESTAMENT VIEWED AS A HISTORICAL RECORD OF GOD'S MORAL
GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD.
We intend to consider this history not merely as a record of facts, proving the government of God over his creatures, but also as a record of doctrines, established upon, or flowing from, these known and proved instances of divine interference in the affairs of mankind. Assuming, for the time, the truth of the whole of that system of religion that began to be delivered to Adam, and was completed in the revelation of Jesus Christ, we cannot conceive
method fit as that which has been followed, for proving the unity of the plan, and the unity of the authorship; we can conceive no other method, indeed, that would have at all answered the purpose. All the high and abstract truths of material science are based
outward existences and material things, and can be demonstrated only by an appeal to these; all the principles of the science of government are deductions from history, the experienced result of the working of different systems of law adapted to various states of society, and of the conflict or co-operation of the passions of men, under different degrees of restraint; even the higher and purer abstractions of mental science may be traced through the copious stream of language, and the almost boundless affiliation of ideas, to the material existences and tangible relations of earth. Now, if there be a gradual and progressive development of the truths of that religion, analogous to the advancement of the general mind of man in knowledge, and the arts and refinements of society, unless such a historic record had been kept from the first of time, it would have been altogether impossible to trace the connexion between one stage of the process of development and another, between one form of doctrinal truth and another, one dispensation and another. Divine truth would have been lost to the world, from an impossibility of tracing it to its principles, and through all its essential bearings upon the present condition of humanity.