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New Testament in its proper signification, to see sensibly, Unluckily, as I say, he took this for the Argument itself, and thus corrects me for it: “What you SHOULD have " said, is, that it is so used here; and I suppose you “ would have said so, if you had known how to have
proved it:” See, here, the true origin both of dogmatizing and divining! His ignorance of what I did say, leads him to tell me what I should have said, and to divine what I would have said. But, what I have said, I think I may stand to, That the verb xidw always denotes a full intuition. This was all I wanted from the text; and on this foundation, I proceeded in the sequel of the discourse, to prove that Abraham saw sensibly. Therefore, when my Examiner takes it (as he does) for granted, that because, in this place, I had not proved that the Word implied to see sensibly, I had not proved it at all; he is a second time mistaken.
“ But, he owns, that, if this was all, perhaps I should « tell him, that it was a very strange answer of the Jews, « thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen “ Abraham?” (Consid. p. 140.) He is very right. He might be sure I would. In answer therefore to this difficulty, he goes on and says, “ No doubt, Sir, the “ Jews answer our Saviour, as if he had said, that " Abraham and he were cotemporaries; in which, they “ answered very foolishly, as they did on many other “ occasions; and the answer will as little agree with your
interpretation as it does with mine. For does your interpretation suppose that Abraham saw Christ in
person ? No; you say it was by representation only." [Consid. pp. 140--1.]
The Jews answered our Saviour as if he had said that Abraham and he were cotemporaries.---Do they so? Why then, 'tis plain, the expression was as strong in the Syrian language, used by Jesus, as in the Greek of his Historian, which was all I aimed to prove by it. But, in this (says he) they answered very foolishly. What
then? Did I quote them for their wisdom? A little common sense is all I want of those with whom I have to deal: and rarely as my fortune hath been to meet with it, yet it is plain these Jews did not want it. For the folly of their answer arises therefrom. They heard Jesus use a word in their vulgar idiom, which signified to see corporeally; and common sense led them to conclude that he used it in the vulgar meaning: in this they were not mistaken. But, from thence, they inferred, that he meant it in the sense of seeing personally; and in this, they were. And now let the Reader judge whether the folly of their answer shews the folly of my Argument, or of my Examiner’s.--Nay further, he tells us, they answered as foolishly on inany other occasions. They did so; and I will remind him of one. Jesus says to Nicodemus, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God *, &c. Suppose now, from these words, I should attempt to prove that Regeneration and divine Grace were realities, and not mere metaphors : for that Jesus, in declaring the necessity of them, used such strong expressions that Nicodemus understood him to mean the being physically born again, and entering the second time into the womb : would it be sufficient, let me ask iny
Examiner, to reply in this manner : “ No doubt, Sir, “ Nicodemus answered our Saviour as if he had said, that
a follower of the Gospel must enter a second time into his mother's uomb and be born: in which he answered very foolishly; and the answer will as little agree with your interpretation as it does with mine. For does
your interpretation suppose he should so enter? No; “ but that he should be born of water and of the “ Spirit.”-Would this, I say, be deemed, even by our Examiner himself, a sufficient answer? When he has re solved me this, I shall, perhaps, have something farther to say to him. In the mean time I go on. And, in re, turning him his last words restored to their subject, help * St. John iii. 3.
him forward in the solution of what I expect from him: The answer (says he) will as little agree with
inters pretation as it does with mine.
For does your interpretation suppose that Abraham saw Christ in person? No; you say, it was by representation only. Very well. Let me ask then, in the first place, Whether he supposes that what I said on this occasion was to prove that Abraham saw Christ from the reverend authority of his Jewish Adversaries: or to prove that the verb edw signified to see literally, from their mistaken answer? He thought me here, it seems, in the way of those writers, who are quoting Authorities, when they should be giving Reasons. Hence, he calls the answer the Jews here gave, a foolish one : as if I had undertaken for its orthodoxy. But our Examiner is still farther mistaken. The point I was upon, in support of which I urged the answer of the Jews, was not the seeing this, or that person : but the seeing corporeally, and not mentally. Now, if the Jews understood Jesus, as saying that Abraham saw corporeally, I concluded, that the expression, used by Jesus, had that import: and this was all I was concerned to prove. Difference, therefore, between their answer as I quoted it, and my interpretation, there was none. Their answer implied that Abraham was said to see corporeally; and my interpretation supposes that the words employed had that import. But to make a distinction where there was no difference, seeing in person, and seeing by representation, are brought in, to a question where they have nothing to do.
