« PreviousContinue »
which we can allign no Reason. For there are a thoufand Instances in Providence to be made, which are subject to the same Difficulties. Tell me why the unhappy Inhabitants of Greenland, and Iceland, are not all born in such a Garden of the World as Italy? Or why God bestowed such a delicious Soil upon the Italians only, above all the rest of the Europeans? Tell me, Philologus, why God has blessed you with a more delicate Personage and a happier Stock of natural Parts than your Neighbours? Why such an one is born to a great Estate, and others to none at all? Why such an one is made a Man, and not a Monkey? Why another Thing is an Animal, and not a Tree? Now these are all particular Favours of God Almighty, which other parts of the Creation want; and yet you will not say that this is any Reflexion upon the Wisdom or Justice of God. Why therefore should we tax them in bestowing this Favour of particular Revelation to the Fews? For I dare say, 'I can as easily prove, That the Fows were as much deserving of their Prophecy, as any Man can be to be an Italian, or an Englishman, to . be beautiful or wealthy. We Men are not able to give a Reason for any of these Benefits, and therefore must refer all to the sudoxía, or good Pleasure of God. Not that this good Pleasure of God is any capricious Resolution of his, but a wise Determination of his Will, grounded up on just Reason, altho' unknown to us. Nay, I doubt: not, but we Men in another World shall be able to give an Account of many Difficulties in God's beneficent and vindi&tive Providence, which in this world are so apt to amuse us ; and that in the great Circles and Revolutions of God's future Dispensations, all the present Inequalities shall be made up, and all Accounts balanced. But after all, the Order of the Universe alone is a sufficient Reason: to satisfy all reasonable Men of the Wisdom and Justice of God, in placing Men and Things in a better or worse Station in the World, and in communicating to them greater or lesser Benefits. If all were to enjoy the same Favours of the Deity, there would be no Subordination of Beings, which is the great Beauty of the Universe;.
Thai o che doeltow of God
be bron for any puid, or good any capricWill, ground doubt
tiful or wealthy Benefits, and thereto. Not that
this good I wife Determi unknown Thall be ab
Favour or letter World, hand Thine Wildomicient Reafter
there would be only one confused Heap of good Things without Order or Design, which would be so far from being an Argument of the divine Wisdom, that it would be a considerable Proof against it. Besides, no one would praise God for the Benefits they enjoy, if all enjoy'd the fame in common with them; for the Universality would take off the Edge of Men's Admiration, and consequently of their Gratitude; and they would be as listless to give Thanks to God in this Condition, as they are to thank God for Health or Wealth, as when they never experienced either Sickness or Poverty. And therefore as God has wisely contrived it in his natural and political Providence, for the Beauty and Order of the Universe, that fome Beings should be Vegetables, as well as others Animals; that some should be Brutes, and others Men; and among Men themselves, that some must be Poor, as well as others Rich; that some must labour, as well as others govern : so likewise in his fpiritual Providence, or in his Care of the everlasting Welfare of Men's Souls ; it is no Wonder, that God should ordain several Classes or Orders of future Happiness, or should be more or less bountiful to them, in affording them Means in this World of attaine
ing it. Tews not 4. And as for the Jews, whom you do not think to fuchill peo- be such fit Objects of the divine Favour, in communica ple as pre- ting to them his revealed Will, as the Greeks or Romans; rendid.
that is a Point, I am afraid, you will never be able to make out. Indeed it is grown a mighty Fashion of late, even among those that are better Friends to Christianity than you, to cast very severe Reflexions upon the Jewish Institution; and, under Pretence of shewing the Nobleness of the Christian Religion, do upon all Occasions be-devil the poor Jews. I do not think this the best way to support Christianity, by undermining the Foundation which it is built upon ; for the Law is but the Groundwork of the Gospel; and if we destroy the first, the latter falls. And as for the People of the Jews, which of late are so much used to be vilified, I do not find that they are more liable to Censure of this Nature than other Na
tions. It cannot indeed be denied, but that this people were prone to Idolatry, and did very often lapse into it; which is the Occasion of those very severe Reprehensions you meet withal in the Prophets, and which you hinted at just now. But then this is in some Measure to be palliated by the mighty Grandeur and Pageantry of the idolatrous Worship of all the Nations round about them, and the great Scorn and Reproach which was cast upon the Jewith Singularity in the Worship of onc God, which must needs have no inconsiderable Influence upon vulgar Minds. And as for their Aversation to a Familiarity with the Heathens, it was but a Practice agreeable to the Mofaical Law (Vid. Deut. vii.) which was a wise Command of God, which alone preserved his true Worship, in that Nation only, free from the Infection of idolatrous Nations round them, for so many Ages together. And altho' perhaps in the Times of Trogus and Tacitus, the foru's might be more scrupulous this Way, than their Law required; yet that must be imputed to Pharisailm, which was the prevailing Sect among the Fews at that Time, and which by false Glosses and superstitious Doctrines, had perfectly debauched the Jewish Religion, and soured the greatest Part of them into an unsociable Temper. But after all the Faults that may be charged upon them, the stedfast Worship of the one true God, for so måny Ages in that Nation only, when all the World besides was overrun with Polytheism and Idolacry, when they were so much scorned and vilified by the Heathen World for his Sake, underwent so many Caprivities, Persecutions, and Martyrdoms; this was enough to endear them above the rest of the World to God Almighty, to incline him to commit his Oracles to them alone, and to guide them by his revealed Word, rather than to the Greeks or Romans, or any other idolatrous Nation, who, besides their diabolical Superstitions, were ten times more lewd and debauch'd.
