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Here I do not conceive it necessary to enter upon a formal discussion of the several texts produced by his lordship: partly, because he himself has effectually demolished his own interpretation of them in the mass; and partly, because, if we explain them as he contends they ought to be explained, we must at once expunge from the canon the whole eleventh chapter to the Hebrews.
(1.) The bishop's demolition of his own fabric is comprized in what he evidently deems his strongest argument.
If life and immortality were brought to light through the Gospel, says his lordship; then, till the preaching of the Gospel, it was kept hid and out of sight. But, if taught by Moses and the prophets, it was not brought to light through the Gospel. Therefore THE GENERALITY of those under the Law had no knowledge of a future state'.
Such is the syllogism, which itself is plainly illogical in the conclusion. The bishop says, Therefore THE GENERALITY OF those under the Law had no knowledge of a future state. But this is not the legitimate conclusion from his premises, even if we allow the premises themselves to be well founded. The words, THE GENERALITY OF, are inconsecutive: and they have plainly been inserted by way of securing a retreat. It requires not a moment's consideration to perceive, that the legitimate conclusion is, not THE GENERALITY OF those under the Law, but ALL THOSE who lived both under the Law and before the Law. The syllogism in short, when accurately stated, will run in the following terms.
state of existence? The Odyssey sufficiently demonstrates the opinion of the old Greeks: the ode of the Hebrew bard equally demonstrates the opinion of the old Israelites.
Div. Leg. book v. sect. 6. p. 190, 191.
If life and immortality were brought to light through the Gospel ; then, till the preaching of the Gospel, it was kept hid and out of sight. But, taught by Moses and the prophets, it was not brought to light through the Gospel. Therefore ALL THOSE who lived before the preaching of the Gospel, whether under the Law or before the Law, had no knowledge of a future state : and therefore that doctrine could not have been taught, either by the patriarchs or by Moses or by the prophets.
Here we have the legitimate conclusion from the bishop's own premises : and how does this conclusion agree with his own concessions ?
The conclusion is, that the doctrine of a future state COULD NOT have been taught or known previous to the ministration of Christ : and exactly analogous to it is the declaration which occurs in one part of his lordship’s great work, that Moses and the prophets could not by their office teach a future state, since it was ordained and reserved for the ministry of Jesus'. But the, con
! Diy, Leg. book ix, chap. 1. p. 233.
cessions speak a totally different language : for they assure us, that the doctrine of a future state WAS KNOWN among the Israelites after the time of David, that it was occasionally revealed by God to his chosen servants the fathers and leaders of the Jewish nation, and that the dawning of it was gradually opened by the prophets to the people'. If such then be the case, is it not perfectly evident, that the bishop in his syllogism must have argued from erroneously stated premises : for the premises, according to his statement of them, bring out a conclusion, which he himself finds to be untenable? However he may sometimes both argue and assert roundly, that Moses and the prophets could nor teach a future state : when the matter comes to be sifted and inquired into, we find him obliged to concede, both that the prophets 'DID teach a future state, and that the fathers and leaders of the Jewish nation did know the doctrine.
(2.) Thus lies the bishop's own fabric, as demolished by his own arm: and the inspired writer to the Hebrews completes the demolition.
Since that writer positively and unequivocally declares, even according to Bishop Warburton's own acknowledgment, that the doctrine of a future state was known before the ministration of Christ; nothing surely can be more nugatory, than to produce a series of texts from the New Testa
Div. Leg. book vi. sect. 1. p. 296. sect. 5. p. 1.
ment, in order to prove that the doctrine COULD Not have been known before that period. Yet such, strange as it may appear, is the identical plan pursued by the learned prelate. How then are we to understand the texts which he has
produced ?. I will venture to say, that not one of them, even according to its mere grammatical construction, are we bound to understand in the sense imposed by Bishop Warburton. Consequently, when the declaration of the inspired writer to the Hebrews is taken into the account, that the doctrine of a future state was known before the ministration of Christ ; we may be absolutely certain, that the texts which the bishop has produced from the New Testament, cannot maintain the directly opposite proposition, that the doctrine of a future state WAS NOT known before Christ made it the sanction of the Gospel. While therefore, on this ground, I think it wholly superfluous to go through a regular examination of each text: I may yet, though I have already had occasion to do it, notice once more the method in which his lordship has treated a single text, and that the very strongest in the whole collection. * St. Paul writes to Timothy, that Jesus Christ hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. The bishop assumes this text to mean, that Christ was the FIRST who taught the HITHERTO UNKNOWN doctrine of a future state : and then,
taking its assumed import as the premise of his argument, he frames a syllogism, the legitimate conclusion of which is; that the doctrine neither was nor couLD HAVE BEEN taught by any predecessor of our Lord, and consequently that the doctrine neither, WAS nor COULD HAVE BEEN known by any person or persons whatsoever anterior to his ministration, But such a conclusion, though quite legitimately drawn from such a premise, turns out, even by the bishop's own admission, to be a direct falsehood : for, so far from the doctrine having been neither taught nor known before the ministration of Christ, it was conFESSEDLY taught by the prophets and conFESSEDLY known by the fathers and leaders of the Israelitish nation. What then are we to think of the premise, which conducts us to this conclusion? Doubtless we must judge, that the premise itself is false. But to say, that the premise itself is false, amounts to the very same thing as to say, that his lordship has given a palpably erroneous interpretation of the text before us. Hence of course it will follow, that, when St. Paul described our Saviour as the great prophet who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, he did not mean to intimate (as the bishop assumes) that Christ was the FIRST who taught a HITHERTO UNKNOWN doctrine : but he meant to intimate, unless we make him flatly contradict all which he himself has written in his eleventh chapter to the Hebrews, that Christ