페이지 이미지

fo great a neceffity of Divine Revelation, in order to the Happiness of Mankind, both in this World and the next, it is not to be believed that he would defer it fo long, before he made known his Will, as 'till the date of the first Antiquities amongst the Heathen. It cannot be denied, that fome Books of the Scripture are much the ancienteft Books of Religion in the World; for it were in vain to pretend that the Works in this kind (or indeed in any other) of any Heathen Author, can be compared with the Pentateuch, for Antiquity. And the Antiquity of thefe Books is one confiderable Circumftance, whereby we may be convinced that they are of Divine Revelation. For if God would not fuffer the World to continue long in a ftate of Ignorance and Wickedness without a Revelation, we may conclude, that he would not fuffer the Memory of it to be loft; and therefore a Book of this nature, which is fo much the ancienteft in the World, being conftantly received as a Divine Reve lation, carries great Evidence with it that it is Authentick. For the firft Revelation, as hath been proved, is to be the Criterion of all that follow; and God would not fuffer the ancienteft Book of Religion in the World to pafs all along under the Notion and Title of a Revelation, without caufing fome Difcovery to be made of the Impofture, if there were any in it; much less would he preferve it by a particular and fignal Providence for fo many Ages. It is a great Argument for the Truth of the Scriptures, that they have ftood the Teft, and receiv'd the Approbation of fo many Ages, and ftill retain their Authority though fo many ill Men, in all Ages, have made it their Endeavour to difprove them: But it is ftill a farther Evidence in behalf of them, that God has been pleased to fhew fo remarkable a Providence in their Prefervation.


The Account we have of Divine Revelation, in the Writings of Mofes, is from the Creation of the World; for

for he relates the Intercourfe which from the Beginning paft between God and Man; and this might be deliver'd down, either by Writing or by Tradition, 'till Moses's time. For Methuselah living with Adam, and Shem with Methuselah, Ifaac with Shem, and Amram the Father of Mofes living with the Patriarchs, the Sons of Jacob, the Hiftory of the Creation, and of the Manifeftations which God had been pleas'd to make of himself to their Forefathers, could not be unknown to that Age: Such a Pofterity could not but be zealous to preferve the Memory of fo great Honours and Bleffings; and their living in Goshen, feparate from the Egyptians, did much contribute to the Preservation of their Antiquities; for there they liv'd in expecta→ tion of a Deliverance, and of feeing the Prophecies fulfill'd, that were made to their Fore-fathers concerning it. The famous Prediction made to Abraham, Gen. xv. 13. could not be forgotten in fo few Generations; for the coming out of Egypt, was, as it was there foretold it fhould be, in the Fourth Generation, reckoning from Ifaac, the first of the promis'd Seed, to Mofes exclufively, Exod. vi. 16.

Mofes feems to refer to fome things that happen'd near the Beginning of the World, as well known in his own time, as Gen. iv. 22. where he fays, The Sifter of Tubal-Cain was Naamah: For no probable Account can be given, why Naamah fhould be mention'd, but because her Name was then well known among the Ifraelites, for fome reafon which it doth not concern us to be acquainted with, but which ferv'd to confirm to them the reft of the Relation. Some have deliver'd, that Naamah, by her Beauty, entic'd the Sons of God, or the Pofterity of Seth, to commit Idolatry, Gen. vi. 2. And fo, Gen. xi. 29. we read, that Haran was the Father of Ifcah, as well as of Milcah; and Gen. xxxvi. 24. this was that Anah D 3


that found the Mules (or the Hot-Baths, or that fell upon the Emins, or Giants, mention'd Deut. ii. 10, 11. however the word be understood) in the wildernefs, as he fed the Alles of Zibeon his Father. In the Catalogue of the Kings of Edom, none of their Wives are mentioned, but the Wife of Hadar, and we are told that her Name was Mahetabel, and that fhe was the Daughter of Matred, the Daughter of Merahab, Gen. xxxvi. 39. Why fuch Particularity, but because these Names were then famous? Thefe, and fuch-like Particulars, must have been preferv'd and commonly known among the Ifraelites, and were therefore inferted to ferve as Epocha's, and Notes of Remembrance, for the better understanding the reft of the Hiftory. The Story and manner of Life of Nimrod was convey'd in a Proverb; Wherefore it is faid, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord, Gen. x. 9. The Remembrance of Abraham's offering up his Son, was retain'd both by the Name of the Place, and by a Proverbial Saying, And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh as it is faid to this day, In the mount of the Lord it fhall be feen, Gen. xxii. 14. And there is no doubt to be made, but that there were other the like Remembrances of the most remarkable Tranf actions. Reasons are affign'd of the Names of Adam and Eve, of Cain, and Seth, and Noah, of Melchifedek, of Abraham and Sarah, and Ifaac and Jacob. The Names of all the Patriarchs imported fomething remarkable in their Signification, and were defign'd to preserve the Remembrance of what had come to pafs. The Names of Places likewife were appointed for Memorials, Gen. xix. 22. xxviii. 19. xxxi. 49. xxxii. 30. And the Sepulchres of the

a Interp. Vulgat. Invenit Aquas Calidas.

Invenit Gigantes in Solitudine, Chald. Paraph. "Os siger ✈ Ἰαμεῖν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, LXX. Interpr,


Dead were hiftorical Monuments for the Information of Posterity. Abraham purchafed Macpelah for a Burying-place; and when Jacob bury'd Rachel near Bethlehem, he erected a Pillar to her Memory, Gem. xxiii. 17. xxxv. 20. It may perhaps feem ftrange to fome Readers, that the digging of Wells fhould be particularly taken notice of, and that the Names given them fhould be fo carefully recorded by Mofes, Genef. xvi. 14. xxi. 31. xxiv. 62. xxv. II. xxvi. 20, 21, 33. But as Wells in thofe Countries were more rare, and of more neceffary ufe and benefit, than in colder and moifter Climates; fo they ferv'd as fo many Memorials to Pofterity, of what had befallen their Fore-fathers, and the Names of them ftand register'd by Mofes, in Confirmation of the Truth of what he wrote.- But the Flood being the greatest Epocha of Time, the Hiftory of this is above all deliver'd with moft Exactnefs: The Dimensions of the Ark, the Height of the Waters, and not only the Year, but the Month and Day, when the Waters were brought upon the Earth; and when it became dry, are punctually fet down, Gen. vi. 15. vii. II, 20. viii. 13, 14.

Jofephus has prov'd, that Authors of all Nations agree, that in ancient Times Men liv'd to the Age of about a Thousand Years; and fome are known to have liv'd to a very great Age in latter Times. But however, it had been more ferviceable to Moles's purpose, if he had had any other Design but Truth, that Men fhould not have been fo long-liv'd. For when he had fo much scope for his Invention, (if it had been an Invention of his own) he would never have fix'd the Creation of the World at the distance of fo few Generations from the time in which he wrote, but would rather have made the Generations of Men more, and their Lives fhorter, that fo he might the better have conceal'd his Fictions in obfcure and uncertain Relations, which must be fuppos'd to


be deliver❜d through fo many Hands down to that Age. Of the Ten Patriarchs before the Flood, all but Noah liv'd foon enough to fee Adam and the other Patriarchs their Progenitors; and Noah himself was old enough to know all of them, but Adam, Seth, and Enoch. The Distance of Time from the Flood to Mofes was more than it is from the Conqueft to the prefent Age, but half of this time Noah himself was living and therefore allowing for the greater length of Mens Lives in thofe Ages than in ours, the time when Mofes wrote cannot be computed at fo great a distance from the Flood, as we are at from the Reformation. But is it poffible to make any Man of tolerable Senfe, amongst us, believe that Henry VIII. was the first King of England? That there was a Deluge in his time which fwept away all the Inhabitants of this Ifland, and of the whole World befides, but fome feven or eight Perfons, and that all whom we now fee were born of them? And yet this, as ridiculous as it feems, is no more abfurd than Mofes's Account of the Creation and the Flood, must have been to thofe of his own Time, if it were falfe.

For it is very reasonable to think, as Jofephus informs us, that Writing was in ufe before the Flood: And it is not improbable, as fome have conjectur'd, that the Hiftory of the Creation, and the relt of the Book of Genefis, was, for the Subftance of it, deliver'd down to Mofes's time in Verfe, which was the moft cafe to be remembred, and the most antient of all forts of Writing, and was at firft chiefly ufed for Matters of Hiftory, and confifted of plain Narration, without much of Art or Ornament. We read of Inftrumental Mufick, Gen. iv. 21. before the Flood; and Vocal Mufick being fo much more natural than Inftrumental, it is likely that Poetry was of as great Antiquity, both in their Hymns and Prailes of God, and as a Help to their Memories, which


« 이전계속 »