5. As for a few scandalous Refexions which are usu- Justin, ege. ally brought against the Fews out of Fustin and Tacitus, jiet I think nothing in them is worthy being taken notice of, unless it be the Disingenuity of the Relators, who; I am
confident, report Things which they themselves do not give the least Credit to. For why, I pray, are not the Holy Scriptures and Josephus, that are the Books of that Country, fitter to be relied upon, than the mistaken Reports of malicious or half-informed Foreigners? I beseech you, Sir, where would you look for a true Account of the Matters of England, in Cambden, Speed, and Baker, Men of our own Nation, or in Monsieur Sorbiere of France? I think the Question is easily resolved; and then why should you take these scandalous Accounts of the Jewish Nation from Justin and Tacitus, when you have Writers of their own Nation, which give contrary Ace counts of them? Both of these Heathen Authors are notoriously mistaken in their Account of the Jews ; but because Justin gives the fullest Account, be pleased to obferve cne or two of the Absurdities of his Relation. It is plain, that the Foundation of Justin's Relation was out of the Book of Genesis, by the Names of Abraham, Israel, the particular History of Joseph*, the Envy of his Brethren, his Interpretation of Dreams, his being sold peregrinis Mercatoribus, to foreign Merchants, his Prediction of the Famine, his Familiarity with Pharaoh, his Storing of the Corn, and the like. Now it is impossible, that such a particular Account should be had any where else, than from the Bible. The Bible therefore must by you Theists be allow'd to have so much of the Truth of profane or secular History, as to regulate Justin's History, who seems plainly to have copied either at first or second Hard from it. So that if there be any Truth in Fustin, the same must be more express in the Bible, from which Justin had his Relation, tho’ he has blended it with other Fables.
· * Minimus ætate inter fratres Joseph fuit, cujus excellens ingenium veriti fratres clam interceptum peregrinis mercatoribus vendiderunt, à quibus deportatus iri Ægyptum, cum magicas ibi artes folerti ingenio percepillet, brevi ipfi segi percharus fuit. Nam & prodigiorum fagacillimus erat, & fomniorum primus intelligentiam condidit; nihilque ei divini juris humanique incognitum videbatur, adeo ut etiam sterilitatem agrorum ante multos annos providerit : periissetque omnis Ægyprus fame; nisi monitu ejus rex edicto fervari per multos annos fruges juflisset. Juft. Lib. 36. Cap. 6.
Nor Nor is it difficult to think, how a Heathen should come at a Sight of that Book, or at least a Relation out of it. For Trogus Pompeius, who wrote the History which Justin epitomiled, was a Retainer in the Family of the great Pompey, who conquered Judea ; and therefore in the Expedition of his Master there, without Doubt he picked up this imperfect Relation of the Jews, either by reading their Books, and afterwards forgetting or mistaking them; or by mixing the true History, with the fabulous Reports of some neighbouring Gentiles. So that, in short, the Scripture-History must regulate his Report; and then see how finely this does agree with it. He makes the Jewish Original to be from Damascus, and that Abraham was King of that Place; where Arathe, the Wife of Syrass, one of their ancient Kings, was worshiped: That after Damascus, who gave Name to the City, succeeded Azelus, and then
Adores, and then Abraham and Ifrael, which Ifrael divided his Kingdom among his ten Sons, but made them all to be called Fews from his Son Fudah: That Joseph was Ifrael's youngest Son, and that Mofes was Son to him: That the Jews were driven out of Ægypt for being scabby; that they were followed after by the Ægyptians, because they had stol'n some of their Sacra, and that the
Ægyptians were forced to return Home by a Tempest : That they were forced to fast seven Days in the Defarts of Arabia, which occasioned the Institution of the Sabbath : That the Memory of their being drove out of
Ægypt for their Scabbiness, made it a part of their Religion not to converse with Strangers, left the Knowledge of their Infirmity should render them contemptible: That Moses's Son's Name was Arvas, (i. e.) Aaron, who was an Ægyptian Priest, who afterwards succeeded Moses in the Kingdom; and from hence came the Custom, that the Jewish Kings were always Priests.
Now what a foolish and contradictious Account of the Jewish History is this Report of Justin? Who ever heard of the Names of Azelus and Adores in the Jewish Story? When was such a Goddess as Arathe worshiped genes rally by the Jews, who were always fam’d for the Wor