« PreviousContinue »
Thus Moses relates, that “ Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses.” Exod. vi. 20. tho, has been supposed to mean his cousin, and not aunt; on the authority of the LXX. and Vulgate, who render it, Ovyatepa 78 adel pou tou natpos avtov, patruelem suam, his paternal cousin :' but this construction was probably put on the original word to save the credit of Moses and Aaron, because the marriage of an aunt is afterwards forbidden, Lev. xviii. 12, 14; for the meaning of the word is fixed by another passage, where it is said, • The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi, in Egypt. Nu. xxvi. 59. Moses, then, is more impartial than his commentators. *
Thus also he represents himself as addressing God in the following terms: “ The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain, to suffice them ? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them ?" Num. X. 21, 22. There is certainly a considerable measure of weakness and unbelief manifested in these complaints and questions of Moses; though his conduct
appears at the same time so very simple, honest, and affectionate, that we cannot but admire it, while we wonder that he had not stronger confidence in that God, whose stupendous miracles he had so often witnessed in Egypt.*
He also states most impartially the cause why he and Aaron were excluded from Canaan: “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel.” Num. xx. 12. Though the people were rebels, and Moses called them so at other times without offence, yet he evidently spoke at this time with an angry spirit. He also assumed the honour to himself and Aaron, instead of ascribing it to God: “Must we fetch you water out of this rock ?' He also seems not firmly to have believed that water would be given, and did not think it sufficient simply to speak to the rock, as he was commanded; and he therefore hastily smote it twice. Thus it appears, that they neither properly believed in God, nor did him honour in the sight of the people.*
The sacred historian relates, that David said in reply to the inquiry of Achish, “Whither have ye made a road to-day?”—“ Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites." 1 Sam. xxvii. 10. David here meant the Geshurites and Gezrites, and Amalekites, which people occupied that part of the country which lies to the south of Judah. But Achish, as was intended, understood him in a different sense, and believed that he had attacked his own countrymen. David's answer, therefore, though not an absolute falsehood, was certainly an equivocation intended to deceive, and therefore incompatible with that sense of truth and honour which became him as a prince, and a professor of true religion. Of the same description is the instance of another prevarication recorded in 1 Sam. xxix. 8; of his feigning madness, ch. xxi. 14; and his adultery with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. xi. xii.; upon which see the notes in the Comprehensive Bible. From these, and similar
* Comprehensive Bible, in locis.
passages, we may observe the strict impartiality of the Sacred Scriptures. They present us with the most faithful delineation of human nature; they exhibit the frailties of kings, priests, and prophets, with equal truth; and examples of vice and frailty, as well as of piety and virtue, are held up, that we may guard against the errors to which the best men are exposed.* See also observations on the Acts, p. 52.
From the sacred writers, especially those of the New Testament, having nothing to gain by the imposture, but on the eontrary bringing upon themselves the most dreadful evils and most cruel deaths. Our Lord foretold to his disciples, “ Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and they shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake,” (Mat. xxiv. 9.) We have ample evidence of the fulfilment of this prediction in the Acts of the Apostles, (Act. iv. 2, 3. v. 40, 41. vii. 59. xii. 1, &c. xxi. 31, 32. xxii. 19-21. xxviii. 22. Rev. ii. 10, &c.); but we have a more melancholy proof of it in the persecutions under Nero, in which fell, besides numberless others, those two great champions of our faith, St. Peter, and St. Paul, (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. ii. c. 25.) It was, as Tertullian says, (Apol. c. 2. p. 4.), nominis prælium, a war against the very name.f The detestable Nero having set fire to Rome, on the 10th of July, A. D. 64, endeavoured to remove the odium of that nefarious action, which was generally and justly imputed to him, by charging it upon the Christians, who had become the objects of popular hatred on account of their religion; and in order to give a more plausible colour to this calumny, he caused them to be sought out, as if they had been the incendiaries, and put great numbers to death in the most barbarous and cruel manner. "Some,' says Tacitus, (Annal. lib. xv. C. 44.) were covered over with the skins of wild beasts, that they might be torn to pieces by dogs; some were crucified: while others, having been daubed over with combustible materials, were set up as lights in the night time, and thus burnt to death. For these spectacles, Nero gave his own gardens, and, at the same time, exhibited there the diversions of the circus; sometimes standing in the crowd as a spectator, in the habit of a charioteer, and at other times driving a chariot himself.' (See also Suetonius, in Vit. Nero. c. 16.) To these dreadful scenes Juvenal alludes in the following lines ;
Pone Tigellinum, tæda lucebis in illa
Quâ stantes ardent, qui fixo gutture fumant, * Describe a great villian, such as Tigellinus, (a corrupt minister under Nero,) and you shall suffer the same punishment with those who stand burning in their own flame and smoke, their head being held up by a stake fixed to a chain, till they make a long stream (of blood and sulphur) on the ground.' So also Martial in an epigram concerning the famous C.
Et latum media sulcum deducit arena.-Sat, lib. i. 155-157.
Mucius Scavola, who lost the use of his right hand by burning it in the presence of Porsenna, king of Etruria, whom he had attempted to assassi
In matutinâ nuper spectatus arena
Mucius, imposuit qui sua membra focis,
Abderitanæ pectora plebis habes.
Ure manum; plus est dicere, Non facio.-Epigram. lib. x. Ep. 25. • You have perhaps, lately seen acted on the theatre Mucius, who thrust his hand into the fire : if you think such a person patient, valiant,
and stout, you are a senseless dotard. For it is a much greater thing, when threatened with the troublesome coat, to say, I do not sacrifice, than to obey the command, Burn the hand.' This troublesome coat, or shirt, was made. like a sack, of paper or coarse linen cloth, either besmeared with pitch, wax, or sulphur, and similar combustible materials, or dipped in them ; which was then put on the Christians, who in order to be kept upright, the better to resemble a flaming torch, had their chins severally fastened to stakes fixed in the ground.* At the same period, many of the most illustrious senators of Rome were executed for the conspiracy of Lucan, Seneca, and Piso; many of whom met death with courage and serenity, though unblest with any certain hope of futurity. With the Christian alone was united purity of manners amidst public licentiousness, and purity of heart amidst universal relaxation of principle; and with him only was found love and good will to all mankind, and a patience, and cheerfulness, and triumph in the hour of death, as infinitely superior to the stoical calmness of a Pagan, as the Christian martyr himself to the hero and the soldier. After such scenes as these was the 2d Epistle to Timothy written, probably, the last which St. Paul ever wrote; and, standing on the verge of eternity, full of God, and strongly anticipating an eternal weight of glory, the venerable Apostle expressed the sublimest language of hope and exultation :- I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.' (ch. iv. 6—8.) Surely every rational being will be ready to exclaim, . Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like his !' This then being written to St. Paul's most intimate friend, under the miseries of a gaol, and with the near prospect of an ignominious death, which he suffered under the cruel and relentless Nero, it is peculiarly valuable to the Christian church as exhibiting the best possible evidence of the truth and reality of our holy religion, and affording a striking contrast between the persecuted, but confident and happy Christian, and the ferocious, abandoned, and profligate Roman.t
See Lardner's Heathen Testimonies, chap. vi. vii.
3. From the multitude of minutely particular circumstances of
time, place, person, &c. mentioned in the Books of the Old and New Testament.
The Book of GENESIS comprises the history of about 2369 years, at the least computation, containing an account of the Creation, and the institution of the Sabbath, (ch. i. ii.); the original innocence and fall of man, (ch. iii.); the history of Adam and his descendants, with the rise of religion, and the invention of arts, (ch. iv.); the genealogy, age, and death of the Patriarchs until Noah, (ch. v.); the general defection and corruption of mankind, and the preservation of Noah amidst the general Deluge, (ch. vi. vii.); the renovation of the world, (ch. viii.); the history of Noah and his family, and God's covenant with him, (ch. ix.); the re-peopling and division of the earth, (ch. x.); the building of Babel, the confusion of tongues, and the dispersion of mankind, (ch. xi.); the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, (ch. xii.- 1.)*
The Book of EXODUS embraces the history of about 145 years : containing an account of the cruel persecution of the Israelites under Pharaoh, with their wonderful increase, (ch. i.); the birth, exposure, preservation, education, and exile of Moses, (ch. ii.); his call and divine mission to Pharaoh, for the deliverance of his brethren, (ch. iii. iv.); the miracles performed by him and his brother Aaron, the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, and the infliction of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, (ch. v.-xi.); the institution of the Passover, and the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, (ch. xii.—xiv.); their miraculous passage through the Red Sea, the destruction of the Egyptian army, and their thanksgiving for their deliverance, (ch. xiv. xv. ver. 1—22.): their subsequent journeyings in the wilderness, their wonderful sustenance and guidance, and their idolatry and frequent murmurings against God, (ch. xv. ver. 23.— xviii.); the promulgation of the law from Mount Sinai, and the erection of the tabernacle, (ch. xix.—xl.)+
The Book of LEVITICUS comprises, at the utmost, only the transactions of a month, and treats of meat, burnt, and peace offerings, (ch. i.-iii.); of offerings for sins of ignorance, (ch. iv. v.); of trespass-offerings for things knowingly committed, (ch. vi. vii.); of the consecration of Aaron and his sons, and of the priests, (ch. viii. ix.); of the sin of Nadab and Abihu, (ch. x.); of clean and unclean animals, (ch. xi.); of the purification of women, (ch. xii.); of laws concerning the leprosy, (ch. xiii. xiv.); of certain uncleannesses, (ch. xv.); of the great day of atonement, (ch. xvi.); of the place of offering sacrifices, and of things prohibited, (ch. xvii.); of marriage, (ch. xviii.); of various laws mentioned in Exodus, (ch. xix.); of the sin of consulting wizards, &c. (ch. xx.); of the mourning, &c. of the priests, (ch. xxi.); of their infirmities, &c. (ch. xxii.); of the sabbath, and the great annual festivals, (ch. xxiii.); of the oil for the lamp, the shew-bread, &c. (ch. xxiv.); of the sabbatical
year, year of Jubilee, &c. (ch. xxv.); of idolatry, vows, &c. (ch. xxvi. xxvii.)*
The Book of Numbers comprehends the history of between thirty-eight and thirty-nine years ; containing an account of the enumeration of the people, (ch. i.); their formation into a regular camp, (ch. ii.); the census of the Levites, and their separation for the service of the tabernacle, (ch. iii. iv.); the purification of the camp, &c., (ch. v.); the law of the Nazarites and form of blessing the people, (ch. vi.); the offerings of the princes, (ch. vii.); the consecration of the Levites, (ch. viii.); the celebration of the passover, (ch. ix.); regulations for fixing and removing the camp, (ch. x.); the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness to the land of Moab, (ch. xi.—xxi.); the transactions in the plains of Moab, (ch. xxii..xxxvi.) +
The Book of DeuTERONOMY embraces the history of a period of five weeks, or one lunar month, from the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year of the Exodus, to the seventh day of the twelfth month. As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised land, and many of them had not witnessed the various transactions in the wilderness, Moses recapitulates the principal occurrences of the forty years, now almost elapsed, and shews the necessity of fearing, loving, and obeying God, (ch. i.-iv.); repeats the moral, ceremonial, and judicial law, and confirms the whole in the most solemn manner, (ch. v.- -xxx.); appoints Joshua as his successor, and delivers a copy of the law to the priests, (ch. xxxi.); prophesies of things which should come to pass in the latter days, (ch. xxxii.); blesses each of the tribes prophetically, (ch. xxxiii.); and then, having viewed the whole extent of the land from the top of Nebo, yields up the ghost, and is buried by God, (ch. xxxiv.)
The Book of JOSHUA comprises the history of about seventeen years, or, according to some chronologers, of twenty-seven or thirty years; containing an account of the commission of Joshua as the general of the Israelites, (ch. i.); the history of Rahab and the two spies, (ch. ii.); the miraculous passage of the Jordan, (ch. iii. iv. v.); the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, (ch. vi.-xiii.); the division of the conquered country among the different tribes, (ch. xiv.-xxi.); the return of the two tribes and a half beyond Jordan, (ch. xxii.); the assembling of the people and first address of Joshua, (ch. xxiii.); his last address and counsels; death and burial of him and Eleazar, &c. (ch. xxiv.) $
The Book of JUDGES comprises the history of about three hundred years; containing an account of the interregnum after the death of Joshua, (ch. i.-iii. 4.); the introduction of idolatry among them by the idol of Micah, (ch. xvii. xviii.); the history of the Levite of Ephraim; the murder of his concubine by the Benjamites; and the war of the other tribes
• Comprehensive Bible, Introduction to Leviticus. 1 Idem, Introduction to Deuteronomy.
+ Idem, Introduction to Numbers. Idem, Introduction to Joshua,