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Messiah's coming. But especially the liii. chapter of Isaiah, which the most ancient Jews interpreted of the Messiah, and which indeed cannot reasonably be understood of any other, points to a farther reference of the legal sacrifices, to be fulfilled and accomplished in Christ.' The prophet there speaks of him in phrases that properly related to sacrifices. As he describes the grievous sufferings he was to endure, so he represents them as having an expiatory virtue, and making an atonement for our sins. He represents him as 'bearing our iniquities,' and making his soul an offering for sin,' and that God laid upon him the iniquities of us all.' This ought to have led the Jews to look beyond the legal sacrifices and oblations, to that great propitiation of infinite virtue which was to be offered for our sins in the fulness of time, and of which those sacrifices were only the imperfect figures and shadows: and what the prophet here saith is perfectly agreeable to what St. Paul and the other apostles so often represent concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, as offering himself a 'sacrifice for our sins' and doing that in reality which the others only did in type and figure. Indeed the prophets in all their writings have numberless references to the Messiah, and there is no explaining many passages in those writings without such a reference. They often speak of things that literally, and in the first sense relate to their own time in terms which evidently have a farther view. And that they understood and explained the prophecies before them as typical of the Messiah, and often prophesied by types themselves, and intimated at the very time of delivering those prophecies that they were to be referred to him, is largely and fully shown in the bishop of Lichfield's learned defence of Christianity from the ancient prophecies, chap. ii.; sect. 1, 2, 3, 4. Whereas therefore this writer asserts over and over with great confidence, that what he calls the 'figurative spiritualizing sense of the law and the prophets, was never heard of among the Jews before the days of Ezra, and that it had its first rise among the Jewish cabalistical doctors after that time: the contrary is rather true, that all along from the beginning, the law and the prophets were understood as containing a spiritual and mystical sense, and as having a farther view and reference. When Moses urges the people to circumcise the foreskin of their hearts,' Deut. x. 16, and again, speaks of God's circumcising their hearts that they might love him with all their heart and soul, Deut. xxx. 6; here is a plain instance of a 'spiritual sense' in the law itself with regard to one of the principal rites there enjoined, the solemn rite of initiation into that peculiar polity. He here plainly directs them to carry their thoughts beyond the outward sign, and intimates to them that it had a farther view, even to signify the necessity of an inward purity, and of mortifying their corrupt affections and lusts. And indeed considering the frequent use of signs and symbols among the eastern nations, especially in the early ages, which were still supposed to contain some other significations under them, and to have a further view than the bare letter; and considering the high esteem they had of the great wisdom of
the law and the Mosaic institutions, every thing in which even the most ininute rites were regarded as prescribed by God himself; and considering that an expectation of the Messiah, and of a more new and more glorious state of things under him, was still kept up among them : it was natural for them to think that there was a farther view and reference in that variety of legal rites, and sacrifices, and ceremonies, beyond what appeared in the bare letter. And it was because it had been all along a known and acknowledged principle in their nation, that many things in the law and the prophets had a farther view, that the Jewish doctors, after the time of Ezra, when immediate inspiration ceased, and there were no longer any extraordinary prophets among them, took occasion to introduce their traditionary explications. And it is probable some of these explications were agreeable to the true original sense derived from the prophets themselves, as Dr. Prideaux supposes, to whom this writer is pleased to refer us. Though in process of time they added many inventions, and arbitrary explications of their own, which never were originally intended. They supposed all along a frequent reference to the Messiah in the Mosaical and prophetical writings, and so far they were right in general, aud undoubtedly they were so in the sense they give of many particular passages. Some considerable remains there are of these explications in the most ancient and approved Jewish writings; though the modern Jews would fain give a different turn to them to avoid the force of the arguments the Christians bring against them from these interpretations that they were made by their ancestors. It also appears from some passages in their approved writings, that they expected their own law to be more fully opened to them at the Messiah's coming, and the reason of several of their own rites explained. See the above mentioned Defence of Christianity, pp. 409, 410.
