« AnteriorContinua »
It never, I say, could have come from such men, had they been at all acquainted with the Doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments; or had they not been long accustomed to an extraordinary Providence.
P. 148. [X] Mr. Chubb, in some or other of his Tracts, has, as I remember, made an unusual effort; an effort to be witty. He observes, that the Author of the Divine Legation has done the Unbeliever's business for him; "by proving that an equal Providence was promised; while the Bible shews that it was not performed." But he might have known, that the Author did not furnish Infidelity with this foolish objection; it lay open to them. And he might have seen, that the folly of it was here effectually exposed. However, Mr. Chubb was a very extraordinary personage; and might have said with the reasoning Rustic in Moliere,-Oui, si j'avois étudié j'aurois eté songer à des choses ou l'on n'a jamais songé. As it was, he did wonders. He began with defending the reasonableness of Christianity, and carried on his work so successfully, that, before he gave over, he had reasoned himself out of Religion.
P. 158. [Y] The Atheist Vanini, indeed, seems to rank Moses in the number of those Politicians, who, he says, promised a future state that the cheat might never be found out.-In unica naturæ lege, quam natura, quæ Deus est (est enim principium motus) in omnium gentium animis inscripsit. Cæteras vero leges non nisi figmenta & illusiones esse asserebant, non a cacodæmone aliquo inductas, fabulosum namque illorum genus dicitur a philosophis, sed a principibus ad subditorum pædagogiam excogitatas, & a sacrificulis ob honoris & auri aucupium confirmatas, non miraculis, sed scriptura, cujus nec originale ullibi adinvenitur, que miracula facta recitet, & bonarum ac malarum actionum repromissiones polliceatur, in futura tamen
vita, ne fraus detegi possit.-De admirandis naturæ arcanis.
P. 162. [Z] The miserable efforts of these men to evade the force of a little plain sense is deplorable. "Moses (says one of them) could not omit the men"tion of the Devil for the reason given by the author "of the D. L. because he mentions in expressly, "and represents him as the patron, if not as the author, of idolatry. Deut. xxxii. ver. 17." Rutherforth's Essay, p. 294.-The words of Moses are these,-They sacrificed to DEVILS, not to God; to Gods whom they knew not, to new Gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. The Hebrew word here translated Devils, is Schedim, which, the best interpreters tell us, has another signification. The true God being Schaddei, the omnipotent and all-sufficient; the Gentile Gods, by a beautiful opposition, are called Schedim, counterfeit Gods. And the context, where they are called new Gods, shews this interpretation to be the true. But admit that, by Schedim is to be understood evil spirits: by these spirits are not meant fallen Angels, but the souls of wicked men. These were the Demons of Paganism; but the Devils discovered by Revelation have a different nature and original: Accordingly the Septuagint, which took Schedim in the sense of the souls of wicked men, translates it by daμóna.
P. 164. [AA] Dr. Sykes in disputing with me, as we have seen above, on this question, Whether the extraordinary Providence was only over the State in general, or whether it extended to Particulars, having sufficiently puzzled himself and his reader; To recover the ground he had lost, on a sudden changes the question, and now tells us that it is, "Whether an extraordinary Providence was administered to "Particulars IN SUCH A MANNER that no trans"gressor of the Law escaped punishment, nor any
"observer of the Law missed his reward;"-" which "Mr. Warburton represents (says he) to be the state "of the Jews under an equal Providence." [Exam. pp. 187, 8.] Now what his drift was in this piece of management, is easily understood. It was to introduce a commodious Fallacy under an ambiguous expression; which would be always at hand to answer his occasions. And indeed, the cautious reader (and I would advise no other to have to do with him) will suspect no less, when he observes that the words, [no Transgressor escaped Punishment, nor any Observer of the Law missed his Reward] quoted from me, are not to be found in that place where I state the nature of the extraordinary Providence; but here, where I speak of the consequences of it, in the words aboveWe have shewn at large, &c. What now has this ANSWERER done? He has taken the words [no Transgressor escaping Punishment, nor any Observer of the Law missing his Reward] from their natural place; misrepresented their purpose; and given them to the reader as my DEFINITION of an extraordinary Providence to Particulars. And not content with all this, he has put a false and sophistical sense upon them, vis. THAT NO ONE SINGLE PERSON, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, ever escaped Punishment, or missed his Reward. And in this sense, by the vilest prevarication, he repeats and applies them, on every following occasion, as the sole answer to all my reasonings on the subject of an extraordinary Providence. It will be proper then to shew, that the words could not mean, by any rules of just construction, that every single person, without exception, was thus punished and rewarded; but only that this extraordinary Providence over Particulars was so exactly administered, that no one could hope to escape it, or fear to be forgotten by it.
First then, let it be observed, that the words are no absolute assertion; but a consequence of something asserted.-AND THEN no Transgressor escaping, etc.
which illative words the honest Examiner omitted.→→ What I had asserted was simply this, that the extraor dinary Providence over the Jews was in Scripture represented as administered over Particulars; but that this very administration would of necessity be attended with some inequalities. Must not then the consequence I draw from these premises be as restrained as the premises themselves? Secondly, I said, that God had promised an equal Providence to Particulars, but that he had declared, at the same time, how it should be administered, viz. in such a manner as would occasion some few exceptions. If therefore Dr. Sykes would not allow me, he ought to have allowed God Almighty at least, to explain his own meaning. Thirdly, had the words been absolute, as they then might have admitted of two senses, did not common ingenuity require, that I should be understood in that which was easiest to prove, when either was alike to my purpose? But there was still more than this to lead an ingenuous man into my nieaning; which was, that he might observe, that I used, throughout my whole discourse of the Jewish Economy, the words extraordinary Providence and equal Providence, as equivalent terms. By which he might understand that I all along admitted of exceptions. Fourthly, If such rare cases of exception destroyed an equal Providence to Particulars, (which Providence I hold) it would destroy, with it, the equal Providence to the State, (which Dr. Sykes pretends to hold). But if not for the sake of truth in opinion, yet for fair-dealing in practice, Dr. Sykes should have interpreted my words not absolutely, but with exceptions. For thus stood the case. He quoted two positions from the Divine Legation, 1. That there. was an extraordinary Providence over the State in general. 2. Over private men in particular. He grants the first; and denies the second. But is not the extent of that providence understood to be in both cases the same? Now in that over the State, he understands
derstands it to have been with exceptions, as appears from his own mention of the case of Achan, p. 190; and of David, p. 197. Ought he not, then, by all the rules of honest reasoning, to have understood the Proposition denied, in the same sense he understands the Proposition granted? If in the administration over the State in general, there were some few exceptions, why not in That over private men in particular?
But if now the candid reader shall ask me, Why I employed expressions, which, when divorced from the context, might be abused by a Caviller to a perverse meaning, I will tell him. I used them in imitation of the language of the Apostle, who says that, under the Jewish Economy, EVERY transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward*. And if He be to be understood with latitude, why may not I?
P. 165. [BB] But as GoD acted with them in the capacity of the Creator and Father of all Men, as well as of tutelary God and King, he was pleased, at the same time, to provide that they should never lose the memory of the attributes of the Almighty: and therefore adds,-And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Numb. xiv. 18. Deut. v. 10.
P. 165. [CC] "The Author of the D. L. (says "Dr. Sykes) goes on, and observes that this punish
ment [of visiting the iniquities of Fathers upon "their Children] was only to supply the want of a future state. But how will this extraordinary economy SUPPLY this want? The Children at present "suffer for their Parents' crimes; and are supposed
to be punished when they have no guilt. Is not "this a plain act of HARDSHIP? And if there be "no future state or compensation made, the hardship "done must continue for ever a hardship on the
* Heb. ii. 2.