« PreviousContinue »
THE FIFTH AND SIXTH SECTIONS
P. 7. [A]
R. STEBBING, in what he calls Considerations on the command to offer up Isaac, hath attempted to discredit the account here given of the Command: And previously assures his reader, that if any thing can hinder the ill effects which my interpretation must have upon Religion, it must be his exposing the absurdity of the conceit. This is confidently said. But what then? He can prove it. So it is to be hoped. If not --- However, let us give him a fair hearing.—He criticises this observation on the word DAY, in the following manner: "Really, Sir, I see no manner of consequence in this "reasoning. That Christ's day had reference to his "office, as Redeemer, I grant. The day of Christ de"notes the time when Christ should come, i. e. when "He should come, who was to be such by office and employment. But why it must import also that when "Christ came he should be offered up a Sacrifice, I do "not in the least apprehend: Because I can very easily "understand that Abraham might have been informed "that Christ was to come, without being informed that he
was to lay down his life as a Sacrifice. If Abraham ૮. saw that a time would come when one of his sons “should take away the curse, he saw Christ's day.' [Consid. p. 139.] At first setting out (for I reckon for nothing this blundering, before he knew where he was,
into a Socinian comment, the thing he most abhors) the Reader sees he grants the point I contend for--That Christ's DAY (says he) has reference to his office as Redeemer, I grant. Yet the very next words employed to explain his meaning, contradict it;-The Day of Christ denotes the TIME when Christ should come. All the sense therefore, I can make of his concession, when joined to his explanation of it, amounts to this-Christ's day has reference to his OFFICE:-No, not to his Office, but to his TIME. He sets off well: but he improves as he goes along-But why it must import ALSO that when Christ came he should be offered up as a Sacrifice, I do not in the least apprehend. Nor I, neither, I assure him. Had I said, that the word Day, in the text, imported the time, I could as little apprehend as he does, how that which imports time, imports ALSO the thing done in time. Let him take this nonsense therefore to himself. I argued in a plain manner thus,-When the word Day is used to express, in general, the period of any one's existence, then it denotes time; when, to express his peculiar office and employment, then it denotes, not the time, but tha circumstance of life characteristic of such office and employment; or the things done in time. DAY, in the text, is used to express Christ's peculiar office and employment. Therefore-But what follows is still better. His want of apprehension, it seems, is founded in this, that he can easily understand, that Abraham might have been informed that Christ was to come; without being informed that he was to lay down his life as a Sacrifice. Yes, and so could I likewise; or I had never been at the pains of making the criticism on the word Day: which takes its force from this very truth, that Abraham might have been informed of one without the other. And, therefore, to prove he was informed of that other, I produced the text in question, which afforded the occasion of the criticism. He goes on,-If Abraham saw, that a time would come when one of his seed should take away the curse, he saw
Christ's DAY. Without doubt he did. Because it is agreed, that Day may signify either time, or circumstance of action. But what is this to the purpose? The question is not whether the word may not, when used indefinitely, signify time; but whether it signifies time in this text. I have shewn it does not. And what has been said to prove it does? Why that it may do so in another place. In a word, all he here says, proceeds on a total inapprehension of the drift and purpose of the argument.
P. 8. [B] Daubuz on the Revelations, p. 251; printed in the year 1720. To this reasoning, Dr. Stebbing replies as follows: "You are not more successful in your next point, Abraham rejoiced to see my Day, and he saw it, and was glad, ἵνα ΙΔΗ τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἐμὴν καὶ ΕΙΔΕ "This (say you) evidently shews it [the revelation] to "have been made by relation in words, but by representa
tion in actions." How so? The reason follows. The verb "w is frequently used in the New Testament in its proper signification, to see sensibly. --In the New Tes tament, do you say? Yes, Sir, and in every Greek "book you ever read in your life. What you SHOULD have said is, that it is so used here; and I suppose you "would have said so, if you had known how to have proved it." [Consid. pp. 139, 140.]
The reason follows (says he.) Where? In my book indeed, but not in his imperfect quotation from it; which breaks off before he comes to my reason. One who knew him not so well as I do, would suspect this was done to serve a purpose. No such matter; 'twas pure hap-hazard. He mistook the introduction of my argu ment for the argument itself. The argument itself, which he omits in the quotation, (and which was all I wanted, for the proof of my point,) was, That the verb dw, whether used literally or figuratively, always denotes a full intuition. And this argument, I intrdouced in the following manner, The verb dw is frequently used in the
New Testament in its proper signification, to see sensibly. Unluckily, as I say, he took this for the Argument itself, and thus corrects me for it: "What you SHOULD have "said, is, that it is so used here; and I suppose you "would have said so, if you had known how to have proved it:" See, here, the true origin both of dogmatizing and divining! His ignorance of what I did say, leads him to tell me what I should have said, and to divine what I would have said. But, what I have said, I think I may stand to, That the verb dw always denotes a full intuition. This was all I wanted from the text; and on this foundation, I proceeded in the sequel of the discourse, to prove that Abraham saw sensibly. Therefore, when my Examiner takes it (as he does) for granted, that because, in this place, I had not proved that the Word implied to see sensibly, I had not proved it at all; he is a second time mistaken.
"But, he owns, that, if this was all, perhaps I should "tell him, that it was a very strange answer of the Jews, "thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen "Abraham?" [Consid. p. 140.] He is very right. He might be sure I would. In answer therefore to this difficulty, he goes on and says, "No doubt, Sir, the "Jews answer our Saviour, as if he had said, that "Abraham and he were cotemporaries; in which, they "answered very foolishly, as they did on many other "occasions; and the answer will as little agree with your interpretation as it does with mine. For does your interpretation suppose that Abraham saw Christ in person? No; you say it was by representation only." [Consid. pp. 140-1.]
The Jews answered our Saviour as if he had said that Abraham and he were cotemporaries.-Do they so? Why then, 'tis plain, the expression was as strong in the Syrian language, used by Jesus, as in the Greek of his Historian, which was all I aimed to prove by it. But in this (says he) they answered very foolishly. What
then? Did I quote them for their wisdom? A little common sense is all I want of those with whom I have to deal and rarely as my fortune hath been to meet with it, yet it is plain these Jews did not want it. For the folly of their answer arises therefrom. They heard Jesus use a word in their vulgar idiom, which signified to see corporeally; and common sense led them to conclude that he used it in the vulgar meaning: in this they were not mistaken. But, from thence, they inferred, that he meant it in the sense of seeing personally; and in this, they were. And now let the Reader judge whether the folly of their answer shews the folly of my Argument, or of my Examiner's.-Nay further, he tells us, they answered as foolishly on many other occasions. They did so; and I will remind him of one. Jesus says to Nicodemus, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God*, &c. Suppose now, from these words, I should attempt to prove that Regeneration and divine Grace were realities, and not mere metaphors: for that Jesus, in declaring the necessity of them, used such strong expressions that Nicodemus understood him to mean the being physically born again, and entering the second time into the womb: would it be sufficient, let me ask my Examiner, to reply in this manner: "No doubt, Sir, "Nicodemus answered our Saviour as if he had said, that "a follower of the Gospel must enter a second time into "his mother's womb and be born: in which he answered !! very foolishly; and the answer will as little agree with ( your interpretation as it does with mine. For does "your interpretation suppose he should so enter? No; "but that he should be born of water and of the
Spirit."-Would this, I say, be deemed, even by our Examiner himself, a sufficient answer? When he has resolved me this, I shall, perhaps, have something farther to say to him. In the mean time I go on. And, in returning him his last words restored to their subject, help
* St. John iii. 3~