Imatges de pàgina

that which God reserves to himself. Again, because the text of Exodus apparently occasioned the Proverb mentioned by Ezekiel and Jeremialı, therefore by a strange blunder or prevarication, the Father brings the Proverb in proof that the Law which gave birth to it, was but a Proverb or parable itself *.

II. We have now shown that Moses did not tcach a future state of reward and punishment; and that he omitted it with design; that he understood its great importance to society; and that he provided for the want of it. And if we may believe a great Statesman and Philosopher, “Moses had need of


SAXC“ tion that his knowledge or his imagination could so

suggest to govern the unruly people, to whom he gave a Law, in the name of God t."

But as the proof of this point is only for the sake of its consequence, that therefore the people had not the knowledge of that doctrine, our next step will be to establish this consequence: Which (if we take in those circumstances attending the Omission, just explained above) will, at the same time, shew my argument in support of this Omission to be more than negative.

Now though one might fairly conclude, that the People's not having this Doctrine, was a necessary consequence of Moses's not teaching it, in a Law which forbids the least addition $ to the written Institute; yet I shall show, from a circumstance, the clearest and most incontestable, that the Israelites, from the time of Moses to the time of their Captivity,

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* See note (LL) at the end of this Book.
+ Bolingbroke's Works, vol. v. p. 513,

Deut. iy. 2. Chap. xji, ver. 32.


had not the doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment.

The BIBLE contains a very circumstantial History of this People throughout the aforesaid period. It contains not only the history of public occurrences, but the lives of private persons of both sexes, and of all ages, conditions, characters and complexions; in the adventures of Virgins, Matrons, Kings, Soldiers, Scholars, Merchants, and Husbandmen. All these, in their turns, make their appearance before us. They are given too in every circumstance of life; captive, victorious; in sickness, and in health; in full security, and amidst impending dangers ; plunged in Civil business, or retired and sequestered in the service of Religion. Together with their Story, we have their Compositions likewise. Here they sing their triumphs ; there, their palinodia. Here, they offer up to the Deity their hymns of praise; and there, petitions for their wants : here, they urge their moral precepts to their contemporaries; and there, they treasure up their Prophecies and Predictions for posterity; and to both denounce the promises and threatenings of Heaven. Yet in none of these different circumstances of life, in none of these various casts of composition, do we ever find them acting on the motives, or influenced by the prospect of future rewards and punishments; or indeed expressing the least hope or fear, or even common curiosity concerning them. But every thing they do or say respects the present life only; the good and ill of which are the sole objects of all their pursuits and aversions

Hear then the sum of all. The sacred Writings are extremely various both in their subject, style, and composition. They contain an account of the See note. (MM) at the end of this Book..



Creation, and Origine of the human race; the history of a private Family, of a chosen People, and of exemplary men and women. They consist of hymns and petitions to the Deity, precepts of civil life, and religious Prophecies and Predictions. Hence I infer that as, amidst all this variety of writing, the Doctrine of a future state never once appears to have had any share in this People's thoughts ; it never did indeed make part of their Religious opinions *. And when, to all this, we find their occasional reasoning only conclusive on the supposition that a future state was not amongst the Religious doctrines of the People, the above considerations, if they needed any, would receive the strongest support and confirmation. To give one example out of many. The Psalmist says, For the rod of the IVicked shall not rest upon the lot of the Righteous : lest the Righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity t.” That is, « God will vigorously administer that ertraordinary Providence which the nature of the Dispensation required to be administered, lest the Righteous, not seeing themselves exempt from the evils due to wickedness, should conclude that there was no moral Governor of the world; and so, by making their own private interest the rule of their actions, fall into the practice of all kind of iniquity.” But this could never be the consequence where an unequal dispensation of Providence was attended with the knowledge and belief of a future state. And here I will appeal to those who are most prejudiced against this reasoning. Let them speak, and tell me, if they were now first shewn some history of an old Greek Republic, delivered in the form and manner of the Jewish; and no more notice in it of a future state, Whether they could possibly believe that See note [NN] at the end of this Book. Ps. cxxv. 3.

that Doctrine was National, or generally known in it. If they have the least ingenuity, they will answer, They could not. On what then do they support their opinion here, but on religious Prejudices? Prejudices of no higher an original than some Dutch or German System : for, as to the BIBLE, one half of it is silent concerning life and immortality; and the other half declares that the doctrine was brought to light throngh the Gospel.

But to set this argument in its fullest light. Let us consider the History of the rest of mankind, whether recorded by Bards, or Statesmen; by Philosophers, or Priests : in which we shall find the doctrine of a future state still bearing, throughout all the various circumstances of human life, a constant and privcipal share in the determinations of the Will,

And no wonder. We see how strong the Grecian world thought the sanction of it to be, by a passage in Pindar, quoted by Plutarch in his tract of Superstition, where he makes it one circumstance of the superior happiness of the Gods, over men, that they stood not in fear of Acheron.

But not to be distracted by too large a view, let us select from the rest of the Nations, one or two most resernbling the Jewish. Those which came nearest to them (and, if the Jews were only under huinan guidance; - indead extremely near), were the SUEVI of the north, and the ARABS of the south. Both these People were led out in search of new Possessions, which they were to win by the sword. . And both; it is confessed, had the doctrine of a Future state inculcabed unto them by their leaders, ODIN aud MAHOMET. Of the Arabs we have a large and circumstanțial history: Of the Suevi we have only some few fragments of the songs and: ballads of their Bards; VOLV


* yet yet they equally serve to support our Conclusion. In the large history of the Saracen Empire we can scarce find a page, and in the Runic rhymes of the Suevi scarce a line, where the doctrine of a future state was not pushing on its influence. It was their constant Viaticum through life; it stimulated them to war and slaughter, and spirited their songs of triumph; it made them insensible of pain, immoveable in danger, and superior to the approach of death *. For, what Cicero says of Poetry in Rome, may be more truly applied to the Doctrine of a Future state amongst these Barbarians; “ Ceteræ neque temporum sunt,

neque ætatum omnium, neque locorum. Hæc “ studia adolescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, “ secundas res ornant, ADVERSIS PERFUGIUM AC


But this is not all. For we find, that when a future state became a popular doctrine amongst the Jewish People (the time and occasion of which will be explained hereafter) that then it made as considerable à figure in their Annals, by influencing their determinations I, as it did in the history of any other people. .

Nor is it only on the silence of the sacred Writers, or of the speakers they introduce, that I support this conclusion; but from their positive declarations; in which they plainly discover that there was no popular expectation of a future state, or Resurrection. Thus the woman of Tekoah to David : For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up agains. Thus Job: As the cloud is consumed, and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no morell. : And:

See note (00) at the end of this Book. + Pro Archia Poeta, $ 7. See the 2d book of Maccabees. $ 2 San. xiv. 14. # See note (PP) at the end of this Boek.

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