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our common Adversary, the FREE-THINKER. For you are to know, that as those I spoke of before, make Christianity too recent, so these make it as much too old ; even as old as the Creation. Those fall short of the support of Judaism ; these overleap it; and assure us, that the only way to bring you to believe in Jesus is to prove Moses an impostor. So, says a late writer : who, by the singular happiness of a good choice, having learnt his morality of our Tyndal, and his philosophy of your Spinoza, calls himself, by the courtesy of England, a MORAL PHILOSOPHER.*
The road I have taken is indeed very different : and the principles I go upon for your conversion, will equally serve, to their confutation. For I have shewn that the Law of Moses was from God; and, at the same time, that it is only PREPARATORY to the more perfect Religion of JESUS.
The limits of this Address will not allow me to point out to you any other arguments than what arise immediately from those important circumstances of the Law, discoursed of in this work. Much less shall I have room to urge you with a repetition of those reasonings, which Christian writers have already used with so superior a force against you.
Let us see then what it is that keeps you still enslaved to a galling Discipline, so long after the free offers of Redemption. The two principal reasons, I suppose, are these :
1. First, a presumption that the Religion of Moses is perfect ; so full and complete in all its members as to be abundantly capable of supplying the spiritual wants of men, by preparing and fitting human nature for the enjoyment of the supreme Good, and by proposing and procuring the possession of that Good. Hence you conclude, and were your presumption well grounded, not unreasonably, that the Law was given as a perpetual ordinance, to be observed throughout all your generations for ever.
II. The second is a persuasion that the Prophecies (a necessary credential of the Messiah) which, we say, relate to Jesus, relate not to him in a primary sense; and that a secondary sense is a fanatic vision raised by deluded Christians to uphold a groundless claim.
For thus one of our common enemies, who hath inforced your arguments against us, tells the world, you are accustomed to speak. All the books written by Jews against the Christian Religion (says he) some of which are printed, and others go about Europe in manuscript, chiefly attack the New Testament for the allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament therein, and with the greatest insolence and contempt imaginable on that account ; and oppose to them a single and literal interpretation as the true sense of the Old Testament. And
accordingly the allegorical interpretations given by Christian expositors of the Prophecies are now the grand obstacle and stumbling-block in the way of the conversion of the Jews to Christianity.*
These, it seems, are the two great impediments to your conversion. Give me leave then to shew you how the reasoning of this book removes them.
I. As to the perfection of your Religion, it is here proved, that, though it indeed had that specific perfection, which no Religion coming from God can want,t that is, a full capacity of attaining its end, which was the separation of the race of Abraham from an idolatrous world ; yet that it was perfect only in this restrained and rela
As to absolute independent perfection, the Law had it not. 1. That it had no perfection with regard to the improvement of human nature for the enjoyment of the supreme Good, I have shewn from the genius of your whole religious Worship; and its general direction against the various idolatries of those early ages. And in this I have a Doctor of your own, the famous MAIMONIDES, for my warrant: who indeed little thought, while he was proving this truth in so invincible a manner, that he was preparing the more reasonable part of his Brethren for the reception of the Gospel. It is true, some of your later writers have seen better into this consequence : and Orobio, in his dispute with Limborch, hath part of a chapter 1 to disprove, or, rather, to deny the fact. But if your religious Worship consist only of a multifarious burdensome Ritual, relative to the Superstitions of those early times, it must needs be altogether unable to perfect human nature in such a manner, as you do and must allow to be God's design, in a revealed Religion, universal and perpetual.
2. Again, as to the second branch of this perfection, the proposing and procuring the possession of the supreme Good: I have shewn that the Law of Moses revealed NO FUTURE STATE of rewards and punishments, but studiously declined the mention of any doctrine preparatory to it: that no Mosaical Tradition supplied this omission : and that it did not become a national doctrine amongst you till the later times of your republic ; when it arose from various and discordant sources ; and was brought in on foreign occasions. But it is certain, that That Religion must fall very short of absolute perfection, which wants a doctrine so essential to Religion in general. And this, you yourselves at length seem to have been aware of : for though, during the existence of your Republic, the deniers of a future state, such as the Sadducees, were not cut off from the rights of the Synagogue ; yet since that time, it hath been generally held by your Doctors for a prime cause of excommunication :-One of them says, that it is the very fundamental of fundamentals ; *_Another, that to deny this is the same thing as to deny God himself, and the Divinity of his Law; † and a third, that even to believe it, and yet not believe that it was revealed by the Law, is the same thing as not to believe it at all.
• Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion, pp. 82, 83.
† See this proved against Lord Boling broke, book v. sect. 2.
