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in general, and the doctrine of a future state in particular to civil society. And had I not said this, the Book itself would shew that it is no more a defence of Christianity than the first proposition of the three terms is a syllogism.
But if the letter-writer means, what his words expressThat if I have a serious purpose of defending Christianity, this volume is the weakest defence-his premisses will be true indeed, but then they will have no relation to his conclusion. For it does not follow from those premisses, that this is any defence at all; any more than that, if Í had a serious purpose of building a house, the foundationstones were that house.
The deference due to the Public, from so obscure a writer as myself, was the true reason why this first part came out separately; the Author not presuming to obtrude a voluminous work upon it till he had some assurance of its willingness to receive it. But the same regard that obliged me to this conduct, would not suffer me to make a secret of the medium by which I pretended to establish my demonstration, especially as it had the fortune to be generally esteemed a paradox. I therefore gave the proof in form two years ago in the Appendix to The Alliance between Church and State. There it is to be found; and had the letter-writer, instead of indulging his monstrous suspicions of the Author, turned himself to making objections to his argument, he might possibly have then as much served truth as he now has violated charity.
He goes on,-He is a warmer advocate for Dr. who denies the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, than for the Scriptures themselves. How warm an advocate I am for him, we shall see by and by; how true an accuser the letter-writer is of him, we shall examine at present. Dr. says*, it is NECESSARY to believe of the Scriptures in general that they are divinely inspired; and that all which he denies is, that the Scriptures are of absolute and universal inspiration. He shews that Tillotson and Grotius were of the same opinion,
Remarks on a Reply to the Defence of a Letter to Dr. W. p. 69. + Ibid, p. 70.
who, he charitably presumes, were Christians. And as he tells his friends and acquaintance the same he tells the Public, the letter-writer inust excuse me, if I believe a man whose candour, sincerity, benevolence, and charity I have experienced, before him, who has not given me the pleasure of remarking in him any of those Christian qualities.
But I would not have the letter-writer infer, that, because he has been pleased to make me Dr.'s advocate, I am to be responsible for his opinions. I differ widely from him in the matter of inspiration, and as widely in some others. But we can differ from each other, and avow and maintain our difference of opinion, without violation of common humanity, friendship, orChristian charity. I will give the letter-writer another instance of difference in opinion between us, from this very Book he so much condemns. The writer of the Defence of the Letter to Dr. W. p. 45, says,—Is the notion of the divine origin of the law and inspiration of Moses to be resolved into fiction, or fable, or political lying? No, far be it from me to think or say so. this perhaps one may venture to say, that the supposition of some degree of such fiction may possibly be found necessary to the solving the difficulties of the Mosaic Writings, without any hurt to their authority, or adcantage to infidelity. I am, as I say, of a different opinion. The writer endeavours to support his by several arguments; amongst which one is, the professions and example of the ancient sages and legislators. Now, in the Second Section of my Third Book I have inquired into the principles that induced the ancient sages and legislators to deem it lawful to deceive for the public good; in the discovery of which, I think, I have made it evident that those reasons or principles could have no place amongst the founders and propagators of the Jewish and Christian religions. This truth (as well as several others interspersed throughout this First Volume, and which may perhaps give offence to the indiscreet zeal of the letter-writer) is in my next volume* applied and inforced to the overthrowing that opinion that some degree
of fiction may be necessary, &c. And even in this I could not forbear, in the most conspicuous place of my Book, to shew the use of it, as may be seen by these words of the Contents, B. III. S. 2.-The principles, that induced the ancient sages to deem it lawful to deceive for public good in matters of religion, are explained
AND SHEWN TO BE SUCH AS HAD NO PLACE IN THE PROPAGATION OR GENIUS OF THE JEWISH AND CHRIS
But I am a warm advocate for Dr.
In what? I have called him a very formidable adversary to the Free-Thinkers. And I think I had reason: for the arguments he hath used for the TRUTH of Christianity against Tindal have never yet been answered by them, nor I think ever can. I say for the truth of Christianity; for his reasonings, from p. 59 to 64*, relate only to its truth, and can be understood in no other sense. After this, to think he would have Christianity supported only because it is useful, is such a way of interpreting a writer as my charity will never suffer me to follow.
