« ElőzőTovább »
need of a Cure; but if it has its Operation in secret, in adminiftring a better Opinion or Apprehension of Cbristianity, I have my Ends, yet perhaps by so great a Genius and Magisterial a Wricer as our Author, it has yet been unseen, or unenquir'd after by him. I have the more Reason, I say, to hope for a candid Audience from him, because he is judicious and ingenuous enough to own *, " That the Means are as necessary as the “ End.” Now the good laudable End, or Religion of the End being Moral Righteousness and Obedience : I have evidently shewn throughout the preceding Sheets, that the Dispensation by Jesus Christ is the best Means in the World to that best End ; that they have an intimate, efficacious Connexion with it, that if ever they are ineffectual upon Trial, it is altogether from a Misunderstanding, or Misapplication, through the Default of the User; and if he intends the most congruous, by congeneratet Means, I have also shewn, and shall farther shew hereafter, that the Positive, Instituted Parts of Christianity are of that kind.
Now if the Resurrection of the Body is granted, and future Rewards, eternal Life, as the Gift of God confided in #, does not that import and point out Jesus Christ in more Aspects, and in an higher Station than Prophet or Teacher, or Deliverer of Jews onlyll
, viz. as our Lord, the Raiser of the Dead, our Judge, whom we ought to honour ; our Rewarder, on whom we depend ; and if eternal Life so infinitely disproportioned to our shore Stage of defective Virtue (as I have made appear, is the Gift of God, it must be fo to the Gentile, as well as Jew, since all Men meet the Wages of Death to which it is opposed ; still it is thro' Jesus Christ; and is connected to the Belief of his being Son of God, where-ever the New Testament is published, as well as to due Practice resulting from it. And therefore he is either more a Chriftian than he cares to own, or he does not really believe the Contents of those Doctrines, nor the New Testament concerning them, whence he has taken them. How much that diffusive National Belief of Mankind, that God is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek to please bim, comprehends of the Spirit and Principles of Christianity ; See the Index of my Book, Rewards.
* Page 420. + Page 419. Page 394. Page 349.
2. Another Peculiarity arrests the Wonder of the Reader, which is the new Dress of the Names, Christian Jew, and Christian Deist. One would imagine at first, it was owing to some Jews and Deifts living in Christendom; but that affords him' nothing of the Grounds of such a Denomination. Perhaps it is, because Names are sometimes given to put Persons in mind what they should be, if so, I hope they will both be converted in due cime. But I rather take this fresh Instance to be a farcher Confirmation of the Arbitrariness of imposing Names: Ic puts me in mind of the emphatical Name, Keep the Faith Barebones, in our late blessed and enlighten'd cimes, when inherent Characters were communicated with Names, and Saints infallible were stampt unto their lives end, soon as they came out of their Mothers Womb. But why he should deliberately call the Jew Christian for espousing, as appears by the Sequel of his Book, and, according to the Letter of
the Scripture, adhering to the Three Offices and Characters of Christ, Prophet, Priest, and King, (I wish all Jews sincerely did fo) and, with the fame Deliberation, professedly calls himself a Cbristian, when he profeffes almoft in every Page that he receives and minds Jesus Christ no farther than as he is a Prophet, or Teacher of moral Righteousness; whence this very odd unequal giving and assuming that Name in Whole, and in Part, and by one and the fame Person ; upon what Account, I say, can this strange Phænomenon be presented to the World by a Philosopher, unless it is to demonstrate to it, that he is contented with Two Third Parts less of current Christianity than the other, and that he is nevertheless full as good, nay, believe him who can, the better Christian of the two ?
Is it not a little strange and particular, that he should pretend the Letter of Scripture to support his Attachment to one Third of the Christian Doctrine, and yet refufe the other Two with disdain, when the fame literal Sense is as obviously plain and frequent in maintaining one as well as the other? If Figure and Allegory must be called in for interpreting and spiriting away one fort of Office and Character, why is it not applicable to all Three? And then Christ vanishes clear off the Stage ; but to keep him at one Corner of it, and, to serve a turn, not fuffer him to appear in real, full Character, but confine and degrade him to one of his illustrious Appearances only, is dealing very unjustly, and ungratefully by the best Friend and Benefactor to Mankind. This is opening and shutting Holy Scripture with a Key of his own inventing, of more Art and Dexterity, than the Pope ever
pretended pretended to nave in his Custody, for making it fignify not what it really signifies, but whac he pleases to permit it to mean. Is this interpreting or perverting, understanding or confounding, receiving or rejecting those Writings? With like Consistency, and full as much Truth, he might have called himself an Heathen Chriftian, an Infidel Orthodox Believer in Christ, or fome total Piece of a Thing.
We have heard of four Species of Deifts, and every one of them refutable from that Creed of Nature, that God is a Rewarder, &c. as I have shewn in my last Chap. but he allowing and appealing to that Principle, sets up for a fifth Species, wiser, as he imagines, than all the rest. But did not the Heathens almost in general retain that Belief? Wherein then is he wifer? Is it in embracing the Resurrection of the Body ; and eternal Life as the Gift of God? but both of these he borrows from those Scriptures he ungratefully abuses, and would betray to the other. So that his affum'd Name Chris ftian, advances him no farther than a Heathen, (I wish he was but half so honest and true to Discoveries and Improvements of moral Truth, as was Socrates) saving his Belief of the Refurrection of the Body, supposing he believes that real Resurrection, which the Heathen Philosophers unanimously rejected, whilst the Easterns from all Antiquitiy held, and to this Day hold a Transmigration from Body to Body, and in that Senfe, a Life everlafting ; but that is so far from being an Advantage to his Cause, that it is the Mill-stone that will fink it: For to embrace a greater seeming Difficulty, and, at the same time, to reject and run away frighted at feem
ingly less in the same Revelation, and those as plainly, if not more frequently expressed, betrays a Spirit of Perverseness, Singularity, and Inconsistency, the reverse of real free Thinking, imparcial Reasoning, and Inquiry.
If he alledges that his Zeal for Morality, and his Consideration of the Nature and Reason of Things, determines him to this Partiality, and to that filching and mangling of Scripture, I must have leave to reply, having already made out at large, that the whole Mediatorial Scheme of the above three Ofices, is founded in the Nature and Reason of Things, as well as in Scripture ; and, upon this last recommending the Thing to the common Understanding of Man, is found as derivable from one, as from the other: And seeing the whole and fole Design of the positive, peculiar, instituted Parts of it, at which he is so furiously angry without Cause, is really devoted (as I have made appear) in the greatest Propriety and divine Fitness for affisting and advancing Morality to the highest Perfection of Performance that Human Nature is capable of; I may be allowed to observe, especially since he has advanced nothing to the contrary but his own strong Afleveracions, deftitute of Proof, That had he a little more Knowledge with his Zeal, or a little better considered the Nature and Reason of moral Things, or Fitness of Things in their Connexion and Tendencies, he had probably been of another Mind, and never have lost his time in writing new Inconsistencies, or repeating old Absurdities.
3. The Reader without any Item given him, must necessarily observe, and be furpriz'd with a