body reduced to dust, yet God would raise that Community again to life. Thus Isaiah: Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise: Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust : For thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead". And that we may have no doubt of the Prophet's meaning, he himself explains it afterwards in the following words 7: And I will camp against thee round about, and I will lay siege against thea zeith a mount, and I will raise forts against thee. And thou shalt be®brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust. Nothing could be more plain or simple than such a metaphoric image, even amongst men who had no knowledge that the natural body was indeed to rise again; because every man knowing what it is to live and to die, every man knows what it is to revive, this being only an idea compounded of the other two : So that we see there was no occasion for the doctrine of the Resurrection to make the language intelligible.

Nay farther, this metaphorical expression must have there most efficacy where the doctrine of the Resurrection was unknown. For we have observed it was employed to inspire the highest sentiments of God's Omnipotency; but that always strikes the mind, most forcibly which is as well new as superior to its comprehension. Therefore life from the dead was used, (and from the force with which a new idea strikes) it became almost proverbial in the writings of the Prophets, to express the most unlikely deliverance, by the exertion of Almighty power. * Ch, xxvi. ver. 19.

+ Ch. xxix. 3, 4.0


The following instance will support both these observations; and shew, that the Doctrine' was unknown; and that the Image was of more force for its being unknown. The Prophet Ezekiel *, when tlıe state of things was most desperate, is carried, by the Spirit, into a valley full of dry bones, and asked this question, Son of man, Can these dry bones live? A question which God would hardly have made to a Prophet brought up in the knowledge and belief of a Resurrection. But supposing the question had been made; the answer by inen so brought up, must needs have been, without hesitation, in the affirmative. But we find the Prophet altogether surprised at the strangeness of the demand. He was drawn one way by the apparent impossibility of it to natural conceptions ; hé was drawn the other, by his belief in the Omnipotence of God. Divided between these two sentiments, he makes the only answer which a man in such circumstances could make, O Lord God thou knowest f. This surprising act of Onnipotency is therefore shewn in Vision, either real or imaginary. The bones come together; they are clothed with flesh, and receive the breath of life I. And then God declares the meaning of the representation,

Then he said unto me, Son “ of Man, these bones are the whole house of Israel :

Behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope “ is fost, we are cut off for our parts. Therefore

prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord “ God, Behold, O my People, I will open your graves; “ and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves,


my People, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you,


ye * Ch. xxxvii. + Ver. 3.

Ver. 8. 10.

66 shall

“ shall live; and I shall place you in your own Land. “ Then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken ity " and performed it, saith the Lord *.'

Here we see, in a Prophecy delivered in Action or Vision, instead of Words (the nature and original of which has been discoursed of elsewhere and afterwards explained by words, to ascertain its meaning, that the figurative ideas of Death and Resurrection are used for temporal distresses and deliverance: and this, at a time when the Doctrine of the Resurrection, from whence the metaphor is supposed to arise, was so far from being well known, that the figure could never have acquired its force and energy but from the People's ignorance of such a doctrine; the scenical representation, without all question, alluding to that proverbial speech amongst the Jews: IVilt thou shew wonders to the dead ? Shall the dead arise and praise theet? On the whole then nothing was ever worse grounded than the observation, that if the Scriptures speak of temporal misfortunes and deliverance in the terms of death and a resurrection, then the DOCTRINE of a resurrection must have been well known, or the language would have been unintelligible.

II. And now for the general Rule which follows: All words that are used in a figurative sense must be first understood in a literal. If no more be meant than that every figurative sense has a literal, the proposition is true, but trifling, because figurative is a relative term, and implies literal as its correlative. If it means, that he who uses words in a figurative sense must have an idea of the literal, this is likewise true; but nothing to the purpose, because the idea of a thing does not imply either the truth or the belief of it. But if it means, that a figurative proposition implies

+ Ps. lxxxviii, 11.


Ver. 11,

& seq.

the User's belief of its literal sense, this is to the purpose, but not true. The People had an Idea of dry bones being clothed again with flesh, and the breath of life inspired into the carcass; but they were so far from believing that was to be the case of all mankind, that they did not know whether it was possible that those bones in the valley could be restored.

To conclude with the AnswERERS of this Disser. tation, the miscellaneous Writers on the Book of Job; It may not be improper to remind them, that they would have done their duty better, and have given the learned and impartial Public more satisfaction, if, instead of labouring to evade two or three independent arguments, though corroborative of my interpretation, they had, in any reasonable manner, accounted, How this interpretation, which they affect to represent as visionary and groundless, should be able to lay open and unfold the whole conduct of the Poem upon one entire, , perfect, elegant and noble plan, which does more than vulgar honour to the Writer who composed it. And that it should at the same time, be as useful in defining the Parts as in developing the Whole; so that particular texts, which, for want of sufficient light, had hitherto been an easy prey to Critics from every quarter, are now no longer affected by the common opprobrium affixed to this book, of its being a nose of wax, made to suit every religious System. Of which, amongst many others, may be reckoned the famous text just now explained. All this,' our Hypothesis (as it is called) has been able to perform, in a Poem become, through length of time and negligence, so desperately perplexed, that Commentators have chosen, as the easier task, rather to find their own notions in it than to seek out those of the Author,


[ocr errors]

For the rest, For any fuller satisfaction, He that wants it is referred to the third chapter of the Free and candid Examination of the Bishop of London's * Principles, &c. where he will see, in a fuller light than perhaps he has been accustomed to see such matters, the great superiority of acute and solid reasoning over chicane and sophistry.

S E C T. III. THÉ book of JOB hath engaged me longer than I intended : but I shall make amends, by dispatching the remainder of the objections with great brevity.

Those brought from the OLD TESTAMENT are of two kinds :

I. Such as are supposed to prove the separate Existence, or, as it is called, the immortality of the Soul.

II. Such as are supposed to prove a future state of Reward and punishment, together with a Resurrection of the body.

I. To support the first point, the following words of Moses are urged, -“And God said, Let us make “ Man in our image, after our likeness : and let them “ have DOMINION, &c.—And God created man in

his own image, in the image of God created he “him | :” From whence it is inferred, that Man was created with an immaterial soul. On the contrary,

I suppose, that Moses was here giving intimation of a very different thing, namely, its rationality. My reasons are these :-I think, indeed, it may be strictly demonstrated that Man's soul is immaterial; but then the samé arguments which prove his immateriality, prove likewise that the souls of all living animals are immaterial ; and this too without the least injury * Dr. Sherlock.

+ Gen. i. 27.


« ForrigeFortsett »