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fied Saviour under pain of total destruction *. But that yet they were not so unhofpitable, but that they received with open arms all who were willing to worship one God the Creator of the Universe.” Thus we see how it came to pass, (which was the main difficulty) that the places where he gives such a latitude of belief, are those very places where he most labours to prove the divinity of his religion. ...
. But this solution clears up all difficulties, and shews the historian's great consistency, as well as artful address, throughout the whole work. Jofephus professes the most awful regard to the sacred volumes ; and yet, at the same time, takes such liberties of going from their authority, that it provoked the honest resentment of a late excellent writer to the following alperities :.6 Nec levis fit suspicio illum Hebraice non fcivisse, cum multis indiciis linguæ ejus imperitiam prodat. Quivis certe, cui vel mica falis est, sentiat illum Historias Sacras pro arbitrio interpolafle, demendo, addendo, immutando, ut Antiquitates suas ad Lectorum Græcorum & Romanorum palatum accommodaret.” But this license, though surely to be condemned, was however something more legitimate and sober than is generally supposed. - His deviations from scripture being in those places only, where an exact adherence to it would have increased that general aversion to his nation, whose effects were at that time fo much to be dreaded, either as exposing the perverse nature of the people, or the unfociable genius of their religion. To give an inItance or two of each :
61. The murmuring of the Israelites, for bread and flesh in the wilderness, is represented in scripture, and justly, as an act of horrid ingratitude towards God. Yet Josephus makes Moret own they had reason for their complaints. And in the execrable behaviour of the men of Gibeah to the Levite and his wife, though scripture expressly says they attempted a more unnatural crime than adultery, yet the historian passes this over in filence, and makes all the personal outrage attempted, as well as committed, to be offered to the woman. The reader will now easily account for what Mr. Whiston could not, his author's omiflion
1. The Jews succeeded in their endeavours to distinguish. Their case from the Christians. So that while the storm fell upon the latter, the other enjoyed a calm. As we may fully understand by that passage in St. Paul to the Galatians. As many as desire to make a fair thew in the fie/h, they confirain you to be circumcised, crly left they should suffer perfecú. tion for the cross of Christ. c. vi. 12. On which Limborch obferves very justly,Qui non zelo pietatis, aut pro lege Mofis, moti id urgebant; fed tantum ut placerent Judæis ; quia nempe videbant perfecu. tiones quotidie magis magisque Christianis a Gentibus inferri, Jud.cos autem ab illis elle immunes, hac ratione eas, tanquam ipfi effent Judæi, ituduerunt declinare. Amic, collatia, p. 164.. .
's Divine Legation of Moses. 137 of the story of the golden calf*. For this was so amazing a perversity, at that juncture, that it must have made the very r’agans themfelves ashamed of their Jewish brethren in idolatry.
Again, we are told in Scrip!ure, that when the Cutheans, or Samaritans, heard that th: Jews, who were returned from captivity, were rebuilding the temple, they came and desired to be partners in the work, and joint worshipers of the God for whom it was erected; to which the Jews gave this round reply: You have nothing to do with us, to build an house urto our God, but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. And Nehemiah, on the fame occasion, gave them a ftill rougher answer: The God of Heaven he will proper us, therefore we his fervants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerufalem. This was a tender place : it was touching upon the very fore, in an express declaration of the unfociableness complained of. The story therefore, we may be sure, was to be softened before the Gentiles were to be entrusted with it. Accordingly, Josepbus makes them speak in these obliging terms: That they could nat pollibly admit them as partners in the work; for that the command to build the temple was directed to them first by Cyrus, and now by Darius : that indeed they were at liberty to worship along with them : and that this was the only community, in religious matters, that they could enter into with them, and u hich they would do with as many of the rest of mankind, as were willing to come up to the temple to adore the God of heaven. The reason the Scripture Jews give for the refusal of the offer to be joint partners with them in their work and worship is, that it was a temple built in the Land of Israel,
"*“ There is, amongst many other things that Josephus's copy appears to want, one omiffion of lo important a nature-she heinous fin of the golden calf. What makes it stranger is this, that Josephus's account is not only negative, by a bare omission, but positive, by affording an exact coherence without it, nay such a coherence as is plainly inconstient with it. And what ftill makes it more surprisi g is, that josephus frequently professes, neither to add to, nor to take away from, the sacred books.” Differt. II. p. xlv. Some other liberties, which Josephus took with Scripture, for the end above explained, made this learned writer conclude that the historian had an earlier and mo.e uncosrust copy of the Old Testament than any we now hare: for that bis ac:ounts are more exall, consistent, and agreeable with chronolory, with natu' al religion, and with one arcther, p. xxxv. Yet, after all, che fatal omillion of the golden calf brings him to confess, that Josephus's copy appears to want many things which are in ours p. xlv. Thus forelv distresled is this good man in the support of a wild and extravagant hypothesis ; while every one eife sees that all the omissions and alterations (which sometimes make his copy good; sometimes bad) were designed deviations from the sacred volumes to conciliate the good will of his masters. - REV, Aug. 1765.
