« AnteriorContinua »
Coloribus. I will therefore for once presume so much on the privilege of Common Sense, as to suppose, the impartial 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.
II. 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 bis 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 inentions only the instrument of the agent, the SERPENT; not the agent himself, the DEVIL: and the reason is plain; there was a close connexion between that agency,—The spiritual effects of the Fall,--the work of Redemption,—and the doctrine of a future State. If you say, the connexion 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;
* Matt. iv. 16. : Vol. V.
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 knowledye of this grand enemy of our welfare would have been the likelicst 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 Cabalists, would have that serpent a mere Allegory:
2. In the history of Enoch's translation t to Jleaven $, there is so studied an obscurity, that several of the Rabbins, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi, fond as they are of finding a future state in the Pentateuch, interpret this translation as only signifying an immature death. And 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 “ Ileaven 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 g.” But the reason of this difference is evident: When the latter history was written, it was thought expedient to make a preparation • See note  at the end of this Book. 1 Heb. xi. 5. § 2 Kings ii. 1, 11.
| Gen. V. 24.
for the dawning of a future state of reward and punislıment, which in tlie time of Moses had been highly improper. The retlections of an eminent Critic on this occasion, will shew how little he penetrated into the true design of this Economy. “ Mirum est Mosem
rem tantan, si modo immortalem Henochum factum CREDIDIT, tam obiter, tainque obscure, quasi EAM LATERE VELLET, perstrinxisse. 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, soine 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 dłyine Wisdom, he had omitted in his Institutes of Law and Religion ? This shews the weakness of that evasion, which would reconcile the OMI68I0N, to the People's KNOWLEDGE ► Vid. Clericum ia Gen, v. 24.
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 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 OMISSION.
We have shewn at large, in the first threc books, 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 then 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 * See note (AA) at the end of this Book.
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
Now that this punishment was only to supply the want of a Future state, is evident from hencef: 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 cx-. press 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 Father3 “ 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 s 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, - vor according to the “ Covenant that I made with their Fathers in the day “ that I took them by the band to bring them out of “ the land of Egypt g,” &c. And Ezekiel, speaking of the same times, says: “I will give them one “ heart, and will put a new spirit within you, &c. “ – But as for them, whose heart walketh after the “ heart of their aboininable things—I will recompense “ their way UPON THEIR OWN HEADS, saith the " Lord Godli.” And again : “ What mean ye, that
you use this Proverb concerning the land of Israel, “ saying, The Fathers have eaten sour grapes, and
* See Note [BB.] + Note (CC.] Note (DD) at the end, 5 Chap. xxxi, 29-33.
|| Chap. xi. Ver. 19-21. M 3