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Providence, equally dispensing temporal Rewards and Punishments, both to the Community and to Particulars.
That Scripture gives this representation of God's government. And that there are many
favourable cir. cumstances in tbe character of the Jewish People, to induce an impartial Examiner to believe that representa: tion to be true, p. 266-316.
Shews, that as temporal Rewards and Punishments were the proper sanction of the Jewish Law, so, there were no other; Moses entirely omitting the Dofrine of a future State. That this omission was not afcidental, but designed; and of a thing well known by him to be of high importance to Society. -- Proved from several circumstances in the book of Genesis,
and from the Law of punishing the crimes of Parents on their Posterity, which was to supply the want of the Doctrine of a future State. — The nature and equity of this Law explained, and defended against Unbelievers. It is then shown that as Moses taught not the Do&trine of a future State of Rewards and Punishments, so neither bad the ancient Jews any knowledge of it. Proved from the books of the Old Testament, p. 316-362.
Proves the same point from the books of the New Testament. What notion the early Fews had con cerning the Soul, explained, p. 362-to the end.
COME, at length, to my second proposition: which if, by this time, the Reader Thould have
forgotten, he may be easily excused. It is this, That the Jewish people were extremely fond of Egyptian manners, and did frequently fall into Egyptian fuperftitions : and that many of the laws given to them by the ministry of Moses, were instituted, partly in compliance to their prejudices, and partly in opposition to those superstitions.
The first part of this proposition,
the people's fondness for, and frequent lapse into, Egyptian superftitions, - needs not many words to evince. The thing, as we shall see hereafter, being so natural Vol. IV. B
in itself; and, as we shall now see, so fully recorded in holy Scripture.
The time was now come for the deliverance of the chosen People from their Egyptian bondage: For now vice and IDOLATRY were arrived at their height; the former (as St. Paul tells us) by means of the latter; for as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not cona venient; being filled with all unrighteousness, &c. The two most populous regions at that time in the world were CANAAN and Egypt: The first distinguished from all other by its violence and umatural crimes; the latter by its superstitions and idolatries. It concerned God's moral government that a speedy check should be put to both; the inhabitants of these two places being now ripe for divine vengeance. And as the Instruments he employed to punish their present enormities were deligned for a barrier against future, the Israelites went out of Egypt with a bigb hand, which defolated their haughty tyrants; and were led into the possession of the land of Canaan, whose inhabitants they were utterly to exterminate. The dispensation of this Providence appears admirable, both in the time and in the modes of the punishment. Vice and IDOLATRY had now (as I faid) filled up their measure. Egypt, the capital of false Religion, being likewise the nursery of arts and sciences, was preserved from total destruction for the sake of civil life and polished manners, which were to derive their source from thence: But the CANAANITES were to be utterly exterminated, to vindicate the honour of humanity, and to put a stop
a Rom. i. 28.
to a spreading contagion which changed the reasonable Nature into brutal.
Now it was that God, remembering his Covenant with Abraham, was pleased to appoint his People, then groaning under their bondage, a Leader and Deliverer. But so great was their degeneracy, and so sensible was Moses of its effects, in their ignorance of, or alienation from the true God, that he would willingly have declined the office: And when absolutely commanded to undertake it, he defired however that GOD would let him know by what name he would be called, when the people should ask the name of the God of their fathers. — And Moses said unto God, Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, The God of your father's bath sent me unto you ; and they shall say unto me, WHAT IS HIS NAME? what Mall I say unto themb ? Here we see a people not only lost to all knowledge of the UNITY, (for the asking for a name neceffarily implied their opinion of a plurality) but likewise possessed with the very spirit of Egyptian idolatry. The religion of names, as we have shewn', was a matter of great consequence in Egypt. It was one of their effential superstitions: it was one of their native inventions: and the first of them which they communicated to the Greeks. Thus when Hagar, the handmaid of Sarai, who was an Egyptian woman, saw the angel of God in the wilderness, the text tells us“, She called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, ELROI, the God of vison, or the visible God: that is, according to the established custom of Egypt, the gave him a name of honour : not merely a name of distinc