Imatges de pÓgina
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“ Let it be remembered (says his Lordship) that * God himself is said to have been their King during

several ages; that his presence remained amongst “ them, even after they had deposed him; and that * the High Priest consulted him, on any emergency,

by the Urim and Thummim. OCCASIONAL MI. RACLES were wrought to inforce the Law; but this

was a standing miracle, that might serve both to * explain and inforce it, by the wisdom and authority “ of the Legislator, as often as immediạte recourse to “ hiin was necessary. Can it be denied that the most

imperfect system of human Laws would have been * rendered effectual by such means as these?

This bad reasoning seems to be urged with much, good faith, contrary to his Lordship’s usual custom; and arises from his ignorance of a Theocratic administration, as the nature of the administration may be collected from the common principles of the Law of Nature and Nations.

Let us consider the affair dispassionately. God, in giving laws to his chosen people, was pleased, more humano, to assume the title of King, and to administer their civil affairs by a Theocratic mode of Government. Every step in this establishment evinces, that it was his

purpose to interfere no otherwise than in conformity to that political assumption. He proceeded on the anost equitable grounds of civil Government: he became their King by free choice. It must needs therefore be his purpose to confine himself to such powers of legislation, as human Governors are able to exert ; though he extended the powers of administration far beyond the limits of humanity. His Lordship's ignorance of so reasonable a distinction occasioned all this pompous Fallacy. He found in the Mosaic Dispensation occasioNAL MIRACLES pretended : and he

imagined

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imagined that, consistently with this pretence, Miracles ought to operate throughout, rather than that the end of the Law should be defeated. But, I presume, God could not, conformably to his purpose of erecting ą THEOCRACY, and administering it MORE HUMANO, exert miraculous powers in legislating, though he very well might, and actually did exert them, in governing : because, in legislation, a miracle, that is, a supernatural force added to the Laws, to make them constantly obeyed, could not be employed without putting a force upon the Will; by which God's Laws would indeed produce their effect, but it would be by the destruction of the subject of them. The case was, different in administering the Laws made: here God was to act miraculously; often out of wise choice, to manifest the nature of the Government, and the reality of his regal character; sometimes out of necessity, for the carrying on of that Government on the Sanctions by which it was to be dispensed : and all this he might do without the least force upon the Will.

This is sufficient to expose the futility of his Lordship's conclusion from the circumstance of infinite Power's administering the Law; it being essential to the Law, that infinite Power administering it, should restrain itself within such bounds as left the will perfectly free. But infinite Power, restrained within such bounds, might sometimes meet with unsurmountable obstructions in the course of its direction, under a Theocracy administered more humano.

II. We have seen how weak his Lordship’s reasoning is in itself: Let us now see how much weaker he makes it by ill management; till at length it comes out a good argument against his own objection.

* The Law of Moses (says his Lordship) was so * far from prevailing over accidents and conjunctures,

66 that

* that the least was sufficient to interrupt the course * and defeat the design of it, to make that people not

only neglect the Law, BUT CEASE TO ACKNOW

LEDGE THE LEGISLATOR. To prevent this, was -- the first of these designs: and if the second was (as < it was, no doubt) and as it is the design or pretence “ of all Laws, to secure the happiness of the people,

THIS DESIGN WAS DEFEATED AS FULLY AS THE

OTHER : for the whole history of this people is one 46 continued series of INFRACTIONS OF THE LAW,

AND OF NATIONAL CALAMITIES."

To pass by that vulgar mistake (which has been sufficiently exposed above) that the Jews ever ceased to acknowledge their Legislator; let me observe it to his Lordship's credit, that he appears to have understood so much at least of the Mosaic Institution, as to see that the first end of it was peculiar to itself; and that that which is common to all civil Communities was but the second end of This.

But is it not strange, when he saw so far mto the nature of the Jewish Constitution, that he should not see that this second end was entirely dependent on what he himself makes the principal; namely, to preserve the Israelites from idolatry; but should argue against the divinity of the Law, as if these ends were independent one of another; and that one might be obtained without the other? For, to aggravate the imbecility of the Law, he informs us in the passage

last quoted, " that it was not only unable to gain its first end, but its second likewise : that the one design was defeated as fully as the other; that the people were not only idolaters in spiritual matters, but poor, miserable, and calamitous in their civil interests.” Strange! that he could not see, or would not acknowledge, that the Law denounces their happiness and misery as

citizens,

citizens, in exact proportion to their adherence to, or their defection from, that Law; when he saw and confessed (what their History records), that this was their invariable fortune. The whole history of this people (says his Lordship) is one continued series of infractions of the Law, and of national calamities. Now if the whole frame of the Mosaic Law was so composed, as to do that by positive institute which the Moral Law does by natural, viz. reward the obedient, and punish the disobedient (and it certainly was so composed, if a continued series of infractions was followed by a continued series of calamities), we must needs conclude that we have here the strongest proof of that divine Wisdom in the Constitution, which this great modern Lawgiver pretends to seek, but assures us he is not able to find; and yet, at the same time, brings this convincing circumstance of the truth of the Law;—This design (says he) was defeated as fully as the other. Here his rhetoric, as usual, got the better of his reasoning: Not content to say,--the whole history of this People is one continued series of infractions of the Law,-he will needs add by way of exaggeration--AND OF NATIONAL Which has so perverse an influence on the argument as to undo all he had been labouring to bring about, by discovering a connexion between infractions and calamities, which has all the marks of a divine contrivance.

Had it been the declared design of their Lawgiver to separate the two ends, and to form such an economy as that the People under it might be flourishing in peace and affluence, while they were Idolaters in Religion; or, on the other hand, true Worshippers, and at the same time calamitous Citizens ; then to find them neither religious nor prosperous, under a Law

which

CALAMITIES.

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which pretended to procure truth without temporal felicity, or to establish peace and prosperity in the midst of error; this indeed (without taking in the perversity of such a System) would have fully discredited the pretended original. But when, in this Law, truth and happiness, error and misery, are declared to have an inseparable connexion; the freethinking Politician, who shews from history that this connexion was constant and invariable, is intrapped by the retortion of nature and reason, to prove against himself the Divinity of that Institute he labours to discredit.

Still further : When, on reading the history of this extraordinary People, we find (as Joscphus well expresses it) that, in proportion to the neglect of the Law, easy things became unsurmountable, and all their undertakings, how just soever, ended in incurable calamities*, we cannot but acknowledge the divine direction in every stage of such a Dispensation. For, to comprehend the whole of the Historian's meaning, we must remember, that there were some Laws given purposely to manifest the divinity of their original : such as that against multiplying horses; which, when it was transgressed, easy things became unsurmountable ; and that which most facilitates a victory, a strong body of Cavalry intermixed with loot, proved amongst the Israelites a certain means of their defeat. . So again, when they transgressed the Law which commanded all the males to go annually to the temple, the historian tells us, their most just undertakings ended in incurable calamities; and sure nothing could be more just than to defend their borders from invaders; yet they were sure to be most infested with them when

καθ' όσον δ' άν αποσύσί της τέτων ακριβώς επιμελείας, άπορα μεν γίνεται τα σόριμα, τρέπεται δ' εις συμφοράς ανήκέτες, ό, τι σοτ' άν ως αγαθών δραν σπεδάσωσιν, Antiq. ν. 1, p. 4.

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