It is necessary to take a rapid survey of the evi dence on which the Mosaic authorship and autho rity of the Pentateuch is founded, before the object and purport of modern objections can be properly appreciated. We begin with the divine commands, in obedience to which Moses committed to writing the books of the law. These commands are re peated, and it is only by observing their cumulative evidence that the strength of the case is seen ; objec tions which might be possibly urged against single passagesbecome inapplicable to the whole. The first passage occurs in Exod. xvii. 14. After the victory over the Amalekites, the lawgiver is directed to re cord the facts, together with the divine declaration that he would utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.' This one event only is specified, but then it was to be inscribed in `the book' (In2). In Exod. xxiv. 4, 7, the language ' becomes more specific. First of all, the immediate revelation of the three preceding chapters is de clared by Moses to the people. He told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judg ments,' then Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.' Lastly, a particular book bearing a de finite character is specified as being that in which they were written. And he took the book of the covenant and read in the audience of the people.' That the word covenant has reference not to any one special act, but to the whole relation in which the chosen people stood towards God, and there fore to the whole series of promises and command ments on which it was based, may be seen by a careful comparison of Lev. xxvi. 42-45, Deut. iv. 31, 2 Kings xxiii. 2-2r. It must be regarded as a continuation of the same work that sloses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord' (Num. xxxiii. 2). The perpetual obligation of this written code is affirmed in the provisions for the future establishment of the kingly power among the people. He (the king) shall write him a copy of this law out of that which is before the priests, the Levites' (Dent. xvii. 18). Upon their future obedience to it the pro mises of the divine blessing upon the people were made dependent. 'If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of the law that are written in this book' (Dent. xxviii. 58). The completion and final closing up of this portion of the divine revela tibn is recorded immediately before the death of Moses himself, by the addition of the song which God commanded Moses to teach the people (Dent. xxxi. 22). And, lastly, the permanence which the book was designed to have, and the object it was to fulfil, are formally announced. Take this book of the law (a phrase employed on three previous occasions, Deut. xxviii. 61 ; xxix. 21 ; xxxi. 26), and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a wit ness against thee.' The purpose which this book was thus designed to serve was one which a definite written revelation could alone accomplish. For history conclusively proves that no oral tradition can be preserved in its purity and integrity, as seen in the experience alike of the Jewish and the Christian Church. A system which looked so far forward into the future, and which contemplated the preservation of its autho ritative records in such an exact form as to consti tute a standing witness of the obedience or dis obedience of the people, could only rest on written documents. It is remarkable, in this point of view, that in the second promulgation of the moral law on the top of Sinai, this principle was affirmed, since the commandments appear to have been written twice over, once by God himself on the tablets 01 stone, and a second time by Moses, in the book, we must believe, which was thus gradually advancing towards its completed form. I will write on these tables the words which were in the first tables' (Exod. xxxiv. I ; Deut. x. 2). On the other hand, the statement is equally definite : And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words . . . and he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments' (Exod. xxxiv. 27, 28).
It is true that these passages do not define the limits of the book, nor prove its absolute identity with the existing copies of the Pentateuch. But other evidences will be found to supply this proof. We have already the fact that a book was written by Moses under the immediate authority of God, and that this book was intended to be of perpetual obligation. Now, supposing that the Scriptural testimony of the Mosaic authorship of the Penta teuch had ended here, although we shall see this not to be the case, yet even so no moral doubt could exist that this design was carried into effect, and that the books thus preserved were substantially identical with those which have come down to us. For at this period the Jewish people suddenly take their place amid the settled nations of the world, and enter upon that grand and mysterious national life which has continued till our own day. It will not be denied by any that this race was distinguished from all others by many peculiar characteristics. Some of their national habits exhibited affinity in various points of detail with the surrounding poly theism amid which they dwelt ; but their whole system was sharply separated, alike by the grandeur of its religious monotheism and by its complex social and civil organisation, from that of all other nations. Their code of laws was penetrating enough to affix its indelible peculiarities on the race who lived under them, and to endow it with a force and elevation, a perpetuity of national life, and a world wide influence, to which no parallel can be found in history. Such an effect would itself prove the existence of a -cause as permanent as itself, for the precise ritual and ceremonial enactments of the system could never have been maintained without an authorised code of directions. When we inquire
into the nature of that peculiar polity to which it is to be attributed, we find it in the books of Moses. The Pentateuch contains a system which explains the national life of the Jewish race, and which in its turn is equally explained by it. As we know, on the one side, that the Pentateuch was reduced by Moses to a written form, and, on the other side, that the phenomena of national Jewish life can only be explained by the influence of a positive written code, it is impossible not to put the two facts to gether, and identify the Mosaic books of the law with the code of subsequent times. In other words, the permanence of the effect proves the permanence of the cause. The subsequent history of the Jewish race would have sufficed to prove that the Mosaic code must have existed in a permanent form from that period till the present, even if no positive ex ternal proofs of the fact had existed.
But the testimony of the subsequent books of the O. T. canon positively affirms the same conclusion. Joshua was instructed to observe to do according to all the law which Moses, my servant, com manded you' (Josh. i. 7). After the taking of Ai, in accordance with the instructions given to Moses (Dent. xxvii. 4-8), Joshua wrote upon the memorial-stones, in Ebal, a copy of the law of Moses,' and afterwards read all the words of the law . . . according to all that is written in the book of the law' (Josh. viii. 32-34). And in dismissing to their settlements, on the other side of Jordan, the Reubenites and Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh, he laid upon them the parting charge, Take diligent heed to do the command ments and the law' (Josh. xxii. 5). The Psalms of David are full of references to this law, under ex pressions inapplicable to anything but a definite written code. Thus he calls it God's law, God's word, his statutes, his ordinances, his testimonies, his commandments. The obligation of the law formed the prominent topic of David's charge to Solomon, Fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with' (a Chron. xxii. 13). In the troubled times succeeding the separation of Israel and Judah, the formal copy lodged in the temple appears to have been lost, for we are told of its recovery in the days of Josiah, amid the restorations which his pious zeal carried out in the temple buildings : And Hilkiah the high-priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord' (2 Kings xxii. 8); and the book is subsequently designated by the title which it bore in the days of Moses himself, The Book of the Covenant.' The tern porary loss of this temple-copy is not to be con. founded with the total oblivion of the law itself, and the entire neglect of its precepts ; for, in the interval, we are told that Asa commanded Judah to do the law, that Jehoshaphat made it prominent in the directions given to the judges, that Heze kiah kept the Passover according to the law of Moses, the man of God,' and that king Amaziah, in punishing the murderers of his father Joash, was guided by its regulations, the children of the mur derers he slew not, according to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses' (2 Kings xiv. 6). And after Samaria had been taken into cap tivity, the settlers who were brought from the east to occupy the land vacated by the captive Israelites, were warned of the statutes, and the ordinances, and the commandments which God wrote for the children of Jacob.' Such language could not have been employed by the priest who came and dwelt at Bethel,' unless he had been acquainted with the written code. These passages, therefore, suffice to show that the book produced by Hilkiah was not an imposture of his own, but was only the authen tic copy of a written law, known and recognised meanwhile ; and they serve to carry the recognition of the Pentateuch consistently through the inter vening period down to the days of Josiah. The pre servation of the Mosaic code in its positive written shape during the Babylonish captivity is declared with the same explicitness : Ezra was a ready scribe in the law of Moses which the Lord God of Israel had given' (Ezra vii. 6) ; the covenant into which Israel entered after the restoration was done according to the law' (Ezra x. 3). At the public gathering of the people, Ezra read out of the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel' (Neh. viii. 1). Lastly, about fifty years later, when the last tones of O. T. prophecy were sounding, the recognition of the law was blended with its accents : Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.' Thus, during the whole interval from the death of Moses down to the close of the O. T. canon, we find repeated references to the existence of the books of the Pentateuch. The longest pause in this consecutive line of testimony extends from the death of Joshua till the accession of David, a period of national decline and wide spread apostasy, during which fragmentary glimpses of events alone have been afforded to us ; though they are fragments which, in their place in the inspired volume, fall in with wonderful consist ency into the purpose and structure of the whole. But, after David's time, no long period of silence remains ; David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Ama ziah, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Ma lachi, bear continuous witness both to the Mosaic authorship and to the inspired authority of this portion of the canon.