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to Idols; or his abhorrence of it, when directed to himself; the Family must have been misled in their ideas concerning the moral rectitude of that species of religious worship : Therefore, God, in these circumstances, had he commanded the action as a trial only, would have explicitly condemned that mode of worship, as immoral. But he is not represented as condemning, but as remitting it for a favour : Consequently, say the Unbelievers, God did not command the action at all."--To this our Examiner replies, --But why? Was not the revocation of the command, 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, would iyot this after-declaration be as good an evidence of my dislike to the action, as the first was of my approbation of it? To this I reply; That the cases are by no means parallel, either in themselves, or in their circumstances: Not in themselves ; the murder of our next ncighbour was, amongst all the Gentiles of that time, esteemed a high immorality ;. while, on the contrary, human sacrifice was a very holy and acceptable part of divine Worship: Not in their circumstances: the desire to forbear the murder tempted to, is (in the case he puts) represented as repentance; whereas the stop put to the sacrifice of Isaac (in the case Aloses puts) is represented as favour,
But what follows, I could wish (for the honour of modern Theology) that the method I have observed would permit me to pass over in silence.--Now though deliberation and after-thought (says he) are not incident to God, yet, as God, in this cusé, condescended (as you say, and very truly) to act after the manner of men; the same construction should be put upon his actions, as is usually put upon the actions of men in like cases. [Consid. pp. 155, 156.] That is, though. deliberation and after-thought are not incident to God; yet you are to understand his actions, as if they were incident. A horrid interpretation! And yet his representation of the Com
mand, mand, and his decent 'illustration of it, by a murderer in intention, will not suffer us to understand it in any other manner : For God, as if in haste, and before due deliberation, is represented as commanding an immoral action; yet again, as it were by an after-thought, ordering it to be foreborn, by reason of its immorality. And in what is all this impious jargon founded? If you will believe him, in the principle I lay down, That God condescends to act after the manner of men. I have all along had occasion to complain of his misrepresenting my Principles : but then they were Principles he disliked : and this, the modern management of controversy has sanctified. But here, though the Principle be approved, yet he cannot for his life forbear to misrepresciit it: So bad a thing is an evil habit. Let me tell him, then, that by the principle of God's condescending to act after the manner of men, is not meant, that he ever acts in compliance to those vices and superstitions, which arise from the depravity of human Will ; but in conformity only to men's indifferent manners and customs; and to those Usages which result only from the finite imperfections of *their nature. Thus though, as in the case before us, God was pleased, in conformity to their mode of information, to use their custom of revoking a Command; yet he never condescended to innitate (as our Examiner supposes) the irresolution, the repentance, and horrors of conscience of a murderer in intention. Which (horrible to think!) is the parallel this orthodox Divine" brings to illustrate the Command to Abraham.: : But he had read that God is sometimes said to repent; and he thought, I suppose, it answered to that repentance which the stings of conscience sometimes produce in bad men. Whereas it is said, in conformity to a good magistrate's or parent's correption of vice; first, to threaten punishment; and then, on the offender's amendment, to remit it.
But he goes on without any signs of remorse. -—" Nor " will the Pagan fuble of Diana's substituting a lind
s in the place of Iphigenia at all help your Unbeliever, “ This did not, say they, OR YOU FOR TIEM, make “ idolaters believe that she' therefore abhorred human
sacrifices. But do not they themselves, or have not
you assigned a very proper and sufficient reason why “ it did not, viz. that they had been before persuaded
of the contrary? Where human sacrifices make a part of the settled standing Religion ; the refusal to accept
a húman sacrifice in one instance may, indeed, be * rather looked upon as a particular indulgence, than as
a declaration against the thing in gross. But where “ the thing was commanded but in one single instance, " and the command revoked in that very instance, (which “ is our present case) such revocation, in all reasonable * construction, is as effectual a condemnation of the thing,
as if God had tolal Abraham, in so many words, that “ he delighted not in human sacrifices." (Consid. p. 161.) To come to our Examiner's half-buried sense, we are often obliged to remove, or, what is still a more disagreeČable labour, to sift well, the rubbish of his words. Не says, the revocation was an effectual condemnation. This may either signify, That men, now free from the prejudices of Pagan superstition, may sce that human sacrifices were condemned by the revocation of the Command : or, That Abraham's family could see this. In the first sense, I have nothing to do with his proposition ; and in the second, I shall take the liberty to say it is not true. I deny that the revocation was an effectual condemnation. With how good rcason let the Reader now judge.
