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are more ways than one of taking him by his horns. "Now therefore (says he) take your choice, and give up one part of your hypothesis or the other, as best pleases you; FOR TO HOLD BOTH IS IMPOSSIBLE. "If you say that the family of Abraham were acquainted "with the mystery, it will overturn all you said concerning their ignorance of a future state. But if you shall "chuse to say that the revelation of the mystery was for "the sole information of Abraham, and that his family "knew nothing of it, then--the construction in favour of "human sacrifices must have been the very same as if no "such representation, as you speak of, had been intended.” I desire to know where it is that I spoke ANY THING concerning Abraham's family's ignorance of a future state; and therefore call upon him, for the sirth and last time, to name the place. But, I am afraid, something is wrong here again: and that, by Abraham's family, he means the Israelites under Moses's policy. For, with regard to them, I did indeed say that the gross body of the people were ignorant of a future state. But then I supposed them equally ignorant of the true import of the command to Abraham. But, if, by Abraham's family, he means, as every man docs, who means honestly, those who resided with him under his tents, I suppose them indeed acquainted with the true import of the command; but then, at the same time, not ignorant of a future state. Thus what our Examiner had pronounced IMPOSSIBLE, was, it seems, all the while very possible. And, in spite of his dilemma, both parts of the hypothesis were at peace. I can hardly think him so grossly immoral as to have put this trick upon his reader with design; I rather think it was some confused notion concerning the Popish virtue of TRADITION (that trusty conveyancer of truth) which led him into all this absurdity; and made him conclude, that what Abraham's family once knew, their posterity could never forget. Though the written word tells us, that when Moses was sent to redeem this posterity from bondage, they remembered so little of God's revelations to their forefathers, that they knew nothing even of his nature.
XXIV. Our Examiner now concludes his Considerations (which we have quoted word for word in order as
they lie, without curtailing or abridging) in this manner. "Thus, Sir, it appears, that what was well before, comes "out bad, from under your hands. Which confirms to me what I have often thought; that experiments in religion are seldom good for any thing. The truth of "this whole case, appears to me in this plain light. God "called Abraham to this great trial; to make him an example of faith and resignation. Abraham obeys "God's call; under a full persuasion that his son was "lost to him; and yet as fully assured that the promises "of God should not fail. In this view he is an example "of both; and thus much the Scriptures warrant. We, "who see the resemblance between this case, and God's requiring his only Son to be offered up as a sacrifice "for the sins of the whole world, rightly say, that the one was intended to be the figure of the other. But whe"ther Abraham knew any thing at all of Christ's sacrifice; or whether he knew nothing; the Scripture is wholly silent; and You ought to have been silent too. "It is fit for us to stop where the Scripture stops-and "let infidelity do its worst." p. 169.
"What was well before, comes out bad," it seems, "under my hand;" which confirms him in a "Thought "he often had, THAT EXPERIMENTS IN RELIGION ARE SELDOM GOOD FOR ANY THING." By the way, though, this seems but an odd compliment to the many fine experiments, which a great Prelate of his acquaintance has made in religion. However, that he often had this thought, I do not at all doubt. The thing I least expected was, that he should venture to tell his thoughts. But, in the paroxysm of answering, out it came; and from a man not the best formed by nature aperto vivere voto. Writers, indeed, have differed much how these EXPERIMENTs should be made. Some would have Scripture alone employed in making them: others were for taking in fathers and councils; and some again for applying raillery and ridicule to the work. But I know of no Protestant till our Examiner, who ever talked against the thing itself. That language had been now, for near two hundred years, confined to the walls of the Inquisition. For what is making experiments in religion, but illustrating it by new arguments, arising from new dis
coveries made of the harmony in God's various dispensations to mankind; just as philosophers unfold nature, by new enquiries into the contents of bodies? No EXPERIMENTS, is the language indeed of POLITICIANS (for in some things bigotry and politics agree; as extremes run easily into one another, by their very endeavour to keep at distance) because, according to the politician's creed, religion being useful to the state, and yet not founded in truth, all inquiries tend, not to confirm, but to unsettle, this necessary support of civil government. But can a man who believes religion to have come from God, use this language! If he pretends to believe, and will yet talk at so scandalous a rate, let me ask him, how it comes to pass, that experiments, which do such service in our advancement in the knowledge of nature, should succeed so ill in religion? Are not both equally the works of God? Were not both given to be the subject of human contemplation? Have not both, as proceeding from the Great Master of the Universe, their depths and darknesses? And does not the unveiling the secrets of his Providence tend equally