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THE DIVINE LEGATION [Book V. called Sovereign (which implies the being free and independent) without the worst abuse of words, which is, the quibbling upon them. So that a Sovereignty in this Theocracy was still administered to the last, though in part. However, this partial exercise was consentaneous to the System on which this Theocracy was dispensed; its Administration being ordained to have a gradual decline. The Jews, for their transgressions, being first of all deprived of that natural effect of Theocratic rule, the extraordinary providence: and then, for their incorrigible manners, further punished by an infringement of their civil sovereignty: but still the Theocracy, as to that more essential, the Religious part, remained unhurt till the coming of Christ': And let it be observed, that it was this part in particular which was to be assigned over to him, from the Father, Thus, as I said before, this is not so properly a prediction of human events, as a revelation concerning the course of God's Dispensation.
2. Secondly, it hath been objected, that “according to the sense here put upon the Sceptre, it should have been said—the Sceptre shall not depart from Jehovah instead of Judah. But such Objectors do not advert, that the Theocracy was administered by Vicegerents of Judah. And this likewise will account for the expression of a Lawgiver between his fect.
3. Lastly, it may be said, “ That by this interpretation of the Sceptre of Judah we deprive the Prophecy of one principal part of the information it was supposed to give, namely, the TIME of Christ's advent, which the common interpretation is supposed to fix exactly.” To this I answer, that Religion loses nothing by this change, since there are so many other Prophecies which point out the time with infinitely more precision, On the other hand, Religion gains much by it, in evad
ing ing a number of objections, which had stigmatized the supposed Prediction with apparent marks of falshood.
Thus we see this noble Prophecy, concerning the transfer of the Kingdom of God, to Christ, contains a matter of much greater dignity in itself, and of much greater moment for the support of CHRISTIANITY, than could arise from the perplexed question about the reign of the Asmonean Princes, or the Continuance of the power of life and death amongst a tributary People. For, in predicting the Abolition of the Law, it supplies us with a new and excellent Argument for the Conversion of the Jewish People, fatally persuaded of its eternal obligation.
The Reasons of my being so particular concerning the duration of the THEOCRACY are various, and will be seen as occasion offers. Only the reader may here take notice, that it was necessary for the present purpose, to shew its continuance throughout the whole duration of the Republic, in order to vindicate the justice of those Laws all along in force, for the punishment of idolatrous Worship.
THUS far as to the nature and duration of the Mosaic Republic. Let us now see what PECULIAR CONSEQUENCEs necessarily attended the administration of a THEOCRATIC form of Government.
One necessary consequence was an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE. For the affairs of a People under a Theocracy, being administered by God as King; and his peculiar and immediate administration of human affairs being what we call an extraordinary Providence; it follows that an extraordinary Providence inust needs be exercised over such a People. : My meaning is, that if the Jews were indeed under a Theocracy, they were indeed under an extraordinary Providence: And if a Theocracy was only pretended, yet an extraordinary Providence must necessarily be pretended likewise. In a word, they must be either both true or both false, but still inseparable, in reality or idea. Nor does this at all contradict (as was suggested by Doctor Sykes even after he had seen his suggestion confuted) what I observe concerning the gradual decay and total extinction of the extraordinary Providence, while the Theocracy yet existed. For when I say an extraordinary Providence was one necessary consequence of a Theocracy, I can only mean that it was so in its original constitution, and in the order and nature of things : not that in this, which was matter of compact, the contravening acts of one Party might not make a separation. For, as this extraordinary Providence was (besides its being a mode of administration arising out of a Theocracy) a reward for obedience, it became liable to forfeiture by disobedience, though subjection to the Government still continued. I beg leave to illustrate this position both by a foreign and a domestic instance. The Ærarii in the Roman State were such who, for their crimes, were deprived of the right of Citizens : Yet these delinquents were obliged to pay the public taxes. At home, a voice in the supreme Council of the kingdom is the necessary consequence of an English Barony ; yet they may be separated by a judicial Sentence; and actually have been so separated; as we may see in the two famous cases of Lord Verulam, and the Earl of Middlesex, in the reign of James the First; who were both deprived of their seats in the House of Lords, and yet held their Baronies, with all the other rights pertaining to them. Thus a punishment of this kind was inflicted
on the rebellious Israelites: they were deprived of the extraordinary Providence: and were yet held subject to the Theocracy, as appears from the Sentence pronounced upon them, by the mouth of the Prophet Ezekiel:-“ Ye polluted yourselves with your idols
even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by
you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord “ God, I will not be enquired of by you. And that “ which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that
ye say, IVe will be as the Heathen, as the Families
of the Countries, to serve IVood and Stone. As I “ live, saith the Lord, with a mighty Hand, and with
a stretched-out Arm, and with Fury poured out, “ will I rule over you. And I will bring you out, from the People, and will gather you out of the
Countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty “ Hand, and with a stretched-out Arm, and with
Fury poured out. And I will bring you into the 4 Wilderness of the People, and there will I plead
Face to Face. Like as I pleaded with your 66 Fathers in the Wilderness of the Land of Egypt, so “ will I plead with you, saith the Lord. And I will
cause you to pass under the Rod, and I will bring
you into the Bond OF THE COVENANT." Chap. xx. ver. 31-37. It is here we see denounced, that the extraordinary Providence should be withdrawn; or, in Scripture phrase, that God would not be enquired of by them; That they should remain in this condition, which their Fathers had occasionally felt in the wilderness, when the extraordinary Providence, for their signal disobedience, was, from time to time, suspended : And yet, that, though they strove to disperse themselves amongst the People round about, and projected in their minds to be as the heathen, and the families of the Countries, to serve wood and stone, they should still be
under the government of a TheoCRACY; Which, when administered without an extraordinary Providence, the blessing, naturally attendant on it, was, and was justly called, THE ROD AND BOND OF THE COVENANT.
But now if you will believe a Professor of Divinity and a no less eminent dealer in Laws, the case grows worse and worse, and, from a contradiction in my system, it becomes a contradiction in God's. For thus Dr. RUTHERFORTH descants upon the matter : “ As the Law was gradually deprived of its “ Sanction, the Obligation of it grew continually “weaker, till at last, after the people were returned “ from the Captivity, it must have ceased to .oblige “ them at all. For whatever may be the case of God's
MORAL LAW, yet most certainly, as he withdraws “ the Sanctions of his POSITIVE ones, he takes off “ something froin their obligation; and when he “ has wholly withdrawn the promise of reward and the os
threatening of punishment, THOSE LAWS OBLIGE
NO LONGER." p. 329. To this Determination of the learned Professor, concerning OLLIGATION, I have nothing to oppose but the Determination of God himself: who, by the mouth one of his Prophets, declares, That the Laus shall still oblige, though the Sanction be withdrawn.
'Ye pollute yourselves with your Idols,” &c.—as the reader may find it transcribed just above, Here God declares he would withdraw that extraordinary Providence which naturally attended a THEOCRACY -- I will not be enquired of by you. “ Yet do not (says he) deceive yourselves in an expectation that, because for your crimes I withdraw this sanction of my Law, the Law will oblige no longerand that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say we will be as the heathen : For, in order to the bringing about my own great purposes, I will