Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

TRADITION which the good Bishop so much insists upon. · The learned Prelate indeed observes, that the Jews were possessed of a future state long before the coming of Christ. But what is this to the purpose, if it can be shewn, that the knowledge of it might be obtained from a quarter very distant from the old Hebrew Traditions; and especially if from the colour and complexion of the Doctrine, it can be shewn, that it did, in fact, come from a distant quarter? namely, from their Pagan neighbours; patched up out of some dark and scattered insinuations of their own Prophets, and varnished over with the metaphorical expressions employed to convey them. But not to anticipate what I have to say on this head in the last volume, I proceed in the course of my argument.

SECT. VI.

1: WHAT is yet of greatest weight, the inspired

writers of the New Testament expressly assure us that the doctrine of a future State of reward and punishment did not make part of the Mosaic Dispensation. • Their evidence may be divided into two parts. In the first, they prove that temporal Rewards and Punishments were the sanction of the Mosaic Dispensation : and in the second, that it had NO OTHER.

I. St. Paul, in bis epistle to Timothy, enforcing, against certain judaizing Christians, the advantages of moral above ritual observances, says, “ Bodily exercise “ profitcth little; but godliness is profitable unto all " things; having the promise of the life that now is, and “ of that which,is to come *.” That is, though numerous ritual observances were enjoined by the Law,

* i Tim. iv. 8.

and

and some there must needs be under the Gospel wherever there is a Christian Church, yet thcy are of little advantage in comparison of moral virtue; for that, under both Religions, the rewards proper to each were annexed only to goilliness: that is to say, under the Jewish, tie reward of the life that now is ; under the Christian, of that which is to come. This interpretation, which shew's temporal rewards to be foreign to the nature of the Christian Economy, I support,

1. From other passages of the same Writer, where he expressly informs us that Christians have not the promise of the life that now is. For to the Corinthians be says, speaking of the condition of the followers of Christ, if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable*. To understand the force of which words, we must consider, that they were addressed to Jewish Converts tainted with Sadducism, who argued from the Mosaic Dispensation to the Christian : And holding that there was no future state in the former, concluded by analogy, that there was none in the latter. The argument on which they built their first Position was, that the sanctions of the Law were temporal rewards and punishments. Our Apostle therefore argues with them, as is his usual way, on their own principles. “You deny, says he, a resur“ rection from the dead, or a future state of reward “ and punishment. And why? Because there is no “ such doctrine in the Law. How do you prove it? “ Because the sanctions of the Law are temporal “ rewards and punishments. Agreed. And now on

your own principle I confute your conclusion. You “ own that the Jews had an equivalent for future re“ wards and punishments, namely the present. Bụt “ Christians have no equivalent. So far from that,

1 Cor. xv. 19.

[ocr errors]

& they are, with regard to this world only, of all men most miserable; having therefore no equivalent for " the rewards of a future state, they must needs be e entitled to them.” Tois shews the superior force of the Apostle's rcasoning. And from hence it appears not only that Christians HAD not, but that the Jews had the promise of the life that now is.

2. If we understand the promise of the life that 110w is to extend to the Christian Dispensation, we destroy the strength and integrity of St. Paul's argument. He is here reasoning against judaizing Christians. So that his business is to shew, that godliness, in every state, and under every Dispensation unto which they imagined themselves bound, had the advantage of bodily exercise *

The Author of the epistle to the Hebrews, speaking of Jesus, says : After the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another Priest, who is nude not after the LAW OF A CARVAL COMANDMENT, but after the power of an endless lifet. The Jewish Religion, called a carnal coinmundment, is here opposed to the Christian, called the power of an endless life. By carnal commandment then must needs be understood a Law promising carnal things, or the things of this life.

II. Tliat the Mosaic Dispensation had ONLY the sanction of temporal rewards and punishinents, or that it taught not future, let us hear St. John; who in the beginning of his Gospel assures us, that the Law was given by Josex, but that GRACE and Truth came by Juris Christ I. As certain then as the Law did not come by Jesus Christ, so certain is it, according to this Apostle, that Gruce and Truth did not come by Moses. This Grace and Truth cannot be understood gene* See note (RR) at the end of this Book. Chap. vii. ver. 15, 16.

Chap. i. ver. 17.

rically;

rically; for, the grace or favour of God was bestowed
on the chosen race, and truth, or the revealed will of
God, did come by Moses. It must therefore be some
species of grace and truth, of which the Apostle here
predicates; the publication of which species constitutes
what is called the Gospel. And this all know to be
redemption from death, and restoration to eternal life.
· Again, to this part likewise, let us once more hear
the learned Apostle: As by one man sin entered into the
world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon alt
men, for that all have sinned: for until the Lure, sin
was in the world, but Sin is not iniputed where there
is no Laio. Nerertheless Death reigned froin Adan
to Moses *. It is St. Paul's purpose to show, that
death came by ADAM through sin, and so passed upon
all men; and that life came by Jesus CHRIST: But
having said that Sin, which brings forth Death, is not
imputed where there is no Law, lest this should seem to
contradict what he had said of Death's passing upon
all men, he adds, nevertheless death reigned from Adam
to Aloses ; taking it for granted that his followers would
understand it must needs reign from Moses to Christ,
as having made Sin's being iMPUTED to consist in
there being a Law given. Now I ask how the Apos-
tle could possibly say, that death reigned under the
Mosaic Dispensation, if that People had the knowledge
of immortal life to be procured by a Redeemer to
come, any more than it can be said to reign now with
the same knowledge of a Redeemer past; since we
agree that the efficacy of his death extends to all pre-
ceding as well as succeeding Ages ? Accordingly in his
epistle to the Corinthians be calls the Jewish Law, the
MINISTRATION OF DEATH, and the MINISTRATION
OF CONDEMNATION T.
* Rom. v. 12, et seq.

+ 2 Cor. iii. 7, et seg.

2. In

[ocr errors]

2. In his epistle to the Galatians, he says, - Before FAITH came, zee were kept under the Lace', shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed* ; i. e. we were kept in subjection to the Law of Moses; and, by that incans, shut up and sequestered from the rest of the Nations, to be prepared and made ready for the first reception of the FAITII, when it should in God's appointed time be revealed unto men. From these words therefore it appears, that till that time, the Jews had no knowledge of this Faith. So much we must have concluded though he had not said, as he does afterwards, That till that time, the Jews were in bondage under the elements of this worldt. Now could men acquainted with the doctrine of life and immoriality be said, with any sense of propriety, to be in such a state of bondage? For though men in bondage may have an idea of Liberty, yet of THIS LIBERTY they could have no idea without understanding, at the same tiine, that they were partakers of its benefits.

3. In his second epistle to Timothy he expressly says, That Jesus CHRIST HATH ABOLISHED DEATH, AND HATH BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT THROUGH THE GOSPEL I. But now if Death were abolished by Jesus Christ, it is certain it had reigned till his coming: and yet it is as certain, that it could reign no longer than wbile the tidings of the Gospel were kept back; because we agree that Christ's death hath a retrospect operation : therefore those under the Law had no knowledge of life and jinmortality. Again: If life and immortality were brought to light through the Gospel, consequently, till the preaching of the Gospel, it was kept hid and out of sight Ş. But if taught by Moses and the

* Gal. iii. 23. + Chap. iv. ver. 3. 1 2 Tim. i. 10. & Sce note (SS) at the end of this Book.

Prophets,

« AnteriorContinuar »