The opinion I have of Dr.'s abilities, and of the sincerity of his professions, were the true reasons of that esteem I express for him; being desirous of allaying all disgust, if any hath arisen in him, from the treatment of his less candid adversaries; and of engaging him to a further and more compleat vindication of our holy faith, at a time when the good dispositions of the meanest advocate for Revelation should not, I think, in prudence be discouraged: Nay, was I so unhappy to think of Dr.
as the letter-writer is disposed to do, I should yet be inclined to behave myself very differently towards him. I should be so far from estranging him further from the faith by uncharitable anathemas, that I should do all I could to court and allure him to Christianity, by thinking well of its professors. Thus much, I conceive, Christian charity would require; and how far Christian policy would persuade, let the learned say, who know what ornament his pen would be to the Christian faith, and his acquaintance of what example his morals to Christian practice.
* Letter to Dr. W.
But the letter-writer, having taken it into his head, that Dr. -'s true sentiments are, that Christianity can only be defended as useful in the present circumstances of life, makes, as it would seem, this imagination the key to my real sentiments and designs in defending Revelation. Hence those strange expressions-If I am capable of understanding the meaning and drift of his book-he must excuse me, if I suspect his faith and condemn his book-This I am sure of, the author must be a subtile enemy to Revelation, or a very indiscreet friend-I must own he has left me in no doubt. Now if those be Dr.——'s true sentiments, which yet I no more believe than that Tindal was a Christian in his heart, I shall not scruple to say that he whom I called one of the most formidable of the Free-thinkers adversaries, is indeed one of the weakest and most contemptible. But if they be mine, after all I have said in this volume, I will not scruple to say, that that character would be far too mild for me; and that it would be but justice to esteem me the most abandoned writer that ever appeared in any cause.
Let us now take this key, and apply it to what I have written. And it will indeed thoroughly serve the letterwriter's declared purpose to lessen my credit. For it will make the whole volume a heap of absurdities and contradictions. But lay aside this visionary key, and let me be interpreted by those common rules that all mankind have ever used in understanding one another, and then it will be seen I could not possibly have had any other intention than TO PROVE MOSES TO BE A TRUE PROPHET SENT IMMEDIATELY AND EXTRAORDINARILY FROM GOD. -I pretend to do it from Moses's omission of the doctrine of a future state; which under an unequal Providence, is (as I have shewn in this Book, that being the only end of writing it) absolutely necessary to society. From whence I conclude Moses's pretensions were true: who assured the Israelites that God had chosen them to be his people, had condescended to be their king, and would consequently govern them by an EQUAL, that is an EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE; which conclusion (that appears almost self-evident) I employ my second volume to support, illustrate, and free from objections.
Hence it appears on what account I so much insist on the usefulness and necessity of religion in general, and the doctrine of a future state in particular to society. The course of my argument, and all the rules of logic, obliged me to this conduct: and indeed I thought it the peculiar happiness of my argument that they did so; for I suppose, till the infidels be convinced that religion is useful to civil society, they will never be brought to believe it true.
I now haste to the other part of the letter-writer's charge, lest he should be tempted, in his impatience, to repeat it; and say again, that I am a warmer advocate for Dr.- than for the Scriptures. The Reader, who has never seen my book, will naturally conclude from these words, that either I had undervalued Scripture, or at least neglected a fair opportunity of vindicating it. He will be surprised to be told that the latter part of the charge was only for completing the antithesis. So indeed it appears to me; but the Reader shall judge for himself.
There are but two places in this volume, in which I had occasion to make observations on the Scripture; the one is, where I endeavour to shew that the argument which the Commentators use to prove the Pentateuch (against Spinosa and others) to be written by Moses, is a very strong and solid one. The other is, where.
I say, that the New Testament does not contain any regular or compleat system or digest of moral laws; the occasional precepts there delivered, how excellent and divine soever, arising only from conjunctures and circumstances that were the subjects of those preachings or writings, in which such precepts are found. For the rest, for a general knowledge of the whole body of moral duty, the great pandect of the law of nature is held open by it to be searched and studied. Finally, says the Apostle Paul, Whatsoever things are true, &c.
I suppose then, if the letter-writer had any particular meaning, this was the place that was to justify him in saying that I was no warm advocate for the Scriptures. But does the New Testament contain any such compleat ør regular system? will the letter-writer say so? will any one besides say so? How weak and indiscreet a friend