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DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES
CONTINUATION OF BOOK V.
Thus we see that an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE WAS THE NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE OF A THEOCRACY; and that this Providence is represented in Scripture to have been really administered. TEMPORAL REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS, therefore, (the effects of this providence) and not future, MUST NEEDS BE THE SANCTION of their Law and Religion.
Having thus prepared the ground, and laid the foundation, I go on to shew that future Rewards and Punishments, which couLD NOT BE THE SANCTION of the Mosaic Dispensation, WERE NOT TAUGHT in it at all : and that, in consequence of this Omission, the PEOPLE had not the doctrine of a future state for many ages.
And here my arguments will be chiefly directed against the believing part of my opponents ; no Deist,* that I know of, ever pretending that the doctrine of a future state was to be found in the Law.
Moses delivered to the Israelites a complete Digest of Law and Religion : but, to fit it to the nature of a Theocratic Government, he gave it perfectly incorporated. And, for the observance of the intire Institution, he added the sanction of rewards and punishments: both of which we have shewn to be necessary for the support of a Republic: and yet, that civil Society, as such, can administer only one."
Now in the Jewish · Republic, both the rewards and punishments promised by heaven were TEMPORAL only. Such as health, long life, peace, plenty, and dominion, &c. Diseases, immature death, war, famide, want, subjection, and captivity, fc. And in no one place of the Mosaic Institutes is there the least mention, or any intelligible hint, of the rewards and punishments of another life.
• See note Y, at the end of this book. Fol. p. 118.
t i. e. Punishments.
See the first
When Solomon had restored the integrity of Religion ; and, to the regulated purity of Worship, had added the utmost magnificence; in his DEDICATION of the new-built Temple, he addresses a long prayer to the God of Israel, consisting of one solemn petition for the continuance of the old COVENANT made by the ministry of Moses.
He gives an exact account of all its parts, and explains at large the SANCtion of the Jewish Law and Religion. And here, as in the writings of Moses, we find nothing but TEMPORAL rewards and punishments ; without the least hint or intimation of a future state.
The holy PROPHETS speak of no other. Thus Isaiah: “ Then shall he give the rain of thy seed that thou shalt sow the ground withal, and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous ; and in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of water." * And Jeremiah : “I will surely consume them, saith the Lord ; there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig-tree, and the leaf shall fade, and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.—I will send serpents and cockatrices amongst you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord." + Nay so little known, in these times, was any other kind of rewards and punishments to the Jewish People, that, when the Prophets foretell that new Dispensation, by which, life and immortality were brought to light, they express even those future rewards and punishments under the image of the present. Thus Zechariah, prophesying of the times of Christ, describes the punishment attendant on a refusal of the terms of Grace, under the ideas of the Jewish (Economy :
“And it shall be that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem, to worship the King the Lord of Hosts, even upon them SHALL BE NO RAIN.” I I would have those men well consider this, who persist in thinking “that the early Jews had the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, though Moses taught it not expresly to them;" and then tell me why Zechariah, when prophesying of the Gospel-times, should chuse to express these future rewards and punishments under the image of the present ?
Indeed, were it not for the amazing prejudices which have obtained on this subject, a writer's pains to shew that a future state of rewards and punishments made no part of the Mosaic Dispensation, would appear as absurd to every intelligent reader, as his would be who should employ many formal arguments to prove that Sir Isaac Newton's Theory of Light and Colours is no to be found in Aristotle's books de Cælo et de Coloribus. I will therefore for once presume so much on the privilege of Common Sense, as to suppose, the impartial
• Isai. xxx. 23, 25. † Jer. viii. 13, 17. 1 Zeeb. xiv. 17.
reader may be now willing to confess, that the doctrine of Life and Immortality was not yet known to a people while they were sitting in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death ; * and go on to other matters that have more need to be explained.
I shall shew then, in the next place, that this OMISSION was not accidental ; or of a thing which Moses did not well understand : but that, on the contrary, it was a designed omission ; and of a thing well known by him to be of high importance to Society.
I. That the doctrine of a future state of Rewards and Punishments was studiously omitted, may appear from several circumstances in the book of Genesis. For the history of Moses may be divided into two periods ; from the Creation to his Mission ; and from his Mission to the delivering up his Command to Joshua : The first was written by him in quality of HISTORIAN; the second, of LEGISLATOR; in both of which he preserves an equal silence concerning the doctrine of a future state.
1. In the history of the Fall of Man it is to be observed, that he mentions only the instrument of the agent, the SERPENT ; not the agent himself, the devil: and the reason is plain ; there was a close connection between that agency,—The spiritual effects of the Fall,the work of Redemption,—and the doctrine of a future State. If you say, the connection was not so close but that the Agent might have been mentioned without any more of his history than the temptation to the Fall ; I reply, it is true it might; but not without danger of giving countenance to the impious doctrine of Two Principles, which at this time prevailed throughout the Pagan world. What but these important considerations could be the cause of the omission ? † when it is so evident that the knowledge of this grand enemy of our welfare would have been the likeliest cure of Pagan superstitions, as teaching men to esteem of Idolatry no otherwise than as a mere diabolical illusion. And in fact we find, that when the Israelites were taught, by the later Prophets, to consider it in this light, we hear no more of their Idolatries. Hence we see, that the folly of those who, with Collins, would have a mere serpent only to be understood, is just equal to theirs who, with the Cabbalists, would have that serpent a mere Allegory.
2. In the history of Enoch’s translation | to Heaven, § there is so studied an obscurity that several of the Rabbins, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi, fond as they were of finding a future state in the Pentateuch, interpret this translation as only signifying an immature death.
• Matt. iv. 16. $ Heb. xi. 5.
† See note Z, at the end of this book.
Gen. v. 24.
Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
How different from the other history of the translation of Elijah ?
« And it came to pass when the Lord would take up Elijah 'into Heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal, &c.—And it came to pass as they still went on and talked, that behold there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up with a whirlwind into Heaven.' But the reason of this difference is evident: When the latter history was written, it was thought expedient to make a preparation for the dawning of a future state of reward and punishment, which in the time of Moses had been highly improper. The reflections of an eminent Critic on this occasion, will shew how little he penetrated into the true design of this Economy.
“ Mirum est Mosem rem tantam, si modo immortalem Henochum factum CREDIDIT, tam obiter, tamque obscure, quasi EAM LATERE VELLET, per
rinxisse. Fortè cum hæc ex antiquissimis monumentis exscriberet, nihil præter ea quæ nobis tradidit invenit, quibus aliquid adjicere religio fuit."'+ For Moses both knew and believed the Immortality of Enoch, and purposely obscured the fact, from whence it might have been collected. But what is most singular in this reflection is, that the learned Commentator, to aggravate the obscurity, says it is as obscure, as if he purposely designed to hide it, supposing such a design to be the highest improbability; which was indeed the fact, and is the true solution of the difficulty.
3. In his history of the Patriarchs, he entirely omits, or throws into shade, the accounts of those Revelations, with which, as we learn from the writers of the New Testament, some of them were actually favoured, concerning the Redemption of mankind. Of these favours we shall give ere long a great and noble instance, in the case of ABRAHAM, who, as we are assured by JEsus himself, rejoiced to see Christ's day, and saw it, and was glad.
From whence therefore could all this studied caution arise, but to keep out of sight that doctrine, which, for ends truly worthy of the divine Wisdom, he had omitted in his Institutes of Law and Religion ? This shows the weakness of that evasion, which would reconcile the OMISSION, to the People's KNOWLEDGE of the doctrine, by supposing they had been so well instructed by the Patriarchs, that Moses had no occasion to say any thing farther on that subject.
Let me observe by the way, that these considerations are more than a thousand topical arguments to prove, that Moses was the real author of the book of Genesis. But the proof deduced therefrom will be drawn out and explained at large hereafter. II. That the importance of this Doctrine to Society was well • 2 Kings ii. 1, 11.
† Vide Clericum in Gen. v. 24.