1 The title of the chapter is : “Quod ritualia non erant præcisè ut Israël ab aliis populis separaretur ; neque lex neque populus propter Messiam, sed hic propter populum, ut ei inserviret.”—P. 86, ed. Goud.
Here Dr. Stebbing charges me with contradiction ; [Exam. p. 9.) first in asserting, that a future state made no part of the Religion of Moses; and then that a future state was essential to Religion in general. Now this which he is pleased to call a contradiction, I brought as an argument for the divinity of the Law; and sup
But you will do well, when you have considered the force of those reasonings by which I prove a future state not to be revealed by the Law of Moses, to go on with me, (for the free thoughts of many amongst you, concerning Revelation in general, give scandal to the posed it to be conclusive by its consistency.- Where I speak of Religion in general, I explain my meaning to be, a Religion universal and perpetual, such as Natural Religion and the Christian; and from thence I argue, that if a future state be essential to a Religion universal and perpetual ; and a future state be not found in the Religion of Moses, that then the Religion of Moses was not universal and perpetual, but local and temporary; the point I was inforcing, in order to bring over the Jews to the Gospel of Jesus. If the Doctor supposes, that what is essential in one species of Religion must be essential in the other, this is supposing them not to be of different species, but one and the same; that is, it supposes, that they are and that they are not of the same species. --But, continues our Doctor, “ If you should say, that your argument is levelled against the Jews, considered only in their present state, in which they are not under an equal Providence, this answer will not serve you. For as in their present state they are not under any extraordinary Providence, so neither do they want the doctrine of a future state, of which you tell us they have been in possession long ago," p. 11. pains does this learned Doctor take to make my application to the Jews, in favour of Christianity, ineffectual! Your Religion (say I to them) teaches no future state. are at present under the common unequal Providence of Heaven. your condition! Not so bad neither, replies their Advocate, Doctor Stebbing. They NOW have a future state. How came they by it ? By the Law ? No matter, says he, they have it, and that is enough to destroy all the force of your persuasion to embrace the Gospel. Not altogether enough, good Doctor: for if they have not the future state by the Lax, (and that truth I take for granted in this address to them, as I think I reasonably might, after I had proved it at large) their future state, even by their own confession, is a Phantom; and to gain the Substance there is no way left but to embrace the Gospel. They themselves own this truth : for in the words quoted below, they confess that to believe a future state, and yet that it was not revealed by the Law, is the same thing as not to believe it at all. It is a sad thing when Polemics or blacker passions have gotten so entire possession of a man's heart, that he cares not what harm he does to a common cause, or even to common sense, so he can but answer the man or the opinion he happens to dislike.
• “Scripsit Rab. (Maimon.) p. m. Articulus fundamentalis decimus tertius agit de resurrectione, cujus rationem (quomodo se habeat) et fundamenta jam exposuimus. Quod si homo crediderit fundamenta illa omnia, seque illa credere declaraverit, ingreditur Eeclesiam Israëlis, et jubemur diligere illum, et misericordiam illi exhibere, et conversari cum illo juxta omnia, quæ præcepit Deus benedictus cuilibet erga proximum facienda.—Si quis autem vilipenderit hoc fundamentum excellentium fundamentorum, ecce exit ille ex Ecclesia, quippe qui abnegat articulum fidei, et vocatur impius ac Epicureus, amputatque plantas, quem odio habere et perdere jubemur.”—E.« beth Elohim. Vid. Dassovium De Resurrectione, ed. 1693.
† “ Hæc fides (de Resurrectione mortuorum]-numeretur inter articulos Legis et fundamenta ejus, quam qui negat, perinde facit acsi negaret esse Deum, legem esse a cælo, et quod in aliis istis articulis tractatur."--R. Salono apud Dassovium De Resurrect. 1“Oportet te scire articulum fidei de resurrectione mortuorum ex lege esse. Quod si quis fide firma crediderit resurrectionem mortuorum, non autem crediderit esse illam ex lege, ecce ille reputatur acsi bæc omnia negaret."-R. Jenud. ZABARA apud Dassov.
You How disconsolate is
professors of more than one Religion) while I prove, from thence, by necessary consequence, that this Law came from God: And, in conclusion, join with me in adoring the infinite Wisdom of the God of your Fathers, here so wonderfully displayed, in making one and the same circumstance a standing evidence of the divinity of the Mosaic Religion, and, at the same time, an irrefragable proof that it was preparatory only to the Christian ; The logical result of all our reasoning being the confirmation of this sacred truth, long since enounced by a great Adept in your Law, That THE LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT, BUT THE BRINGING IN OF A BETTER HOPE DID.*
Permit me to observe farther, that this rabbinical notion of a future state of rewards and punishments in the Mosaic Dispensation, which still encourages the remnant of your Nation to persist in rejecting the Gospel of Jesus, was the very prejudice which, in the first ages of Christianity, so superstitiously attached the Converts from Judaism, to the whole observance of the Law.
