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The Pentateuch

Brownson's Quarterly Review, October, 1848

Art. IV.  A Lecture on the Pentateuch--Its Contents,  --its Inspiration.

"The Scripture cannot be broken."John x. 35.
"All Scripture inspired of God."  2 Tim. iii. 16.
"Understanding this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation: for prophecy came not by the will of man at any time ; but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost."  2 Peter i. 20, 21.                                                                          

We have reached a period in the world's history, when the minds of men seem to be engaged in a general and violent conflict, either on the subject of the Divinity of the Scriptures, or of the manner of interpreting them.    Nor would this conflict be any thing more than the natural  effect of human reason, were the issue of the case to be left to its capricious opinions. But, fortunately, the medium by which the one and the other can be decided depends not on the researches of human sagacity, but rests altogether on the requirements of supernatural authority.    The Scriptures themselves claiming the character of Divine origination, no other than a Divine tribunal can arraign in judgment the conceits of the mind concerning them, can check the onward and far-spread progress of doubt, and can   impart what  is  indispensably necessary in  a matter so momentous, perfect conviction and infallible certainty as to the character and signification of the inspired writings.   Possessing as we do, in the pale of the ancient Church, that necessary tribunal,   we can entertain no misgivings  of  the  Divinity of their  origin, nor can we be led astray in their interpretation. To us, as by an hereditary right, belongs the deposit of the Sacred  Scriptures ; and carefully has it been preserved  and dearly approbated,  at every epoch, and by every generation, -" all true Catholics adoring," in the language of Tertullian, " the plenitude of the Bible," or affirming, with Robert, king of Sicily, that " it should be esteemed infinitely more precious than the diadem that sparkles on the brow of majesty."

And yet we sometimes delight in refreshing our minds in the limpid fountains of evidence which never cease to flow from heavenly sources. Bathing in them, our souls come forth, not only filled with delightful and salutary influences, but likewise unsullied by any mental defilement, if, peradven-ture, in the midst of our contact with the skeptic and doubting world, any such should ever involuntarily have attached to them.     With this view, I have proposed to throw together some ideas on the " Law of the Law," the title given by the Jews to the books of Moses, or the Pentateuch. The subject naturally divides itself into two parts : first, the contents of the book, and, second, their Divine inspiration.

The name Pentateuch is derived from the heads or books into which the subject-matter has been divided, these being five in number. And every tyro in the Greek language has learned its derivation. On opening the sacred volume, you will at once perceive the titles and mark the collocation of these five books ; namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, .Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The ordinary reader of the Bible, in casting his eyes upon this fivefold division, would naturally be led to suppose that this division was made by the author himself in the original manuscripts. But such is not the case ; the ancient Hebrews knew no such division,  which is mentioned, for the first time, by Josephus, in his famous u Antiquities." They designated the Pentateuch, as I observed just now, the " Law of the Law," or the  " Book of the Law."

The Pentateuch is an authentic and inspired narrative of events connected with the establishment of religion, as they occurred from the era of the creation down to the death of the author,  an unbroken and magnificent chain, of which the links are important and remarkable facts, through which the Providence of God can be visibly traced, and in all of which the finger of Jehovah is manifestly discerned.

The most important portion of the Pentateuch is the history of the Mosaic legislation. What precedes this may be regarded as a mere introduction or exordium ; so intimately connected with it, however, that it is necessary to the whole, and therefore cannot be separated from it. Through it we are led, step by step, to the mighty drama to which it is meant to conduct us ; as through an introduction to some magnificent poem, or through the exordium to some sublime oration. We follow the graphic and inspired author from one scene to another, through varied fields and lonely solitudes, until at length, ere we are aware of the majesty that is to burst upon our vision, we and ourselves at the foot of the mountain clad with the awful glories of the Most High, quaking under his terrific thunder, and gleaming with the fearful flashes of his lightning, from the midst of which supernatural coruscations and uproar, the Decalogue is published to the people shuddering with awe in the valley below.

