« 이전계속 »
doth it concern us to know; fome of them will have more to plead for themfelves, in point of Ignorance, than others can have; and they are in the hands of the merciful Creator and Saviour of Mankind, and there we must leave them. But it must be acknow ledg'd, that it is much more agreeable to the Goodnefs and Mercy of God, to reveal his Will, and to give fo many Opportunities to the World to be inftru&ted in it, though never fo many fhould neglec the Means of Salvation; than it is to fuppofe him to take no care to reduce Mankind to the Senfe and Praetice of Vertue and Religion, but to let them continue in all manner of Idolatry and Wickedness, without giving them any warning against it. I have not Spoken in fecret, in a dark place of the earth. Look unto me, and be ye faved all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none elfe. Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in fecret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I. Ifa. xlv. 19, 22. and xlviii. 16.
Having proved, that the Scriptures want nothing requifite to a Divine Revelation, in regard either of their Antiquity or Promulgation; I proceed to fhew, That they have fufficient Evidence, both by Prophecies and Miracles, in Proof of their Authority.
This Evidence depends upon Matter of Fact, which concerns either the Prophecies and Miracles themfelves, in their several Circumftances, as we find them stand recorded; or the Lives and Perfonal Qualifications of those by whom they were performed, or by whom they are related in the Scriptures. For if we can be affured both that they are truly related, and that, if the Prophecies and Miracles were fuch as they are related to have been, they could proceed from none but a Divine Power; we have all the Evidence for the Truth of the Scriptures that can be had for a Revelation.
CHA P. III.
Of Mofes and Aaron.
Hat Mofes was a very Great and Wife Man, and a most antient Lawgiver, is related by feveral of the most eminent Heathen Writers; and I think it has never been denied by any Man. But it is no lefs evident, that he was likewife a very Good and Pious Man. The first Forty Years of his Life, which were fpent in honour, he paffes over in filence, mentioning nothing of his own Education, nor of his Learning, in all the Wild m of the Egyptians, tho' this be related by St. Stephen, who alfo fays, that he was exceeding fair, and mighty in words and in deeds, (A&s vii. 20, 22.) or renowned both for the Arts of Peace and the Glory of Arms: His Beauty and his Wifdom are likewife taken notice of a by Trogus Pompeius, as well as by bJofephus, who alfo writes, That "Mofes obtain❜d a memorable Conqueft over the Æthiopians, who had over-run Egypt. And Artapanus mentions him as General of the Egyptian Forces against the Ethiopians, in a War which lafted Ten Years. However, we may be certain, that his Life in Pharaoh's Court was not fuch, as that he had performed nothing confiderable, or which might deferve to be taken notice of: yet the first thing which Mofes mentions of himself, is his killing the Ægyptian, Exod. ii. 12. an Action, which fome have thought blameable, with little Reafon indeed; but he took no care to prevent the Cenfure, tho' St. Stephen vindicates him, by obferving that he acted by a Divine Commiffion. For Forty Years more, he fays little of him
Juftin. 1. 36. c. 2. b Antiq. 1. 2. c. 5.
