« ForrigeFortsett »
they thought themselves best secured : that is, while their males were at home, when they should have been worshipping at the Temple.
III. But it is now time to come a little closer to his Lordship. He has been all along arguing on a FALSE PACT, which his ignorance of the nature of the Jewish Separation hindered him froin seeing.
He understood, indeed, that this extraordinary economy had, for its primary end, something very diffesent from all other civil Policies; and that that which was the first indeed the only end) in others, was but the secondary end in this. Yet this primary end he saw so obscurely, as not to be able to make it out. He supposed it was to keep the Israelites from idolatry; whereas it was TO PRESERVE THE MEMORY OF THE ONE GOD IN AN IDOLATROUS WORLP, till the coming of Christ: To keep the Israelites from idolatry, was but the mean to this end. Thus has our political Architect " mistaken the scaffold for the pile,” as his harmonious friend expresses it. And the mistake is the more gross, as the notion of the ultimate end's being to keep the Israelities from idolatry, is founded in that vain fancy of Jewish pride, that their Fathers were selected as the favourites of God, out of bis fandness for the race of Abraham. • Under this rectified idea therefore let us consider the truth of his Lordship’s assertion, That no Law ever operated so weak and uncertain an effect as the Law of Moses did: far from prevailing against accidents and conjunctures, the least was sufficient to interrupt the course, and to defeat the designs of it.
Now if we keep the true end of the Law in view, we shall see, on the contrary, that it prevailed constantly and uniformly, without the least interruption, against the most violent accidents, and in the most
unfavourable conjunctures; those I mean, which hap-. pened when their propensity to the practice of idolatry, and their prejudice for the principle of intercommunity, were at the height: for amidst all the disorders consequent, thereto, they still preserved the knowledge of the true God, and performed the Rites ordained by the Law. And the very calamities which followed the infraction of the Law, of which the neighbouring Nations occasionally partook, were sufficient to alarm these latter, when most at ease, amidst the imaginary protection of their tutelary Gods, and to awaken them to the awful sense of a BEING different, as well as superior to their National Protectors. Which shews, that the Law, still operated its effect, strongly and constantly; and still prevailed against accidents and conjunctures, which it governed and directed, instead of lying at the inercy, of them. But as it is very probable that the frequent transgressions, which those accidents and conjunctures occasioned, would in time have defeated the end of the Law, the transgressors were punished by a seventy-years-captivity; the ex, traordinary circumstances of which made such an impression on their haughty masters, as brought them to confess that the God of Israel was the true God; and was so severely felt by them, that they had an utter aversion and abhorrence of Idolatry, or the worship of false Gods, ever after. So that írom thence to the coming of Christ, a course of many ages, they adhered, though tributary and persecuted, and (what has still greater force than Persecution, if not thoroughly administered) despised and ridiculed by the two greatest Empires of the world, the Greek and Roman; and though surrounded with the pomp and splendor of Pagan idolatries, recommended by the fashion of Courts, and the plausible glosses of Philosophers, they
adhered, I say strictly, and even superstitiously, to the letter of that Law, which allowed of no other Gods besides the God of Israel. Now if this was not gaining its end, we must seek for other modes of speech, and other conceptions of things, when we reason upon Government and Laws.
Yet this was not all. For the Law not only gained its end, in delivering down the Religion of the TRUE Gop into the hands of the REDEEMER OF MANKINI); who soon spread it throughout the whole Roman Empire; but even after it had done its destined work, the vigour of the Mosaic Revelation still working at the root, enabled a bold Impostor to extend the principle of the UNITY still wider, till it had embraced the remotest regions of the habitable World : So that, at this day, almost all the Natives of the vast regions of higher Asia, wliether Gentiles, Christians, or Mahometans, are the professed worshippers of the one ONLY GOD. How much the extension of the principle of the Unity has been owing to this Cause, under the permission and direction of that Providence, which is ever producing good out of evil, is known to all who are acquainted with the present state of the Eastern world.
The reason why I ascribe so much of this good, to the lasting efficacy of the Mosaic Law, is this : Mahomet was born and brought up an Idolater, and inhabited an idolatrous Country; so that had he seen no more of true Religion than in the superstitious practice of the Greek Church, at that time overrun with saint and image-worship, it is odds but that, when he set up for a Prophèt, he might have made Idolatry the basis of his new Religion : But getting acquainted with the Jews and their Scriptures, he came to understand the folly of Gentilism and the corruptions of VOL. V.
Christianity; and by this means was enabled to preacht, up the doctrine of the ONE GOD, in its purity and intégrity. It is again remarkable, that to guard and secure this doctrine, which lle made the fundamental principle of Ishmaelitism, he brought into his Impoza ture many of those provisions which Moses had put in practice to prevent the contagion of idolatıy.
But the great Man with whom we have to do, is sá. secure of his fact, namely, that the Law was perpetually defeated, and never guined its end, that he supé poses liis Adversaries, the DIVINES, are ready tor confess it; and will only endeavour to elude his inference by throwing the ill sacecss of its operations or thic hardness of the People's hearts and the impiety of their Governor's*. And this affords him fresh oceasion of triumph.
I will not be positive that this species of Divines is intirely of his own invention, and that this their apology for Moses is altogether as imaginary as their famons CONFEDERACY † against God; bccause I know løy experience that there are of these Divines, who, in support of their passions and prejudiues, are always ready (as I liave amply experienced) to admit what Scripture opposes, and to oppose what it admits, in: alınost every page. But tie best Apologies of suel men are never worth a defence, and indoce are rarely capable of any.
To conclude :: Such as these here exposed, are als the reasonings of his Lordslip's bulky volumes: And no wonder; wncis a writer, hoivever able in other matters, will needs dictate in a Science of which he did not possess so much as the first principles.
Pages 293, 4.
t. Vol. V. p. 303-307. 393*
SECT. III. HAVING thus shewh the nature of this THEO CRACY, and the attendant circumstances of its erection; our next enquiry will be concerning its DURATION.
Most writers suppose it to have ended with the JUDGES ; but scarce any bring it lower than the CAPTIVITY. On the contrary, I hold that, in strict truth and propriety, it ended not 'till the coming of CHRIST:
I. That it ended not with the Judges, appears evident, for these reasons :
1. Though indeed the People's purpose, in their clamours for a King, was to live under a Gentile Monarchy, like their idolatrous neighbours (for so it is represented by God himself, in bis reproof of their impiety *); yet in compassion to their blindness, he, in this instance, as in many others, indulged their prejudices, without exposing them to the fatal consequence of their project: which, if complied with, in the sense they formed it, had been the withdrawing of his extraordinary protection from them, at a tiine when they could not support themselves without it. He therefore gave them a King; but such an one as was only his viceroy or Deputy; and who, on that account, was not left to the People's election, as he left his own Regality; but was chosen by himself: the only difference between God's appointment of the Judges and of Saul being this, that They were chosen by internal impulse; Ile, by Lots, or external designation.
2. This King had an 'unlimited executive power ; as God's Viceroy must needs have.
1 Sam. vii. 7.