« AnteriorContinuar »
I had told him long ago, it was because the punishment was einployed only to supply the want of a future But to this
, he replies, - nothing hindered its being added to the doctrine of a future state. It is very true: nor did any thing hinder temporal rewards from being added to the doctrine of a future state under the Gospel ; yet when a future state was brought to light, by that Dispensation, both one and the other were abolished. But is it not a little strange that the Doctor, in thus insisting on its jurther use, on account of its being able to restrain more daring Spirits, by laying hold of their instincts, at all times, as well under arı unequal as under an equal providence, should not see he was arguing against the DIVINE Wisdom, who by the mouth of the Prophet declared it of no further use under the Gospel dispensation ?
P. 172. [KK] Ezechielis sententias adeo sententiis Mosis repugnantes invenerunt Rabini, qui nobis illos (qui jam tantum extant) libros Prophetarum reliquerunt, ut fere deliberaverint, ejus librum inter canonicos non admittere, atque eundem plane abscondissent, nisi quidam Chananias in se suscepisset ipsum explicare, quod tandem magno cum labore & studio (ut ibi nar. ratur) aiunt ipsum fecisse, qua ratione autem non satis constat.-Spinosa Tract. Theologico-Pol. pp. 27, 28. In the mean time it may be worth observing, that the explanation which I have here offered, cuts off the only means the modern Jews have of accounting for their long Captivity upon the Principle of the Law's being still in force. Limborch urges Orobio with the difficulty of accounting for their present dispersion any other way than for the national crime of rejecting Jesus as the Messiah; șeeing they are so far from falling into Pagan idolatries, the crime which brought on their other Captivities, that they are remarkably tenacious of the Mosaic Rites. To which Qrobio replies, " that they are not their own sins for which they now suffer, but the sins of their forefathers."
Now Ezekiel has declared (and I have reconciled that declaration to the Law and the Prophets) that this mode of punishment hath been long abolished.
P. 174. [LL] Having thus reconciled the two Prophets, Moses and Ezekiel, on this point, one may
be al. lowed to wonder a little at the want of good faith even in M. Voltaire, when it comes to a certain extreme.
This celebrated Poet has, like an honest man, written in defence of RELIGIOUS TOLERATION : and to inforce his argument, has endeavoured (not indeed like a wise one, who should weigh his subject before he underta kes it) to prove, that all Religions in the world, but the Christian, have tolerated diversities of opinion. This common weakness of rounding one's System, for the support of a plain Right which requires no such finishing, hath led him into two of the strangest paradoxes that ever disgraced common sense.
The one, that the Pagan Emperors did not persecute the Christian Faith: The other, that the Jewish Magistrate did not punish for Idolatry.
In support of the first, bis bad faith is most conspicuous ; in support of the latter, his bad logic.
If there be one truth in Antiquity better established than another, it is this, That the Pagan Emperors did persecute the Christians, for their faith only; established, I say, both by the complaints of the Persecuted, and the acknowledgement of their Persecutors. But this being proved at large in the preface to this. very Volume *, it is enough to refer the Reader thither.
The other Paradox is much more pleasantly supported.- He proves that the Mosaic Law did not denounce punishment on religious errors (though in direct words, it does so), nor did the Jewish Magistrate execute it (though we have several instances of the infliction recorded in their history). And what is the convincing argument he employs? It is this, The
* See Preface to Books IV. V. VI. edit. 1.758. Vol. IV. p. 35. of this Edition. -Ed.
frequent defections of the Jereish People into Idolatry, in the early times of their apostasies. An argument hardly so good as this, -The Church of Rome did not persecute, as appears from that general defection from it, in the sixteenth Century. I say, M. Voltaire's argument is hardly so good as my illustration of it, since the defection from the Church of Rome still continues, and the Jewish defections into Idolatries were soon at an end.
But we are not to think, this Paradox was advanced for nothing, that is, for the sake of its own singular boldness (a motive generally sufficient to set reason at defiance), nor even for the support of his general question. It was apparently advanced to get the easier at his darling subject, THE A PUSE OF THE Mosaic RELIGION, that Marotte of our partycoloured Philosopher.-- Take this instance, which is all that a cursory note will be able to afford.
