« IndietroContinua »
the amount of those enrolled in families, and the number of the whole company, could not be a mistake of Ezra; and no impostor would have left so barefaced an error, if it were one. But the surplus might be Jews or Israelites, who were not able to prove their genealogies: and probably Ezra inserted the register, made at their first return from captivity, from the publick records, without any alteration. But the register in Nehemiah has greater difficul. ties. The narrative leads one to expect, that a new enrolment would be made of the Jews residing at that time in Judea: but instead of this, the old register of those who returned with Zerubbabel is inserted, with some variations; and the same sum total is mentioned, though the several sums amount to thirty-one thousand and eighty-nine.* I firmly believe Nehemiah's history to be authentick and divine; but we are not authorized to expect miracles to prevent the unessential mistakes of transcribers. I therefore suspect that, by some means or other, an incorrect copy of the first register was here substituted, instead of the new register made by Nehemiah. A very slight acquaintance with critical learning will convince any candid man, that such variations in ancient anthors may generally be discovered; and that they produce no uncertainty in the great outlines of the events recorded by them. But I think it better fairly to own the difficulty, than to pass it over in silence, or to give an answer which does not satisfy my own mind. It is however a sin
* Ezra ii. Neh. vii.
g-ular instance; and in my judgment, does not weigh a grain in counterpoise against the weight of evidence in the opposite scale.
Mr. P. seems to allow that Ezra and Nehemiah wrote the books ascribed to them; but he says they are nothing to us.* He here forgets that the prophecy of Jeremiah was extant when the book of Ezra was written, and that the events recorded by Ezra were a declared accomplishment of his predictions.f This is surely of some consequence in the argument. And we may add, that these two books so constantly refer to all the preceding parts of Scripture, that they conclusively prove the whole to have been, then extant, and received by the Jews as authentick records of divine authority. If then Ezra and Nehemiah wrote these books soon after the captivity, we may confidently infer, that the writings of Moses, and all the historical part of the Old Testament, (except Esther,) were received by the whole Jewish nation, as a divine revelation, at least five hundred years before the birth of Christ
Mr. P. says, 'if Madam Esther thought it any ho'nour to offer herself as a kept mistress to Ahasuerus,' &c.J Now where did he learn that she thus offered herself to be a kept mistress to the king? I apprehend that she was not put to her choice whether she would enter Ahasuerus's seraglio or not. Such insinuations
too much resemble the conduct of hypocritical priests, who say, 'if the people choose to be deceived, let * them be deceived.'—The book itself has this proof of authenticity, that the Jews to the present day observe the feast oiPurim, in remembrance of the woaderful deliverance,, which God vouchsafed them by means of Esther and Mordecai.
From Job to Solomon's Song.
JVlR. P. speaks respectfully of this book,* but tries to prove it to be of gentile extraction. It coincides, however, so entirely with the other Scriptures, in the doctrine of human depravity, of the impossibility of any man justifying himself before God, of the Redeemer that would stand at the latter day upon the earth, of a future resurrection, and the presumption of our reasonings concerning the works and ways of God; that it accords with no other gentile book: and it must either be explained away as a fabulous drama, or Mr. P. and his friends will not long retain their respect for it.
The word Satan, he says, is not mentioned in the Bible, except in Job. The reader may see the accuracy of this observation by turning to the passages referred to!f But this appears still more fully in his observation, that Pleiades, Orion, and Arcturus arc Greek names; and that the Jews were so ignorant of
astronomy, that they had no words answerable to them. The learned reader will know, that no such words occur in the Hebrew Bible; and the unlearned may be assured that the original word for Arcturiu is Hus, dial for Orion is Chesil, and that for Pleiades., Kixta.*
Id order to calumniate the Jews, the heathens arc said k to be a just and moral people, not addicted to 'cruelty and revenge.' What heathens are meant I know not: but the w riters of the Greeks and Romans, and of every other nation whose histories are extant, represent mankind in a very different light. Romances about just and moral nations, not addicted to cruelty and revenge, may be found; but where shall we meet with an authenrick history of such a people by an impartial well informed writer?
If the Spirit of God spake by the Psalmist, " and "his words were upon his tongue,"f anQ if Christ and his apostles may be credited; the Psalms, which some persons venture to call revengeful, were prophecies, and denunciations of vengeance on the enemies of the Messiah and his cause. That many of them are predictions, which have been most wonderfully accomplished, no sober man can deny.J And whatever ridicule may be employed to degrade the Psalms, they are undoubtedly a collection of the most