and to the honour of the God of Israel. The reason Josephus's Jews give for their refusal is obedience to the king of Persia ; else, as for community of worthip, they were very ready to receive them. :7 And now was not that a wise * project which proposed rem forming the Sacred Text by the writings of Josephus ?
. But this explanation will enable us to conclude with certainty against that spurious passage concerning Christ. I think I have already offered one demonstrative argument against it. And I suppose, the many marks of forgery are fo glaring, that most men would be willing to give it up, were Josephus's silence on To extraordinary an occasion but easy to be accounted for. Now we have so far laid open his conduct as to see, that the preach, ing up of Christ was an affair he would ftudioully decline. His great point, as we observed, was to reconcile the Gentiles to his countrymen. But the Pagan aversion was greatly increased: by the new sect of Christians, 'sprung, as was well known, from the country of Judea. It was therefore utterly deitructive of his purpose to thew, as he must have done, in giving them an account of Christ, the close connection between the two religions. Of all dangerous subjects, therefore, Josephus would be careful to avoid this. So that (certain as I am of the writer's purpose, and not ignorant of the liberty he took even with the sacred records, when it served his ends, of adding and omitting at pleasure) I should have been as much surprised to have found the Hisory of Jesus in his works as others are to be told that it is not there. This too will equally well account for his omission of Herod's Naughter of the children at Bethlehem, which Scaliger so much wondered at; which Collins so much triumphed in; and for the sake of which, our Whitby seemed ready to give up the truth of the story.
Thus did this excellent writer, out of extreme love to his. country, (the most pardonable however of all human frailties) make too free with truth and Scripture ; though most zealously attached to the religion of his forefathers : as those men generally are who love their country best. And a Jew he strictly was, of a very different stamp too, from that poor paltry mimic of the Greek sophists, Philo. Of whom his master Plato would have said, what Josephus tells us Aristotle did say, of one of his Jewish acquaintance, a Greek he was, and not in speech only, but in foul likewise.
I judged it of importance, to set this matter in a true light: because many, I supposed, would think it a fair prejudice against the divinity of the Mosaic religion, had a person, so eminent amongst his countrymen while the republic was yet existing, • Mr. Whilion's
and of só learned an age ; so conversant in the Jewish records, and fo fkilled in the belt Grecian literature ; had such a one afforded only a political or philosophic faith to the sacred volumes. But then it will follow on the other hand, that the sincere belief of one, lo circumstanced, will be as fair a prejudice in its favour.
Not that I am over fond of this kind of evidence, in matters where every one is obliged to judge for himself; and confes quently, where every one, on a due application to the subject, is capable of judging. Much less would I lay great weight on the opinions of men out of their own profession, however eminent in any other. What is it to truth, for instance, what a courtier judges of a church; a politician of conscience; or a geometer, grown gray in demonstration, of moral evidence ?
