صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

few of those marks, which had before casually excited the senfation of those simple sounds, might be selected and formed into what has been since called an alphabet, to express them all: and then, their old accustomed way of combining primitive founds into words, would as naturally and easily direct them to a like combination of what were now become the fimple marks of sound; from whence would arise LITERARY WRITING.

• In the early language of men, the simple, primitive sounds would be used, whether out of choice or neceflity, as fignificative words or terms, to denote the most obvious of those things with which they perpetually conversed. These sounds, without arbitrary institution, would incite the idea of the thing, sometimes, as its audible image, sometimes, as its natural representative. Therefore the old marks for things, to which words of this original belonged, would certainly be first thought of for the figures of those alphabetic letters by the ingenious inventer of this wonderful contrivance. And, in fact, this which appears fo natural has been found to be actually the case: the most early alphabets being framed from the outlines of those figures in the real characters, which, by use, in their hieroglyphic state, had arrived at the facility of exciting, in the mind, the SOUND as well as THING

In the first section of the fifth book, we have an addition of feveral pages, containing some very pertinent and spirited observations upon what Voltaire has said in regard to the Jews, in his additions to his General History. You are, says Voltaire to his reader, ftruck with that hatred and contempt, which all people have always entertained for the Jewish nation. It is the unavoidable consequence of their legislation; which reduced things to the necessity, that either the Jews must enslave the whole world, or that they, in their turn, must be crushed and destroyed. It was commanded thm to hold all other people in abhorrence, and to think themselves polluted if they had eat in the same dish which belonged to a man of another religion. By the very law itself, they at length found themselves the natural enemies of the whole race of mankind.

It will not be easy to find, his Lordship says, even in the dirtieft sink of free-thinking, so much falfhood, absurdity, and malice hcaped together in so few words.-It might be thought unreasonable to expect that a poet should read his bible : but one might be allowed to suppose that he had heard at least of its general contents, If he ever had, could he, his Lordship asks; unmarked, and in the face of the sun, have said that the Mosaic law directed or encouraged the Jewish people to attempt extenfive conquests? -That very law, which not only assigned a peculiar and narrow distri&t for the abode of its followers; but, by a number of inftitutions, actually confined them within those

limits :

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

limits : such as the stated division of the land to each tribe; the
prohibition of the use of horse in their arınies; the distinction
of meats into clean and unclean ; the yearly visit of each indi-
vidual to Jerusalem, with many others.
· His Lordfhip observes farther, that every Jew, by the consti-
tution of the law itself, found all mankind to be his brethren.
For Moses was careful to acquaint the chosen family with the
origin of the human race, and of their descent from one man
and woman; and, in order to impress this salutary truth more
strongly on their minds, he draws out an exact genealogy from
Adam, not only of the direct line which was to inhabit the land
of Judea, but of all the collateral branches by which the whole
earth was peopled.
· So that were Voltaire to turn law-giver, (which he might as
well do as general historian) and sit down to contrive a me-
thod by which brotherly love and affection might be best efta-
blished amongst the sons of men, one might (according to this
writer) defy him, with all his invention, to hit upon any, more
efficacious than that which Moses has employed. St. Paul, when
he would enlarge the affections of the Athenians (to whom all
other nations as well as the Jews were become barbarians) to
that extent which Christian benevolence requires, employed no
other topic than this, that God had made of one blood all nations of
men : and from thence inferred, that they all stand in the relation
of brethren to one another.

• But it may be asked, continues the Bishop, what are we then to think of that ODIUM HUMANI GENERIS with which the ancient pagans charged the Jews? I have shewn, in the first volume of this work, that there was not the least shadow from fałt to support this calumny; and that it was merely an imaginary consequence, which they drew from the others declared hate and abhorrence of the idols of paganism, and firm adherence to the sole worship of the ore true God. But besides this original, the principles and doctrine, there was another, the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic religion ; either of them sufficient alone to perpetuate this wretched calumny amongst ignorant and prejudiced men. That the doctrine was worthy of its original, the enemies of revelation confefs : that the establishment of the ceremonies, as they were necessary to support the dočtrine, were of no less importance, I fhall now shew our Poet.

"To separate one people from all others, in order to preserve the doctrine of the unity, was a just purpose. : "No separation could be made but by a ceremonial law.

No ceremonial law could be established for this purpose, but what must make the Gentiles be eiteemed unclean by the sepa. rated people. .'

« The

• The consequence of an estimated uncleanness, must be the avoiding it with horror : which, when observed by their ene. mies, would be maliciously represented to arise from this imaginary odium humani generis. What idea then must we needs en. tertain, I will not say of the religion, but of the common honefty of a modern writer, who, without the least knowlege of the Jewish nation or their policy, can repeat an old exploded calumny with the assurance of one who had discovered a newly acknowledged truth? But the pagans were decent when compared to this rude libertine, They never had the insolence, to say, that this pretended bate of all mankind was COMMANDED BY THE LAW ITSELF. They had more sense as well as modesty. They reverenced the great Jewish lawgiver, whom they saw, by his account of the origin of the human race, had laid the strongest foundation amongst his people, of brotherly love to all men. A foundation, which not one of the most celebrated law. givers of antiquity had either the wit to inforce, or the sagacity to discover.

