Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

doctrine of the Divine Legation; and enlarges and expatiates upon the reason before given for the omission; namely, the many superstitions this doctrine had begotten in Egypt.

“ ONE CANNOT SEE WITHOUT SURPRIZE (says « his Lordship) a doctrine so useful to Ali Religion, " and therefore incorporated into ALL the Systems of " Paganism, left wholly out of that of the Jews. “ Many probable reasons, might be brought to shew, " that it was an Egyptian doctrine before the Exode, “ and this particularly, that it was propagated from

Egypt, so soon, at least, afterwards, by all those “ who were instructed like Moses, in the wisdom of " that People. He transported much of his Wisdom

into the scheme of Religion and Government, " which he gave the Israelites; and, amongst other

things, certain Rites, which may seem to allude, or “ have a remote relation to this

very

doctrive. Though “ this doctrine, therefore, had not been that of ABRA

HAM, ISAAC, and Jacoe, he inight have adopted " it with as little scruple, as he did many customs and “ institutions merely Egyptian. He had to do with

a rebellious, but a superstitious, people. In the « first Character, they made it necessary that he “ should neglect nothing which might add weight tu " his ordinances, and contribute to keep them in awe. “ In the second, their disposition was extremely proper “ to receive such a doctrine, and to be influenced by “ it. Shall we say that an hypothesis of future re".wards and punishments, was

USELESS among a People who lived under a Theocracy, and that the “ future Judge of other People, was their immediate “ Judge and King, who resided in the midst of thein, " and who dealed out rewards and punishments on every occasion? Why then were so many precau

" tions

“tions taken? Why was a solemn Covenant made “ with God, as with a temporal Prince? Why were

so many promises and threatenings of rewards and punishments, temporal indeed, but future and contingent, as we find in the book of Deuteronomy,

most pathetically held out by Moses? Would " there have been any more impropriety in holding

out those of one kind than those of another, be

cause the Supreme Being, who disposed and ordered both, was in a particular inanner present amongst s them? Would an addition to the catalogue of re“ wards and punishments more remote, but eternal, “ and in all respects far greater, have had no effect?

I think neither of these things can be said. " What shall we say then? How came it to pass, this addition was not made? I will mention what

occurs to me, and shall not be over solicitous about " the weight that my

reflections

may

deserve. If the “ doctrines of the immortality of the soul and of a “ future state had been revealed to Moses, that he

miglit teach them to the Israelites, he would have “ taught them most certainly. But he did not teach “ them. They were therefore not revealed to hini. Why they were not so revealed some pirt DIVINE

For me, I dare not presume to guess. But this, I

may presume to advance, that since these Doctrines were not revealed by God to his servant Moses, it is

bighly probable that this Legislator made a scruple “ of teaching thein to the Israelites, how well soever “ instructed he might be in thein himself, and howso

ever useful to Government he might think them. “ The superstitious and idolatrous rites of the Egyp" tians, like those of other nations, were founded on “ the Polytheism, and the Mythology, that prevailed,

OR OTHER WILL BE READY TO TELL YOU.

" and were suffered to prevail, amongst the Vulgar, * and that made the sum of their Religion. It “ seemed to be a point of policy to direct all these “ absurd opinions and practices to the service of “ Government, instead of atteinpting to root them « out. But then the great difference between rude and ignorant nations and such as were civilized and “ learned, like the Egyptians, seems to have been this, “ that the former had no other system of Religion “ than these absurd opinions and practices, whereas " the latter had an inward as well as an outuard " Doctrine. There is reason to believe that natural “ Theology and natural Religion had been taught and

practised in the ancient Theban Dynasty; and it is

probable that they continued to be an inward doc“ trine in the rest of Egypt; while Polytheism, Ido“ latry, and all the MISTERIES, all the impictics, “ and all the follies of Magic, were the outward “ doctrine. Moses might be let into a knowledge “ of both ; and under the patronage of the Princess, " whose Foundling he was, he might be initiated into " those Níysteries, where the secret doctrine alone as

was taught, and the outward exploded. But we cannot imagine that the Children of Israel, in

ge“ neral, enjoyed the same privilege, nor that the Mas

ters were so lavish, to their Slaves, of a favour so

distinguished, and often so hard to obtain.' No. " The Children of Israel knew nothing more than the “ outside of the Religion of Egypt; and if the doc(66 trine, we speak of, was known to them, it was “ known only in the superstitious rites, and with all " the fabulous circumstances in which it was dressed

up and presented to vulgar belief. It would have “ been hard therefore to teach, or to renew this Doc“ trine in the winds of the Israelites, without giving

66 trein

" them an occasion the more, to recal the polytheis“ tical fables, and practise the idolatrous Rites they “ had learnt during their Captivity. Rites and Ce“ remonies are often so equivocal, that they may be “ applied to very different doctrines. But when they

are so closely connected with one Doctrine that “ they are not applicable to another, to teach the " Doctrine is, in some sort, to teach the Rites and “ Ceremonies, and to authorize the fables on which

they are founded. Moses therefore being at liberty

to teach this doctrine of rewards and punishments “ in a future state, or not to teach it, might very well “ choose the latter; though he indulged the Israelites,

on account of the hardness of their hearts, and by

the divine permission, as it is presumed, in several “ observances and customs which did not lead directly, “ though even they did so perhaps in consequence, to " the Polytheism and Idolatry of Egypt *.”

What a Babel of bad reasoning has his Lordship here accumulated out of the rubbish of false and inconsistent Principles ! And all, to insult the Temple of God and the Fortress of Mount Sion. Sometimes, he represents Moses as a divine Messenger, and distinguishes between what was revealed, and what was not revealed, unto him; and then, a future state not being revealed to Moses was the reason he did not teach it. Sometimes again, he considers him as a mere human Lawgiver, acquiring all his knowledge of Religion and Politics from the Egyptians, in whose secret Learning he had been intimately instructed; and then, the reason of the omission is, lest the Docs trine of a future state should have drawn the Israelites into those Egyptian superstitions, from which, it was

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Moses's purpose to estrange them. All these inconsistencies in Fact and Reasoning, bis Lordship delivers in the same breath, and without the least intimation of any change in his Principles or Opinions.

But let us follow hiin step by step, without troubling our heads about his real sentiinents. It is enough, that we confute all he says, whether under his own, or any assumed Character.

He begins with confessing, that ONE CANNOT SEE WITHOUT SURPRIZE a doctrine so useful to All Religions, and therefore incorporated into all the Systems of Paganism, left wholly out of that of the Jews.

At length then it appears, that this OMISSION is no light or trivial matter, which may be accounted for, as he before supposed, by Moses's disbelief of the doctrine; his ignorance of it; or the imacinary mischiefs it might possibly produce. We may be allowed then to think it deserved all the pains, the Author of the Divine Legation of Moses has bestowed upon it: whose WHIMSICAL REASONING, if it ended in a demonstration of the truth of Revealed Religion, is sufficiently atoned for, though it were a little out of the common road: for in this case the old proverb would hold true, that the furthest way about is the nearest way home.

His Lordship proceeds to shew, in direct opposition to what he said before, that Moses could not be ignorant of the doctrine of a future state, because the Egyptians taught it: His knowledge of it (my Lord tells us) further appears from an internal circumstance, some of his rites seeming to allude, or to have a remote relation to, this very doctrine. This I observe, to his Lordship’s credit. The remark is just and accu

But we are in no want of his remote relation: I have shewn just above, that the Jewish Laws against

Necromancy

« AnteriorContinua »