Page images
PDF
EPUB

very system, a Paradox ; though it goes upon his own principle, That the Mosaic Dispensation had a double character; that it was a national Alliance, and was at the same time essentially united to the Gospel plan; that this double Character though not apprehended by the body of the Jewish People, yet was well understood by those peculiarly favoured of God, their Prophets, and Leaders. This censure, if it be intended for one, I say, appears to me & little mysterious. However, the learned Writer's words are these—“Quand Mr. de Prades a dit que l'Economie Mosaïque n'étoit fondée que sur les peines et les recompenses temporelles, et qu'il a soutenu que cela même fournit une bonne preuve de la divinité de cette Economie, il n'a fait autre chose que suivre la trace du savant Warburton, qui avança ce PARADOXE, il y a déjà quelques années, dans son fameux Ouvrage de la Divine Legation de Moise, et employa tour à tour pour le defendre, le raisonnement et l'erudition. Notre Bachelier, aussi bien que M. Hooke, qu'il cite pour son garand, auroient bien dû faire honneur à l'illustre Docteur Anglois, d'une pensée que personne ne doutera qu'ils n'ayent puisée chez lui.” (p. 88.] Now, I have so good opinion of this learned Writer's candour as to believe that either he used the word paradox in an indifferent sense, or that he was misled in his Judgment of the Divine Legation by Mr. de Prades and Mr. Hooke: Who although they borrowed what they have delivered concerning the nature of the Mosaic Economy from that book, which they did not think fit to confess, yet it is as certain that what they borrowed they either did not understand, or at least have misrepresented. The learned Sorbonist has since published his course of Theology, intitled Religionis naturalis et revelatæ Principia. In which, though he has consulted his ease and perhaps his reputation, in transcribing the reasonings of the Divine Legation on various points of Theology, and generally without reference to the Book or the Author; yet his affairs with his Body have taught him caution, and obliged him to declare against the PROPOSITION, in support of which, those reasonings were employed by their original Author. For when he comes to the question concerning the sanction of the Jewish Law, he introduces it in the following manner “Quæstionem inchoamus difficilem, in qua explicanda adhibenda est summa verborum proprietas, ne Pelagianis ex una parte non satis fædus Mosaicum et Evangelicum discriminantibus, aut contrariis RECENTIORUM QUORUMDAM erroribus favere videamur.” And so, fortifies himself with Suarez and St. Thomas. The consequence of which is, that the two large Chapters in his second Volume (the first, To prove that a future state was always a popular Doctrine amongst the Jews ;

and the second, That temporal rewards and punishments were really and equally distributed amongst them under the Theocracy) just serve to confute one another : Or more properly, the second Chapter, by aid of the Arguments taken from the Divine Legation, effectually overturns all that he has advanced in the first.–See M. Hooke's second volume of his Course, intitled, Religionis naturalis et revelato Principia, from p. 208 to 236. For the rest, this justice is due to the learned and ingenious Writer, that these Principles of natural and revealed Religion compose the best reasoned Work in defence of Revelation which we have yet seen come from that quarter.

THE NINTH BOOK

OF

THE DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES:

BEING AN ATTKMPT TO EXPLAIN

THE TRUE NATURE AND GENIUS

08 THB

CHRISTIAN RELIGION.

PRINTED, SO FAR AS IT GOES, BY THE AUTHOR ; BUT NEVER BEFORE

PUBLISHED, AND LEFT UNFINISHED.

(FIRST PUBLISHED IN MDCCLXXXVIII.)

VOL. III.

Y

The Reader has been already referred to an Explanation of the omission of Books VII. and VIII.-And lest, in the preceding Title page to the IXth Book, the words “ left unfinished” might operate to the prejudice of this division of the work, it may be proper to repeat here a few words from Bishop Hurd's introductory Discourse :-“This IXth Book is the noblest effort that has hitherto been made to give a RATIONALE OF CHRISTIANITY.... Very little is wanting to complete the Author's design : only what he had proposed to say on the apocalyptic prophecies, and which may be supplied from the Discourse on Antichrist."-See Vol. 1. of this Edit. pp. 53, 54,-Ed.

INTRODUCTION.*

Truth, the great Object of all honest as well as rational Inquiries, had been long sought for in vain ; when, the Search now become desperate, after the fruitless toil of the best qualified Sages, and of the most improved times, She suddenly appeared in Person to put these benighted Wanderers in their way. I AM THE TRUTH, says the Saviour of the World. This was his Moral Nature ; of more concern for us to know, than his Physical ; and, on that account, explained more at large in his eternal Gospel.

This last book, therefore, being an attempt to explain the true NATURE AND GENIUS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION ; I shall,

1. First of all, previously examine those sceptical Objections, which, in the long absence of Truth, the World had begun to entertain of her very Being and existence; or at least, of our capacity to discover, and get hold of her. And these being removed,

2. I shall, in the second place, lay down, under what laws, and with what disposition of mind, I have ventured to use the aids of REASON to explain the TRUTHS OF REVELATION.

3. And, lastly, I shall attempt to remove the Prejudices which may arise against any new discoveries in support of REVELATION, which the method here employed to analyze that capital truth of all, THE Faith, may possibly enable us to make.

I.

That ancient Remedy against Error, a Pyrrhonian, or, if you like it better, an Academic SCEPTICISM, only added one more disorder to the human Mind; but being the last of its misbegotten issue, it became, as is usual, the favorite of its Parent.

Our blessed MASTER himself was the first to encounter its attacks, and the insolence of that School has kept the Church in breath ever since.

When Jesus was carried before Pilate as a Criminal of State, for calling himself King of the Jews, he tried to shorten the intended process by pleading that his Kingdom was not of this World. But Pilate, alarmed at the names of King and Kingdom, asked, art thou a King then? The other replied, -For this cause came 1 into the

• See “ Sermon,” concerning The Nature and Condition of Truth.-R. W.

[ocr errors]

World, that I should bear Witness unto the TRUTH. Pilate saith unto him, what is TRUTH? And when he had said this, he went out again.* For when he found that the Kingdom claimed by the supposed Criminal, was a Kingdom merely Spiritual, or, in the Roman Governor's conceit, a Kingdom only in idea, he considered the Claim as no proper subject of the civil tribunal. So far he acted well, and suitably to his public Character. But when he discovered his indifference to, or rather contempt of, Truth, when offered to be laid before him as a private Man, by one who, he knew, had the repute of exercising every superior Power proper to enforce it, he appears, to me, in a light much less excusable.

The negligent air of his insulting question will hardly admit of an Apology.-"You tell me(says he) “of Truth, a word in the mouth of every Leader and Follower of a Sect; who all agree (though in nothing else) to give that name to their own Opinions : While Truth, if, indeed, we allow of its Existence, still wanders at large, and in disguise. Nor does the Detection seem worth the Pains of the Search, since those things which Nature intended for general use she made plain and obvious, and within the reach of all men.”

Sentiments like these bespoke the Ruler of an Asiatic Province, who had heard so much of Truth in the Schools of Philosophy; and had heard of it to so little purpose. This corrupt Governor, therefore, finding a Jewish Sage talk of bearing Witness to the Truth, (the affected Office of the Grecian Sophists), was ready to conclude that Jesus was one of their mimic Followers. For it was now become fashionable amongst the learned Rabbins to inlist themselves into one or other of those celebrated Schools. Thus the famous Philo was an outrageous PLATONIST : And Jesus calling himself a King, together with the known Purity and Severity of his Morals, probably made Pilate consider him as one of the Stoical wise men, who alone was free, and happy, and a King.

“ Liber, honoratus, pulcher, Rex denique Regum."

Now, as on the one hand, the Character of the Greek Philosophy, which was of an abstract nature, and sequestered from civil business, made Pilate conclude, that these Claims of Jesus had nothing in them dangerous or alarming ; so, on the other hand, its endless disputes and quarrels about Truth, and which of the Sects had her in keeping, made Men of the World, and especially those in public Stations, whose practice declined the test of any moral System whatsoever, willing to be persuaded, and ready to conclude, that this boasted Truth, which pretended to be the sole Directress of human conduct, was indeed no better than a shifting and fantastic Vision.

• John xviii. 38.

« PreviousContinue »