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which is quick and sudden, and over head and ears, in an instant: He begins with explaining, --in à comparison, by--by comparison: wliere you just get the first glimpse, as it were, of an enascent equivocation; and his by compurison is presently afterwards turned into as it were, or as if he had; and then, comparatively speaking brings up the rear, and closes the criticism three deep.
P. 29. [M]. Dr. Stebbing goes on as usual-" In "short, Sir, I do not understand this Doctrine (with “ which your whole Work much abounds) of revealing " things clearly to Patriarchs, and Prophets, and Leaders, co
as a special favour to themselves; but to be kept as a
secret froin the rest of Mankind.”—It is but too plain he does not understand it: for which I can give no better reason than that it is the Scripture-doctrine, and not the doctrine of Sums and Systeins. “ I have been used (says
he) to consider persons under this character, as appointed, not for themselves, but for others; and therefore to conclude that WHATEVER was clearly revealed to
them, concerning God's Dispensations, was so revealed “ in order to be communicated to others*.” This is the old sophisin; " That, because Persons act and are employed for others ; therefore, they do nothing, and have nothing done for themselves.” When God said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? was not this said to, and for himselt:- But he has another to match it, “That whatever was clearly revealed to the Prophets, was so revealed, in order to be cominunicated to others.” Here, then, a little Scripture-doctrine will do him no harm. Did Moses communicate all he knew to the Jews, concerning the Christian Dispensation; which the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us was clearly revealed to him in the mount?-Priests (says he) that offer gifts according to the Law, who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the Taber. Cousid. pp. 155, 156.
nacle * Again, We find that Ezekiel, on his being called out, upon his mission, saw (what the author of Ecclesiasticus calls) the glorious vision; and had (as appears from the allegory of the roll of a book) a full interpretātion thereof. Yet, notwithstanding all his illumination, he was directed by God to speak so obscurely to the People, that he found cause to complain, —Ah, Lord, they say of me, Doth he not speak parablest? And now let him ask the Prophets in the same magisterial language he is accustomed to examine me, Was there any good use you could make of your knowledge, that the People of God might not have made of it as well as you ?-But this very Dispensation is alluded to, and continued, under the kingdom of Christ. And his Disciples asked him saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: But to others, in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understandt. Again, St. John in his visions tells us,- And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write, And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, SEAL UP those things which the seven thunders uttered, and WRITE THEM NOT. Rev. x. 4. And now, Reader, I shall try his gratitude !" If you can shew, (says he) " that I am mistaken in this, pray do it, and I shall be
obliged to you." p. 156. You see, I have taken him at his word. And it was well I did; for it was no sooner out of his mouth, than, as if he had repented, not of his candour, but his confidence, he immediately cries, Holdand tells me, “ I might have spared myself in asking “ another question, Why, if Revelations cannot be clearly
recorded, are they recorded at all?" p. 156. But, great Defender of the Faith!---of the ancient Jewish Church, I mean, I asked that question, because the answer to it shews how much you are mistaken; as the intelligent Reader, by this time, easily perceives. But why does he * Heb. viii. 4, 5. + Ezek. xx. 49.
I Luke viii. 9, 10
say I might liave spared that question ?--- Because “if a “ Revelation is not clearly given, it cannot be clearly “ recorded.” p. 156. Did I
p. 156. Did I say it could? Or will he say, that there are no reasons why a Revelation, that is clearly given, should be obscurely recorded ? To what purpose, then, was the observation made? Made? why to introduce another : for, with our cquivocal Examiner, the corruption of argument is the generation of cavil.--. " And yet (says he) as TOU INTIMATE, there inay be
reasons why en OESETRE REVELATION should be * recorded, to wit, for the instruction of future
ages, when, the obscurity being cleared up by the event, " it shall appear, that it was forescen and fore-ordained “ in the knowledge and appointment of God.” p. 156. If thou wilt believe me, Reader, I never intimated any thing so absurd. - What I intimated was not concerning an obscure Pečelation, but a Revelation obscurely recorded. These are very different things, as appears from hence, that the latter may be a clear Revelation; the word being relative to him to whom the Revelation was made. But this is à peccadillo only. Hoirever he approves the reason of recording : for that, therehy, “ it shall appear; that it was foreseen and fore-ordained by God.". Ir,--What? The obscure Revelation, according to grammatical construction : but, in his English, I suppose, it stands for the fact revealed. Well then ; from the recording of an obscure revelation, he says it will appear, when the foretold fact happens, that it was foreseen and pre-ordained by God.' This too he tells the Reader I intiinated; but sure, the Reader can never think me so silly: For every fact, whether prefigured and foretold, or not prefigured and foretold, must needs have been foreseen and preordained by God. Now, whether we are to ascribe this to exactness, or to inaccuracy, of expression, is hard to say. For I find him a great master in that species of composition which a celebrated French Writer, in his
encomium on the Revelation, calls, en clarté noire. lowever, think what we will of his head, his heart lies too open to be disjudged of.
