« AnteriorContinuar »
is administered for the sake of Particulars, its first end is to discipline us in virtue, and keep us in our duty: When administered for the sake of a Community, its first end is to support the Institution it had erected. Now his Lordship, proceeding from reason to example, gives us this of the Jewish Republic, to prove that an equal or extraordinary Providence does not answer one or other or both these ends.
But it is unlucky for him, that here, where he employs the example, he cannot forbear, any more than in numberless other places of his writings, to tell us that he believes nothing of the matter.—How long this Theocracy may be said to have continued (says he) I am quite unconcerned to know, and should be sorry to mispend my time in inquiring. The example then is unreal, and only brought as an argument ad hominem. But, the misfortune is, that no laws of good reasoning will admit such an argument ad hominem on this question, Of the EFFECTS of a REAL extraordinary Providence ; because the nature of the effects of a REAL Providence can never be fully discovered by the effects of a PRETENDED one. To say the truth, his Lordship is at present out of luck. For had he indeed believed the extraordinary Providence of the Jews to be real, his own representation of the case would, on his own principles, have proved it but pretended. For 'tis a principle with him, that where the means do not produce the end, such means (all pretences notwithstanding) are but human inventions. It is thus he argues against the Divinity of the Christian Religion ; which he concludes to be an imposture from its not having effected that lasting reformation of manners, which he supposes was its principal design to accomplish.
So far as to the CHOICE of his example. He manages no better in the APPLICATION of it.
We have distinguished, concerning the ends of an extraordinary Provi. dence. Let us suppose now, that his Lordship takes the principal end of the Jewish Theocracy to be the reformation of Particulars. He refers to their history, and pretends to shew they were not reformed. Now, whatever other consequences may attend this supposed Fact, the most obvious and glaring is this, That his Lordship, in proceeding from reason to example, has given us such an example as overturns or supersedes all his reasoning. According to his reasoning, an extraordinary Providence would tye virtue and good manners so fast down upon every Individual, that his very Will would be forced, and the merit of doing what he had not in his power to forbear, absolutely destroyed. The Reader would now perhaps expect his example should confirm this pretended Fact? Just otherwise. His example shews his fact to be a fiction, and that men remained as bad as ever.
But I have no need of taking any artificial advantage of his Lordship’s bad reasoning. For, when we see it so constantly opposed to truth, it is far from being an additional discredit to it, that it is as constantly opposed to itself.
The truth indeed is, that the great and principal end of the JEWISH THEOCRACY, was to keep that people a separate nation, under their own Law and Religion, till the coming of the MESSIAH ; and to prepare things for his reception by preserving amongst them the doctrine of the Unity. Now, to judge whether the Theocracy or extraordinary Providence effected its end, we have only to consider, Whether this people, to the coming of Christ, did continue a distinct Nation separated from all the other tribes of Mankind, and distinguished from them, by the worship of the one true God. And on enquiry, we shall find, they not only did continue thus distinct and distinguished, but have so continued ever since. A circumstance which, having no example amongst any other People, is sufficient to convince us, that there must have been some amazing power in that Theocracy, which could go on operating for so many ages after the extraordinary administration of it had ceased. Let us conclude therefore, that his Lordship having nothing to urge against the due efficacy of this extraordinary Providence, but that, the people rebelled at one time and repented at another, and that this Providence had only temporary effects, is the most ample confession of his defeat.
THE FIFTH BOOK,
P. 420. vol. i. A. Yet some writers against the Divine Legation will have it that from the very context (ver. 16, 17, To Abraham and his seed were the promises made, &c. The COVENANT that was confirmed before of God in Christ, &c.] it appears that St. Paul means, the Law was ADDED not barely to the Patriarchal Religion, but to the promise of the inheritance, the covenant that was confirmed before of God; and from thence, conclude that the Jewish Religion had the doctrine of a future state. This it is to have a retrospective view, and with a microscopic eye! For had they, when they went one step backward, but gone two, they would have seen, St. Paul could not possibly have had their meaning in view, for at ver. 15. he expresly says,—though it be but a MAN'S COVENANT (much less if it be God's] yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth or ADDETH thereto. The Law therefore mentioned as ADDED in the 19th verse, cannot be understood, in the Apostle's sense, as being added to the COVENANT that was confirmed before of God in Christ, or indeed to any thing, but to the Patriarchal Religion of the Unity.
P. 429. B. “Il [Ninus fils de Belus] ne peut être inventeur de l'idolatrie qui etoit bien plus ancienne ; je ne dis pas seulement en Egypte, mais même au dela de l'Euphrate, puisque Rachel deroba les Teraphims, &c. -Il faut aller en Egypte pour trouver sur cela quelque chose du mieux fondé. Grotius croit que, du temps de Joseph, l'idolatrie n'etoit point encore commune en Egypt. Cependant on voit des-lors dans ce pays un extrême attachement à la magie, à la divination, aux augures, à l'interpretation des songes, &c.—Moyse defend d'adorer aucune figure, ni de ce qui est visible dans les cieux, ni de ce qui est sur la terre, ni de ce qui est dans les eaux. Voilà la defense generale d'adorer les astres, les animaux, et les poissons. Le veau d'or etoit une imitation du dieu Apis. La niche de Moloch, dont parle Amos, étoit apparemment portée avec une figure du soleil. Moyse defend aux Hebreux d’immoler aux boucs, comme ils ont fait autrefois. La mort en l'honneur duquel il defend de faire le deuil, etoit le même qu'Osiris. Beelphegor, aux mysteres duquel ils furent entrainez par les femmes de Madian, étoit Adonis. Moloch cruelle divinité, à laquelle on immoloit des victimes humaines, étoit commune du tems de Moyse, aussi-bien que ces abominables sacrifices. Les Chananeens adoroient des moûches et d'autres insectes, au rapport de l'auteur de la sagesse. Le même auteur nous parle des Egyptiens d'alors comme d'un peuple plongé dans toutes sortes d'abominations, et qui adoroit toutes sortes d'animaux, même les plus dangereux, et les plus nuisibles. Le pays de Chanaan étoit encore plus corrumpu. Moyse ordonne d'y abattre les autels, les bois sacrez, les idoles, les monumens superstitieux. Il parle des enclos, où l'on entretenoit un feu eternel en l'honneur du soleil. Voilà la plus indubitable epoque qui nous ayons de l'idolatrie. Mais ce n'est point une epoque qui nous en montre sa source et le commencement, ni même le progrès et l'avancement : elle nous présente une idolatrie achevée, et portée à son comble ; les astres, les hommes, les animaux mêmes adorez comme autant divinitez; la magie, la divination, l'impieté au plus haut point où elles puissent aller : enfin le crime, et les desordres honteux, suites ordinaires du culte superstitieux et de regle.” Calmet, Dissert. sur l'Origine de l’Idolatrie, tom, i. p. 431, 432. Thus far this learned writer. And without doubt, his account of the early and over-bearing progress of idolatry is exact. Another writer, who would pass for such, is in different sentiments. He thinks its rise and progress much lower. If we look (says he) amongst the Canaanites, we shall find no reason to imagine that there was a religion different from that of Abraham. Abraham trarelled up and dowon many years in this country, and was respected by the inhabitants of it, as a person in great favour with God, &c. And again, Abraham was entertained by Pharaoh without the appearance of any indisposition towards him, or any the least sign of their having a different religion from that which Abraham himself professed and practised. [Connect. of Sac. and Prof. Hist. vol. i. p. 309, and 312.] But here the learned author was deceived by inere modern ideas. He did not reflect on that general principle of intercommunity, so essential to paganism, which made all its followers disposed to receive the God of Abraham as a true, though tutelary, Deity. Josephus (the genius of whose times could not but give him a right notion of this matter) saw well the consistency between the veneration paid to Abraham's God, and the idolatry of the venerators ; as appears from his making that Patriarch the first who propagated the belief of one God, after the whole race of mankind was sunk into idolatry ; and at the same time making all those with whom he had to do, pay reverence to his God. Of Abraham he thus speaks, Διά τούτο και φρονείν έπ' αρετη μείζω των άλλων ηργμένος, και την σερί του θεού δόξαν, ήν άπασι συνέβαινεν είναι, καινίσαι και μεταβαλείν έγνω. Πρώτος ούν τολμά Θεόν απoφήνασθαι δημιουργών των όλων ένα. 1. i. c. 7. He makes the idolatrous priests of Egypt tell Pharaoh at once, that the pestilence was sent from God in punishment for his intended violation of the stranger's wife : Karà uñuiy Ocow TÒ delvòv a'rý supeiral dneohuarvov oi iepeis, édois dénorev čvúbpioai Toù cévou try yuvaika, c. 8. And Abimelech, in the same circumstances, as ready to own the same author of his punishment. Φράζει προς τους φίλους, ως ο θεός αυτώ ταύτην επαγάγοι την νόσον υπέρ εκδικίας του ξένου φυλάσσων ανύβριστον αυτή την γυναίκα. c. 12. Antiq.
P. 434. C. These considerations will lead us to a right apprehension of that part of the history of Jesus, where James and John, on the inhospitable behaviour of a village of Samaria, say to their Master, in the Legal spirit of the Jewish ceconomy, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did ? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. [Luke ix. 54, 55, 56.7 i.e. You consider not that you are no longer under the Dispensation of Works (in which a severity of this kind was just and necessary), but, of Grace, in which all restraint and punishment of opinions would be mischievous and unlawful. Here we see the very disposition to intolerance in James and John is severely censured. Yet the same temper in Paul, even when proceeding into act, is passed over without reproof, when Jesus, after his resurrection, is pleased to reveal his truth to him in a miraculous manner. Our Lord, instead of condemning the nature of the practice, only assures him of the vanity of its effects, It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. [Acts ix. 5.] The reason of this different treatment is evident. James and John had given their names to the Religion of Jesus, in which all force was unjust. Paul was yet of the Religion of Moses, where restraint was lawful. On this account it is that this Apostle, when speaking of his merits as a Jew, expresses himself in this manner, For ye have heard of my conversation in time past ; how that beyond measure I PERSECUTED the church of God, and wasted it : and PROFITED in the Jew religion above many my equals in mine own nation. [Gal. i. 13.7 Here he makes the persecution and the profiting to go hand in hand. And again, Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel; of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the Law, a Pharisee ; concerning zeal, PERSECUTING THE CHURCH ; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. [Phil. ij. 4.] Here he glories in the action, as plainly meritorious. And so indeed it was in a Jew, as appears from the commendations given to it in the case of Phineas, and others. Yet where he speaks of it, under his present character of a Christian, he condemns it as horrid and detestable; and this, in order to shew his followers how it ought to be regarded in the Religion of Jesus. To the Corinthians he says, I am the least of the Apostles; that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I PERSECUTED the church of God. (1 Ep. xv. 9.] And to Timothy, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer and a PERSECUTOR, and injurious. But I obtained mercy, because I did it in IGNORANCE and UNBELIEF, [1 Ep. i. 12.) i. e. being a Jew.
P. 438. D. Dr. Stebbing, though he differs from Mr. Foster in most other matters, yet agrees with him in this, “That the justice and equity of the Jewish Law in punishing Idolaters with death, did not depend on the particular form of government.” (Hist, of Abraham.] In which he is much more consistent than his dissenting neighbour. For the doctor approves of persecution for opinions ; whereas the minister pretends to condemn it.
P. 440. E. It is strange to consider how much Dr. Spencer has mistaken this matter, where, in his reasons of a Theocracy ex parte seculi, as he calls them, he gives the following : “Seculi moribus ita factum erat, ut Dii sui principatum quendam inter servos suos obtinerent, et nomine ritoque regio colerentur. Nam seculo illo Deos titulis illis Molech, Elohim, Baalim, et hujusmodi aliis, regibus et magnatibus tribui solitis, insignire solebant : eos imperii arbitros plerumque ponebant, cum nec bella gerere, nec civitatem condere, nec regem eligere, nec grandius aliquid moliri solerent, priusquam Deos per oracula vel auspicia consuluissent." Dissert. de Theoc. Jud. c. ii, p. 237. Ed. Chap. But these are no marks that the Pagans attributed any kind of civil regality to their Gods. As to their regal titles, those were what they had retained from the time of their real kingship in the state of humanity. And as to the consulting their oracles on all public affairs of moment, this was the consequence of Pagan religion's having a public as well as private part. But, for an acknowledged God to be chosen and received by any people as their real Monarch or Civil Magistrate, was a thing altogether unknown to Paganism. The learned Marsham, with his usual bias, endeavours to insinuate, that the institution of a Theocracy was an imitation of Pagan Custom.—“Moses pridem cokpatíay declaravit Ebræorum Rempublicam ; ne sibi potestas regia deferretur: Athenienses autem Alokpariav suam ab Apolline retulerunt ; ut regis nomen Jovi cederet ; neque tam titulus quam potestas regia imminueretur.” Sec. xiii. p. 340.-But the question here is not about the name, but the thing. The Pagans might call their national Gods by the name of Kings, and, by a bolder figure, might call their Government, put under the protection of a tutelary Deity, by the name of a Theocracy; but a real Theocracy is that only where the Laws of the Institution have all a reference to the actual rule of a tutelary God, whether the true God or false ones; and such a Theocracy is no where to be found but in the land of Judea.
P. 456. F. For this was the only use the Pagans ever thought of making of the Gods of their enemies when they had stolen them, or taken them away by force. Apion had mentioned one Zabidus an Idumean, who, when the Jews were warring against his countrymen, made a bargain with the enemy to deliver Apollo, one of their tutelary Gods, into their hands; and Josephus, when he comes to confute this idle tale, takes it for granted that the only supposed cause of such pretended traffic was to gain a new tutelary Deity; and on this founds his argument against Apion: How then, says he, can Apion persist in accusing us of not having Gods in common with others, when our forefathers were so easily persuaded to believe that Apollo was coming into their service ? Ti 8 juôvēti katnyopei tò un κοινούς έχειν τοις άλλοις θεούς, εί ραδίως ούτως επείσθησαν οι πατέρες ημών, VEELV TÒV 'Atólwa wpós aútoús; Vol. ii. p. 478.
P. 470. G. I call them licentious, principally, for the extravagant Reasonings concerning the authority of the Pentateuch, and the divine inspiration of Scripture. The first he retracted and confuted, when the spirit of contradiction had given way to better principles ; the other (which he had inserted into the Letters as the work of another man) he never, that I know of, atoned for, by any retraction whatsoever.
P. 475. H. Dr. Sykes has undertaken to confute the censure here passed upon Dr. Spencer. Here it is (says this Answerer) that Mr. W. attacks Dr. Spencer's dissertation on the Jewish Theocracy. Are we not now from hence to IMAGINE that Dr. Spencer was one of those writers that supposed the Theocracy to have ended with the Judges ? [An examination of Mr. W's account, &c. p. 168.] What demands of imagination his trade of Answering may have upon him, I do not know. But from my words, a fair reasoner would imagine nothing but that I meant to prove what I said: namely, that Dr. Spencer's discourse of the Theocracy is weak and inconsistent.
His first charge (says he) against Spencer is, that he thought the Theocracy