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society: but then, that benefit the Jewish state did not want, as being under an equal distribution of things. Benefit to religion, their doctrine of a future state afforded none. It was overrun with superstitions; and generally gave the rewards of another life, not to moral but to ritual observances. And when not so, as in the open teaching of the mysteries, yet even there the severest punishments in the Pagan hell were allotted to the Atheists, or the rejectors of the vulgar Polytheism ; which, not only utterly depraved religion, but riveted men in its depravity. So that, in the sense of our Examiner (who is here speaking of the benefit of a future state to religion, as such), this future state of all the world besides was indeed no benefit at all. But he will say, I have shewn, that the dropenlo of the mysteries removed these errors. It is true, I have. But, at the same time, likewise, that these were revealed to very few. And, to set matters even, has not he shewn from
. Bishop Bull
, (p. 123) that the hidden mysteries of the Law were opened to fit hearers, wherever they were found? though, from the total silence of a future state, in the old Jewish history, I suspect, these were still fewer. Which opinion I will be ready to retract, when he shall shew me, in the Jewish antiquities, as plain intimations of a future state, amongst the hidden mysteries of the Law, as I have shewn him in the Grecian, of the doctrine of the Unity, and the detection of vulgar Polytheism amongst the mysteries of Paganism. But had a future
state afforded the Pagans never so much benefit to ' religion as such : yet neither this did the Jewish people
want, and for the same reason as above, because they were under an extraordinary providence. And now let us see to what the BENEFIT amounts. The Pagans had a future state to support their so
ciety and religion. But then, so circumstanced, that it was of service to
society only, although both wanted it.
And now, I pray you, on which side lies the balance
, of the benefit? We commonly hear it said, that secing is believing : but I suspect our Examiner has been imposed on by a very different aphorism, as absurd in the thought as the other is in the expression, that believing is having, a principle not unworthy of his school. Else how comes he to place so great a benefit in the point in question, if he did not suppose that the Jews want of the doctrine deprived them of the thing ?
But have I not been reckoning all this time without my host, while I argued against these silly prejudices, upon the confession of an extraordinary providence? For, disputing here with Christian men, I have supposed that they believed such a dispensation. And prudent was it in me so to do. For had I been called upon to prove my supposition, I do not know whether what I could say would have satisfied the judicious reader, who had observed that all the arguments they use against me receive the little force they have on a contrary supposition. And even this private Letter-writer, one of the most candid of his kind, had still a reason in reserve, to prove why the promise of life, in his favourite text of Leviticus, must needs mean eternal life, and not temporal only, which looks very much that way; it is, because the best men (he says) were often cut off in the midst of their days, and frequently suffered greater adversities than the most profligate sinners. Who now that had even a mind to let us see he believed nothing of the matter, could have expressed his meaning in stronger or more significant terms ? I am not ashamed to confess I read my Bible; and believed what it told me of this extraordinary providence ; and, in the simplicity of my heart, would needs try if I could make the Deist believe too. I found it was this that most revolted him: and therefore undertook to prove, from the very constitution of their economny, that the representation must needs be true, and 60, while I was removing his objections to Revelation, give him a demonstration of its truth. In the mean time, I little suspected that a set of men, who call themselves Believers, would, for the sake only of combating the medium of my demonstration, ever venture to 23
call in question that very fact for which I was contending
I with their adversaries ; and in a way their adversaries (except it were perhaps Spinosa and his man Toland) had never attempted, namely, by a virtual denial of the representation. If this was to be contested me, I could bave wished, for the honour of Revelation, it had been done by the professed enemies of it: and then I could have exposed their prevurication without much regret. As it is, I rather chuse to draw a veil over this infirmity of the flesh; AND WAIT For the renewal of a right spirit within them.
END OF THE FIRST PART.