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vided he be acquainted with any such doctrine: so that his silence on that point may be fairly taken as a proof, that he either knows not, or believes not, the doctrine in question.
But is this perpetual and open reference to a future state, on all possible occasions, characteristic of real life? I suspect, that such is very far from being the case in any age or in any country.
If a Mussulman be in affliction, his language is invariably that of decent resignation to the eternally predestined purpose of the Almighty : if a Christian be in sickness or in trouble, he expresses a devout hope that these visitations may be sanctified to the purifying of his soul. If a successful commander gain a victory, we have had more than one illustrious example in our own time of his ascribing the glory to God, while yet the event never led him to make any formal avowal of his belief in a future state: if a general suffer a defeat, he is anxious to have his character cleared and will strive to bear his misfortune with the honest moral bravery of a man and a soldier ; but he will not think it necessary to declare on such an occasion, that a futurity of rewards and punishments is a fixed article of his creed. In short, under most of the circumstances enumerated so eloquently by the bishop, however firm may be our persuasion that such a doctrine is a certain truth, we do not usually make any special profession of it
with our lips. Hence, so far as drawing any argument from them is concerned, we must erase nearly the whole list: and, as human nature operates pretty much the same, whatever
may be the sex or age or condition of the parties; I do not see what great emolument can result to the bishop's cause from his studied enumeration of virgins and matrons and kings and soldiers and scholars and parents and merchants and husbandmen. The real question is; whether, in a vast majority of the cases supposed by his lordship, men and women usually come forward, and state in direct terms their full belief in the important doctrine before us: that is to say, if their words were accurately taken down and recorded, whether we could draw from their bare expressions any more positive demonstration of their belief, than we can from the bare recorded expressions of the ancient Israelites. According to the mode in which this question is answered, the bishop's negative argument will be light or weighty.
(2.) His lordship however not only thus exaggerates the matter, and exhibits it under a delusive aspect; but he is likewise not always quite consistent even with himself.
One of the cases, which he brings forward as evincing the total silence of the ancient Israelites on the doctrine of a future state, is that of persons treasuring up their prophecies and predictions for the use of posterity.
Now, since he is here speaking of the Israelites themselves contradistinctively both to their patriarchal ancestors and to their legislator Moses ; it is manifest, that, by the prophecies alluded to, we can understand neither the prophecies of Moses' nor the prophecies of the older patriarchs. Such being the case, I see not what predictions the bishop can mean, when he speaks of prophecies and predictions treasured up for the use of posterity, save those which are contained in the sacred canon beginning with the oracles of Isaiah and ending with the oracles of Malachi: for, with some very trifling exceptions which are purely of an occasional nature, we have no other prophecies and predictions thus treasured up.
What then do we learn from these prophecies, in which the bishop has assured us that not a hint of a future state can be discovered ? In Isaiah we read : Thy dead shall live'; my deceased, they shall rise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust! For thy dew is as the dew of the dawn ; but the earth shall cast forth, as an abortion, the deceased tyrants'. In Daniel we read : Many of them, that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake ; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they, that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they, that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever?.
Have we here no intimation of a future state ?
1 Isaiab xxvi, 19.
? Dan, xii, 2, 3.
True; the bishop replies: but then all texts, brought to prove the knowledge of it AFTER the time of David, are impertinent. What was known from this time could not supply the want of what was unknown for so many ages before. This therefore puts all the prophetic writings out of the question'.
In this passage, his lordship confesses, that the doctrine of a future state may be learned from the prophecies: yet, in his general summary of cases by which the ignorance of the ancient Israelites may be evinced, he describes them as being totally silent on the subject, whether exulting for benefits received, or treasuring up their prophecies and predictions for the use of posterity.
Nor have we yet reached the end of this great author's inconsistencies : in a third
passage, written subsequent to both those which I have last cited, after observing that (in his sense of the words) life and immortality was brought to light by the Gospel ALONE, he adds that from such premises results this further truth; that, were MOSES and the PROPHETS the commissioned servants of God, THEY COULD NOT by their office TEACH A FUTURE STATE, since it was ordained and reserved for the ministry of Jesus?
Thus, it appears, that, in one place, we are assured, that no traces of a future state can be found in those prophecies and predictions which the Israelites treasured up for the use of posterity; in another place, that, as the doctrine was known after the time of David, it is impertinent to prove the point against the bishop's general argument by any passages drawn from the prophetic writings; and lastly, in a third place, that, since the revelation of the doctrine was specially reserved for the ministry of Christ A LONE, it was plainly impossible, in the very nature of things, that either Moses or the PROPHETS should have taught the doctrine in question.
| Div. Leg. book vi. sect. 1.
Nor is the bishop more consistent with himself on another topic. It is not always very easy to follow him : for, when pressed by difficulties, he is apt to pull down with one hand what he had recently built up with the other'.
In his summary as cited above, he remarks, while speaking of those Hebrew compositions which have come down to us, that here the Israelites urge their moral precepts to their contemporaries: and, in the delivery of these moral precepts, they are as silent upon the doctrine of a future state, as they are when treasuring up their prophecies for the use of posterity.
To what extant code or codes of moral precepts the bishop can allude, save to the two books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, I know not: yet, according to one of his declarations which I have recently cited, the adduction of either of
Diruit, ædificat, mutat quadrata rotundis.