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säges according to their natural construction; à matter independently required by the almost absolute certainty that the doctrine of a future state must have been well known to David and his contemporaries : or must we so manage them, that they may be painfully constrained to yield a sense quite different from their obvious and unsophisticated meaning ; a matter, forbidden indeed by the almost moral certainty that the doctrine was known in the time of David, but plainly required by the system of a very learned and ingenious modern? It is scarcely necessary to give a formal answer to such a question.
So much for the Psalms. With regard to the period which elapsed between the death of Moses and the accession of David, all that we know respecting it is given in the four historical books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and the document which is usually called the first book of Samuel : and these four books jointly contain eighty short chapters; of which eleven are occupied, in merely defining the borders, and specifying the cities, which were allotted to the several tribes ; while four, which constitute the entire book of Ruth, 'give indeed a most interesting private narrative, but a narrative into which no allusion to a future state could well be introduced without manifest violence and constraint. Our mean's of inquiry therefore, as to the sentiments of the amcient Israelites on this point after their occupation of Palestine, are limited to sixty five short chapters or sections of three strictly historical documents. Such being the case, we should have little reason to wonder, even if we found nothing at all on the subject in a history of about four centuries given with this extreme brevity. But in this narrative, short as it is, we may observe more than a single reference to a future state of existence.
In his last exhortation to the assembled Israelites, Joshua, much as any of ourselves might do, uses the familiar expression; Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth'. Now what are we to suppose the chieftain intended by such language: or how would he be understood by his auditory; each of whom, as we have already traced the matter from premises allowed by Bishop Warburton himself, must needs have been well acquainted with the doctrine of a future state? Shall we say, that he expressed, and that they understood him to express, his full conviction and assurance of speedy annihilation? When the preceding remarks have been duly considered, we shall scarcely, I think, put such an interpretation upon his words. We shall rather deem them an allusion to a future state, set forth as copiously as the limits of a very brief history would permit.
I pretend not to find any other reference to the doctrine, until we reach the days of Saul; but
1 Josh, xxiii. 14.
then neither can I discover, how it could have been referred to without a manifest violation of the laws of good writing: for as well might we expect, that an English historian should stop short in the midst of the battle of Agincourt to assure us that Henry and his nobles firmly held the immortality of the soul, as that the writer of the book of Judges should interrupt the defeat of Sisera to give us Barak's confession of faith; or that a victorious naval commander of modern days should add to his devout acknowledgment of the divine assistance a formal recognition of a future retributory state, as that Deborah should introduce a similar acknowledgment into the exulting strains of her poetical epinicion. In the reign of Saul however we meet with a clear and distinct avowal on the part of the king himself, that he firmly believed in the continued existence of the soul after death. When the king consulted the pythoness of Endor, his request was, Bring me him up whom I shall name unto thee. . To this the woman replied, whom shall I bring
unto thee? And his answer was, Bring me up Samuel'. It is quite foreign to my purpose to discuss the nature of the subsequent apparition: the conversation between the pythoness and the king is amply sufficient for my argument. Had Saul and the woman alike believed the human soul to be annihilated after death, the one could
11 Sam. xxviii. 8, 11,
never have requested that the ghost of Samuel should be evacated, and the other could never have undertaken to accomplish such a request, On the theory of Bishop Warburton, the whole narrative is a tissue of impossible absurdities, Had the ancient Israelites held the human soul to be annihilated after death, as we hold the spirits of beasts to be annihilated after death; the king could no more have thought of evocating the ghost of Samuel, than a believer in necromancy during the reign of our glamourlearned first James would have thought of evocating the ghost of a deceased horse or cow.
Here then we have a distinct proof, that the doctrine of a future state was known to Saul: nor was it any way peculiar, either to the prince himself or to the age in which he lived. The Mosaical laws, which prohibit all necromantic evocations, and which Saul himself was at one time peculiarly zealous to enforce, plainly suppose the superstitious abomination to be well known and to be of
very wide prevalence : but, in supposing this, they at the same time inevitably suppose also, that the existence of the human soul after death was universally admitted and believed'.
Compare Levit. xix. 31. xx. 6, 27. Deut. xviii. 9-12. with 1 Sam. xxviii. 8, 7-11. From this comparison it will be evident, that one of the prohibited modes of divining was by necromancy or the pretended evocation of the souls of the dead. But no person could use such a mode, who believed the soul to be annihilated when it quitted the body.
II. We now come to the POSITIVE argument of the bishop: which is built, partly on the alleged declarations to be found in the Old Testament, that the Israelites had no popular expectation of a future state or resurrection; and partly on the alleged assertions discoverable in the New Testament, that the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments did not make part of the Mosaic Dispensation.
1. With respect to the alleged declarations which the bishop produces from the Old Testament, some of them involve him in the same charge of inconsistency as that which I have already ventured to bring against him, while others draw after them a yet more serious consequence than the inconsistency of any mere individual however great his talents may be. .
His lordship asserts, that all texts, brought to prove the knowledge of a future state AFTER the time of David, are impertinent : because, WHAT WAS KNOWN from this time could not supply the want of what WAS UNKNOWN for so many ages before'.
If then it be impertinent to prove the KNOWLEDGE of the Israelites respecting a future state, through the medium of passages written AFTER the time of David; on the express ground of its having been conceded, that, subsequent to the time of that prince, they POSSESSED such know
* Div. Leg. book vi, seet. 1. p. 296.