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“ in this command was,” &c. Now God's intention of giving a command to Abraham, for Abraham's sake, might be one thing; and God's general intention of giving that Command, as it concerned the whole of his Dispensation, another. But to prove further that I said, not true, when I said that, according to the common interpretation, the Command was given for a Trial only; he observes, that I myself had owned that the resemblance to Christ's sacrifice was so strong, that Interpreters could never overlook it. What then? If the Interpreters, who lived after Christ, could not overlook it, does it follow that Abraham, who lived before, could not overlook it. neither? But the impertinence of this has been shewn already. Nor does the learned Considerer appear to be
. unconscious of it. Therefore, instead of attempting to inforce it to the purpose for which he quotes it, he turns, all on a sudden, to shew that it makes nothing to the purpose for which I employed it. But let us follow this Protean Sophister through all his windings.--" The “ resemblance (says he) no doubt, is very strong; but “ how this corroborates your sense of the command, I do
Your sense is, that it was an actual infor“mation given to Abraliam, of the sacrifice of Christ. “ But to prefigure, and to inform, are different things. " This transaction might prefigure, and does prefigure the “ sacrifice of Christ; whether Abraham knew any thing of " the sacrifice of Christ or no.
For it does not follow, " that, because a thing is prefigured, therefore it must be “ seen and understood, at the time when it is prefigured.”. [Consid. pp. 150, 151.] Could it be believed that these words should immediately follow an argument, whose force (the little it has) is founded on the principle, That to PREFIGURE and to INFORM are not diferent things ?
P. 17. [E]. To this reasoning, Dr. Stebbing replies, “ But how can you prove that, according to the common “ interpretation, there was no reward subsequent to the
trial I” (Consid. p. 151.] Ilow.shall I be able to please, him ?-Before, he was offended that I thought the Author of the book of Genesis might omit relating the mode of a fact, when he had good reason so to do. Here, where I suppose no fact, because there was none recorded when no reason hindered, 'He is as captious on this side likewise. “ How will you prove it?" (says he). From the silence of the Historian (say 1) when nothing hindered him from speaking. Well, but lie will shew it to be fairly recorded in Scripture, that there were rewards subsequent to the trial. . This, indeed, is to the purpose;. “ Abraham (says he) lived a great many years after that
transaction happened. He lived to dispose of his son “ Isaac in marriage, and to see his seed. lle lived to " be married, bimself to another Wife, and to have s several children by her: He had not then received “ all God's mercies, nor were all' God's dispensations " towards him at an end; and it is to be remembered “ that it is expressly said of Abraliam, Gen. xxiv. 1,
(a long time after the transaction in question), that “ God had blessed him in all things.” [Consid. p. 151, 2.) The question here is of the extraordinary and peculiar rewards bestowed by God on Abraham; and he decides upon it, by an enumeration of the ordinary and coinmon. And, to fill up the measure of these blessings, he makes the burying of his first wife and the marrying of a second to be one. Though unluckily, this second proves at last to be a Concubine ; as appears plainly from the place where she is mentioned. But let me ask him seriously; Could he, indeed, suppose me to mean (though he attended not to the drift of the argument) that God. iminediately withdrew all the common blessings of his Providence from the Father of the Faithful, after the last extraordinary reward bestowed upon him, when he lived many years after? I can hardly, I own, account for this perversity, any otherwise than from a certain temper of mind which I am not at present disposed to give a name
to: but which, the habit of Answering has made so common, that nobody either mistakes it, or is now indeed, much scandalized at it. Though for iny part, I should estcem a total ignorance of letters a much happier lot than such a learned depravity.—" But this is not all,” (says he)--No, is it not? I am sorry for it!—– What
surprises ine inost is, that you should argue so. WEAKLY, as if the reward of good men had respect to this life
only. Be it, that Abrahain had received all God's “ mercies; and that all God's dispensations towards “ him, in this world, were at an end; was there not a “ life yet to coine, with respect to which the whole
period of our existence here is to le considered as a state of trial; and where we are all of us to look for
that reward of our virtues which we very often fail « of in this:? [Consid. p. 152.] "Well
