Page images

explain the questions that fou'd arise de licitis aut non licitis in lege, &c. Now this certainly, pursues he in the same note, is very different from a power to abrogate the Laws themfelves' here contended for. Nothing can be more contrary to the whole conduct of our SAVIOR, while on earth, than this interpretation. He declar'd on all occasions, that he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it. He was very exact in observing bimself, and obliging others to observe every the least command of it : and there was nothing be avoided with more CARE, than to give A JEALOUSY to the Jews that he had such a DESIGN, as he's suppos’d to have declar'd to his Apostles in these words. The abrogating of the ceremonial part of the Jewis Law, seems to have been one of the things, wbich the Disciples as yet were not able to bear, Joh. 16. 12. and tis plain from several places in the Acts, particularly c. 21. 20. that they had not the LEAST APPREHENSION of this being our Savior's. meaning, neither when he spoke these words, nor for several years after his death. The truth is, that at last when the judicial and ceremonial parts of the Law were to cease, they rather expir'd of themselves upon the destruction of the City and Temple, which was a total dissolution of the Jowiss Polity, than were abrogated by any AuTHORITATIVE DECLARATION OF Act of the Apostles. Nothing remain'd but Synagogue-worjoip, which being of human institution, did not want a divine commision, either to alter, or to put an end to it. Now since Christ avoided nothing with more care, than to give a jealousy to the Jews that he had such a design, as abrogating their Law; and that the Apostles did not abrogate it by any authorititive declaration, or act: it will seem past question, that a macter of such conse

quence, 65 Demonstration of the MESSIA S, vol. 2. page 80.

[ocr errors]

quence, a Law fo folemnly given by God himself, that had continu'd so long, and was fo frequently pronounc’d to be of perpetual obligation, shou'd not be declar'd nul and void by the event, which is most commonly, even in ordinary affairs, a very wrong as well as unfair way of judging. The Jewish Polity was totally diffolv'd at the Babylonith captivity, and Jerusalem laid in ashes; yet the Jews did not then conclude them, selves dispens'd from observing all that they poffibly cou'd of their Law, as they follicitously do at this day: nor want they menaces for their nego lect of it, nor prophetic hopes to see it reestablish'd in which expectation I profess my self rooted) maugre all the revolutions that shall be fall them. The shortness or length of their dispersion is no sure rule of judging the case, which, as I said just now, is not to be determin'd' by consequences. Besides that the maintainers of this abrogation are little agreed among themfelves,

The Law was not to cease, say most, when CHRIST was born; nor, say some, when he be gan his ministry; nor, say others, at his death ; nor, lay

, others yet, till the destruction of Jerusalem: neither are they.. to this day agreed about the steps of their gradual abolition, but go on from supposition to supposition; several of 'em contradi&tory, and all precarious. But they mistake the men with whom they have to deal, and to whose laughter they frequently expose themselves. It must be granted (says Dr. Kidder, the once worthy Bishop of Bristol, well vers'd in the Hebrew learning) that of some of the antient, and many of the modern Christians, have defended their own

doctrines, si

do&trines, and disputed against the Jews, with fach weak and insuficient arguments; that they have therby onely harden'd the Jews, and given a blow to their own caufe. Many Scriptures have been mifapply'd: and the Jews have been asaulted by noise and clamor, by idle legends and Araind interpretations, rather than by all the ways of rational convi&tion. And very often Force has been as'd instead of Reasoning; and, instead of allowing them to be men of wit and fenfe (as in truth they are) and treating them humanely, we have us'd them barbaroujly: and with great inhumanity persecuted theni, whom we ought to have convincd. Nor are we ever like to convert the Fews (says this excellent schollar in another 62 place) while we teach any doctrines against COMMON SENSE, and against the ex PRESS LETTER of the Law of Moses. I I will not take upon me to declare, what are the doctrines he meant against common sense, whatever others have done or may still do. I cou'd guess very near: but certainly nothing is more againlt the express letter of the Law of Moses, than the abrogating or annulling of this Law, otherwise than as a punifhment of difobedience to it; and then tis always with a promise of restoraa tion in due time; upon their ferious and thoro amendment. Wherfore the Doctrine of the Old NAZARENS being in it felf a matter of the highest importance, and I being carnestly prest both by the words of the prefent, and the letters of the abfent, to treat of this subject expressly, by setting it in the clearest light (as being the likelyeft means to illuftrate and recommend the true Christianity) I fhall do my indeavour, after

66. Ibid. vol. 3. page 446.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

he best manner I can to give my friends content, and at the fame time to perform my duty to the World. For, My Lord, notwithstanding the imputations of Herefy and Infidelity so often publift'd by the Clergy, as lately in the vauntingeft manner by one not unknown to you (the whiffling and the ignorant being ever the moft arrogant and confidene) I assure your Lordship, that the Purity of Religion and the Prosperity of the State have been ever my chiefest aims. CiviL LIBERTY and RELIGIOUS TOLERATION as the most defirable things in this world, the moft conduceing to peace, plenty, knowlege, and every kind of happiness, have been the two main objects of all my writings. But as by Liberty I did not trean Licentiousness, fo by Toleration I did not mean Indifference and much less an Approbation of every Religion that I cou'd fuffer. To be more particular, I folemnly profess to your Lordship, that the Religion caught by JESUS CHRIST and his APOSTLES (but not as fince corrupted by the subftractions, additions, or other alterations of any particular man or company of men) is that which I infinitely preferr before all others. I do over and over again repeat Christ and bis APOSTLES; cxclufive of either Oral Tradition, or the determinations of Synods : adding, what I declar'd before to the World, that Religion, as it came out of their hands was no less plain and pure,

than useful and instructive ; and that, as bez ing the business of every man, it was equally understood by every body. For CHRIST did nor institute one Religion for the learned, and ano, ther for the vulgar; as the defenders of Tradition must hold, or elle quit their plea. On the contrary, tis recorded that the Common people heard Jesus gladly; and he was not oncly follow'd by diverse of the female sex, but also among the converts of PA U L are ręckon'd of the honorable women not a few. This supposes; that, being well inclin’d and unprejudic'd, they easily comprehended the evidence of the Christian doctrine, which they preferrd to their native bụt less edifying religions. And certainly one of the most diftinguishing advantages of true Christianity is this, that neither poverty, nor want of learning, nor the hurry of particular callings, can hinder any person from acquiring it, without which it cou'd not properly be a perfect Religion, but rather on the same foot with the Traditional wor. thip of the degenerate Jews, the awful Mysteries of the bewilder'd Heathens, or with the secret IniLiations of certain mungrel Philosophers; wheras it supplies the imperfections of the first, detects the vanity of the second, and prevents the įm



20 poitures of the third, Not the borrow'd terms and tenets of antient perplexing Sophisters, not the barbarous jargon and distinctions of later scholastic wranglers, neither the precarious hypotheses of conceited Theorists, nor the pretended inspirations of wild Enthusiasts, were then the establish'd Articles of Faith. Truth was not carry'd by a majority of Voices, nor any thing taught for truth, but what visibly tended to make men either wiser or better. Riddles about the Person of CHRIST, were not substituted then to his doctrines; nor the circumftantials made the fundamentals, nor the history of Christianity made the essence of the fame. And here, my Lord, I wou'd address my self to those who are more knowing, to be inform’d, for what purpose any thing can serve, which does not render us either wiser or better than we were before? And if it be granted to be to no good purpose (as I can yet pers


« PreviousContinue »