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reprefentations of his meaning upon different occafions, in his Philosophy of History, which I hope is fufficiently done.
Upon the whole, from these numerous detections of Mr. Voltaire's falfhood, with respect to Jofephus, to which more might have been added, mast not his admirers be rendered more diftruftful of his details from antient writers in general, and more cautious of giving their assent to them as genuine, without examination? or if they suppose him more honest and faithful in his recitals from heathen authors, must they not acknowledge him to have been so carried away by prejudice and partiality, to violate the rules of truth in his accounts of the Jewish historian, as will leave an indelible and perpetual reproach upon his character for disingenuity, and upon themselves for rashness and credulity, if they shall hereafter rely upon them, as just representations of his sense?
that his violations of the great rule of truth, are peculiar to this Chap. ter. May these remarks through the channel of your Magazine, puť the public on their guard against being misled by him, till some per
Son of greater leisure and ability, more fully expose him!' Nor did I form the scheme of the present detection, till a considerable time after, upon reading repeated wishes, that some person would animadvert upon the abuse with which he had treated religion; and upon seeing that his works were printed with eagerness. If any reader observe any difference between the quotations of Voltaire's words in the Museum for Dec. 1765, and here, the plain account of it is, that the remarks were then drawn up, on reading the translation of that chapter by the Monthly Reviewers for July of that year, I hope in an honest indignation, at seeing so many misrepresentations in so few fentences ; whereas they are now accommodated to the English tranflation of the whole treatise.
AD this author been satisfied with scoffing at
such paffages of Scripture as seem offensive in
themselves*, or appear inconsistent with others, while at the fame time he religiously governed himself by the dictates of truth in their exhibition, and recited them as they stood, without aggravating difficulties; nay, had he even given us a false account of some unimportant facts, and of some trivial circumstances in more material and weighty transactions only, which might have been imputed to forgetfulness and inadvertence, there would have been less cause of complaint against him; but when
• That there are passages of this kind in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, cannot be denied: but it does not therefore follow, it is not of divine authority. There are, notwithstanding, folid proofs of this, even as there are sufficient demonstrations, that the course and constitution of nature proceeds from God, though some parts of it appear to us liable to objections. And indeed, why should it be expected or required, that a book, which challenges a divine original, should be clear of things which create exception, more than
he throws out many invidious reflections, without all support from the Bible, often advances propofitions as contained in it, which are repugnant to the most express letter thereof, yea repeats the same notorious falfhoods, on different occasions, as unquestionable truths, misinterprets texts which he cites to prove his calumnies in a most unjustifiable manner, perverting and wresting words to a sense which they were never intended to convey, and scarce ever ima
the mundane system? since, by this very circumstance, while there is no want of arguments that it has such a source, it hath a greater fit. ness to be a touch-stone of mens characters, or a trial of the candour and integrity of all to whom it is proposed. Now, in consideration of the superior strength and validity of these proofs, that the Bible is the word of God, every person is bound to admit it as such, instead of being left at liberty to reject it, and perhaps also treat it with scorn and derision, in spite of their force and energy, because there is therein an intermixture of some matters that displease him. And every impartial Theilt, or unprejudiced believer in natural religion, will act conformably: for he will reflect with himself, that there are also difficulties in the order and frame of the universe, which yet he holds, upon prepollent evidence for it, to be the workmanship of God, and the subject of his providence and government. And he will farther consider, that it is not to be wondered at, if some points create offence or entanglement in the Sacred Oracles, particularly in those which were committed to the custody of the Jewish church, when their great antiquity, and the form and language in which they are written, are recollected. —The history of many requirements and actions in them, is very concise and summary, unaccompanied with an explication of the grounds on which they were founded.—The customis, both public and private, in ages so remote, and countries fo distant, as these which are there treated of, were widely different from the usages of our time and place, which yet there is an unreasonable disposition to make the itandard in estimating the propriety and decorum of every speech or practice related in the Bible. — There may easily happen a mistake a. bout the true meaning of some vocables or phrases that occur, the
gined to bear; In short, employs the basest arts, that he may make the Scripture furnish more abundant matter for ridicule, and more plentiful occasion of unbelief, what censure can be too severe for him with all honest and unprejudiced persons? So criminal and inexcufable however, I trust, his conduct will appear to be. In exposing him for this unfair treatment of the Sacred Books, and vindicating them from his
more that the Hebre:v hath long ceased to be a living tongue, and that the volume which alone is extant in it, is of no large size; wherefore there is less room for the discovery of their genuine fignification, by comparing their use in different passages: as indeed not a few terms or idioms of expression are met with only once. Nor is it impossible, according to the opinion of many persons of found judgment and real piery, that errors may have been permitted to creep into the text here and there, through the carelessness or unskilfulness of transcribers, in a long succession of centuries, about affairs light in their nature, and unessential to the great end for which the Scripture was penned; I mean, the length of a person's life or reign, the number of an army, the multitude of the killed or prisoners in a battle, the quantity of spoil seized, the sum of treasure accumulated or expended, and the like. For these, and other causes of a similar nature, he will not, I say, think it strange that some points disgust or perplex; but still will think himself obliged, from a regard to the many excellent rules of virtue and happiness, which the Bible contains, and to the other reasons which evince its divine authority, to make light of the objections arising thence, which is no more than making the same allowances for shortness of detail, for diversity of manners in a long interval of ages, for obscurity and intricacy of stile, and for vitiations or cotruptions in copying, which are thought equitable every day to the writings of Heathens, through which there runs a vein of good sense, that they may be freed from the charge of absurdity, and the imputation of self-contradiction. And thus will he be enabled to stand fast in his veneration for the Scripture, against the attacks of infidels, their most boasted cavils on these pretences proving impotent efforts to overthrow, or even shake, Lis belief of it.
abuse, I will first consider these instances of mifrepresentation of their sense, for which he may plead the authority of the Vulgate version; and thereafter these far more numerous instances of the same, for which he cannot pretend the authority of this, or any other translation; at least, if he may alledge this in two or three cases, cannot justify the meaning he adopts as agreeable to the original.
Of his Misrepresentations of Scripture, for which he
may plead the authority of the Vulgate version.
the Vulgate version of the Bible, this writer
hath paid a peculiar deference. From it, in his recital of the affairs of the Jewish nation, are derived many names of persons, which, ať first sight, amaze and confound an English reader, familiar as the account of them in the Old Testament may be to him: for in that version, as in our author, we meet with Phacerah for Pekahiah, Romeli for Remaliah, Ofes for Hosea, Aod for Ehud, &c.—Further, upon a false sense given in the same, or a wrong inference from its mode of expressing the import of the original, his scoffs and cavils at the Sacred History, and his cen sures and reproaches of the people of Israel, who are the great subjects of it, are sometimes wholly founded. Of this I mention these examples. Let the reader judge whether the charge is not just.