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or invocation of the dead; which necessarily implies, in the Lawgiver who forbids it, as well as in the offender who uses it, the knowledge of a future state.
3. This being the fate of his Lordship's two reasons, we are now abandoned by him, and left to follow our own inventions, or to take up with SOME WHIMSICAL REASON FOR THE OMISSION ; that is, to allow that, as the Jews were under an extraordinary Providence, Moses in quality of Lawgiver had no OCCASION for the doctrine of a future state.
However, his Lordship, dissatisfied, as well he might, with the solutions hitherto proposed, returns again to the charge ; and in his Corona operis, the book of FRAGMENTS, more openly opposes the doctrine of the Divine Legation; and enlarges and expatiates upon the reason before given for the omission ; namely, the many superstitions this doctrine had begotten in Egypt.
“ONE CANNOT SEE WITHOUT SURPRIZE” (says his Lordship) “a doctrine so useful to all Religion, and therefore incorporated into all the Systems of Paganism, left wholly out of that of the Jews. Many probable reasons might be brought to shew, that it was an Egyptian doctrine before the Exode, and this particularly, that it was propagated from Egypt, so soon, at least, afterwards, by all those who were instructed like Moses, in the wisdom of that People. He transported much of his Wisdom into the scheme of Religion and Government, which he gave the Israelites; and, amongst other things, certain Rites, which may seem to allude, or have a remote relation to, this veny doctrine. Though this doctrine therefore, had not been that of ABRAHAM, Isaac, and JACOB, he might have adopted it with as little scruple, as he did many customs and institutions merely Egyptian. He had to do with a rebellious, but a superstitious people. In the first Character, they made it necessary that he should neglect nothing which might add weight to his ordinances, and contribute to keep them in awe. In the second, their disposition was extremely proper to receive such a doctrine, and to be influenced by it. Shall we say that an hypothesis of future rewards and punishments, was useless among a People who lived under a Theocracy, and that the future Judge of other People, was their immediate Judge and King, who resided in the midst of them, and who dealed out rewards and punishments on every occasion? Why then were so many precautions taken ? Why was a solemn Covenant made with God, as with a temporal Prince? Why were so many promises and threatnings of rewards and punishments, temporal indeed, but future and contingent, as we find in the book of Deuteronomy, most pathetically held out by Moses? Would there have been any more impropriety in holding out those of one kind than those of another, because the Supreme Being, who disposed and ordered both, was in a particular manner present amongst them? Would an addition to the catalogue of rewards and punishments more remote, but eternal, and in all respects far greater, have had no effect? I think neither of these things can be said.
“What shall we say then? How came it to pass, this addition was not made? I will mention what occurs to me, and shall not be over solicitous about the weight that my reflections may deserve. If the doctrines of the immortality of the soul and of a future state had been revealed to Moses, that he might teach them to the Israelites, he would have taught them most certainly. But he did not teach them. They were therefore not revealed to him. Why they were not so revealed some PERT DIVINE OR OTHER WILL BE READY TO TELL YOU. For me, I dare not presume to guess. But this, I may presume to advance, that since these Doctrines were not revealed by God to his servant Moses, it is highly probable that this Legislator made a scruple of teaching them to the Israelites, how well soever instructed he might be in them himself, and howsoever useful to Government he might think them. The superstitious and idolatrous rites of the Egyptians, like those of other nations, were founded on the Polytheism, and the Mythology, that prevailed, and were suffered to prevail, amongst the Vulgar, and that made the sum of their Religion. It seemed to be a point of policy to direct all these absurd opinions and practices to the service of Government, instead of attempting to root them out. But then the great difference between rude and ignorant nations and such as were civilized and learned, like the Egyptians, seems to have been this, that the former had no other system of Religion than these absurd opinions and practices, whereas the latter had an inward as well as an outward Doctrine. There is reason to believe that natural Theology and natural Religion had been taught and practised in the ancient Theban Dynasty ; and it is probable that they continued to be an inward doctrine in the rest of Egypt ; while Polytheism, Idolatry, and all the MYSTERIES, all the impieties, and all the follies of Magic, were the outward doctrine. Moses might be let into a knowledge of both ; and under the patronage of the Princess, whose Foundling he was, he might be initiated into those Mysteries, where the secret doctrine alone was taught, and the outward exploded. But we cannot imagine that the Children of Israel, in general, enjoyed the same privilege, nor that the Masters were so lavish, to their Slaves, of a favour so distinguished, and often so