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these two books, whether in favour of his lordship’s theory or in opposition to it, must needs be palpably irrelevant. All texts, we are informed, brought to prove the knowledge of a future state AFTER the time of David, are impertinent: for what was known from this time could not supply the want of what was unknown for so many ages before. Now the two books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were written by Solomon AFTER the time of David. Hence, whether any traces of a future state can or can not be discovered in them, it must be alike impertinent, according to the bishop's chronological arrangement of the commencement of the doctrine
among the Israelites, to adduce the authority of these two books on either side of the question. They are thrown entirely out of the debateable ground : for, since it is declared that ALL texts brought to prove the knowledge of a future staté After the time of David are impertinent, we must needs conclude it to be his lordship's opi- . nion, that the doctrine was FIRST promulged immediately after the death of David; the writings of Solomon clearly coming under the general character of All texts AFTER the time of his royal father.
So far then as we can judge from the evidence at present before us, Bishop Warburton maintained, that the doctrine was wholly unknown BEFORE the death of David, but that it began to be known IMMEDIATELY AFTER his death : for, unless such was his opinion, it were plainly quite
beside the mark for him to assert, that ALL texts brought to prove the knowledge of it AFTER the time of David are impertinent. We might therefore, even on his own principles as thus laid down, very naturally expect to find, in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, some notices of a future state of existence, to which the bishop himself would never think of making any objection. Accordingly, when it is said in the book of Proverbs, The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, BUT THE RIGHTEOUS HATH HOPE IN HIS DEATH"; or when it is yet more explicitly said in the book of Ecclesiastes, Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and THE SPIRIT SHALL RETURN UNTO GOD WHO GAVE IT': it might well seem alike nugatory and irrelevant for his lordship to waste his ingenuity in striving to wrest from these texts their plain and natural signification ; for, if it be impertinent to bring ANY text written AFTER the time of David as a proof that a future state was known to the Israelites, it must be equally impertinent to employ superfluous labour to shew that this text or that text written AFTER the time of David has no relation to the doctrine of a future state. Yet does the bishop not only throw away his time in endeavouring to prove,
upon his own principles he was no way bound to prove, that these two remarkable texts mean any thing or every thing rather than
1 Prov. xiv. 32.
· Eccles. sii. 7.
what they might obviously appear to mean': but, as I have already observed, he completely departs from biş identical principles themselves, by roundly declaring; that, so far from either Moses or the Prophets or any other Hebrew writer baying ACTUALLY set forth the doctrine of a future state, they absolutely couLD NOT teach that doctrine, BECAUSE it was ordained and reserved for the sole ministry of Jesus Christ?.
(3.) These preliminary matters being discussed, the true field of our inquiry, according to the bishop's own principles (though it must be confessed he does not always adhere to them), is brought within the comparatively narrow limits of the period, which extends from the death of Moses to the death of David. His lordship’s assertion therefore, when expressed with less eloquence though with more brevity than it is set
The bishop contends, that Prov. xiv. 32. means nothing more, than that the righteous hath hope that he shall be delivered from the most imminent dangers ; though, in what manper the phrase hope in his death can be equivalent to the phrase deliverance FROM imminent danger, it is not very easy to comprehend : and, as for Eccles. xii. 7, he disposes of it on the ground, that the ancient Israelites, like some of the ancient pagan phủlosophers, believed the soul, after the death of the body, to be reabsorbed into the divine essence whence it had originally emanated. Eυρησει τα σαθρα των Φιλιππε πραγματων avtos o prodepos. A system must be hard pressed, when it requires in such a manner to be extricated. See Diy. Leg. book vj. sect. 3. p. 411. book v. sect. 6. p. 196-198. * Div. Leg..book ix. chap. 1. p. 233.
forth in his already quoted summary of his argument, is this : that, throughout that period, not a single ancient Israelite, under whatever circumstances he may be placed, gives the slightest intimation that he either knew or believed the doctrine of a future state. Such, when stripped of much exaggeration and no small share of inconsistency, is the real sum and substance of the bishop's assertion. Let us now therefore inquire, how far it is accurate,
I shall begin with observing, that, if we except the Psalms of David, every composition relating to that period, which has come down to us, is purely of an historical nature. Some few songs or speeches indeed are, here and there, sparingly intermingled: but all the sacred books, which treat of that period, with the sole exception of the Psalms, are decidedly historical. Now what is the character of historical compositions ? Do we usually find them departing from their avowed purpose, in order to teach us that this person or that person believed in a state of future rewards and punishments ? Let us read the histories of Greece, or of Rome, or of France, or of England: and let us sum up how often, in so many words, the persons, who are brought upon the stage, either formally express their belief in this doctrine, or act as if it were the leading motive which influenced all their conduct. I suspect, that instances of such a description, like the Lycian mariners of the faithful Orontes, will
only be seen floating rarely on the surface of the vast historical profound'. On the very principle therefore of this style of composition, we must not form any romantic expectations of a perpetual reference to the doctrine of a future state in the national records of the Hebrews. If here and there we find some scanty notices of it or allusions to it, we shall have as much as we could reasonably anticipate. To the Psalms, which are devotional compositions, we must chiefly direct our inquiries : they will obviously, from the very nature of the case, be almost entirely fruitless, if directed to any other quarter.
. In this collection then of sacred hymns we need not travel very far to satisfy ourselves, that their author must have been familiarly acquainted with the doctrine of a future state ; though I pretend not to say, what in truth would contradict St. Paul's assertion relative to life and immortality being BROUGHT TO Light by the Gospel, that his views were as distinct as the views of those who have the high privilege of living under the Christian Dispensation.
I have set the Lord alway before me : because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth : MY FLESH ALSO SHALL REST IN HOPE.
WILT NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HADES; NEITHER WILT THOU SUFFER THINE HOLY ONE TO SEE