« PreviousContinue »
by fuch analogies, arguments, and confiderations as their own thoughts fuggested. Thus the call of the Gentiles, that is, the admiffion of the Gentiles to the Chriftian profeffion without a previous fubjection to the law of Mofes, was imparted to the Apoftles by revelation, and was attefted by the miracles which attended the Chriftian miniftry amongst them. The Apoftles' own affurance of the matter refted upon this foundation. Nevertheless, St. Paul, when treating of the fubject, offers a great variety of topics in its proof and vindication. The doctrine itself must be received; but is it neceffary, in order to defend Christianity, to defend the propriety of every comparison, or the validity of every argument, which the apostle has brought into the difcuffion? The fame obfervation applies to some other inftances; and is, in my opinion, very well founded. "When divine writers argue upon any point, we are always bound to believe the conclufions that their reasonings end in, as parts of divine revelation; but we are not bound to be able to make out, or
even to affent to, all the premises made use of by them, in their whole extent, unless it appear plainly, that they affirm the premises as exprefsly as they do the conclusions proved by them *."
* Burnet's Expos. art. 6.
The Connection of Chriflianity with the Jewish Hiftory, UNDOUBTEDLY, our Saviour assumes
the divine origin of the Mofaic institution: and, independently of his authority, I conceive it to be very difficult to affign any other caufe for the commencement or existence of that institution; especially for the fingular circumftance of the Jews adhering to the unity, when every other people flid into polytheism; for their being men in religion, children in every thing else; behind other nations in the arts of peace and war, fuperior to the most improved in their fentiments and doctrines relating to the deity *. Undoubtedly
*«In the doctrine, for example, of the unity, the eternity, the omnipotence, the omniscience, the omniprefence, the wisdom and the goodness of God; in their opinions concerning providence, and the creation, prefervation,
doubtedly alfo, our Saviour recognifes the prophetic character of many of their ancient writers. So far, therefore, we are bound as Christians to go. But to make Christianity answerable with its life, for the circumftantial truth of each separate paffage of the Old Teftament, the genuineness of every book, the information, fidelity, and judgement of every writer in it, is to bring, I will not fay
servation, and government of the world." Campbell on Mir. p. 207. To which we may add, in the acts of their religion not being accompanied either with cruelties or impurities; in the religion itself being free from a fpecies of superstition which prevailed universally in the popular religions of the ancient world, and which is to be found perhaps in all religions that have their origin in human artifice and credulity, viz. fanciful connections between certain appearances, and actions, and the destiny of nations or individuals. Upon these conceits rested the whole train of auguries and aufpices, which formed fo much even of the ferious part of the religions of Greece and Rome, and of the charms and incantations which were practifed in those countries by the common people. From every thing of this fort the religion of the Jews, and of the Jews alone, was free. Vid. Priestley's Lectures on the Truth of the Jewish and Christian Revelation, 1794.
great, but unneceffary difficulties, into the whole fyftem. These books were univerfally read and received by the Jews of our Saviour's time. He and his apoftles, in common with all other Jews, referred to them, alluded to them, ufed them. Yet, except where he expressly ascribes a divine authority to particular predictions, I do not know that we can ftrictly draw any conclufion from the books being so used and applied, befide the proof, which it unqueftionably is, of their notoriety and reception at that time. In this view our fcriptures afford a valuable teftimony to those of the Jews. But the nature of this teftimony. ought to be understood. It is furely very different from, what it is fometimes reprefented to be, a specific ratification of each particular fact and opinion; and not only of each particular fact, but of the motives. affigned for every action, together with the judgement of praise or difpraise bestowed upon them. St. James, in his epiftle*,