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"These be the words which Moses spake to all Israel on this side Jordan, in the wilderness, &c. On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab." The Hebrew word here rendered on this side, properly signifies on the other side, over, beyond, and so it is generally rendered. With a different prefix, it is translated both on yonder side and on this side. Numb. 32, 18. But it is very questionable whether our version is correct. The Septuagint has, in both the first and ifth verses, περαν του Ιορδανου, beyond Jordan, and the Latin version that accompanies Vander Hooght's edition of the Hebrew, has trans Jordanem, beyond Jordan. The like difference of translation occurs, Numb. 35, 14-the same, Deut. 3, 8—the same, Numb. 34, 15-the
same, Joshua 1, 14, 15, &c. But the same Hebrew word is rendered in our version beyond; Gen. 50, 10 and 11. Deut. 3, 25. Joshua 9, 10 and 13, 8, &c. The translation of the original Hebrew varies also in other versions, as follows: Greek version of the Septuagint, beyond, or on the other side. Syriac,
on this side. Arabic,
beyond. Taruum of Onkelos,
beyond. Targum of Jonathan,
on this side. Targum of Jerusalem, Persian,
at the passage of Jordan. French and Italian,
on this side. It is to be observed however, that in the Syriac, Arabic, Samaritan and Chaldaic, the same word is used as in He-, brew, but it seems to be differently interpreted. The versions of the Arabic and Chaldaic do not give the word the sense of on this side.
With respect to Deuteronomy, one would suppose there could be no difference of opinion. The language of the book is too plain to be mistaken. The five first verses are evidently the words of the historian, intended merely as an introduc
tion to the words of Moses, which he was about to narrate. The words of Moses commence in the sixth verse, and are continued to the 41st verse of the fourth chapter. The historian there resumes his narrative which concludes the chapter. The fifth chapter begins with a recital of the commands of Moses. This recital is continued with little interruption [except in chapter 10, verses 6, 7, 8, and 9.] to the the end of the 33d chapter, and in the 34th, the historian relates the manner of Moses' death and burial, and adds, “No man knoweth of his sepulchre to this day.” The last words show that the book was written long after the death of Moses.
If this view of the subject is correct, the introductory verses of the book were written by some person on the west of Jordan, in Judea ; and therefore the translation ought to be, on the other side or beyond Jordan, according to the original Hebrew and to the Greek, Samaritan, Vulgate and Arabic versions.
“In "a summary of the principal evidences for the truth and divine origin of the christian revelation,” by Bishop Porteus, which is in the hands of our children, we find this assertion, that “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the genuine writings of those whose names they bear," and further, “That these books were all written by those whose names they bear, there is not the least reasonable ground to doubt; they have been always considered as the writings of those persons by the whole Jewish nation, from the earliest times down to the present and no proof to the contrary has ever been produced.” I respect the character and admire the writings of this au
but I respect truth more. In the original Hebrew, the five first books of the Old Testament, bear the name of no writer-in the Greek copy of the Seventy, they bear the name of no writer. The book of Judges could not have been written by any of them, for it mentions the captivity, which was several centuries after their days. A part of the First Book of Samuel might have been written by that prophet, the re
mainder could not, for it relates facts that took place after his death. Who wrote the books of Kings and Chronicles, is wholly unknown. And must we believe that Ruth and Esther wrote the books which appear under their names? It is to be regretted that the champions of revelation take untenable ground; for by this means, they rather weaken than strengthen the cause they endeavour to defend. The Scriptures want no adventitious aids from human authority; and any attempt to place them on different ground from that on which the original writings stand, only betrays a suspicion that they require extraneous support. I cannot think it judicious to attempt to make men believe tradition and hypothesis,in direct opposition to the internal evidence of the scriptures themselves. They are best commended to our belief and approbation by their own unvarnished excellence.
I remember to have heard that eminent Theologian, the late President Dwight, once observe, in the pulpit, that after all the authority in favor of the scriptures derived from other sources, we must rely chiefly on internal evidence for proof of their authenticity and divine original. I have long been of the same opinion, and on this evidence, chiefly, I build my belief. The scriptural representations of the Supreme Being, and his attributes are no less rational than sublime; they are such as have never come from the pens of uninspired men. The purity of the doctrines and precepts which are dispersed through every part of the sacred volume proves them to be of divine origin. In this respect there is nothing in the best ethical compositions of pagan writers, that will for a moment sustain a comparison with the sacred writings. No where else but in the Scriptures, do we find any rational account of the origin of evil, or the introduction of sin into the world, with all its distressing consequences. No where else can we expect to find the means of relief. The harmony of the doctrines and precepts, delivered at “sundry times and divers places,” and by different prophets, proves that they proceeded from one fountain, and that a source of per
fect excellence. The world has produced men of great attainments in science and learning, but uninspired men with all their genius and labor have never attained to the sublime views of God and his works, which the scriptural writers exhibit, nor is there any thing like christian benevolence, charity, piety and humility, found to be recommended and enforced in any Pagan production. Instead of cavilling at the miracles related in the Scriptures, I am led to consider the Scriptures themselves as a standing miracle, as not only containing the records of revelation, but as evidence of a continued interposition of divine power, to rescue man from sin and degradation, to purify his heart, and to exalt him to holiness and happi
The history of the Jewish nation, as mere history, is invaluable. In no profane history, can you find, in the same compass, such a perfect portrait of the human character, drawn with an artless simplicity without a parallel. And although the ritual or ceremonial law is abolished, yet what may be called the civil or municipal laws of Moses are the basis of the modern jurisprudence of christian nations. They contain the pith and marrow of all law necessary to protect and regulate a community
My Dear Friend,
The Scriptures reveal to us the history of the creation of the world and of our race--they inform us what are the essential attributes of God—they give us his law, as the expression of his will, directing us how we may obey that will, as the means of displaying the excellence of his character and government, and of securing for ourselves his favor, which constitutes our happiness. Without such a revelation we could never have known the attributes of God, or our own destination-we could never have known his will and our duty. The example of all pagan nations, civilized and uncivilized, will support this assertion.
Perfect obedience to the law of God, as we learn from the Scriptures, would have ensured to man the favour of God and his own happiness. But man apostatized—sin and misery were introduced—and you and I partake of both. That all men sin and incur the penalty of the divine law, I hold to be clearly revealed in Scripture and no less clearly manifest from experience and observation. That “there is not a just man on earth that doeth good and sinneth not—that the heart of men is fully set in them to do evil; that the carpal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to his law nor indeed can be”-are facts that I should believe without the light of revelation. I know this doctrine of native depravity, destitution of holiness or universal propensity to sin, is denied but the denial of it is with me strong evidence of its reality. That every man is not as bad as he may be,is doubtless true; but where is the man that can appeal to his maker, and say, I love thee with all my heart and soul and strength and mind; and I love my neighbor as myself? Let every man's conscience answer the question for himself.
Such being the condition of man, what is the remedy ? We cannot yield perfect obedience to the law of God; and