P. 30. [N]. This infic'el obj ction, the Reader sees, consists of two parts : the one, that Abraham must needs doubt of the Author of the Command : the other, that he would be misled, by conceiving amiss of his Altributes, to believe hunen sacrifies were grateful to him. Dr. Stebbing, who will leave nothing unanswered, will needs answer this, [Consid. pp. 158, 160:] To the first part he replies, partly by the assistance I myself had given Urim, (wliere I took notice of what iniylit be urged by Believers, as of great weight and validity) and partly from what he had picked up elsewhere. But lvere I shall avoid imitating his example, wio, ira spite to the Author of Arguments professedly brought in support of Religion, istrives, with all his inight, to shew their invalidity; an employment, one would think, little becoming a Christian Divine. If the cominon arguments against the objection, - here urged by him with great pomp,
great pomp, have any weak parts, I shall leave them to Unbelievers to find out I have :the more reason likewise to trust them to their own weight, both because they are none of his, and because I have acknowledged their validity. For which acknowledyeinent, all I get is this-Whether you had mad this or not (says he) I should have taken upon myself the proof. Whereas, all that he has taken is the.property of other Writers; made his own, indeed, by a weak aud än inperfect. representation.--- But his answer to the second part of the infidd objection must not be passed over so slightly. “ As to the latter part of the objection
(says he) that from this command, Abraham and his family must needs have thought Hundna sucrifices acceptable to God; the revoking the cominand at last
was a sufficient guard against any such construction. 156 To this you inake the Unbeliever answer ;. Nos hecmuase N 3
“ the action having been commanded, ought to have been “.condemned; and a simple revocation was no condem“ nation. But why was not the revocation of the Com“ mand, in this case, a condemnation of the action ? If
I should tempt you to go and kill your next neighbour, " and afterwards come and desire you not to do it; 4. would not this after-declaration be as good an evidence of my
dislike to the action, as the first was of my “ approbation of it? Yes, and a much better, as it
may be presumed to have been the result of maturer “ deliberation. Now, though deliberation and after“ thought are not incident to God; yet as God in this
case condescended (as you say, and very truly) to " act after the manner of men; the same construction « should be put upon his actions, as are usually put
upon the actions of men in like cases." [Consid. pp. 160, 161.] Now, though, as was said above, I would pay all decent regard becoming a friend of Revelation, to the common arguments of others in its defence, yet I must not betray my own. I confessed they had great weight and validity; yet, at the same time, I asserted, they were attended with insuperable difficulties. And while I so think, I must beg leave to inforce my reasons for this opinion; and, I hope, without offence; as the arguments, I am now about to examine, are purely this Writer's own. And the Reader, by this time, has seen too much of him to be apprehensive, that the lessening his Authority will be attended with any great disservice to Religion
I had observed, that the reasonings of Unbelievers on this case, as it is commonly explained, were not devoid of all plausibility, when they proceeded thus,—“That as Abraham lived amongst Heathens, whose highest act of divine worship was human sacrifices; if God had commanded that Act, and, on the point of performance, only remitted it as a favour, (and so it is represented ;) without declaring the iniquity of the practice, when addressed