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love. For Zechariah, prophesying of a new Dispensation, describes this sort of chastisements in very express terms: “ And I will bring the third part “ through the fire, and will refine them as silver is “ refined, and will try them as gold is tried : and they “shall call on my name, and I will hear them.” So admirably do all the parts of God's grand Economy support one another.
We have seen what testimonies their coeval writers afford of an extraordinary Providence. But we must not suppose the Jew's always held the same language. The difference is great between the early and later Jews, even during the existence of the Republic. Take an instance from the Psalmist, and the writer of Ecclesiasticus. The former says, I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the Righteous forsaken, nor his Seed begging their bread*. The latter—Look at the GENERATIONS OF OLD, and see : Did ever any trust in the Lord and was confounded? Or did any abide in his Fear and was forsaken? Or. whom did he ever despise that called upon himt? The Psalmist, living under an extraordinary Providence, appeals to his own times; the Author of Ecclesiasticus living when it was long ceased, appeals to former, times. But as we have been told, that this talk of a particular Providence is only an Eastern Hyperbole, in which every thing is ascribed to God, I think it not improper to take notice here of one singular cir. cumstance in favour of the Reporters.
We may observe, then, that the spirit of Gentilism was always uniform ; and, throughout its whole duration, had ever the same unvaried pretensions to divine Intercourse, supported by the same sort of Oracles and Divinations. But amongst the Jews matters were
* Psal. xxxvii. 25. + Chap. ii. ver. 19, &c.
on another footing. After their perfect settlement, on their return from Captivity (when we know, from the course and progress of God's Economy, that the extraordinary Providence was to cease), we hear nở more of their pretences to it, though they now adhereď more strictly than ever to the Religion of their forefathers. They made no claim, as we see by the excellent Writer of the first. Book of Maccabees, either to Prophets, Oracles, or extraordinary Dispensutions. When thcy write unto the Lacedemonians, for the renewal of their Alliance, they tell them, at the same tiine, that they need it not, FOR THAT THEY HAVE THE HOLY Books OF SCRIPTURE IN THEIR HANDS TO COMFORT TIEM* Language very different from their forefathers', when God was wont to send immediate help fro! the Sanctuary. How ingenuously does the same Historian relate the misfortune of Bethsura, caused by the observance of the Sabbatic Yeart? A misfortune of which we have no instance before the Captivity; and therefore a plain evidence that the extraordinary Providence was indeed withdrawn. Besides, if we consider the nature of the Religion, the genius of the People, and the circuinstances of the Time, we shall find, they all concurred to favour the continuance of a pretension to an extraordinary Providencé, had it been only a pretension.
1. The. Vvsaic Religion, like the Pagan; had a public part, and therefore the Jews might, with the greatest ease, have still carried on the Superstition of Oracles, had their Oracles been indecd a superstition; ' especially as they were now becomo so closely attached to tlieir Religion. For when did ever Greecc or Italy confess that their Oracles were become dumb, till the Consulters had generally forsaken them, and the Chan, xið ver. g. fi Macc. vi. 49.
whole frame of their Religion was falling to pieces? Besides, the practice of this superstition had been as easy as it was commodius; for the Oracular Voice was wont to come from the Mercy. Scut behind the Veil.
2. The genius of the People too would have contributed to the continuance of this claiin. For, some how or other, it was become their character to require a Sign*; and though, now, really superstitious, yet the humour spent itself rather in telling lies of former times t, than in inventing any of their own. This, on a supposition of the huinan invention of their Law, is altogether unaccountable. But take the matter as we find it in their sacred Books, and nothing is more tasy. For if they had indeed been long accustomed to a miraculous Dispensation, they would, ever after, be strongly disposed to require a Sign; but it would te only such a Sign as bore the evident marks of a Divinity; which not being to be had in human inventions, they would be kept safe from delusions, and maile sensible of the difference of times: And sich was, in fact, their case.
3. Add to all this, that the time of the Maccabees was the season of Enthusiasın, when that airy Spirit is at its height; after thic national Genius, long sunk ty oppression, begins to rise and recover itself to a vindication of public Liberty. And of this we have a signal instance in the person of Judas Afaccabæus himself; who, in imitation of Gideon, would set upon an army of twenty thousand foot and two thousand horse, with only eight hundred straggling desperadoes; which rash and fanatic attempt was followed with the fortune that might, at this time, have been expected I.
Cor. i: 22. See note (T) at the end of this Book. I M cc. ix. 6.
-In such a season too, artful Leaders are most disposed to support themselves by inspirations; have most need of thein; and are thought, by the People, most worthy to receive them.
There is the same difference between the Writers of the New Testament and of the Old, as between the Writers of the several ages of the Old. The Apostles (who worked Miracles as well as Moses and the Prophets) represent the followers of Christ as under the same common Providence with the rest of mankind: Unlike in this, to the first propagators of the Law, who always declared the Israelites to be under an extraordinary Providence...,
From all this I conclude, that as amidst the concurrence of so many favourable circumstances, no such claim was made; but that, contrary to the universal practice of all false Religions, the Jeus saw and owned a great change in the Divine Economy, that therefore their former pretensions to the peculiar protection of Heaven were TRUE.
But it hath been objected, that the early sacred · Writers themselves frequently speak of the inequality
of Providence to Particulars*; and in such a manner as lien living under a common Providence are accustomed to speak. It is very true that these Writers do now and then give intimations of this inequality. And therefore, though we shall hereafter prove an extraordinary Providence to have been actually administered, in which, not only this objection
. — Asaph đe Dei providentia dubitavit, & fere a vera via deflexisset --Salomon etiam, cujus tempore res Judæorum in summo vigore erant, suspicatur omnia casu contingere— Deniquc omnibus fere prophetis hoc ipsum valde obscurum fuit, nempe quomodo ordo naturæ & hominum eventus cum conceptu quem de providentia Dei formaverant, possent convenire.-Spinozæ Theologico-Pol. pp. 73, 74.
will be seen to drop of itself, but the particular passages, on which it is founded, will be distinctly considered; yet, for the Reader's satisfaction, it may not be amiss to shew here, that these representations of inequality are very consistent with that before given of the extraordinary Providence. We say, therefore,
I. That when the Sacred Writers speak of the inequalities of Providence, and the unfit distribution of things, they often mean that state of it amongst their Pagan neighbours, and not in Judea : As particularly in the Book of Psalms and Ecclesiastes *.
II. We sometimes find men complaining of inequalities in events, which were indeed the effects of a most equal Providence. Such as the punishment of Posterity for the crimes of their Forefathers; and of Subjects for their Kings. Of the first, the Prophet. Ezekiel gives us an instance in the People's case : J'hat mean ye, that you use this Proverb concerning the Land of Israel, saying, The Fathers huve eaten sour grapes, and the Childrens teeth are set on edget? -Of the second, David gives it in his own; not duly attending to the justice of this proceeding, where he says, But these Sheep, what have they done I? And that he was sometimes too hasty in judging of these matters appears from his own confession: Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world, they increase in riches. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me : until I went into the Sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places : thou castedst them down into destruction.-So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee . That is, I understood not the course of thy justice, till I had · · See Appendix. + Chap. xviii. ver. 2.
1 2 Sam. xxiv. 17 $Psalm lxxiii. 12--22. Vol. V.