Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

In respect of Mr. P.'s work, it may be proper to observe, that it by no means accords to its title. The Age of Reason, is far more replete with wit and rhetorick, than with sober discussion and solid argument. It is in fact an attempt to reduce to practice Lord Shaftsbury's famous maxim that ridicule is the test of truth; except that scurrility and acrimony frequently predominate. It is easy to answer Mr. P.'s reasoning: but his consident assertions, vehement declamations, and smart refiartees, are very imsosing. Every reader should therefore pause from time to time; and when he has been carried away by the Author’s popular eloquence and wit; he should seriously ask himself, What argument does all this contain? Hitherto the human race has, in one way or other, been generally destitute of true religion; and that author must be very sanguine, who expects to produce a sudden revolution. There is however no fear, “lest the Bible should fall,” as Mr. P. seems to predict; for it has stood many far more formidable assaults, and will survive every opponent; but doubtless numbers will fall and perish, by means of the publications of infidels: and on the other hand a few individuals may be preserved or recovered by every effort to counteract them; and this may suffice to stimulate our excrtions. When Mr. P. thought himself near death, he rejoiced that he had published the first part of The Age of Reason. This indeed proved the sincerity of his enmity to the Bible; but should a christian adduce a circumstance of this kind as a firoof that his firinciples overe true, he would, not without reason, be counted an enthusiast. Though friests be not allowed to pay the same regard to their credit, interest, or even subsistence, which all other men do without censure: yet, so long as they believe the Bible to be the word of God, they are bound in conscience to defend it; and why should they not be as much authorized, and as competcnt, to write on religion, and in defence of it, as other men are concerning their several professions? Mr. P. professes to draw all his arguments against the Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves: yet his quotations

[ocr errors]

from ancient and modern enemies to Christianity prove, that he would gladly have employed other weapons, had he knowBi where to have found any that suited his purpose. But men of greater learning and aflfilication than he, arc here at a loss: fo» the more the subject is calmly and solidly investigated, th» fuller will be the proof, that " All Scripture Is Given Bt "Inspiration Of God; and is profitable for doctrine, for rea proof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that "die man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto "all good works."

VINDICATION, &c

BOOK I.

CHAP. I.

THE BOOKS OF MOSES.

JVlR. PAINE undertakes to demonstrate, that Moses did not write those books which are ascribed to him; and consequently that they are destitute of authority. They would not, however, be destitute of authority, though it were known that Moses did not write them: for they may be authentick records, even if penned by another author. Yet I am far from conceding this point: and having answered other objections, I shall give my reasons for believing, both that Moses wrote these books, and that he wrote them under the immediate superintending inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The arguments by which Mr. P. endeavours to overturn the authority of these ancient records, are of two sorts: some more directly tend to shew, that Moses could not be the author of them; and others to prove them unworthy of God, and thus to fix a charge of imposture on the writer, for delivering his doctrines and commands in the name of the Lord.—I shall begin with the former. I. It is alledged, that Moses could not be the author; because the writer generally speaks in the third person. But what weight is there in this argument? Xenophon and Caesar, admired writers among the Greeks and Romans, do the same when recording their own actions: and no scholar ever questioned the authenticity of their works on that account.—In Deuteronomy, however, Moses speaks principally in the first person; and Mr. P. finds great confusion in the arrangement of that book, and says it is dramati. cal.” Whereas it is obvious, that the historian records Jacts in the third person, and delivers eachortations in the first; and the changes of person are only pauses of the speaker, giving an account of the occasion on which each speech was delivered, and of some coineident circumstances. Mr. P. must therefore have strange ideas of the drama; if he applies that term to a single speaker addressing the same audience, at different times, almost in the manner of a modern preacher! No accurate student of the Bible needs to be informed, that the city Laish did not receive the name of Dan, till long after the death of Moses. Yet it would be difficult to prove that no such place as Dan existed in the days of Abraham, in whose history that name occurs: Dan signifies judgment: and perhaps

[ocr errors]
« IndietroContinua »