Imatges de pÓgina

urged as confutations of it. I speak not here of the dirty calumnies of one or two forgotten scribblers, but of the unequitable censures of some who better deserve to be set right.

II. But farther, As my position is, that a Future state of reward and punishment was not taught in the Mosaic Dispensation, all texts brought to prove the knowledge of it after the time of David are as impertinent as the rest. For what was known from this time, 'could not supply the want of what was unknown for so many ages before. This therefore puts all the prophetic Writings out of the question.

And now, when all these Texts are taken from my Adversaries, what is there left, to keep up the quarrel? Should I be so severe to insist on the common rights of Authors, of not being obliged to answer to convict impertinencies, this part of my task would be soon

But I shall, in charity, consider these Texts, such as they are. However, that I may not appear altogether so absurd as the Inforcers of them, I shall give the reader my reasons for this condescension.

1. As to the FUTURE EXISTENCE OF THE SOUI, we should distinguish between the mention of it by Moses, and by the following Writers. These might, and, as we have shewn, did conclude for its existence from the nature of the thing. But Moses, who, we suppose, intentionally omitted the mention of Future rewards and punishments, would not, we must needs suppose likewise, proclaim the preparatory doctrine of the Existence. Nor could he, on the other hand, deny what he knew to be the truth. Thus, being necessitated to speak of Enoch's Translation, it could not be, but that a separate existence might be inferred, how obscurely soever the story was delivered. But liad he said any thing, in his account of the Creation, which



literally implied (as the words, of man's being made in the image of God, and the breath of life being breathed into his nostrils, are supposed to do) that man had an immortal soul, then must Moses be supposed, purposely, to have inculcated that Immortality; contrary to what we hold, that he purposely onnitted the doctrine built upon it, nainely, a future state of reward and punishment. It will not be improper therefore to show that such texts have not this

pretended meaning

2. Concerning a FUTURE STATE OF REWARD AND PUNISHMENT; several texts are brought as teaching it in a typical sense, which teach it in no sense at all : several as teaching it in a direct and literal sense, which only teach it in a typical. Both these, therefore, it may be proper to set in a true light.

3. Lastly, concerning the texts from the later Prophets, which are without the period in question ; I own, and it is even incumbent on my Argument to prove, that these Prophets opened the first dawning of the doctrine of a Resurrection, and consequently of a Future state of reward and punishment : even these therefore shall in their proper place be carefully considered. At present let me just observe, that the dark veil under which the first set of Prophets delivered their typical representations was gradually drawn aside by the later.


HAVING premised thus much to clear the way, and shorten the inquiry, I now proceed to my examination.

And first, of the texts brought from the OLD TESTAMENT


Now as the book of Job* is supposed to teach both a SEPARATE EXISTENCE and a FUTURE STATE OF REWARD AND PUNISHMENT; and is besides thought by some to be the first of Moses's writings; and by others to be written even before his time, and by the Patriarch himself, I shall give it the precedence in this inquiry : which it deserves likewise on another account, the superior evidence it bears to the point in question; if indeed it bear any evidence at all. For it may be said by those who thus hold it to be the earliest Scripture (allowing the words of Job, I know that my Redeemer liveth, &c. to respect a future state) that the Jewisli people must not only have had the knowledge of a FUTURE STATE of rewards and punishments, but, what is more, of the RESURRECTION of the body, and still more, of the REDEMPTION of mankind by the Son of God: therefore Moses had no need to inculcate the doctrine of a future state f. But I much suspect that the clear knowledge of so sublime a mystery, which, St. Paul says, had been hid from ages, and from generations, but was now (on the preaching of the Gospel) made manifest to the Saints was not at all suited to the times of Job or Lloses, The learned and impartial Divine will perlaps be rather inclined to think, that either the book of Job was written in a much later age, or that this famous passage has a very different meaning. I shall endeavour to shew, that neither of these suspicions would be entertained without reason.

First, then, concerning the book itself.

As to the Person of Job, the eminence of his Character, his fortitude and patience in afflictions, and

* See note [B] at the end of this volume. + See note [C] at the end of this volunre. t Col. i. 26.


his preceding and subsequent felicity; these are rcalities so unquestionable, that a man must have set aside sacred Antiquity before he can admit a doubt concerning them. But that the book which bears Job's name was written by him, or in any age ncar his own, a careful and capable examiner will, I persuade myself, be hardly brought to believe.----- In the order of this discourse therefore I shall inquire, I. What kind of composition the book of Job really is, II. In what age it was written. And, III.Who was its Author.

I. Even those who are inclined to suppose this a Work of the highest Antiquity, and to believe it an exact history of Job's sufferings and patience, and of God's extraordinary dispensations towards him, recorded by his own hand, are yet forced to confess that the Introduction and Conclusion are of another nature, and added by a later hand, to give that fulness and integrity to the Piece, which works of imagination, and only such works, require. This is a large concession, and plainly intimates that he who wrote the Prologue and Epilogue, either himself believed the body of the work to be a kind of dramatic Composition; or, at least, intended that others should have that opinion of it. I shall therefore the less scruple to espouse the notion of those who conclude the WHOLE TO BE DRAJATICAL. For the transferring the Prologue and Epilogue to a late writer, was only an expedient to get rid of a circumstance which shewed it to be such a sort of work; and which consequently might bring it down to an age remote from that of the subject. But those who contrived this expedient seem to have had but a slender idea of the ancient Drama, which was generally rounded with a Prologue and Epilogue of this sort; to give,

by by way of narrative, information of such facts as fell not within the compass of the one entire Action represented

I am induced to embrace this opinion from the cast of the style, the SENTIMENTS, and COMPOSITIOy; all perfectly suited to such a kind of Work, and ill agreeing with any other. .

1. As to the Style, ít hath been observed by the Critics, even from the time of Jerom, that all but the introduction and conclusion is in measure. But as it was the custom of antiquity to write their gravest works of Religion, Law, and History, in verse; this circumstance alone should, I think, have little share in determining the nature of the Composition. And as little, I think, on the other hand, ought the frequent use of the Arabic dialect to be insisted on, in support of its high original, since, if it be of the nature, and of the date, hcre supposed, an able writer would chuse to give his Fable that air of antiquity and verisimilitude.

2. But when we take the sentiments along, and find throughout the whole, not only verse but poetry, a poetry animated by all the sublimity of figures and luxuriance of description; and thisy on the coolest and most abstracted subject; we cannot chuse but conclude it to be a work of imagination, Nor is it sufficient to say, that this is owing to an Eastern genius, whose kindling fancy heats all his thoughts into a glow of expression : for if the two ends be his who wrote the middle, as we have no reason to doubt, they shew him not unused to the plainest form of narration. And as to that Eastern genius itself, though distinguishingly sublime when a poetic subject has' enflamed its enthusiasm, yet in mere history, nothing can be more cool and simple; as all acquainted either with their * See note [D] at the end of this volume,


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