Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

universal Religion to be dispensed by Jesus, when the fulness of time should come. Which time being now come, and the end obtained, you cannot but confess there is no further use or purpose of a national separation.

Let me add the following observation, which ought to have some weight with you. Whoever reads your history, and believes you, on your own word, to be still tied to the Religion of Moses, and to have nothing to expect from that of Jesus, must needs regard you as a People long since abandoned of God. And those who neither read nor believe, will pretend at least to think you forsaken of all REASON. Our Scriptures alone give us better hopes of your condition : and excited by the Charity they inspire, I am moved to hazard this address unto you. For a time, as they assure us, will come, when this veil shall be taken from your hearts. And who knows how near at hand the day of visitation may be? At least, who would not be zealous of contributing, though in the lowest degree, to so glorious a work? For if the fall of you be the riches of the World, and the diminishing of you, the riches of the Gentiles, how much more your fulness ! * says the Apostle Paul. Who at the same time assures us, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.t

I know you will be ready to say, “ that much of this sort of Charity hath been preached to your People even amidst the horrors of the Inquisition; and that it has always made a suitable impression : that indeed, in a land of liberty like Britain, you should have thought much more favourably of our good-will, had not a late transaction, in which your natural rights came in question, amply convinced you that Christian Charity is every where the same.”

Sufferers, even imaginary ones, may be excused a little hard language ; especially when they only repeat the clamours of those amongst ourselves ; who, on the defeat of your Naturalization project, affected to feel most sensibly for the interests of Liberty and Commerce. And yet I think it no difficulty to convince unprejudiced men, that the Sanctity of Government was, in the first instance, surprised ; and that the Legislature did justly as well as politicly in acting conformably to their second thoughts.

A People like this of Great Britain, the genius of whose Religion and Government equally concur to make them tender and jealous of the rights of mankind, were naturally led by their first motions to think they might extend those privileges to your Nation, which they saw plainly were the due even of the followers of Mahomet : And yet for all this they were mistaken. As much a paradox as this may seem, it is easy to shew that in this • Rom. xi. 12.

† Verses 25, 26.

ed to feel me who, on the defeca repeat the clar

point, You stand distinguished to your disadvantage from all the Nations upon earth : there being in your case, a peculiar circumstance which must eternally exclude your claim to the general right of Naturalization, in every free Government in Christendom, while men act, not to say with common integrity, but even with common decency, according to their profession.

Let us then consider your case as it is understood by Christian Communities ; for men must always act, would they act honestly, according to their own conceptions of the case, not according to the conceptions of other men.

Now it is a common principle of Christianity, that God, in punishing your Nation for the rejection of their promised Messiah, hath sentenced it to the irremissible infamy of an unsettled vagabond condition, without Country or Civil policy, till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in : and then, as we observed before, our St. Paul declares, that your Nation, converted to the faith in Jesus, shall be received again into favour, and intitled to the privilege of Sons. The sentence denounced upon you was not only the loss of your own Community, but the being debarred an entrance into any other. For you are condemned to be aliens and strangers in every land where you abide and sojourn. A punishment which can only respect Particulars, and not the Community ; for one People can be no other than aliens and strangers to another People, by the constitution of Nature. So that the sentence against you imports, that the Particulars of your race shall not be received by Naturalization, to the rights and privileges of the free-born Subjects of those civil States amongst which you shall happen to be dispersed. And we have seen this sentence wonderfully confirmed by the actual infliction of it for the space of seventeen hundred years; which must be confessed to give great credit to the truth of our interpretation of your Prophecies.

But to understand more clearly what share a Christian Community ought to take in PREVENTING ANY Insult on those Prophecies which it holds to be divine, it will be necessary to consider what will be the worldly condition of your Nation when reinstated in God's favour ; which both you and we are equally instructed to expect..

If it shall be, as you imagine, a recovery of your Civil-policy, a revival of the Temple-service, and a repossession of the land of Judea ; if this be the mercy promised to your Nation, then indeed the intermediate punishment, between the abolition and the restoration of your divine Policy, can be only the temporary want of it; and consequently the facilitating your entry at present into the several civil Communities of christian men, might well be thought to have no more tendency to insult the general Economy of revealed Religion than the naturalizing of Turks and Tartars.

But the genius of Christianity and the tenor of those Prophecies, as interpreted by Christ and bis Apostles, declare such a restoration to the land of Judea and a revival of the Temple-service, to be manifestly absurd, and altogether inconsistent with the nature of the whole of God's religious Dispensation : for by this it appears, that the Mosaic Law or Religion (as distinguished from its foundation, natural Religion, on which it was erected) was only PREPARATORY to, and TYPICAL of the Gospel. Consequently, on the establishment of Christianity, the Political part of your institution became abolished ; and the Ritual part entirely ceased ; just as a scaffold is taken down when the building is erected; or as a shadow is cast behind when the substance is brought forward into day. Nor were you, after this promised conversion, to expect ANY OTHER Civil policy or religious Ritual peculiar to yourselves, or separate from those in use amongst men who profess the name of Christ : because the Gospel, of which you are now supposed to be professors, disclaims all concern with political or civil matters ; and because all its professors compose but ONE religious Body, under one head which is Christ.

All therefore that remains for us to conceive of your civil condition, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, and Israel be received into grace, is this, That, on your conversion, you shall be NATURALIZED and incorporated, as your convenience or inclination may lead you, into the various civil Communities of the Faithful.

