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parts, as conclusive evidence against the truth of the Bible. Your argument stands thus - If it be found that the books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, and Samuel, were not written by Moses, Joshua, and Samuel, every part of the authority and authenticity of these books is gone at one. I presume to think otherwise. The genuineness of these books (in the judgment of those who say that they were written by these authors) will certainly be gone; but their authenticity may remain; they may still contain a true account of real transactions, though the names of the writers of them should be found to be different from what they are generally esteem. ed to be.
Had, indeed, Moses said that he wrote the five firft books of the Bible; and had Joshua and Samuel said that they wrote the books which are respectively attributed to them; and had it been found, that Moses, Joshua, and Samuel, did not write these books; then, I grant, the authority of the whole would have been gone at once; these men would have been found liars, as to the genuineness of . the books; and this proof of their want of veracity, in one point, would have invalidated their testimony in every other; these books would have been juftly stigmatized, as neither genuine nor authentic.
An history may be true, though it should not only be ascribed to a wrong author, but though the author of it should not be known; anonymous teftimony does not destroy the reality of facts, whether natural or miraculous. Had Lord Clarendon pub. lilhed his History of the Rebellion, without prefixing his name to it; or had the history of Titus Livius come down to us, under the name of Valerius Flaccus, or Valerius Maximus ; the facts mentioned in these histories would have been equally certain.
As to your assertion, that the miracles recorded in Tacitus, and in other profane historians, are quite as well authenticated as those of the Bible - it, being a mere assertion destitute of proof, may be properly answered by a contrary assertion. I take the liberty then to say, that the evidence for the miracles recorded in the Bible is, both in kind and degree, so greatly superior to that for the prodigies mentioned by Livy, or the miracles related by Ta. citus, as to justify us in giving credit to the one as the work of God, and in with-holding it from the other as the effect of super. ftition and impofture. This method of derogating from the cre. dibility of christianity, by opposing to the miracles of our Saviour, the tricks of ancient impostors, seems to have originated with Hierocles in the fourth century; and it has been adopted by unbe. lievers from that time to this ; with this difference, indeed, that the heathens of the third and fourth century admitted that Jesus wrought miracles; but left that admission should have compelled them to abandon their gods and become chriftians, they said, that their Apollonius, their Apuleius, their Arifleas, did as great : whilft modern deists deny the fact of Jesus having ever wrought a miracle. And they have some reason for this proceeding; thay
by a mere alle as well corded in certain.
10 be true: human rehimenas been
are fenfible that the Gospel Miracles are so different, in all their circumstances, from ihose related in pagan story, that, if they admit them to have been performed, they must admit Chriftianity to be true; hence they have fabricated a kind of deiftical axiom
that no human testimony can establish the credibility of a mi. racle. - This, though it has been an hundred times refuted, is still infifted upon, as if it's truth had never been questioned, and could not be dispioved.
You “proceed to examine the authenticity of the Bible ; and you begin, you say, will what are called the five books of Moses, Genefis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Your intention, you profess, is to shew that these books are fpurious, and that Moses is not the author of them; and still farther, that they were not written in the time of Moses, nor till several hun. dred years afterwards; that they are no olher than an attempted history of the life of Moses, and of the times in which he is said to have lived, and also of the tinies prior thereto, written by some very ignorant and flupid pretender to authorship, several hundred years after the death of Moses.” -- In this passage the utmoft force of your attack on the authority of the five books of Moses is clear. ly stated. You are not the first who has started this difficulty ; it is a difficulty, indeed, of modern date ; having not been heard of, either in the fynagogue, or out of it, till the twelfth century. About that time Aben Ezra, a Jew of great erudition, noticed some passages (the same you have brought forward) in the five firft books of the Bible, which he thought had not been written by Moses, but inserted by some person after the death of Moses. But he was far from maintaining, as you do, that these books were written by some ignorant and stupid pretender to authorship, many hundred years after the death of Moses. Hobbes contends that the books of Moses are so called, not from their having been written by Moses, but from their containing an account of Moses. Spinoza supported the fame opinion : and Le Clerc, a very able theological critic of the last and present century, once entertained the same notion. You see that this fancy has had some patrons before you; the merit or the demerit, the fagacity or the temerity of having asserted, that Moses is not the anthor of the Pentateuch, is not exclusively your's. Le Clerc, indeed, you muft not boast of. When his judgmerit was matured by age, he was ashamed of what he had written on the subject in his younger years; he made a public recantation of his error, by annexing to his come mentary on Genesis, a Latin dissertation concerning Moses, the author of the Pentateuch, and his design in composing it. If in your future life you lhould chance to change your opinion on the subject, it will be an honour to your chara&ter jo emulate the integrity, and to imitate the example of Le Clerc. The Bible is not the only book which has undergone the fate of being repro. bated as spurious, after it had been received as genuine and authentic for many ages. It has been maintained that the history of
this diet } not been e twelfie cea erudition, zward) in: not been ir dea:hot.
