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Homer nearly 1200 years after Christ; and therefore these two writers shew that the Greek language changed but little through a period of more than 1600 years. It will not be imagined that I consider the style of Homer, Herodotus, Longinus, and Eustathius, as exactly, or even nearly, the same; I only contend that there is the same degree of resemblance between Greek, as there is between Hebrew authors, who lived at similar intervals.
I have thought it right to notice these objections, because I have lately seen a good deal of importance attributed to them; and indeed such objections are very frequent in modern publications. Those who advance them, know but too well, that by stating them in a specious and confident manner, they may shake the faith of the unwary, and by degrees draw them over to their own sceptical opinions. Let me then caution my young readers against these insidious and mischievous attempts. Let the direct and positive proofs of the divine authority of the Scriptures, or of any other branch of our religion which may be attacked, be constantly recollected. Let it be remembered, that upon every point, however clearly and undoubtedly proved, it is easy to find cavils and difficulties; and that to these cavils and difficulties there must be satisfactory answers, although
although they may not occur to the mind, or have not fallen within the reading of every person. Above all, let recourse be had upon all such occasions to this general principle,―That when the truth of any proposition is established upon just and legitimate grounds, or when any doctrine is revealed in the written Word of God, no weight whatever is due to objections founded in probable reasoning, metaphysical speculation, or conjectural criticism; and we may safely pronounce, that no other have ever been brought to oppose the conclusions which we have seen derived from facts, by arguments obviously resulting from those facts, and consistent with each other, in favour of the Authenticity and Inspiration of the antient Scriptures.
CHAPTER THE SECOND:
CONTENTS OF THE SEVERAL BOOKS
THE HE book of Genesis (a), which derives its name from a Greek word signifying generation or production, comprehends a period of about 2369 years. It begins with the history of the Creation of the World in six days, and contains also an account of the disobedience and punishment of Adam and Eve; the increase of mankind; the progress of wickedness; the general destruction of the human race by the deluge, except Noah and his family, who were miraculously preserved in the Ark; the promise of God that the world should no more be destroyed by a flood;
(α) Γενεσις a γινομαι, sum, fio.
a flood; the confusion of tongues, and the dispersion of the descendants of Noah; the call of Abraham, and the covenant of God with him; the repetition of that covenant with Isaac and Jacob; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha; the history of Joseph, and the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt.
The book of Exodus (b) is so named, because it relates to the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt. It comprehends the history of about 145 years; and the principal events contained in it are, the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt, and their miraculous deliverance by the hand of Moses; their entrance into the wilderness of Sinai; the promulgation of the Law, and the building of the tabernacle.
The book of Leviticus describes the office and duties of the Levites and priests, all of whom were descended from Levi. It contains a minute account of the religious rites and ceremonies which were to be observed by the Jews, and records the transactions of only one month.
The book of Numbers contains an account of the numbering of the people of Israel, both in the beginning of the second year after their departure
(b) Exodus signifies departure, from ɛ out, and idos
departure out of Egypt, and at the conclusion of their journey in the wilderness. It comprehends a period of about 38 years, but most of the events related in it happened in the first and last of those years. The date of the facts recorded in the middle of the book cannot be precisely ascertained. The principal contents of this book, besides the numbering of the people already noticed, are, the consecration of the tabernacle; the encampments of the Israelites, with a relation of the circumstances which attended their wandering in the wilderness; a repetition of several of the principal laws which had been before given to the Israelites, with an addition of some new precepts, both civil and religious; an enumeration of the twelve tribes, and directions for the division of the Land of Canaan, of which they were about to take possession.
The Book of Deuteronomy (c), as its name denotes, contains a repetition of the civil and moral law, which was a second time delivered by Moses, with some additions and explanations, as well to impress it more forcibly upon the Israelites in general, as in particular for the benefit of those who, being born in the wilderness, were not present at the first promulgation of the Law. It contains
(c) From deuregos second, and vouos law.