« 이전계속 »
I lay before the public some of the results of my studies
the books containing the record of the Divine revelation through Moses.
On some accounts I could certainly have desired to keep the work longer by me.
To say nothing of a literary finish, which it is not likely that the little leisure I enjoy would soon have afforded me opportunity to attempt, paths of inquiry have been continually opening before me as I proceeded, which I have longed to follow, and which I have believed would lead to important illustrations and confirmations of views presented in this volume.
But life is short, and art is very long. If some years should be yet before me, I do not suppose, that they would be most profitably employed in following out separately my own trains of thought and investigation. I would rather seek the advantage of comparing my conclusions, such as they are, with those of my fellow-students in this department; and I venture to hope, that the present
essay may be not without utility in calling attention to some prominent questions, and thus finally leading to clearer and more satisfactory opinions respecting the Jewish system, than are commonly entertained.
Of the parts of this discussion, which will be thought liable to objection, it is likely, that what relate to the Sabbath, and to the supply of Manna and the miraculous guidance of a cloud in the wilderness, will be viewed with as little favor as any other. I request those, who, after well considering the substance of the third Lecture, still think that I have used unreasonable freedom with the text in the former of these instances, to suspend their judgment, till we have advanced to the examination of some books in which important facts relating to the history of the text are better developed.
The question upon the two other points, is simply one of safe and judicious interpretation of the record, The reader will not need to be reminded, that no objection is raised to the common opinion, on the ground of its presumption of miraculous agency. My theory of miracles is extremely simple. I know nothing of any Laws of Nature, which are to restrain God. What we call by that name, are merely the results, stated in general terms, of our own observations on the actual course of events.
Show me an occasion, which engages the Divine be
nevolence to make a direct revelation of truth, and immediately (because I know no other way to authenticate a revelation) miracles become as credible to me as other events, and as capable of being substantiated by sufficient human testimony. And such an occasion I recognise to have existed, when, the world being overrun with pernicious idolatries, the doctrine of one God made its appearance in Judaism.
If, however, it belongs to a miracle, intended as an instrument of conviction, to be extraordinary, — that is, rare, - I submit it to the candid judgment of others, how, to the end of authenticating the revelation, appearances like those in question can be satisfactorily understood to have been permanently exhibited through forty years, so as to be daily witnessed by multitudes from infancy to manhood. In examining this part of the record, with a view to ascertain how much it declares, I have wished to express myself modestly; and I freely grant, that these phenomena may have had other objects, requiring their permanency, independent of that virtue of theirs as miraculous evidence, which it would seem the quality of permanency must impair. In respect to the provision of Manna, particularly, it may have been, that while the better sort of the people had supplies of their own, others needed to be fed by a continuous supernatural dispensation ;
and it may have been necessary, for the security of the Tabernacle from roving tribes, that it should be pitched, for the most part, in barren and unfrequented tracts, where its attendants would be cut off from the common sources of supply.
The little space, given in this volume to single important investigations, will be observed to be a necessary incident of the extent of the plan. To ask, for instance, why I have not treated the question of the Canon more at large, would be merely to inquire why I have not projected a different work.
Such consideration as the system of Typical Interpretation appears to me to merit, I reserve for the third of the volumes, designed to compose this series.
My common use of the word Jews for the descendants of Jacob might be made the subject of a punctilious criticism. But it seemed to me, that to study to avoid it would be affectation ; and, indeed, at the time of the revolt of the northern tribes, the word Israelites, which might be thought entitled to a preference, became equally specific in its sense, as the name of only part of the race.
In only two or three instances have I been compelled to give references at second hand, for want of access to the original authorities. In these cases, taught by much hard experience how unsafe it is to rely upon the exactness of quotations, I have taken care to testify to nothing more than the representation made by the modern scholar.
For the typographical execution of the volume, I am under great obligations to the learned and faithful conductors of the University Press. Such errata as I have observed, are exhibited in a table, to which I request the reader's attention.
After a thorough revisal, Hebrew types are so liable to injury in the course of printing, that, where they are used, errors may not improbably be found in some copies, which do not appear upon the sheets in my hand.
Finally ; it would give me the truest satisfaction, if I might learn, that views, here presented, had been the means, in any instance, of removing scruples, which once painfully exercised my own mind. Divinity College, Cambridge, Massachusetts ;
December 30th, 1837.