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earth is .pronounced to be incompatible with the divine attributes, while the destruction of the whole world by the deluge is passed by without any such comment. But the deluge is a fact authenticated by such variety of proofs, and so universally acknowledged in all ages and countries, that its consistency with the justice of God must be allowed, or his moral government must be at once denied. And yet, in reality, the general destruction of the human race by the deluge, and the partial extermination of the inhabitants of Canaan by the Israelites, are to be accounted for upon precisely the same principle. In both cases it was the enormous wickedness of the people which drew upon them such signal punishment : “ The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence: and God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through then) ; and behold, I will destroy them from the earth (k).” And Moses expressly declared to the people of Israel, when they were about to take possession of Canaan, the cause which brought upon the inhabitants the punishment of destruction; "Speak not thou
(k) Genesis, c. 6. V. II, &c.
in thy heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land; but for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord doth drive them out from before thee: not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart, dost thou go to possess their land ; but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee (1).” When God first promised the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, he expressly declared that they were not to take possession of it till the fourth generation after they should remove into Egypt, “ Because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full (m);" that is, would not till then be full. It will scarcely be disputed that God might have given the children of Abraham more immediate possession of the land of Canaan, had he seen fit. It therefore appears, that the comparative righteousness of one nation postponed the fate of several others above 400 years; and that it was not till the measure of wickedness was completed, that they were destroyed by the outstretched arm of the Almighty, who led on his chosen people, and commanded them to execute his judgments upon
(1) Deut, c. 9. v. 4 and 5.
these incorrigibly wicked nations, which were designed at the same time to be a warning to themselves (n). And thus this command, so far from being repugnant to the attributes of God, affords an example of his mercy and forbearance, and establishes rather than invalidates the truth of the Pentateuch, and its claim to divine authority
With respect to the marks of a posterior date, or at least of posterior interpolation, so often urged with an insidious design to weaken the authority of the Pentateuch, it will be sufficient to observe, that it may safely be admitted that Joshua, Samuel, or some one of the succeeding prophets, wrote the account of the death of Moses, contained in the last chapter of Deuteronomy; and that Ezra, when he transcribed the history written by Moses, changed the names of some places, which were then become obsolete, to
“ Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day-It shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them; I testify against you this day, that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.” Deut. c. 8. Y. 11, 19, and 20.
those by which they were called in his time, and added, for the purpose of elucidation, the few passages which are allowed to be not suitable to the age of Moses. Now, surely, when it is considered that these few passages are of an explanatory nature; that they are easily distinguished from the original writings of Moses; and that Ezra was himself an inspired writer raised up by God to re-establish the Jewish church, after the return from captivity, the cavils founded upon such circumstances can scarcely be thought deserving of any serious attention.
It is sometimes asserted that there is a sameness of language and style in the different books of the Old Testament, which is not compatible with the different ages usually assigned to them, and thence an inference is drawn unfavourable to the Authenticity of these books, and particularly to that of the Pentateuch. To this objection we may answer, that it is founded upon an untrue assertion; for those who are best acquainted with the original writings of the Old Testament agree, that there is a marked difference in the style and language of its several authors; and one learned man in particular concludes from that difference, “ that it is certain the five books, which are ascribed to Moses, were pot written in the time of David, the Psalms of
David in the age of Isaiah, nor the Prophecies of Isaiah in the time of Malachi (0).” But let us consider the case of the Greek authors, whose works have come down to the present time. The age of Hesiod and Hoiner, the two oldest Greek writers, is not precisely known; but Blair, and most other chronologers, place them about 900 years
before Christ; and we know that Longinus, who was perhaps the latest of the authors called classical, lived towards the end of the third century after Christ; there was therefore an interval of almost 1200 years between Homer and Longinus, which happens rather to exceed the interval between Moses and Malachi, the first and last of the Hebrew authors. If therefore the Greek language remained through twelve centuries without any material change, why might not the Hebrew? In fact, the Hebrew was less liable to alteration, because the Hebrews, till the Captivity, had very little intercourse with other nations. But the argument from the Greek language is still stronger, even if it be confined to prose writers, whose ages are certainly known. It will readily be granted that Herodotus wrote his history about 450 years before Christ, and that Eustathius wrote his Commentary upon
(0) Marsh on the Authenticity of the five books of Moses.