hard to obtain. No.' The Children of Israel knew nothing more than the outside of the Religion of Egypt ; and if the doctrine, we speak of, was known to them, it was known only in the superstitious rites, and with all the fabulous circumstances in which it was dressed up and presented to vulgar belief. It would have been hard therefore to teach, or to renew this Doctrine in the minds of the Israelites, without giving them an occasion the more, to recal the polytheistical fables, and practise the idolatrous Rites they had learnt during their Captivity. Rites and Ceremonies are often so equivocal, that they may be applied to very different doctrines. But when they are so closely connected with one Doctrine that they are not applicable to another, to teach the Doctrine is, in some sort, to teach the Rites and Ceremonies, and to authorize the fables on which they are founded. MosEs therefore being at liberty to teach this doctrine of rewards and punishments in a future state, or not to teach it, might very well choose the latter; though he indulged the Israelites, on account of the hardness of their hearts, and by the divine permission, as it is presumed, in several observances and customs which did not lead directly, though even they did so perhaps in consequence, to the Polytheism and Idolatry of Egypt.” *
What a Babel of bad reasoning has his Lordship here accumulated out of the rubbish of false and inconsistent principles ! And all, to insult the Temple of God and the Fortress of Mount Sion. Sometimes, he represents Moses as a divine Messenger, and distinguishes between what was revealed, and what was not revealed, unto him ; and then, a future state not being revealed to MOSES was the reason he did not teach it. Sometimes again, he considers him as a mere human Lawgiver, acquiring all his knowledge of Religion and Politics from the Egyptians, in whose secret Learning he had been intimately instructed ; and then, the reason of the omission is, lest the Doctrine of a future state should have drawn the Israelites into those Egyptian superstitions, from which, it was Moses's purpose to estrange them. All these inconsistencies in Fact and Reasoning, his Lordship delivers in the same breath, and without the least intimation of any change in his Principles or Opinions.
But let us follow him step by step, without troubling our heads about his real sentiments. It is enough, that we confute all he says, whether under his own, or any assumed Character.
He begins with confessing, that one canNOT SEE WITHOUT SURPRIZE, a doctrine so useful to all Religions, and therefore incorporated into all the Systems of Paganism, left wholly out of that of the Jews.
At length then it appears, that this OMISSION is no light or trivial matter, which may be accounted for, as he before supposed, by Moses's disbelief of the doctrine ; his ignorance of it; or the imaginary mischiefs it might possibly produce. We may be allowed then to think it deserved all the pains, the Author of the Divine Legation of Moses has bestowed upon it: whose WHIMSICAL REASONING, if it ended in a demonstration of the truth of Revealed Religion, is sufficiently atoned for, though it were a little out of the common road : for in this case the old proverb would hold true, that the furthest way about is the nearest way home.
His Lordship proceeds to shew, in direct opposition to what he said before, that Moses could not be ignorant of the doctrine of a future state, because the Egyptians taught it : His knowledge of it (my Lord tells us) further appears from an internal circumstance, some of his rites seeming to allude, or to have a remote relation to, this very doctrine. This I observe, to his Lordship’s credit. The remark is just and accurate. But we are in no want of his remote relation : I have shewn just above, that the Jewish Laws against Necromancy necessarily imply Moses's knowledge of the Doctrine.
He then goes on to explain the advantages which, humanly speaking, the Israelites must have received from this Doctrine, in the temper and circumstances with which they left Egypt. Moses, says he, had to do with a rebellious and superstitious People. This likewise I observe to his credit : It has the same marks of sagacity and truth; and brings us to the very verge of the Solution, proposed by the Author of the Divine Legation ; which is, that the Israelites were indeed under an EXTRAORDINARY PROVI
• Vol. v. pp. 238-241,
DENCE, which supplied all the disadvantages of the OMISSION. Under a common and unequal Providence, ReLIGION cannot subsist without the doctrine of a future state: for Religion implying å just retribution of reward and punishment, which under such a Providence is not dispensed, a future state must needs subvene, to prevent the whole Edifice from falling into ruin. And thus we account for the fact, which his Lordship so amply acknowledges, viz. that the doctrine of a future state was most useful to ALL Religions, and therefore incorporated into all the Religions of Paganism. But where an EXTRAORDINARY Providence is administered, good and evil are exactly distributed ; and therefore, in this circumstance, a FUTURE STATE is not necessary for the support of Religion. It is not to be found in the Mosaic Oeconomy ; yet this Oeconomy subsisted for many ages; Religion therefore did not need it ; or in other words, it was supported by an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE.
This is the argument of the Divine Legation. And now, let us consider his Lordship’s present attempt to evade it.
Shall we say, that an Hypothesis of future rewards and punishments was useless amongst a people who lived under a THEOCRACY, and that the future Judge of other People was their immediate Judge and King, who resided in the midst of them, and who dealt out rewards and punishments on every occasion? WHY THEN WERE SO MANY PRECAUTIONS taken ? &c.
First, let me observe, that the PRECAUTIONs here objected to, are intended for an insinuation against the truth of Moses's Promise of an extraordinary Providence. A kind of sophism which his Lordship advances, and only holds in common with the rest who have written against the Divine Legation : and which I shall here, after much forbearance on my part, expose as it deserves.
Moses affirms again and again, that his People were under an extraordinary Providence. He affirms it indeed; but as it is not a self-evident truth, it needs to be proved. Till then, the Unbeliever is at liberty to urge any circumstance in the Jewish Law or History, which may seem to bring the reality of that Providence into question : The same liberty too has the Believer ; if, at least, he can persuade himself to make use of it ; as many, so professing themselves, have done both in their Writings and Discoursings against the Divine Legation. Things were in this train, when I undertook the defence of Moses : And to obviate all objections to the Legislator's credit, arising from any doubtful or unfavourable circumstance in the Law or History of the Jews concerning this extraordinary Providence, I advanced the INTERNAL ARGUMENT of the OMISSION. An argument which necessarily inferred “that an extraordinary Providence was in fact administered in the Jewish Republic.” What change did this make in the state of the case? A very great one. Unbelievers were now indeed at liberty, and Believers too, if so perversely inclined, to oppose, and, as they could, to confute the Argument of the Divine Legation : But by no rules of good Logic could they come over again with those scripture difficulties to Moses's credit, which the argument of the Divine Legation had entirely obviated, and which it still continued to exclude, so long as it
remained unanswered. For while a demonstrated truth stands good, no difficulties arising from it, however inexplicable, can have any weight against that superior evidence. Not to admit this fundamental maxim of common sense, would be to unsettle many a physical and mathematical demonstration, as well as this moral one.
I say therefore, as things now stand, To oppose difficulties against the administration of an extraordinary Providence, after that Providence has been proved, and before the proof has been confuted, is the most palpable and barefaced imposition on our understanding. In which however, his Lordship is but one of a hundred : and truly, in this, the least indecent and inconsistent of the hundred ; as his declared purpose is to destroy the credit and authority of the Jewish Lawgiver.
I shall not however decline to examine the weight of these objections, though they be so vainly and sophistically obtruded.
If there was this EXTRAORDINARY Providence administered, says his Lordship, Why so many Precautions taken? Why was a solemn covenant made with God as with a temporal Prince? Why were so many promises and threatnings of rewards and punishments, temporal indeed, but future and contingent, as we find in the Book of Deuteronomy, most pathetically held out by Moses ? This difficulty is not hard to be resolved. We find throughout that Book which we Believers are wont to call the History of Providence, but which his Lordship is pleased to intitle, Tales more extravagant than those of Amadis de Gaule, that God, in his moral Government of the World, always employs human means, as far as those means will go ; and never interposes with his extraordinary Providence, but when they will go no further. To do otherwise, would be an unnecessary waste of Miracles; better fitted to confound our knowledge of NATURE, by obscuring the harmony of order, in such a control of its delegated Powers, than to make manifest the presence of its sovereign Lord and Master. This method in God's moral Government, all our ideas of Wisdom seem to support. Now when He, the great Director of the Universe, had decreed to rule the Jewish People in an extraordinary way, he did not propose to supersede any of the measures of civil regimen. And this, I hope, will be esteemed a sufficient answer to-WHY SO MANY PRECAUTIONS TAKEN, &c. But the Reader will find this argument drawn out more at large, in my remarks on the same kind of sophistry employed by Dr. Sykes.
But (says his Lordship) would the hypothesis of a future state have been useless, &c. ? Would there (as his Lordship goes on) have been any more impropriety in holding out those [sanctions] of one kind than those of another, because the supreme Being, who disposed and ordered both, was in a particular manner present amongst them? Would an addition of rewards and punishments (more remote, but eternal, and in all respects far greater ) to the catalogue, have had no effect? I think neither of these things can be said. His Lordship totally mistakes the drift of the Argument of the Divine Legation, which infers no more, from the fact of the omission, than this, That the Jewish Oeconomy, administered by an extraordinary Providence,