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extant upon the subject ; only we are told that he approved himself a man of honour, and, with great labour and study, at length did the business. *
ORIGEN was so perplexed with the different assertionst of these two Prophets, that he could find no better way of reconciling them than by having recourse to his allegorical fanaticism, and supposing the words of the first to be a Parable or Mystic speech ; which, however, he would not pretend to decipher. This learned Father, having quoted some pagan Oracles intimating that Children were punished for the crimes of their Forefathers, goes on in this manner :
“ How much more equitable is what our Scriptures say on this point? The Fathers shall not be put to death for the Children, neither shall the Children be put to death for the Fathers : every man shall be put to death for his own sin, Deut. xxiv. 16, 8c.—But if any one should object that this verse of the oracle,
« On the Children's Children and their Posterity ; like what Scripture says, that God visits the iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children unto the third and fourth Generation of them that hate him, Exod. xx. 5. he may learn from Ezekiel that those words are a PARABLE ; for the Prophets reprove such as say, The Fathers have eaten sour Grapes, and the Children's teeth are set on edge ; and then it follows: As I live, saith the Lord, every one shall die for his own sins only. But this is not the place to explain what is meant by the PARABLE of visiting iniquity unto the third and fourth generation.” I There could hardly be more mistakes in so few words. The two texts in Deuteronomy and Exodus, which Origen represents as treating of the same subject, treat of subjects very different: the first, as we have shewn above, concerns the Magistrate's execution of the Law; the other, that which God reserves to himself. Again, because the text of Exodus apparently occasioned the Proverb mentioned by Ezekiel and Jeremiah, therefore by a strange blunder or prevarication, the Father brings the Proverb in proof that the Law which gave birth to it, was but a Proverb or parable itself.Ş
We have now shewn that Moses did not teach a future state of reward and punishment; and that he omitted it with design ; that he See note KK, at the end of this book. † Exod. xx.; Ezek. xrüi.
1 'Opa δε όσο τούτου βέλτιον το, Ουκ αποθανούνται, 8. εάν δέ τις όμοιον είναι λέγη τω,
'Ες παίδων παίδας οι και όπισθεν γένωνται, το, 'Αποδιδούς αμαρτίας πατέρων επί τέκνα, επί τρίτης και τετάρτης γενεάν τους μισούσι [με] μαθέτω, ότι εν τω Ιεζεκιήλ παραβολή το τοιούτον είναι λέλεκται, αίτιωμένη τους λέγοντας, Οι πατέρες έφαγον όμφακα, και οι οδόντες των τέκνων ημωδίασαν και επιφέρεται, Ζω εγώ, λέγει Κύριος, αλλ' ή έκαστος τη εαυτού αμαρτία αποθανείται. Ου κατά τον παρόντα δε καιρόν έστι, διηγήσσθαι τί σημαίνει η σερί του τρίτης και τετάρτης γενεάν αποδιδόσθαι τας αμαρτίας παραβολή.-- Contra Celsum, p. 403.
$ See uole LL, at the end of this book.
understood its great importance to society; and that he provided for the want of it. And if we may believe a great Statesman and Philosopher, “ Moses had need of every SANCTION that his knowledge or his imagination could suggest to govern the unruly people, to whom he gave a Law, in the name of God.”*
But as the proof of this point is only for the sake of its consequence, that therefore the people had not the knowledge of that doctrine, our next step will be to establish this consequence : Which (if we take in those circumstances attending the Omission, just explained above) will, at the same time, shew my argument in support of this Omission to be more than negative.
Now though one might fairly conclude, that the People's not having this Doctrine, was a necessary consequence of Moses's not teaching it, in a Law which forbids the least addition t to the written Institute ; yet I shall shew, from a circumstance, the clearest and most incontestable, that the Israelites, from the time of Moses to the time of their Captivity, had not the doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment.
The Bible contains a very circumstantial History of this People throughout the aforesaid period. It contains not only the history of public occurrences, but the lives of private persons of both sexes, and of all ages, conditions, characters and complexions ; in the adventures of Virgins, Matrons, Kings, Soldiers, Scholars, Merchants, and Husbandmen. All these, in their turns, make their appearance before us. They are given too in every circumstance of life; captive, victorious ; in sickness, and in health ; in full security, and amidst impending dangers ; plunged in Civil business, or retired and sequestered in the service of Religion. Together with their Story, we have their Compositions likewise. Here, they sing their triumphs ; there, their palinodia. Here, they offer up to the Deity their hymns of praise ; and there, petitions for their wants: here, they urge their moral precepts to their Contemporaries ; and there, they treasure up their Prophecies and Predictions for posterity; and to both denounce the promises and threatenings of Heaven. Yet in none of these different circumstances of life, in none of these various casts of composition, do we ever find them acting on the motives, or influenced by the prospect of future rewards and punishments; or indeed expressing the least hope or fear, or even common curiosity concerning them. But every thing they do or say respects the present life only; the good and ill of which are the sole objects of all their pursuits and aversions. I
• BOLING BROKE'S “Works," vol. v; p. 513. note MM, at the end of this book,
+ Deut. iv. 2 ; xii. 32.
Hear then the sum of all. The sacred Writings are extremely various both in their subject, style, and composition. They contain an account of the Creation, and Origine of the human race : the history of a private Family, of a chosen People, and of exemplary men and women. They consist of hymns and petitions to the Deity, precepts of civil life, and religious Prophecies and Predictions. Hence I infer that as, amidst all this variety of writing, the Doctrine of a future state never once appears to have had any share in this People's thoughts ; it never did indeed make part of their Religious opinions.* And when, to all this, we find their occasional reasoning only conclusive on the supposition that a future state was not amongst the Religious doctrines of the People, the above considerations, if they needed any, would receive the strongest support and confirmation. To give one example out of many. The Psalmist says, For the rod of the Wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the Righteous : lest the Righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.t That is, “God will vigorously administer that extraordinary Proridence which the nature of the Dispensation required to be administered, lest the Righteous, not seeing themselves exempt from the evils due to wickedness, should conclude that there was no moral Governor of the world ; and so, by making their own private interest the rule of their actions, fall into the practice of all kind of iniquity.” But this could never be the consequence where an unequal dispensation of Providence was attended with the knowledge and belief of a future state. And here I will appeal to those who are most prejudiced against this reasoning. Let them speak, and tell me, if they were now first shewn some history of an old Greek Republic, delivered in the form and manner of the Jewish, and no more notice in it of a future state, Whether they could possibly believe that the Doctrine was National, or generally known in it. If they have the least ingenuity, they will answer, They could not. On what then do they support their opinion here, but on religious Prejudices ? Prejudices of no higher an original than some Dutch or German System : for, as to the Bible, one half of it is silent concerning life and immortality; and the other half declares that the doctrine was brought to light through the Gospel.
But to set this argument in its fullest light. Let us consider the History of the rest of mankind, whether recorded by Bards, or Statesmen ; by Philosophers, or Priests : in which we shall find the doctrine of a future state still bearing, throughout all the various circumstances of human life, a constant and principal share in the determinations of the Will. And no wonder. We see how strong the Grecian world thought the sanction of it to be, by a passage in • See note NN, at the end of this book.
Psalm cxxv. 3.
Pindar, quoted by Plutarch in his tract of Superstition, where he makes it one circumstance of the superior happiness of the Gods, over men, that they stood not in fear of Acheron.
But not to be distracted by too large a view, let us select from the rest of the Nations, one or two most resembling the Jewish. Those which came nearest to them (and, if the Jews were only under human guidance, indeed extremely near), were the Suevi of the north, and the Arabs of the south. Both these people were led out in search of new Possessions, which they were to win by the sword. And both, it is confessed, had the doctrine of a Future state inculcated unto them by their leaders, Odin and MAHOMET. Of the Arabs we have a large and circumstantial history : Of the Sueyi we have only some few fragments of the songs and ballads of their Bards ; yet they equally serve to support our Conclusion. In the large history of the Saracen Empire we can scarce find a page, and in the Runic rhymes of the Suevi scarce a line, where the doctrine of a fature state was not pushing on its influence. It was their constant Viaticum through life ; it stimulated them to war and slaughter, and spirited their songs of triumph; it made them insensible of pain, immoveable in danger, and superior to the approach of death.* For, what Cicero says of Poetry in Rome, may be more truly applied to the Doctrine of a Future state amongst these Barbarians : “ Ceteræ neque temporum sunt, neque ætatum omnium, neque locorum. Hæc studia adolescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, ADVERSIS PERFUGIUM AC SOLATIUM PRÆBENT.” +
But this is not all. For we find, that when a future state became a popular doctrine amongst the Jewish People (the time and occasion of which will be explained hereafter) that then it made as considerable a figure in their Annals, by influencing their determinations, as it did in the history of any other people.
Nor is it only on the silence of the sacred Writers, or of the speakers they introduce, that I support this conclusion ; but from their positive declarations ; in which they plainly discover that there was no popular expectation of a future state, or Resurrection. Thus the woman of Tekoah to David : For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Thus Job: As the cloud is consumed, and vanisheth away : 80 he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. || And again : “ There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again—though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet through the scent of water, it will bud and bring forth
• See note 00, at the end of this book. 1 Pro Archia Poeta, sect. 7. 1 See the second book of Maccabees. . 2 Sam. xiv. 14. 11 See note PP, at the end of this book.
boughs like a plant. But man dieth and wasteth away : yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fall from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up : so man lieth down and riseth not till the Heavens be no more, they shall not awake nor be raised out of their sleep.” Here the Jewish Writer, for such he was, as shall be shewn hereafter (and might, indeed, be understood to be such from this declaration alone) opposes the revival of a vegetable to the irrecoverable death of a rational animal. Had he known as much as St. Paul, he had doubtless used that circumstance in the vegetable world (as St. Paul did) to prove analogically, the revival of the rational animal.
The Psalmist says, In death there is no remembrance of thee : in the grave who shall give thee thanks ? † And again : What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee, shall it declare thy truth ? | Aud again : “ Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? Shall the dead ARISE and praise thee? Shall tby loving kindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in destruction ? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark ? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” $
The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes is still more express : For the living know that they shall die : but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a REWARD, for the memory of them is forgotten.!!
Hezekiah, in his song of Thanksgiving for his miraculous recovery, speaks in the same strain : “For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: The father to the children shall make known thy truth.” |
Lastly Jeremiah, in his Lamentations and complaints of the people, says, OUR FATHERS HAVE SINNED AND ARE NOT, AND WE HAVE BORN THEIR INIQUITIES. Which implies, that the fathers being dead bore no part of the punishment of their sins, but that all was thrown upon the children. But could this have been supposed, had the People been instructed in the doctrine of future rewards and punishments ?
Yet a learned answerer, in contradiction to all this, thinks it sufficient to say, That “these passages may imply no more than that the dead cannot set forth God's glory before men, or make his praise to be known upon earth.” 4t Now I think it must needs imply something more, since the dead are said to be unable to do this under the earth as well as upon it. For it is the Grave which is called the
• Job xiv. 7 -- 12.
† Poalm vi. 5.
Ś Paalm 1xxxviii. 10. 12. 11 See note QQ, at the end of this book.
Isai. xxxviii. 18, 19. ** Lam. v. 7.
+ DR. STEBBING'S “ Exam." &c. p. 64.