with the unveiling the secrets of his workmanship, to the advancement of his glory? Have not the wisdom and goodness of God been wonderfully displayed, in these latter ages, to the confusion of Atheism, by some noble experiments made in nature? And why should not the same wisdom and goodness be equally displayed, to the confusion of Deism, by experiments made in religion?. I believe I should not be accused of vanity, even by our Examiner himself in his better mood, should I venture to appeal to The Divine Legation itself, for the POSSIBILITY of the thing: for he has been graciously pleased to allow, that "what I "have said of converse being maintained by actions as "well as by words, is very just; and that the instances "I have produced from Scripture, where actions have "been used as foreshewing the determinations of Provi"dence, are beyond all exception." p. 153. Now here, I presume, his modesty will confess, that I have taught him something new; both in the principle, and in the following application of it to the primary and secondary sense of prophecies. But if ever there was an experiment made in religion, this was one; it being deduced from a
careful analysis of the several various modes of human communication. In a word, had no experiments been made in nature, we had still slept in the ignorance and error of school-philosophy: and had none been made in religion, we had still been groping about, and stumbling in the darkness and superstition of school-divinity. For, what were they, but experiments in religion, made by a Wickliff, a Cranmer, à Calvin, an Erasmus, a Hooker, that rescued us from that darkness and superstition? Or is making experiments, like making gunpowder, a monopoly? that none are to be intrusted with it, in religion, but great names, and Fathers of the Church; and none, in nature, but Fellows of the Society. The worst mischief they ever do is, now and then, blowing up an indiscreet Divine, when he comes too near, and tramples upon them with security and contempt. To repay our Examiner, therefore, one secret for another; I will tell him what I have often thought, and what his own words confirm, "That he who can talk in this manner, "whatever face he. may put on, must needs have his "doubts and fears about the truth of that religion which "he so peevishly defends."-" Abraham (says he) obeys "God's call under a FULL PERSUASION that his Son was "lost to him." So! the doubt is now determined. Before, it was only "That Isaac might, for aught "Abraham knew, be for ever lost to him." But this it is for a writer to have a full persuasion both of himself
and his reader.
"WE who SEE (says he) the RESEMBLANCE between "this case [the action commanded] and God's requiring "his only Son to be offered up as a sacrifice, for the "sins of the whole world, RIGHTLY say, that the one was "intended to be the figure of the other." These seers by resemblance into facts, are like the seers by secondsight into futurity: that is to say, equally under the power of the imagination; which, whatever light it may afford to them, yet leaves their readers still in the dark. As to this seeing by resemblance in particular, the reader may, if he pleases, consult the XVIIIth Remark for all that is necessary to be said on that subject.
"But whether Abraham (says he) knew any thing at "all of Christ's sacrifice, or whether he knew nothing,
"the Scripture is wholly silent: AND YOU OUGHT TO
HAVE BEEN SILENT TOO." To this I reply, in the first place; that the reason why I was not silent, was, because Scripture itself was not silent; but, in the words of Jesus, declared, that Abraham did know of Christ's sacrifice. Secondly, I do not see why, even though Scripture had been silent, I ought to have been silent too. Scripture is silent concerning the substance of the Son. But so are not you; who, I make no doubt, declare at least, that he is of one substance with the Father. And why do you so? Because (you will say, and you will say true) that, although this proposition be not expressed in the Bible, in so many words; yet it is to be deduced from Scripture-doctrine, by the most known principles of philosophy and logic. Why then will you not allow me the benefit of the same answer, in the present case.- -But in another mood he can be angry with me for being silent where Scripture is silent. And for not speaking out when that only gives a sign. "You say nothing (says he) "of Abraham's virtue, his patience and self-denial, yet Scripture POINTS AT them."
But "It is fit (he says) for us to stop where the Scripture stops."-With how good a grace, and how pertinently too, this maxim may be, sometimes, applied; I shall beg leave to observe; that, with regard to the fundamental points of the Christian faith, it is, indeed, fit we should stop where the NEW TESTAMENT stops; because that is able to make us wise unto salvation; and because there is now no reasonable expectation of any further revelation of God's will to us, that shall refer to this, and be explanatory of it. But with regard to an historical passage, told obscurely (for the wise ends of God's dispensations, which opened gradually upon mankind) in the OLD TESTAMENT, to which the New refers and is explanatory; there, I hope, we may go on, without presumption, to shew how, from such a passage, may be demonstrated the real connexion and dependency between the two covenants. Yet, by the strangest perversity, there are men who will not stop in the first case; and, in the second, will not go forward. But whatever our Examiner's notions be; it is plain, he took his expressions from somebody who applied the maxim to a maker of