« AnteriorContinua »
The truth is, the very learned Writer had two points to make out, in this famous work; the one was the evidence of Natural Religion; and, under that head, he is to shew, that it taught life and immortality. His other point was, the evidence of Revealed Religion, and there, (to shew its use and necessity) he is to demonstrate that bare natural reason could not dis- IT cover life and immortality. Thus the very method of his demonstration obliged him, in the former part, to give to natural Religion an honour which, in the latter part, he was forced to take away: and to reconcile them with one another, was the purpose of the conciliating words above-- yet life and immortality were not FULLY and SATISFACTORILY brought to light by bare natural reason: which indeed does the business; but it is at the expence of the learned Apostle, who säys it was not brought to light at all, till the preaching of the Gospel.
ET P. 191. [TT] To this it has been said, “ that the mystery of the Gospel here mentioned, is rather that which is meant by the word, ch. iii. ver. 3-9. nanely, the calling in of the Gentiles to be fellow-heirs with the Jews.”--- For a confutation of this absurd fancy, read-The free and candid Examination of the Principles advanced by the Lord Bishop of London, chap. i. Du p. 24. & seq. where the learned and most judicious Author has sufficiently exploded it.
DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES
FTER such convincing evidence that a FUTURE
STATE did not make part of the Religion of Moses, the reader would not have suspected, he must once more be stopped to hear a long Answer to a set of texts brought from the Old and New Testament to prove, That the Doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment DID make the most essential part of the Mosaic Dispensation: and this, not by a few fanciful Allegorists, or outrageous Bigots only, who will say, or do any thing; but by many sober men of all Sects and Parties, of all Times, and of all Religions.
1. Several of the ancient CHRISTIAN Writers were 80 persuaded of this point, that, not content to say, the doctrine of a Future state made part of the Mosaic Dispensation, they would be confident that the very: Pagans learnt it all from thence. Some modern Christians have not been behind them in their Faith, but have far outstripped them in their Charity, while they treated the denial of this extravagant Opinion as Vol. V.
a new species of infidelity. It is true, they are all extremely confused and obscure about the way, they represent it to have been taught: And there have not been wanting, at all times, men of greatest eminence for parts and piety, who have not only doubted, but plainly denied this Future state to be in the Mosaic Religion ; though, to be just to all, with the same inconsistency and einbarras that the others have maintained it*. However, the more current doctrine hath always been, That a future state of rewards and punishments was taught by the Law of Moses.
As surprising as this may seem to those who have weighed the foregoing Evidence, yet indeed no less could be expected from such a number of concurrent and oddly combined Prejudices, which have served, till now, to discredit one of the clearest and most important truths of Revelation.
1. The first was, that several Patriarchs'and Prophets, both before and under the Mosaic Dispensation, were certainly favoured with the revelation of man's Redemption; in which the doctrine of a Future state is eminently contained: And they think it utterly incredible that These should not have conveyed it to their People and Pusterity.
2. They could not conceive how a Religion could be worthy of God, which did not propose to its Followers a Future State of rewards and punishments; but confined their views to the carnal things of this
3. The truth, here attempted to be established, had been received and abused by the Enemies of all true Religion and Godliness; such as the Sadducees of the old Jewish church, the Gnostics of the old Christian, and Unbelievers in all Churches, See note (A) at the end of this volume.
4. Lastly, men were kept fast within the error into which these prejudices had drawn them, by never rightly distinguishing between a Future State of reward and punishment, as taught by what men call natural Religion, and a future state as taught by Christian Revelation; which is the crew, as we shall see here after, to conduct us through all the errors and perplexities of this region of darkness, till we come into the full and glorious light of the Gospel.
But in Religious matters, combinations much less strange are sufficient to defeat the credit of the plainest Fact. A noted instance of what OBSTINACY alone can do against the self-evidence of Truth, will abate our wonder at the perversity in question; at least it may be put to use, in the history of the human mind, towards which, will be found materials, neither vulgar nor few, in the course of this work. There is a sect, and that no inconsiderable one, which, being essentially founded in Enthusiasm, hath, amongst other of its strange freaks, thrown out the institution of WATÉRBAPTISM from its scheme of Christianity. It is very likely that the illiterate Founder, while rapt in his fanatic visions, did not reflect that, of all the institutions of our holy Religion, this of water-baptism was least proper to be called in question ; being most invincibly established by the practice both of Paul and PETER. This latter finding that the houshold of Cornelius the GENTILE had received the Holy Ghost, regarded it as a certain direction for him to admit. them into' the Church of Christ, which he did by the initiatory Rite of water-baptism. (Acts x. 47.] Paul, in his travels through the Lesser Asia, finding some of the JEWISH Converts who had never heard of the Holy Ghost, and, on enquiry, understanding they had been only baptised by water unto John's Baptism,
thought fit to baptise them with water in the name of the Lord Jesus, that is, to admit them into the Church; and then laying his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. [Acts xix. 4, 5, 6.]
In spite of these two memorable transactions, the Quakers have notwithstanding rejected water-baptism. What is the pretence ? “ Water-baptism (it seems) is John's baptism, and only a type of baptism by the Holy Ghost or by Fire ; so that when this last came in use, the former ceased and was abolished." Yet in the two histories given above, both these fancies are reproved; and in such a manner as if the stories had been recorded for no other purpose : For in the adventure of Paul, the water-baptism of Jesus is expressly distinguished from the water-baptism of John: And, in that of Peter, it appears, that water-baptism was necessary for admittance into the church of Christ, even after the ministration of baptism by fire, or the communicated power of the Holy Ghost. · It is further observable, that these two Heads of the Mission to the tiro great divisions of Mankind, the Jews and GENTILES, here acted in one another's province; Peter the Apostle of the Jews administering baptism to the Gentile houshold of Cornelius; and Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles adıninistering the same rite to the Jewish Converts. And why was this 'crossing of hands, but to obviate that silly evasion, that waterbaptism was only partial or temporary?
But what is reason, evidence, or truth, when opposed to religious Prejudice! The Quakers do not hold it to be clearer, that repentance from dead works is necessary for obtaining the spiritual benefits of the Gospel-Covenant, than that waTER-BAPTISM is abolished, and of no use to initiate into the Church of Christ.