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A.M. 2553. obstacle and improbability, he not only succeeded in this mighty B.C. 1451. project, but every step was so easy, every circumstance so accu
rately adjusted to promote his design, and yet so perfectly independent of his control, that we are forcibly and at once impressed with a conviction of his superiority to any other person, and behold in him the agent of a superintending Providence.
2. All the proceedings of Moses, subsequently to the deliverance out of Egypt, were characterized by an imprudence bordering upon insanity, if he be considered as acting from his own sole authority, uninfluenced by a divine appointment. The people, whom he voluntarily undertook to guide, were plunged by him into labyrinths of inextricable difficulty. Instead of leading them in the short and direct road to that luxurious residence, of the possession of which they were assured after expelling the present occupiers, he takes them in an opposite direction; so that a journey, which might have been accomplished in a few weeks, was protracted into forty years ; during which, they wandered about from wilderness to wilderness, in a thousand contrary paths—defenceless, destitute, and anxious. His personal safety was evidently endangered by this apparent misconduct; for what else could he anticipate than discontent and rebellion ? Was there not every reason to suppose they would rid themselves of so injudicious a commander ? and, in point of fact, they frequently upbraided him in the bitterest language, and demanded to be carried back to the country from which they had been induced to depart. But infinite wisdom knew how to relieve the people from distress, and to supply their every want. No embarrassments could possibly perplex the mind of God; and the Israelites were obviously involved in them according to his directions given to Moses, as the chief agent in his mysterious movements, in order to evince their dependence upon his power and goodness, and to show them that human means were altogether unavailable for
their salvation. Miracles he 3. The miracles of Moses, could not but afford to the Israelites, performed.
as the well authenticated record of them affords to us, indisputable attestations to his mission. Miracles must be considered in the light of divine credentials when they are performed by one who delivers a message in the sacred name of God; and appeals to them as evidences of having received a commission from heaven-supposing them to be wrought at the time by or in favour of the person himself who makes the pretension. They are to be viewed in such a case, as signs and testimonies of the divine approbation; and nothing can be more decisive. For the Supreme Being could never sanction falsehood by a miraculous interposition, inasmuch as he could neither deceive others, nor be himself deceived : and it is most obvious, that nothing but the execution of some design of the highest importance, could induce the Supreme Being to depart, in such a manner, from the order of his government, and suspend
those laws by which he regulates the universe. The twofold pur- A.M. 2553.
4. The prophetic character of Moses ought to be viewed, in con- Prophetic
Laws of divine authority.
A.M. 2553. as by a sort of moral mechanism ; evincing the designed connection B.C. 1451, and conformity. After furnishing a general illustration of the Mosaic
predictions, a learned writer concludes in these terms: “Here are instances of prophecies, prophecies delivered above three thousand years ago, and yet, as we see, fulfilling in the world at this very time: and what stronger proofs can we desire of the divine legation of Moses? How these instances may affect others, I know not; but for myself, I must acknowledge, they not only convince, but amaze and astonish me beyond expression. They are truly, as Moses foretold they would be, a sign and a wonder for ever.”
