صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

O.R. P.37.

Mofes did

render it a very idle and fuperfluous Description. For he defcribes these Rivers of Paradife, only to find out the Situation of it; but if thefe Rivers were fuch, as were defaced in the Deluge, one can no more find out the Situation of Paradife by this, than if he had only mentioned the Man in the Moon.

Cred. You are much mistaken, Philologus, to think, that not give the Aim of Mofes, in this Defcription of the Rivers, was Account of for Men to find out Paradife by; for the Holy Scripture to find out does not ufe to condefcend, to fatisfy Men's inquifitive Paradife by. Curiofities. It was the Defign of the Holy Ghost, in

the Rivers

this Relation, to acquaint Pofterity with the Beauty of that happy Place, which our firft Parents unfortunately forfeited; but, I dare fay, it was not the leaft of his Intention, to leave Minutes for witty Men to write Books, and draw Maps by. But, I pray, was there never a Defcription made of any Thing, but only to teach Men how to find it by? Some Things are defcribed, that are paft and gone, as the Relation of the Actions of Men, Sieges, Battles, Tumults, &c. and fo are impoffible to be found; other Things are related in a fhorter Manner, when they need not be found, as Paul was buried at Rome, Pompey was conquered at Philippi: Now it would be Nonfenfe in the Hiftorians, to defcribe exactly the Vault or Spot of Ground where the Apoftle's Body was laid, or to fhew the particular Ground which was covered by cach Army; fo that the Reader, if he pleafed, might go directly to them. Should Hiftorians do this, it would make their Writings as tedious and ridiculous, as a Story that is filled up with nothing but I faid, and he faid, and I faid again. Therefore the Prophet's Defcription of Paradife is very proper, to give the Reader an Account, what Kind of Place Paradife was; but as for the finding out the Place, it is neither neceffary for us to know, nor for him to relate, with fuch Particularity.

Phil. The next Thing, Credentius, I have to accoft you with, is, The Great Law which Adam and Eve were to be tried by, and all Mankind ftand or fall, by the keeping, or the breaking of it. Now one would think, that

a Law,

a Law, upon which Effects of fo vaft a Confequence did depend, must be fome mighty wife Precept in it felf, moft admirably conducing to the Good of Mankind, and the Honour and Wisdom of the Legislator; but instead of this, we find only a poor little trivial Thing commanded, only forfooth the not eating an Apple. A reasonable Man would fuppofe, that thefe wife Couple, with the fupralapfarian Knowledge, fhould have had a Law given them for their Trial, fuitable to their great Capacities; fome fuper-eminent Rules of moral Virtue, fuch as Philofophers talk of, and leave for others to practife; fome noble Part of your Chriftian Charity, or feraphick Love, which fome of your melting Divines make fuch fine Speeches upon: These would have been Precepts agreeable to that wife and glorious State; but fuch a ludicrous Law as this does not only feem to be an undervaluing to the Wisdom of the Deity, but even to Man himself, to be dealt with fo like a Child, as this comes to..

Cred. I perceive this is an Argument, which Infidels The Reasonhave made ufe of in all Ages, down from Julian and Cel- ableness of the probafus, to the little Coffee-Houfe and Tavern-Wits in our tive Pre Time. But for my Part, I could never fee any Strength cept. in this Argument, nor any Ridiculoufnefs in this Law, nor any Thing fit to be laughed at, but only their foolish Management of it. As for your Exceptions against this Law, that it was the Prohibition of fuch a fmall indifferent Thing, and not fome great Rule of Morality; will you be pleased to take this Anfwer, which I am perfuaded will fatisfy you, or will at leaft filence you from making Sport with this Paffage of Scripture any more.

It is acknowledged by all, that the Mofaical Tables are a good fhort Syftem of Morality, and take in all the general Heads of moral Virtues; and therefore we will run. through these, and fee if any Precept here was fo fit to be given Adam for a Trial, as that which Mofes faid he

had. To begin with the firft Table which relates to The Probithe Divine Worship and Reverence. Suppofe the Wor- bition of an Ship of falfe Gods, or Image-worship, had been forbidden Apple more him; had not that been ten Times more ridiculous than proper than any Thing

I 4

the elfe.

