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Moses (says he) ignorant of a future state, knew not enough to found a good Religion. Had Moses, when he said nothing of a future state, been equally silent concerning an extraordinary Providence, He might, I will confess, be concluded by our Philosopher (who supposes him a mere civil Lawgiver and uninspired) not to know enough to found a good religion : But when the Philosopher himself tells us that Moses had promised this extraordinary providence when he omitted a future state ; then, even on his own Idea of the Character of Moses, he can never rationally conclude, that the Lawgiver was not knowing enough in his office to found a good Religion, since we find that he did indeed know the use of a future state, as he provided a succedaneum for the want of it. Now, a Religion which teaches all that natural Religion teaches, viz. that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them who seek him, must needs be a good Religion ; and the Founder of it a perfect Master of his business.

Let us consider what all other Lawgivers did, whom our Philosopher will allow to have known enough. They founded their Religions on this common Principle, That God is, and that he is a Rewarder, &c. The doctrine of a future state was no more than a security for this Foundation, by a proper sanction, under an unequal Providence. Moses, under an equal dispensation of things, wanted not this sanction for the security of his Foundation, and therefore did not employ it.

But then (adds the Philosopher) if the Mosaic Religion was a GOOD Religion, Why was it abolished ? His equivocation in the use of the word good, which may signify either relative or absolute good, hath been already taken notice of. Had the Mosaic Religion been absolutely good, that is, good for all men as well as for the Jews, it had certainly never been abolished. But good, in this sense, he well knows, the Religion of Moses was never said to be, by the Author of The Divine Legation, or any other Believer. They only contend for its relative goodness. It was relatively good, they say, as it fully answered the design of God who gave it; which was, to preserve a chosen people, separate from the rest of mankind, to be a repository for the doctrine of the Unity; and to prepare the way for the further Revelation of a Religion absolutely good, or a Religion for the use of all Mankind. Now, to ask, Why a Religion only relatively good was abolished, to make way for another absolutely good, for the sake of which, the first was given in the interim, is a question that could be kept in countenance by nothing but the impertinence of a formal answer.

But, as our Philosopher, by his question, “If the Mosaic Religion was a good religion, Why was it abolished ?" seems to deny the justice and reasonableness of such a conduct in the Deity, I shall attempt, a little more fully,

to justify the ways of Go:l to man.

“True Religion” (says he) “ should be for all times and all places.”—I have rarely found any other labour in solving an objection to Revelation, than in detecting and exposing the ambiguity and equivocation of the terms, in which such are almost always delivered. It is the case here. True Religion (as we before observed of good ) may either signify a perfect Religion, or a Religion truely coming from God. True Religion, in the sense of a perfect Religion, hath certainly the attributes here assigned to it, of being for all times and places ; and this, we say, is amongst the attributes of the CHRISTIAN. But true Religion in the sense only of a Religion truely coming from God, like the Mosaic, doth imply no such universality; as shall be now shewn.

The assertion stands on this Principle, " That it is not agreeable to what the best Philosophy teacheth concerning the Nature and Attributes of the Deity, to give a rule of life to one particular people, exclusive of the rest of Mankind :” because such a dispensation would imply partiality and an impotent fondness for one above the rest. Now if God's revealing himself to one Race or Family doth imply in the act itself such a partiality, the Principle is well founded. But, it is apparent to common sense, that it doth not imply it; since various other reasons, besides partial fondness, may be assigned for the act. To know whether partial fondness be the motive, we must attend to the reasons which the Divine Author hath given for the Dispensation ; either explicitely by words in the declarations of his Messengers, or implicitely by circumstances attending the Gift.

Now, we say, that the Jewish Religion (the Dispensation in question) contains all these proofs, both express and implied, of its not being given out of fondness for the Jews, or under a neglect of the Gentiles; but, on the contrary, for the sake of Mankind in general.

It is notorious to all acquainted with ancient History, that, at the time Moses revealed the Law of God to the Jews, the whole Posterity of Adam, by some disaster or other, had forgot the Lord their Creator, and were sunk into the grossest Idolatries. It is agreeable to all the ideas we have of God's goodness, that he should rescue the human Race from the miserable condition into which they had fallen, through the abuse of their freewill; and out of which, by their own strength, they were unable to extricate themselves.

