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says thus :
from the same
common original, Patriarchal tradition h.
I mentioned a third article, near akin to the other, and probably coeval with it, namely, that of paying a tithe to God. I shall account for it in the words of the learned Dean Prideaux, who had well considered it, and was very able to judge of it. He
“A seventh part of our time having, from the begin“ ning of the world, been consecrated by God himself to “his public worship; from that time there was a neces
sity of consecrating also a part of our substance for the
support thereofi.-I doubt not, from the beginning such “a certain part was, by the first parents of mankind, “ consecrated to this purposek.-And if we consider of “ how general a practice the payment of tithes anciently “ was, amongst most nations of the earth, for the support “ of the worship of those gods they adored, and the “ many instances we have of this usage among the Syri“ ans, Phænicians, Arabians, Ethiopians, Greeks, Ro“ mans, and other nations; there is no other rational ac. “ count to be given how so many different people of " various languages, and various customs from each other, “and who also worshipped various deities, should all
come to agree so exactly in this one matter; but that “ it had been an ancient institution, sacredly observed by " the first fathers of mankind, and after the flood trans“mitted by them in a lasting tradition to the nations de
Re accuratius pensitata, haud difficulter intelligimus, non quidem ab Ægyptiis, ut Herodotus asserit, sed ab Ebræis illorumque majoribus, quin primis parentibus quibus hancce legem positivam promulgaverat Deus, notitiam ejus ad omnes dimanasse gentes. Illis enim suffragari nequeo, qui an. tiquorum quæ afferri solent testimonia de septimo die post lunæ ortum, aut die Apollini in fastis sacro, capiunt. Budd. Select. p. 235.
Such as would see more of this matter, may cousult Grotius de Verit. Rel. Chr. lib. i. cap. 16. p. 41. Selden. de Jur. Nat. et Gent. lib. ii. сар.
15--23. Huet. Dem. Evang. Prop. iv. cap. xi. p, 126.
i Prideaux's Original and Right of Tithes, p. 1. k Ibid. p. 7.
“ scended from them.” Thus far that judicious writer, who further intimates, that the Patriarchs, probably, had a Divine direction for fixing upon that proportion of their substance, and for settling the rule.
What has been observed of the theology and rituals derived down by tradition, may in a great measure be applied to morals also: for there can be no reasonable doubt made, but that the soundest and best part of the Pagan Ethics came down to them in the same way, and so were remotely owing to Divine revelation, as hath been sufficiently argued both by ancients m and moderns », and I need not repeat.
The sum then of all is this; that the Gentile world, before Christ came, had, at sundry times, and in divers manners, some beams of Divine light sent them from above, to help the dimness of the light of nature. And what through Scripture, or tradition, what by direct or indirect conveyances, they were never entirely destitute of supernatural notices, never left to the mere light of nature, either for forming a knowledge of God and religion, or for directing their life and manners. It remains now only to draw a few corollaries from what has been here advanced.
I. From hence may be observed, upon how precarious a bottom the unbelievers of our times have built their notion of the sufficiency of natural light. They plead that it is sufficient, because the bulk of mankind, for many ages formerly, had nothing else: a manifest error in point of fact, and for which they have not so much as the appearance of proof.
Prideaux's Original and Right of Tithes, p. 10. As to the universality of the practice, see Selden of Tithes, chap. iii. Spencer de Leg. Hebr. lib. iii. cap. 10. p. 720, &c. Huet. Quæst. Alnet. lib. iii. cap. 3. p. 322, &c.
m Clem. Alex. Eusebius.
n Jenkin's Reasonableness, vol. i. p. 376. Nicolls Confer. par. ii. p. 164. Gale's Court of the Gentiles, book i. p. 15. book ii. p. 88, &c. Postscript to second part of Scripture Vindicated, vol. vi. p. 171.
If it be said, (though it is saying wrong,) that we ought to prove the affirmative, I have endeavoured to show how far we can go towards it. But the truth is, they ought to prove the negative, since they rest their cause upon it, and have little else to support it. If it appears but probable or possible that the bulk of mankind should have been instructed in such a way as I have been mentioning, that is enough for us: but they that build the sufficiency of natural light upon this supposition, that mankind from the creation, for the most part, had no other light but that, must either prove that they had not, or they do nothing. They must either make good their premises, or give up their conclusion. If they build upon a negative, they must prove the negative, or they will be found to build upon the sand.
