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of Revelation, as he has in the Body Natu- SER M.

IV. ral; that is to bestow the more abundant adventitious Comeliness on the Members of it, which seem to have no Comeliness in themselves.

Thus, for Example, the Accounts of frequent Appearances of God or his Angels to Men in the earliest Ages (sometimes upon

Occasions seemingly not very extraordinary) have been thought as incredible as so many Legendary Tales; and we are asked, if we could digest so much of the Marvellous in any other Book? God, however, would not lay the First of Mankind under a Necessity either of having no Religion, or of erring in the grand and fundamental Articles of it: which must unavoidably have been the Case, without frequent Intercourses with Heaven, and Assistances from thence; they, unpractised in the Arts of Reasoning, and unfurnished with Materials for it, being utterly unable to reason out a System of true Religion, or even to prove the Unity of God. Reason, in the Infancy of the World, was not capable of going alone, and therefore most probably was led by the Hand; guided and supported by the great Parent of all Things. How could it be expected, that a Set of recent Mortals, wholly employed in the necessary Accommodations of Life, having few Ideas, and not Leisure to acquire more, should raise

IV.

Serm. their Minds above sensible Impressions to the

Discovery of one Invisible Supreme Being, and of the Worship due to him only; when of two such Men as Yulian and Celfus, who enjoyed the Advantage of the Observations and Reasonings of all precedeing Ages, one of them * could invocate the Sun as the supreme Deity; and the other t make the following Objection to the Jewish Religion : “ Those stupid Shepherds” (says · this great Master of Reason) “ and Herdf“ men, following Mofes as their Leader, " and being imposed upon by his unpolish'd “ Frauds, were induced to believe (won“ derful Stupidity!) that there was only

one God?Thus what is thought an Obječtion, turns out an illustrious Proof for the Truth of Revelation. Here is a Matter of Fact, for which there is Historical Evidence, that there was, in the early Ages of the World, a Religion plain, simple, and true, as far as it went. Frequent Intercourses with the Deity, and Messages from Heaven, give an easy and satisfactory Solution of this Fact, of which no other possible Solution can be given. However extraordinary a Thing the Introduction of the Deity may be upon the Drama of N ; here it is absolutely necessary to unravel

* Julianus ad Regem Solem, Orat. IV.
+ Celsus apud Origincm, Pag. 17, 18. Ed. Cantab.

the

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IV.

the Difficulty. I might observe further, Serm. that no other Reason but this can be given, why the Jews alone should adhere to the Worship of one God, and be a standing Testimony against Idolatry amidst an idolatrous World. Repeated Interpositions of the Deity being to them, what Improvements in every Branch of Literature are to us; enabling us to demonstrate the Being, Attributes and Providence of God, and the Homage due to him : So that even Natural Religion could not have been introduced into the World, and preserved in it, without fupernatural Instruction.

Thus again, however astonishing a Matter of Fact the Deluge may appear to be; it must be admitted as such, because it is as well attested as any Thing in Antiquity: and whoever admits this Instance of God's Displeasure, which involved the Innocent as well as Guilty in one promiscuous Doom; cannot, with any Colour of Reason, object to the utter Excision of the Idolatrous Nations (when they had filled up the Measure of their · Iniquities) by his Command who could, and would, in another World make a Difference between the unoffending Person and the Presumptuous Şinner.

Thus again fome Parts of the Jewish Law prove themselves, and shine with an original unborrowed Evidence, as those

relating

IV.

Serm. relating to the Sabbatical Year; the Ascent

of all the Males to the Temple of Jerusalem three Time's a Year ; against multiplying Chariots, &c. they being such, as no wife Lawgiver would enact, nor any Nation submit to, without an absolute Certainty of a Standing Divine Interposition: and wiratever intrinsic Brightness these are attended with, they diffuse it over the whole Body of the Law..

Again, nothing hath furnished an ampler Handle for Exceptions, than those Ways which the Prophets made use of to notify the Will of God; as if they denoted a frantic Turn of Mind. Now the exact and punctual Correspondency between the Prophecy and the subsequent Events, plainly proves that God spoke by the Mouth of his Prophets; and it is demonstrable, that those, whose Writings are inspired by God, cannot, in those Writings, be guilty of an Absurdity. But there is no Demonstration that those Schemes of Discourse, which the Prophets used, carried any Indication of Frenzy. It being the only Indication of Frenzy, in Modes of Expression and Dress, not to fall in with received Customs, as far as they are innocent. It was customary among the Orientals (and among other Nations too, as appears from the old Way of ratifying Leagues and Covenants, from the

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IV.

Ad of the Phocæans, to which Horace * Serm.
alludes in his Epodes, and even from
Pilate's washing his Hands) to communicate
their Sentiments by Typical Signs and Sym-
bolical Representations, in order to impress
them with more Energy. They used to
speak to the Eyes, by Actions expressive
of their Meaning. Absurdity is either,
what is so in itself, something that contra-
dicts 'a confessed Principle or. Conclusion
of Reason, and this is unchangeably the
same at all Times and Places : Or

Or it is
what is relatively so in Regard to Time,
Place and Person. In the latter Sense it is
of no fixed Nature, but an arbitrary Term;
That being absurd in some Circumstances,
which would be very proper,

if Things
were differently circumstanced. As for Ab-
surdities of the former Kind, I know not
any Thing in the Emblematical Actions of
the Prophets that carries the least Appear-
ance of Sin or Immorality, except that of
Hosea's taking a Wife' of Whoredoms :
which, though but an Appearance, is ob-
viated, if we consider the promiscuous Use
of the Imperative and Future in the He-
brew Tongue. For the Words may be
rendered, not, Take thee a Wife, &c. but,
Thou wilt take a Wife; a Prediction,
not a Command ; and the Sense may be,
* Hor. Lib. Epodôn, Od. XVI. ver. 25, 26.
Sed juremus in hæc; fimul imis faxa renarint
Vadis levata, ne redire fit nefas.
G

♡ I forea

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