felf, but, that he dwelt in the Land of Midian, and there married Jethro's Daughter, by whom he had Two Sons. And when God had appeared to him in the Bush, it is faid, that afterwards, the Lord met him, and fought to kill him, (Exod. iv. 24.) for having neglected to circumcife one of his Sons. Mofes has left fuch an Account of himself, as might feem Detraction, if another had given it; fo much is concealed, and fo little told, but what was either really to be blamed, or might be liable to mifconftruction. He frequently declares his own Failings and Infirmities, Exod. iii. 11. and iv. 1, 10, 13. Num. xi. 10. xx. 12. and xxvii. 14. and never speaks any thing tending to his own Praife, but upon a juft and neceffary occafion, when it might become a prudent and modeft Man, efpecially one Divinely Infpired: For all the Praife of fuch an one doth not terminate in himself, but is attributed to God, whofe Inftrument and Servant he is; and in fuch cafes where God's Honour is concerned, it was a Duty to fet forth the Favour and Goodness of God towards him, though fome Honour did redound to himself thereby. The greatest Masters of Decency have not thought it always improper for Men to commend themselves, either because they fuppofed fome occafions might require it, or because it was a more ufual thing in ancient Times, when Mens Lives and Manners were more natural and fincere; and they oftner spoke as they thought both of themselves and others; yet we no where find Men fpeaking fo freely in difparagement of themselves, as in the Holy Scriptures: Which fhews, that Mofes, and the reft of the Infpired Writers, little regarded their own Praife or Difpraife, but wrote what God was pleased to appoint; it being a thing indifferent to them, fo God might be honoured, whether they loft or gained in their own Reputation by it. But what we read of Mofes, Num. xii. 3. that he was very meek above all the men which K 3
were upon the face of the earth, which is the only commendable Character that Mofes gives of himself, may be tranflated, that he was the most afflicted Man, (ac cording to the Marginal Reading;) and if he mentions his own Meeknefs, he mentions alfo his great Anger, or heat of Anger, Exod. xi. 8. and his being very wroth, Num. xvi. 15. But if Mofes had not had more respect to Truth, than to his own Reputation, he would never have left it upon Record, That he fo often declined the Meffage and Employment which God appointed him to undertake, Exod. iii. 11, 13. and iv. 1, 10, 13, 14. and that God was angry with him upon other occafions, and for that reafon would not permit him to enter into the promised Land: He would certainly have afcribed Balaam's Prophecy, and Jethro's Advice, to himself; at least he would ne ver have recorded, That by Jethro's Counsel, he took up a new and better Method for the adminiftration of Juftice: If he had been led by Ambition and Vain-glory, he would have endeavoured by these things, to adorn his own Character; and would never have leffen'd it, by telling his own Infirmities at the fame time, when, to the diminution of himself, he publishes the Excellencies of others. The Wonders of the Magicians of Ægypt are not conceal'd by him and being to give an account of his own Genealogy from Levi, he first fets down the Families of Reuben and Simeon, the two elder Brothers, left he might feem to arrogate too much to himself, and his own Tribe. Some have obferved, that Mofes relates his own Birth to have been by a Marriage contrary to the Laws afterwards by himself eftablifhed: which indeed is doubtful, by reafon of the latitude of fignification in the word Sifter in the Hebrew Language, which is here taken by the Septuagint for his Coufin German, (Exod. vi. 20.) yet it is certain, he was not careful to avoid the being thought to have been born from fuch a Marriage, as he would have been, if his
Laws had been of his own contrivance, left his own Reputation, or the Authority of his Laws, or per haps both, might have fuffered by it, Exod. vi. 14, 20. He fets forth the Ingratitude, Idolatry, and perpetual Revolts and Murmurings of his whole Nation, and relates the Failings and Faults of their Ancestors the Patriarchs, and particularly of Levi, from whom he was defcended, Gen. xxxiv. 30. and xlix. 6. He spares neither his People, nor his Ancestors, nor himself, in what he relates; and thefe are all the Characters of a faithful Hiftorian, and a fincere Man, that can be defired.
And as Mofes was not ambitious of Praise, so neither was he ambitious of Power and Dominion. For befides that he entered upon fuch an Undertaking, as no fober Man would have attempted without a Revelation, it appearing otherwife impoffible to accomplifh it, his whole Conduct fhews, that he had no defign of advancing his own Intereft or Dominion. If he had been never fo Ambitious, he needed not have gone into the Wilderness to feek his Preferment, amongft a wandring and flubborn People, when he had been bred up to all the Honours and the Pleasures that Egypt or Pharaoh's Court could afford: but he refu fed to be called the fon of Pharaoh's daughter obufing ra ther to fuffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of fin for a feafon; efteeming the reproach of Chrift greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, Heb xi. 24, 29. He undertook to lead the People of Ifrael, for Forty Years, through a barren Wilderness; where he could promife himself but a very uneafie and inglorious Reign, if that had been his Defign; and, by the courfe of Nature, he could not hope to outlive that period of Time: and tho' he was preferved, in his Old Age, in the full ftrength and vigour of Manhood; yet, upon their entrance into the promised Land, he meekly refigned himfelf to death, in the very fight and borders of Canaan; knowing before-hand K 4