the Apple? For the Worship of falfe Gods was a Thing, which came into the World feveral hundreds of Years afterwards, when Men grew fo ftupid as to take the Sun and Moon for Gods, and began to flatter their Princes into divine Honours. Neither would the Prohibition of Image-Worship have been any Trial; for we can never fuppofe Adam to have been fuch a Sot, as to have made an Image, and to have fell down before it himfelf. Befides, Images were long after brought into Worship, either to flatter living Princes, or elfe to fupply the Place of dead ones, whom the filly People fancied were become Gods. Neither would the Prohibition of Perjury or vain Swearing, have been a better Way of Probation. Perjury was a Thing not to be heard of, till the World was better peopled; when Commerce and Trade came into Ufe, when Courts of Judicature were fettled, when Men began to cheat one another, and then to deny it and forfwear it. And vain Oaths could never have a Being in a State of Innocence, for they must have their Origin in a corrupt lying State of the World; when Men began to ufe them to afcertain others, they were fincere in this Matter, tho' they might be falfe in other Matters; till afterwards, by frequent Ufe, they grew habitual and customary Words. Neither were any Particularities in the Divine Worship proper to be commanded them; for Temples, and Priefts, and Garments, and weekly and anniversary Holidays, &c. were Things perfectly inconfiftent with that Infant-ftate of the World. The like may be faid of other Duties commanded in the fecond Table. How could Adam have honoured his Father and Mother, when he never had any? What Temptation could he poffibly have, to be guilty of Murder, when there was no Man or Woman in the World, but his own Wife; whom if he should deftroy, he would not only be excluded from Marriage again, but muft needs fpend his whole Life after, in a miferable Solitude? How could he commit Adultery, when Eve was the only Woman upon Earth? How could he be guilty of Theft, when he was the fole, Lord of all the Creation? How could he bear falfe Witness against his

Neighbour, or covet his Goods, when there was no Neighbour in the World for him to be thus unjust to. And fo if you go on to the Chriftian Precepts: What Part of Charity was he in a Capacity of exercifing? How could he forgive Injuries and love Enemies, who had no one to offend against him? What charitable Wishes and Thoughts could he have of his Neighbour, when as yet there was neither Neighbour nor Sin in the World? How was it poffible for him, to exercife the Duties of Mortification, Self-denial, and taking up the Crofs, who had no Luft to conquer, no Paffions to overcome, who lived in fuch a delicious Place as he could experience no Want or Difquiet? As for the Love of God, that was as natural to the Soul before the Fall, as it is for the Body to eat and drink, fo that to have made that his Trial, would have been as abfurd, as to have bid him to be fure to walk upon the Ground, and breath in the Air, which he could not but do. It remains therefore, that his Probation was moft properly to be performed, by a Command of doing or forbearing fome indifferent Action, which was neither Good nor Evil, but only as it was commanded or forbidden. Now if it be requifite or fitting, that his Obedience fhould be tried in doing or forbearing fuch an indifferent Thing; why was not this firft Law for forbearing this Fruit of a certain Tree in the Garden, as proper as a Law prohibiting any indifferent Thing else? Nay there is more Reafon for this Prohibition, than that of other Things; because that which was prohibited, was natural and appofite, not strange and far-fetched. The firft Parents being to live in a Garden, what more natural to be forbidden them, than the eating fuch a Sort of Fruit? If fome odd ftrange Thing had been commanded them, which had no Manner of Relation to their Way of living, we might have had fomething to fay against it. If they had been commanded not to study Mathematicks or Magick, to make long Pilgrimages to Mecca or Loretto, to climb once or twice a Year up to the Top of Mount Caucafus, or a thousand more of these indifferent Things, only to try their Obedience; there would be none of


them half fo proper as this, which God made Choice of; nay, I defy the Wit of Mankind to find out an indiffe rent Thing to be prohibited, which was fo natural and agreeable to the State of Mankind then, as this was. So that this Law is fo far from being ridiculous and ludicrous, that it must seem very wife and reasonable, and grounded upon a very judicious Choice to all confidering Men.

Phil. This is pretty plaufible, Credentius. But then I can never reconcile the Severity of the Curfe, which followed upon this Difobedience, with the Goodness, or indeed the Juftice of God. We hardly now-a-days reckon the robbing of an Orchard a Crime worth a Whiping; and therefore how can we fuppofe, that Adam and Eve, and all their harmless Pofterity, fhould be doomed to eternal Damnation, only for eating a Couple of Apples, they were not to meddle with? Methinks, this is very rigid Juftice, to inflict fuch heavy Punishments, as these are, for fuch a little Peccadillo.

The TrafCred. It is a very great Miftake, Philologus, to imagreffim of gine, that this Sin of our firft Parents was fuch a little our firft Pa- Slip, as you would pretend. It was the greatest Sin rents no tri- which ever was committed, unlefs it be the Sin against fling ofthe Holy Ghoft For, if we confider the Nature of the fence. Crime, the mighty Complication of Offences in it, and the great Advantages they had to avoid it ; nothing can appear more heinous. For this Sin was, not only a bare Difobedience to God's Command, but a perfect Infidelity to God's Promifes and Threats; it was a Sort of Idolatry, in believing the Devil, and putting a greater Truft in him than God; it was a horrible Pride in them to defire to be like God, fuch a diabolical Pride, as made the evil Angels fall from their firft Eftate; it was a very great Covetousness and Theft, to defire, and to purloin that, which was none of their own; it was a Sort of the most cruel and unparallelled Murder, to kill and destroy the poor Souls of fo many thousand of their Off-fpring. Confider again, that this was a Difobedience against God, an infinite Being, and of infinite Dignity; a God that


« السابقةمتابعة »