« PreviousContinue »
butes, have ventured to arraign the law itself of inposture.
But this representation of the fact is both unjust and absurd. They cannot deny but it might be God's purpose, at least, that it became his goodness, to preserve the doctrine of the UNITY amidst an idolatrous world. But this (we know by the event) could never be effected but by a separation of one part from the rest. Nor could such a separation be made any otherwise than by bringing that part under God's peo culiar protection: The consequence of which were GREAT TEMPORAL BLESSINGS. Now as some one People must needs be selected for this purpose, it seems, most agreeable to our ideas of divine Wisdom, which commonly effects many ends by the same means, to make the blessings attendant on such a selection, the reward of some high exalted virtue in the progenitors of the chosen People. But therefore to object that they were chosen as FAVOURITES, is both unjust and absurd. The separation was made for the sake of Mankind in general; though one People became the honoured instrument, in reward of their Forefathers' virtues. And this is the language of those very Scrip. tures which, as they pretend, furnish the objection. Where God, by the Prophet Ezekiel, promises to restore the Israelites, after a short dispersion through the. Countries, to their own land, he declares this to be the end of their separation : “ Therefore say unto the ** house of Israel, Thus saith the LORD GOD, I DO NOT
THIS FOR YOUR SAKES, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL,
ye " have profaned among the heathen whither ye went. . " And I will sanctify my great name which was pro“ faned amongst the heathen, which ye have profaned " in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know
" that I am the LORD, saith the LORD GOD, when I “ shall be sanctified in you before their eyes *.” What God himself says of the PEOPLE, St. Paul says of their LAW: “ Wherefore then serveth the Law? IT
WAS ADDED BECAUSE OF TRANSGRESSIONS; till " the seed should come, to whom the promise was " made t.” It was added, says the Apostle. To what? To the patriarchal Religion of the UNITY 1To what end? Because of transgressions, i.e. the transgressions of polytheism and idolatry; into which, the rest of mankind were already alsorbed, and the Jews at that time, hastening apace; and from which there was no other means of restraining them, than by this ADDITION; an addition that kept them separate from all others, and preserved the doctrine of the UNITY till the coming of the promised seed.
But another thing offends the Deists : they camot understand, let the end of this choice be what it would, why God should prefer so perverse and sottish a People, to all others. One reason hath been given already; that it was for the sake of their Forefathers, and to fulfil the promise made to the Patriarchs. But others are not wanting; and those very agreeable to the ideas we have of infinite Wisdom; such, for instance, as this, That the EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE, by which they were blessed and protected, might become the more visible and illustrious. For had they been endowed with the shining qualities of the more polished nations, the effects of that providence might have been ascribed to their own power or wisdom. Their impotence and inability, when left to themselves, is finely represented in the Prophet Ezekiel, by the similitude of the vine-tree; Son of Ezek. xxxvi. 22, 23.
+ Gal. iii. 19.
man, what is the vine-tree more than any tree, or than à branch which is amongst the trees of the forest? Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon ?--Therefore thus saith the Lord God, As the vine-tree amongst the trees of the forest *, &c. For as the vine, which, with cultivation and support, is the most valuable of all trees, becomes the most worthless, when left neglected in its own natural state : so the Jews, who made so superior a figure under the particular protection of God, when, for their sins, that protection was withdrawn, became the weakest and most contemptible of all tributary nations.
The Poet VOLTAIRE indeed has had a different revelation. “ The pride of every individual amongst " the Jews (says he) is interested in believing, that it " was not their DETESTABLE POLICY, their ignorance " in the arts, and their unpoliteness, which destroyed " them; but that it is God's anger which yet pursues " them for their idolatries t." This DETESTABLE POLICY (for so, with the free insolence of impiety, characteristic of these times, he calls the MOSAIC INSTITUTION) was a principle of independency: this ignorance in the arts prevented the entrance of luxury; and this unpoliteness hindered the practice of it. And yet parsimony, frugality, and a spirit of liberty, which naturally preserve other States, all tended, in the ideas of this wonderful Politician, to destroy the Jewish. Egypt was long lost for want of a spirit of independency; Greece sunk by its knowledge in the arts; and Rome was ruined by its politeness : yet
• Chap. xv. ver. 3.
