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tuted, partly in compliance to their prejudices, and partly in opposition to Egyptian superstitions.
Here, all the imaginable motives are inquired into, which MOSES, though a mere human Lawgiver, might have had to act in the manner he did; and these motives are shewn to be insufficient to induce a wise Legislator thus to act.-In conclusion, it is made apparent, that a ritual, contrived to oppose to the reigning superstitions; and, at the same time, to prefigure, by its typical nature, all the essential parts of a future Dispensation, contains a strong INTERNAL ARGUMENT THAT THE RITUAL LAW WAS NOT A MERE HUMAN INVENTION. And with this the fourth Book concludes.
V. What hath been hitherto said, was to let the Reader into the genius of the Jewish Policy in general, in order to his judging more exactly of the peculiar nature of its Government; that, from thence, he might be enabled to determine, with full certainty, of the matters in question, as they are contained in the two MINOR terms.
1. The fifth Book, therefore, comes still nearer to the point, and shews, that the Government instituted by Moses was a THEOCRACY, properly so called, where God himself was the supreme civil Magistrate. It begins with assigning and settling the true reason of the separation of the posterity of Abraham from the rest of mankind;—because this separation has been greatly misunderstood--but principally because the true reason of the separation leads us into the use and necessity of a Theocratic forin of Government.
In evincing this necessity, the justice of the Law for punishing Idol-worship capitally, under a Theocracy, is explained: And because the Deist hath been accustomed to urge this Law against the divine original of the whole Institution, it is here justified at large, on the principles of natural equity: Which serves, as well a past purpose, viz. the adding strength and support to what hath been said on the subject of TOLERATION, in the second Book;
as it does at present, viz. to confirm the reality of this Theocracy, which a celebrated dissenting Minister has preposterously gone out of his way to bring in question : whose reasoning, therefore, is examined and exposed.
2. This THEOCRACY, thus proved to be necessary, was likewise of the most easy introduction, as I have shewn from the notions and opinions of those times, concerning tutelary Deities. And here, speaking of the method of Divine Providence, in applying the prejudices and manners of men to the great ends of his Dispensations, I observe, that He is always accustomed to impress on his institution, some characteristic note of difference, to mark it for his own: which leading me to give instances in some of these notes, I insist chiefly upon this, "that the Mosaic Religion was built upon a former,
namely, the Patriarchal : whereas the various Religions of the Pagan World were all unrelated to, and "independent of one another." As this was a circumstance necessary to be well attended to, by all who would fully comprehend the nature of the Mosaic Policy, I took the advantage, which the celebrated Author of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion had afforded me, to support this characteristic note, against his idle attempt to prove, that the Pagans, likewise, were accustomed to build one pretended Revelation on another.
3. I proceed, in the next place, to shew, that those prejudices which made the introduction of a THEOCRACY so easy, occasioned as easy a defection from it. In which, I had occasion to explain the nature of the worship of tutelary Gods; and of that Idolatry wherewith the Israelites were so obstinately besotted.
Both of which Discourses serve these further purposes: the former, to support and explain what hath been said in the second Book concerning the Pagan intercommunity of worship: and the latter (besides a peculiar use to be made of it in the third* Volume) to obviate a popular *See p. 144 of this Volume. K
objection of Unbelievers: who, from this circumstance, of the perpetual defection of the Israelites into idolatry, would infer, that God's Dispensation to them could never have been so convictive as their History represents it; the Objectors having taken it for granted, on the allowance of Believers, that this Idolatry consisted in renouncing the Law of Moses, and renouncing it as dissatisfied with its truth. Both which suppositions are here shewn to be false. This affords an occasion to confute the false reasoning of Lord Bolingbroke; who, from this frequent lapse into Idolatry, infers such a defect and political inability in the Law, as shews its pretence to a divine original to be an imposture.
