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• Jews would have practised upon, if it had been in their power, or in their inclination to do it 6.'

• When corruptions in worship and manners, and many superstitious usages, grew among them, they were,' says Dr. Worthington, 'obliged to devise an oral law, • to be handed down by oral tradition, to countenance those corruptions and innovations; which law they afterwards collected into a body, and committed to * writing likewise. But the Mishna had been needless * and superfluous, durft they have incorporated their traditions with the scriptures. As they have not done this, in a case in which they were most tempted to do it, there is less room to suspect their having wilfully

corrupted them in other repects.' So scrupulously vigilant were the Jews in preserving the scriptures, that their Maforites numbered not only the sections, * but even the words and letters, that no fraud or inadvertency might corrupt--the least iota of what they esteemed so sacred. If a word happened to be altered * in any copy, it was to be laid aside as useless, or given 'to a poor man to teach his children by, on condition it

was not brought into the synagogue. The prince was * to copy the original exemplar of the law, laid up in the sanctuary, with his own hand: and every Jew was to make it his constant discourse and meditation, to * teach it to his children, and wear part of it on his hands and forehead?.'

• We shall,' says Mr. Gray, be still farther con'vinced, that the sacred volume has preserved its * genuine purity in every important point, if we consider how little the Septuagint version of the scriptures differs from the Hebrew copies, notwithstanding the

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6 Institutes of Nat, and Rev. Rel. 1782, vol. 1. p. 297. ? Vol. I. p. 136, 14

many * In the bible of Keonicott are the most considerable variations of nearly 7c0 different Hebrew manuscripts; and many more have been collated by the more recent labours of De Rosli.

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(320) CHAP. XIX. many ages that have elapsed since the time of Ptolemy · Philadelphus, the king of Egypt, who was the second • monarch of the Macedonian rate, about 270 years • before Christ, and under whose reign this translation

was made into Greek. It has been maintained, indeed, , by some learned men, that only the Pentateuch was

translated at first, and that the other books were ren• dered into Greek fucceflively at different times; how'ever this may have been, they were all translated long

before the birth of Chrift. This version has no important variations from the Hebrew, except in some chronological accounts, occasioned probably by the

carelessness of the copyists. It was used in all those countries, where Alexander had established the Gre'cian language, and seems to have been admitted into * the Jewish fynagogues in Judæa, and even at Jeru

salem, where that language prevailed ; and the Septua'gint was certainly most used there in the time of our • Saviour. Thus does the general coincidence between * the Hebrew copies, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the

Septuagint version of the Old Testament, demonstrate • the unaltered integrity of the scriptures in important • points, as we now possess them, and this integrity is • ftill farther confirmed by the conformity which fubfilts between those various translations of the Bible into different languages, which have been performed • since the time of our Saviour.--It appears, therefore, • that, from the time of their first inspiration to the pre* fent day, the facred writings have been dispersed into

so many different, hands, that no possible opportunity · could be furnished for confederate corruption, and

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every designed alteration must immediately have been • detected'.'

* All the books of scripture have also,' observes Dr. Priestley, 'many internal marks of their being the

genuine production of the ages, in which they are said * to have been written, as they contain so many allusions ' to particular persons, places, opinions, and customs, which are known, from other allowed histories, to · have existed in those timesto.' In agreement with this remark of Dr. Priestley, Dr. Hartley asserts, that his

tory and chronology were in so uncertain a state in * ancient times, that the prophecies concerning foreign

countries could not have been adapted to the facts, even after they had happened, with so much exactness as

modern enquirers have shewn the scripture-prophecies ' to be, by a learned nation, and much less by the Jews, . who were remarkably ignorant of what paffed in fo. reign countries'1.'

The pretensions of the Hebrew prophets ' to be con*sidered as God's appointed servants, were,' fays Mr. Gray, demonstrated by the unimpeachable integrity of ' their characters; by the intrinsic excellence and ten: dency of their instruction; and by the disinterested

zeal, and undaunted fortitude, with which they perfe• vered in their great designs. These were still farther * confirmed by the miraculous proof which they dis

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9 Key to the Old Test, p. 20, 22. After observing that the Septuagint may have been translated from very ancient Hebrew manuscripts, bp. Newcome adds, this observation may be extended to the Chaldee paraphrase of Jonathan, made about the time of Christ ; to the Syriac version, which

is generally attributed to the first century; to the imperfect Greek ver. fions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, who lived in the second

century; and even to the Latin version, of which ferom was the author • in the fourth century.' Attempt towards an improved Verfion of Ezekiel. Dublin, 1788. Pref. p. 36. Institutes, vol. I. p. 303.

si On Man, vol. II. p. 152. Y

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played of divine support, and by the immediate completion of many less important predi&tions which they * uttered. Such were the credentials of their exalted

character, which the prophets furnished to their contemporaries; and we, who having lived to witness the appearance of the second dispensation, can look back to the connexion which fubfifted between the two covenants, have received additional evidence of the in. {piration of the prophets, in the atteftations of our Saviour and his apostles; and in the retrospect of a germinant and gradually maturing scheme of prophecy, • connected in all its parts. We have ftill farther in. controvertible proofs of their divine appointment, in the numerous prophecies, which, in these latter days, are fulfilled, and ftill under our own eyes continue to • receive their completion ".'

The next quotation is from that ingenious and truly liberal prelate, Dr. Newcome, bp. of Waterford. God • raised up a succession of prophets among his people for

many wise and gracious purposes. They were not only • desiged to retain the Jews in the worfhip of the one

true God; but to spread the knowledge of him among the neighbouring nations, by the fame of their predice . tions and miracles. They were a barrier against those * prevailing kinds of superstition which consisted in the

supposed evocation of departed spirits, and in consult*ing imaginary local deities, for the purpose of gratify*ing the natural thirft which all mankind have for the

knowledge of futurity. It must also be observed, that • the attestations given by the prophets to the Mosaic, . law, their instructions and exhortations, their reproofs. • and threatenings, were powerful means of preserving 'the Jews in obedience, and eminent displays of the di

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'vine goodness and compassion. Another design in

sending the prophets was, that they might record 'God's dealings with his people and with other adjoin. *ing nations and empires; and might thus transmit to after ages a most instructive history of his adorable

ways in governing the world. Josephus afferts", that, * from the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, * the prophets who succeeded that legislator wrote the transactions of their own times. This assertion is con: firmed by the sacred writers; who mention the name of many prophets as having recorded the affairs of the • Jewish nation. A farther and moft important reason • for inftituting the prophetic order was, that, by a long ' series of predictions, the attention of the Jews might be 'turned to the coming of their Messiah; and that the ' faith of succeeding ages in that great event might be • thus confirmed. The writings of these prophets bear • plain signatures of their divine authority. Examine the books of the Greek and Roman fages; and obferve what discordant opinions they contain on almost every * point of theology and philosophy. But in the Hebrew * prophets there is a wonderful harmony of doctrine for

above a thousand years 14; unparalleled in the writ*ings of any country. History teaches us, that a great ' number of their prophecies has been accomplifhed ; • and we know that some of them are accomplishing at this day. It also peculiarly deserves our notice, that * these holy men entertained the most worthy concep* tions of the Deity in the midst of an idolatrous nation; and inculcated the supreme excellence of moral duties, when all around them, even the few worfhippers of Jehovah himself, were solely intent on ritual observa

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13 Contr. Ap. I. 8.

"* • From Moses before Chriß about 1500, to Malachi before Chrift ..about 436

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