Herodotus was written in the time of Constantine : and that the Classics are forgeries of the thirteenth or fourteenth century. These extravagant reveries amused the world at the time of their public cation, and have long since sunk into oblivion.' You esteem all prophets to be such lying rascals, that I dare not venture to predict the fate of your book. . · Before you produce your main objections to the genuinenefs of the books of Moses, you assert " that there is no affirmative evidence that Moses is the author of them.” - What ! no affirma, tive evidence! In the 11th century Maimonides drew up-a con-, fefsion of faith for the Jews, which all of them at this day admit; it consists of only thirteen articles; and two of them have respect to Moses ; one affirming the authenticity, the other the genuineness of his books. The doctrine and prophecy of Moses is true -The law that we have was given by Moses. — This is the faith of the Jews at present, and has been their faith ever since the de. struction of their city and temple; it was their faith in the time when the authors of the New Testament wrote ; it was their faith during their captivity in Babylon ; in the time of their kings and judges; and no period can be shewn, from the age of Moses to the present hour, in which it was not their faith. - Is tbis no affirmative evidence ? I cannot defire a stronger. Fofephus, in his book against Appion, writes thus “We have only iwo and twenty books which are to be believed as of divine authority, and which comprehend the history of all ages; five belong to Moses, which contain the original of man, and the tradition of the suca cession of generations, down to his death, which takes in a compass of about three thousand years." Do you consider this as no affirmative evidence? Why should I mention Juvenal speaking of the volume which Mofes had written? Why enumerate a long list of prophane authors, all bearing testimony to the fact of Moles being the leader and law-girer of the jewish nation ? and if a lawgiver, surely, a writer of the laws. But what says the Bible ? In Exodus it says ... " Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people." ... In Deuteronomy it says ..." And it came to pass, when Mofes had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, (this surely imports the finishing a laborious work,) that Moses commanded the Levites which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, “ Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." This is said in Deuteronomy, which is a kind of repeti. tion or abridgment of the four preceding books ; and it is well known that the Jews gave the name of the Law to the first five. books of the Old Testament. What possible doubt can there be that Moses wrote the books in question? I could accumulate many other passages from the scriptures to this purpose; but if
Vo. XIX, Nov. 1796.
what I have advanced will not convince you that there is affirma. tive evidence, and of the strongest kind, for Moses's being the author of these books, nothing that I can advance will convince yon.
What if I should grant all you 'undertake to prove (the stupidity and ignorance of the writer excepted)? ... What if I thoáld admir. that Samuel or Ezra, or fome 'other learned Jew, composed these books, from public records, many years after the death of Moses? Will it follow, that there was no truth in them? According to my logic, it will only follow, that they are not genuine books; évérý fa&t recorded in them may be true, whenever, or by whom. foever they were written. It cannot be faid that the Jews had no public records ; the Bible furnishes abundance of proof to the contráiy. I by no means admit, that these books, as to the main part of them, were not written by Moses'; but I do contend, tbat a book may contain a true history, though we know not the author of it, or though we may be mistaken in afcribing it to a wrong author,
The first argument you produce against Mofes being the author of these books is so old, that I do not know it's original author ; and it is so miserable a one, that I wonder vou should allopt it:
." These books cannot be written by Moses, becaufe they are written in the third person ... it is always, The Lord said unto Mofes, or Moses said unto the Lord. This, you say, is the style and manner that historians use in speaking of the person's whöfe lives and actions they are writing." "This observation is true, but it does not extend far enough; for this is the style and manner not only of historians writing of other persons, but of eminent men, such as Xenophon and Jofephus, writing of themselves. If Ge. neral Washington should write the history of the American war, and should, from his great modefty, fpeak of himself in the third person, would you think it reasonable that, two or three thousand years hence, any person should, on that account, contend, that ihe history was not true? Cæfar writes of himself in the tbird perfon --- it is always, Cæsar made a speech, or a speech was made to Cæfar, Cæsar crossed the Rhine, Cæsar invaded Britain ; but every school-boy knows, that this circumstance cannot be adduced as a serious argument against Cæsar's being the author of his own Commentaries. .
But Mofes, you urge, cannot be the author of the book of Numbers, --- because he says of himself -." that Moses was a very meek man, above all the men that were on the face of the earth,” If he said this of himself, he was, you say, "a vain and arrogant coxcomb, (such is your phrase !) and unworthy of credit --- and if he did not say it, the books are without authority.” This your dilemma is perfe&tly harmless : it has not an horn to hurt The weakest logician. If Mofes did not write this little verse; it it was inserted by Samuel, or any of his countrymen, who knew his character and revered his memory, will it follow that he did
There are one and unalung
pot write any other part of the book of Numbers ? Or if he did
fond of power, should vindicate his character by saying, My tem.
speaks truly, may speak proudly of himself, without forfeiting his ce of great
general character; and there is no occasion, which either more
for. vindicating your character, when in the latter part of this very 2017 bola work you boast, and I hope truly, “ that the man does not exist es, becoming that can say I have persecuted him, or any man, or any set of Tr.2 Lom m en, in the American revolution, or in the French revolution ; you say, it .. or that I have in any case returned evil for evil.” I know not eine per what kings and priests may say to this; you may not have re.
turned to them evil for evil, because they never, I believe, did
I think it needless to notice your obfervation upon what you
You need not be told that the very name of this book imports,
of the first chapter it is said in our Bibles, " Moses began to de-
This is no shift of mine to get over a difficulty; the words are so
This repetition and explanation of the law, was a wife and bene, volent proceeding in Moses ; that those who were either not born, or were mere infants, when it was first (forty years before) deli. 4 E 3
hemfelres the Amen
2 cannot des
for of thell
not an hop = this hukri