The Pentateuch may very naturally be divided into three parts.    The first comprises the history of what occurred in the world from the period of its creation down to the death of the patriarch Joseph.     And this part forms what is entitled Genesis, from the circumstance of its treating of the birth of things.    The Hebrews call it Beresith, from the word with which it opens.    It comprehends the space of  2369 years. The second part contains the Mosaic legislation, which runs through  Exodus,   Leviticus,  and Numbers.     Exodus is  so styled from the going out of the people of Israel from the land of Egypt; it is denominated by the Hebrews Veelle Semoth, and occupies a term of 145 years.    Leviticus derives its name from the Levites, because it treats of the offices'and functions, rites and ceremonies, of the priests and Levites, and is called by the  Hebrews, from the first word with which it begins, Vaicra.    The name Numbers is derived from the contents of the book, namely, the numbering of the people ; it is denominated by the Hebrews Vaiedabber, and extends through a cycle of about thirty-nine years.   The third part is but the repetition of certain laws already given, and the addition of some new precepts, exhortations, and motives for the observance of the law already promulgated ; hence its appellation,  Deuterono-myy and in Hebrew, Elle Haddebarim.

In the Pentateuch, there are four distinctive divisions of character, namely, history, religion, legislation, and poesy : history the most accurate and simply narrated ; religion which reveals to the favored race of Israel a system Divine and authentic, raising thern far above the position of the nations by whom they were surrounded, and marking them and their posterity as the true adorers of the only living God ; legislation breathing a wisdom and adaptation to the peculiar circumstances of the people which proved the heavenly source from which it emanated, and the temporal blessings which it was intended to convey ; and a poesy as far superior in beauty and sublimity to the most admired strain of the pagan muse as the spirit of prophecy is above the genius of human thought, or the fountains of inspiration are more grand, more deep, more bright, than the springs of human imagination.

Its history is the most ancient, certain, and interesting to mankind. It is the production of the proto-author, and therefore stands alone in the midst of the early years, telling of events and men and scenes which, had it not been for his hallowed style, must have been lost and buried and forgotten. No author whom he might cite preceded his era ; on the contrary, during a long series of years, his was the only record, and a record which begins its date with the birth of creation, relates how man, the great parent of the human race, was formed, and in what manner the earth was peopled. Under the divine description of Moses, every thing speaks with a thrilling and marvellous interest, every thing bursts upon the reader with a fresh and glowing beauty and sublimity. Chaos seems in labor, the elements of matter coalesce, as it were, and assume a consistency, which, by the omnipotence that brought them out of nothing, grows into form and symmetry, and palpitates with existence. The waters are separated from the dry land ; the firmament is thrown like a pavilion over the earth ; light flashes from the womb of darkness ; the sun ascends his flaming throne, from which, as from an everlasting watch-tower in the heavens, he is destined to regulate the days, the hours, the years, as long as time shall endure. The deep is rolled into its vast and fathomless abysses, and its billows are chained within their prescribed boundaries, traced by the Eternal finger on the sands ; the waters are alive with fishes ; the fields and groves swarm with beasts and reptiles, and are resonant with the incessant songs of joyous birds. Eden is prepared, with its sweet and beautiful gardens, its limpid rivers and ever-blooming bowers, for the reception of the lord of the earth ; and man, made after God's own image, standing erect, looking to the heavens of which he is destined to become an inhabitant, walks in majesty and dominion among the inferior animals. This is the character of the historic record of the Pentateuch.

Nor does the smallest shadow of uncertainty rest upon its accuracy or veracity. Both are placed beyond the influence of doubt ; both stand upon the authority of unquestionable truth. For, independently of the inspiration of its author, on every detail the characters of exact authenticity are visibly impressed. All the personages introduced upon the scene are mentioned by name ; all the epochs are distinctly marked ; all the events are intimately woven together, like a chain, of which one link cannot be removed without causing the whole to break and fall to pieces. From Adam down to Noe, there is no interruption ; both eras are inseparably united together by a tissue of epochs and characters and events. The first man whose raptured eye beheld the wonders of the new-formed universe, and the family which, after witnessing the bursting of the cataracts of heaven, was preserved to re-people the regenerated earth, seem to join hands, through an interval of two thousand years,  such is the unity of this record. Then, again, commences another concatenation, not less closely linked nor less uninterrupted, stretching down to the epoch of Moses, the legislator of the Jewish people, and the formation of the twelve tribes, the origin of the Mosaic legislation, and the entrance of the people of God into the land of Canaan ; all which facts are incontestably authentic.

