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permits us now to descry only the dim forms of the idolatry that had gained its acmé of cruelty among the nations of Canaan, and the surrounding countries, when Moses led his people into the Arabian deserts. But the more industriously we pursue the faint indications of antiquity, the more clearly do we discern the reason and fitness and necessity of what, in the Jewish history alarms our modern notions of the Divine Nature.
And yet let it be distinctly understood what the real character of that severity was which distinguishes the ancient Jewish theology? Jehovah, was He terrible? Yes, but to whom ?To NONE but the corrupt, the unjust, the rapacious, the impure. Toward the faithful and the obedient, toward the penitent and the upright, He was “ full of compassion, and gracious, slow to anger, ready to forgive ;-a God pardoning iniquity, and passing by the transgression of his heritage.” The memory of every one conversant with the Scriptures is fraught with passages of similar import; and it might even be affirmed that, although, in the New Testament, the way of access to the Divine favour is set open in a manner of which the Old Testament knows little, nevertheless, if we are in quest of abstract affirmations of the placability and tenderness of God toward man, or if we want affecting instances of Divine condescension, we shall find such passages in greater abundance in the Old Testament than in the New. Moreover (and this fact should never be forgotten) a great and leading purpose of the ancient dispensation was to protect the human mind from the slavish terror, so natural to it, of those SUBORDINATE MALIGNANT POWERS, whose tyrannous rage could be propitiated only by horrible rites. In this sense, emphatically, Moses and the Prophets struck at the root of fanaticism, by instating the Holy and Supreme Benevolence in the heart of man, as the ONLY object of dread, and by dislodging from their seats the host of ferocious invisible divinities.
We dare then conclude, upon impartial and attentive consideration of the evidence, first that the religion of the Hebrew Scriptures is not of fanatical tendency; and then that the writers of those books were not men of exaggerated and malign tempers.
In reaching this conclusion we have assumed nothing peculiar in behalf of the Hebrew Scriptures; but have looked at them as we should at any other ancient writings, and have endeavoured to estimate their quality and influence on the ordinary principles of human nature. But the result of such an examination must beas we undoubtedly believe, to establish the divine original of these books. This point secured, and it is secured too on every separate line of argument that is applicable to the subject, and then the fact — That the Jewish Lawgiver, and the prophets, and the poets of Israel were men immediately commissioned and empowered by God, affords a proper solution of every apparent difficulty, arising either from the spirit and complexion of particular passages, or from the course of conduct enjoined in special instances.
What can be more manifest than the propriety of this mode of treating such difficulties? For one man to accost another as the enemy of God-or to adjudge him to perdition, or to strike him to the earth, is indeed an outrage such as bespeaks in the assailant the most dire fanaticism, or absolute insanity. But the case is altogether altered if this same denunciator, or executioner of the wrath of Heaven is able to shew Heaven's credentials actually in his hand. He whom God sends, speaks the words of God-delivers a trust which he has no liberty to evade, and performs a part that can have no immorality, because it proceeds from the Source of Law. This rule applies, without an exception, to all those instances, so often and so idly produced, in which the question hinges exclusively upon the fact of a divine injunction given to the speaker or the agent. If the prophet, or the chief were indeed inspired, then the words he utters or the deeds he performs are not to be accounted his; and though arrogant or vindictive, if human only, are fitting and just—if
divine. Concede the divinity of the Scriptures, and then every such objection is merged, or becomes ineffably futile. Deny their divinity, and then the argument is altogether unimportant.
THE RELIGION OF THE BIBLE NOT FANATICAL.
(THE NEW TESTAMENT.)
To entertain, even hypothetically, an argument such as the one before us, may seem not merely superfluous, but improper. What, it may be asked, has the world seen comparable to Christianity for the benignity of its maxims and spirit? Where are we to find charity, where meekness, where philanthropy, if not in the Gospels ?—To inquire then, as if the issue were doubtful, whether this religion be rancorous and fanatical, might appear not more irreverent than preposterous.
Be it so, and yet we must advance in our course without fear. To a timid objector it is enough to reply that, as in fact the most inordinate species of fanaticism have, in different eras, sprung out of the profession of Christianity, and have in the most intimate manner blended