+ L'orgueil de chaque Juif est intéressé à croire que ce n'est point sa DETESTABLE POLITIQUE, son ignorance des arts, sa grossiereté, qui l'a perdu; mais que c'est la colere de Dieu que le punit. Rem. ix. sur les pensées de Pascal.
Judea suffered for the want of all these causes of destruction. Is not this more than a thousand topical arguments, to prove, that they were ruined by nothing but by their idolatries, which brought down God's vengeance upon them? But any contrivance will serve a Poet, any argument will satisfy a Freethinker, to keep a God and his providence at a distance. And that the PEOPLE were as DETESTABLE as their Po. LICY, the same Poet, the virtuous Voltaire assures us“ We do not find (says he) throughout the whole " annals of the HEBREW PEOPLE one generous ac" tion. They are utter strangers both to hospitality, “ to beneficence, and to clemency. Their sovereign
good is the practice of Usury, with all but their “ own nation. And this disposition, the principle of “ all baseness, is so inrooted in their hearts, that " Usury is the constant object of the figures they em" ploy in that species of eloquence which is peculiar
to them. Their glory is to lay waste with fire and " szord, such paltry villages as they were
just able to storm: They cut the throats of the old men and children, and reserve from slaughter only the mar
riageable virgins. They assassinate their masters " when they are slaves. They are incapable of par" doning when they conquer. THEY ARE THE SOES OF ALL MANKIND *."
On ne voit dans toutes les Annales du peuple Hebren aucune action genéreuse. Ils ne connaissent ni l'hospitalité, ni la liber. ralité, ni la clémence. Leur souverain bonheur est d'exercer l'usure avec les étrangers; et cet esprit de usure, principe de toute lacheté, est tellement enraciné dans leurs caurs, que c'est l'objet continuel des figures, qu'ils ensployent dans l'espece d'eloquence, qui leur est propre. Leur gloire est de mettre à feu & à sang les petits villages, dont ils peuvent s'exnparer. Ils égargent les vieillards & les enfans ; ils ne réservent que les filles nubiles; ils assassinent leurs Maitres quand ils sont esclaves; ils ae savent jamais pardonner quand ils sont Vainqueurs; ILS SONT LES EXXAHIS DU GENRE UUMAIN. Addit, à l'Hist. Generale, p. go.
Such is the strong colouring of our MORAL PAINTER. He has dipt his pencil in sulphur to delineate with horns and tails, these chosen instruments of God's vengeance on a devoted Nation, overrun with UNNATURAL LUST and brutish Idolatry; for to their destruction, the murders, the rapine, and the violations here charged upon the Hebrew People, allude. For the rest; it is so much below all criticism, that one is almost ashamed to touch upon it. Otherwise, we might observe, that, in his rage, he hath confounded the character of the ancient HEBREWS with that of the modern Jews, two people as much unlike as the ancient Francs to modern Frenchmen.—We might be merry with the nonsense, of Usury's being the object of their figures of eloquence; which yet is not more ridiculous in the thought than absurd in the expression; his meaning, I suppose, being, that their figures of eloquence are formed from, and allude to, the circumstances attending their practice of Usury.
But the affair grows more serious, as we proceed with our General Historian; and we shall find that this unhappy People, however they may stand with their God, certainly, at present, for some reason or other, lie under the Poet's curse. And from his uncommon knowledge of their Usury and their eloquence, I should suspect, he had lately been transacting some money-matters with them, and had been not only outwitted but out-talked too into the bargain.
As to their HATRED OF ALL MANKIND, (the chopping-block of infidelity) we have it over again, and more at large, in another place.
(says he to his reader) struck with that hatred and “ contempt, which all people have always entertained “ for the Jewish Nation. It is the unavoidable consequence of THEIR LEGISLATION; which reduced
66 You are