Nor can it be denied that these facts are, moreover, the most interesting to the human race.    They teach us our own history, which, otherwise, would have been but a vague, and perhaps mythological, tradition, like that of the posterity of Confucius,   or of the   other  pagan  nations.    We are made acquainted, with perfect accuracy and beyond all   misgiving, with our wondrous origin, with the formation of the universe in which we are placed, with the common parent of our race, with the great catastrophe which overwhelmed in destruction nearly the whole of the human family,  a catastrophe to which the common tradition of all nations, the fictions of mythology, and the condition of the  globe,  cut up into continent and island,   vale  and mountain,  in all of which  are  discovered fossil and animal remains, which by no other theory could be accounted  for,  render a striking  and  universal  testimony. Compare the mythology of Deucalion with the history of Moses, and it will be evident that the former tradition is founded substantially upon the latter.    The " Deucalion unde homines nati) durum genus," of Ovid, whence derived except from the event of the deluge as narrated by the inspired historian ? from whose pen we also learn the manner in which the, shattered earth was repaired, the heads and founders of the nations that afterwards spread anew over the face of the world, the account of the patriarch of the Hebrew people, their journeys in  the desert, their legislation, and the prodigies and miracles which attested and confirmed the Divinity of the whole.    Such is the nature of the historic part of the Pentateuch ;  and could any thing be more  interesting or more  important to the human family ?                                                                               

The religious division of the Pentateuch displays to the mind a character manifestly divine, whether in regard to dogma or to morals ; and of these two constituents all true religion, it will be confessed, is composed. These make known what man must believe in his relation to God, and how he must comport himself towards his fellow-beings.   They consequently afford a double position, on which, as a believing people, we are to stand,  one eternal, the other temporal; one, like Jacob's ladder, reaching to heaven,  the other, like Israel's tents, spread on earth, and covering under their magnificent and beautiful expansion all the charities which should bind brethren together. In effect, what sublime ideas of the Divinity are not conveyed by the author of the Pentateuch,  ideas worthy the majesty of the Supreme Creator, and which, by their light and glory, cast into impenetrable shade the most gorgeous conceits and fanciful apotheoses of the wisest and politest pagan theogo-nists ? Only compare them, as they are left on record, whether in the loftiest strains of epos or ode, or in the elegant description of history, or in the romantic feats and triumphs of mythology. What are the " cloud-compelling " Zeus of the Greeks, or the demigods and penates of the Romans, when contrasted with the God of Moses,  one, omnipotent, eternal, whose fiat struck out matter from nothing,  who spoke and all things were made,  whose providence governs all the events of human life, whose infinite wisdom sounds the depths of the heart, unfathomable by any other power, who, in a word, by excellence, and by nature, is ? Nowhere, except in the Pentateuch, has any appellation been given to the Creator that conveys the smallest idea of grandeur and self-existence, when placed by the side of the name by which he characterizes himself,  I am who am, Ego sum qui sum; a name which reveals the nature of the Divinity as clearly as it is possible to descry it amid the deep shades of this sublunary world.
The God of Moses is not, like the imaginary deities of his contemporary philosophers, indifferent to the fate, present or future, of human kind, consigning over to the caprice of fortune or the fatality of destiny beings endowed with intellect and immortality. He is the Father and the Friend of his people, walks in invisible, but yet sensible, majesty, amongst them ; dwells in their tents, selects and treats them as his own precious inheritance ; adopts them as his children, and, as the eagle with outstretched wings covers and protects her tender brood, he fosters them under the shadow of his presence and providence, nourishes them with manna prepared for their use in the clouds of heaven, and refreshes them, in the midst of arid and weary solitudes, with streams of pellucid water, leaping, at the stroke of his prophet's wand, from the barren and desolate rock. That God, who walked and conversed with Adam among the virginal bowers of Eden, continued with his posterity, although tainted by the original iniquity of their progenitor, and in process of time, the more admirably to prove his love for mankind, embodied in the person of his Eternal Son the Divinity and humanity, and gave evidence to heaven and earth that it was his " delight to be with the children of men."

It is true that the author of the Pentateuch, having to address his language and adapt his ideas to mortal men, is compelled to speak of God after a human manner,  to attribute to the Eternal affections and faculties which, rigorously speaking, cannot be applied to him ; yet this is counteracted by the exact and spiritual notions which he, at due times, conveys of the Divinity, and thus admonishes us of the true signification which should be given to his metaphorical expressions.

From the teachings of pagan philosophy no information could be derived respecting the origin of the world or the creation of man. Over these and similar momentous facts, a gloomy, an impenetrable veil of ignorance was thrown, which no hand, save one directed and empowered from above, could draw from the scene. Poetry, imagination, superstition, had in vain attempted to display to the bewildered reason of man the source and power to which all things  and himself especially should be traced back. The Pentateuch removes every vestige of uncertainty, and discloses, in plain but splendid verity, the history of the formation of man's being ; and while it exhibits the mortal part moulded, by a plastic energy, out of the slime of the earth, it tells, in like manner, of the soul,the breath of the Eternal Spirit, who breathed into the comely, but originally cold and lifeless body, and infused into its nostrils warmth and immortality. It convinces the reader of the exalted and heaven-born character of man, the masterpiece of Infinite Wisdom, who, ere the perfect work was undertaken, seemed to deliberate with himself how to impress upon it the image of his own Divinity. One only word was all that was required to produce the heavens and earth, with their ornaments and irrational inhabitants ; but the production of the intellectual and godlike master of creation is represented, in these pages, as the premeditated effect of the omnipotence and wisdom of the Trinity,   "Faciamus hominem, Let us create man."

Not satisfied with making man acquainted with his Creator, and with imparting the most accurate ideas of the Divinity, the author of the Pentateuch teaches, also, the duties which man is bound to pay him.    Essential duties, founded upon the natural relation existing between the creature and the Creator, upon the  absolute  dependency of the former on the infinite maiesty of the latter, and upon the necessity of expressing and testifying, by homage and  sacrifice and prayer, a profound sense of gratitude for the favors bestowed on the human race. Those duties are contained in the Decalogue,  and may  be comprised in that one great commandment, placed by'Moses at the head of all the others :  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, and with all thy mind : a golden precept, which, including the love,of one s neighbour as one's self, was promulgated afterwards by^ Christ the Messiah, as the compend of the New Law, as well as the cardinal maxim of the Old, on which the Law depended and the Prophets.    Of this sublime nature is the religion prescribed by the author of the Pentateuch,so pure, so enlightened, and so perfect, that of it mere human philosophy never could have conceived the faintest notion.

The legislative character of the Pentateuch is not less admirable, in its theory and adaptation, than the one of which I have just treated.                                                            

In promulgating his code, every leg.s ator has some particular end in view; and to this all his legislation is meant to be directed. Among various people, various objects were proposed to be attained ; that of the Spartans, for instance, differed from that of the Athenians ; and hence, while Lycurgus gave laws for the purpose of forming robust and vigorous men, Solon's legislation had in view the refinement of the mind and the polish of life, by encouraging the arts and sciences. Both succeeded in their different objects. The Spartan was famed for his bodily strength and activity, the Athenian for his mental elegance and intellectual accomplishment. A Latin poet, Propertius, has sung of the former :
"Multa tuae, Sparte, miramur jura palaestrae" ;
We admire thee, Spartan, in thy manly games ;

while  Horace has not forgotten to transmit to posterity this eulogy of the latter :

" Adjecere bonae paulo plus artis Athenae."
Athens hath added to the fine arts more.

An infinitely more vital and lofty motive than either of the former inspired the legislation of Moses ; it was the preservation of the Hebrew people from idolatry, the conservation among them of the knowledge of the Most High, and the preparation, at a long distance of time, for the coming of the Messiah.    On these as its essential foundation is based the whole of the Mosaic code, and all the circumstantial enactments that grew out of that original code must be  regarded  and  understood in reference  to that threefold object which its author had in view.    To examine them all in detail would require volumes.     Volumes, indeed, there are, within the reach of every individual desirous of entering more thoroughly into the study of this question, in whose elaborate and erudite pages nothing is left untouched that might demonstrate the supreme wisdom of the minutest points of the Mosaic laws.    Suffice it, on this occasion, to appeal to experience as  a witness.     The clearest proof of the wisdom of a legislator is the fact of his having fully and effectually attained the end which he proposed by the promulgation of his laws.    That Moses has accomplished this, the history of the past and the experience of the present render evident to the mind of the ingenuous and reflecting inquirer.     If we go back into the past, we then  find, in the midst of* the dismal darkness and lamentable superstitions that enveloped and  debased the surrounding nations of the earth, the Jewish people enlightened by the knowledge, and elevated by the worship, of the true and only God.    If we cast our eyes upon the present, do we not behold the same people, despite of all their vicissitudes and their calamities, adhering with unprecedented fidelity  though, unfortunately, laboring under a sad hallucination  to   the worship of the God of their fathers ?     Nothing can alienate them from Him who brought them' out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of bondage.    Their  fidelity to the   Law is, indeed, a  marvel, and there is no means of accounting for it, except the profound and enduring conviction of its divinity, which neither dispersion throughout the universe, nor despondency at their long and fruitless expectation of the Messiah, can eradicate from their hearts.    This being the end of the Mosaic legislation, its wisdom, consequently, cannot be disputed.

