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SHEWING THAT THE OMISSION OF A FUTURE STATE IN THE
MOSAIC DISPENSATION DOTH NOT MAKE IT UNWORTHY
As both Believers and Unbelievers have, by some blind chance or other, concurred to make this Objection to the OMISSION ; I think it not improper, before I enter upon the Subject of the Mosaic Law, which comes next into consideration, to remove this common prejudice concerning it. And as a celebrated Writer has collected together what hath been said in support of the Objection, and given to it all the strength that the force of his own genius could impart, I suppose his words will be the best text to my discourse.
“L'Evêque Warburton, auteur d'un des plus savants ouvrages qu'on ait jamais fait, s'exprime ainsi, page 8. tome I. Une Religion, une Société qui n'est pas fondée sur la créance d'une autre vie, doit être soutenue par une Providence extraordinaire. Le Judaïsme n'est pas fondé sur la créance d'une autre vie ; donc, le Judaïsme a été soutenu par une providence extraordinaire.' Plusieurs Theologiens se sont élevés contre lui, et comme on rétorque tous les arguments, on a retorqué le sien, on lui a dit : « Toute Religion, qui n'est pas fondée sur le dogme de l'immortalité de l'ame, et sur les peines et les récompenses eternelles, est necessairement fausse ; Or le Judaïsme ne connut point ces dogmes, donc le Judaïsme, loin d'etre soutenu par la Providence, était par vos principes une Religion fausse et barbare qui attaquait la Providence.' Cet Evêque eut quelques autres adversaires qui lui soutinrent que l'immortalité de l'ame était connue chez les Juifs, dans le temps même de Moïse ; mais il leur prouva tres-évidemment que ni le Décalogue, ni le Levitique, ni le Deuteronome, n'avaient dit un seul mot de cette creance, et qu'il est ridicule de vouloir tordre et corrompre quelques passages des autres livres, pour en tirer une vérité qui n'est point annoncée dans le livre de la Loi.
“Mr. l'Evêque ayant fait quatre Volumes pour demontrer que la Loi Judaïque ne proposait ni peines ni recompenses après la mort, n'a jamais pû répondre à ses adversaires d'une manière bien satisfaisante. Ils lui disaient : “Ou Moïse connaissait ce Dogme, et alors il a trompé les Juifs en ne le manifestant pas ; ou il l'ignorait, et en ce cas il n'en savait pas assez pour fonder une bonne Religion. En effet si la Religion avait été bonne, pourquoi l'aurait-on abolie ? Une Religion vraie doit être pour tous les temps et pour tous les lieux, elle doit être comme la lumiere du Soleil, qui éclaire tous les Peuples et toutes les Générations.'
“Ce Prelate tout éclairé qu'il est, a eu beaucoup de peine à se tirer de toutes ces difficultés ; mais quel Systême en est exempt?” *
The trouble I have had in disengaging myself from these difficulties will now be seen.
The Objections, as here stated by this ingenious man, respect, we see, both the LEGISLATOR and the Law.
1. Either Moses (says he) was acquainted with a future State, and in that case he deceived the Jews in not teaching it : or he was ignorant of the doctrine, and in this case he did not know enough to become the Author of a good Religion. Indeed, if the religion had been good, Why was it abolished ? a true religion should be for all times and places. It's light should be like that of the Sun, which illumines all nations and all generations.
2. All Religion which is not founded on the doctrine of the Soul's immortality and future rewards and punishments is necessarily false: but, in Judaism, these doctrines were not contained : therefore Judaism, so far from being supported by an extraordinary Providence, was, on your own Principles (says he to the Bishop) a religion false and barbarous, which attacked and insulted Providence.
1. The first argument, against the integrity of Moses's conduct from this Omission, had been urged at large by the late Lord BOLINGBROKE ; and the Reader may find it at large confuted, in the Appendix to the Fifth Book of the Dirine Legation.
2. The second argument, against the integrity of the Law from this Omission, has been clamoured by a large Body of Answerers, led up by Dr. STEBBING. But these men pretending to believe Revelation, their reason, for want of integrity in such a Religion, was founded in a supposed defect in it’s Essence ; so their conclusion from this reasoning was, “ That a future State was certainly in the Mosaic Religion, how much soever it might walk there in Masquerade.” The celebrated Frenchman, who pretends to no such belief, founds his argument on the reality of the Omission, and from thence concludes, “that the Mosaic Law was an imposture.”
I shall examine what they have to say, in their order.
I. The English Doctor comes first. “You consider” (says this candid Divine, addressing himself to the Author of the Divine Legation) “ the Ignorance of the Jews as to the doctrine of a future State, as one of the most momentous truths that Religion has to boast of. I, on the other hand, look upon it as a DISGRACE to Revelation ; as by the very act of God himself, it shots out his own chosen People, for many ages, from that single point of Knowledge, which could be the foundation of a reasonable Worship; while, by the directions of his Providence, all the world besides were permitted to have the benefit of it.” +
• Dictionnaire Philosophique Portatif : article (Religion, premiere question.) † "An Examination of Mr. Warburton's second Proposition, &c. in an Epistolary Dissertation addressed to the Author,” pp. 131, 132.
Here we see the Doctor proposes to confute my representation of the omission of a future State in the Mosaic Religion : But, for inine, he gives us his own, and very notably confutes that. My idea of the omission I declared to be this, that, as the Jews, to whom the Mosaic Religion was given, were, at the time of giving, under an extraordinary Providence, they had no absolute need of the doctrine. The Doctor's idea of the omission is, that when the Mosaic Religion was given to the Jews, they were under an ordinary Providence, and therefore the doctrine was necessary. That I do him no wrong in charging him with this sophistical chicanery, appears from his own words, where he gives his reason for saying that my (meaning his own) representation of the omission is a disgrace to Revelation ; namely, because this single point of Knowledge [i. e. a future state] is the only FOUNDATION of a reasonable Worship. Now, it is obvious to common sense, that this can be only predicated of a future state under an ordinary Providence : And that under an extraordinary it is no necessary FOUNDATION at all.
If it should be pretended (for it will hardly be owned that the Doctor, with all his zeal, was an Unbeliever) that by the many ages in which the people of God were shut up (as he expresses it) from this knowledge, he meant, those ages in which the Jews lived under a common providence, this subterfuge will not serve his turn, for I have shewn, that when the extraordinary dispensation ceased, the Jews, like all the world besides, and by the same means of information, had all the benefit which the knowledge of this FUTURE STATE, such as it was, could afford them.
But let us take the Doctor as we find him.
He tells us why he looks upon my representation of the Mosaic Religion as a disgrace to Revelation.-Because (says he) by the very act of God himself it shuts out his own chosen people from that single point of Knowledge which could be the foundation of a reasonable Worship.
Let us examine this curious period on all sides.
By the act of God himself he must mean, (for nothing else can be meant ; and it is only when his meaning is thus circumstanced, that I can be certain, I do not mistake it) he must mean, I say, God's act, by the ministry of Moses. Now this very Doctor, in his several Pieces against The Divine Legation, has, over and over again, told his Reader, that Moses did not teach, NOR HAD IT IN HIS COMMISSION TO TEACH a future state to the Israelites. For, at every step, he brings himself into these distresses (if such a trifle as a contradiction can be supposed to distress him) by a false modesty. He was ashamed of the absurdity of his Brethren, who all along maintained, that Moses taught, or ought to have taught, a future state : and therefore, at this turn, leaves them in the lurch ; and slyly steals in the better principle of his Adversary, that Moses had no Commission to teach it: for he must have been duller than any Doctor can be supposed to be, not to discover that this was his Adversary's principle, after having seen him write a large book to prove that, Moses did not teach it. I call this desertion of his Friends, a false modesty ; For what is it else, to be shocked at one of their absurdities, while he is defending all the rest ? whose only support, too, happens to be in that one which he rejects. Indeed, good Doctor,
-PUDOR TE MALUS urget
But “God” (says he) “ by this very act, shut out his own chosen people from the knowledge of a future state.” It is very true, God's own chosen people were shut out. But not, as our Doctor dreams, by the very act of God himself: but (if he will have the Truth, who never seeks it, for itself) by the very act of their Forefather, Adam. It was the First Man who shut them out ; and the door of Paradise was never opened again, till the coming of the Second Man, the Lord from Heaven. But this is the Language of Scripture: and this language his Sums and Systems do not teach him. But more of this secret hereafter.