4. The nature of the THEOCRACY, and the circumstances attending its erection, being thus explained, we come next to inquire concerning its duration. Here we shew, that, in strict truth and propriety, it subsisted throughout the whole period of the Jewish economy, even to the coming of Christ: In which discourse, the contrary opinions, of an earlier abolition, are all considered and confuted, and the above truth supported and established. In the course of this reasoning, it is shewn, that the famous Prophecy of Jacob, of the Sceptre's not departing from Judah till the coming of Shiloh, is a promise or declaration of the existence of the THEOCRACY till the coming of Christ. And as the truth of this interpretation is of the highest importance to Revelation, all the different senses given to this Prophecy are examined, and shewn to be erroneous. And the last of them being one borrowed by Dr. Sherlock, Bishop of London, and received into his Book of the Use and Intent of Prophecy, is particularly discussed.
The use to be hereafter made of the duration of the Theocracy to the coming of Christ, is to inforce, by this circumstance, amongst many others, the CONNEXION between the two Religions: a truth, though too much
neglected, yet incumbent on every rational Defender of Revelation to support.
The argument then proceeds to a consideration of the peculiar consequences attending the administration of a Theocracy, which brings us yet nearer to our point. Here it is shewn, that one necessary consequence was an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE. And agreeably to this deduction from the nature of things, we find, that holy Scripture does, in fact, exhibit this very representation of God's Government of Judea; and that there are many favourable circumstances in the character of the Hebrew People, to induce us to believe the representation to be true. Here, many cloudy cavils of the three Doctors, SYKES, STEBBING, and RUTHERFORD, are occasionally removed and dispersed. But the attentive Reader will observe, that my Argument does not require me to prove more in this place, than that holy Scripture REPRESENTS an extraordinary Providence to have been administered. The proof of its REAL Administration is established by the MEDIUM of my Thesis, the omission of the Doctrine of a future state of Rewards and Punishments. Which answers all objections as to our inadequate conceptions of such an administration; as well as to certain passages of Scripture that seem to clash with its general representation of it. Yet both these sort of objections are, however, considered er abundanti.
As important as the fact is, to our present purpose of an extraordinary Providence thus represented, it has still a further use, when employed amongst those distinguishing marks of the truth of Moses's divine Mission in general for it shews us, the unnecessary trouble and hazard to which he exposed himself, had that Mission been feigned. Had he, like the rest of the ancient Lawgivers, only pretended to inspiration, he had then no occasion to propagate the belief of an extraordinary Providence; a Dispensation so easy to be confuted.
But by deviating from their practice, and announcing to his People, that their tutelary God was become their KING, he laid himself under a necessity of teaching an extraordinary Providence; a dead weight upon an Imposture, which nothing but downright folly could have brought him to undergo.
To proceed. After having laid this strong and necessary Foundation, we come at length DIRECTLY to the point in question. If the Jewish Government were a THEOCRACY, administered, as it must be, by an extraordinary Providence, the next consequence is, that TEMPORAL REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS, and not FUTURE, were the SANCTION of their Law and Religion. Thus far, therefore, have our considerations on the nature alone of the Jewish Government conducted us and it is almost to our journey's end: for it fairly brings us up to the proof of our two MINOR Propositions. So necessary, as the Reader now sees, is the long discourse of the nature of the Jewish Government.
But, to prevent all cavil, the Argument goes on, and proves in the next place, that the Doctrine of a future state of Rewards and Punishments, which could not, from the nature of things, be the SANCTION of the Jewish economy, was not in fact contained in it at all: nay further, that it was PURPOSELY OMITTED by the great Lawgiver. This is proved from several passages in the Book of Genesis and the Law.
And here, more fully to evince, that Moses, who, it is seen, studiously omitted the mention of it, was well apprised of its importance, I shew, that the PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN FOR THE SINS OF THEIR PARENTS was brought into this Institution purposely to afford some advantages to Government, which the Doctrine of a future state, as it is found in all other Societies, amply supplies. This, at the same time that it gives further strength to the position of no future state in the Mosaic Dispensation, gives the Author a fair occasion of vindi