Sidor som bilder

not return till nearly eighty years after the decree of Cyrus, according to the ablest chronologers: and it is evident, by his own account, that the temple, after many delays, was completed some time before he arrived at Jerusalem. Nehemiah returned thirteen years later: he continues his narrative from the conclusion of Ezra's history, and relates none of the same events! So ill informed is this writer, as to the contents of that volume which he undertake to invalidate!-The difference between the amount of those enrolled in families, and the number of the whole company, could not be a mistake of Ezra: and no impostor would have left so barefaced an error, if it were one. But the surplus might be Jews or Israelites, who were not able to prove their genealogies: and probably Ezra inserted the register, made at their first return from captivity, from the public records, without any alteration.

But the register in Nehemiah has greater difficulties. The narrative leads one to expect that a new enrolment would be made of the Jews residing at that time in Judea; but instead of this the old register of those who returned with Zerubbabel is inserted, with some variations; and the same sum total of forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty is mentioned, though the several items amount to only thirty-one thousand and eighty-nine.' I firmly believe Nehemiah's history to be authentic and divine; but we are not authorized to expect miracles to prevent the unessential mistakes of transcribers. I therefore suspect that, by some

[blocks in formation]

means or other, an incorrect copy of the first register was here substituted instead of the new register made by Nehemiah. A very slight acquaintance with critical learning will convince any candid man that such variations in ancient authors may generally be discovered; and that they produce no uncertainty in the great outlines of the events recorded. But I think it better fairly to own the difficulty than to pass it over in silence, or to give an answer which does not satisfy my own mind. It is however a singular instance; and, in my judgment, does not weigh a grain in counterpoise against the weight of evidence in the opposite scale.

Mr. P. seems to allow that Ezra and Nehemiah wrote the books ascribed to them; but he says they are nothing to us. He here forgets that the prophecy of Jeremiah was extant when the book of Ezra was written, and that the events recorded by Ezra were a declared accomplishment of his predictions.2 This is surely of some consequence in the argument. And we may add, that these two books so constantly refer to all the preceding parts of scripture, that they conclusively prove the whole to have been then extant, and received by the Jews as authentic records of divine authority. If then Ezra and Nehemiah wrote these books soon after the captivity, we may confidently infer that the writings of Moses, and all the historical part of the Old Testament, except Esther, were received by the whole Jewish nation, as a divine revelation, at least five hundred years before the

[blocks in formation]

birth of Christ. This concession, therefore, fully refutes all Mr. P.'s assertions and conjectures respecting the time when the books of Moses were forged, and first known to the Jews.


Mr. P. says, If Madam Esther thought it any honour to offer herself as a kept mistress to Ahasuerus,' &c.1 Now where did he learn that she thus offered herself to be a kept mistress to the king? Certainly not from the history itself. I apprehend that it was not put to her choice whether she would enter Ahasuerus's seraglio or not. Such calumnious and groundless insinuations too much resemble the conduct of hypocritical priests, who say, "If the people choose to be deceived, let 'them be deceived.'-The book itself has this proof of authenticity, that the Jews to the present day observe the feast of Purim, in remembrance of the wonderful deliverance which God vouchsafed them by means of Esther and Mordecai.

'P. ii. p. 37.




MR. P. speaks respectfully of this book,' but tries to prove it to be of gentile extraction. Certainly Job was not an Israelite, and probably the book was written before the promulgation of the Mosaic law. It coincides, however, so entirely with the other scriptures, in the doctrines of human depravity, of the impossibility of any man's justifying himself before God, of the Redeemer that would. stand at the latter day upon the earth, of a future resurrection, and of the presumption of our reasonings concerning the works and ways of God, and in the delineation of that law of love by which Job regulated his conduct; that it accords with no other gentile book: and it must either be explained away as a fabulous drama, or Mr. P. and his friends will not long retain their respect for it.

The word Satan, he says, is not mentioned in the Bible except in Job. The reader may see the accuracy of this observation by turning to the passages referred to!3 But this appears still more fully in his observation, that Pleiades, Orion, and Arcturus are Greek names, and that the Jews were

'P. i. p. 28. P. ii. 37, 38.


1 Chron. xxi. 1. Psal. cix. 6. Zech. iii. 1, 2.

2 Job. xxix. xxxi.

so ignorant of astronomy, that they had no words answerable to them. The learned reader will know that no such words occur in the Hebrew Bible; and the unlearned may be assured that the original word for Arcturus is Ash, that for Orion is Chesil, and that for Pleiades, Chima.1


In order to calumniate the Jews, the heathens are said to be a just and moral people, not ad'dicted to cruelty and revenge.' What heathens are meant I know not: but the writers of the Greeks and Romans, and of every other nation whose histories are extant, represent mankind in a very different light. Romances about just and moral nations, not addicted to cruelty and revenge, may be found; but where shall we meet with an authentic history of such a people by an impartial and well-informed writer:


If the Spirit of God spake by the Psalmist, "and his words were upon his tongue;"2 and if Christ and his apostles may be credited; the Psalms which some persons venture to call revengeful were prophecies, and denunciations of vengeance on the enemies of the Messiah and his cause. That many of them are predictions, which have been most wonderfully accomplished, no sober man can deny.3 And, whatever ridicule may be employed to degrade the Psalms, they are undoubtedly a collection of the most beautiful

'Job. ix. 9; xxxviii. 31, 32.

3 Psal. xxii. lxix. cx.

2 2 Sam. xxiii. 2.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »