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understood by Moses, may appear from a particular provision in his Institutes (besides that general one of an extraordinary providence), evidently made to oppose to the inconvenient consequences of the
We have shewn at large, in the first volume, that under a common or unequal providence, civil Government could not be supported without a Religion teaching a future state of reward and punishment. And it is the great purpose of this work to prove, that the Mosaic Religion wanting that doctrine, the Jews must REALLY have enjoyed that equal providence, under which holy Scripture represents them to have lived : and then, no transgressor escaping punishment, nor any observer of the law missing his reward, * human affairs might be kept in good order, without the doctrine of a future State.
Yet still the violence of irregular passions would make some men of stronger complexions superior to all the fear of personal temporal evil. To lay hold therefore on These, and to gain a due ascendant over the most determined, the punishments, in this Institution, are extended to the POSTERITY of wicked men ; which the instinctive fondness of Parents to their offspring would make terrible even to those who had hardened themselves into an insensibility of personal punishment : I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.t
Now that this punishment was only to supply the want of a Future state is evident from hence : I Towards the conclusion of this extraordinary Economy, when God, by the later Prophets, reveals his purpose of giving them a New Dispensation, $ in which a Future state of reward and punishment was to be brought to light, it is then declared in the most express manner, that he will abrogate the Law of punishing Children for the crimes of their Parents. JEREMIAH, speaking of this new Dispensation, says : “In those days they shall say no more, The Fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the Children's teeth are set on edge : but every one shall die for his own iniquity, every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new COVENANT with the House of Israel,- -NOT according to the Covenant that I made with their Fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt,” | Sc. And EZEKIEL, speaking of the same times, says : “I will give them one heart, and will put a new spirit within you, fc.—But as for them, whose heart walketh after the heart of their abominable things—I will recompense See note AA, at the end of this book.
+ See note BB, at the end of this I See note CC, at the end of this book.
§ See note DD, at the end 1 Jer. xxxi. 29-33.
their way UPON THEIR OWN HEADS, saith the Lord God.” * And again : “What mean ye, that you use this Proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The Fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the Children's teeth are set on edge ? + As I live, saith the Lord God, Ye shall not have occasion any more to use this Proverb in Israel. Behold all souls are mine ; as the soul of the Father, so also the soul of the Son is mine : the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” I
And yet (to shew more plainly that the abrogation of the Law was solely owing to this new Dispensation) the same Prophets, when their subject is the present Jewish Oeconomy, speak of this very Law as still in force. Thus JEREMIAH : “ Thou shewest loving kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the Fathers into the bosom of their Children after them."ş And Hosea : Seeing thou hast forgotten the Law of thy God, I will also forget thy Children." ||
From all this I conclude, That, whoever was the real Author of what goes under the name of the Law of Moses, was at least well acquainted with the importance of the doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment; and provided well for the want of it.
But the blindness of Infidelity is here most deplorable. The Deists are not content with condemning this Law of injustice, but will accuse the Dispensation itself of inconsistence; pretending that the Prophets have directly contradicted Moses in their manner of denouncing punishment.
It is indeed the standing triumph of infidelity. But let us return (says SPINOZA) to the Prophets, whose discordant opinions we have undertaken to lay open.—The xviiith chap. of EZEKIEL does not seem to agree with the 7th ver. of the xxxiv th chap. of Exodus, nor with the 18th ver. of the xxxiid. chap. of JEREMIAH, 8c. -" There are several mistakes (says TINDAL) “ crept into the Old Testament, where there's scarce a chapter which gives any historical account of matters, but there are some things in it which could not be there originally.—It must be owned, that the same spirit (I dare not call it a spirit of cruelty) does not alike prevail throughout the Old Testament; the nearer we come to the times of the Gospel, the milder it appears : for though God declares in the Decalogue, that he is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children to the third and fourth Generation, and accordingly Achan, with all his family, was destroyed for his single crime ; yet the Lord afterwards
• Ezek. xi. 19-21.
1 Ezek. xviii. 2-4. Jer. xxxii. 18. Il Hosea iv. 6.
“Sed ad Prophetas revertamur, quorum discrepantes opiniones etiam notare suscepimus.--Cap. saltem xviii. Ezech. non videtur convenire cum versu 7 cap. xxxiv. Exod. nec cum ver. 18 cap. xxxii. Jer.” &c.— Tract. Theologico-Pol. pp. 27, 28.
says, The soul that sinneth it shall die ; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,'* &c. +
I. Let us see then what these men have to say on the first point, the injustice of the Law. They set out on a false supposition, that this method of punishment was part of an universal Religion given by God as the Creator and Governor of mankind : whereas it is only part of a civil Institute, given by him to one People, as their tutelary God and civil Governor. Now we know it to be the practice of all States to punish the crime of Lese Majesty in this manner. And to render it just, no more is required than that it was in the compact (as it certainly was here) on men's free entrance into Society.
When a guilty Posterity suffered for the crimes of their Parents, they were deprived of their natural unconditional rights; when an innocent, they only forfeited their conditional and civil : But as this method of punishment was administered with more lenity in the Jewish Republic, so it was with infinitely more rectitude, than in any other. For although God allowed capital punishment to be inflicted for the crime of lese majesty, on the Person of the offender, by the delegated administration of the Law ; yet concerning his Family or Posterity he reserved the inquisition of the crime to himself, and expressly forbid the Magistrate to meddle with it, in the common course of justice. 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. And we find the Magistrate careful not to intrench on this part of God's jurisdiction. We are told, that as soon as Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah became firmly established in the throne, He slew his servants which had slain the King his Father. But the CHILDREN of the murderers he slew not : according unto that which is written in the book of the lau of Moses [Deut. xxiv. 16.] wherein the Lord commanded saying, The Fathers shall not be put to death for the Children, doc.§ Yet such hath been the perversity or stupidity of Freethinking, that this very text itself hath been charged with contradicting the xxth chapter of Exodus. Now God's appropriating to himself the execution of the Law in question would abundantly justify the equity of it, even supposing it had been given by him as part of an universal religion. For why was the Magistrate forbidden to imitate God's method of punishing, but because no power less than omniscient could, in all cases, keep clear of injustice in such an inquisition ?
But God not only reserved this method of punishment to himself, but has graciously condescended to inform us, by his Prophets, after what manner he was pleased to administer it. YOUR INIQUITIES
“Christianity as old as the Creation,” pp. 240, 241. † See note FF, at the end of this book. 1 Deut. xxiv. 16. § 2 Kings xiv. 5, 6.
THE INIQUITIES OF YOUR
(says he) AND
FATHERS TOGETHER, which have burnt incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills : therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.* And again
“But ye say, Why? doth not the Son bear the iniquity of the Father ? When the Son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.—But when the Righteous turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity-shall he live ?”+
So much for that case in which the Posterity were iniquitous, and suffered punishment, in the strict and proper sense of the word. But doubtless, an innocent Posterity were sometimes punished, according to the denunciation of this Law, for the crimes of their wicked Fathers ; I as is done by modern States, in attaint of blood and confiscation : and this, with the highest equity in both cases.
In our Gothic Constitutions, the throne being the fountain of honour and source of property, Lands and Titles descend from it, and were held as FIEFS of it, under perpetual obligation of military and civil services. Hence the laws oF FORFEITURE for high treason, s the most violent breach of the condition on which those fiefs were granted. Nor was there any injustice in the forfeiture of what was acquired by no natural right, but by civil compact, how much soever the confiscation might affect an innocent posterity.
The same principles operated under a Theocracy. God supported the Israelites in Judea, by an extraordinary administration of his providence. The consequence of which were great temporal blessings to which they had no natural claim ; given them on condition of obedience. Nothing therefore could be more equitable than, on the violation of that condition, to withdraw those extraordinary blessings from the Children of a Father thus offending. How then can the Deist charge this Law with injustice ? since a Posterity when innocent was affected only in their civil conditional rights ; and, when deprived of those which were natural and unconditional, were always guilty.
From all this it appears, that the excellent Grotius himself had a very crude and imperfect notion of the whole matter, when he resolved the justice of it intirely into God's sovereign right over his creatures. “Deus quidem in lege Hebræis data paternam impietatem in posteros se vindicaturum minatur : sed ipse Jus Dominii plenissimum habet, ut in res nostras, ita in vitam nostram, ut munus suum, quod sine ulla causa et quovis tempore auferre cuivis, quando vult, potest."
II. As to the second point, the charge of Contradiction in the Dis
• Isai. Ixv. 7. † Ezek. xviii. 19, 24. And see note GG, at the end of this book. * This appears from the rise of that prorerb in Israel, The Fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the Children's teeth are set on edge.
§ See note HH, at the end of this book. || De Jure Belli et Pacis, vol. ii. p. 593, ed. Barbeyrac, Amst. 1720.
pensation, we now see, that, on the contrary, these different declarations of God's manner of punishing in two so distant Periods, are the MOST DIVINE INSTANCE of constancy and uniformity in the manifestations of eternal Justice : So far are they from any indication of a milder or severer Spirit, as Tyndal with equal insolence and folly hath objected to Revelation. For while a future state was kept hid from the Jews, there was absolute need of such a Law to restrain the more daring Spirits, by working on their instincts ; or, as Cicero expresses it—"ut caritas liberorum amiciores Parentes Reipublicæ redderet.” But when a doctrine was brought to light which held them up, and continued them after death, the objects of divine justice, * it had then no farther use; and was therefore reasonably to be abolished with the rest of the judicial Laws, peculiar to the Mosaic Dispensation. But these men have taken it into their heads (and what comes slowly in, will go slowly out) that it was repealed for its injustice ; though another reason be as plainly intimated by the Prophets, as the circumstances of those times would permit; and so plainly by JEREMIAH, that none but such heads could either not see or not acknowledge it. In his thirty-first chapter, foretelling the advent of the New Dispensation, he expressly says, this Law shall be revoked : IN THOSE DAYS they shall say no more, The Fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the Children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity. Yet, in the very next chapter, speaking of the old Dispensation, under which they then lived, he as expressly declares the Law to be still in force. When I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch, I prayed unto the Lord, saying,—Thou shewest loring kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their Children after them. I Is this like a man who had forgot himself ? or who suspected the Law of cruelty or injustice?
But the ignorance of Free-thinking was here unaffected ; and indeed the more excusable, as the matter had of old perplexed both Jews and Christians. The Synagogue was so scandalized at EZEKIEL's Declarations against this mode of punishment, that they deliberated a long time whether he should not be thrown out of the Canon, for contradicting Moses in so open a manner. § And Sentence had at last past upon him, but that one Chananias promised to reconcile the two Prophets. How he kept his word, is not known, for there is nothing of his
• See note II, at the end of this book. † Jer. xxxi. 29, 30. 1 Jer. xxxii. 16, 18.
$ “ Les Juifs disent qu'Ezechiel etoit serviteur de Jérémie, et que le Sanhedrin delibera long-tems, si l'on rejetteroit son Livre du Canon des Ecritures. Le sujet de leur chagrin contre ce Propbete vient de son extreme obscurité, et de ce qu'il enseigne diverses choses contraires à Moise-Ezechiel, disent-ils, a declaré, Que le fils * porteroit plus l'iniquité de son pere, contre ce que Moise dit expressement, que le Seigneur venge l'iniquité des Peres sur les Enfans, jusqu'à lu troisieme et quatrieme generation."-CALMET, Dissert. vol ii. P.