« PreviousContinue »
Texts following, we shall find, that by this Argument the Jews must have been in poffefsion of the promis'd Land to the end of the World, as well as under perpetual Obligations to observe the Law of Moses. For all the land, which thou seest, to thee will I give, and to thy seed for ever, Gen. xiii. 15. And I will give unto thee and to thy Seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God, Gen. xvii. 8.
Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people, and will give this land to thy seed after thee, for an everlasting pofession, Genef. xlviii.4. This was God's folemn and repeated Promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which Moses beseech'd God to remember, when he interceded for the Children of Israel, after their making the molten Calf. Remember Abraham, Isaac , and Israel thy servants : to whom thou (warest, I will multiply your seed, as the stars of heaven, and all this land, that I have spoken of, will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever, Exod. xxxii. 13. From hence it is manifest, that this Argument concludes as much for their being kept in constant Possession of Canaan , as for the Duration of their Law: And their having been so long dispossest of that Land, is a Confutation in Fact of all that can be argued to that purpose, either from the Word Olam, or from any other Expression. The Land of Canaan was given to the Children of Israel for an everlasting poplession ; but this must be understood in a limited Sense : For they have been long out of the Pofsession of that Land. It is in vain therefore for them to contend, that their Law is of perpetual Obligation, unless they could maintain the perpetual Possession of that Land, in which it was to be observ’d. But it is apparent, that by everlasting is to be understood such a Continuance of Time, as was to last as long as the Covenant of Circumcision, upon the Institution whereof the Land of Canaan was promised, to Abraham and
bis seed after him, for an everlasting, poffeffion, Genes. xvii. 8. The Covenant of Circumcision being so long since at an end, God has fulfill’d his Promise to Abrao bam and his Posterity, tho' they have been for so many Ages out of Pofession of the promis'd Land ; because their Poffefsion of that Land was to be but of equal Duration with that Covenant. So that God has at once both acquitted himself of his Promise, and difcover'd that that Covenant is no longer of any Obligation.
But Jeremiah speaking of a New Covenant prophefy'd, that the seed of Israel should never cease from being a Nation, and that God would never cast off all the seed of Israel, which is set forth in such ample manner, and with such particular Emphasis, that we must conclude it to extend to all Ages of the World. Thus Jaith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the Ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which dividers the Tea, when the waves thereof roar : the Lord of Hofts is his name. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Ifrael also shall cease from being a Nation before me for cover. Tious faith the Lord, if Heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath; I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all that they have done, saith the Lord, Jer.xxxi. 35, 36, 37. This Prophecy, we know, has been fulfill hitherto, partly by the Conversion of many of the Seed of Israel, both at the first Propagation of the Gospel, and in latter Ages ; and partly by their continuing a distinct People from all the Nations, wherever they live difpers’d; which is a thing never known, of
of any other captive and dispers’d People. It is the receiv'd and ancient Doctrine of the Rabbins, that God by the Melliah would give them a New Law, and make a New Covenant with them, and that under him God
• Abravanel. de cap, Fidei, c. xlii. cum Not. Vorstii.
would allow them to eat Swine's Flesh; and that all their Feasts were to cease, but the Feast of Purim, and the Day of Atonement. But Abravanel pretends , that this Ceffation is not a Subversion of the Feasts themselves, but a Cessation of the Memory of them, because all those Feasts were in Remembrance of their coming out of Ægypt. The meaning therefore, says he, is this, that the Children of Israel at the time of their Deliverance, shall not apply their Minds to the Remembrance of the Wonders and Miracles, which God wrought for them, when he brought them out of Ægypt, because when they shall see the exceeding great Miracles, which God will do before them in the days of the Messiah , they shall forget the former, as the Scripture also affirms, they shall not say the Lord liveth, who brought you out of Agypt, &c. But the true Reason, why, according to this Tradition of the Jews, the Feast of Purim and the Day of Atonement only were not to cease under the Messiah, seems to be, because by assigning these Two as the only Times which were to be observ'd, is signify'd, that Days of Repentance and Thanksgiving only would then be of Religious Observation : for to this purpose, say the * Rabbins, that all Offerings shall cease in the World to come (so they term the Kingdom of the Messiah) but Confession and Thanksgiving shall not cease. And what Abravanel argues, that the Feasts themselves were not to cease, but only the Remembrance of those things, whereof they were appointed to be Memorials, is a palpable Evasion. For how should the Remembrance cease of a thing, of which constant Memorials were continued, which were instituted for this very end, to be a statute for ever throughout their generations in all their dwellings, Lev. xxiii. 14. Which Words are repeated and apply'd to all their Annual Solemn Festivals, and of the Passover in particular it
was commanded to be observ'd, that thou mayst remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Ægypt, all the days of thy life, Deut. xvi. 3. And there is no ground for that Answer, that by all the days of thy life is meant no longer than till the time of the Messiah, in reference to the Remembrance of the Deliverance from their Bondage in Ægypt ; if the Observation of the Passover instituted in perpetual Memory of it, were afterwards to be retained. The Law of Mofes was to last to the end of the World, or State of the Jewish Dispenfation and Government'; for in the Prophetick Style the Coming of the Messiah was a New Creation, Ifai. Ixv. 17. Ixvi. 22. and his Kingdom was wont by' the Jews to be called the World to
The Ceremonial Law therefore by its Original Design and Institution being to continue in force bat till the Coming of Christ, he gave the Accomplishment to it, and put a final Period to its Obligation, instituting his Gospel in its stead, which had been prefia gur’d by the Law, and foretold both by Moses and che Prophets, and is to continue to the end of the World.
CH A P. XVII.
Of Sinful Examples Recorded in the Scriptures,
S fome have endeavour'd to excuse their own
Sins, by alledging the Sinful Examples which we find mention'd in the Scriptures; fo others, who are no less fond of imitating them , yet have from hence taken a pretence for Objections and Cavils. I fhall therefore shew, that the bad Examples in some
Actions of Men whom we find in all other respects commended in the Scriptures, are far from being proposed for our Imitation; but there is great reason why the Faults and Miscarriages of the best Men should be deliver'd down to us in the Scriptures for our Caution and Prevention, as well as upon other accounts.
I. Several Passages of the Scriptures contain only Matter of fact, and that very briefly express’d; and a bare Narrative of any Action, implies neither the Approbation nor the Censure of it, but only declares that such a thing was done, and in such a manner : but the Nature of the Fact it self, with the Circumstances of it, or some Command or permission, or Prohibition in Scripture, must discover the Goodness or Lawfulness, or the Wickedness of the Action. No Historian is supposed to approve of all which he relates ; but he must report bad as well as good deeds, who will do the part of a faithful Historian.
II. The Rules of Good and Evil are plainly delivered in the Scriptures, by which we are to judge of Actions; and we are to conform our Actions not to the Example of Men, but to the Law of God. We are forewarn’d to follow no Man's Example, when it is contrary to the Divine Law; and therefore it could not be necessary in the relating of every evil A&tion to set a Mark of Infamy upon it, and a Caution against the Imitation of it.
III. The Relation of the bad Actions of Good Men may be of great use and benefit, tho'we are not to follow, but avoid them ; Because,
1. This shews the Sincerity of the Pen-Men of the Scriptures, that they spare no Person whatsoever, but relate the plain Matter of fact, even tho' themselves be concern'd, when it is never fo inuch to their dir., grace; as in the Denial of St. Peter , and other instances,