II. It may next be observed, that the infidels of our days, in setting up natural light to rival supernatural, commit the same error as the Pagans of old did. All that they have to boast of, as demonstrable now by natural light, was, very probably, discovered first by revelation : and it is both ungrateful and unreasonable to oppose revelation with what has been borrowed from it. But that is not the worst of the case : for revelation once set aside, the result will be (as it ever used to be) the taking up with a part of religion, and a part of morality, instead of the whole, and then corrupting even that part with adulterous mixtures. Natural light cannot demonstrate all that revealed light has discovered, either of religion itself, or the sanctions of it: besides, natural reason, left to itself, will undoubtedly bring in many corruptions, as past experience sufficiently testifies : and it is certain, that the wisdom of man will never come up to the purity or perfection of the wisdom of God. Men will not, if they could, neither can they, if they would, carve out so pure a religion for themselves, as God, in the holy Scriptures, has carved out for them,
III. But I must further observe, that our modern unbelievers are in one point very singular, and come far short in that article, of the sagacity and good sense of their Pagan predecessors. None of the ancient unbelievers ever pretended to set up the mere wisdom of man, as such, to the wisdom of God; never thought that revelations were either not desirable, or that they were altogether needless, or useless. They generally pretended to revelation, of one kind or other, and were not so weak as to imagine that their natural parts or endowments were sufficient to supersede all use of supernatural notices, if such might be had. The common reason of mankind would have strongly remonstrated against such a plea; and it would have been thought betraying any cause, to make use of it. For to pretend to believe that there is a God, and a providence, and a future state, and at the same time to desire no external revelation from God, no instructions from heaven, (as needing none, and being wise enough without any,) is so wild and so extravagant a thought, that nothing can match it, or compare with it. But such will commonly be the fate of attempting any new ways of opposing Divine revelation, as well as of defending it; because indeed the best in each kind have been long since anticipated : and both believers and unbelievers must now be content with traversing over again the same beaten tracks, or they will take into worse, and will but expose their cause, instead of serving it.
IV. I shall conclude therefore with recommending to you, my Reverend Brethren, the old and well tried principles of the ancient Apologists. They never had a thought that all revealed religion had been confined, for so many ages past, to the Jews only: but they looked upon the Jews as the proclaimers and publishers of true religion to the rest of the world. The Israelites were a kingdom of priests, an holy nation'. They were made the preachers of righteousness to other nations, in order to convey
• Exod. xix. 6.
the main substantials of religion all over the world; as is more than once intimated in Scripture itselfp. It is in this view that the ancient Apologists, both Jews and Christians, considered this matter. Josephus therefore observes, that “ like as the Divine Being pervades the whole universe, so “ the Divine law (given by Moses) passes through all " mankind 9."
Of the same mind was Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, of the second century; who says, “ Moses, the servant of “ God, was the proclaimer (minister) of the Divine law to “all the world, but principally to the Hebrews, otherwise “ called Jews I."
To the same purpose speaks Origen, of the next century: “Moses's writings have brought many to the faith, even among
those that were aliens from the common" wealth of Israel: because indeed the original lawgiver, “ who delivered his laws to Moses, was no other than "God himself, the Creator of the universe, as the same “ writings testify. And it was meet, that the Maker of “ all the world, giving laws to all the world, should send “ such efficacy along with them, as should work its way
among all nations."
Athanasius, of the following century, expresses the same thought, in terms still clearer, and, if possible, stronger.
“ The law was not intended for the Jews only, neither
p See the texts to this purpose, cited in Jenkin's Reasonableness, &c. vol. i. and in the Postscript to Scripture Vindicated, vol. vi. part ii. p. 171, 174.
4 Και ώσπερ ο Θεός δια παντός τύ κόσμου πεφοίτηκεν, ούτως ο νόμος δια πάντων årdpúrwy Baládıxsv. Joseph. contr. Apion. lib. ii. cap. 39. p. 494. Conf. Phil. de Vit. Mos. lib. i. p. 603.
* Τέτου μεν ούν τα Θείε νόμου διάκονος γεγένηται Μωσής, ο και θεράπων του Θεού, παντί μεν τω κόσμω, παντελώς δε τους Εβραίους, τους και Ιουδαίους καλουμένοις. Theophr. lib. iii. cap. p. 308, conf. cap. x. p. 312.
• Το δε Μωσέως τα γράμματα πολλές και των αλλοτρίων της παρά τοϊς Ιεδαίους αναστροφής κεκίνηκε πιστεύσαι, ότι, κατά την επαγγελίας των γραμμάτων, ο πρώτος αυτά νομοθεσήσας, και Μωσεί παραδούς, Θεός και κτίσας τον κόσμον ήν. Και γάρ έπρεπε τον όλου του κόσμου μιουργών, νόμους τεθειμένος όλων των κόσμω, δύναμιν παρασχεϊν τους λόγους, κρατήσαι των πανταχού δυναμένην, Orig, contr. Cels. lib. 1.