The only remaining question, then, will be, Whether, in this charitable work, God should seek the way of performing it, in our ideas, or in his own? The Philosopher says, without all doubt in ours : God should have relieved his labouring Creatures all at once, and have proceeded directly to the END, an universal Religion like the Christian ; instead of stopping so long at the means, a partial Religion like the Jewish. If God had any thing to do in the matter, we may be assured, the universal Religion would be delayed no longer than to the time in which he foresaw, that the giving of it would produce the best effects. And as Ages and Seasons are in the hand of God, He only knows the proper time for the accomplishment of his end. Indeed, were Man a machine, and to be governed only by the Laws of matter and motion, we can conceive no reason why infinite Wisdom did not pursue that direct course which led immediately to the END, instead of exercising its Providence so long in the support and continuance of the means. But as, in the opinion of Religionists of all kinds, man is not a machine, but was created an accountable Creature ; and as none can be accountable without the power and use of FREE-WILL ; this Creature was to be drawn (according to God's own expression) with the cords of a man. But He only, who formed the human heart, and knows what is in man, can tell when these cords are to be relaxed, and when drawn strait. In other words, the best means or method of bringing all mankind to God's truth cannot possibly be known by any but Himself, When we have seen the method employed, and the effects it hath produced, we have a sure way of knowing that it was the best ; because it was employed by an all-wise Conductor.

Now the Jewish Religion was the great mean, employed by Providence, of bringing all men to Christ. If this can be proved, and that the Mosaic Law was not given to the Jews out of any partial fondness for them, it will appear that a Religion may be true, though it were not designed for all times and places.

ABRAHAM (as appears by the history of his Race) was called by God out of an idolatrous City, to the Father and founder of a People, which, sequestered from all other, was to preserve amongst them, as in a sure Repository, the name and memory of the Creator ; at this point of time, in imminent danger of being obliterated and lost ; to preserve it, I say, till the fulness of time should come ; that is, till an Universal Religion, founded in the mystery of Redemption, should be revealed. In the very entrance on this means, the END was imparted to the Father of the Faithful, viz. that IN HIS NAME ALL THE FAMILIES UPON EARTH SHOULD BE BLESSED.

When the race of Abraham were now become numerous enough to support themselves in a National sequestration, God informs them, by the ministry of Moses, that the immediate blessings attending this sequestration, were bestowed upon them for the sake of their Father, Abraham, as the sequestration itself was ordained for the sake of all Mankind, intimated in the promise, that in his name all the Families upon earth should be blessed. By the ministry of his Prophets He repeats the same Lesson to them, viz. that this distinction was not for their sakes, but for his holy name's sake ; that is, for the better manifestation of his gracious Dispensation to all mankind. And, without question, the exceeding perversity and unworthiness of this People was recorded in sacred story, as for other uses to us unknown, so for this, to obviate that egregious folly both of Jews and Gentiles, in supposing that the Israelites were thus distinguished, or represented to be thus distinguished, as the peculiar Favourites of Heaven. An absurdity which all who attended to the nature of the God of Israel could confute : and which the Jewish History amply exposes.

But if their History informs us for what they were not selected, their Law and their PROPHETS inform us, for what they were. These declare, in their different modes of information, that this Religion was given, to prepare men for, and to facilitate the reception of, one UNIVERSAL.

In the first place, Let us consider the RITUAL or CEREMONIAL Law. If what I have here assigned to be, was, in truth, the end of the Jewish Dispensation, we may expect to find this Ritual declarative of such a purpose. And on examination it will be found to be so. The whole body of the

ritual Law being framed, in part, to oppose to the prevailing superstition of the Age in which it was given ; and, in part, to prefigure that future Dispensation, which was to take it away. By virtue of the first part of it's nature, the Jews were kept separate : and by virtue of the second, they were prepared to receive, and enabled to understand, the Religion of their promised Messiah. This, for the sake of mankind in general, was a necessary provision, since the first Preachers of the Gospel were preordained to be taken from amongst the Jewish People.

As to the PROPHETS, which from time to time were sent amongst them for the support of the Law: These (as appears by their predictions) had it principally in their Commission to acquaint their Countrymen occasionally, and by slow degrees, with the approaching CHANGE of their Oeconomy, and with the different nature of the new Dispensation.

