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than the bare letter; but matters of fact told in a plain simple manner must be figurative and mystical. He tells us indeed that this pretended figurative sense of the facts was 'understood by the wiser sort.' But it is certain that in this respect there was no difference between the wise men and the vulgar among the Jews, all without exception believed the account of these extraordinary miraculous feats recorded by Moses; even their wisest men, whose admirable writings, far superior to those of the most celebrated philosophers, show them to have been men of excellent sense and knowledge, and just notions of things.

But what is most extraordinary, our author is for bringing in the apostle Paul as a voucher to prove that the facts recorded in the law of Moses, were no more than poetical embellishments. He says that apostle has evidently and irrefutably proved' that the Jews were in the wrong in understanding the writings of Moses according to the letter, that is, in taking the facts there recorded, (for of these the author is there speaking) for things that really and literally happened, see p. 251. But nothing can be more evident to any one that is acquainted with the writings of St. Paul, than that whenever he has occasion to refer to any of the extraordinary miraculous facts done in attestation of the Mosaical dispensation, he always supposes them to be things of undoubted truth and credit, and which really and actually happened; but with respect to some of the rites prescribed in the law of Moses, he shows they had a farther view to the gospel times, as types and shadows of good things to come, and were designed as preparatory to the dispensation of the Messiah. Now this the author ventures to contradict, and in opposition to the apostle boldly asserts, that the law of Moses had no such typical view or mystical sense at all; but with regard to the historical facts which are plainly and clearly related, these things are only to be understood and taken in a mystical or allegorical sense. And this he would pass upon us for St. Paul's opinion, as if this was that spiritual and typical sense of the law which that apostle pleads for. The most extensive charity scarce leaves room to suppose that this author is so blind as not to know that this is gross and wilful misrepresentation.

But let us consider what he pretends to offer as a proof that the miraculous facts recorded in the writings of Moses, and by which that law was attested, are not to be understood in a literal sense ; that is, as he intends it, that they were not types in fact, nor accounts of things that really happened, but merely poetical embellishments.

He says, p. 251 : 'Should we take this drama in the obvious literal sense (that is if we take the historical accounts Moses gives to be really true] we must suppose him to have been a more fabulous romantic writer than Homer, Æsop, Ovid, or any of the heathen poets and mythologists. This is very boldly and confidently said after the author's manner, but let us see what proof he brings of so strange an assertion.

He saith that, if the history of the Exodus, as he calls it, or


deliverance out of Egypt, and conquest of Canaan be taken in the literal obvious sense, we must suppose that God in those days appeared, spoke, and acted like a man, or a finite circumscribed Being, in a visible sensible manner; that he conversed intimately and familiarly with Moses, as a man talketh with his friend ; that he went out of Egypt at the head of the Israelites' army, and walked with them through the Red Sea; that he travelled up and

. down with them forty years in the wilderness, always at the beck or call of Moses, to consult and talk with him upon every occasion; that God, in a visible sensible manner, as personally present, always gave Moses the word of command when they should march, and when they should not, and marked out every foot of ground from time to time for the encampments of their respective tribes. In short, God himself, as visibly and personally present, acted as a General, and Moses had nothing to do but to follow orders, and obey the word of command, and which a fool might have done as well as a wise man.' p. 252.

And is this all the proof he brings, that the historical facts recorded in the writings of Moses, are no more to be credited than Æsop's Fables, or Ovid's Metamorphoses, because there are some metaphorical expressions used, which, as they are circumstanced, and comparing one part of these writings with another, can scarce mislead the meanest understandings ? and I will undertake to say that whatever opinion he has of the stupidity of the Jews, they were not so senseless as to understand those expressions in that sense he puts upon them, though they all firmly believed the facts.

He would have it believed that according to the literal obvious sense of the Mosaic history, God is represented to the people as a finite circumscribed Being, appearing to the Israelites all along in the shape of a man, walking as such with them through the Red Sea, going at the head of their army as their General, and travelling up and down with them through the wilderness, &c., whereas there is not one passage in the whole account that represents God as appearing to the Israelites in human shape; but the very contrary is directly and strongly asserted, and that as the foundation of the laws that were given them. They are expressly forbidden to worship God by any image or corporeal representation whatsoever, or under the likeness of any thing in heaven and earth,' and that because they saw ‘no manner of similitude,' when the Lord spake unto them, Deut. iv. 12, 15. Where would have been the force of this, if it had been represented to them that God continually walked among them and before them in human shape? All that can be gathered from the obvious sense of the Mosaic account, literally understood, is this: That as it pleased God for wise ends to select the people of Israel as a peculiar people to himself, so, in order to impress them with a more lively sense of his immediate presence and divine majesty, he manifested himself among them by a visible 'cloud of glory,' the illustrious symbol and token of bis special presence ; which exhibited a wondrous


splendour without any human shape or bodily form. This cloud of glory conducted the people in their journeyings through the wilderness. Thither Moses had frequently recourse for direction, and probably received orders and instructions, by a voice proceeding from amidst that glory. All this was indeed a marvellous instance of goodness and condescension in the Supreme Being, but it can never be proved to have any thing in it absurd or unworthy of God, and inconsistent with his essential attributes and perfections. I suppose this author himself will hardly deny that though God is 1 every where essentially present, yet he can give more illustrious displays and exhibitions of his divine presence and majesty by a visible external glory and splendour in some places, and on some occasions than others; and that he can also, if he pleases, either by his own immediate power, or by the ministry of angels, form an audible voice, by which he may declare his will to one or more among mankind, outwardly to their ears as well as inwardly by immediate impressions on the mind. It doth not follow from either of these suppositions that God is a finite limited Being, or that his Essence is circumscribed, or confined to the particular place, where it pleaseth him thus peculiarly to manifest his special presence. Nor does it appear that the meanest of the Jews ever understood it so, who are every where taught in the writings of Moses to form the noblest conceptions of the divine majesty and greatness, as the Maker and Lord, the Preserver and Governor of the world, and as filling the whole universe with his glory, the God in heaven above, and in earth beneath,' as it is expressed, Deut. iv. 29.

As to that passage he produces where God is said to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend, it is plain it is to be understood only of the clear open familiar manner, in which God condescended to reveal himself to Moses above any of the other prophets. The apostle Paul useth such a phrase as this to signify the clearness and perfection of our knowledge in heaven; that then we shall ‘not see through a glass darkly, but shall see face to face.' And does it follow that because such a phrase as this appears in the writings of Moses, a phrase which, as it there stands, has no difficulty in it, and is very easy to be understood; that therefore his whole history is a fiction, and the facts there related, though told in a plain simple manner, are all hyperbole and romance?

Will this writer pretend that it is beneath the majesty of God, to concern himself in so peculiar a manner for one particular people, and to grant them such visible tokens of bis special presence, and take them under his immediate conduct and government? But if it be not unworthy of his general Providence for him to take care of, and concern himself for particular persons and their affairs, I do not see how it can be proved inconsistent with his glory and perfection to manifest his presence in a special manner, and to give remarkable proofs of his tender care towards a whole nation, in order to keep them close to his worship and service, and secure a


regard to the laws he had been pleased to give them. All that can be said in that case is, that it was a most amazing condescension, and a wonderful grace and goodness, and so it is that he should concern himself with mankind at all. And as this author seems to think it unworthy of the Divine Majesty to concern himself so particularly in the direction and government of that people, so there have been persons that from pretended high thoughts of God, have judged it unworthy of his greatness to concern himself with men or their affairs at all, and thus have been for complimenting him out of his Providence. And others have denied his continual agency and influence in the government of the world, which they suppose to be a great machine first made and put in motion by a divine hand and then left to itself, and to the laws established in the beginning ; under pretence that it is unworthy of him continually to interpose in a way of immediate agency : 'whom this writer zealously opposes, and seems to account little better than atheists.

