ページの画像
PDF
ePub

X. 41. There are other instances of

persons who were the promulgers of divine revelation, such as Yonah, of whom we have no account that they wrought any miracles at all. And if this be the case, viz, that the power of working miracles and the trust of promulging divine revelations are not necessarily connected in nature, nor have they been always joined in fact ; then, the want or absence of miraculous power will not take off the obligation to seek after and attend to such revelations as assume a divine character, supposing an obligation to arise from such assumption ; and consequently, the absence of miracles will not be a juftifiable reason for refuħng to seek after and attend to any revelation, claiming as aforesaid. The persons who have assumed the characters of being promulgers of divine revelation are very numerous, there being scarce an age, at least, in these latter times and in this part of the world, but has furnilhed out many pretenders of this kind, however it may have been in places and times more remote ; and therefore, it must be an imposible task to examine and try all the revelations that have been promulged by them ; especially as many of them have

not

haps, it

may not

not been entered upon record ; and, per

may

be a very difficult task to prove many of them to be either delusion or imposition, whatever success they may have met with ; for tho’ those revelations prove themselves to be divine, yet that failure may not prove the contrary. The revelations to which a divine character has been annexed, of most note, at least that I have heard of, are the Jewish, the Mahometan, and the Christian revclations.

As to the JEWISH revelation, which is the most ancient, and which was promulged chiefly by Mofes, and, in some lesser branches, by other Jewish patriarchs and men who assumed a prophetick character, if this, in the gross, be admitted as divine, it must be with difficulty and struggling; because, by such admission, the most beautiful and amiable picture of the Deity, viz. God's moral character, will be sullied, if not defaced thereby ; as that revelation, in several of it's branches, will by no means comport with such a character ; which character, 'surely, cannot be given up without some ruffling, some perturbation of mind, at least, when füch due attention is given as the importance of the subject requires. In

deed

deed, as to men who take all things upon trust, and swallow every thing that is put into their mouths, or who, perhaps, are to reap a plentiful harvest of this world's good things by their complaisance, they may find no difficulty in admitting any thing, how gross and unnatural soever it may be; which credulity now passes for heroick faith, and the contrary, viz. a man's requiring of himself a reason of the faith and bope that is in him, with meekness and fear of being mislead, this is, by way of contempt, represented to be * Deism. What I have observed, I think, must be the case ; for if by stamping a divine character upon the Jewish revelation at large God's moral character is sullied, which seems to be too apparent; then, surely, this cannot be done, but by wrestling with and conquering our most natural notices of a Deity, with regard to his moral excellency, supposing our serious attention to be called in, and which, surely, is putting the case upon a desperate

* Deism is the belief of, and the having a just and worthy sense of a Deity impressed upon the mind; which sense is the governing principle of a man's affections and actions ; this is Deism properly so called, which character, surely, is most worthy and desirable ; and yet, now, like free-thinking, it is treated with great contempt. VOL. II.

с

issue.

issue; I haýe already observed (Section HI.) that two of the Apostles of Christ, viz. St. Peter and St. Paul, have treated the Mofaick law with great contempt, as if it was altogether below and unworthy of the fupreme Deity. St. Paul calls the Mosaick institutions weak and beggarly; by which, farely, nothing less could be intended, than that they were, in their inftitution and use, directed and made subfervient to low and mean porposes, which 'must render them greatly unworthy of the supreme God. And both St. Peter and St. Paul have represented the Jewiso ceremonies to be a grievous joke, or burthen that was unbearable ; and, as fuch, it could not have been fit to have been put upon any people ; and consequently, could not have been the offspring of God. And, fupposing the opinions and censures of these two great men had been wanting ; yet the thing plainly befpeaks itself, and which no doubt was the ground thefe cenfurers went upon, as having bad sufficient experience in the case. The greatly multi

plying ceremonies and external observances, of which the Mofaick law was superabun

dant, does, in the very nature of the thing, - eat out, as a canker, the life and spirit of

true

troe religion, and introduce fuperftition and falfe religion in it's stead. For, as a constant and over-frequent attendance upon external observances will, without great watchfulness, introduce a fuperftitious zeal for, and a groundlefs reliance upon these, as the ground of God's favour ; fo that, of courfe, will not only weaken, but also wear out the sense of the worthiness and excellency of virtue and moral re&titude, and of it's being the real ground of divine acceptance, which ought ever to be strongly impressed upon the mind. And that this was the case in fact, with respect to the forementioned institutions, or carnal ordinances as St. Paul called them, is moft evident, both from the history of the Fews and also from the beavy complaints made by their prophets or wise men,' in that respect. Now, that God fhould raise such a battery against virtue and true reli. gion as the load of Jewish ceremonies plainly appear to be, cannot, surely, be admitted without some difficulty and

struggle, and offering some kind of violence to the human mind.

But farther, in the Jewish revelation, God is set forth as having singled out the Jewish nation from the rest of the world to

« 前へ次へ »