This is the only idea we Christians can entertain of your future condition: and this may and must regulate our conduct whenever an alteration of your present condition comes in question.

And now to justify the Councils of our Lawgivers in their last and perhaps final determination concerning you.

If the DECLARED punishment of heaven on your Nation, while you continue in unbelief, be DISPERSION through the world, WITHOUT A Civil POLICY of your own as a People, and withOUT A COUNTRY, as Particulars ; and that your restoration to favour, on your embracing the Gospel, is the being received into the Church of Christ, and (as you can be received therein only as Particulars, and not as a Nation) the being INCORPORATED into the several civil Communities of Christians; then, any ATTEMPT to incorporate you by Naturalization into such civil Communities, before the time predicted and while you adhere to your old Religion, as directly opposes the Prophecies, or the declared will of Heaven, as the attempt of Julian to rebuild your Temple, after the sentence of its final destruction had been put in execution : because it aims to procure for you a CIVIL CONDITION while Jews, which it is foretold you shall not enjoy till you are become Christians. Nor is it of any avail to those Politicians who were concerned of late in your favour, to pretend that Julian's attempt was with malice, and their's with much integrity of heart ; since this difference makes no change in the nature of the action, as it respects God's Dispensations, whatever it may be supposed to do, in the quality of it, as it respects the Actors. In either case the declared will of Heaven is opposed. When it is done with knowledge of the Prophecy, and with intention to discredit it, the attempt is wicked and impious : when with a forgetfulness of it, with a disregard to Religion, and a neglect of its interests, the attempt (even in this best way of considering it) is indecent and dishonourable. Not that He who thus conceives of things, hath the least apprehension that PROPHECY can be dishonoured, or have its predictions defeated by Civil Power : But this He thinks, that a Christian State while it enacts Laws, though unwarily, whose operation combats the truth of those Predictions, may very easily dishonour itself.

A Nation professing Christianity, though principally busied in the office of protecting liberty and commerce, ceases not to be a nation of Christians, amidst all their cares to discharge the duties of good Citizens. They have the interests and honour of their Religion to support as well as the common-rights of Mankind. For though Civil society be totally and essentially different from the Ecclesiastical, yet as the same Individuals compose the members of both ; and as there is the closest Coalition between both, for their mutual support and benefit ; such Civil society can never decently or honourably act with a total disregard to that co-allied Religion, which they profess to believe, and of which, under another consideration, they compose the body. :

Perhaps You may tell me, it appears from the manner in which this late affair was conducted, that none of these considerations ever entered into the heads, either of your Friends, or those you will call, your Enemies, when, at length, they both agreed to leave you as they found you. It may be so. Yet this does not hinder but that the result of a Council, may be justified on principles which never influenced it. And as for the credit of Revelation, that generally becomes more conspicuous when, through the ignorance and perverseness of foolish men, the predictions of Heaven are supported by Instruments which knew not what they were about. Had they acted with more knowledge of the case, the enemies of Religion would be apt to say, No wonder that the honour of Prophecy is supported, when the Power which could discredit it, held it an impiety to make the attempt.

Thus you see the British Legislature is justified in its last determination concerning you, on all the general principles of piety, honesty, and decency. I speak of men, and I speak to men, who believe the Religion they profess. As for those profligates, whether amongst yourselves or us, who are ready to profess any Religion, but much better disposed to believe none, to them, this reasoning is not addressed. Have a fairer opinion therefore of our Charity, and believe us to be sincere when we profess ourselves,

Your &c.

PREFACE

TO THE FIRST EDITION OF BOOKS IV. V. AND VI. OF

THE DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES :

MDCCXL.

The Author of The Divine Legation of Moses, a private clergyman, had no sooner given his first volume * to the Public, than he was fallen upon in so outrageous and brutal a manner as had been scarce pardonable had it been The Divine Legation of Mahomet. And what was most extraordinary, by those very men whose Cause he was supporting, and whose Honours and Dignities he had been defending. But what grotesque instruments of vengeance had BIGOTRY set on foot! If he was to be run down, it had been some kind of consolation to him to fall by savages, of whom it was no discredit to be devoured.

Optat aprum, aut fulvum descendere monte Leonem. However, to do them justice, it must be owned, that, what they wanted in teeth, they had in venom; and they knew, as all Brutes do, where their strength lay. For reasons best known to BIGOTRY, he was, in spite of all his professions, to be pushed over to the Enemy, by every kind of provocation. To support this pious purpose, passages were distorted, propositions invented,t conversation betrayed, and forged letters written. I

The attack was opened by one who bore the respectable name of a Country Clergyman, but was in reality a Town-Writer of a Weekly Newspaper ; § and with such excess of insolence and malice, as the Public had never yet seen on any occasion whatsoever.

Amidst all this unprovoked clamour, the Author had his reasons for sparing these wretched tools of impotence and envy. His friends thought it beneath him to commit himself with such writers; and he

• Books i. ii. iii.

See the Author's Letter to Smallbrooke, Bishop of Lich. field and Coventry, in which he accuses the Bishop of this crime ; To which accusation, the public never yet saw either defence or excuse.

I By one Romaine and one Julius Bate in conjunction.

Dr. Webster by name. Who soon after, by a circular letter to the bench of Bishops, claimed a reward for this exploit.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »