Imatges de pÓgina

Necromancy necessarily imply Moses's knowledge of the Doctrine.

He then goes on to explain the advantages which, humanly speaking, the Israelites must have received from this Doctrine, in the temper and circumstances with which they left Egypt. MosEs, says he, had to do with a rebellious and superstitious People. This likewise I observe to his credit: It has the same marks of sagacity and truth ; and brings us to the very verge of the Solution, proposed by the Author of the Divine Legation; which is, that the Israelites were indeed under an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE, which supplied all the disadvantages of the OMISSION. Under a common and unequal Providence, RELIGION cannot subsist without the doctrine of a future state : for Religion implying a just retribution of reward and punishment, which under such a Providence is not dispensed, a future state must needs subvene, to prevent the whole Edifice from falling into ruin. And thus we account for the fact, which bis Lordship so amply acknowledges, viz. that the doctrine of a future state was most useful to All Religions, and therefore incorporated into all the Religions of Paganism. But where an EXTRAORDINARY Providence is administered, good and evil are exactly distributed; and therefore, in this circumstance, a FUTURE STATE is not necessary for the support of Religion. It is not to be found in the Mosaic Economy; yet this Economy subsisted for many ages; Religion therefore did not need it; or in other words, it was supported by an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE.

This is the argument of the Divine Legation. And now, let us consider his Lordship's present attempt to evade it.

Shall we say, that an Hypothesis of future rewards and punishments was useless amongst a people who lived


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under a THEOCRACY, and that the future Judge of other People was their immediate Judge and King, who resided in the midst of them, and who dealt out rewards and punishments on every occasion? WHY THEN WERE SO MANY PRECAUTIONs taken? &c.

First, let me observe, that the PRECAUTIONS here objected to, are intended for an insinuation against the truth of Moses's Promise of an extraordinary Providence. A kind of sophism which his Lordship advances, and only holds in common with the rest who have written against the Divine Legation: and which I shall here, atter much forbearance on my part, expose as it deserves.

Moses aflirms again and agam, that his People were under an extruordinary Providence. He affirms it indeed; but as it is not a self-evident truth, it needs to be proved. Till then, the Unbeliever is at liberty to urge any circumstance in the Jewish Law or History, which may seem to bring the reality of that Providence into question: The same liberty too has the Believer; if, at least, he can persuade himself to make use of it; as many, so professing themselves, have done both in their Writings and Discoursings against the Divine Legation. Things were in this train, when I undertook the defence of Moses. And to obviate all objections to the Legislator's credit, arising from any doubtful or unfavourable circumstance in the Law or History of the Jews concerning this extraordinary Providence, I advanced the inTERNAL ARGUMENT of the OMISSION. An argument which necessarily inferred “ that an extraordinary Providence was in fact administered in the Jewish Republic.” What change did this make in the state of the case? A very great one.

Unbelievers were now indeed at liberty, and Believers too, if so perversely inclined, to oppose, and, as they could, to




confute the argument of the Divine Legation : But by no rules of good Logic could they come over again with those scripture difficulties to Moses's credit, which the argument of the Divine Legation had entirely obviated, and which it still continued to exclude, so long as it remained unanswered. For while a demonstrated truth stands good, no difficulties arising from it, however inexplicable, can have any weight against that superior evidence. Not to admit this fundamental maxim of common sense, would be to unsettle many a physical and mathematical demonstration, as well as this moral one. I say therefore, as things now stand, To oppose

difficulties against the administration of an extraordinary Providence, after that Providence has been proved, and before the proof has been contiited, is the most palpable and barefaced imposition on our understanding. In which, however, his Lordship is but one of a hundred: and truly, in this, the least indecent and inconsistent of the hundred; as his declared purpose is to destroy the credit and authority of the Jewish Lawgiver,

I shall not, however, decline to examine the weight of these objections, though they be so vainly and sophistically obtruded.

If there was this EXTRAORDINARY Providence administered, says his Lordship, IT'hy so many precautions taken? Why was a solemn coronant made with God as with a temporal prince? Why were so many promises and threatenings of reaards and punishments, temporal indeed, but future and contingent, as we find in the. Book of Deuteronomy, most pathetically held out by Aloses ? This difficulty is not hard to be resolved. We find throughout that Book which we Believers are wont to call the History of Providence, but which his

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Lordship is pleased to intitle, Tales more extravagant than those of Amadis de Gaule, that God, in his moral Government of the World, always employs human means, as far as those means will go; and never interposes with his extraordinary Providence, but when they will go no further. To do otherwise, would be an unnecessary waste of Miracles; better fitted to confound our knowledge of NATURE, by obscuring the harmony of order, in such a control of its delegated Powers, than to make manifest the presence of its sovereign Lord and Master. This method in God's moral Government, all our ideas of Wisdom seem to support. Now when Hc, the great Director of the Universe, had decreed to rule the Jewish People in an extraordinary way, he did not propose to supersede any of the measures of civil regimen. And this, I hope, will be esteemed a sufficient answer to-WHY SO MANY PRECAUTIONS TAKEN, &c. But the Reader will find this argument drawn out more at large, in my Remarks on the same kind of sophistry employed by Dr. SYKES.

But (says his Lordship) would the hypothesis of a future state have been useless, &c. ? Would there (as his Lordship goes on) have been any more impropriety in holding out those [sanctions] of one kind than those of another, because the Supreme Being, who disposed and ordered both, wus in a particular manner present amongst them? I'ould an addition of rewards and punishments (more remote, but eternul, and in all respects far greater) to the catalogue, have had no effect? I think neither of these things can be said. His Lordship totally mistakes the drist of the Argument of the Divine Legation, which infers no more, from the fact of the omission, than this, That the Jewish Economy, administered by an extraordinary Providence, could


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do without the service of the omitted Doctrine ; not, that that Doctrine, even under such a Dispensation, was of no use, much less that it was 1M PROPER. But then one of his Followers will be ready to say, future state was not improper, much more if it was of use, under an extraordinary dispensation, How came Moses not to give it?” I reply, for great and wise ends of Providence vastly countervailing the use, of that Doctrine, which, in the last volume of this work, will be explained at large.

Lord Bolingbroke proceeds next to tell us, what occurs to Him, concerning the REASONS of the omission; and previously assures us he is not over-solicitous about their weight. This, I suppose, is to make his Counters pass current: For then they become the money of fools, as Hobbes expresses it, when we cease to be solicitous about their worth ; when we try them by their colour, not their weight; their Rhetoric, and not their Logic. However, this must be said with an exception to the first, which is altogether logical, and very diverting

If (says his Lordslip) the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and a future state had been revealed to Moses, that he might teach them to the Israelites, he would have taught them most certainly. But he did not teach them. They were, therefore, not revealed. It is in mood and figure, you see; and, I warrant you, designed to supply what was wanting in the Divine Legation : Though, as the Author of that book certainly believed these doctrines were not revealed, 'tis ten to one but he thought Moses was not at liberty to teach them: Unless you can suppose that his Lordship, who believed nothing of Revelation, might believe Moses to be restrained from teaching what God had not revealed to him; and yet, that the Author of the Divine



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