4. Mara.—This class of objections is so inde finite in its nature as to make explanation and refutation, in the brief space of an article, equally difficult. They are all founded on the sufficiency of the human consciousness to pass a verdict on the propriety or impropriety of certain acts as cribed to God in the Pentateuch. The form they take is, however, more subtle than this. Certain acts imputed to God are contrary to the ideal the human mind frames of the Deity ; therefore it is argued that God cannot have done them, and con sequently the books which attribute them to him cannot declare the truth, cannot be divinely inspired. The ideal God in the human consciousness is made into the standard whereby revelation is measured. For instance, it is argued that the destruction of the Canaanitish nations by the sword of Israel under express command was a cruel deed, at which the human mind revolts, and which it is impossible to believe that God can have done. Objections of the same kind are urged against the Mosaic law, both against its positive enactments, as in the case of slavery, and against the minute and apparently trivial character of many of its details. And then, in support of these allegations, a contrast is drawn between the spirit of the Mosaic code and the spirit of the gospels and epistles. It will be enough for the present purpose to reply, that these objections rest almost entirely, and derive any force they may appear to have, from a misapprehension of the facts of the case, and an erroneous estimate of the Mosaic code on the one side, and of the Christian dispen sation upon the other. A candid examination of all the narrative shows that the destruction of the Canaanitish nations was purely a judicial act, wherein God was the judge and the people of Israel the authorised and divinely-appointed executioners. It will be found that the utmost care was taken to present the whole transaction in this specific aspect, and that this act of judicial severity stood in the sharpest possible contrast to the general tenor of the Mosaic law, which was tolerant, gentle, and singularly beneficent both in spirit and in its posi tive provisions. Looking at the Pentateuch, we find in it the same law of love which we find in the gospels ; and looking at the gospel, we find in God the same attribute of punitive justice which stands conspicuous in the law. The argument may be carried farther, for the analogy between God's char acter and dealings in providence and his dealings in grace, as contained in the book of revelation, is close and exact in the highest degree.
Into the details of these various objections, criti cal, historical, scientific, and moral, this article will not further enter, partly from considerations of space, partly because many of them will be found treated in other articles of this publication. The student is referred, for their more formal refutation, to the almost voluminous literature which the contro versy of the last few years has called into existence. With reference to the special form they have as sumed in the Critical Examination of the Pentateuch, by Dr. Colenso, bishop of Natal, every information will be found in recent publications. The general questions of scholarship will be found ably handled in the Examination of Dr. Colenso's work, issued by the late lamented Dr. M`Caul. Reference may also be usefully made to Coleuses Defections Exa mined, by Dr. Benisch, a Jewish doctor. For the numerical calculations, the student should refer to the Exodus of Israel, by Rev. P. R. Birks, in which they are submitted to a searching examina tion. For questions of topography, a smaller work by Professor Porter of Belfast, the well-known author of Five Years in Damascus, Murray's Hand book of Syria, etc., will be found full of valuable information. But, passing these details over, there are certain general considerations bearing upon them in common, the statement of which may well occupy the remainder of this article.
In the first place, it will be seen that in the whole range of the rationalistic armoury, there has not been found a single argument to invalidate the positive historical evidences for the Mosaic author ship and inspired authority of the Pentateuch, which have been rapidly and imperfectly sketched in the former part of this article. Not a single
fact involved in the argument has been called into question ; not a single conclusion has been invali dated. So completely do the positive evidence in favour of the Pentateuch, and the rationalistic objections against it, move upon different lines alto gether, that if every one of these objections could be substantiated, the positive evidence would yet remain where it was, and what it was before. Its force would not be weakened in one solitary point ; nay, rather would be made stronger, would become not providential, which we believe it to be, but ac tually miraculous. For if the rationalistic objec tions could be substantiated, they would prove the Pentateuch to be no more than a series of tra ditional fragments ; 33et the structural unity of these fragments, and the historical links of proof which connect as with bands of adamant every one of these books with the marvellous national history of the Hebrew race, must be acknowledged to exist as they did before ; for, as we have said, there is not even an attempt made to invalidate them. Let it be said that the Pentateuch is really the inspired work of Moses, and the subsequent history of the Jew follows consecutively and naturally from it. But let it be said that the Pentateuch is unhistorical, and its recorded events fictitious, and the subsequent history becomes utterly inexplicable. Not only, therefore, do not these objections touch the force of the positive evidence in one single particular, but they invest it with a still higher character, and change the providential into the miraculous.
If, however, this were the case, the position of the whole controversy would be singularly anomalous. For the positive historical evidence would authenti cate the authority of the Mosaic books on the one side as strongly as the rationalistic objections would destroy it upon the other. In such a dilemma, we could only conclude the existence of some great fallacy in the one line of proof or in the other ; for it would be incredible that truth should be really two sided, and should affirm and deny at the same time. But on which side lies the fallacy, and what is its character? The apologist for the Pentateuch may fairly claim the verdict even of his opponents that the fallacy is not in the positive historical argument, since his opponent makes no effort to overthrow it. He neglects it, he ignores its existence, he treats it as if it was not, but he makes no effort to controvert it. Thus, for instance, the recent publications of Bishop Colenso pass over the positive evidence in such absolute silence, that the reader is almost tempted to doubt the author's knowledge of its very existence. It may, therefore, be fairly argued that the fallacy lies somewhere in the argument of the rationalistic objector. Nor have we to look far, before the false assumptions, which vitiate the whole process of hostile criticism and destroy the value of its every conclusion, meet the eye. The following brief notes must be accepted as indicating the source of the fallacy rather than defining or formally refuting it. But from what has been already stated, the following conclusions may be derived : I. That the objections recently urged against the Mosaic authorship and authority of the Pentateuch are not the necessary result of modern research and of a more enlightened criticism, but are the re-echo of arguments some of which may be traced back nearly to the time of the apostles. It is not intended by this to deny their modem garb, or the ingenuity which has marshalled them, or the ad vanced critical appliances which have been freely called into use, but only to deny their substantial novelty. We are therefore entitled to disavow the claim which has been made in their behalf, and to regard them not as the expression of modern criti cism protesting against the ignorant errors of a past age, but as another effort of an old enemy, a new outburst of the sceptical spirit which has endea voured, in past ages, to undermine the authority of the Bible, but which, baffled in times gone by, has now renewed the attack with more refined weapons and a greater subtlety of argument than before.