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THROUGH THE FIRE k: or, as the Hebrew may more properly be rendered!, HE OFFERED UP (sacrificed) HIS SON IN THE FIRE, namely, to Baal, or to Moloch. In another place, it is said, plainly and directly, that he BURNT HIS CHILDREN IN THE FIRE m. Now because that inhuman practice was one of the foolish, as well as wicked devices whereby some considerable men hoped to appease Heaven, and to atone for sins, it was very proper for the Prophet to take notice of it among the other insufficient expedients thought of for that purpose. For though it might differ in its nature and quality from several others named, as legal differs from illegal, or as commanded from forbidden; yet since here the point to be considered was not the nature of the things, but their use or subserviency to the end aimed at, they are indifferently named together, as being equally vain and fruitless, one as well as the other, though not one as much as the other. In short, as this means was trusted to, as well as the other more proper expedients, so it was right to reject it also among the rest, as of no value or efficacy for the appeasing God, or procuring pardon of sins.
If our Objector cannot yet rightly apprehend the case, I shall endeavour to clear it up farther by a resembling instance. Suppose we should tell the Romanists, that it is vain for them to think of appeasing God either by an orthodox faith, or by hearing and praying, or by a zeal for the Church of Christ, or even by massacreing of Protestants, (whom they call heretics,) for that none of these things will stand them in any stead; a sound belief and an entire obedience to God's laws must save them, or nothing can: where would be the absurdity of such a remonstrance? It is true, that their massacreing of Protestants is so far from being at all acceptable to God, that it is the very reverse: but yet because they fondly conceive that they merit by it, therefore in an application to them,
k 2 Kings xvi. 3.
it might be proper to mention that also, among other much better things, which they presumptuously confide in: and our so mentioning it, would be no argument at all of our approving, or of our not abhorring so detestable a practice. In like manner, when the Prophet Micah took notice of human sacrifices, as one of the false stays which some rested upon, (among several others of a better kind,) he did not intend to signify that such sacrifices were approved, or were so much as lawful, or that they were not hateful and execrable in the sight of God and
The sum of what the Prophet aimed at was this, and this only: that neither such sacrifices as the Law allowed, nor any humanly devised services which the Law had forbidden, would avail to procure the Divine mercy and favour : for a good and holy life, or universal righteousness, was the one thing necessary which God expected, and would insist upon; and without which, every thing else that could be named or invented would be altogether fruitless and vain.
Zech. III. 1, 2. AND HE SHOWED ME JOSHUA THE HIGH PRIEST STANDING BEFORE THE ANGEL OF THE LORD, AND SATAN STANDING AT HIS RIGHT HAND TO RESIST HIM. AND THE LORD SAID UNTO SATAN, THE LORD REBUKE THEE, O SATAN; EVEN THE LORD THAT HATH CHOSEN JERUSALEM REBUKE THEE: IS NOT THIS A BRAND PLUCKED OUT OF THE FIRE? The Objector takes some notice of this text n in passing, and very slightly. Having immediately before thrown a scornful reflection upon a passage in the Book of Job, which has been considered above, and observing that it is not to be taken literally, he adds, “ The same may be said of “ the Lord's saying at another time to Satan, standing at “ the right hand of the angel,” (at the right hand of the high priest Joshua, he should have said, “ to resist the
Christianity as Old, &c. p. 253.
high priest Joshua, standing likewise before him, The “ LORD REBUKE THEE, O SATAN.” As to what this gentleman objects about literally, (a word of ambiguous meaning, and in which he loves to equivocate,) we may observe, that the words of this prophecy are undoubtedly to be interpreted literally, not mystically, or allegorically: but the thing was not literally or outwardly performed, being transacted in idea only, or in vision. That is to say, the Prophet Zechariah, in an heavenly ecstasy or vision, saw what is here related, had such ideas imprinted, by a Divine influx, upon his mind. As to the whole meaning of this Scripture, I may refer the reader to commentators for it, there being no difficulty that I am sensible of in it. At least, this gentleman has mentioned none, except it be such as I have before answered in considering the other texts in Job, or have now obviated by saying that the thing was transacted in vision, as is commonly allowed. There might be some pertinent questions asked in relation to this passage, by an able disputant, that should know how to object like a scholar and a man of parts : but since this gentleman has spared us, by his entering no deeper, it would look over-officious to engage any farther in it.
I have now done with the texts of the Old Testament. There remain still some texts of the New Testament, which the Objector has been tampering with, in the same way of low criticism, and which (if God grants me life and health) will be all distinctly considered in a Fourth Part, to follow this in due time.
LORD BISHOP OF ST. DAVID'S;
PARTICULARLY IN RELATION TO THE
CHARGE OF PERSECUTION.
IN ANSWER TO
JONATHAN JONES, ESQ.
Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope
of a fool than of him. Prov. xxvi. 12.