, if it was not all, we find, at least, it is all of a piece. For, as before, he would sophistically obtrude upon us common for extraordinary REWARDS; so here (true to the mystery of his trade) he puts common for extraordinary TRIALS. Dur present eristence (says he) is to be considered as a stute of Trick. The case, to which I applied my argument. was this ; –“God, determming to select a chosen People froin the loins of Abraham, would manifest to the world that this Patriarch was wortlıy of the distinction shewn unto him, by having his faith found superior to the hardest trials.” Now, in speaking of these trials, I said, that the command to offer Isaac was the last. No(says the Examiner) that cannot be, for, with respect to a life to come, the whole period of our existence here, is to be considered as a state of TRAL." And so again (says he) with regard to the REWARD; which you pretend, in the order of God's Dispensation, should follow the trial: Why, we are to look for it in another world.—Holy Scripture records the history of one, to whom God only promised (in the clear and obvious sense) temporal blessings. It tells us that these temporal blessings were dispensed. M 3
One species of which were extraordinary Rewards, after extraordinary Trials. In the most extraordinary of all, no Reward 'followed : This was my difficulty. See here, how he has cleared it up. Hardly indeed to his own satisfaction : for he tries to save all by another fetch; the weakest men being ever most fruitful in expedients, as the slowest animals have commonly the most feet. * And what (says he) if after all this, the wisdom of “ God should have thought fit, that this very man, whom " he had singled out to be an eminent example of piety " to all generations; should, at the very close of his life,
give evidence of it, by an instance that exceeded all " that had gone before; that he might be a pattern of
patient suffering even unto the end? Would there not “ be SENSE in such a supposition?” [Consid. p. 153.] In truth, I doubt not, as he hath put it: And I will tell him, Why. Abraham was not a mere instrument to stand for an example only; but a moral" Agent likewise; and to be dealt with as such. Now, though, as he stands for an Erample, we may admit of as many Trials of patient suffering as this good-natured Divine thinks fitting to impose; yet, as a moral Agent, it is required (if we can conclude any thing from the method of God's dealing with his Servants, recorded in sacred history) that each Trial be attended with some work done, or some reward conferred. But these two parts in Abraham's character, our Considerer perpetually confounds. He supposes nothing to be done for Abraham's own sake; but every thing for the Example's sake. Yet, did the good old cause of Answering require, he could as easily suppose the contrary. And to show I do him no wrong, I will here give the Reader an instance of his dexterity, in the counter-exercise of his arms. In p. 150. of these Considerations (he says) “IT DOES NOT FOLLOW, , " that, because a thing is prefigured, therefore it must « be seen and understood AT THE TIME when it is "prefigured." Yet in the body of the Pamphlet, at
pp. 112, 113, having another point to puzzle ; he says (on my observing that a future State and Resurrection were not national Doctrines till the time of the Maccabees) “ he knows I will say they had these doctrines from the “ Prophets-yet the Prophets were dead two hundred
years before."-But if the Prophets were dead, their Writings were extant -- "And what then? Is it LIKELY " that the sons should have learnt from the dead Pro.
phets what the Fathers could not learn from the
living?-Why could not the Jews learn this Doctrine " from THE VERY FIRST, as well as their Posterity at “ the distance of ages afterwards?" In the first case we find he expressly says, it does not follow; in the second, he as plainly supposes, that it does.
P. 19. [F]. And yet an ingenious man, one M. Bouiller, in a late Latin Dissertation, accuses me of concealing, that Chrysostom, Erasmus, and others, were of my opinion, viz. that Abraham in the Command to sacrifice his Son was informed, of what he earnestly desired to know, that the redemption of Mankind was to be obtained by the sacrifice of the Son of God. The Reader now sees, whether the Author of the Divine Legation was guilty of a concealed theft, or his Accuser of an open blunder, under which he covers his orthodoxal malignity. Yet he thinks he atones for all, by calling The Divine Legation egregium opus : ubi ingenium acerrimum cum e.rimia erúditione certat.--Dissertationum Sacrum Sylloge, p. 194.
P. 20. [G]. To this, the great Professor replies, That “ there are but few gestures of the body more apt of “ themselves to signify the sentiment of the mind than “ articulate sound : The force of which arises not from " the nature of things; but from the arbitrary will of
man : and common use and custom imposes this signification on articulate sounds, not on motions and
gestures-Pauci sunt motus corporis, qui ipsi per se " aptiores esse videntur ad motus animi significandos, M4