2. Through every class of objection which has hitherto been urged runs the common assumption, that the highest standard of truth and the last court of appeal lies in the human consciousness. In one sense it is most true that reason must be the arbiter of truth ; for we can exercise no faith unless we have first reasons on which to ground it. But then it is on the question of evidence that reason must be exercised. Have we the same evidence for believing the Pentateuch to be the work of Moses as we have for referring their respective works to Herodotus or Thucydides, Plato or Cicero? Is the evidence for the divine inspiration of the Pentateuch such as to compel us to accept it unless we are prepared to deny the force of similar evi dence in matters of secular investigation ? If the answer must be in the affirmative, mere d priori conjectures gathered out of the mind itself can have very little force against this evidence of facts. Yet it is the common vice of all the four classes of ob jections enumerated, that they rest on some con jectural assumption of the mind itself. The critical objections rest largely on the gratuitous assumption that two names for the Deity would not have been used by one and the same author, although the analogy of the N. T. Scriptures proves that a similar adaptation of the titles used to the context was the familiar habit of the apostolic writers. The historical objections rest on the supposition that at an enor mous distance from the event the human mind is yet able so accurately to balance the antecedent probability or improbability of human transactions as to outweigh the evidence of positive documents. The scientific objections are dependent on the sup position that theories in geological and ethnological science, about which men of science are themselves disagreed, are yet to be treated as if they were proved facts by which the language of Scripture must be tested and condemned. The moral ob jections are based on the assumption that the human consciousness is an adequate measure of God, and that even with a very imperfect knowledge of all the facts of the case, it is competent absolutely to pronounce what things God did or did not do, what acts are worthy or unworthy of the divine character and government. In all these cases it is remarkable that rationalism works by no certain and recognised canons, but trusts wholly to what has been called an historical instinct,' and to con clusions as arbitrary and capricious as the individual minds which form them. In proof of this, it is only necessary to allege the endless discrepancies of opinion among modem critics of the Pentateuch belonging to this school. Scarcely can any two be found to agree together either in their conclusions or their reasons for them : their only point in com mon is opposition to the inspired Scriptures. Of the inherent uncertainty and waywardness of such criti cism it is impossible to speak too strongly. The irrefragable grounds on which plain sense protests against such a mode of investigation are stated with great force by that distinguished scholar, the late Sir G. C. Lewis, in his lectures on the credibi lity of ancient Roman history.
3. Another distinctive feature of these objections is the strict naturalism on which they are founded. Their advocates agree in discarding the supernatural —that is, the miraculous—from the sacred history, and leaving no sphere for its operation. With them, to prove that an event could not have taken place without a miracle, is tantamount to proving that it has not taken place at all. Now, it must be remembered that the very hypothesis of the Bible involves the supernatural in the ordinary sense of the word ; for it claims to be a revelation from God, and as God is above nature, so a written communication of God to men must necessarily be beyond the sphere of the natural—that is, it must be miraculous. To object to Scripture that it con tains the supernatural is to object to its being what it is—is to find fault with that very attribute without which a Bible, a divine revelation, could not possibly exist. While, therefore, on the one side, we should
shrink from placing interpretations of our own on the Bible, which would needlessly multiply the necessities for miraculous interference, and so imply in the divine Being a prodigality of miracles which we know to be contrary to the whole economy of his government ; on the other hand, we must not shrink from believing an event because it is mira culous. A man who believes in God must believe in the possibility of miracles. For a God incapable of acting would be no God ; and the actings of a God must necessarily be supernatural—that is, more or less miraculous. Nor should it be for gotten that with the Omnipotent there can be no degrees of great or little, of easy or difficult. What seems to us a stupendous miracle may be really no more than what seems to us a small one, and it is even conceivable that the greater miracle may hold the balance of creation more even, and consequently imply less disturbance in the ordinary order of things, than the lesser one may do. At all events, objections resting on a disbelief in the supernatural must be void of all weight to the mind of a believer in the existence and government of an intelligent Deity.
4. Lastly, it must not be supposed that all criticism on the internal contents of Scripture is necessarily adverse criticism. The protest lies against modern criticism, not because it is destruc tive, but because it is false. The study of the con tents of Scripture has already been productive of great results, and may be expected, as it is more devotedly pursued, to be productive of still greater. For instance, Blunt's Undesignea' Coincidences, and Birk's Exodus of Israel, will be found not only to remove objections, but to point out latent unities and harmonies which constitute a positive argument for the authority of the Pentateuch of the most conclusive kind. It is in this storehouse that the most effective weapons of the Christian apologist must after all be found.
The remembrance of these principles will guide the student through many apparent difficulties, and enable him to discern the latent fallacy that vitiates the whole processes of rationalistic criticism. That there exist difficulties of detail in the explana tion of the Pentateuch which our present knowledge does not enable us to remove, and which very pro bably never will be removed on this side of the better world, may be most readily admitted ; but the great lines of evidence in proof of the Mosaic authorship and inspired authority of the Pentateuch have never yet been shaken. And inasmuch as the proof is based on common principles of evi dence lying at the bottom of all human know ledge whatever, it never can be overthrown unless we are prepared to overthrow the whole struc Lure of human belief at the same time. The structural unity of the Mosaic books ; the in timate identity subsisting between the events and , the books which record them ; the close inter dependence on which the Pentateuch stands both towards the subsequent books of the 0. and N. T. canon, and towards the whole course of national Jewish history ; the support which the history of the Hebrew nation derives at many points of con tact from profane history, and signally from re cent topographical and antiquarian discovery ; the strength of the general historical argument con trasted with the weakness of the detailed objections, their variable and capricious character, and their claim to make the inward consciousness of man the ultimate criterion of truth on which they rest all lead to the same conclusion. The most search ing investigation which all the appliances of modern criticism enable us to exercise, only ratifies the con clusion of a devout faith in recognising in the Pen tateuch the most ancient and certain of histories, standing in the highest class of historical credibility, because authenticated by the personal knowledge of the man who was the principal actor in the events ; and claiming the implicit obedience of faith, as being stamped with the indelible signet of divine inspiration.-E. G.