Page images

the belief of the resurrection of Christ, because some of the disciples were at first very doubtful about it.

6. You may yet ask, What doth all this signify to the writings of the Old Testament, which were written at a longer distance of time from us, and in a more ignorant age of the world? Answ. There cannot be a more evident proof of the Old Testament, than by the New; for if the New be true, the Old must be so, which was confirmed so plainly and evidently by it; our Saviour and his Apostles appealing to Moses and the Prophets on all occasions. So that the same miracles which prove their testimony true, do at the same time prove the Divine authority of the Old Testament; since it is so expressly said in the New, That holy men of God did speak as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

But after all this, you urge, that you have discovered such things in these writings as could not come from God, as, : 1. Contradictions in them. 2. Some things inconsistent with the wisdom of God. 3. Promises made that were never fulfilled. 4. Things so obscure as no one can tell the meaning of them. Under these four heads I shall examine the particular allegations you bring against the Scriptures.

1. Under the head of contradictions, you insist on the prophecy, Gen. xv. 13, 14, 15, 16. made to Abraham, concerning his posterity, compared with the accomplishment mentioned Exod. xii. 40, 41. And the force of your argument lies in this, That the prophecy in Genesis doth imply that the servitude of the children of Israel in Egypt was to be 40 years; or 430 saith Exod. but both these are.repugnant to other places of Scripture, which make their abode in Egypt, not to exceed 215 years ; or at the highest, by the number


of generations, could not exceed 350 years, stretching them to the utmost advantage. To this which you lay so much weight upon, I answer distinctly,

1. By your own confession, supposing the 430 years to begin from the covenant made with Abraham, the accomplishment, mentioned Exod. xii. 40, doth fall out exactly in the time of the children of Israel's going out of Egypt; for you have proved from Scripture, that, from the covenant with Abraham to Jacob's being in Egypt, were 215 years; to which you add, that Coath being supposed five years old at the going into Egypt; and that at 70 years he begat Amram, and that Amram at 70 begat Moses, to which Moses's 80 years being added, makes up the other 215 years; whereby we have the full 430 years, by your own computation. Now, Sir, I pray consider what reason you have to charge the Scripture with contradiction, in a matter yourself acknowledges so exactly accomplished in this way of computation.

2. But you say, the words will not bear this; because they speak of the 400 years to expire in their servitude in Egypt. Answ. For this we must consider the importance of the words both in Genesis and Exodus. There is not a word of Egypt mentioned in Genesis ; but only in general it is said, Thy seed shall be a stranger in the land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them 400 years: and it will conduce very much to the right understanding this prophecy, to consider the main scope and design of it; which was not to tell Abraham how long they should be in servitude to the Egyptians, but how long it would be before his seed would come to the possession of the promised land : and it seems Abraham, by the question, Gen. xv. 7, 8, did expect to have the inheritance of this land in his own time. To this therefore


God answers, by telling him he meant no such thing, but it was intended for his seed, and that not suddenly neither, for they were to tarry till the iniquity of the Amorites should be full, which would not be till the fourth generation; and then his seed should, after 400 years, come to the possession of the promised land; but in the mean time they were to sojourn in a land that was not theirs, and to meet with many hardships and difficulties. This is plainly the scope of this prophecy, and, by attending to it, the great objections presently appear without force; for the land of Canaan, notwithstanding the promise, was by the patriarchs themselves looked on as a land wherein they were strangers. So Abraham saith, Gen. xxiii. 4, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you ; and which is more remarkable in the blessing of Jacob by Isaac, to whom the promise was made, it is said, And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed, that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham, Gen. xxviii. 4, Where the very same word is used concerning Jacob, that is expressed in the prophecy, Gen. xv. 13. So that the patriarchs looked on themselves as strangers in the land of Canaan, so long after the promise made, and after the increase of the seed of Abraham; and therefore the land of Canaan was called Terra Peregrinationum, the land wherein they were strangers, Gen. xxxvi. 7. xxxvii. 1. And when God was calling the people of Israel together out of Egypt, yet then the land of Canaan was called by the very same title, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers, Exod. vi. 4; and, 10, 11, 12, 13.where we have a full account of the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, concerning the inheritance of that land, it is said, that they were few, and strangers in it, when they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people : which doth fully explain the meaning of the prophecy in Genesis, and that it is not to be restrained to the servitude of the people of Israel in Egypt, but to be understood of their state-of pilgrimage for 400 years, wherein they were to suffer great hardships before they should come to the inheritance of Canaan. This is no forced or unnatural exposition of the words, as you seem to suggest; but, to my apprehension, very plain and easy, if we attend to the main scope and design of them, which was to acquaint Abraham how long it would be before the prophecy were accomplished, and what the condition of his seed should be the mean time, viz. That they should have no land which they should call their own by inheritance all that time, but they should be exposed to great hardships, yea even to servitude; but that nation, whom they should serve, should at last suffer for their ill usage of them, and they should come out of that captivity with great substance; and all this to be done in the fourth generation of the Amorites, when their iniquities should be arrived at the full height. All which particulars were so remarkably accomplished at such a distance of time, and under such improbable circumstances, that this very prophecy were enough to convince an unprejudiced mind that it came from Divine inspiration. For where do we meet with any thing like this in the histories of other nations, viz. a prophecy to be accomplished 400 years after, and the very manner foretold, which no human conjecture could reach to, since the manner of deliverance of the people of Israel out of their captivity in Egypt, was to all human appearance so impossible a thing, especially at such a time, when the spirits of the people were sunk and broken by so long a slavery: and not only the manner


foretold, but the accomplishment happened to a day, according to Exodus xii. 41: And it came to pass at the end of the 430 years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. But against this you object, that the sojourning is spoken of the children of Israel in Egypt for 430 years; which cannot hold good any ways; since, to make it up, the times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, must be taken in, who could not be called the children of Israel. Answ. For the 430 years, I grant, that, according to St. Paul, they did commence from the covenant made to Abraham, Gal. iii. 17. and that the 400 years began from Isaac's being owned for the promised seed ; between which time the thirty years were passed : and all appearance of difficulty is avoided, if we admit the reading of the best copies of the LXX. which is in these words : 'Hè tapοίκησις των υιών Ισραήλ, ήν παρώκησαν εν γή Αιγύπτου, και εν γή Χαναάν, αυτοί και οι πατέρες αυτών έτη τετρακόσια τριάκοντα, Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt and Canaan, they and their fathers, was 430 years. This is the reading of our Alexandrian copy, and the Complutensian, and that of Aldus, and of Eusebius in his Chronicon, and of St. Jerome in his translation of it; and of the church in St. Augustine's time, and afterwards; and lest any should reject this as a late interpolation, or gloss, received into the text, besides these testimonies of the antiquity of it, we find the very same in the Samaritan copy, which the enemies of it do allow to be as ancient as our Saviour's time. And that which very much confirms the truth of this reading is, that the Jews themselves follow the sense of it, who are the most eager contenders for the authority of the Hebrew copy ; who all agree, that the beginning of the computation of the 430 years is to be

« PreviousContinue »