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the heighth of it's glory, it is probable that literature together with arts and sciences, flourished, as they met with encouragement under those reigns; and David gives a high character of the law of God, which supposes him to have been well acquainted with it, seeing he had made it his meditation day and night; but if by the law of God be meant the law of Mofes in gross, then David seems to have carried the compliment much too high; or, at least, he must have differed greatly in his opinion from St. Peter and St. Paul, touching the excellency of that law. From Solomon's time, down to the Babylonis captivity, as the glory of the Jewis nation decreased, so they grew ignorant, and knew very little of their law; nor could the case well be otherwise, seeing the book of the law (by which, I suppose, must be meantthe Pentateuch) was keptasa facred treasure in the house of God; to which, of course, none could have access but the high-priest only. At the time of king Fofinh's reign, it seems to appear, that there was but one copy or book of the law then in being ; which, according to the history, had not been sought to for a long time, as it lay concealed in the temple, and was accidentally
found by Hilkiah the high-priest. And as, at that time, and, perhaps, at all times preceding, as well as the times that immediately followed, (till after the Babylonish captivity, when literature and a more general knowledge of what they esteemed to be their law took place among the Jews) the people had no copies of the Pentateuch put into their hands ; so it must have been very easy to have altered or corrupted those books, without a possibility of a discovery; and this of necessity lefsens the authority of the Pentateuch, and shews it to be a foundation much too weak to build things of importance upon,
so as to render it a solid foundation of our faith. Besides, when the Jews were carried captive to Babylon, and their city and temple were destroyed, it is not unlikely that the book of their law shared the same fate, and was destroyed with them, according to what Ezra or Efdras has declared concerning it, 2 Esdras xiv. 21. for the law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are (or have been done of thee, or the works that shall begin (or will be.) And as the book of the law, according to Esdras, was burnt ; so, according to him, that injury was repaired by Sarea, Dabrea, Sele
26 The Author's Farewe). found by Hilkiah the high-priest. And as, at that time, and, perhaps, at all times preceding, as well as the times that immediately followed, (till after the Babylonis captivity, when literature and a more general knowledge of what they esteemed to be their law took place among the Jews) the people had no copies of the Pentateuch put into their hands ; so it must have been very eafy to have altered or corrupted those books, without a possibility of a discovery; and this of necessity lefsens the authority of the Pentateuch, and Thews it to be a foundation much too weak to build things of importance apon, so as to render it a solid foundation of our faith. Besides, when the Jews were carried captive to Babylon, and their city ind temple were destroyed, it is not unlikely hat the book of their law shared the same Fate, and was destroyed with them, acording to what Ezra or Efdras has declared concerning it, 2 Esdras xiv. 21. for the law s burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things bat are (or have been done of thee, or the vorks that shall begin (or will be.) And s the book of the law, according to Esdras,
The Author's Farewel. 27 mia, Ecanus and Apel, who, in forty days, wrote two hundred and four books for the use of the Jews. But supposing the book of the law was not burnt, but was taken with all the vessels of the house of God great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the King and of his princes, and was carried with these to Babylon, 2 Chronicles xxxvi. 18. then this book must have been in a most ungarded. fate, and must have been greatly exposed to danger, that is, to corruption and alteration. From what I have obferved, I think, it appears, how little certainty we can attain to, with regard to the genuineness of the pentateuch; and consequently, with refpect to the truth of the facts that are related in it.
And, as to that familiarity and friends ship which, in the pentateuch, is represented to have taken place betwixt God and the Jewish patriarcbs, such as the Deity's afsuming human mape, and then eating and drinking, walking and talking with Abraham ; his frequently converfing with, and covering Moses's face with his hand, and shewing his back parts to Mofes, and the like; to apply such appearances and such fa
vas burnt ; so, according to him, that intry was repaired by Saréa, Dabrea, Sele
miliarity to the supreme Deity, to that immensity who is equally present in every part of infinite space, in the fame manner, kind and degree; I say, that the one God over all should exercise such freedom, such familiarity, with Abraham, Mofes, &c. as aforesaid, this is what an attentive mind cannot go easily into the belief of; and therefore, it cannot be admitted but with difficulty. If it should be faid, that the person who appeared to and conversed with Abraham, Mofes, &c. was not the supreme God himself, but his angel. To this it may be answered, that what or whomsoever the
person was who appeared to Abraham, &c. he assumed or took to himself the file or title of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob; as in Exodus iii. 6, 16. which agent or person, I think, was ever after considered by the Jews to be their God, or the God of Israel. I say, the Jews considered their God, or the God of Israel, to be the same being, agent, or person who was the God of their fathers, who had appeared to and conversed with Abraham in the plains of Mamre and elsewhere ; and who had likewise conversed with Mofes and other of their patriarchs, and had bound
himself by promise and oath to them; and therefore, if that being or person who had treated with the Jewish patriarchs, as aforefaid, was not the supreme God; then, the consequence is clear, that the God of Israel was not the supreme Deity, but only some tutelar subordinate God, consonant to the Pagan theology. Besides, the conduct of the God of Israel, in many instances, such as his commisoning the people of Israel to extirpate the Canaanites, putting men, women and children to death, and to possess themselves of their country and habitations his giving a bloody commision to Saul to destroy the Amalekites root and branch; and the like; these instances of cruelty will not comport with the just and proper moral character of the supreme Deity; and therefore, surely, are not to be placed to his account. From what I have observed, I think, it appears, that the Jewish revelation, in the grofs (whatever may be the case of some particular branches of it) cannot well be admitted as divine, without offering some kind of violence to the human mind.
As to the MAHOMETAN revelation, I acknowledge that I know but little of it, not do I think myself obliged to seek after. it';