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remiah would use that favour which he had with Ne-
And it is not to be doubted, but that these and other pious Men had Copies of it by them, and were very careful to preferve them. Maimonides v fays, that Mofes himself wrote out Twelve Books of the Law, one for each Tribe, befides that which was laid up in the fide of the Ark; and the Rabbins teach, that every one is obliged to have a Copy of the Pentateuch by him: And Ezra and Nehemiah are faid to have brought Three hundred Books of the Law into the Congregation affembled at their Return from Captivity. It is certain, there were Scribes of the Law, before the Captivity, and in the time of it, Jer. viii. 8. Ezra is ftiled a ready Scribe in the Law of Mofes; and the Scribe, even a Scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his ftatutes to Ifrael: And by Artaxerxes, in his Letter, he is call'd a Scribe of the law of the God of heaven, Ezra vii. 6, 11, 12.
s Jofeph. vit. fub fin.
▾ Maimon. Præf. in Seder Zeraim. p. 3.
w Druf. de Trib. Sect. 1. 3. c. 11. Pirke Rab. Eliefer c. 38.
t2 Maccab. ii. 5.
By which it appears, that there were Scribes of the Law during the Captivity, who were known by this folemn Style and Character, and whofe Care and Employment it was, to ftudy and write over the Law, of whom Ezra was the principal at the time of their Return.
It is moft probable then, that the Book of the Law was preferv'd in Mofes's own hand, till the coming of the Jews from Babylon; befides the Copies that were preferv'd in the hands of Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Zechariah, and the other Prophets, who were not only of unquestionable Integrity, but wrote themselves by Divine Inspiration.
3. Nothing is more exprefly forbidden in the Books of Mofes, than all Fraud and Deceit; and it cannot reasonably be fufpected, that any Man would be guilty of a Fraud of the highest nature imaginable, to introduce or establish a Law that forbids it. MoJes had forewarn'd them against all fuch Practices, both in his Laws in general, and by an express Prohibition: Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, Deut. iv. 2. And all who had any Regard to the Obfervation of his Laws, would obferve this, as well as other parts of it; for this preferv'd the Authority of all the reft inviolable: And if they had had no Regard to the Law, but had alter'd it as they pleas'd, they. would certainly have made fuch Alterations as would have gratify'd the People, and would have taken great care to leave nothing which might give Offence; but the Laws of Mofes are fuch, as that without a Divine Authority to enforce them, they would never have been comply'd with, but would have been grievous to a lefs fufpicious and impatient People than the Jews were. If it be faid, That the Prohibition against Alterations might be added amongst other things; there is no ground of Probability for it, but fo much odds against it, that a Man might as well fufpect that any
other Paffage in the whole Five Books had been forged, as to pitch upon that particular Verfe, and fay that it is not genuine, Befides, why fhould Impoftors infert fuch a Clause as would hinder them from changing any thing in the Law ever after? Why should they not rather referve to themselves a liberty of changing and adding as often as they thought fit?
2. As the Laws themselves could not be invented nor alter'd after Mofes's time; fo neither could the Account of the Miracles wrought by him, be inserted after his Death, by any particular Man, nor by any Confederacy or Combination of Men whatfoever. For if the Miracles, by which the Law is fuppofed to be confirm'd, were afterwards inferted, they must be intended as a Sanction, to give Authority to it, and keep the People in awe, when they were become uneafie and difobedient under the Government of those Laws. But it muft needs be much more difficult to introduce Laws at firft, than to govern a People by them, after they have been once introduc'd, and are fettl'd and receiv'd amongst them. Indeed, it is incredible, how Laws, fo little favourable to the Eafe or Advantage of a People, which were fo expensive and burthenfome in their Ceremonies, and which were purpofely defign'd, in many things, to be contrary to the Cuftoms of all the Nations round about them, and to: the Customs which they had been themfelves acquainted with in Ægypt, in fo many Inftances, could be at first introduced, but by Miracle: But if they couldi have been once introduc'd without Miracles, there is no reason to think, but that when the People were ufed and accustom❜d to them, there would have been no need of any Pretence of Miracles, to keep them in o bedience to them; and as little reafon there is to ima→ gine that they would have been over-aw'd by a Report of Miracles, which muft be fuppos'd never to have been heard of, till the People gave occafion for: the Invention of them, by their Difobedience...
The Books of Mofes were read (as I have fhewn) in the Synagogues, or Religious Affemblies, in the feveral Tribes, at leaft every Sabbath-day, and were appointed to be folemnly read, in the audience of all the People, at the Feast of Tabernacles, every Seven Years: and if they had had no Knowledge of the Law of Mcfes, but from the Rehearfal of it at the Feast of Tabernacles; yet can we conceive, that the Body of the Jew ifb Nation fhould be fo ftupid and forgetful, as not to remember when thefe Miracles must be fuppofed to be first read to them, that they had never heard them before? But how impoffible is it, that they fhould be thus impofed upon, when they heard the Books of Mofes read every Week to them, and had them befides in their own keeping, to read them at their lei fure? The Miracles now make up great part of the Books of Mofes; they are every where interfpers'd and intermix'd, throughout the Hiftory; and they are of fuch a nature, as is moft apt to make Impreffioh upon the Memories of Men: And can we imagine, that Miracles, fo often repeated, and every where inculcated, could be inferted by any Contrivance, and impofed upon a People who were all wont to hear the Law publickly read in a folemn Affembly once every Seven Years, and heard it read in their Synagogues befides every Seventh Day? Would they not be infinitely furpriz'd, the first time they heard the Relation of the Plagues inflicted on the Egyptians, of the Judgment upon Korah and his Company, and of the miraculous Punishments which befel the Idolatrous and Disobedient in the Wildernefs? Would they not foon have found out fo obvious a Deceit, as this must have been, if it had been one? If we can think that fuch Infertions could pafs without difcovery; why may we not as well believe too, that as many more might be made now, and not be difcover'd? Would' not the whole Body of the People have been able to testify that all this was counterfeited, and inferted in
to the Law; for no fuch thing was read to them in their Synagogues upon the Sabbaths, nor had been read at the end of the laft Seven Years, but it was all now added to terrify them, and keep them from following the Cuftoms of other Nations? Would not this have been the worst Contrivance that could have been thought of, to keep a People in awe, to tell them of fuch things as every Man of them could difprove, that was of Age, and had but Understanding and Memory enough to know what he had heard fo often read before, and to diftinguish it from fuch things as are fo remarkable, that they could hardly efcape any one's Memory, who had ever heard of them?
They had Books of the Law for their private reading; and befides the reading of it in their Weekly Aflemblies, they had a folemn Publication and Proclamation of their Law once every Seven Years, as it were purpofely to prevent any Defign of falfifying it: And to have read any thing fo remarkable, as the Miracles of Mofes are, in all their circumftances, fo often repeated and infifted upon, if the People had not found them in their own Books, and had not been used to hear them read to them, from the time of the giving the Law by Mofes, had been only for the Projectors to proclaim themselves Impoftors, but could never have deceived any Man. How impoffible any contrivance of this Nature would have been among a People fo fufpicious and turbulent as the Jews, we may perceive from what happen'd to an African Bishop who had a defign to introduce the Tranflation of St. Jerom into his Church. For when his People obferved Hedera to be read for Cu-curbita, that is, Ivy instead of Gourd, Jonah iv. they were in fuch an uproar on the alteration of this one word, in a difputable Cafe, and of little or no Confequence, that he was forc'd to continue the former Reading.
* Auguftin. ad Hieronym. Ep.