5. An important and decisive argument, in support of the divine authority of the mission of the Jewish leader, may be deduced from the very nature and character of those laws which he promulgated among the Israelites. These we shall have occasion hereafter to explain: and to the whole of our subsequent statement upon this subject, we refer the reader for corroborative evidence; but there is one peculiar feature of Mosaic legislation, which has excited no small discussion in modern times; and which, from the celebrity of its
author, and the eloquence with which he defended it, requires upon Bp. Warbur- the principles of our work a brief development. “We demand
sis. only,” says WARBURTON, “ this single postulatum, that hath all the
clearness of self-evidence: namely, that a skilful lawgiver, establishing
as gratitude, hospitality, and charity; and besides it originates a A.M. 2553. new set of duties of the same description; society tends also to B.C. 1451. increase those very desires it was contrived to correct, in consequence of the multiplication of our wants proportionally with the arts of civilized life. Society is not only imperfect with respect to the administration of that power which it possesses, of punishing the disobedient, but still more so, in the dispensation of rewards to the obedient; understanding by this term, not the recompense bestowed in consideration of meritorious service, but such as is conferred on every one for obeying the laws of his country. Two things are here to be noticed—the first, that by the original constitution of civil government, the sanction of rewards was not established ; the only stipulation between the magistrate and the people being the mere protection on the one side, and obedience on the other, which arose out of their respective conditions: the second, that by the very nature of civil government, rewards could not be enforced by it; for society could neither distinguish the objects of its favour, all that could be done being merely to discover whether the act were wilful or voluntary, without taking cognizance of the motive; nor could it reward, though it should discover them, because no society can find a sufficient fund without raising it on the people as a tax to pay it back as a reward. Some other power, therefore, is needed to remedy these defects, and preserve society from confusion ; but there is no other power to be found than religion, which teaches an overruling Providence, the rewarder of good men, and the punisher of bad ones ; and thus obliges to the duties of what are technically termed duties of imperfect obligation, which are overlooked by human regulations. Were it possible, which it is not, that there could be religion not founded on the doctrine of a Providence, it would be of no service to society; consequently, whatever is necessary to support this doctrine, is necessary to the wellbeing of society. The doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments is thus necessary, and must be inculcated. The second proposition relating to the concurrence of all Second mankind, in believing and teaching the utility of this doctrine, is prop demonstrable by appealing, first, to the conduct of lawgivers and institutors of civil polity; who always propagated religion wherever they instituted laws. There never was a people in any age, the Jews only excepted, who had a religion, the chief foundation of which was not the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments. The care of the civil magistrate in cultivating religion, is evinced from the universality of it amongst all civilized nations ;—from the very apparent absence of all traces of it, in many savage people, proving the extraordinary care taken for its preservation in a different state of society ;-and from the genius of pagan religion, with regard Proofs from
ganism. to the origin and nature of their gods, who were chiefly departed pagan legislators, kings, and founders of civil polity; the attributes assigned to them, which corresponded with the nature and genius of each
A.M. 2553. government, as gentle or severe; and the mode of their public worship, B.C. 1451. which concerned individuals who were confessed to be under an
unequal Providence, which necessarily introduced the doctrine of a future state for the support of the divine government and society in its corporate character, which displayed a more equal Providence administered to the state. Hence, religion and government were blended together, and prodigies constituted a part of the public administration, no less than civil edicts. The particular arts employed by the magistrate to support and propagate religion, consisted in pretending a revelation from some god, by whose express commands his policy had been framed: and hence Plato represents legislation as proceeding from God, and not from man; and Homer constantly describes kings by the epithets Aloyevels born of the gods; and Alotpepers, bred or tutored by the gods. This pretence to inspiration was adopted for the purpose of establishing the opinion of the superintendence of the gods over the affairs of mankind, not to secure the reception of their laws, nor to render those laws perpetual and immutable. Aristotle, in his maxims for setting up and supporting tyranny, gives this direction: “ To seem extremely attached to the worship of the gods, for that men have no apprehension of injustice from such as they deem to be religious, and to have a high sense of Providence. Nor will the people be apt to run into plots and conspiracies against those whom they believe the gods will, in their turn, fight for and support.”Another measure of the legislator was to introduce the general doctrine of a Providence, as a preface to give a sanction to his regulations: of this, antiquity has transmitted two valuable specimens in the prefaces to the laws of Zaleucus and Charondas, lawgivers of the Locrians, and contemporaries with Lycurgus. The next art was the institution of the mysteries, the most sacred part of the pagan religion, precisely adapted to strike the imaginations of the multitude, and instituted solely for the support of the doctrine of a future state of retribution. They consisted of secret worship; which, in addition to the public solemnities, was paid to each of the gods; and to which none were admitted, but those who were properly initiated, by certain preparatory ceremonies. This secrecy was observed for two reasons: the one, to excite curiosity; the other, to secure the sole instruction of the initiated, into some things which it would have been improper to have communicated to all. A further instance of the care of the magistrate for religion, was evinced in the establishment of a national worship. The direct purpose, in this case, was to support the religion which was already propagated, by taking it into civil protection, and uniting
it with the state. This touches upon a subject of much and frequent From the controversy. Warburton endeavours to show, that an established ment of religion is the universal voice of nature, and that the right to establish religion. it is vested in civil government: but in whatever manner these
Arist. Polit. L. 5, C. 11.