Upon the whole, though this writer represents it, p. 19, as a very ridiculous thing to suppose that what was more obscurely hinted in the law and the prophets is more clearly revealed in the gospel, and speaks in a gibing manner of those men of deep penetration and discernment' that can see this sort of connexion and harmony between the gospel and the law, and to whom it appears just and beautiful,' p. 19. I can see nothing in it but what is worthy of the wisdom of God, that he should at different times and in different circumstances of things, make gradual discoveries of his will; and that he should so order former revelations as to prepare the way for the latter, and the latter, so as to illustrate and confirm the former; and that what is more darkly and imperfectly hinted at in the one, should be more clearly and fully delivered in the other. Considered in this view and mutual reference, I must own that both the Old Testament and the New appear to me with a brighter glory, and derive mutual light and strength to one another. And the gradual opening and unfolding of the divine light in so many various views, has yielded great satisfaction in the contemplation of it to men that truly deserved the character of
persons of deep discernment and penetration, with which this writer sneeringly honours them. As God's sending his own Son into the world for the redemption of mankind was the most important event that ever was; so to consider it as having been alı along prefigured and foretold at sundry times and in divers manners, sometimes more clearly and openly signified by express predictions, sometimes more covertly by various types and figures, so many things pointing this way through so long a succession of ages, and all centering here; gives a noble and comprehensive view of this grand design, and shows one and the same important scheme still uniformly carrying on, one wise presiding Spirit and glorious divine Author, whose views extend through all ages. This is truly glorious and worthy of the supreme wisdom, and it is not an odd turn of expression, calling literal Christianity mystical Judaism,' and ` literal Judaism figurative Christianity,' and a jingle of the like phrases which the author makes use of to ridicule it, that will show the absurdity of such a scheme as this. And it is certain that what he ridicules is the very scheme advanced by our Saviour himself and his apostles, particularly the apostle Paul. He pretends indeed to apologize for them by alleging, that in this they only made use of the false way of arguing that had obtained amongst the Jews; that is, he would have it thought, first that they acknowledged and asserted the divine authority and inspiration of Moses and the prophets, though at the same time they believed them to be only false pretenders to inspiration; and then that they set up a sense of their writings which they themselves very well knew was not their sense, and endeavoured to put that false sense upon the Jews for the mind of the Holy Ghost. A conduct which is too inconsistent with common honesty and integrity, and with the known character of Christ and his apostles, to be admitted.
I shall only farther observe, to show the great consistency of this writer; that though in this part of his book he so confidently asserts and endeavours in many words to prove, that the prophetical and Mosaical writings were never understood to have any mystical sense till after the days of Ezra, when it had its first rise among the Jewish Cabalists; yet he elsewhere expressly declares that Moses and the prophets always wrote with a double intention, and had a double sense ; the one literal and popular, the other to be understood only by the wiser sort. And he blames the Jewish nation for understanding the writings of Moses and the prophets according to the letter, without entering into the spirit and design of them, as he saith, St Paul hath evidently and irrefutably proved,' p. 249, 251. It is true, he very absurdly applies this to the historical narrations of facts which he would not have to be understood literally: But it is certain the apostle Paul, who he there pretends to believe hath evidently and irrefutably proved the mystical sense of the law and the prophets, and hath shown that the Jews did not enter into the true spirit and design of them, understood this not with regard to the historical facts and narra
tions, but to the legal rites and ordinances, and shows they had a typical reference and a farther view. So that if he will be concluded by the judgment of that great apostle in this matter, as he pretends to be willing to be, there was such a sense originally intended in the legal priesthood and sacrifices. And what then must we think of this Author, who contradicts and denies what by his own confession “St. Paul hath evidently and irrefutably proved ?
As to the proof he brings to show that the mystical and spiritual sense of the law and the prophets was never heard of before Ezra, because before that period 'no Jewish writer, priest, or prophet had ever mentioned a word of the resurrection, general judgment, and state of future rewards and punishments, as the proper sanctions of virtue and religion in this life, whereas all the Jewish writings afterwards are full of them, p. 46. This is entirely misrepresented ; as I shall show when I come to consider what he offers to prove, that all the Jews were • Deistical Materialists and Sadducees,' and did not believe a future state, till after their return from the Babylonish captivity.
