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the world, in the infancy of nature! The last followers of a religion, which had embraced the universe, have disappeared these fifteen centuries ; and our temples are still standing! We alone have been spared by the indiscriminating hand of time, like a column left standing amidst the wreck of worlds and the ruins of nature! The history of this people connects present times with the first ages of the world, by the testimony which it bears of the existence of those early periods : it begins at the cradle of mankind, and its remnants are likely to be preserved to the very day of universal destruction. All men, whatever may be their opinions and the party which they have adopted : whether they suppose, that the will of God is to maintain the people, which he has chosen; whether they consider that constancy which characterizes the Jews, as a reprehensible obstinacy; or, lastly, if they believe in a God, who, regarding all religions with equal complacency, needs no other wonders to exemplify his greatness, but the incessant and magnificent display of the beauties of nature : all, if their minds are susceptible of appreciating virtue and tried firmness, will not refuse their just admiration to that unshaken constancy unparallelled in the annals of any nation *.
III. We have now seen both the prophecy and its minute accomplishment: we have next to consider the train of reasoning, which obviously and naturally springs from them.
An appeal to the justice of kings and nations, cited in Transactions of the Parisian Sanhedrim. p. 64.
On the one hand, then, we have a very ancient prophecy, not couched in dark and ambiguous terms, but perfectly plain and intelligible: a prophecy, which is contained in the sacred books of the Jews, though it explicitly sets forth their own condemnation; a prophecy, universally believed by them, from generation to generation, to have been uttered by their great legislator Moses more than fourteen centuries before the Christian era ; a prophecy, which, on every sound principle of historical evidence, the infidel himself cannot but allow to have been in existence long anterior to the dispersion of the Jews first by Titus and afterwards by Adrian *.
On the other hand, we have, partly recorded in history, and partly at this very moment taking place even under our own eyes, a most minute and exact accomplishment of the prophecy : so minute and exact indeed, that it does not merely correspond with the prophecy in some vague and general outlines, but agrees with it in a vast number of separate and independent particulars.
This, whatever we may think of it, is at least the naked and indisputable matter of fact : on the one hand, we have a prophecy, confessedly delivered long before its accomplishment; and,
* It may be briefly remarked, that the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Greek version of the Seventy afford a collateral evidence to the genuineness and high antiquity of the prophecy of Moses : but, in truth, I know not, that any infidel writer has ever ventured to deny its priority to its accomplishment.
on the other hand, we have its accomplishment so marked and decided, that the circumstance of an exact completion cannot possibly be controverted.
So stands the fact : the only question therefore is, how we are to account for it.
The believer, whether Jew or Christian, conceiving himself to have a knot which the Deity alone can untie, finds the solution of the problem in a divine revelation. God only can evolve the roll of futurity: but the roll of futurity has here been evolved, even to a considerable number of very minute particulars : therefore God, speaking by the mouth of Moses, has evolved that roll.
Thus reasons the believer upon an indisputable matter of fact, which alike presents itself to the attention of all mankind. But then, if his reasoning be admitted as just, the divine authority of the Levitical Dispensation, with its whole train of concomitant circumstances, follows immediately, as a necessary consequence. For, if God spake by Moses ; then was Moses a true prophet, and not a base impostor: and, if Moses were a true prophet inspired by God; then the code of religion, which he delivered to the Israelites, was not a politico-sacerdotal fraud, but a genuine revelation from heaven.
What then is to be done by the infidel: and how is he to account for the naked fact of the accomplishment of the prophecy, so as to evade
the necessity of calling in the aid of inspiration?
I am unable to form any idea to myself of more than two possible modes of attempted solution.
1. The first is, that Moses, being endowed with a large share of political sagacity, foresaw, with the keen eye of a profound statesman who ventures to predict effects from well-known existing causes, that the Israelites, being a comparatively weak people, would sooner or later be conquered and dispersed by some more powerful nation.
With respect to this theory, it is far too vague and indefinite to afford any satisfaction to a reasoning mind.
What causes could be so plainly and palpably in operation fifteen centuries before the desolation of the Jews, as to enable a sagacious politician to deduce from them the effects which stand developed in the prophecy of Moses? Had it been merely foretold, that the Israelites would be conquered and subjugated by some more powerful nation; it might perhaps have been somewhat difficult absolutely to prove the divinity of the prophecy from its faithful accomplishment : for the subjugation of a weaker by a stronger people is an event of familiar and perpetual occurrence. But the infidel must be aware, that such is not the sole purport of the prophecy before us. By what knowledge of cause and effect could Moses anticipate, at the distance of fifteen centuries, that the Jews would finally be subdued by a remote and not by a neighbouring people, by a nation whose language was unintelligible to them and not by a nation whose language they understood ? How could he foresee, that they would be scattered over the whole world ; and not merely, as in the ordinary course of victory, reduced to subjection? How could he securely pronounce, that their dispersion, when effected, would not be temporary, but of an immensely long duration? How could he know, that many of them would be sold as despised slaves into that Egypt, from which he was then triumphantly conducting them ? What conceivable train of thought could lead him to declare, that a people, then prosperous and triumphant and dreaded, should become an astonishment and a proverb and a by-word in every varied country of their dispersion ? All these several matters form integral parts of the prophecy, and they have all minutely taken place. If then we be required to account for the accomplishment of the oracle, on the ground that Moses sagaciously anticipated effects from known existing causes: we have certainly a right to demand, what causes were in existence more than fourteen centuries before the Christian era, from which such varied and multiplied and extraordinary effects might be securely foreseen and announced. The person, who can believe