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personal communication with the Supreme Being; that his heavenly angels bore his commands to them and their successors upon earth, to whom he gave extraordinary powers of making known his will. For this purpose it is perfectly according to reason, though not according to our experience, that he should condescend to give a set of laws to his chosen people. The Ten Commandments, as now have them, were actually delivered to Moses, and written by the finger of God himself.
From a careful examination of the Old Testament, we perceive the grand scheme of benevolence, which induced the Almighty to select a chosen people to receive his immediate communications. We behold with awe and reverence the terrible examples which were made to deter the rest of mankind from disobedience, by the punishment of their rebellion and impiety. And looking upon such an accumulation of undoubted evidence, we cannot but do so without wonder and conviction, and conclude with this reflection : that the Bible is the most valuable gift that Almighty wisdom has conferred upon mankind.
The five books of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are placed at the head of the Scriptures as the most ancient of the Sacred Writings. These together formed the Book of the Law, as
it was called by the Jews. The Book of GENESIS (so called from its giving
account of the origin of the world and its inhabitants) gives a grand though simple account of the manner in which the Almighty was pleased to call into existence the light, the skies, the earth and its productions, the heavenly bodies, the animals which inhabit the sea, the air, and the face of the globe, and last of all, the first man and woman. The sublimity of this History of the Creation is universally allowed to be unequalled by any human composition.
In the Book of Exodus (a word signifying the going out from, in allusion to the departure of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt) Moses relates the circumstance of his own stay, and the astonishing miracles wrought in favour of the people whom God had appointed him to lead. He de
scribes their release from Egyptian slavery ; the destruction of their enemies; and the distress they met with in the wilderness, or great desert, through which they wandered forty years, as a punishment for their disobedience. The awful manner in which the Almighty was pleased to deliver his laws to the whole people from mount Sinai, is also here recorded, shewing forth his glory to them, by delivering to Moses the Ten great Commandments, which comprize an abstract of our duty towards God and man. The whole period recounted in this book is about
LEVITICUS (so called from its relating to the Levitical priesthood of Aaron and his son, who were of the tribe of Levi) containing the religious rites and ceremonies, and the whole of the regulations established for the conduct of the Israelites by Moses, under the direct command of God.
The Book of NUMBERS begins with a history of the numbering of the Israelites (from which circumstance it takes its name) and continuing the account of their national regulation, carrying forward their history for about thirty-eight years, in their pro
gress towards the land of Canaan. In the 24th chapter, Balaam, (who was not a true believer, and the determined enemy of the Israelites) is recorded to have delivered, against his own consent a very clear and remarkable prophecy of the coming of Christ, describing the peculiar signs by which his birth should be made known,
DEUTERONOMY, which signifies the renewal of the law, was drawn up by Moses towards the close of his life, for the instruction of those of the Israelites who were not born when first the law was delivered from mount Sinai, in the wilderness, or who were in their childhood at that period. Having finally conducted the people to the banks of the river Jordan (over which according to divine command he was not to go), Moses solemnly reminded the people of the many and wonderful mercies which they had experienced, and after carefully recording in a book all the coinmandments of God, together with the history of past events, he on this public occasion delivered these venerable memorials, over to the care of the Levites, requiring that from time to time they should be read to the whole nation.
An account of the death of Moses, which took place soon after, is added at the conclusion of the Book of Deuteronomy, probably written by the hand of Joshua; all that goes before being certainly written by Moses himself.
I have dwelt thus long upon the five books of Moses, as containing the most ancient and extensive part of the Sacred History. These venerable accounts convey to us the only memorials of the first age of the world, and furnish the only rational means of accounting for many things at this day, which would be otherwise unintelligible. The effects of the deluge are
to be seen in every quarter of the globe, and present such prodigious appearances, as can only be explained by that remarkable event. Mountains and seas are found to have changed their situations. Shells, and other productions of the sea, are continually discovered on the tops of the highest mountains; and are every day dug up in mines, and from the very bowels of the earth. The miraculous change of tongues at the Tower of Babel (an ancient word which signifies confusion) can alone account for