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doubtless be presupposed, namely, the utmost reverence, impartiality, and attention, the peculiar requisite of Patience : but, for want of this, or from the prevalence of passions and propensities, that are in direct opposition to it, “ The Gospel of Christ,” we know, “ was to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness."
It is deeply to be lamented, that it should still be so to many rash, impetuous mortals at present; who, unfortunately for themselves, and others, have rejected the words of Divine Truth, because all their vain inquiries have not been satisfied, and because every ground of cavil, from “ the oppositions of science, falsely so called,” as St. Paul observes, has not been immediately removed. A little Patience, united with deference, and humility ;-sufficient time for inquiry, with earnest prayer for further light, might have dispelled the mists that in. terrupted their view, and enlisted all the powers of their minds, together with the best affections of their hearts, in favor of Revelation, instead of marshalling them in proud array against it.
Not to enter into any length of critical disquisition on this subject, which, I am well aware, is better adapted for the closet than the
pulpit, let us endeavour to illustrate the remark by a few examples, as a specimen of such elucidations, as may be produced in abundance.
The vain and self-sufficient sceptic, who in. stantly doubts, or objects, but who has neither time, nor patience for inquiry, may be stopped, perhaps, in the very first page of the Bible, by the assertion that Light was created before the sun, which was supposed to be its source, and origin : but this was a mere postulate, or assumption of science, which has now been satisfactorily refuted; though, from having been too hastily adopted by the Christian fathers, they, (attempting explanation, instead of patiently acquiescing in their ignorance,) had recourse, on the occasion, it must be admitted, to many weak, and insufficient hypotheses. It has, however, been proved of late years, and admitted even by infidel philosophers, that Light is, in itself, an inconceivably subtil fluid, pervading the whole universe;that the Sun, indeed, is its principal, but by no means its only exciter, in rendering it the medium of vision; and that its existence, as a distinct, elementary substance, is as independent of the luminaries of heaven, as the electric, or galvanic Auid is, of the mechanical apparatus, which ren
ders it visible, and calls it into action. account of Moses, therefore," says a learned Abbé, “is agreeable to truth, as well as a úseful lesson of caution, when he informs us, that God, and not the Sun, was the author of Light; that it was created by his almighty power, before there was a sun to dart it on one part of the earth, or a moon to reflect it on the other *.
From the same unreasonable deference, that has been shewn to mere theories, and hypotheses, because advanced with confidence by some philosophers, many formidable objections were urged, at an early age, against the Mosaic account of the Deluge: but the recent discoveries in geological science, with respect to the breaches and separations found in beds of primordial granite, and other rocks;--the fractures of mineral strata ;--the organic remains of shell-fish and various animals, found in all climates, and buried at different depths in the earth ;— these, and other phenomena, abundantly confirm the brief narrative of the holy Scriptures, and shew that all other accounts are insufficient, or erroneous, in proportion as they recede from that of the inspired author of Genesis.
* Abbé Pluche, vol. iii. p. 409
Farther, it has been rashly supposed, or rather taken for granted, that the holy pages of the Bible are discredited, because they countenance and confirm some superstitious opinions, which are now generally exploded as false and detestable. I allude to the not unfrequent mention, (especially in the Pentateuch) of witches, wizards, and dealers with familiar spirits. Admitting the translation to be correct, it may
be said, that the Jewish legislator spoke of these persons according to their own pretensions, knowing them to be cheats, and impostors, and deserving of punishment, in the same manner as we now speak of a man as a fortune-teller, who only assumes that character, for the purpose of defrauding the credulous and ignorant. But a little learning, exercised with Patience, would have led to a still more satisfactory explanation. It would have taught the serious inquirer after divine truth, that there is not, either in the original Hebrew Scriptures, or in the venerable Greek version, called the Septuagint, a single word, that means, witch, wizard, or familiar spirit. The terms there used evidently designate a set of cheats and jugglers, who deceived the vulgar by administering drugs and potions ;-by muttering pretended charms and
incantations ;-and, more especially, in the supposed cases of necromancy, (such as that of Saul and the witch of Endor,) by practising the curious and deceptive art of ventriloquism.
If, therefore, some relics of abominable superstition be found to disfigure the pages of our English Bible, let them not be fixed as a stain on the Sacred Original; but let them be traced to the proper source, and ascribed to their true cause. Let it be considered, that the Monarch, in whose reign our English translation was made, and which for its general excellence and fidelity will always be highly valued, was much addicted to the study of the occult sciences, and wrote himself a book on Demonology. Not to mention the influence of the Crown on popular opinion, in those days, the same sort of belief was general; as our statute books will sufficiently witness: and, for any one to have doubted the agency, or existence, of those imaginary beings would have been considered as great a heresy, at that time, as questioning the truth of the most momentous doctrines of the Holy Scriptures.
I shall only venture to produce one instance more, and that shall be with respect to some of