« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ing a number of objections, which had stigmatized the supposed Prediction with apparent marks of falshood.
Thus we see this noble Prophecy, concerning the transfer of the Kingdom of God, to Christ, contains a matter of much greater dignity in itself, and of much greater moment for the support of CHRISTIANITY, than could arise from the perplexed question about the reign of the Asmonean Princes, or the Continuance of the power of life and death amongst a tributary People. For, in predicting the Abolition of the Law, it supplies us with a new and excellent Argument for the Conversion of the Jewish People, fatally persuaded of its eternal obligation.
The Reasons of my being so particular concerning the duration of the THEOCRACY are various, and will be seen as occasion offers. Only the reader may here take notice, that it was necessary for the present purpose, to shew its continuance throughout the whole duration of the Republic, in order to vindicate the justice of those Laws all along in force, for the punishment of idolatrous Worship.
S E C T. IV.
THUS far as to the nature and duration of the Mosaic Republic. Let us now see what PECULIAR CONSEQUENCES necessarily attended the administration of a THEOCRATIC form of Government.
One necessary consequence was an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE. For the affairs of a People under a Theocracy, being administered by God as King; and his peculiar and immediate administration of human affairs being what we call an extraordinary Providence; it follows that an extraordinary Providence - must needs be exercised over such a People.
My meaning is, that if the Jews were indeed under a Theocracy, they were indeed under an extraordinary Providence: And it a Theocracy was only pretended, yet an extraordinary Providence must necessarily be pretended likewise. In a word, they must be either both true or both fålse, but still inseparable, in reality or idea. Nor does this at all contradict (as was suggested by Doctor Sykes even after he had seen his suggestion confuted) what I observe concerning the gradual decay and total extinction of the extraordinary Providence, while the Theocracy yet existed. For when I say an extraordinary Providence was one necessary consequence of a Theocracy, I can only mean that it was so in its original constitution, and in the order and nature of things : not that in this, which was matter of compact, the contravening acts of one Party
, might not make a separation. For, as this extraordinary Providence was" (besides its being a mode of adıninistration arising out of a Theocracy) a reward for obedience, it became liable to forfeiture by disobedience, though subjection to the Government still continued. I beg leave to illustrate this position botli by a foreign and a domestic instance. The Ærarii in the Roman State were such who, for their crimes, were deprived of the right of Citizens : Yet these delinquents were obliged to pay the public taxes. At home, a voice in the supreme Council of the kingdom is the necessary consequence of an English Barony; yet they may
be separated by a judicial Sentence; and, actually have been so separated; as we may see in the two famous cases of Lord Verulam, and the Earl of Middlesex, in the reign of James the First; who were both deprived of their seats in thc House of Lords, and yet held their Baronies, with all the other rights pertaining to them. Thus a punishment of this kind was inflicted
on the rebellious Israelites: they were deprived of the ertraordinary Providence: and were yet held subject to the Theocracy, as appears from the Sentence pronounced upon them, by the mouth of the Prophet Ezekiel:-“Ye polluted yourselves with your idols
even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by. you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord
God, I will not be enquired of by you. And that . “ which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, IVe will be as the Ileathen, as the Families. of the Countries, to serve ll 'ood and Stone. As I
live, saith the Lord, with a mighty Hand, and with “ a stretched-out' Arm, and with Fury poured out, “ will I rule over you. And I will bring you out " from the People, and will gather you out of the “ Countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty “ Hand, and with a stretched-out Arm, and with
Fury poured out. And I will bring you into the “ Wilderness of the People, and there will I plead “ with you Face to Face. Like as I pleaded with your “ Fathers in the Wilderness of the Land of Egypt, so “ will I plead with you, saith the Lord. And I will
cause you' to pass under the Rod, and I will bring
you into the BOND OF THE COVENANT.” Chap. xx. ver. 31--37. It is here we see denounced, that the extraordinary Providence should be withdrawn; or, in Scripture phrase, that God would not be enquired of by them; That they should remain in this condition, which their Fathers had occasionally felt in the wilderness, when the extraordinary Providence, for their signal disobedience, was, from time to time, suspended: And yet, that, though they strove to disperse themselves amongst the Peoplo round about, and projected in their minds to be as the heathen, and the families of the Countries, to serve wood and stone, they should still be
under the government of a THEOCRACY; Which, when administered without an extraordinary Providence, the blessing, naturally attendant on it, was, and was justly called, THE ROD AND BOND OF THE COVENANT,
But now if you will believe a Professor of Divinity and a no less eminent dealer in Laws, the case grows worse and worse, and, from a contradiction in my system, it becomes a contradiction in God's. For thus Dr. RUTHERFORTII descants upon the matter : “ As the Law was gradually deprived of its “ Sanction, the Obligation of it grew continually “ weaker, till at last, after the people were returned “ from the Captivity, it must have ceased to, oblige " them at all. For whatever may be the case of God's
MORAL LAW, yet most certainly, as he withdraws " the Sanctions of his POSITIVE ones, he takes off “ something from their obligation; and when he “ has wholly withdrawn the promise of reward and the
threatening of punishment, THOSE LAWS OBLIGE
NO LONGER.” p. 329. To this Determination of the learned Professor, concerning OLLICATION, I have nothing to oppose but the Determination of God himself: who, by the mouth one of his Prophets, declares, That the Laws shall still oblige, though the Sanction be withdrawun. “ Ye pollute yourselves with
your Idols,” &c.—as the reader may find it transcribed just above. Here God declares he would withdraw that extraordinary Providence which naturally attended a THEOCRACY – I will not be enquired of by you. “ Yet do not (says he) deceive yourselves in an expectation that, because for your crimes I withdraw this sanction of my Law, the Law will oblige no longerand that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say we will be as the heathen: For, in order to the bringing about my own great purposes, I will
still continue you a select and sequestered people I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out from the Countries wherein you are scattered. And will still rule over you by my Law; now, in my wrath, as before in my mercy. With fury poured out I will rule over you, and bring you into the bond of the Covenant."
I suppose the thing that led our Doctor into this rash judgment, That when the sanctions of a positire law are withdrawn, the obligation to the law ceases, was his totally misunderstanding the principles of the best writers on the Law of Nature: Not by their fault, I dare assure the Reader.—The Law of Nature is written in the heart; but by Whom, is the question. And a question of much importance; for if not written by a competent Obliger it is no Law, to bind us. The enquirers therefore into this matter had no other
way of coming to the Author of the Law, but by considering the effects which the observance or inobservance of it would have on mankind. And they found that the observance tended to the benefit of all, the inobservance to their destruction. They concluded therefore that it must needs have been given by God, as a Law to mankind; and these effects of its observance or inobservance they called the sanction. Hence it appears that the knowledge of our obligation to the Law of nature arises from the knowledge of the sunction. And, this sanction away, we had not been obliged, because we could never have discovered any real ground of obligation.
But the positive Law of the Jews was written in stone by the finger of God, in a visible manner; in which the senses of the People were appealed to, for the truth of the transaction. Here the knowledge of their obligation did not arise from their knowledge of