M. Voltaire, speaking of the rewards and punishments of the Jewish Dispensation, expresses himself in this manner : “ Tout etait temporel ; et c'est la preuve que le savant Evêque Warburton apporte pour démontrer que la Loi des Juifs, était divine; parce que Dieu même étant leur Roi, rendant justice immédiatement aupres la transgression ou l'obéissance, n'avoit pas besoin de leur révéler une Doctrine qu'il réservait au teins, qu'il ne governerait plus son peuple. Ceux qui par ignorance prétendent que Moyse enseignait l'immortalité de l'ame, ôtent au Nouveau Testament un de ses plus grands avantages sur l'ancien."
p. 132. -Would not any one now believe (who did not know M. Voltaire) that he quoted this argument as what he thought a good one, for the divinity of the Mosaic Religion ? Nothing like it. It was only to find occasion to accuse the Old Testament of contradiction. For thus he goes on,-“ Cependant malgré l'énoncé précis de cette Loi, malgré cette declaration expresse de Dieu, qu'il punirait jusqu'à la quatrieme
génération; Ezechiel annonce tout le contraire aux Juifs, et leur dit, que le Fils ne portera point l'iniquité de son pere : il va même jusqu'à faire dire a Dieu, qu'il leur avait donné des preceptes qui n'etaient pas bons."
p. 133. As for the precepts which were not good, the Reader will see that matter explained at large, as we go along. What I have to do with M. Voltaire ať present, is to expostulate with him for his ill faith; that when he had borrowed my argument for the divinity of the Mosaic Mission from that mode of punishment, he would between Moses and EZEKIEL'; when, in that very venture to invalidate it from an appartem radiction place of the Divine Legation which he refers to, he saw the two Prophets reconciled by an argument drawn from the true natures of two approximating Dispensations; an argument which not only removes the pretended contradiction (first insisted on by Spinosa, and, through many a dirty channel, derived, at length, to M. Voltaire), but likewise supports that very mark of divinity which I contend for.
But it is too late in the day to call in question the Religion or the good faith of this truly ingenious man. What I want, in this Discourse sur la Tolerance, is his CIVIL PRUDENCE. As an ANNALIST, he might, in his General History, calumniate the Jewish People just as his passions or his caprice inclined him : But when he had assumed the character of a DIVINE, ta recommend Toleration to a Christian State, could he think to succeed by, abusing Revelation? He seems indeed, to have set out under a sense of the necessity of a different conduct : But coming to his darling subject an abuse of the Jews, he could not, for his life, sustain the personage he had assumed, but breaks out again into all the virulence and injustice with which he persecuted this unhappy People in his General History; and of which the Reader will see a fair account, in this volume, p. 6, et. seq.
P. 175. [MM] This is the precise character of the writings of the Old Testament. And this state of them (to observe it only by the way) is more than a thousand answers to the wild suspicions of those writers, who fancy that the Jews, since Christ, have corrupted their sacred Scriptures, to support their superstitions against the Gospel; and amongst other erasements have struck out the Doctrine of life and immortality; which, say these Visionaries, was, till then, as plaivly taught in the Old as in the New Testament: For had these supposed Impostors ever ventured on so bold a fraud as the adulterating their sacred Writinys, we may be well assured their first attempt would have been to add the doctrine of a future state, had they not found it there, rather than to take it away if they had: since the omission of the doctrine is the strongest and most glarmg evidence of the imperfection of the Law; and the insertion of it would have best supported what they now hold to be one of the most fundamental points of their Religion. But this is not a folly of yesterday. Irenæus tells us that certain ancient Heretics supported their wild fancies against Scripture, which was against them, by the same extravagant suspicion, that it had been interpolated and corrupted: Notwithstanding, I am far from thinking these Moderns borrowed it from them. They found it in our common Nature, which always goes the nearest way to work, to relieve itself.
P. 176.: [NN] We shall now understand the ima portance of a remark, which the late Translator of Josephus employs to prove the genuineness of a fragment or homily, given by him to that Historian : " There is one particular observation (says he)
belonging to the contents of this fragment or homily, " that seernis to me to be DECRETORY, and to deter* mine the question that some of this Jewish church, " that used the Hebrew copy of the Old Testament, nay rather, that Josephụs himself in particular was