A future state (says our Doctor absolutely and without exception) is that single point of knowledge which could be the foundation of a reasonable worship. Here Doctors differ. St. Paul places the foundation of a reasonable worship in another thing. He saith, that, HE THAT COMETH TO GOD MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS ; AND TUAT HE IS A REWARDER OF THEM THAT DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM.*—What is Man's purpose in coming to God ? Without doubt, to worship him. And what doth the great Doctor of the Gentiles tell us is the true, the reasonable foundation of this worship? Why, TO BELIEVE THAT HE IS A REWARDER OF THEM THAT DILIGENTLY SEEK Him. He places this foundation (we see) in à REWARD simply, and generically ; not in that particular species of it, a putURE STATE. He places it in the nature ; not (as our modern Doctor) in the inessential circumstances, of Reward. The consequence is, that a reward given HERE was as solid a foundation of a reasonable Worship to the early Jews, living under an EXTRAORDINARY Providence, as a reward given HEREAFTER, is to us Christians, living under the ORDINARY one.
Another consequence (though it be but a trifle) is, that our learned Doctor is mistaken. But to come a little closer to this formidable man, now I have got the Apostle on my side. I will undertake to DEMONSTRATE (how much soever he and his Fellows take offence at the word) that a FUTURE State is so far from being the only foundation of a reasonable Worship, that, as a mode of existence, it is no foundation at all. The true foundation of a reasonable Worship, being this and this only, that God is a rewarder of them who seek him. He may reward here, or he may reward hereafter. But, which he chuses is indifferent, as to the solidity of the foundation ; because piety and MORALITY, which constitute a REASONABLE WORSHIP, spring only from the belief that God is, and that he is a Rewarder. The Mosaic Religion, teaching this, enjoins that men should love God with all their hearts, with all their soul, &c. for the excellence of his nature ; and that they should love their neighbours as themselves, for the equality of their common nature, which requires an equal measure for ourselves and others. Now Jesus says, that, on the Love of God and of our Neighbour hang all the Law and
• Heb. xi. 6.
the Prophets, i. e. in the most confined sense, it is the foundation of a reasonable Worship. Our Doctor says, No ; a future state is the only foundation. In a word then, since Piety, which constitutes a reasonable Worship, and since VIRTUE, which constitutes a reasonable service, are both raised and supported by the belief, that God is, and that he is a Rewarder; What more forceable inducement is there in our selfish nature to cherish them, than that which the Law of Moses holds forth, when it teaches that every work shall receive it's full recompence of reward HERE ?Here or hereafter, in this life or in another, being only the modes of receiving one and the same thing, cannot possibly affect either piety or morality. But it hath been taken for granted, that there is in future rewards something of a virtue to PURIFY the mind, which present rewards have not. I shall consider, before I have done with the question, on what ground this opinion stands. In the mean time, let us hear the famous Orobio, the Jew; who, though little to his own purpose, yet much to ours, and to such Objectors to the purity of the Mosaic Law, as our Doctor—“Omnes [Christiani] cultum internum prædicant, quasi a Deo internus cultus summa cum perfectione in Lege non fuisset præscriptus ; Tota quidem interni cultus perfectio consistit in vero et constantissimo Dei amore, et Proximi propter ipsum Deum : Hic est totus cultus internus ex quo omnia opera externa, seu moralia, seu ritualia sint, debent profluere : quæ si ex hoc principio non emanaverint, imperfectissima sunt, et divinæ Legi prorsus adversa.” *
Our Doctor proceeds—“God's chosen people were shut out, for many ages, from that point of knowledge, which, by the directions of his Providence, all the world besides were PERMITTED to have the BENEFIT of.”—In examining the predicate of this proposition, I shall first consider the PERMISSION, and then the BENEFIT.
All the World besides (says he) were permitted. By what instrument? I ask ; for they had no Revelation-By the use of their Reason, says he.And had not the Jews the use of theirs ? No, replies he, not the free use : for their Prophet (according to you) delivering to them, from God, a new Law and a new Religion in which the doctrine of a future state was omitted, this would naturally lead them to conclude against it ?—What ? in defiance of all the clear deductions of Reason, which, from God's demonstrable attributes of justice and goodness, made the Pagan world conclude, that as moral good and evil had not their retribution here, they would have it, hereafter ?—Yes, for Moses PROMISED they should have their retribution here.—What then? other ancient Lawgivers promised their People the same thing. Yet this did not hinder their having recourse to a future state to secure the foundation of Religion, which, St. Paul tells us, is the belief that God is, and that he is the Rewarder of them that seek him. The matter now begins to pinch : and the Doctor must be dumb, or confess that the only possible reason one can assign why the Jews had not recourse to the same expedient for securing the foundation of Religion, which the Gentiles had recourse to, was because they felt the performance as well as heard the
• P. 110.