Imatges de pàgina

times as often mentioned in the Old Testament as in the New. Indeed! But the fragment is not about the word, but the thing. In the Old Testament it signified the receptacle of dead bodies ; in the New, the receptacle of living souls. But though this learned writer can, without doubt, laugh at those who seek the Trinity in the Old Testament, yet he can in good earnest go thither in search of a Future state. Yet this latter is not in any comparison so clearly hinted at as the other: and no wonder; a Future state is circumscribed to the New Testament, as brought to light by the Gospel ; but the doctrine of the Trinity is no where said to be so circumscribed.

P. 178. [00] To all this Dr. Stebbing has an Answer ready. “ The History of the persecution “ under Antiochus (says he) is written by two His“torians, namely, the Author of the first book of Maccabees, and the Author of the second. “ This last writer has recorded the profession of the “ Martyrs concerning their belief of the doctrine of “ the Resurrection; but the first has entirely omitted 66 it: nor is there one word about a resurrection or “ future state to be found throughout his whole “ History, though it is certain it was now the national “ belief. SO UNSAFE a thing is it to rely upon the

MERE silence of historians, when they undertake to • write a history not of doctrines but of the trans" actions of men.” Exam. p. 116.

I will tell him of an unsafer thing: which is, venturing to draw parallel cases; as he has done here; for they may happen (as hath happened here) to be cases most unlike.

In a large and miscellaneous Volume, composed by various Writers of different times and states, and containing the Law, the Religion, and the History of the Jews, from Moses to the Captivity, neither the Doctrines of the resurrection nor a future state are ever once mentioned.

This is the l'act. And to obviate my inference from it,—“That the Jews, during that period, were unac

quainted with the Doctrines,” this able Divine opposes the two books of Maccabees, containing the story of one short period, when, it is confessed, these Doctrines were of national belief; in the first of which Books, there is no mention of the Doctrine, and in the second, a great deal : the reason both of the mention and of the silence being self-evident. It is recorded in the second book, where there is a detailed account of the Martyrs for the Jewish Faith: it is omitted in the first, where there is no account of any such thing.

Yet these are brought as parallel cases: Let us therefore do them all honour.

1. Several volumes of the sacred Canon contain a kistory of doctrines.

The two books of Maccabees contain only a history of civil transactions.

2. None of the inspired Writers of the Canon, before the Captivity, ever once mention the Doctrines of a resurrection or a future state.

Of the two books of Maccabees, one of them mentions the Doctrines fully and at large.

3. The sacred Canon comprises a vast period of time, and treats of an infinite variety of matters.

The two books of Maccabees are small tracts of an -uniform subject, and contain only the story of one revolution in the Jewish State.

I'nconscious, as should seem, of all this difference, the learned Doctor concludes-So unserfe a thing it is to rely on the MERE SILENCE of Historims, when they undertake to write a history NOT OF DOCTRINES, but of the transactions of Men. In which, these TIIRET FALSEHOODs are very gravely and magisterially insinuated : That the writers of the two books of Maccabees are equally silent with the Writers of the Canon : 2. That all the Writers of the Canon are writers of a Hlistory, not of the Doctrines, but inerely


of the civil transactions of men, equally with the writers of the two Books of Maccabees : And 3. That the thing relied on by me, is the MERE SILENCE of Historians. Which falsehood if the Reader does not see from what has been said above, he may be pleased to consider, that mere silence is when a Writer omits to say a thing which it was indifferent to his purpose whether he said or not. But when he omits to say a thing, which it was much to his purpose to say, this is not a mere silence. It is a silence attended with а. circumstance, which makes the evidence drawn from that silence something more than negative, and consequently, something more than mere silence. So much for Dr. Stebbing.

A Cornish Writer * pursues the same argument against the Divine Legation; but takes his parallel much higher. “There is no one (says he) who reads “ HOMER, that can doubt whether a Future state were the popular belief amongst the Greeks in the times “ he writes of. And yet, by what I remember of him, “ I believe it would be difficult to produce Sıx in* stances, in all his poems, of any actions either enter“ ed upon or avoided, from the EXPRESS motive of “ the rewards or punishments to be expected in the “ other world."

I inferred from a Future state's EVER being mentioned in the Jewish listory, amongst the motives of men's actions (after it had been omitted in the Jewish Law and Religion), that it was not of popular belief amongst that people. Now here comes an Answerer, and says, that it is not mentioned above six TIMES EXPRESSLY in Homer, and yet that nobody can doubt whether it were not the popular belief amongst the Greeks. The good cautious man! Had

Had it been but ONCE EXPRESSLY mentioned in the Old Testament, I should no more have doubted of its being of popular belief amongst the Jews, than he does. Why then do we doubt so little, in the case of the Greeks, but * Mr. Peters.


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for the same reason why we ought to doubt so much in the case of the Jews! Ilomer (who gives a detailed account of a future state), this Writer allows, has mentioned it about sir times as a motive. The Scrip. TURES (which, together with the history, deliver the Law and Religion of the Jews, in which a future state is omitted) mention it not once, as a motive. But this Answerer would make the reader believe, I made my inference from the paucity, and not from the want, of the mention. The same may be observed of another expression of this candid Gentleman's-express motire. Now much less would have satisfied me; and I should readily have allowed that the Jews had the popular belief amongst them, had the motive been but once fairly implied.

But let us take hiin at the best, and suppose Homer did not afford one single instance. What, I pray you, has Homer in common with Moses? Suppose, I should affirın from the Greek History, That the ancient Wortuies always proportioned their work to their strength and bulk; and that my Answerer was not in an humour to let this pass; but, to confute me, would press me with the high achievements of Tom THUMB, as they are recorded in his authentic story; who was as famed for his turbulence in king Arthur's Court, as Achilles was in Agamemnon's : Would not this be just as much to the purpose, as to put the Iliad and the Odyssey in parallel with the Law and the Prophets?

But Homer's poems have been so long called the Bible of the Pagans, that this Answerer appears,

in good earnest, to have taken thein for religious History; otherwise how could it have ever entered into his head, to make so ridiculous a comparison? My reasoning with regard to SCRIPTURE stood thus:--As all good I listory deals with the motives of men's actions, so the peculiar business (as it seems to me) of religious History is to scrutinize their religious Motires: Of these, the principal is the consideration of a Future state. And this not being so much as once mentioned

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in the ancient Jewish History, it is natural to conclude that the Jews of those times had it not. · But now, what has Homer's poems to do in this matter? I apprehend they are no religious History; but compositions as far removed from it as possible, namely, a military and civil Romance, brim-full of fabulous trumpery. Now in such a work, the writer surely would be principally solicitous about the civil motives of his Actors.And Ilomer, who is confessed to understand what belonged to every kind of Composition, would take care to keep within bis subject; and, to preserve decorum, would content himself with supplying his Warriors and Politicians with such motives as might best set off their Wisdom and their Heroism : such as the love of power, in which I comprise, revenge on their Enemies; the love of plunder, in which is included their passion for fair Captives; and the love of glory, in which, if you please, you may reckon their regard for their Friends and their Country.--But in Homer's military and political Romances there are hardly sir instances in which a future state is mentioned as the express motive; therefore the perpetual silence on this point, in the religious History of the Jews, and the perpetual mention of it in the religious Histories of the Scevi and the SARACENS, conclude nothing in favour of the argument of the Divine Legation.

P. 178. [PP] To this Dr. Stebbing objects, that " it means no more than tliat inan was not to be re“ stored to his earthly human state.” Exam.

Exam p. 6o. And, to confirin this, he appeals to the tenth verse of this chapter, which runs thus, He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. But the learned Doctor should have reflected, that if Jol says the dead man returns no more to his house, he gives a reason for his so saying, very inconsistent with the Doctor's interpretation of the oth verse of the viith chapter. It was, because the dead man was got


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