Sidor som bilder
[blocks in formation]




N the preceding fections I have given a general view of the evidence for the truth of the Jewish and christian revelations, or the reafons which induce me to believe that the divine being has interpofed in the affairs of this world, giving mankind laws and admonitions, with fuch fanctions refpecting our. future expectations, and efpecially our expectations after death, as we find an account of in the fcriptures; and I prefume that fuch facts have been produced, as cannot be accounted for without fuppofing that these books contain a true and authentic hiftory.

That teftimony fo copious, and fo particularly circumftanced, given by fuch num


bers of perfons, who had the best opportu nity of being informed, and who were so far from having any motive to impofe upon the world, fhould, notwithstanding, be given to a falfehood, cannot be admitted, without fuppofing all thofe perfons to have been 'conftituted in a manner quite different from other men. And by whatever method of reafoning we difpute the authenticity of the books of fcripture, we may question the genuineness of all antient writings, and invalidate the evidence of all history.

Such known facts of other kinds have alfo been produced, especially refpecting the reception which the pretenfions to divine communications by Mofes, by Chrift, and his apoftles have met with, from perfons who could have had no motive to admit them, except the fulleft conviction of their truth, and also refpecting the degrees of religious knowledge poffeffed by the Jews and chriftians, who were far from having any peculiar natural advantage for the attainment of it, as cannot be accounted for without the fuppofition of their having had


fuch divine communications as they pretend to.

Laftly, not only have many remarkable events come to pass agreeable to predictions published in those books, but the present ftate of feveral confiderable cities, of whole nations, and of the world in general, is fuch as was exactly defcribed in them feveral hundred years ago; fo that we cannot but have the greatest reason to expect the full accomplishment of all the other predictions, for which we have the fame evidence that they came from God, and especially that which is the great object of the whole scheme of revelation, and to which, if we believe it, it behoves us to have conftant refpect, viz. that Chrift will come again to raise the dead, to judge the world, and to give unto every man according to his works.

Notwithstanding this direct and plenary evidence for the truth of the Jewish and christian religions, many perfons, who have been extremely prejudiced, and confequently averfe to receive them, either overlooking VOL. II. с fome

fome of the more effential particulars of which it confifts, or not fully comprehending it, have started feveral objections. I shall therefore diftinctly mention, and briefly reply to the principal of them, especially fuch as are thought to be the moft plaufible, and which have the most weight at present.


Various objections refpecting the Old Testament.


OME of the most plaufible objections that have yet been made to the system of revelation above-mentioned affect the Jewish religion only. It is faid to reprefent the divine conduct in fuch a light, as is inconfiftent with his known attributes of juftice and goodness, particularly his exprefs order to deftroy all the inhabitants of Canaan, without fparing even innocent children, his command to Abraham to facrifice his fon Ifaac, and his direction to the children

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

children of Ifrael to borrow of the Egyptians jewels, and other valuable things, without any defign to return them.

Before I reply to each of thefe objections, I fhall make a few general obfervations. respecting them all.

To these, and all fuch like objections, the fame general answer may be made as to fimilar objections to the juftice and goodnefs of God in the natural world, where we fee many things which we are not able to reconcile to thofe principles, as they are rules of human conduct; and there is no reason to expect that revealed religion fhould be more free from thefe objections than natural religion. On the contrary, we might expect, that, if both the difpenfations have the fame author, they would be fo fimilarly conftituted, as to be attended with fimilar advantages, and fimilar difficulties. Now we see that, under the government of the fame God, the innocent are frequently involved in the fame calamities with the guilty; the laws of nature being fo framed, as.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »