Imatges de pÓgina
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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 a , 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 Six 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 NEVER being mentioned in the Jewish History, amongst the motives of men's actions (aiter 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 llomer, and yet that nobody can doubt whether it were not the popular belief amongst the Greeks. The good cautious inan! 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 inentioned it about six times as a motive. The SCRIPTURES (which, together with the history, deliver the Law and Religion of the Jews, in which a future state is omitteil) 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 mcntion. The same may be observed of another expression of this candid Gentleman's--express motive. Now much less would have satisfied me; and I should Teadily have allowed that the Jews liad the popular belief amongst them, had the motive been but once fairly implied.

But let us take him at the best, and suppose Homer did not atford one single instance. What, I pray you, has Homer in common with Moses? Suppose, I should affirun from the Greek History, That the ancient WORTHIES 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 bis 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 inuch 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 Bihle of the Pagans, that this Answerer appears, in good earnest, to have taken them for religious Ilistory; 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 History deals with the motives of men's actions, so the peculiar business (as it seems to me) of religious. History is to scrutinize tlicir, religious Motives: 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. what has Homer's poems to do in this matter? I

apprehend they are no religious History; but compositions as far renoved 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 Homer, who is confessed to imderstand that belonged to every kind of Composition, would take care to keep within his subject; and, to preserve decoruin, 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 pozer, in wlieh 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 recko their regard for their Friends and their Coantry.-But in Ilomer's military and political Romances there are hardly sir instances in which a future state is mentioned as the express mnotive; therefore the perpetual silence on this point, in the religious Tistory of the Jews, and the perpetual mention of it in the religious Histories of the Suevi and the SARACENS, conclude nothing in favour of the argument of the Dirine Eegation.

P. 178. [PP] To this Dr. Stebbing objects, that " it means no more than that han vis not to be re* stored to his earthly buman state.” Exam. p. 60, . And, to contirin this, he appeals to the tenth verse of this chapter, which runs thus, lie shall retura no 10re to his house, neither shall his place krww him ey inox'. But the learned Doctor should have reflected, that if fob says the dead man returns no more to his house, ke gives a reason for his so saying, very inconsi-tant with the Doctor's interpretation of the oth verse of the with chapter. It was, because the dead on 13 sist into the land of darkness and the shadow of death (chap. x. 21.] it was because he was not awake nor could be raised out of his sleep [chap. xiv. 12.] But the very subject which Job is here treating, confutes the Doctor's interpretation : Ile is complaining that life is short, and that after death he shall no more sce good, for that he who goeth down to the grave shall come up no more ; he shall return no more to his house [ver. 7, 8, 9, 10.]; which at least implies that there was no good to be expected any where, but in this world : And this expectation is cut off in express terms.

P. 180. [QQ] To this sense of the text, Dr. Stebe bing objects, and says, that by no reward is meant none in this world. Exam. pp. 63, 4. And in support of his interpretation, quotes the words of the verse immediately following-neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing thut is done under the sun. Now I agree with the learned Doctor, that these words are an explanation of the foregoing, of the dead's not having any more a reward: and from thence draw just the contrary inference, That the sacred writer, from the consideration of the dead's not returning to life to enjoy their reward, concluded that, when once death had seized them, they could have no reward at all; not even that imaginary one, the living in the memory of men, for the memory of them (says he) is forgotten. So again from the consideration in ver. 6. that the dead had neither love, haired, nor ency, had concluded, ver. 5. that THEY KNEW NOT ANY THING.-But the premisses and the conclusion not being in their usual order, our learned Doctor's Logic did not reach to take the force of the Preacher's.'

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P. 188. [RR] To all this, it hath been said, “ Christians have the promise of the life that now is

, excepting the case of persecution, Mark x. 30. The words of Jesus in the Evangelist are,-there is no

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one that hath LEFT house or brethren, . for my suke and the Gospel's, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses and lands, sc. with persecutions, and in the world to come, elernal life. But these words cvidently allude to the first followers of Jesus, while the Church was under an extraordinary Providence, that is, during the Age of Miracles: and as that sort of Dispensation is always aided by the course of natural and civil events, we easily see how it would be promoted by LEAVING a country doomed to the most horrid and exterminating destruction. But St. Paul, where he assigus only the life which is to come to the followers of the Gospel, is speaking of a different thing, namely, of the genius of the Christian Dispensation in general, as it is opposed to Judaism.

P. 190. [SS] The serious reader, who considers all this, will not be a little surprised to hear that eminent Scholar and Divine, Dr. S. Clarke, talk in the following manner, where, after having spoken of the doubts and uncertainties of the ançient Philosophers concerning a future state, he coircludes in these words -

From all which it appears, that, notwithstanding all " the bright arguments and acute conclusions and “ brave sayings of the best Philosophers, yet life and

immortality were not FULLY and SATISFACTORILY brought to light by BARE NATURAL REASON."[Ev. of Nat. and Rev. Relig. p. 146.]--It would be very strange if they had; since Scripture is so far from allowing any part of this discovery to natural reason, that it will not admit even the Mosaic Revelation to a share, but reserves it all for the Gospel of Christ: so that had natural Religion brought life and immortality to light, though not fully and satisfactorily, the learned Apostle would be found to have spoken much too highly of the prerogatives of the Gospel.

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