The laws of the Pentateuch are moral, civil, and ceremonial. The first  for example, the Decalogue, and the other precepts depending on it  are founded on the law of nature ; they may be said to be a ratification, in more distinct characters, of that law which, having, in the beginning, been written by the Creator on the human heart, was afterwards inscribed by the same Eternal Legislator on tablets of stone. Hence it is manifest that this part of the Pentateuch could never be abrogated, but was, on the contrary, emphatically enforced, by the Divine Legislator of the Christian world. The second  the civil  were those issued by God's own will, and regard either the administration of the government, or the duties of individual citizens. The third  ceremonial  emanated, in like manner, from God's good pleasure, and refer to the regulation, practice, and external rites of Divine worship. What an immense field for commentary here expands before the mind ! But want of time forbids me from even entering upon it, and I therefore hasten to the consideration of the poetic division of the Pentateuch.

In approaching this topic of my remarks, I only regret that I am not possessed of at least a portion of the eloquence of a Rollin, a La Harpe, or a Chateaubriand, to do some justice to its exalted merits.    The beauty and sublimity of the poetry of Moses   immeasurably   surpass   the  most   admired strains of Homer ; and eminently entitle him to the honor of being the first of poets, as we have proved him to be the greatest of historians,   legislators,  and theologians.     Innumerable passages might be culled from the pages of the Pentateuch in exemplification and proof of this assertion ; I will, however, direct your attention but to a few.     Read, for instance, the blessing of Jacob, in  Genesis, chapter xxvii. ; the prophecy of Balaam, in Numbers, chapter xxiv.; and the blessing of Moses, before his death, on the tribes of Israel, in the thirty-third chapter of Deuteronomy.   I point especially to these three passages, (numberless others, and particularly the canticle after the crossing of the Red Sea, might also be quoted,) as, in my earlier years, I attempted to render them, as literally as possible, into versification :


The dew of heaven may God bestow,
The fatness of the earth be thine ; For thee may com abundant grow,
And ever fruitful be the purple vine.
Thee let the people always serve, And the tribes worship as their lord;
Thy brethren ne'er from thee shall swerve, Thy mother's children shall obey thy word.
Cursed the man who curseth thee:
Let him who blesseth filled with blessings be.


How beautiful, O Jacob, are
Thy tabernacles bright!
Thy tents, O Israel, how fair
And lovely to the sight!

As gentle valleys, crowned with wood,
As gardens near the river's tide,
As tabernacles pitched of God,
As cedars by the water's side.

Out of his bucket streams shall flow,
His seed in waters deep be proved,
Agag, his king, shall be laid low,
 And his proud kingdom be removed.

From Egypt God hath brought him out,
 Whose strength is like unto the power
Of the rhinoceros ;--they shall rout
The hostile nations, and devour;

And break their bones, and pierce them through
 With arrows sharp and merciless:
He, lying down, hath slept, as though
A lion or a lioness,

Whom to arouse from sleep none durst:
Who blesseth thee shall blessed be ;
But reckoned, too, among the accursed
Shall stand that man who curseth thee.


" Let Reuben live, nor let him die,
 for he In number small and limited shall be."

And this is Juda's blessing:  " Lord, give ear
 To Juda's voice, and hearken to his prayer:
 Conduct him in unto his people.    And
 He shall fight for him, and no foe shall stand
 Against His helping and resistless hand."

He said to Levi,  " To that man of heaven
Be thy perfection and thy doctrine given,
 Who hath temptation's strongest power defied,
 And been at contradiction's waters tried ;
 Who to his father, mother, brethren, spake,-
 'I do not know you'; and could dare forsake
Their children; these thy covenant have observed,

And from thy holy word have never swerved,
 Thy judgment, Jacob; thy law, Israel; these
With burning incense shall thy wrath appease,
And on thine altars holocausts shall place.
 Lord, bless his strength, nor from him turn thy face;
 Strike, strike the backs of his fierce enemies,
 And let not them that hate him dare to rise."

To Benjamin he said,  " In him shall dwell,
 With confidence, the one whom God loves well,
 All day, as in the chamber of a bride,
And rest between his shoulders shall abide."

He said to Joseph, too,  " The land be given
Of the Lord's blessing, of the fruits of heaven,
And of the dew, and of the sea below
That lieth, and of all the fruits that grow
And ripen by the moon, or by the sun,
Whether the everlasting hills upon,
Or on the ancient mountain-tops brought forth ;
Be his the fulness and the fruits of earth.
His blessing, in the bush who burned, come down
On Joseph's head, and on theNazarite's crown.
On him, among his brethren, is conferred
The beauty of the firstling of the herd :
His horns like horns of the rhinoceros are,
With them shall he the nations push afar
E'en to the earth's remotest boundaries.
Manasses' thousands, Ephraim's hosts, are these."

To Zabulon, " In thy going out," he said,
" 0 Zabulon ! and in thy tents, be glad,
Isaachar! to the mountains they shall call
Thy people, and upon their tops shall all
 Their sacrifices offer, and shall slay
Victims of justice, and, as milk, shall they
Suck the deep sea's abundance, and their hands
 Shall search the hidden treasures of the sands."

He said to Gad, " Gad in his breadth be blest,
For like a lion he hath taken his rest;
He seized the arm and head, and from his high
Preeminence, as his, doth he descry
Laid up the teacher, justices to tell,
And deal out judgment unto Israel."

To Dan he said, -"A lion young is Dan;
He shall flow plentifully from Basan."

To Nepthali he said :  " To Nepthali
Abundance, as his portion, there shall be.
Him shall the Lord with richest favors bless;
The ocean and the south shall he possess."

He said to Aser, " Blest with children he,
And to his brethren acceptable be :
 Dip he his foot in oil; for it must bear
A shoe of iron and of brass ; as were
 The days of youth, so shall thy old age be.
 There is no God, save of the rightest; He
Who sitteth mounted on the highest heaven
 Thy helper is, by whom the clouds are driven
 Hither and thither, subject to his breath :
His dwelling he hath made above ; beneath
Are stretched the everlasting arms ; to naught,
 Driven before him, shall the foe be brought:
 Under the wings of peace shall Israel,
Alone and happy in his safety, dwell.
A land of corn and wine to Jacob's view,
 And skies all misty with perpetual dew."

Having, thus far, dwelt on the contents of the Pentateuch, we now arrive at the second part of the subject, namely, the divinity of its inspiration. This character of divinity appears from the manner in which Moses invariably speaks, addressing himself to the people, not in his own name, but in the name of the Omnipotent. He breaks upon the nation like a messenger from on high ; his language is the language of Heaven's ambassador. He is commissioned by the Lord to write the laws promulgated by Divine authority. If the mission of Moses be derived from above, it necessarily follows that the Pentateuch is Divinely inspired. But the divinity of his mission is. attested in a twofold manner,  by his miracles and his prophecies. Miracles in Egypt, in the passage of the Red Sea, and in the desert, all which prodigious occurrences manifestly-transcended the ordinary laws of nature, and are related in a simple, grave, and unaffected style. He mentions dates, designates places, names persons. He displays them anew to the eyes of his readers who had been witnesses of them, or, at least, beheld around them the monuments erected to perpetuate their memory. Nor do all these marvels reflect honor upon his people. Some, on the contrary, are humiliating to their pride, and an everlasting stigma upon many of their posterity.   Among
these may be specified the death of Dathan and Abiron, and the leprosy of Aaron and his sister. The Israelites gave credence to these facts,  they followed Moses to the desert on the strength of his prodigious achievements, submitted to the yoke of a heavy law, and clung to their leader with a fidelity little short of enthusiasm. Would this have been the case, had the narrative of Moses been a fiction ? Would he not have been contradicted, and refuted, and abandoned ? Would it have been possible for him to impose so flagrant and notorious a delusion on the common sense of an entire nation, and entail it upon all posterity ? No, men believed the writings of Moses because they knew the veracity of them ; the events were fresh, and had been witnessed by a whole nation. They were acknowledged to be miraculous, and consequently it follows that the divinity of Moses's mission and the inspiration of the Pentateuch are signalized and attested by his miracles.
It is, moreover, confirmed by his prophecies.    The accomplishment of events, predicted years, and even centuries, previous to their coming to pass, can be the effect only of supernatural inspiration.     The seer, who, fired with a heavenly enthusiasm, summons up from the deep womb of the future deeds and persons, and describes  them  with the  accuracy of one before whose eye they are existing, cannot be less than an ambassador from the Eternal, before whom "a thousand years are but as yesterday."    Now Moses did this : predicted the prosperity of Israel, if faithful to the worship of Jehovah, and his calamities, if recreant to his commandments,  that fertility should dwell in the soil, that abundance should cover the land, that peace should hover over the nation, as long as they would continue obedient to the Lord their God.    But if they should fall into idolatry, he warned them that all these blessings should be withdrawn from  them : they should  become the prey of their enemies, their beautiful land should be seized upon by the rapacity of strangers, and  they themselves carried away into ignominious captivity.    That all these  predictions  have been verified, no one acquainted with the history of the Jews can deny.    The skeptic cannot cite an epoch when Israel was rich or powerful, without being, at the same time, faithful to the Law ; and never was he forgetful of it, never guilty of the crime of idolatry, without being visited with condign punishments on account of his prevarication.    In the midst of the surrounding providences of Heaven, the people murmur ; and Moses predicts, that, in chastisement of their ingratitude and mutiny, not one among them,  with the exception of Caleb and Josue,  over the age of twenty years, should reach the promised land. What was the result ? Those two individuals alone excepted, the six hundred thousand souls who were then living perished, according to the terrible pre-announcement of their fate, in the heart of the wilderness.

Again, Moses foretold that the succession in the Jewish priesthood should be confined to the family of Phinees. This, too, was faithfully realized. For that favored family alone held the pontifical censer in the days of David, as well as in those of the Macchabees, and the long and uninterrupted series of pontiffs which we discover in the holy writings is traced exclusively through the posterity of Phinees.

He predicted, that, in consequence of not always having displayed sufficient confidence, during their trials, in the protecting providence of Jehovah, neither himself nor his brother Aaron should reach the land of promise. And both were, in effect, doomed to forego the privilege of treading upon that blessed soil, in sight of whose fertile plains and smiling valleys they were gathered to their fathers.

But still another, and a more extraordinary, prediction did he make,  one which, in the minds of the remotest posterity, and of all the inhabitants of the world, was to be the unerring test of his inspiration and the Divinity of his mission. This was, that all nations should, one day, be brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God, and should be blessed in the seed of Abraham. And thousands of years after this announcement, we cast our eyes around the globe, and are filled with amazement, and confirmed in our faith in the Divinity of the Pentateuch, at contemplating the event. The gods of the Gentiles have been forgotten, the temples reared to them in Egypt, and in other once gorgeous and potent regions, when idolatry swayed the earth, have mouldered away, while the God of Abraham is adored and served wherever the sun shines, by Christian and by Jew.

He declared, moreover, that, in the fulness of time, God would raise up, from among the Jewish race, a prophet like himself, and a legislator supreme, whom all men were commanded to hear and believe, under the penalty of drawing upon themselves the wrath of Heaven. This wonderful personage was, indeed, to appear amid circumstances less terrific than those that accompanied the mission of Moses, but with credentials from the same Divine authority,  nay, with a person of itself Divine, inasmuch as he was to be the Son of God and the Redeemer of mankind.    Hear the words in which the author of the Pentateuch foretells, in the name of the Eternal, the advent of that Saviour :  "I will raise them up a prophet out of the midst of their brethren like to thee : and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him."  Deuteron.  xviii.  18.    Has  that  prophet been " raised-up" ?   The world has witnessed his coming.    In Judea, as foretold, he made his appearance ; born of a virgin of Nazareth, he came forth from its shady valleys into the city of Jerusalem, and  proclaimed his law;  not, indeed, enveloped in dark clouds, and speaking amid the clangor of trumpets and the peals of thunder, but clothed in simplicity and meekness, like a brother among brethren,vindicating his character as   u the prophet" by innumerable miracles, discharging the functions which brought him into the world, and accomplishing to the letter the prediction of Moses.

Christians contemplate the fulfilment of the prophecy in the august and Divine person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews combine with Christians in its ultimate fulfilment, if not, according to their idea, in Him, certainly, at some indefinite period, in their expected Messiah. Their incredulity, however, in the true "prophet" has not gone unavenged. The woes that have befallen their race, exiled from the Holy City, and scattered, without an altar, a priesthood, or a sacrifice, to the four quarters of the globe, prove the denunciation of the Messiah to be realized in their regard : "Ego ultor existam, I will be their avenger."

Independently of these external characters of Divinity impressed upon the mission and writings of Moses, there are others of an intrinsic nature, which demonstrate the spirit of God by which he was directed. Impostors are not in the habit of giving very sublime ideas of the Deity, or of enforcing men's mutual and necessary duties towards one another, or of vindicating the majesty and sanctity of truth. Moses, on the contrary, labors to inculcate, on every occasion, the loftiest notions of the magnificence and greatness of Jehovah ; has published the wisest laws touching our relations with our fellow-men ; and produced the most solemn, unequivocal, and convincing evidences of the veracity of his doctrines. To this end has he instituted the pomp and splendor of the Jewish ceremonial, which incomparably surpasses the inventions of other wise men, and sealed  all  the elements of his system by laws infinitely wiser and purer than those of Zeleucus, Solon, or Lycurgus,  laws breathing a spirit of philosophy so sublime and excellent as never to have been emulated, much less equalled, in the most polished and enlightened subsequent epochs of time. From the miracles, therefore, and the prophecies of Moses, as well as from his virtues, disinterestedness, and veracity, his character as an inspired writer is unquestionable. Consequently, the Pentateuch is a divine book.

I am not ignorant of the objections which infidel philosophy has brought against the inspiration of the Pentateuch. I know that criticism has contested its authenticity and integrity ; that astronomy, history, and geology have essayed to contravene its epochs and its data ; that chemistry has taxed with absurdity the natural events it records, and ethics have condemned as cruel, unjust, and imprudent the legislation it decrees. But, on the other hand, I likewise know that all these difficulties have been thoroughly investigated, and entirely removed, by the aid of sound and enlightened philosophy. It would, indeed, be a truly instructive and eminently interesting study for every Christian, to apply the principles of such philosophy to all the perplexing questions which are deemed paradoxical by the superficial criticism of the impious philosopher,  the creation, the fall of man in the garden of Eden, the deluge, the history of the kings of Egypt, the passage of the Red Sea, the miracles in the desert, the story of Balaam, and the right of the Israelites to take possession of the land of Canaan. On these subjects a series of important lectures might be written to great advantage ; the matter, you perceive, from the mere heads, is copious, nay, inexhaustible, and I shall readily be excused from so much as touching upon it on the present occasion, when your attention, patient though I always have found it, has already been sufficiently taxed. A few moments more may, perhaps, be allowed me, to lay before you a last and irrefragable argument in vindication of the Divinity of the Pentateuch. It is this :  All Scripture has been written, not merely with the assistance, but under the immediate inspiration, of the Holy Ghost; but the Pentateuch constitutes a part of the Scripture. This proposition has never been disputed by the Christian or Jew ; it is denied only by the skeptic, who eschews all revelation, or by the Manichaean, who pretended that the Ancient Testament was the production of the Evil Principle, or by the Albigenses, the lineal descendants of the followers of Manes, who, though they be lauded by the declamation of the enemies of Rome as true evangelical Christians, yet rejected the Pentateuch, and the Old Testament, with the exception of the lew isolated passages which Christ or the Apostles have quoted from them.                                                                  

The usual arguments which are employed to demonstrate the inspiration of the Old Testament in general serve still more directly and more forcibly to prove that of the Pentateuch in particular, which is supported by the unvarying and perpetual tradition of the Jewish people ; and not only by the orthodox Hebrews, but likewise by all sects,  Samaritans, Hellenist Jews, and others, unanimously admit and hold to the inspiration of these writings of Moses.    The Church, too, which was made by Christ the depositary of all truth, whether written or traditionary, has ever esteemed inspired, and venerated and handed down as such, the books of the Pentateuch.    Of this there is a bright and perpetual chain of evidences in the canons of the General Councils, in the writings of theJathers, and in the discipline of the Church ordaining the public reading; of those books, to confirm the faith of her children, by opening to them the primitive fountains of inspiration and .Divine revelation.   From those unerring sources the early apologists of the Christian religion were accustomed to draw their strongest arguments,  and, in  a word,  their authority was never questioned or disputed by the Catholic or the heterodox. These books, then, being of heavenly origin,  their contents being Divinely inspired, it is evident that our souls should love to drink of their living waters.    The Church has never wished to close them against us.    But, that they may produce the beneficial effect contemplated by her, she places the interpreting as well as the keeping of them in the custody of her pastors.    By their-vigilant care, the flock is led to these  blessed  springs, which are opened and  dispensed judiciously and usefully, according to the wants and circumstances of all.    This wise control must be approved ot by every rightly thinking mind,  especially as in the Ancient Testament there are chapters which are as obscure to the untaught and superficial intellect as they are unsuitable to the inexperience and dispositions of the youthful heart.    Hence the necessity ot notes and  commentaries,  hence the prudential  conditions which are required in the general perusal of the Scriptures, both Old and New ; and hence, in fine, the carrying out of the maxim which St, Peter has left recorded in the text quoted at the beginning of this lecture : "Understanding this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation."