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As to the ancient historians, from Herodotus to Tacitus, we
credit them as far as they relate things probable and credible, and no
further: for if we do, we must believe the two miracles which Tacitus
relates were performed by Vespasian, that of curing a lame man, and a
blind man, in just the same manner as the same things are told of Jesus
Christ by his historians. We must also believe the miracles cited by
Josephus, that of the sea of Pamphilia opening to let Alexander and his
army pass, as is related of the Red Sea in Exodus. These miracles are
quite as well authenticated as the Bible miracles, and yet we do not
believe them; consequently the degree of evidence necessary to establish
our belief of things naturally incredible, whether in the Bible or
elsewhere, is far greater than that which obtains our belief to natural
and probable things; and therefore the advocates for the Bible have no
claim to our belief of the Bible because that we believe things stated
in other ancient writings; since that we believe the things stated
in those writings no further than they are probable and credible, or
because they are self-evident, like Euclid; or admire them because they
are elegant, like Homer; or approve them because they are sedate, like
Plato; or judicious, like Aristotle.

Having premised these things, I proceed to examine the authenticity of
the Bible; and I begin with what are called the five books of Moses,
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. My intention is to
shew that those books are spurious, and that Moses is not the author of
them; and still further, that they were not written in the time of Moses
nor till several hundred years afterwards; that they are no other than
an attempted history of the life of Moses, and of the times in which he
is said to have lived, and also of the times prior thereto, written by
some very ignorant and stupid pretenders to authorship, several hundred
years after the death of Moses; as men now write histories of things
that happened, or are supposed to have happened, several hundred or
several thousand years ago.

The evidence that I shall produce in this case is from the books
themselves; and I will confine myself to this evidence only. Were I to
refer for proofs to any of the ancient authors, whom the advocates of
the Bible call prophane authors, they would controvert that authority,
as I controvert theirs: I will therefore meet them on their own ground,
and oppose them with their own weapon, the Bible.

In the first place, there is no affirmative evidence that Moses is
the author of those books; and that he is the author, is altogether an
unfounded opinion, got abroad nobody knows how. The style and manner
in which those books are written give no room to believe, or even to
suppose, they were written by Moses; for it is altogether the style and
manner of another person speaking of Moses. In Exodus, Leviticus and
Numbers, (for every thing in Genesis is prior to the times of Moses and
not the least allusion is made to him therein,) the whole, I say, of
these books is in the third person; it is always, the Lord said unto
Moses, or Moses said unto the Lord; or Moses said unto the people,
or the people said unto Moses; and this is the style and manner that
historians use in speaking of the person whose lives and actions they
are writing. It may be said, that a man may speak of himself in the
third person, and, therefore, it may be supposed that Moses did; but
supposition proves nothing; and if the advocates for the belief that
Moses wrote those books himself have nothing better to advance than
supposition, they may as well be silent.

But granting the grammatical right, that Moses might speak of himself in
the third person, because any man might speak of himself in that manner,
it cannot be admitted as a fact in those books, that it is Moses who
speaks, without rendering Moses truly ridiculous and absurd:--for
example, Numbers xii. 3: "Now the man Moses was very MEEK, above all the
men which were on the face of the earth." If Moses said this of himself,
instead of being the meekest of men, he was one of the most vain and
arrogant coxcombs; and the advocates for those books may now take which
side they please, for both sides are against them: if Moses was not the
author, the books are without authority; and if he was the author, the
author is without credit, because to boast of meekness is the reverse of
meekness, and is a lie in sentiment.

In Deuteronomy, the style and manner of writing marks more evidently
than in the former books that Moses is not the writer. The manner here
used is dramatical; the writer opens the subject by a short introductory
discourse, and then introduces Moses as in the act of speaking, and when
he has made Moses finish his harrangue, he (the writer) resumes his own
part, and speaks till he brings Moses forward again, and at last closes
the scene with an account of the death, funeral, and character of Moses.

This interchange of speakers occurs four times in this book: from the
first verse of the first chapter, to the end of the fifth verse, it is
the writer who speaks; he then introduces Moses as in the act of making
his harrangue, and this continues to the end of the 40th verse of the
fourth chapter; here the writer drops Moses, and speaks historically of
what was done in consequence of what Moses, when living, is supposed to
have said, and which the writer has dramatically rehearsed.

The writer opens the subject again in the first verse of the fifth
chapter, though it is only by saying that Moses called the people of
Israel together; he then introduces Moses as before, and continues him
as in the act of speaking, to the end of the 26th chapter. He does the
same thing at the beginning of the 27th chapter; and continues Moses
as in the act of speaking, to the end of the 28th chapter. At the 29th
chapter the writer speaks again through the whole of the first verse,
and the first line of the second verse, where he introduces Moses for
the last time, and continues him as in the act of speaking, to the end
of the 33d chapter.

The writer having now finished the rehearsal on the part of Moses, comes
forward, and speaks through the whole of the last chapter: he begins by
telling the reader, that Moses went up to the top of Pisgah, that he
saw from thence the land which (the writer says) had been promised to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that he, Moses, died there in the land of
Moab, that he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, but that no
man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day, that is unto the time in
which the writer lived who wrote the book of Deuteronomy. The writer
then tells us, that Moses was one hundred and ten years of age when he
died--that his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated; and he
concludes by saying, that there arose not a prophet since in Israel
like unto Moses, whom, says this anonymous writer, the Lord knew face to
face.

Having thus shewn, as far as grammatical evidence implies, that
Moses was not the writer of those books, I will, after making a few
observations on the inconsistencies of the writer of the book of
Deuteronomy, proceed to shew, from the historical and chronological
evidence contained in those books, that Moses was not, because he could
not be, the writer of them; and consequently, that there is no authority
for believing that the inhuman and horrid butcheries of men, women, and
children, told of in those books, were done, as those books say they
were, at the command of God. It is a duty incumbent on every true deist,
that he vindicates the moral justice of God against the calumnies of the
Bible.

The writer of the book of Deuteronomy, whoever he was, for it is an
anonymous work, is obscure, and also contradictory with himself in the
account he has given of Moses.

After telling that Moses went to the top of Pisgah (and it does not
appear from any account that he ever came down again) he tells us, that
Moses died there in the land of Moab, and that he buried him in a valley
in the land of Moab; but as there is no antecedent to the pronoun he,
there is no knowing who he was, that did bury him. If the writer meant
that he (God) buried him, how should he (the writer) know it? or why
should we (the readers) believe him? since we know not who the writer
was that tells us so, for certainly Moses could not himself tell where
he was buried.

The writer also tells us, that no man knoweth where the sepulchre of
Moses is unto this day, meaning the time in which this writer lived;
how then should he know that Moses was buried in a valley in the land
of Moab? for as the writer lived long after the time of Moses, as is
evident from his using the expression of unto this day, meaning a great
length of time after the death of Moses, he certainly was not at his
funeral; and on the other hand, it is impossible that Moses himself
could say that no man knoweth where the sepulchre is unto this day. To
make Moses the speaker, would be an improvement on the play of a child
that hides himself and cries nobody can find me; nobody can find Moses.

This writer has no where told us how he came by the speeches which he
has put into the mouth of Moses to speak, and therefore we have a right
to conclude that he either composed them himself, or wrote them from
oral tradition. One or other of these is the more probable, since he
has given, in the fifth chapter, a table of commandments, in which that
called the fourth commandment is different from the fourth commandment
in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. In that of Exodus, the reason given
for keeping the seventh day is, because (says the commandment) God made
the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh; but in
that of Deuteronomy, the reason given is, that it was the day on which
the children of Israel came out of Egypt, and therefore, says this
commandment, the Lord thy God commanded thee to kee the sabbath-day This
makes no mention of the creation, nor that of the coming out of Egypt.
There are also many things given as laws of Moses in this book, that are
not to be found in any of the other books; among which is that inhuman
and brutal law, xxi.



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