Abraham, for the great ends of God's Providence, was called out of an idolatrous city, infected, as all such cities then were, with this horrid superstition. He was himself an Idolater, as appears from the words of Joshua, -.Your Fathers duelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other Gods. And I took your father Abraham*, &c. God, in the act of calling * Josh, xxiv. ?,
him, instructed him in the Unity of his Nature, and the error of Polytheism; as the great principle, for the sake of which (and to preserve it in one Family amidst an universal overflow of idolatry) he was called out. That he must be prejudiced in favour of his Country superstitions, is not to be doubted; because it is of human nature to be so : and yet we find no particular instruction given him, concerning the superstition in question. The noble Author of the Characteristics observes, that " it
appears that he was under no extreme surprise on this
trying Revelation; nor did he think of expostulating “ in the least on this occasion ; when at another time “ he could be so importunate for the pardon of an in
hospitable, murderous, impious, and incestuous city:" Insinuating, that this kind of sacrifice was a thing he had been accustomed to. Now the noble Author observes this, upon the Exanimer's, that is, the common, interpretation. And I believe, on that footing, he, or a better writer, would find it difficult to take out the malicious sting of the observation. But I have shewn that it falls together with the common Interpretation.
Well; Abraham is now in the land of Canaan; and again surrounded with the same idolatrous and inhuman Sacrificers. · Flere he receives the Command: And, on the point of execution, has the performance remitted to him as a FAVOUR; a circumstance, in the revocation of the Command, which I must beg' the Examiner's leave to remind hiin of, especially when I see him, at every turn, much disposed to forget it, that is, to pass it over in silence, without either owning or denying. And, indeed, the little support his reasoning has on any occasion, is only by keeping Truth out of sight. But further, the favour was unaccompanied with any instruction concerning the moral nature of this kind of Sacrifice; a practice never positively forbidden but by the Law of Moses. Now, in this case, I would ask any candid Reader, the least acquainted with human nature, whether Abraham
and his family, prejudiced as they were in favour of Human Sacrifices (the one, by his education in his country-Religion; the other, by their communication with their Pagan neighbours, and, as appears by Scripture, but too apt of themselves, to fall into idolatry) would not be easily tempted to think as favourably of Human Sacrifices as those Pagans were, who understood that Diana required Iphigenia, though she accepted a Hind in her stead. And with such Readers, I finally leave it.
P. 32. [O]. "Where are your Authorities for all “ this? (says Dr. Stebbing.) You produce none. Where
your Greek, I am very sure you had it not from the New Testament, where these words
are used indiscriminately.” [Consid. pp. 142, 143.] Where are your Authorities? you produce none. This is to insinuate, I had none to produce. He dares not, indeed, say so; and in this I coinmend his prudence. However, thus far he is positive, that wherever I had my Greek, I had it not from the New Testament. The Gentleman is hard to please : Here he is offended that I had it not; and, before, that I hud it from the New Testament. Here I impose upon bim; there I trifled with him. But, in all this diversity of acceptance, it is still the same spirit : The spirit of Answering.
I had said, the two Greek words, in their exact usë, signify so and so. Which surely implied an acknowledgement, that this exactness was not always observed; especially by the Writers of the New Testament; who, whatever some may have dreamed, did not pique themselves upon
what we call, classical elegance. Now, this implication, our Examiner fairly confirms, though, by way of confutation. In the New Testament (says he) these words are used indiscriminately. I had plainly insinuated as much ; and he had better have let it rest on my acknowledgement ; for the instances he brings, to