His Lordship now proceeds to consider what Voltaire says in regard to the sterility of the promised land, and concludes what he advances on this subject in the following manner :

. On the whole, says he, we can form no conception how God could have chosen a people and assigned them a land to inhabit, more proper for the display of his almighty power, than the people of Israel and the land of Judea. As to the people, the PROPHET in his parable of the Vine-tree, informs us, that they were naturally, the weakest and most contemptible of all nations : and as to the land, the Poet, in his great fable, which he calls a General History, affures us, that Judea was the vilest and most barren of all countries. Yet somehow or other this chosen people became the instructors of mankind, in the noblestoffice of humanity, the science of true theology: and the promised land, while made subservient to the worship of one God, was changed, from its native sterility, to a region flowing with milk and honey; and, by reason of the ineredible numbers which it sustained, deservedly entitled the GLORY OF ALL LANDS.

. This is the state of things which SCRIPTURE lays before us. And I have never yet seen those frong reasons, from the schools of infidelity, that should induce a man, bred up in any school at all, to prefer their logic to the plain facts of the sacred historians.

• I have used their testimony to expose one, who, indeed, renounces their authority : but in this I am not conscious of have ing transgressed any rule of fair reasoning. The freethinker laments that there is no contemporary historian remaining,, to confront with the Jewish lawgiver, and detect his impostures. However, he takes heart, and boldly engages his credit to confuge him from his own history. This is a fair attempt, But he prevaris cates on the very first onset. The sacred history, besides the many civil facts which it contains, has many of a miraculous nature. Of these, our freethinker will allow the first only to be brought in evidence. And then bravely attacks his adversary, who has now one hand tied behind him : for the civil and the miraculous facts, in the Jewish dispensation, have the same, qay, a nearer relation to each other, than the two hands of the Jame body; for these may be used fingly and independently, though to disadvantage; whereas the civil and the miraculous facts can neither be understood or accounted for, but on the individual inspection of both. This is confessed by one who, as clear-fighted as he was, certainly did not see the consequence of what he so liberally acknowledged. The miracles in the Bible (says his philofophic lordship *) are not like thofe in Livy, detached pieces, that do not disturb the civil history, which goes on very well without them. But the miracles of the Jewish historian are intimately connected with all the civil affairs, and make a necessary and inseparable part. The whole history is founded in them; it consists of little else, and were it not an history of them, it would be a history of nothing."

s From all this, I assume that where an unbeliever, a philofopher if you will, (for the Poet Voltaire makes them convertible terms) pretends to thew the falfhood of Moses's million from Mofes's own history of it; he who undertakes to confute his reasoning, argues fairly when he confutes it upon facts recorded in that history, whether they be of the miraculous or of the civil kind : Since the two forts are fo inseparably connected, that they must always be taken together, to make the history understood, or the facts which it contains intelligible.' .. - In section 4th book sth, we find a considerable addition of several pages, in regard to Jofephus, who, according to Spinoza, was as backward in the belief of miracles as any modern pågan whatsoever. The handle, for this calumny, is the historian's relation of the passage of the Red-Sea; which he compares to Alexander's through the Pamphylian, and which concludes with faying, that everyman may believe of it as he pleases: this, our learned Author fäys, has so libertine an air, that it has betrayed some believers into the fame false judgment concerning Josephus; as if he afforded only a political or philosophical belief to these things ; and gave a latitude to those of his own religion, to think *as they fhould fee cause. - But here lies the difficulty, we are told; the historian is every now and then putting on a very different aspect, and talking like a most determined believer. Many are the places where he • expreffes the fullest and firmest affent to the divinity of the Mosaic Preligion, and to the truth of the facred volumes. And what * Bolingbroke.

makes

nityce he emplo och offensive of all, is,

makes the greatest difficulty of all, is, that the very places in which he uses such offensive latitude of expression are those where he employs his utmoft endeavours to thew the real divie nity of his religion; of which miracles are produced as evidence; an evidence he studiously feeks, and seems to dwell upon with pleasure. . .

This varying aspect, so indifferently affumed, creates all the embarassment. But would mien only do in this case, his Lordship says, what they ought to do in all, when they pass their judgment on an ancient writing, that is, consider the end, time, and genius of the writer, together with the character of thofe to whom the work is addrefied; they would find Jofephus to be indeed a steady believer of the law, and a firm believer of its miraculous establishment; and, at the same time, discover the easy solution of all those untoward appearances which have brought his reli. gion into question.

The case, with him, we are told, stood thus : his country was now in great distress; its constitution overturned, and his brethren in apparent danger of utter extirpation; calamities arising as much from the ill-will which the heathens had entertained of their religion for its unfociable nature, as for their own turbulent and rebellious carriage. This ill-will had been much increased by their fuperior aversion to Chriftianity, confidered by "them as a fect of Judaism; which had carried its insociability as far, and its pretentions much farther : fo far as to imit on the necessity of all men's submitting to its dominion, and renouncing their own country religions as the impoftures of politicians, or the inventions of evil demons. This put the heathen world into a fame, and produced those mad and wicked.perfecutions that attended the first propagation of the Christian faith... **;6. Such, says the Bishop, was the unfriendly state of things, when Josephus undertook an apology for his nation, in the Hiftory of its Antiquities. Now as their conquerors’ aversion to them, arose from the supposition that their religion required the belief and obedience of all mankind (for they had, as we obferved, confounded Judaism with Christianity) to wipe off this invidious imputation, we must conclude, would be ever in the author's thoughts. So that when the course of his history leads him to fpeak of the effects of God's extraordinary providence in his conduct to this people, he sometimes adds to his relation of a miraculous adventure, but in this every man may believe as he pleases, A declaration merely to this effect: “ The Jewish re. ligion was given by God for the use of his chosen people, therefore the Gentiles might believe as they pleased. The Jews did not pretend they should leave their own country religion to embrace theirs : that in this they were different from the Christian fect, which required all mankind to follow the faith of a cruci

« السابقةمتابعة »