« PreviousContinue »
tation of the pious which indeed is wholly inconsistent with a pantheistic system of fate and materialism, and boldly said even to God himself; Depart from us, and what can the Almighty do for them? Would we see this principle expanding into practice, we need only read the Mosaical account of the period which immediately preceded the deluge: an account, which it is not easy to reconcile with the idea, that the antediluvians lived under an equal Providence awarding infallibly and immediately temporal punishments to the bad and temporal rewards to the good.
2. Again : so far from our having the least reason to believe from Scripture, that man after the fall was placed under the tuition of natural religion; we have learned both from it and from the whole frame of pagan theology, that he was subjected to a system of revealed religion, the very corner-stone of which was the promise of a future Deliverer and the assured hope of reconciliation to God through his instrumentality.
This, as we have seen above, is admitted to a certain extent éven by the bishop himself: for, though he denies that it could be antecedently learned from the first promise, that man should be restored to his lost inheritance of immortality by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross; he allows that it might certainly be gathered from that promise, that the evil spirit who actuated the serpent would continue his enmity to the human race, but
that man by the divine assistance should at length be enabled to defeat all his machinations'.
Now such a concession on the part of the learned prelate is quite sufficient for my present argument. Let us grant, that the subjects of the Patriarchal Dispensation were ignorant of the precise mode in which man by the divine assistance would at length be enabled to defeat all the machinations of the serpent, namely through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross : still, if they knew that man would at length be enabled to triumph over his malignant enemy by the assistance of a merciful and gracious God; they must, in consequence of that very circumstance, have known also, that the sentence, pronounced upon them by reason of their yielding to the tempter, would finally be reversed. For, unless such a reversal were procured, it is clear, that man would not have been enabled by the divine assistance ultimately to defeat all the machinations of the serpent : on the contrary, so far from man being enabled to defeat them, the serpent would in that case have come off both first and last completely victorious. It matters nothing therefore to the argument, whether the early race of mortals did or did not know the precise mode how their redemption would be effected; it is quite sufficient, that they knew it would be effected in some mode
Div. Leg. book vi. sect. 3. § I. 3. p. 386, 387.
or other: and this they must have known, if they collected (as the bishop allows they could not but collect) from the first promise; that man by the divine assistance should at length be enabled to defeat all the machinations of the serpent. Knowing then, as they did, the naked fact of a promised redemption, however that redemption was to be effected; they must also have known, though perhaps very indistinctly as to subordinate particulars, the doctrine of a future statė of existence. The two are correlative; as the bishop himself most fully allows, or rather strongly insists when the circumstance may seem to favour his hypothesis. If they were acquainted with the naked fact of a promised redemption; they must also have believed, with full assurance, the doctrine of a future state of existence : or, if they had been first taught to believe the doctrine of a future state of eristence ; they could not have expected a future state of happy existence, without inferring from it the doctrine of a redemption and a reconciliation to God, in whatever precise mode it was to be effected!.
In stating however this connection between the two doctrines, Bishop Warburton, I conceive, does not express himself quite accurately. If the Jews, says his lordship, had the knowledge or belief of a FUTURE STATE of reward and punishment, they must have had the knowledge of the REDEMPTION of man by the death and suffering of Jesus Christ likewise. Div. Leg. book v. sect. 6. § II. 4. p. 195.
II. But this is by no means the only argument, which may be employed to demonstrate that the subjects of the Patriarchal Dispensation must have known and believed the doct trine of a future state of rewards and punishments : the same position may also be established by the direct testimony of Scripture itself.
1. We read in the history of the antediluvian world, that Enoch walked with God and he was not; for God took him.
On the alleged obscurity of this passage Bishop Warburton has studiously expatiated, lest conclusions should be drawn from it fatal to his whole system. Hence he remarks, that several of the Rabbins, as Aben-Ezra and Járchi fond as they are of finding a future state in thế
Had the bishop concluded his sentence with the words redemption of Imun, her would have set forth a perfect and undoubted truth: but, in consequence of his immediately subjoining by the death and suffering of Jesus Christ, he has advanced a proposition not strictly accurate. Man, as a fallen creature actually condemned and rejected of God, could not know the doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment, without likewise having knowledge of his redemp tion: but he most certainly might know the doctrine of a future retributory state, and yet might be wholly ignorant that his redemption was to be effected after one particular mode, namely by the death and suffering of Jesus Christ. The bishop's inaccuracy consists in his having unfortunately changed a general, into a particular, proposition.
Gen. v. 24.
Pentateuch, interpret the translation of Enoch as only signifying an immature death
Now, even if we concede to his lordship all that he could wish respecting the pretended obscurity of the passage, I see not how this will at all avail him so far as the belief of the antediluvians is concerned. We know, on the unequivocal testimony of the inspired writer to the Hebrews, that Enoch was translated, THAT HE SHOULD NOT SEE DEATH: If then Enoch was miraculously translated to heaven without seeing death; the fact of his translation must have been well known to his contemporaries, just as the FACT of Elijah’s translation was equally well known to the contemporaries of that prophet. But, if the fact itself were known; the doctrine, of necessity involved in the fact, could not but have been known also. The doctrine however, so involved, is plainly the doctrine of a future state: and, as Enoch was no obscure person, but, on the contrary, a public character distinguished for his eminent piety;. the doctrine, so involved, was not simply the, doctrine of a future state, but the doctrine of a future state of HAPPINESS AND RECONCILIATION
For what is the inevitable conclusion, which the contemporaries of Enoch must have drawn from the fact of his translation?
2 Heb. xi. 5.