صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

was designedly restrained to one peculiar people and place, &c. : it is not therefore in reason to be taken for such a revelation as was argued to be needful for us, or to be expected from him, who is good to all, and whose tender mercies ure over all his works: this enlarged on.

2. Farther, as this revelation was particular, so was it also partial; as God did not by it speak his mind to all, so did he not therein speak out all his mind. The Apostle to the Hebrews charges it in this respect with blameableness, imperfection, weakness, and unprofitableness : (Heb. viii. 7. vii. 18.) This charge made good by a consideration of the parts thereof which direct, and those which lead to practice ; also the aids and means facilitating obedience to the laws or rules enjoined. Neither in discoursing thus do we lay any unseemly imputation on God, the Author of that religion ; the making so imperfect a revelation being nowise at variance with his wisdom, goodness, or justice : reasons for this given; in particular the character of that people, to whose disposition and capacity its laws and institutions were adapted : this character fully developed, as well as the institutions themselves; whence it is inferred that such a dispensation could not be convenient for the rational nature of man generally, and for perpetuity.

It may be objected to our line of argument, that God did afterwards annex some labels, as it were, to this deed ; that he imparted by degrees farther manifestations of light and grace to the Jews, through prophets and holy men, &c. ; but that may be taken as a good confirmation of our argument: this explained. It may

be added that Judaism did not serve, in effect, sufficiently to better men's lives; to qualify a competent number of men for God's favor and their own happiness : this fully shown. Now the tree which has always borne such fruits, so unsavory and unwholesome, we cannot admire as excellent and perfect, though it might be good for those early times, &c.




3. We proceed to the third defect which was observed in this religion, that it was not designed for perpetual obligation and use. As it was particular in respect of the persons to whom it was directed ; as it was partial and incomplete in its frame ; so it was, according to its design, temporary and mutable.

This conclusion indeed might be inferred from what has been said concerning the narrow extent and intrinsic imperfection thereof; but we have another more convincing sort of evidence, in many pregnant intimations, many express remonstrances and predictions, that God did intend in due time to introduce a great change and reform, and enlarge the bounds of his dominions, and to receive all nations into the fold of his special care and love ; in fine, to dispense a general and full revelation of his mind and will, of his grace and favor to mankind, &c. This fully shown and illustrated by quotations from holy Scripture. And what God declared by verbal testimonies, the same we see in real effects: his providence has made good his word; he hath not only released men from that religion, but bath manifestly discountenanced it : present state of the Jewish pation considered. Thus is the second step of these discourses concluded. Two others still remain. Conclusion.

And in Jesus Christ, &c.





In whom ye also (trusted), having heard the word of truth, the

gospel of your salvation.

That it is probable God should vouchsafe to mankind a full and clear declaration of his mind and will concerning their duty and their welfare, I did show: that Paganism and Mahometanism, without reason and truth, did or does pretend thereto, I also briefly discoursed : I now proceed to examine the plea which Judaism puts in, and to make good that neither it is well grounded, (which, as the cause deserves, I shall do somewhat more largely.) The Jewish religion we acknowlege had its birth from the revelation and appointment of God; its truth and its goodness we do not call in question : but yet looking into it, we shall find it in many respects defective, and wanting the conditions due to such a revelation as we require. For it was not universal, (neither being directed to, nor fitted for, the nature and needs of mankind;) it was not full and complete, it was not designed to be of perpetual obligation

or use.

1. First, I say, this revelation was not general; not directed to, or intended for to instruct and oblige mankind : itself expressly affirms so much; the whole tenor and frame thereof shows it; so do all the circumstances of its rise and progress. That it was intended peculiarly for that small nation, possessing a very inconsiderable portion of the earth ; distinguished, and indeed, as it were, concealed from the rest of mankind both on purpose and in effect; for it so remained for many ages (till the Macedonian first, and afterward the Roman conquests opened the world, and disclosed them) hid in a solitary obscurity ; even so far as to scape the observation of the most inquisitive surveyors of the earth, the most curious searchers into the customs of all people, (as of Herodotus for instance, who, nicely describing the places and manners of the people all about them, could not discern them, and takes no notice of them, although for their peculiar manners otherwise most remarkable, and deserving his mention ;) appears by express passages in their law and holy writings; He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; He hath not dealt so with any nation; and his judgments they have not known them.' It is plainly affirmed that God did make that discovery of bis will and mind peculiarly to that people, and to no other; • I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine,' saith God to the Jews; So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth,' saith Moses in his address to God; • Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God;' • The Lord hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are on the face of the earth,' saith Moses to that people: which passages (together with divers others of the same import) being used to engage and encourage a singular obedience, do plainly say that God transacted with that people singly and separately from all other; taking them on purpose, as it were, into a corner, at a good distance, and beyond hearing of others, that he might there signify alone to them his pleasure, peculiarly concerning them. Yea to this purpose, of maintaining a distance and distinction from the rest of mankind, divers of their laws were appointed ; as not only the nature of such laws doth imply, but words annexed to them sometimes express ; • I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people ; ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean. Whence St. Paul calls their law pegóroixov Opayuoī, a partition wall, that fenced

that nation, and severed it from others; and an enmity, being framed to set them in distance and variance from the resi of men. That whole business also of this constitution is frequently styled a covenant, made, not between God and mankind, but between God and that single nation; a covenant in formal terms mentioning them, and them only ; sealed with marks and characters peculiar to them; requiring conditions and duties possible or proper only for them to perform ; exhibiting promises only suitable to them; propounding rewards which they only were capable to receive, and punishments which they only could undergo. Hear, O Israel,' is the usual style, according to which those laws are directed; “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt,' is the introduction to the decalogue itself, (which among all parts of that law looks fairest toward a general importance and obligation ; which yet is so specially directed, and is indeed peculiarly called the covenant between God and that people ; viz. synecdochically, as being the principal part directive of their duty.) In the body of the laws itself, there is often made a distinction between them who were bound to observe it, and others that were not; between brethren and strangers;' between · Hebrews and aliens;' with duties suited and limited in regard to that distinction, (as in the cases of remitting debts, releasing servants, exacting use, and the like :) there are injoined duties, which others could not properly or decently perform ; such as observation of feasts in commemoration and thankfulness for mercies vouchsafed to that nation; as also others which could not be observed by all men with any possibility or convenience; such as those of repairing thrice a year to one certain place, established for God's worship; of bringing tithes and oblations thither, and the like ; neither was the number of priests and Levites, set apart for God's service, proportioned otherwise than in respect to that one people. The encouragements also and rewards promised to obedience do incommunicably pertain to them, as also the discouragements from, and punishments for, disobedience; a long and prosperpus enjoyment of the land of Canaan was the meed set before them, if they should obey and make good their part of the

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »