صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

fortune? With some it was the standard principle of their feet to doubt, with others to argue every thing; and when we recollect that Cicero himself was of the New Academy, we have a clue to unravel all the seeming contradictions of his moral and metaphysical sentiments, amidst the confusion of which we are never to expect his real opinion, but within the pale of his own particular school, and that school professed controversy upon every point. I will instance one passage, which would have done honour to his sentiments, had he spoke his own language as well as that of the Platonists, whom he is here personating -Nec vero Deus, qui intelligitur a nobis, alio modo intelligi poteft, quam mens soluta quædam et libera, segregata ab omni concretione mortali, omnia sentiens et movens. Whilst the purest truths were thrown out only as themes for fophiftry to cavil at, the mass of mankind resembled a chaos, in which if some few sparks of light glimmered, they only served to cast the general horror into darker shades.

It must not however be forgotten, that there was a peculiar people then upon earth, who profefled to worship that one Supreme Being, of whose nature and attributes certain individuals only amongst the Gentile nations entertained suitable conceptions.

Whilst all the known world were idolaters by establishment, the Jews alone were Unitarians upon fystem. Their history was most wonders ful, før it underook to give a relation of things, whereof no human records could possibly be taken, and all, who received it for truth, must receive it as the relation of God himself, for how else should men obtain a knowledge of the Creator's thoughts and operations in the first formation of all things ? Accordingly we find their inspired historian, after he has brought down his narration to the journal of his own time, holding conferences with God himself, and receiving through his immediate communication certain laws and commandments, which he was to deliver to the people, and according to which they were to live and be governed. In this manner Mofes appears as the commissioned legislator of a Theocracy, impowered to work miracles in confirmation of his vicegerent authority, and to denounce the most tremendous punishments upon the nation, so highly favoured, if in any future time they should disobey and fall off from these facred statutes and ordi:

nances.

A people under such a government, set apart and distinguished from all other nations by means fo supernatural, form a very interesting

object

object for our contemplation, and their history abounds in events no less extraordinary and miraculous than the revelation itself of those laws, upon which their constitution was first established: Their tedious captivities, their wonderful deliverances, the administration of their priests and prophets, their triumphs and suc. cesses, whilst adhering to God's worship, and their deplorable condition, when they corrupted his service with the impurities of the idolatrous nations, whom they drove from their possessions, form a most surprizing chain of incidents, to which the annals of no other people upon earth can be said to bear resemblance.

Had it suited the all-wise purposes of God, when he revealed himself to this peculiar people, to have made them the instruments for disseminating the knowledge of his true religion and worship over the Gentile world, their office and administration had been glorious indeed; but this part was either not allotted to them, or justly forfeited by their degenerate and abandoned conduct; disobedient and rebellious against God's ordinances, they were so far from propagating these imparted lights to the neighbouring nations, that they themselves sunk into their darkness, and whilst all the land was overrun

with

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

with idols, few were the knees, which bowed to the living, true and only God.

Moses, their inspired lawgiver, judge and prophet, is generally said to have delivered to them no doctrine of a future state: I am aware there is a learned author now living, one of their nation, David Levi by name, who controverts this affertion; it is fit therefore I should leave it in reference to his future proofs, when he shall see proper to produce them; in the mean time I may fairly state it upon this alternative, that if Mofes did not impart the doctrine above-mentioned, it was wholly reserved for future special revelation ; if he did impart it, there must have been an obstinate want of faith in great part of the Jewish nation, who knowingly profesied a contrary doctrine, or else there must have been some obscurity in Moses's account, if they innocently misunderstood it: The Sadducees were a great portion of the Jewish community, and if they were instructed by their lawgiver to believe and expect a future ftate, it is high matter of offence in them to have disobeyed their teacher ; on the other hand, if they were not instructed to this effc et by Moses, yet having been taught the knowledge of one all-righteous God, it becomes just matter of surprize, how they came to overlook a consequence fo evident.

No CXV.

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

No
N CXV.

F

ROM the review we have taken of the

state of mankind in respect to their religious opinions at the Christian æra it appears, that the Gentile world was systematically devoted to idolatry, whilst the remnant of the Jewish tribes professed the worship of the true God; but at the same time there did not exist on earth any other temple dedicated to God's service, save that at Jerusalem. The nation su highly favoured by him, and so enlightened by his immediate revelations, was in the lowest state of political and religious declension; ten out of their twelve tribes had been carried away into captivity, from which there has to this hour been no redemption, and the remaining two were brought under the Roman yoke, and divided into fects, one of which opposed the opinion of the other, and maintained that there was to be no resurrection of the dead : The controversy was momentous, for the eternal wel. fare of mankind was the object of discussion, and who was to decide upon it? The worshippers of the true God had one place only upon earth, Vol. IV.

0

wherein

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »