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when he comes in the other world, finds so ill a reception there, wants one to be sent to his brethren (who believed, doubtless, as he did, the Doctrine of a future state) to warn them of their evil ways, and to assure them, that luxury and inhumanity, unrepented of, would assuredly damn them. Which information, he thought, would be best inforced by a Miracle : If one went unto them from the dead, they will REPENT,*
(Where observe, it is not-they will BELIEVE.) To this common mistake, Abraham's reply is extremely pertinent : If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead : i. e. “If they will not hear Moses, and the Prophets, whose authority they acknowledge,t and whose missions were confirmed by so many and well-attested Miracles, neither will they regard a new one, of the resurrection of a dead man. (Nor, in fact, were the Pharisees at all softened into repentance by the return of that Lazarys, the namesake of this in the parable, whom Jesus raised from the dead.) Now Moses and the Prophets have denounced the most severe threatenings, on the part of God, against vice and impenitence.” This is the force of the argument; in which we see the question of a future state is no more concerned, than thus far only, that God will punish, either here or hereafter. Moses and the Prophets threatened the punishment here ; and, while here it was executed, the Jews looked no farther : But when the extraordinary Providence, by which that punishment was administered, had ceased, the Jews began, from those very promises and denunciations, to entertain some hopes of an hereafter, where all inequalities should be set even, and God's threats and promises executed to the full : though still, with less confidence, if they reasoned rightly, than the Pagans had to draw the same conclusion from the same principles ; since their Law had informed them of a truth unknown to the rest of mankind ; namely, that the whole Race was condemned to a state of death and mortality, a return to dust from whence Man was taken, for the transgression of Adam. So that all which good logic or criticism will authorize the believers of a future state to draw from this parable, is this, “that God is a severe punisher of unrepentant luxury and inhumanity."
But now admit the mistaken interpretation of the Objectors ; and what will follow! That Moses taught a future state, the Proposition, I oppose ? No; But that from Moses and the Prophets together a future state might be collected. A Proposition, I have no occasion to oppose. For when the Prophets are joined to Moses, and have explained the spiritual meaning of his Law, and developed the hidden sense of it, I may well allow that from both together a learned Pharisee might collect the truth of the doctrine, without receding one tittle from my Argument.
See note KK, at the end of this book.
• Luke xvi. 30.
III. “When the Lawyer in the Gospel" (say these Objectors) “ had made that most important Demand,* Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life, our blessed Lord refers him to what was written in the Law : and upon his giving a sound and judicious answer, approves of it, and for satisfaction to his question, tells him, This do, and thou shalt live.” This is the objection. And to this, Saint Paul shall give an answer.—Is the Law then AGAINST the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a Law given which could have given Life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin ; that the promise by FAITH of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.t We must therefore think that this Lawyer was better at distinctions than the Objector who brings him into his Cause, and inquired, (in this most important demand) of the AGENDA, ñot of the CREDENDA, in order to salvation. And so his words bear witness-What shall I do to be saved ?
IV. In what follows, I hardly think the Objectors can be serious.Search the Scriptures (says Jesus to the Jews) for in them YE THINK YE HAVE eternal life,-ότι υμείς δοκείτε εν αυταίς ζωήν αιώνιον έχεινand they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me that ye MIGHT HAVE LIFE. I The homicideg Jews, to whom these words are addressed, thought they had eternal life in their Scriptures ; —THEREFORE (say the Objectors) they had eternal Life. If I allow this therefore, they must allow me, another—THEREFORE the Mission of Jesus was vain, being anticipated by that of Moses, who brought life and immortality to light by the Law.And if righteousness came by the Law (says the Apostle) then is Christ dead in vain. This is a necessary consequence from the Objectors' interpretation, and gives us, to be sure, a very high idea of the reasoning of the ever blessed JESUS.By the same Art of inferring, I suppose too they will conclude, that, when St. Paul says to the unbelieving Jew :-And thou art confident that thou thyself art a guide to the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, and a teacher of babes ; || they will conclude, I say; that THEREFORE it was the Jew, and not St. Paul, who was indeed, the guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, and a teacher of babes. In earnest, if Jesus, in these words, taught, that the Jewish Scriptures gave eternal life, (and the Jews could not have what their Scriptures did not give) he certainly taught a very different doctrine from St. Paul, who expressly tells us, That IF THERE HAD BEEN A LAW GIVEN WHICH COULD HAVE GIVEN LIFE, VERILY RIGHTEOUSNESS
BEEN BY THE Law. I All therefore that these
• Luke x. 25. Rom. ii. 19, 20.
Ś Verse 16.
+ Gal. iji. 21, 22,
| Gal. iii. 21.
1 John v. 39, 40.
words of Jesus teach us is, that the Jews Thought they had eternal life by the Mosaic Dispensation. For the truth of what is just charged upon them, we have the concurrent testimony of the Apostles ; Who wrote large portions of their EPISTLES to prove, not only that they thought so, but that they were greatly mistaken in so thinking. For the Author of the epistle to the Hebrews says, that unto the Angels (who delivered the Law to Moses) hath he (God) not put in subjection the world TO COME, whereof we speak.*
But though we should suppose, the words,-ye think ye have eternal life, considered separately, did not necessarily imply that these were only their thoughts, yet being opposed to the following words, Pe will not come to me that ye miGHT HAVE LIFE, (Kai ou Séaste la Belv após fee, iva Seine éxyte) they shew, that whoever thought so besides, it was not Jesus, whose argument stands thus—"The Scriptures, I affirm, and am ready to prove, do testify of me. What reason then have you to disown my character ? it cannot surely be, because I preach up a new Doctrine of life and immortality. For you yourselves teach that doctrine : and what is more, you understand several passages in your own Scriptures, to signify eternal life ; which I own, in their spiritual meaning do so.
Now that life, which you think you have by your Scriptures, but have NOT, do I here offer unto you, THAT YE Might indeed HAVE LIFE.” But if men had duly considered this discourse of Jesus to the unbelieving Jews, they would have seen the main drift and purpose of it was to rectify this fatal mistake of theirs, in thinking they had eternal life in their Scriptures. In one place he tells them, that those who heard his word had passed from DEATH to life. And again, the hour is coming, and now is, when the DEAD shall hear the voice of the Son of God. I Where, by Death and the Dead, is meant the condition of those under the Law, subject to the condemnation of mortality.
V. The Objectors have produced St. Paul likewise to confute the Principle here laid down. This Apostle, in his epistle to the Romans, says"
-" For as many as have sinned without Law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the Law shall be judged by the Law.” $ Now, say the Objectors, “ had the Law concealed a future state from the Jews, it is plain they were not equitably dealt with, since they were to be judged in a future state.” This brings to mind an objection of Lord Bolingbroke's against the divinity of Moses's Law; and the answer which this text enabled me to give to Him, will shew, that in these words of St. Paul, the Objectors have chosen the most unlucky text for their purpose in the whole New Testament. His Lordship’s objection is in these words, “ If Moses knew that crimes were to be punished in another life, he deceived the people [in not acquainting them with the doctrine of a future state]. If he did not know it, I say it with horror, that God deceived both him and them. The Israelites had better things to hope, and worse to fear, &c.” *
• Heb. ii. 5.
† John v. 24.
1 Verse 25.
Ś Rom. ii. 12.
Now not to repeat what has been replied to this impious charge, elsewhere, t I will only observe, that the words of St. Paul above are a full confutation of it, where he says, that as many as have sinned in the Law shall be judged by the Law : that is, shall be judged on the principles of a Law which denounced punishment to vice, and reward to virtue. Those who had already received the punishment which that Law denounced should be judged to have done so; those, who in the times of the gradual decay of the extraordinary providence had escaped or evaded punishment, should have it hereafter. Nothing is clearer than this interpretation. For observe, I pray you, the difference of the predication between wicked men without the Law, and the wicked men under the Law. The first shall perish, áno OŪTAI : the second shall be judged, xpıhhcortai, or brought to trial. For though xgivw be often used in the New Testament for xataxpivw, yet it is plain, that it is not so used here, both from the sense of the place, and the Apostle's change of terms, for which I think no good reason can be assigned but this, that xpılsoorte is opposed to απολούνται. From all this, I think, it appears, that my Objectors were as much mistaken in their urging this text against my principles, as the noble Lord in supposing that the reality of a future state was a condemnation of the equity of the Law. But both took it for granted, and foolishly enough, that those who did not live under the sanction of a future state could never, consistently with justice, be summoned before the Tribunal there erected.
We are now got to the very Palladium of the cause, the famous eleventh chapter to the Hebrews : where it is said, that by FAITH, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, &c. performed all their acceptable works. That they looked for an heavenly city.—That they saw the Promises afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and desired an heavenly country. That they all died in faith.—That Moses esteemed the reproach of CHRIST greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.—That by faith the Jewish leaders did all their great and marvellous works.—That their very women despised death in hopes to obtain a part in the resurrection of the just.And that all these obtained a good report THROUGH FAITH.—This, say the Objectors, plainly shews, that a future state of Rewards and Punishments, or more properly, the Christian Doc
• Vol. v. pp. 194, 195. † See “ A View of Lord Bolingbroke's Philosophy," third edition, 8ro, pp. 225, et seq.
trine of Life and Immortality, was taught by the Law. To which I
WAS ONLY A
1. That if this be true, the eleventh chapter directly contradicts all the rest of the Epistle: In which, as we have shewn, there are more express declarations, that life and immortality was not known or taught by the Law, than in all the other books of the New Testament besides. And for which, indeed, a very good reason may be assigned, as it was solely addressed to the Jews, amongst whom this fatal prejudice, that a future state was taught by the Law, was then, and has continued ever since to be, the strongest impediment to their Conversion. For is it possible, that a Writer, who had said, that the Law made nothing perfect, but the BRINGING IN OF
A BETTER HOPE DID ;—That CHRIST hath obtained a more excellent ministry than Moses, by how much also he is the MediaTOR OF A BETTER COVENANT, which is established upon BETTER PROMISES ;-That the LAW
GOOD THINGS TO COME, and not the very image ; is it possible, I say, that such a Writer should forget himself before he came to the end of his Epistle, and, in contradiction to all this, affirm that Life and Immortality was known and taught under the Law ? We may venture to say then, that this eleventh chapter must have a very different meaning. Let us see if we can find it out : and sure it requires no great search.
2. The whole argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews is directed against Jews and judaizing Christians. The point in difference was this : The Gospel taught JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH : The Judaizers thought it must needs be by WORKS. One consequence of which, in their opinion, was, that the Law of Moses was still in force. They had no more conception than our modern Socinians and Freethinkers, that there could be any merit in faith or Belief, where the understanding was unavoidably determined by evidence. The Reader sees then, that the dispute was not whether faith in Moses or faith in Jesus made men acceptable to God; but whether works or the act of believing ; consequently, where the Apostle shews it was faith, or the act of believing, he must mean faith in the generic sense, not in the specific, i. e. he did not mean faith in Jesus : for the Jews, even that part of them which embraced Jesus as the Messiah, denied it to be any kind of faith whatsoever. On the contrary, had they held justification to be by faith in Moses, and not in Jesus, then it had been the Apostle's business to prove, that it was the specific faith in Jesus. But as the dispute stood, all he had to do was to prove that it was the act of believing, and not works, which justified. And this we find be does with infinite address ; by shewing, that that thing which made all the Patriarchs before the Law, and all the Rulers and Prophets under the Law, acceptable to God, was not works, but faith.