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thence written in a book, still remains to be the word of God, first given by him.
The possibility of such inspiration must necessarily be allowed, for certainly it was no more wonderful for God to inspire man to write his will in a book, than it was to inspire him, or enable him to receive by continual influx, a regular train of ideas.
The question has long been asked by Deists, how shall we know that the Bible is the word of God? first, by being convinced from the Bible, that the precepts therein contained are worthy of God; that the pure spirit which runs through the whole, inculcates nothing but love to God and charity to all mankind, viz. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Deut. vi. 5. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Levit. xix. 18. Matt. vii. 12. Luke x. 27. These are the two great commandments which pervade every page of the Bible, and which, on this account, is truly called sacred: these are sacred duties. For the recorded wickedness of the Jews, or of any other nation mentioned in the Bible, makes no part of the word of God, any farther than as it shows, that a departure from those precepts of true religion recorded therein necessarily draws after it that train of fatal consequences, which is the result of that disobedience to the divine command, when the whole sum and substance of true religion contained in those two great propositions, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself," are not manifested in the life of man.
Secondly, from the accomplishment of those things foretold by the prophets, beginning with Moses, and which, to the astonishment of every impartial man, have been fulfilling from their times to the present day. Now as it must be evident, that none but God could open to man those scenes of futurity, which have been realizing for the space of 3300 years, and as those precepts of morality contained in the Bible could never be gathered from the book of nature, as man must have been totally ignorant in a savage state; and as it is clear, that be could not have been reformed, or civilized without a knowledge of those precepts; they must have been given by the Creator: consequently, as far as demonstration can make truth appear, it is undeniable proof, that the sacred scripture is the word of God.
THE RELIGION OF THE ANCIENT ARABIANS
Descended from the patriarch Abraham. It appears from sacred writ, that jthe Arabians descended from Ish. mael, the son of Abraham, Gen. xxv. 13—15. Here the sons of Ishmael, Jema and Kedar, are mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, as being the progenitors of the Arabians. Ch. xxi. 13—17. The burden of Arabia—the inhabitants of Jema—the children of Kedar. Arabia, in the original, is written in Arab, from the root Arab; it signifies priority, and is applied to the evening, as being prior to the morning in the historical order of the creation. This name was given to the descendants of Ishmael, because Ishmael was the elder brother. They observed the rite of circumcision as it was instituted by Abraham, who performed that rite on Ishmael, when he was thirteen years of age. It mu*t be allowed, that in the beginning they worshipped God as taught by this son of Abraham, for their rites and ceremonies were much the same as were afterwards observed by the Israelites. The dress of their priests was the same; they came before the altar in linen, with mitres and sandals; and swine's flesh
was forbidden as it was among the Hebrews. So that what has been said concerning the dispensation given to Abraham,-is also applicable to Ishmael and his descendants, so long as they continued in the true worship of God.
THE MODERN ARABIANS.
The established religion of the modern Arabians is Mahometanism, and the Zerif or Tserif of Mecca is the great patriarch. It is derived from the Hebrew word Tserif, to purify. No one can be the Zerif of Mecca unless he can prove himself lineally descended from Mahomet. He is the sovereign pontiff of the Mahometans, and his word, as a spiritual prince, in every thing relating to religion, is obeyed throughout all the Mahometan nations; such is the implicit faith in this high priest, that when any disputed matter is referred to him, his decision is received as conclusive; the hierarchy is vested solely in this descendant of Mahomet; like the oracles of the Pythian goddess, or the fiat of the Roman pontiff, there is no appeal beyond the denunciation of this eastern patriarch.
Moses was called to be the lawgiver of the Israelites, and to promulgate the unity of the Divine Being, in opposition to polytheism, at a time, when idolatry, like a mighty flood, had swept the true worship of God from the nations of the east, where it had been established by Abraham, the father of Aram, or the excellent, for 80 the /"
word means, that country being esteemed an excellent country. t
The Hebrews were captives in Egypt, where they were very severely treated by the Egyptians. Accordingly, Moses was sent by God, to bring them out from thence, under his divine protection, to the land of Canaan. At the mount Sinai, God descended in terrible majesty, and gave the law in the presence of the whole nation, as it is recorded in Exodus xx. Moses was also farther instructed in all things relative to the Jewish church, the sacrifices, offerings and ceremonies, which he committed to writing in five books, and which by way of distinction are called the books of Moses. These books contain the whole sum and substance of the religion of the Jews.
Before the time of Abraham, who was called four hundred and twenty-eight years after the flood, and five generations before Moses, the ancestors of the Jews were called Hebrews, from Eber, the father of Peleg, and afterwards Israelites, from the time of Jacob, who was called Israel. But his descendants were not known by the name of Jews, until the division of the nation, when ten out of the twelve tribes established the kingdom of Israel, in the year of the Julian period 3734, and who were overthrown as a nation, and carried into captivity in the year 3984 of the same period, after having existed as a separate people 250 years. Since which time, they have sunk into oblivion among the different nations. The two remaining tribes, Judah and Benjamin, took the title of Judah, because of the priority of Judah, agreeably to the custom of primogeniture, and established the kingdom of Judah, on which account they have ever since been called Jews.
The first government given to the Israelites was that of a divine theocracy; Moses was the visible head under God.
From Moses to the end of the reign of the judges of Israel, the patriarchal government, so far as it related to the kingly office, underwent some change. The only difference was, that in all the former churches, the succession was hereditary, but in this, the supreme head of the state was elective. This form of government continued 300 years, at the expiration of whichi a monarchical form of government was chosen, which was hereditary.
This government, which began when Samuel governed Israel, was also a theocracy, for God did not withdraw the divine communication from them. This monarchy commenced with Saul, and passed to David, in the year of the Julian period 3654, and ended in the year 4124, in the reign of Zedekiah, having continued 470 years; when the Jews were taken captives, divided into small bodies, and dispersed in different parts of the empire of Babylon. Here they remained seventy years, as foretold by the prophets, and returned to Jerusalem at the command of Cyrus. When they returned from the captivity, their worship and sacrifices were restored, which continued to the end of that church, wheb the government was overthrown, and the whole nation dispersed over the earth.
We have seen, from what has been said concerning the patriarchal churches, before and after the flood, that a difference in opinion prevailed among them, which produced separate congregations, holding the same opinions, which led them to dissent from the established worship. So among the idolatrous nations, we find, that they had different idols: each idol was taken from outward nature, and agreeing by some resemblance with the passions and propensities in themselves. Hence arose a number of different sects, even among the idolatrous nations.