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him to tell me (for, after this, he may tell me any thing) “ that I myself confess there is not one word in " the Iliad of Homer, to justify me in saying that there
were three periods in the destruction of Troy; the first; “ the robbery of Helen; the second, the combats before « the Walls; and the third, the storming of the Town by the Greeks; For that I say, that Homer's
poem " begins at the second period; wisely omitting the first * and the last.” Now will any one conclude, from this reasoning, that I had made any such confession?
P. 33. [Q]. This shews why God might say to Hosea, Go take unto thee a wife of whoredoms, &c. ch. i. ver. 2. Though all actions whịch have no moral import are indifferent; yet some of this kind (which would even be indifferent, had they a moral import) may, on the very account of their having no moral import, be the object of pleasure or displeasure, Thụs, in the adventure between Elisha and Joash, we are told, that the Prophet said unto the King,“ Take bow and arrows; and “ he took unto him bow and arrows. And he said to " the king of Israel, Put thịne hand upon the bow; and
he put his hand upon it; and Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands. And he said, Open the window
eastward; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot ; " and he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord's “ deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians “ in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. And he said, " Take the arrows; and he took them. And he said
unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground; and " he smote thrice, and stayed. And the man of God
was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have “ smitten five or six times, then hadst thou smitten Syria, " till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt "smitę Syria but thrice.” 2 Kings xiii. 15-19. Here it is not difficult to apprehend, that the Prophet, by God's command, directed the King to perform a significative Vol. VI.
66 I call
action, whose meaning God had beforehand explained to his Messenger : and, amongst the particulars of it, had told him this, that the Syrians should be smitten as often as the King smote upon the ground, when the Prophet should order him (only in general words) to smite it. Hence the Prophet's anger, occasioned by his love to his country, on the King's stopping when he had smote thrice.
P. 33. [R.] To this Dr. Stebbing answers,
easily understand, Sir, how the matter stood with “ Abraham; and that he was in no danger of being "misled, as to the nature of human Sacrifices, who knew “ the secret of the whole affair; and that it was nothing “ else but Scenery. But how this answer will serve for “ his Family, who are to be presumed to have known « nothing of this scenical representation, is utterly past
my comprehension ;-because you have told us from " the very first, that the information to be conveyed by * it was intended for Abraham's soLE USE; and I do “ not see how Abraham could open to his family the
scenery of the transaction, without explaining the
mystery.-But is not your putting the Family of “ Abraham, in possession of this consequence, a very “ plain declaration, that they knew the mystery of Christ's “ sacrifice? Now therefore, Sir, take your choice, and " give up one part of your hypothesis; or the other, as "best pleases you; for to hold both is imposible. If you
say that the family of Abraham were acquainted with “the mystery of Christ's sacrifice; it will overturn all
you have said concerning their ignorance of a future “ state: It likewise overturns the single reason you have
given why the explanation (usual in all such cases) to
shew the import of the transaction was not added, viz. “ that it was a point not fit for common knowledge. * But if you shall chuse to say, that the revelation of “ this mystery was for the sole information of Abraham, “ and that his family knew nothing of it, the objection “ will lie full against you, unanswered.” [Consid. p. 166.] I had said, that the command was for Abraham's sole use; and “therefore (says the Doctor) the Family of 56 Abraham must be presumed to know nothing of this “ scenical representation:” Notwithstanding this, I presume (he says) that they did know it. Here he takes me in a flagrant contradiction. But did he indeed not apprehend that where I spoke of its being given for Abraham's sole use, I was opposing it (as the course of my argument required) not to the single family which THEN lived under his tents, but to the Jewish People, WHEN the history of the transaction was recorded ? —And now having shewn his wrong conclusion from my words, let us consider next the wrong conclusion he draws from His own.-I do not sưe (says he) how Abraham could open to his family the scenery of the transaction, without explaining the mystery. What does he mean by, opening the scenery of the transaction? There are two senses of this ambiguous expression ; it may signify, either, explaining the moral of the scenery; or simply, telling his family that the transaction was a scenical representation. He could not use the phrase in the first sense, because he makes explaining the mystery a thing different from opening the scenery. He must mean it then in the latter. But could not Abraham tell his family, that this was a scenical representation, without explaining the mystery? I do not know what should hinder him, unless it was the sudden loss of speech. If he had the free use of his tongue, I think, he might, in the transports of his joy, on his return home, tell his Wife, “ That God had ordered hiin to sacrifice his Son, and that lie bad carried this Son to mount Moriah, in obedience to the divine Command, where a ram was accepted in his stead; but that the whole was a mere scenical representation, to figure out a mysterious transaction which God had ordained to come to pass in the latter ages of the world.” And I suppose when he had once told his wife, the Family would soon hear of it. Now could they not
* I had
understand, what was meant by a scenical representation, as well when he told them it was to prefigure a mystery, as if he had told them it was to prefigure the crucifixion of Jesus? Had I no other way of avoiding his dilemma (for if I escape his Contradiction, he has set his Dilemmatrap, which he says it is impossible I should escape) had I nothing else, I say, it is very likely I should have insisted upon this explanation : But there are more safe ways than one of taking him by his Horns. “ therefore (says he) take your choice, and give up one
your hypothesis or the other, as best pleases you; FOR TO HOLD BOTH IS IMPOSSIBLE.
you say that the family of Abraham were acquainted with '" the Mystery, it will overturn all you said concerning “ their ignorance of a Future State-But if you shall “ chuse to say that the revelation of the Mystery was for “ the sole information of Abraham, and that his Family “ knew nothing of it, then-the construction in favour “ of human Sacrifices must have been the very same as " if no such representation, as you speak of, had been « intended." I desire to know where it is that I have spoken ANY THING of the ignorance of Abraham's Family concerning a Future State. But I am afraid, something is wrong here again: and that, by Abraham's Family, he means thre Israelites under Moses's policy : for, with regard to them, I did indeed say that the gross body of the People were ignorant of a Future State. But then I supposed them equally ignorant of the true import of the Command to Abraham. But if by Abraham's Family he means, as every man does, who means honestly, those few of his houshold, I suppose them indeed acquainted with the true import of the Command; but then, at the same time, not ignorant of a future State. Thus it appears
that what our Examiner had pronounced IMPOSSIBLE, was all the while very possible. And in spite of this terrible Dilemma, both parts of the hypothesis are at peace. I can hardly think him so immoral
as to have put a designed trick upon his Reader: I rather suppose it to be some confused notion concerning the Popish virtue of TRADITION (that trusty Guardian of Truth) which led him into all this absurdity: and made him conclude, that what Abraham's houshold once knew, the Posterity of Abraham could never forget. Though the WRITTEN WORD tells us, that when Moses was sent to redeem this Posterity from bondage, they remembered so little of God's Revelations to their Forefathers, that they knew nothing even of his NATURE, and therefore did, as men commonly do in the like case, enquire after his
P. 37. [S] “ To me (says the noble writer) it plainly
appears, that in the early times of all Religions, when “ nations were yet barbarous and savage, there was ever
an aptness or tendency towards the dark part of Super“ stition, which, amongst many other horrors, produced
that of human Sacrifice. Something of this nature “ might possibly be deduced even from Holy Writ.”— To this a note refers in the following words-Gen. xxii. 1, and Judg. xi. 30. These places relating to Abraham and Jephthah are cited only with respect to the notion which these primitive warriors may be said to have entertained concerning this horrid enormity, so common amongst the inhabitants of the Palestine and other neighbouring nations. It appears that even the elder of these Hebrew princes 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 inhospitable, murderous, impious and incestuous city, Gen. xviii. 23, fc. Charact: yol. iii. p. 124
Dr. Stebbing will needs try his strength with the noble Author of the Characteristics. For, whether I quote for approbation or condemnation, it is all one; this active Watchman of the Church militant will let nothing escape