« AnteriorContinuar »
DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES
U AVING now examined the CHARACTER of 11 the Jewish People, and the TALENTS of their Lawgiver, I come next to consider the NATURE of that Policy, which by his ministry was introduced amongst them. For in these two enquiries I hope to lay a strong and lasting foundation for the support of the third general proposition, That the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments is not to be found in, nor did make part of the Mosaic Dispensation.
We find amongst this people a Policy differing from all the Institutions of mankind; in which the two Societies, civil and religious, were perfectly incorporated, with God ALMIGHTY, AS A TEMPORAL GOVERNOR, at the head of both.
The peculiar administration attending so singular a frame of Government hath always kept it from the knowledge of superficial observers. Christian writers, by considering Judaism as a Religious policy only, or Vol. V. . B
a Church; and Deists, as a Civil policy only, or a State; have run into infinite mistakes concerning the reason, the nature, and the end of its laws and institutions. And, on so partial a view of it, no wonder that neither have done justice to this amazing economy. Let us suppose, the famous picture of the female centaur by Zeuxis, where two different Natures were so admirably incorporated, that the passage from one to the other, as Lucian tells us *, became insensible; let us, I say, suppose this picture to have been placed before two competent judges, yet in such different points of view, that the one could see only the brutal, the other the human part; would not the first have thought it a beautiful horse, and the second, as beautiful a woman; and would not each have given the creature supposed to be represented such functions as he judged proper to the species in which he ranked it? But would not both of them have been mistaken ; and would not a sight of the whole have taught them to rectify their wrong judgments ? as well knowing that the functions of such a compounded animal, whenever it existed, must be very different from those of either of the other, singly and alone. From such partial judges of the law therefore, little assistance is to be expected towards the discovery of its true nature.
Much less are we to expect from the Jewish Doctors; who, though they still keep sheltered, as it were, in the ruins of this august and awful Fabric; yet patch · The Sameiar di nemy go tñs rataisus, viar párosa ai Oetlanaí sion, áduñtes, its sy abalone to go Grow justojuos, yusannes, walvador - n pítsa dì, saj a puogin tūv owpáte, nabè ouvárlerai rourdirau gurarsių sė ixti2dy, ngina, ty šx ábzóws jesia Saíreca, vei ir morarwyna, spettomérn, darbári tiu okon éx Dalipe, sis tò iraçou ünilinám. Zeuxis, c. 6. tom. I. p. 843. Edit. Neitzii, Amst. 410, 1743.
judges of other, since very differ
it up with the same barbarity of taste, and impotence of science, that the present Greeks are wont to hide themselves amongst the mouldering monuments of Attic power and politeness. Who, as our travellers inform us, take a beggarly pride in keeping up their claim to these wonders of their Ancestors magnificence, by white-washing the Parian marble with chalk, and incrusting the porphyry and granate with tiles and potsherds.
But least of all shall we receive light from the fantastic visions of our English Cocceians*; who have sublimed the crude nonsense of the Cabalists, so long buried in the dull amusement of picking Mysteries out of letters, into a more spiritual kind of folly; a quintessence well defecated from all the impurities of sense and meaning.
Therefore, to understand the nature of the Jewish Economy, we must begin with this truth, to which every page of the five books of Moses is ready to bear witness, That the separation of the Israelites was in order to preserve the doctrine of the Unity, amidst an idolatrous and polytheistic World. The necessity of this provision shall be shewn at large hereafter f. At present we only desire the Deist would be so civil as to suppose there might possibly be a sufficient cause.
But now, because it is equally true, that this sepa. ration was fulfilling the promise made to ABRAHAM their Father; these men have taken occasion to represent it as made for the sake of a FAVOURITE PEOPLE I. And then again, supposing such a partial distinction to be inconsistent with the divine attri
• The followers of Hutchivson. + In the ninth book.
See the first volunue of the Divine Legation.
butes, have ventured to arraign the Law itself of imposture.
But this representation of the fact is both unjust and absurd. They cannot deny but it might be God's purpose, at least, that it became his goodness, to preserve the doctrine of the unity amidst an idolatrous world. But this (we know by the event) could never be effected but by a separation of one part from the rest Nor could such a separation be made any otherwise than by bringing that part under God's peculiar protection: The consequence of which were GREAT TEMPORAL BLESSINGS. Now as some one People must needs be selected for this purpose, it seems most agreeable to our ideas of divine Wisdom, which commonly effects many ends by the same means, to make the blessings attendant on such a selection, the reward of some high exalted virtue in the progenitors of the chosen People. But therefore to object that they were chosen as FAVOURITES, is both unjust and absurd. The separation was made for the sake of · Mankind in general; though one People became the honoured instrument, in reward of their Forefathers' virtues. And this is the language of those very Scriptures which, as they pretend, furnish the objection. Where God, by the Prophet Ezekiel, promises to restore the Israelites, after a short dispersion through the Countries, to their own land, he declares this to be the end of their separation : " Therefore say unto the “ house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God, I DO NOT " THIS FOR YOUR SAKES, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL, “ BUT FOR MINE HOLY NAME's sake, which ye " have profaned among the heathen whither ye went. " And I will sanctify my great name which was pro: " fancd amongst the heathen, which ye have profaned “ in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know
“ that " that I am the LORD, saith the LORD GOD, when I “ shall be sanctified in you before their eyes *.” What God himself says of the PEOPLE, St. Paul says of their LAW: “ Wherefore then serveth the Law? IT “ WAS ADDED BECAUSE OF TRANSGRESSIONS; till " the seed should come, to whom the promise was “ made t." It was added, says the Apostle. To what? To the patriarchal Religion of the UNITY I. To what end? Because of transgressions, ie. the transgressions of polytheism and idolatry; into which, the rest of mankind were already absorbed, and the Jews at that time, hastening apace; and from which there was no other means of restraining them, than by this ADDITION ; an addition that kept them separate from all others, and preserved the doctrine of the UNITY, till the coming of the promised seed
But another thing offends the Deists: they cannot understand, let the end of this choice be what it would, why God should prefer so perverse and sottish a People, to all others. One reason hath been given already; that it was for the sake of their forefathers, and to fulfil the promise made to the Patriarchs. But others are not wanting; and those very agreeable to the ideas we have of infinite Wisdom; such, for instance, as this, That the EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE, by which they were blessed and protected, might become the more visible and illustrious. For bad they been endowed with the shining qualities of the more polished nations, the effects of that providence might have been ascribed to their own power or wisdom. Their impotence and inability, when left to themselves, is finely represented in the Prophet Ezekiel, by the similitude of the vine-tree : Son of
• Ezek. xxxvi. 22, 23. Gal. ii. age.