ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Besides, this book, called the holy Bible, contains many things that are greatly below, and unworthy of the Supreme Deity. That God should specially interpose to acquaint men with, and to transmit to posterity, such trifling observations, as that two are better than one, that which is crooked cannot be made streight, that which is wanting cannot be numbered, and the like: Or that he should spirit men with, approve of, or countenance, such malevolent desires as these, Let bis children be fatherless, and his wife a widow; let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg, let them also seek their bread out of their defolate places ; let the extortioner catch all that he hath, and let the stranger spoil his labour ; let there be none to extend mercy to him, neither let there be

any to favour his fatherless children ; let his pofterity be cut of, and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. that such trifling observations, and such malevolent desires as thele, should be confidered as the offspring of God, is playing at bazard indeed. That the travels and ad. ventures of Naomy and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, into the country of Moab, (as in the book of Ruth) is true, perhaps, may

I say,

B в 4

not

[ocr errors]

not be disputed; but that God should specially interpose, to transmit such an insignificant relation to posterity, when we have nothing to ground the supposition upon, seems, to me, to be taking too great a liberty with the character and conduet of the Deity. There are many things, contained in that collection of writings, commonly called the Bible, that are much below and unworthy of the most perfect intelligence and boundless goodness ; that these should be made the act of the Supreme Deity, should be declared to be a revelation from, and the very word of God, without so much as a seeming reason or ground for so doing, any otherwise than to support the religious systems men have imbibed, or, perhaps, the schemes of worldly policy they are engaged in ; this, surely, is not acting properly, nor even justly, by the common and kind parent of the univerfe. For men thus to father upon God whatever they please, is taking such a liberty with the character and conduct of the supreme Deity, as no honest upright man would take with that of his neighbour ; and if sach practising should not come under the denomination of blaspheniy, which it scarcely falls short of ; yet it must, at least, be a very strange kind

of

[ocr errors]

of piety. Yea, such is the extraordinary piety of this age, (like that of doing honour and service to God, by killing his servants) that if a man, in conscience of that duty he owes to his maker, takes upon him to vindicate the moral character of the Deity, in opposition to the religious system in vogue, or what paffes for current orthodoxy, he may be sure to fall under the imputation of being a free-thinker, a Deift; (those terms being used in a bad sense) or, perhaps, an Atheist.

AND as to the preceptive parts of the Bible, there is a difficulty attends them that is unsurmountable to me; viz. what is required to be done at one time, and under one dispenfation, is forbid to be done under another, whilst buman nature continues the same, and men's relations, and dependencies, and the obligations that arise from them, continue the Same also. The Deity cannot but perceive things as they really are, at all times, whatever colouring or fading men inay draw over them ; and therefore, to suppose that he commands and forbids the same thing, whilst the natures, the relations, and the circumstances of men and things continue the same ; this, I say, is to me an unsurmountable difficulty. Matthewe v. 38. re

bave

have heard that it hath been said, or ye have read, Exodus xxi. 23, 24, 25. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe. for stripe. Upon which I observe, if such a retaliation of injuries as this, is, in it's own nature, proper to restrain men's viciated appetites and parfions, and therefore was appointed under the dispensation of Moses; then, for the same reason, it ought to be appointed and executed under all dispensations, because mankind are the same, they have the same appetites and pafsions, and are liable to indulge them to excess at all times, and under all dispensations. Whereas, Jesus Christ reversed the aforesaid law of retaliation, ver 39. But I say unto ye, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Here, we see, Christ hath not only forbid all resistance of evil, but he also requires the patient, when he has sustained a first injury, to be a volunteer with regard to a second, and to meet it half-way. The having the body dismembered, by the loss of an eye, a hand, or a foot, were not sight and trivial injuries, but were of great consequence to the fufferer ; these were the evils the law of

Moses

Moses appointed should be retaliated; and yet these are the evils Christ's disciples are not to resist, not to retaliate, nor to seek a reparation for. What Christ said, Luke xxii. 35, 36, is so far from giving any encouragement to the resisting of evil, that it is rather the reverse. And be said unto them, when I sent you without purse, and scrip, and fries, lacked ye any thing? And they said, nothing. Then said he unto them, but now be that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and be that hath no freord, let him fell bis garment, and buy cire. These directions were a kind of figurative language, in which the reverse to what is expressed is pointed out ; that is, in the then present conjuncture, purses, and scrips, and swords were things there would be no use nor place for. For, said Christ, verse 37. that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, and he was reckoned among the transgresors; for the things concerning me have an end. The inference from which is, that therefore purses, and scrips, and swords will be useless things. This, I think, must be the meaning, else it will be hard to find the connection, or relation of the latter to the former. And, as the disciples understood the words above

mentioned

« 前へ次へ »