P. 13. [C] Ver. 10. et seq. By the account here given, of God's Dispensations to Abraham, may be seen the folly of that objection, brought with such insinuations of importance, against the divine appoinment of Circumcision, from the time of its institution. Sir John Marsham observes, that Abraham, when he went into Egypt, was not circumcised, nor for twenty years after his retur Abramus, quando Ægyptum ingressus est, nondum circumcisus erat, neque per annos amplius viginti post reditum, p. 73. Franeq. ed. 4to. And further, that Cir.' cumcision was a most ancient rite amongst the Egyptians, that they had it from the beginning, and that it was a principle with them not to make use of the customs of other people. Apud Ægyptios circuincidendi ritus vetustissimus fuit, et ár ápxñs institutis. Illi nullorum aliorum hominum institutis uti volunt, p. 74.—The noble Author of the CharACTERISTICS, who never loses an opportunity of expressing his good-will to a Prophet or a Patriarch, takes up this pitiful suspicion after Marsham :
: Before the tiine that Israel was constrained to go “ down to Egypt, and sue for maintenance, -the Holy « Patriarch Abraham himself had been necessitated to “ this compliance on the same account.—'Tis certain " that if this Holy Patriarch, who first instituted the « sacred rite of Circumcision within his own family or
tribe, had no regard to any Policy or Religion of the
Egyptians, yet he had formerly been a Guest and “ Inhabitant of Egypt (where historians mention this to
have been a national rite) long ere he had received any “ divine notice or Revelation concerning this affair.” Vol. iii. pp. 52, 53. These great men, we see, appeal to Scripture, for the support of their insinuation; which Scripture had they but considered with common attention, they might have 'found, that it gives us a chronological account of God's gradual Revelations to the Holy Patriarch; and thcrefore that, according to the order God was pleased to observe in his several Dispensations towards him, the Rite of Circumcision could not . have been enjoined before the time Abraham liappened to go into Egypt; nor, indeed, at any other time than that in wbich we find it to be given; consequently that his journey into Egypt had not the least concern or connexion with this affair : nay, had these learned Critics but attended to their own observation, that the Rite of Çircumcision was instituted twenty years after Abraham's Vol. VI.
return from Egypt, they must have seen the weakness of so partial a suspicion. For had this been after the model of an Egyptian rite, Abraham, in all likelihood, had been circumcised in Egypt, or at least very soon after his return: for in Egypt, it was a personal, not a family Rite.. And we learn from profane history, that those who went from other Countries to Egypt, with a design to copy their manners, or to be initiated into their Wisdom, were, as a previous ceremony, commonly circumcised by the Egyptian Priests themselves.
- You lay
P. 16. [D]. To this Dr. Stebbing answers,
as a trial only; which is not true.” Why not? because “ the common opinion is, that God's intention " in this command was not only to try Abraham, but is also to PREFIGURE the sacrifice of Christ.” [Consid. p. 150.) Excellent! I speak of the Command's being given : but to whom? To all the Faithful, for whose sake it was recorded ? or to Abrahanı only, for whose sake it was revealed ? Does not the very subject confine my meaning to this latter sense? Now, to Abraham, I say, (according to the common opinion) it was given as a Trial only
To the faithful, if you will, as a prefiguration.--If, to extricate himself from this blunder or sophism, call it which you will, he will say it prefigured to Abraham likewise; he then gives up all he has been contending for; and establishes my interpretation, which is, that Abraham knew this to be a representation of the great sacrifice of Christ: I leave it undetermined whether he mistakes or cavils: See now, if he be not obliged to me. Where I speak of the coinmon opinion, I say, the command is supposed to be GIVEN as a Trial only. He thinks fit to tell me, I say not true. But when he comes to prove it, he changes the terms of the question thus, " For the common opinion is, that God's INTENTION