The author's objections against the law of Moses from the internal constitution of that
law considered. His pretence that that law extended only to the outward practice and behaviour of men in Society, and that the obligation of it with respect to civil and social virtue extended no farther than to the members of that Society, and that they were put into a state of war wth all the rest of the world. It is shown that that law required an inward purity of heart and affections. The great tenderness and humanity that appears in its precepts. It required a kind and benevolent conduct, not only towards those of their own Society, but towards strangers. That constitution not founded in the principles of persecution. It tolerated all tbat worshipped the one true God, though not conforming to their peculiar rites and usages. The punishing idolatry with death in the commonwealth of Israel accounted for. No obligation by that law to extirpate idolatry, and destroy idolaters in all other countries by fire and sword. His pretence that Moses directed the Israelites to extend their conquests through all nations, and that their constitution and plan of a government was contrived for it, examined. The contrary to this shown. The military laws, Deut. xx. explained. Wbether that law absolutely prohibited all alliances with idolaters.
Having considered the author's objections against the law of Moses drawn from the authority of St. Paul, and from the pretended inconsistency between it and the gospel, I shall now proceed to consider those objections of his that are taken from the internal constitution of that Law, which he everywhere supposes to be altogether unworthy of God, and therefore impossible to be given by him. If his account be true, it was one of the worst, the most absurd, and tyrannical constitutions in the world ; ‘a wretched scheme of superstition, blindness and slavery, bigotry and enthusiasm, that had nothing of truth or goodness in it, and was contrary to all reason and common sense. These and other hard epithets of the like kind he liberally bestows upon the law of Moses. Let us consider what he offers to support such severe invectives.
And first, one of his objections against even the moral law given by Moses to the people of Israel is, that as the law was constituted : 'All its sanctions being merely temporal, relating only to men's outward practice and behaviour in society, and none of its rewards or punishments relating to any future state ; it could only relate to outward actions, and thereby secure civil virtue, and the civil rights and properties of the Society, against such fraud or violence, as might fall under a human cognizance; but could not relate to the inward principles and motives of action, whether good or bad, and therefore could not purify the conscience, regulate the affections, or correct and restrain the vicious desires, inclinations, and dispositions of the mind, and this is what St. Paul means, as often as he declares the weakness or insufficiency of this law, to enforce or secure a state of inward zeal, virtue, or righteousness, with respect to God and conscience,' p. 27.
But it is capable of as clear a proof as any thing whatsoever, (and our author himself is sensible of it, as is evident from what he makes Theophanes his Christian Jew object against Philalethes his moral philosopher, on this head, p. 33, &c.), that the law of Moses did not relate to the outward actions alone, but to the inward principles and motives of action: and that Moses not only always supposed,' as he grants, ‘ an inward right motive, or the principle and disposition of love to God and our neighbour, as necessary to constitute the true morality and religion of an action with respect to God and conscience:' but that he directly and expressly, frequently, and in the strongest manner requires a right disposition of the heart and mind; and that this law was designed, contrary to what this author asserts, to regulate the affections, and to correct and restrain the vicious desires, inclinations, and dispositions of the mind.' This is the evident intention of the tenth commandment, which forbids not only outward evil actions, but the inward irregular affections and motions of concupiscence. This St. Paul takes notice of when he declares, that he should not have been sensible that such desires were sinful, or that they deserved death, if the law had not forbidden them, Rom. vii. 7, and again, ver. 14, he saith, the law is spiritual,' by which he evidently means that it extends to the inward dispositions of the soul and spirit as well as to the outward actions, and forbids and condemns all evil thoughts and inclinations. And the supposition of this vast extent and spirituality of the law lies at the foundation of his argument, that none can be justified by it; because none can be found that yield a perfect obedience to its pure and excellent precepts. This writer therefore plainly misrepresents St. Paul's sense, when after having said that the law could only relate to