But he urges it farther as another absurdity in the literal sense of the story : “That such was the interest of Moses with God that he could make him do whatsoever he pleased. He often changed his mind when he had resolved to destroy the people, and prevailed with him to go further when he had determined to leave them and go no further; and this, lest the Egyptians should mock the God of Israel, and say that he was not able to conduct them through the wilderness, and give them possession of the land which he had promised them, and for which he had engaged his honour and veracity, for above 400 years before, to do it at this very time. This was the main topical argument which Moses is said to have used with God, and by which he gained his ends in every thing but the main point, which was the conquest of the country, which these Israelites were never able to do till David's days, about 400 years after the promise to Abraham was expired. It is true they conquered and took possession of a small part of the country upon the mountains; but they could not drive the inhabitants out of the plains, because they had chariots of iron, or because God never enabled them as infantry to stand before the Canaanites' horse.' pp. 252, 253.

As to Moses's interest with God, as he calls it, supposing Moses to have been what he really was, an excellent person, a devout fearer and lover and adorer of the Deity; I can see no absurdity in supposing that he had an interest with God, if by that be meant no more than that God had a regard to his humble and earnest supplications. But that he could not make God do whatsoever he pleased, as this writer ridiculously expresseth it, is evident, because we are there expressly told that he could not procure that his own life should be prolonged, so as to enter actually into the promised land, though he earnestly desired it, see Deut. ii. 23–26. In his prayers for the people we may observe a deep humility and profound reverence for the Divine Majesty, a fervent zeal for the glory of God, and for the interest of true religion in the world, and a most affectionate concern and love for the people, whose welfare he valued more than his own life, or the particular advancement of himself or his family. These were noble and excellent dispositions, and where is the absurdity of supposing that a wise, and holy, and merciful God, had a regard to the supplications he offered for the people, flowing from such excellent dispositions ? Certainly the reflections the author here makes are very little consistent with the zeal he elsewhere seems to express for the duty of prayer, since they are really no other than the objections that others advance against prayer in general. When he talks of God's changing his mind, and altering his resolution upon Moses's addressing him, I ask, is it in no case proper to apply to God by prayer, for obtaining blessings for ourselves or others, and for deprecating evils, or averting threatened or deserved judgments ? and may it not well be supposed that God hath a regard to prayer as a necessary condition for obtaining these blessings, or averting those evils ? And when he hearkens to those prayers, he cannot be justly said to change his mind, or alter his purpose, since he does no other than what he had before determined to do. For he both foresaw those prayers and determined to hear them, and not to confer those blessings, or avert those judgments, if those prayers had not been offered. There is nothing in all this but what every man must acknowledge who stands up for prayer as a duty.

To apply this to the present case: God had determined to punish and abandon the Israelites for their idolatry and wickedness, if Moses should not interpose and intercede by humble and earnest supplications ; but at the same time he perfectly knew that Moses would thus interpose, and had determined to grant his humble request in their behalf. And in this view all is perfectly consistent. He knew that his threatening to forsake and punish them for their sins, would give occasion to that good and excellent man to plead with him by earnest prayer, and thereby show his love to the people, and zeal for the divine glory, which prayers he had determined to grant. And there was a manifest propriety in it, that God should not pardon and restore the people but upon Moses's intercession, as this tended to procure a greater affection and veneration for him in their minds, and to engage them to pay a greater regard to the laws he gave them in the name of God.

With regard to the topical argument, as this writer calls it, which Moses made use of in pleading with God for the Israelites; if he had fairly represented it, there would have appeared nothing in it absurd, or unfit for such a man as Moses to make use of, as the case was circumstanced, and for God to have a regard unto. If Moses prayed to God at all to avert deserved judgments from the people, was it not proper for him to use reasons or arguments humbly to enforce his petitions ? One would think that this author, who would be thought such an advocate for prayer, and who passes such severe censures on those who ridicule and discard it, should readily grant this. If it be allowable for us to offer up our requests to God, then certainly it must be also allowed to be very proper for us to urge our requests with such reasons or argu

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