As a Corollary to all this, I have shewn, that the punishment of Children for the crimes of their Parents, which hath given a handle to the enemies of your Law to blaspheme, can be only well explained and vindicated on the Principle of no futire state in the religion of Moses : And farther, that, on this Principle, all the inextricable embarras of your Rabbins, in their endeavours to reconcile the different accounts of Moses and the Prophets concerning that method of punishment, is intirely removed, and a perfect harmony and concord is seen to reign amongst them. But at the same time that the Principle does this, take notice, it disables you from accounting for the length of your present dispersion. For the only reason your best defender, Orobio, had to assign for it was, that you now suffer not for your own sins, but for the sins of your Forefathers. But the Principle which reconciles Moses and the Prophets, shews that this mode of punishment hath long since ceased.
II. In answer to the second part, your prejudices against the credentials of Jesus's Messiahship, for the want of rational evidence in a secondary sense of Prophecy; I have proved those prejudices to be altogether vain and groundless, 1. By tracing up the nature of human converse in speech and writing, from its early original ; and from thence evincing, that a secondary sense of Prophecies is proper, rational, and conformable to the justest rules of grammar and logic. 2. By shewing that this method of information was so exactly suited to the occasion, that if ever you were to have a Messiah to compleat your Law, the body of the Prophecies, relating to him, must needs be given in the very manner which those in dispute are actually given : For that, had these Prophecies recorded the nature of the Messiah's
• Heb. vii. 19.
Kingdom in plain and direct terms, it would have defeated the very end and purpose of the Law. And this, on reflexion, you will find a sufficient answer to those four QUERIES into which your ablest Defender* has collected the whole strength of your cause.
As a Corollary, likewise, to this part, I shew, in order to reconcile you still farther to the Messiahship of Jesus, that the history of God's Dispensations to your Fathers, even before his giving the Law, can never be rightly understood, or fully cleared from the objections of Unbelievers, but on the supposition of the redemption of mankind by the death and sufferings of Jesus. And of this I have given a convincing proof in the famous history of the Command to Abraham to offer up his Son. Which I prove to be no other than a REVELATion of that Redemption, delivered in action instead of words. This strongly corroborates the Mission of Jesus, and should incline you seriously to consider its force.—Here God reveals to your father Abraham the Redemption of Mankind by the death and passion of his Son. Why then, I ask you, should you not conclude with our learned Apostle, that to Abraham and his seed the Promises being made, the Covenant that was confirmed before of God in-Christ, the Law which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul ; that it should make the Promise of none effect ? +
Having thus shewn your Religion to be partial, imperfect, and preparatory; and consequently shewn the necessity of its completion by the teaching of a Messiah ; to whose character in the person of JESUS, I have endeavoured to reconcile you, by removing your only plausible objection, the mistaken nature of the Prophecies concerning him ; As a Corollary to the whole, I have proved, in order to remove your prejudices for a worldly Prince, and a restoration to a carnal Dominion in Judea, that your race was not at first chosen by God, and settled in the land of Canaan as his favOURITES, for whom he had a greater fondness than for other of the sons of Adam ; but only to serve the general ends of Providence, in its Dispensations to the whole Species; which required the temporary separation of one People from the rest of Mankind, to preserve, amidst an idolatrous world, the great doctrine of the UNITY, as the foundation of that
“Orobio. 1. Ut assignetur locus aliquis in quo Deus mandaverit, aut dixerit expressè, quod fides in Messiam est absolutè necessaria ad salutem generis humani; adeo ut qui non crediderit damnandus esset. 2. Ut assignetur locus, in quo Deus dixerit, quod unicum medium ad salutem Israelis, et restitutionis in divinam gratiam, est fides in Messiam jam adventum. 3. Ut assignetur locus, in quo Deus dixerit, quod Israel propter infidelitatem in Messiam erat deperdendus, et abjiciendus in nationibus, ut non sit amplius Populus Dei, sed in æternum damnandus donec Messiam adventum non crediderit. 4. Tandem assignetur locus, in quo dixit Deus, omnia Legalia præter moralia, fuisse umbram, seu figuram futurorum in adventu Messiæ, et quod fere omnia quæ et in divina Lege et in Prophetis fuere revelata, MYSTICE et TROPOLOGICE explicare liceat, quantumvis sensus literalis omnino despiciatur."-- Amica Collatio LimBOBCH. pp. 1, 2. † Gal. iii. 16, 17.