Amongst the several intimations given them of the change, I shall select only two of the most capital ; the one is concerning the punishment of Children for the crimes of their Fathers ; the other, of the abolition of the Temple-Worship.

I have shewn that the first was promulged in aid of the sanction of the Jewish Law, in the absence of a future state ; but of no further use after the revelation of Life and immortality. So that Jeremiah, prophesying of this future Dispensation, says-In those days, they shall say no more, The Fathers have eaten a soure grape, and the Children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity ; every man that cateth the sowre grape his teeth shall be set on edge.* Yet such hath been the fortune of this illustrious evidence of the connexion between the old and new Law, that it has been represented as a contradiction between the Law and the Prophets. Although Jeremiah, as if on set purpose to obviate so foolish a calumny, immediately adds-Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new Covenant with the house of Israel and Judah ; & i. e. “The Reason why I take away this support of the sanction is, because the sanction itself will be abolished."

Another intimation of the change of the Dispensation is the Prophecy concerning the abolition of the Temple Worship. From the account given of the nature of the Jewish Law it appears, that the principal Rites of their Religious Worship were to be performed and celebrated in some appropriated and determined Place. This, the object and subject of their CEREMONIAL seemed equally to require : For the ideas of a tutelary God and King implied a LOCAL RESIDENCE : and a national Act, created and arising from these relations, required a fixed and certain place for it's celebrations. This, which the nature and reason of things so evidently point out, the institutes of the Law expresly order and enjoin. During the early and unsettled times of the Republic, the sacrifices prescribed by the Mosaic Ritual were directed to be offered up before the door of an ambulatory Tabernacle : But when they had gained the establishment decreed for them, and a magnificent Temple was now erected for the God of Israel, from henceforth all sacrifices were to be offered at Jerusalem only. Now sacrifices constituting the very essence of their national Worship, their Religion could no longer subsist than while that celebration continued. Yet the Prophets foretold, that a time would come when there should be no longer any TEMPLE-WORSHIP; which, in other words, was to foretell a change in the Dispensation. Zephaniah says, The Lord shall be terribleMen shall worship him every one FROM HIS PLACE, even all the Isles of the GENTILES*-every one from his place ; that is,“ they were not to go up to JERUSALEM to worship.” This he expresses more precisely in another place—In that day, there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the Land of Egypt ; t i. e. “the Temple-service shall be abolished.” Which Malachi thus confirms, in a diversified expression-And in EVERY PLACE incense shall be offered unto thy name, and a PURE OFFERING ; I i. e. “it shall not be the less acceptable for not being offered up at the Temple of Jerusalem."

• Jer. xxxi. 29, 30. 31, 32, 33.

† See book v. sect. 5, of this work.

1 Jer. xxxi.

But the Prophets not only give information of the Change of the old, but explain the Nature of the new Dispensation. Isaiah, speaking of this change, intimates its nature in these words—As the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. And explains it more clearly by the following figure ; Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree ; || i. e. “the new Religion shall as far excel the old as the fir-tree does the thorn ; or, the myrtle, the brier.”——Behold (says the same Prophet speaking in the name of God) I create new Heavens and a new Earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come in mind. I-Behold the days come, saith the Lord, (by the Prophet Jeremiah) that I will make a new COVENANT with the house of Israel-not according to the covenant that I made with their FathersBut this shall be the covenant-I will put my Law into their INWARD Parts, and write it in their hearts. What Isaiah figuratively names, a new Heaven and a new Earth, Jeremiah, more simply and literally, calls a new Covenant. And what kind of Covenant ?-I will put my Law into their inward parts, &c., i. e. “this Law shall be spiritual, as the other given to their Fathers was carnal.” But, concerning the nature of this prophetic phraseology, and the reasons of it's use, the Reader may see it explained at large in the second part of this

From all this it appears (if we may credit the clearest conclusions of human reason) that a Religion may be true though it be not fitted for all times and places. A proposition which (although our Philosopher takes for granted) carries its absurdity in the very face of it.

But, says this ingenious Writer-True Religion should be like the splendour of the Sun, which extends its beams to all People and to all Generations.

-When the controversy runs from reasoning to simile, it begins to smell of the Poet rather than the Philosopher. What relation, what connexion is there between the Sun and Religion more than in a fanciful analogy ? Light


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