In the same section, (viz. Sect. 4th, Book 5th) we find some additions in regard to the doctrine of an extraordinary providence. After endeavouring to prove that this extraordinary providence is represented in Scripture as administered over the state in general, and over private men in particular, his Lordship replies to the following objection, viz. that the early sacred writers themselves frequently speak of the inequality of providence to particulars; and in fuch a manner as men living under a common providence are accustomed to speak. .
He tells us, that when the sacred writers speak of the inequalities of providence, and the unfit distribution of things, they often mean that state of it amongit their Pagan neighbours, and not in Judea : as particularly in the book of Psalms and Ecclefiaftes.-He farther tells us, that we sometimes find men complaining of inequalities in evercs, which were indeed the effects of a most equal providence : such as the punishment of posterity for the crimes of their forefathers; and of subje&ts for their kings. Of the first, the prophet Ezekiel gives us an instance in the people's cafe: what mean ye, that you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, the father's have eaten four grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?-Of the second, David gives it in his own; not duly attending to the justice of this proceeding, where he says, But these sheep, what have they done? 2 Sam. xxiv. 17. And that he was sometimes too hafty in judging of these matters appears from his own confession :- Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world, they increase in riches.-When I thought to know this, it was too painful for mc; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didît let them in slippery places : thu casiedst them down into diftruction.–So foolish was I, ard i norant: I was as a beast before thee. Psalm 1xxiii. 12-22. That is, says his Lordthip, “I understood not the course of thy justice, till I had considered the way in which an equal providence muft necessarily be admi
nistered under a theocracy, and the consequences: of such an ade miniftration.”— This is certainly, a very ingenious interpretation, and what few commentators would have thought of; whes ther it is a just and natural one, let those who have leisure for it, inquire. Many readers will, undoubtedly, think it far-fetched and unnatural; but they ought to consider, that a commentator scarcely deserves the name, who cannot make his author fpeak what language he pleases. But to proceed.
His Lordship goes on to tell us, that even admitting the reality of an equal providence to particulars in the Hebrew state, the ad ministration of it must have been attended with such circumItances as sometimes to occasion those observations of inequality. - For, i. It appears, he says, from the reason of the thing, ihat this administration did not begin to be exerted in particular cases til} the civil laws of the republic had failed of their efficacy. Thus where any crime, as for instance disobedience to parents, was public, it became the object of the civil tribunal, and is accordingly ordered to be punished by the judge *. But when private and secret, then it became the object of divine vengcance t. Now the consequence of this was, that when the Jaws were remissly or corruptly administered, good and ill would sometimes happen unequally to men. For we are not to suppose that providence, in this case, generally, interfered till the corrupt administration itself, when ripe for vengeance, had beeri first puniflied. 2. In this extraordinary administration, one part of the wicked was sometimes suffered as a scourge to the other. 3. The extraordinary providence to the flate might sometimes clash with that to particulars, as in the plague for numbering the people. 4. Sometimes the extraordinary providence wassula pended for a season to bring on a national repentance: But at the same time this suspension was publicly denounced I. And a very severe punishment it was, as leaving a state which had .not the sanction of a future state of rewards and punishments in a very disconfolate condition. And this was what occasioned the complaints of the impatient Jews, after they had been so long accustomed to an extraordinary administration 1. .
• But the general and full solution of the difficulty is this, The common caule of thcle complaints arose from the gradual withdrawing the extraordinary providence. Under the Judges it was perfectly equal. And during that period of the theocracy, it is remarkable that we hear of no complaints. When the people had rebelliously demanded a king, and their folly was fo far
* Exod. xxi. 15, and 17. † Deut. xxvii. 16. and Prov. XXX 17. in IISALAH iii. 5. Chap. lix. ver. 2. Chap Ixiv. ver. 7.
"RI. V, 1g. JEREM. xvii, 15. Amos, v. 18. • Zeph. ii 12." MALAC. il. 17. ' mercutando
- *.,*: ano complica