Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

our Reason. In good time. But, let us first see, whether • he can persuade our adversaries to the same complaisance. • If he cannot, why should the defenders of Religion throw ( aside their weapons. Bad arms are hetter than none. Oh, • but the Reason of unbelievers is such adulterate stuff, such

very false mettle, that no great harm is to be apprehended from it. Now, to my thinking, here is one cause the more

for not parting with ours in a hurry. Counters have never « so good a chance of passing current, as when we have no

sterling money to confront with them. • There is still more behind. The subtle Doctor has ap-.

parently communicated but one half of his scheme, and • mysteriously keeps the other in reserve; for we can never

suppose his intention is to leave Religion quite defenceless. < Human Reason I will beg leave to call, the Fortress of Faith; "'it is, you will say, full of weak places. Be it fo. It has , « ftill its advantages; or a known enemy of Revelation, (au-,

thor of Christianity not founded on Argument) tho' in mal

querade, as usual, would never have been at all that pains ( to draw us out of it. This was all he wanted, to insult us,

at pleasure; and he played his part well. But we can never . « suppose, that the learned Doctor, tho' he treads in his steps, • is going his way.. We must conclude, therefore, that tho' " he has not thought fit to tell us what security he has provid-, .ed for Religion, yet, at least, that something he has in pet«to, ready to supply the place of Reason, as soon as ever we shall be dispoled to give it up.

Now, what this something is, we can but guess. There are two famous fects of nominal Christians, to whom Rea• son having given as great offence, as it has happened to do ( to our learned Doctor; they have both acted on his exter

minating principle. The lects I mean are the Quakers and • the Papists: but then both of them have, in their several

ways, provided for the security of Religion, in the absence, or during the captivity of Reason.

· The Quakers have substituted the Spirit in its stead. And, • indeed, suppose them not to have juggled with us, and they i have made no ill exchange for us. “Why should you wretche ed earth-worms (lay these men to us) keep groping out your

way by the weak and feeble glimmering of human Reason, “ when you have the Light within ; the glorious Light of of the Spirit rifing in your souls ? Reason, indeed, is good, " when nothing better can be had. It served the philofo

phers. But shall their old stale ware serve the saints ? " Purge out, for frame, this old leaven, that you may be a

[ocr errors]

new LUMP.” Now these Illuminati ascribing so much more to Human Reason than our Oxford Divine, and, in

deed, talking so much more soberly concerning it, I con• 'clude that the thing which he keeps in reserve, and is so thy • of producing, is not the Spirit.

" It remains then to fee, if it be that with which the Pa. pists have done such wonders. I mean, the ARM OF FLESH,

whether distinguished by the titles of Inquisitions, wholesome Severities, Solemn Leagues and Covenants, Acts of Conformi

ty, or by whatever other name it may be called, as different times and places hold most commodious or falutary. Now there are many circumstances which plainly indicate the

great Secret to be this, and no other: For ift, the learned (Doctor

agrees

with them in the most lavish abuses of Hu. man Realon; especially when it fubmits to the guidance of private judgment. 2dly, His spite and rancour, like theirs, is chiefly directed against fuch whom Human Reason is fupposed to have favoured most. gdly, He condescends, as the

Papists have ever done, (and which the Quakers, to do ' them justice, never did) to borrow aid of this enemy of all

gédliness, as often as it may serve his purpose. From the • lameness in these various characteristic marks, I am inclined,

and I hope without breach of charity, to conclude, that the • learned Doctor's prime object, like theirs, is the peace, ra

ther than the purity, of Religion: and, consequently, that " he has a more substantial support for the Church than that • Nender pillar of the Light within: which, when he pleases ' to explain at large, he will, without all question, meet with " the encouragement he deserves.

• But it is time to return from whence we set out; and make one desperate effort more, with this feeble instrument

of Reafon, even there, where, at best, the never did much, • I mean against Authority.'

We now proceed to give some account of the performance itself; in the first chapter of which the Author endeavours to Thew, that the commonly received fyftem concerning the nature of the Jewish and Christian Dispensations, as far as respects a future State, is inconsistent with the history of the Old Teitament, and with the doctrine of the New. He fets out with observing, that it is generally supposed by the advocates of the common system, that the great and leading principles of the Gospel, were revealed by Moses and the prophets to the ancient Jewish people ; and that the doctrine of life and immortality was as much the foundation and support of their religion then, as it is of curs now: for that po dispensation of

I 3

religion,

religion, of which this doctrine was not a fundamental and effential part, would have been able to subsist in any age or period of the world. The question, he tells us, he has done his best to examine with the utmost impartiality, and his great objection to the common system has ever been, that it supposes the Jews were more enlightned, and better instructed in the great truths and prir:ciples of the Gospel, than is consistent with the account they give of themselves in the Old Testament, or the account given of their dispensation in the New.

Accordingly he begins his enquiry with the New Testament, and produces a variety of passages wherein it is said, that life and immortality was brought to light, was made manifeft, first began to be spoken, by Jesus Christ; that the Jews before the coming of our Saviour, fat in darkness, and in the region and Madow of death; that Jesus was sent to sew light unto the people, (i. e. the Jews) and to the Gentiles; with many other paflages to the same purpose.

• If we would know,' says he, in what measure and ex(tent Jesus Christ was a light to the Jews, we must consider

their state and condition before they were enlighted by him. 4 Now the inspired writers tell us, that they were covered

with the thickeit darkness, in which they wandered, like -men whole eyes are not opened : and how was it possible to Ś enlighten men thus situated, but by bringing objects to light,

in the firict and proper sense of the words, or by rendering < things visible which before were invisible? It would be riis diculous to lay that they sat in darkness, or that they had not their eyes opened, merely because they did not fee the ob• ject in its full proportion and extent, or had not an exact & view of every distinct and minute part, and the opportunity • of examining and surveying it quite round.

• The fitting in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death, evidently implies, therefore, a total absence and want ¢ of light, or a perfect and entire ignorance of the doctrines 4 by which the people, thus circumstanced, were to be en

lightned; it being impossible to express the most absolute and entire ignorance in more significant and emphatic terms.'

In regard to the text which informs us, that Christ brought life and imur:ortality to light through the Gospel, our Author observes, that the word PwTisw alludes to the character and description of our Saviour el ewhere, in which he is said to be the light of the world, and the light which lightneth every man; that the term, when predicated of Christ, is sometimes applied to per fons, and sometimes to things; that when it is applied to persons, it signifies giving light to those who were in darkness;

when

when to things, the illuminating what lay hid: consequently it supposes that the doctrines, with which men were enlightned, had hitherto lain in obfcurity.!

According to his Lordship of London the word Owri3w imports only fuch an accesfion and increase of light, (Sermons, vol. I. p. 189—191.) as would afford a perfect and exact view of objects, which were, in a good measure, discerned before, though not thoroughly, nor in every distinct and minute part. According to our Author, the Jews could never be said to fit in darkness, if they had a good general view of the object; nor could their eyes want opening, nor could they be described as blind, if they, in a good measure, faw already what they were afterwards enabled to difcern only more accurately.

St. Paul says,"continues he, that Jesus Christ opened. their eyes; his Lordship, that Jesus only cured fome de"fects in their fight, which was very good, though not eagleeyed before.

In excess of charity,' he calls that a mote which the Apostle calls à beam. Old Zacharius affirms, that the day-fpring gave light to men in darkness; his Lord fhip, that the days of thick darkness were passed, and that

nothing more than some thin clouds remained, to be diffi, • pated and difpelled by this Sun of righteoufness.'

His Lordship infifts much that the Greek word fignifies only to enlighten, and make plain; and that it cannot fignify, to bring a thing into being and existence, but only to illustrate something which

had a being and existence before. But this distinction, Our Author endeavours to shew, is of no manner of service to his Lordship's argument, fince those he reasons against, are agreed with him, that this light illustrated what was already in being, namely, the typical representations of a future State in the law. The only point in dispute is concerning the degree of darkness and obscurity which encompassed those typical representations, and which was scattered and dispelled by the Gospel light. This leads our Author to enquire whether the doctrine lo enveloped was obvious and visible to the body " of the Jews : part of what he advances is as follows.

Now his Lordship himself asserts,' says he, that they were intended for a veil or cover; and therefore he muft own that they would not have answered the end proposed, unless

they had kept the doctrine out of fight, and hid from the o notice of the people. If then Jesus Christ took off, and

entirely removed this veil or cover, and openly and nakedly, held up to fight, the doctrine which had been concealed under it, we may strictly and properly fay, that life and immortality was brought to light by him.

. His

I 4

• His Lordship tells us, that the doctrine of a future State was involved in doubts and uncertainties under the law, whịch were cleared up by the knowlege of the Resurrection, revealed in the Gospel. Here I would desire to know, whether the Jews had such quick and piercing apprehensions, as

to penetrate through the carnal veil or cover of these types • and figures, and to discern the spiritual doctrine of a future « State, which lay hid beneath ? If they were not able to do

this, then they could have no good proof of a future life, so s industriously placed out of their fight, and secreted from " them. If they saw into the spiritual sense, they could have . no doubts and uncertainties: if they saw not into the spiri

tual sense, they could have no good proof.

* Take it which way you will, his Lordship’s hypothesis ( will not hold water: whether you allow, or whether you

deny them the spiritual sense, the whole doctrine contained 5 in this hypothesis Nips away from us. On the first supposi<tion, the Jews must have seen the whole power and sub"Aance of the Gospel in the law; and then, contrary to the

hypothesis, they must have been as well acquainted with the « doctrine of the Resurrection, as with the doctrine of a fu-. • ture State. On the other supposition, they could have had

no better proof of a future State than of a Resurrection; • which is still as contrary to the hypothesis. In a word, as § the two doctrines were exhibited together under types, or

transinitted under the same common medium of conveyance, « we must fuppofe that they were either both discovered, or

both secreted, during the period in question. (Whatever the advocates of the common system may happen to think, or may venture to talk, of ihe great truths and principles of the Gospel being opened and revealed to the Jewish church, St. Paul declares, that they were kept

secret in the age of the law. We speak the wisdom of God ? in a mystery, (1 Cor. įi. 7.) even the hidden wisdom, which

God ordained before the world unto our glory. Here the Apor, « tle represents the scheme of cur salvation, or the good tid ? įngs of the Gospel, as the wisdom of God in a mystery, or " as the hidden wisdom of God, purposed, indeed, before the

foundation of the world, but not manifested and discovered till the age of the Gospel.'

Our Author goes on to observe, that when his Lordship of London confiders the passages of the New Testament, which mention the mystery of the Gospel, he finds himself obliged to acknowlege, that the great points of Christianity were kept secret till the coming of Christ; but that when he afterwards

addresses

« AnteriorContinuar »