Imatges de pÓgina

considered the way in which an equal Providence must necessarily be administered under a Theocracy; and the consequences of such an Administration. For, - III. Even admitting the reality of an equal Providence to Particulars in the Hebrew State, the administration of it must needs be attended with such circumstances as sometimes to occasion those observafions of inequality. For 1. it appears from the reason of the thing, that this administration did not begin to be exerted in particular cases till the civil Laws of the Republic had failed of their efficacy. Thus where any crime, as for instance disobedience to Parents, was public, it became the object of the civil Tribunal, and is accordingly ordered to be punished by the Judge *. But when private and secret, then it became the object of Divine vengeance†. Now the conse→ quence of this was, that when the Laws were remissly ar corruptly administered, good and ill would sometimes happen unequally to men. For we are not to suppose that Providence, in this case, generally, interfered till the corrupt administration itself, when ripe for vengeance, had been first punished. 2. In this extraordinary administration, one part of the wicked was sometimes suffered as a scourge to the other. 3. The extraordinary Providence to the State night sometimes clash with that to Particulars, as in the plague for numbering the people. 4. Sometimes the extraordinary Providence was suspended for a season, to bring on a national repentance: But at the same time this suspension was publicly denounced And a very severe punishment it was, as leaving a State which had not the sanction of a future state of rewards and punishments in a very disconsolate condi


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* Exod. xxi. 15, & 17. Deut. xxvii. 16. & Prov. xxx. 17. Isaiah iii. 5. Chap. lix. ver. 9. Chap. Ixiv. ver. 7.

tion. And this was what occasioned the complaints, of the impatient Jews, after they had been so long accustomed to an extraordinary administration*.


IV. But the general and full solution of the difficultyis this, The common cause of these complaints arose from the GRADUAL WITHDRAWING the extraordinary. Providence. Under the Judges it was perfectly equal. And during that period of the Theocracy, it is remarkable that we hear of no complaints. When the people had rebelliously demanded a king, and their folly was so far complied with, that God suffered the Theocracy to be administered by a Viceroy, there was then, as was fitting, a great abatement in the vigour of this extraordinary Providence; partly in natural consequence, God being now farther removed from the immediate administration; and partly in punishment of their rebellion. And soon after this it is that we first find them beginning to make their observations and complaints of inequality. From hence to the time of the Captivity, the extraordinary Providence kept gradually decaying, till on their full re-establishment, it intirely ceased t.. For what great reasons, besides punishment for their crimes; and what consequences it had on the religious sentiments of the People, will be occasionally explained as we go along.

But now, let it be observed, that though I have here accounted for the appearances of an unequal Providence, yet this is er abundanti; the very nature of my general argument evincing, that there must needs have been an equal Providence actually administered: for a People in society, without both a future State and an equal Providence, could have no belief in the moral

Isaiah v. 19. Jerem. xvii. 15. Amos v. 18. Zeph. i. 12: Malac. ii. 17.

↑ See note [U] at the end of this Book.

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government of God: And under such circumstances, it hath been shewn, that they could not long subsist, but must fall back again into all the confusion of a savage state. We must conclude therefore, that what appearances soever there may be of inequality in the administration of Providence, in the early times of the Jewish Theocracy, they are but appearances: that is, nothing which can really affect such a mode of administration. The Adversaries therefore of the Divine Legation, such of them, I mean, who profess themselves Believers, should consider that, while they oppose the reality of an 'extraordinary Providence over the Jewish people, they are weakening the evidence for the miracles recorded in the Old Testament. But this is the least of their care. One of them, with an assurance that hath something in it of a prodigy, affirms, "that the Providence administered under the Law was exactly the same kind with that administered under the Gospel." How this could be the case, without impeaching the veracity of God himself, as not making good his repeated engagements, this man would do well to consider before he becomes the scorn and contempt of Unbelievers. But as such sort of men bear worse the disgrace of folly than impiety, I shall consider this Portent on its ridiculous side only.

Temporal rewards and punishments administered by the hand of God, followed, as a consequence, from the Jewish Government's being Theocratical; and an extraordinary Providence followed, as a consequence, from the dispensation of temporal rewards and punishments. Yet here we have a Regius Professor of Divinity affirming, That both temporal Sanctions and an extraordinary Providence are administered under the Gospel in the very same manner they formerly were

See note [X] at the end of this Book.

Dr. Rutherforth. under

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under the Law. In which it is difficult to determine what most to admire; his modesty or his wit. For if it docs honour to his wit to maintain conclusions destitute of their premisses, it as strongly recommends his modesty to contradict the whole tenour of the New TesBut there is neither end nor measure to party-bigotry. Faustus, the Manichean, contended that the Jews and Christians got the doctrine of the one only God from the Gentiles. Is this a wilder fancy than what many modern Divines have asserted, that the Gentiles got the doctrine of future rewards and punishment from the Law of Moses? Or are either of these more extravagant than the folly I am going to expose, namely, That the temporal sanctions of the Law are transferred into the GOSPEL? Now, if you should ask whether the Gospel claimed to be a Theocracy; I suppose at first, they would say no; till they found the advantage you get over them by this answer. And then I make no doubt, they would as readily say yes. For what should hinder them? Does the Gospel disclaim, in stronger terms, its being a TEMPORAL KINGDOM, when Christ says, his kingdom was not of this world, than it disclaims TEMPORAL SANCTIONS, when it says, Yea, and all that will live godly in Jesus Christ shall suffer persecution *, or than it disclaims an extraordinary providence where it declares that the Jews had the promise of the life that now is, and the Christians of that which is to come†?

But not to stretch our conjectures to the lengths these 'men are disposed to go; let us; consider how far they have already gone. They say the temporal sanctions of the Law are transferred into the Gospel: and they prove it by these two notable texts:

2 Tim. iii. 12,

+1 Tim. iv. 8.

? The first is of St. PAUL, "Children, obey your ?? parents in all things: for this is right. Honour thy "Father and thy Mother (which is the first com"mandment with promise) that it may be well with "thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth *.” All that I here find transferred, from the Law to the Gospel, are the words of the fifth Commandment. For the Apostle haying said, Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right; he supports his exhortation by a quotation from the Decalogue; just as any modern preacher, but This, would do, without ever dreaming of temporal sanctions in the Gospel; the observation the Apostle makes upon it being in these words-which is the first commandment with promise; as much as to say, "You may see from this circumstance, how very acceptable the performance of this duty is, to God:" The only inference which common sense authorizes us to draw from it being what, in another place, he thus expresses,-Godliness [or the observance of God's commands] is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is [under the LAW] and of that which is to come [under the GOSPEL]

The other colour for this clandestine transfer of temporal sanctions, is from St. PETER: "Who is he that will harm you, if you be followers of that which is good" So says the Apostle; and so too said his Master; to whose words Peter alludes, Fear not them which kill the body: but rather fear him which is able to destroy body and soul in hell. But as if the Apostle had it in his thoughts to guard against this absurd vision of temporal sanctions, he immediately subjoins “But, and if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye.


Eph. vi. 2, 3. † 1 Pet. iii. 13. Matt. x. 28.


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