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THE DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES
BOOKS IV. V. VI.
ΑΠΟΚΑΛΥΨΟΝ ΤΟΥΣ ΟΦΘΑΛΜΟΥΣ ΜΟΥ ΚΑΙ
ΚΑΤΑΝΟΗΣΩ ΤΑ ΘΑΥΜΑΣΙΑ ΕΚ ΤΟΥ ΝΟΜΟΥ ΣΟΥ.-PSAL.
DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES
The foregoing Volume* hath occasionally, and in the course of my main argument, shewn the reader, that it was always the practice of mankind to listen to, and embrace some pretended REVELATION ; in neglect of what is called, in contradistinction to it, the RELIGION OF NATURE ; that, I mean, which is only founded on our relation to the first Cause; and deducible from the eternal reason of things.t
If ever a general propensity might be called a dictate of Nature, this surely may. That such a propensity there is, the Deist, or pretended follower of natural Religion, freely confesseth, nay, is forward to insist upon, as a circumstance of discredit to those Revelations, which we receive for true. Yet surely, of all his visionary advantages, none ever afforded him less cause of triumph; a consequence flowing from it, which is entirely subversive of his whole scheme.
For let me ask such a one, What could be the cause of so universal a propensity in all ages, places, and people ? But before he answer, let him see that he be able to distinguish between the causes which the Few had in giving, and the Many in receiving, pretended Revelations. The causes for projecting and giving are explained at large in the former volume ; where it is shewn, that all the pretended Revelations, but real corruptions of religion, came from Princes and Lawgivers. It is true, he hath been taught otherwise. His instructors, the Tolands and Tindals of the time, assure him, that all came from
• Books i. ii. ii. + Συ δε τον λόγον εξ αρχής αναλαβών της δεισιδαίμονος πλάνης, επίσκεψαι την διάπτωσιν φύσει μέν ούν και αυτοδιδάκτοις εννοίαις, μάλλον δε θεοδιδάκτοις, καλόν τι και ωφέλιμον τυγχάνειν, το σημαίνον της του θεού προσηγορίαν τε και ουσίαν. σάντες γαρ άνθρωποι κοινούς λογισμούς προειλήφεσαν, του τών όλων Δημιουργού, τούτο σάση λογική και νοερά ψυχή, φυσικαϊς εννοίαις υποσπείραντος ου μην και τη προαιρέσει τη κατά λόγον εκέχρηντο.-ΕυSEBII Pray. Evang. lib. ii. cap. 6, edit. Steph. pp. 45, 46.
the PRIESTS ; and I suppose they spoke what they believed : It might be so, for any thing they knew.
My question then is, What could induce Mankind to embrace these offered Revelations, unless it were, 1. Either a ConsCIOUSNESS, that they wanted a revealed Will for
the rule of their actions ; or, 2. An old Tradition, that God had vouchsafed it to their fore
fathers ? One can hardly conceive any thing else ; for a general effect must have as general a cause : which, in this case, is only to be found in the nature of man ; or in a tradition preserved in the whole race. Prince-craft or priest-craft might indeed offer them, for their own private ends : but nothing short of a common inducement could dispose mankind to accept them.
1. As to the consciousness of the want of a Revelation, that may fairly be inferred from the miserable blindness of our condition : And he who wants to be informed of this, should consult Antiquity ; or, what may be more for his ease, those modern writers, who, for no very good ends, but yet to a very good issue, have drawn such lively pictures of it, from thence. But without going even so far, he may find, in the very disposition to receive such absurd schemes of religion as Revelations from heaven, more than a thousand other arguments to prove men ignorant of the first principles of natural religion ; a very moderate knowledge of which would have certainly detected the imposture of those pretences. But now, men so totally at a loss for a rule of life, would greedily embrace any direction that came with pretended credentials from heaven.
If we turn to the Few, the wise and learned amongst them, we shall find the case still more desperate. In religious matters, these were blinder even than the People ; and in proportion too, as they were less conscious of their ignorance. The most advanced in the knowledge of human nature and its dependencies, were, without question, the ancient Sages of Greece. Of these, the wisest, and far the wisest, was SOCRATES; for he saw and confessed his ignorance, and deplored the want of a superior direction. For the rest, who thought themselves wise, and appeared not so sensibly to feel their wants, we have shewn at large, * how they became Fools ; and, debauched by false science, affected the language of Gods before they had well emancipated themselves from the condition of brutes. The two great supports of natural religion, in the world at large, are the belief of a FUTURE STATE, and the knowledge of MORAL OBLIGATION. The first was rejected by all ; and the true ground of the second was
• Book iii. sections 2-5.
+ The Stoics, who thought the soul mortal, yet reckoned their wise man equal, or superior, to the gods.
understood by none : The honour of this discovery was reserved for Revelation, which teacheth us, in spite of unwilling hearers, that the real ground of moral obligation is the will of God.
2. There only remains that other possible cause, the general tradition of God's early revelation of his will to mankind, as delivered in Scripture. I, for my part, suppose both concerned in the effect; and that that state of mind which disposed men to so ready and general a reception of these numerous impostures, was the result of the consciousness of their wants, joined to the prejudice of Tradition. If the Deist allow Tradition, he gives up the question ; if he acknowledge our wants, he affords a strong presumption, in favour of Revelation.
For if man (let the cause proceed from what it will) be so irrecoverably blind and helpless, it is highly reasonable to think that Infinite Goodness would lead and enlighten him by an extraordinary revelation of his will.
But here, Tindal objects, “ That this blindness is men's own fault, who, instead of improving their reason, and following its dictates, which would lead them into all truth our own Scriptures assuring us, that that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them),* go on like beasts, and follow one another as they are led or driven.”
To this I answer, that what had been the lot of man from the beginning of the world to the birth of CHRIST, was like to continue so to the end of it. A deviation springing from no partial cause of climate, government, or age ; but the sad effect of human weakness in the circumstance of our earthly situation.—By the fault of man, it is true ; but such a fault as, it is seen by long experience, man could never remedy. He therefore flies to Heaven for relief; and seems to have reason for his confidence.
But to this, our man of morals has a reply at hand ; “ That if such be our condition, it may indeed want redress ; but then, a Revelation will not render the cure lasting.” And for this he appeals to the corrupt state of the Christian world; which, in his opinion, seems to demand a new Revelation, to restore the virtue and efficacy of the old.
But let me tell this vain Rationalist, There is an extreme difference between the corruption of the Pagan and the Christian world. In the Pagan, where false Revelations had given men wrong ideas of the attributes of the Deity, they must of course, and did in fact, act viciously UPON PRINCIPLE; † a condition of blindness which seemed
• Rom. i. 19, 20. + See “ Divine Legation,” book ii. sect. 5.-Thy púow Syntoùs και ανθρωπίνεις κεχρημένους συμφοραίς, ως αγαθών χορηγούς, σωτήρας και θεούς αναγορεύειν, την σεβάσμιον έννοιαν φυσικώς αυτοίς ενυπάρχουσαν, εφ' ους ενόμιζον ευεργέτας μετατεθεικότες. Τοσαύτη δ' άρα συνείχεν αυτούς φρενών αποπληξία, ως μηδέν των πλημμελουμένων τους θεολογουμένοις υπολογίζεσθαι» μηδ' ερυθριάν επί τοις αισχρώς σερί αυτών φημιζομένοις, τα πάντα δε τους άνδρας διά τάς παρ' αυτών παρεχομένας ωφε