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patriarchal world. With respect to the former, namely, the laws or precepts another discovery was made, which was this, that as far as they went, they were the same in substance as the laws of the Decalogue; from whence it was to be inferred, that the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai were not the first Revelation which he had given to man. This statement is certainly contrary to our generally received notions at the present day; but, whatever our prejudices may be in this respect, we ought not to retain them if it can be fully proved, that most of these laws or precepts were in existence and acted upon as divine laws many hundred
before these commandments were given.
Being unwilling to go without farther light, if farther scriptural light could be obtained on this subject, I determined to look into the book of Job, as the only other book, which, on account of its great antiquity, could serve my purpose. But here an obstacle presented itself. It has been contended of late years by some, contrary
to the opinion of our ancient and almost all our modern divines, that Job lived after Moses and not before him, and that he had seen the writings of the latter, from which he had probably copied. I was obliged therefore to have this question settled in my own mind, before I could gather any new information, which would be satisfactory to me, from the book of Job. Upon this I went to work. I looked first into the controversies that had taken place upon this point, and after this I decided upon reading the book of Job, as I had done the Pentateuch, with all the attention I could give it, and see whether I could not collect from internal evidence, furnished from the book itself, sufficient materials for satisfying myself upon this point. In consequence of this investigation three new arguments rose up to my mind, more strong and decisive of the point in question than any which I had seen in these controversies, and all of them tending to show, that Job must have lived in the patriarchal ages long antecedent to the birth of Moses. This discovery, if I had not deceived myself by any false reasoning, enabled me to confirm all the deductions, and more than all the deductions, which I had gathered from the Pentateuch relative to the laws and doctrines before mentioned, which were said to have been given by God to Adam; the first for the moral guidance of him and his posterity, and the latter for the exercise of their religious faith.
I was now convinced of three things, first, that the first men obtained their notions of God and religion from God himself; secondly, that there was a time when all men living possessed this knowledge, namely, when they lived on the plain of Shinar, where “they spoke one language and dwelt together as one people ;” and therefore thirdly, that when the different families separated from each other at the time commonly called the dispersion, they carried with them this knowledge to the new lands into which they went. From these considerations a new question, and this a most important one suggested itself to my mind. It was this, what use did these families, thus dispersed, make of this knowledge afterwards. Did they preserve it, or did they lose it? In what situation for instance were they found in this respect when our Saviour came into the world? This appeared to me to be a very formidable question, for I saw no other way of answering it than by trying to find out into what parts of the world these different families (which became afterwards so many nations) had migrated, and what their religion was when settled there. Formidable however as it appeared to be, I resolved to do my best to solve it. Suffice it then to say, that after a most tedious, difficult, and laborious inquiry for many months, I discovered that one of these families, namely, that of Cush, had abandoned the worship of the true God so early as at the end of the second or the beginning of the third century from the Deluge; and had begun to worship the Sun in his stead, and that others of them had done the same afterwards, the one after the other, at different intervals of time, so that in the time of Moses there was not one of them (of which any records could be found) which had not gone into idolatry, except
the Israelites in Egypt; and even of these, many had been infected by this moral disease ; so that if it had not been for the providential call of Abraham the world would have been involved in universal darkness as relates to the knowledge of the true God. This was the melancholy result; such indeed as when I began this enquiry, I was not quite prepared to expect; but I was obliged to admit it, because it was founded upon evidence, which had been almost all of it taken from the word of God.
I had now answered my first question, and also to a certain extent the second, which had sprung out of the first. I had therefore done inore than I had at first intended to do, and was about to conclude, when it struck me that I ought, on account of the melancholy result just mentioned, to carry my views a little farther. The call of Abraham under such circumstances and for such a purpose could not but claim attention; and a fair consideration of it, though a short one, would moreover make a suitable ending to the work. I determined therefore, upon