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that he will command his children and his houshold after* him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, &c. Gen. xviii. 19. And Hobbes and our Professor, I suppose, regard this declaration as a clear proof of the divine doctrine of RESTRAINT in matters of Religion; especially when interpreted by their darling text of-force them to enter in. On the contrary, those who have been bred up in the Principles of Toleration, hold it to be a mere testimony (a glorious one indeed) of Abraham's pious. and parental care to INSTRUCT his family in the Law of God. And it is well it can go for no more, or I should fear the learned Professor would have brought in Isaac as a backslider to Idolatry; and his Father's laying him on the sacrificial Pile, as a kind of Auto de fe. Now, except in these two places of Abraham's History, of such wonderful force to support intolerant principles, the Patriarch appears in all others so averse to this inquisitorial spirit, that where God comes down to destroy Sodom, the Father of the Faithful intercedes, with the utmost importunity, for that idolatrous as well as incestuous City. The truth is this: The usurped right of punishing for opinions was first assumed and long ingrossed by Idolaters. And, if tradition may be believed, Abraham himself narrowly escaped the Fire for preaching against its Divinity. But this is not all. From his own conduct, and from the conduct of his posterity, he seems to have made one part of that fidelity in keeping the way of the Lord (for which he is so nobly distinguished by God himself) to consist in inculcating the divine doctrine of Toleration. When JACOB and his family, without leave-taking, had departed from Laban, Rachel stole away her father's Gods. The old man followed and overtook them; and complaining of the theft, Jacob frankly answered, With whomsoever thou findest thy Gods, let him not live. Now, I would ask, was this condemnation on the offender denounced for Idolatry, or for the Theft? The words of the Patriarch, which immediately follow, determine this
Before our brethren discern thou what is thine, with me, and take it to thee. Well, Rachel, by a female stratagem, contrived to keep her father's Gods; for no better purpose, we may be sure, than that for which the good man employed so much pains to recover them. The theft, indeed, had it been discovered, would have been punished by the Judge: But as for the Idolatry, which, from its nature, could not be long hid, the silence of Scripture shews it to have been coram non Judice. And so far was Rachel from being doomed to the fire, that we do not find, even her Gods underwent this punishment.
After the affair of the Shechemites, Jacob, by God's command, goes to Bethel: and there, in pious emulation of his grandfather's care to keep the way of the Lord, the text tells us, he commanded his houshold and all that were with him, to put away the strange Gods from amongst them. They obeyed, all was well; and not a word of punishing by the Judge. Indeed, these Patriarchal Judges were much better employed, and more suitably to their office, in punishing civil crimes and immoralities, as appears from the adventure of Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar.
MELCHISEDEC's story is a short one; he is just brought into the scene to bless Abraham in his return from conquest. This promises but ill. Had this King and Priest of Salem been brought in cursing, it had had a better appearance: for, I think, punishment for opinions, which generally ends in a Fagot, always begins with a curse. But we may be misled perhaps by a wrong translation. The Hebrew word to bless, signifies likewise to curse, and, under the management of an intolerant Priest, good things easily run into their contraries. What follows, is his taking Tythes from Abraham. Nor will this serve our purpose, unless we interpret these Tythes into Fines for nonconformity; and then, by the blessing, we can easily understand absolution. We have seen much stranger things done with the Hebrew Verity. If this be
not allowed, I do not see how we can elicite fire and fagot from this adventure; for I think there is no inseparable connexion between Tythes and Persecution, but in the ideas of a Quaker.-And so much for king Melchisedec.
But the learned Professor, who has been hardily brought up in the keen Atmosphere of WHOLESOME SEVERITIES, and early taught to distinguish between de facto and de jure, thought it needless to enquire into Facts, when he was secure of the Right. And, therefore, only slightly and superciliously asks, "What! was
not Abraham, by his very princely office, to punish "Idolatry? Were not Melchisedec and Job, and all the "heads of Tribes, to do the same?" Why, no: and it is well for Religion that they were not. It is for its honour that such a set of persecuting Patriarchs is no where to be found, but in a poetical Prelection.
4. For in the last place, let it be observed, that as these Patriarchs did not de facto (which appears from their history), so they could not de jure (which appears from the laws of Nature and Nations) punish Idolatry by the Judge. Because, as hath been shewn, Idolatry is not amenable to civil Justice, but where it becomes Crimen læsæ Majestatis. It could not become the crime of lesemajesty under the Patriarchs, unless they had been GODS as well as KINGS. Indeed, they were as much one as the other. However, it is not pretended that their government, though Regal, was Theocratical likewise. The Patriarchs, therefore, could not punish Idolatry by the Judge.
From the Examiner, the Professor (without the least provocation given him) proceeds to the Author of The Divine Legation; who, he will shew, is as ignorant, absurd, and mad-brained, as Father Harduin himself.
The Author of The Divine Legation had said, that the Writer of the book of Job observed decorum, in imitating the manners of the early scene which he had proposed
posed to adorn. To this, the Professor objects," I can never bring myself to allow to a SEMI-BARBAROUS "POET, writing after the Babylonian Captivity, such a piece of subtilty and refinement."-A mighty piece of refinement truly, for a Writer, who lays his scene in an early age, to paint, the best he could, the manners of that age." Besides (says the Professor) which is the prin"cipal point, the style savours wonderfully of Antiquity, "and its peculiar character is a certain primitive and "noble simplicity. So that they who degrade this Book to the times posterior to the Babylonian Captivity, seem to judge almost as insanely of Hebrew literature "as Father Harduin did of the Roman, who ascribed the
golden Poems of Virgil, Horace, and the rest, to the "iron ages of the Monks."-Verum Poetæ semibarbaro post Captivitatem scribenti tantam subtilitatem ut concedam, impetrare a me non possum. Porro vero Stylus Poematis, quod vel maximum est, præcipue vetustatem sapit; est ejus peculiaris character apxaïopos. Adeo ut qui id infra Captivitatem Babylonicam deprimunt, non multo sanius in Hebraicis judicare videantur, quam in Latinis Harduinus; qui aurea Virgilii, Horatii, cæterorumque poemata ferreis Monachorum Sæculis adscripsit. Idem ib.
The learned Professor is a little unlucky in his comparison. The age of Job, as fixed by him, and the age. of the Writer of his history, as fixed by me, run exactly parallel, not with the times of Virgil and Frederic Barbarossa, as he would insinuate, but with those of Ennius and Virgil. Job, the hero of the Poem, lived in an age when civil Society was but beginning to shew itself, and what is more, in a Country where it never yet was formed: And Ezra (whom I suppose to be the Author of the Poem) was an eminent Citizen in the most perfect civil goverment in the World, which he was sent home to restore, laden with the literary treasures of the East; treasures that had been long accumulating under the warm influence
influence of a large and powerful Empire. From this second transplantation of the Republic, Science got footing in Judea; and true Religion took deeper root in the hearts of its Inhabitants. Henceforward, we hear no more of their absurd Idolatries. A strict adherence to the Law now as much distinguished them from others, as did the singularity of the LAW itself. And a studious cultivation of the LANGUAGE, in which that Law was written, as naturally followed, as it did amongst the Sarazens, who cultivated the Arabic, on the same principle. And to understand how great, this was in both, we need only consider, that each had the same aversion to a translation of their Law into a foreign language. It is true, that in course of time, when the Jewish Policy was abolished, and the Nation was become vagabond upon Earth, while the Arabs, on the contrary, had erected a great Empire, a manifest difference arose between them, as to the cultivation of the two Languages.-Yet for all this, the Professor calls Ezra, a SEMI-BARBARIAN; though we agree that he wrote by the inspiration of the Most High; amidst the last blaze indeed, yet in the full lustre of expiring Prophecy.
But the learned Professor has an internal argument from TASTE*, full as good as the other from Chronology. "The book of Job savours of Antiquity, and those who cannot relish it, have as depraved a taste as Father Harduin, who could not distinguish Partridge from Horseflesh."
The truth is, the Greek and Latin Languages having, for many Ages, been the mother-tongues of two of the greatest People upon earth (who had shared between them the Empires of Eloquence and of Arms) became daily more and more copious by the cultivation of Arts;- and less and less pure by the extension of Commerce. In these two languages there yet remains a vast number of
*See what hath been said on this head in the preceding Volume, book vi. § 21