Imatges de pÓgina

the Lord hath Spoken it, v. 17. 18. Now does this look like an Edomitis Prophet? But this is just as Spinosa, and Hobbs, and the Devil are used to quote Scripture. 10. The most considerable Instance is that of Balaam, who may seem to be an Ethnick Prophet, by his living in a Heathen Country, and his being at the Command of a Heathen King, and by his predi&ting fo plainly such remarkable Events, which afterwards fo punctually came to pass; as the Greatness of the Common-wealth of Israels the Destruction of the Canaanitish Nations, and the Coming of the Messias. But then although this be true, yet it does not from hence follow, that the Gift of Prophecy was common to other Nations, as well as to the Jews from this Instance. Because this Prophecy was designed only for the Benefit of the Jewish Nation, and although it was pronounced by the Mouth of a Heathen Man, yet the Design and Purpose of it was for the Good of the Jews; and truly it was but a small Privilege of the Heathens, to have one of them to pronounce a Prophecy of God, only in Favour of the Jews, and that too for the utter Extirpation of themselves. So that for ought I see in this Instance, Balaam's Ass would be as good an one altogether, to prove, That Inspiration is common to Brutės too, because God once made Use of his Mouth, to corfute his Master's Folly. . 11. Well ! but Balaam, you fay, was a true and accustomed Prophet, and not made Use of only by God upon this extraordinary Exigence. I am afraid, this is an Assertion, which cannot be so easily made out as said; and indeed the contrary thereof may be proved by the Context. For first he cannot be a true Prophet of God, because he made use of unlawful Arts, and as the Scripture says, fought for Inchantments, Chap. xxiv. 1. and what we from the Vulgar, translate the Rewards of Divinations are in the Original only Divinations, (1. 1.) Instruments of Divination, conjuring Books, Wands, or the like. And secondly, he is called Kosem, a Diviner or Sorcerer, Joh. xiii. 22. which Word has always an ill Character fixt on it in Scripture, notwithftanding Spinosa maintains the contrary, though without

any any Instance of it. I have carefully examined all the Words that I find in Scripture, which come from this Root, and I do not find any, unless by Way of Metaphor, but carry an ill Sense, and signify unlawful Knowledge of future Things; or a lying pretended one; and as for those Places of the Prophets, Isa. xxiv. 25. Jer. xiv. 14. Ezech. xiii. 7, and 23. Micah iii. 6;öc. where • they may seem to signify fimple Prophecy, yet it will be manifest by closely considering the Places, that they are only harder Words to characterise the folle Prophecies of some lying Prophets, among the feys; as if I hould call an Astrologer a Gypsy, or a Conjurer, Names which carry more vulgar Disrepute and Shamefulness in them. I know but two Places in Scripture where they are used in a good Sense : The first is, Prov. xvi. 10. A divining Sentence, or Divination (not as we translate it, too far from the original Words, a divine Sentence) is in the Lips of the King, and his Mouth transgresseth not in Judgment : That is, the King is a wise fagacious Man in his judicial Determinations, makes shrewd Conjectures from outward Appearance to discover Men's inward Intentions, and by thiat Sort of political Divination awards Judgment accordingly. The second is, Ifa. xxxii. where it is faid, The Lord doth take avay from Judah the Judge and the Prophet, the Kofem, the Conjurer, or the Prudent, and the Ancient. Where the Septuagint do very well translate Kofem one that makes good Conjectures or Divinations; which is a metaphorical Sense of the Word in most Languages, drawn from the Heathen Auguries , as is particularly plain in those Verses of Ovid concerning the Children's Play at Even and Odd:

Est etiam, par fit numerus qui dicat an impar,

Vi divinatas auferat Augur opes. Ovid. de Nuce. Phil

. By your Criticisms you have roved a little too far from the main Point: but pray, if Balaam were not a true, Prophet, how came he to say, that he would bring Balak's Messengers Word, what the Lord Jehovah, the true



7. The

Frdaical God, slzould speak urto him? Numb. xxii. 7
LORD refuseth to give me leave to go

with you, v: 13

Í cannot go beyond the Word of the LORD my God, to do less or morc, v. 18. And God carne unto Balaam, &c. And Bulaam said unto God, &c. v. 9, 10. I pray how came he to have this Intercourse with the Lord Jehovah, and yet be such a Heathen Conjurer, as you would make him? Nay, how came he to make such fine Prophecies of Jesus Christ, and yet be such a diabolical Necroinancer?

Cred. I think, Philologus, you are not a lit: le mistaken in arguing after this Manner. Forit does not appear from Scripture, that Balaam did endeavour to seek after Jehovah, or the true God, when he designed to make Enquiry after the future Fate of the Israelites upon Balak's Request, but only after Baal, 'or some other false Deity of the Moabites. That the Search made to him, is said to be made to Jehovah, is, because Jehovah is the Jewish Name for God, which, no doubt, in the Moabitish Language was Badl, or some such like Name ; which Moses writing in Hebrew, calls by the Jewish Name Jehovah. Not that Baal and Jehovah was the same, but that Balaam took his Baal, a false God, viz. fome deified Prince of that part of the World, for Jchovah, or the true God; and therefore Mofes, in regard to his Intention, calls him by that Name. Nor doth the Truth of his Prophecy argue him to be a divine Prophet, to whom the true God was wont to reveal himself; because, although he might intend to make his Address to a false God; yet Jehovah, or the true God, might take Advantage from this to promote his true Religion, by inspiring a false Prophet of the Heathens, and in despight of them, to make them hear the Predi&tion of their own Destruction from the Mouth of their own Friend. Nor is it so strange to suppose, that a Prophecy concerning our Saviour should come from a Heathen Pricft; fince the Sibyls have predi&ted the same, and filled the whole World full of Expectation of some mighty Deliverer about the Time of our Saviour's Birth, as Virgil's Eclogue is an undeniable Instance.


Phil. But

[ocr errors]

Phil. But if natural Religion be so defedive, and Revelation so necessary, as you contend for; and withal, if the Jews were only blessed with this Favour, how can we excuse the partial Justice of God, to make so much of this odd Sort of people, and leave all the rest of the World to shift for themselves, as if they were none of his Creatures? Methinks of all the Nations of the World, the divine Prudence should never have picked out this currish Nation, to have lavished out so many Favours upon a People, that from the Time of their Original

, to their Overthrow, were the Opprobry of the World, who as * Tacitus and Justin tell us, were expelled Ægypt for a Pack of scabbed Lepers, that would have infected the whole Country; and when they lived at Rome, they were observed by + Juvenal, to be of such a dogged Temper, that they would not so much as direct a Man in his Way, unless he was of the same circumcised Race. Now how can any one, Credentius, fuppose, that God Almighty should overlook all the Nations of the World, and make himself so extraordinary familiar with this cross-grain'd Rabble? One would have thought, if the Deity had been inclined to have made a Distinction between any of his Creatures, that the Greeks or Romans should have stood fairest for fuch a Favour; for they were Nations of great Candour and Generosity, who had Minds that did generally abound with extraordinary Virtue and Honour: Buf the Jews, of all Nations in the World, were remarked for lowr unsociable Qualities; and their own Prophets cannot forbear calling them often a stubborn, untoward, perverse, crooked, and stiff-necked People. And therefore, Credentius, pray let me see how you can excuse the Justice and Wisdom of God in being so liberal of his Revelations to this people only.

Cred. I do not in the least fee, Philologus, how the Justice of God is touched by this gracious Manifestation of his Will in particular to the Jews, rather than to other Nations ; or that they deserved it less than any other. For, * Tacit. Hist. Lib. 5. Just

. Hist. Lib. 36.

+ Juv. Sat. 6. P 2

1. This

in God.

This agree

1. This was no more than what God had done before able to

in other Ages of the World, in order to preserve to himGod's usual Providence.

self a Church or chosen People, selected from the other ungodly People of the World. Thus are the Children of Seth, God's visible Church in the Antediluvian Times, who were for this very Reason called the Sons of God, Gen. vi. 2. And the Children of Shem and Japhet are separated from the profane Off-spring of Ham, Gen. ix. 26, 27. And therefore in the Time of Abraham, when Idolatry was spread well nigh over all the World, it was very wisely contrived of God Almighty, to set up the Pofterity of this good Man, to be the Worshipers of the true God, when the rest of the World had lapsed into pro

fane Idolatry. No Injust cz 2. Neither can this argue any Injustice in God, be

cause it does not appear that the Heathens had any Right to demand of God a particular Revelation. They had the Law of Nature, as 'tis generally called, or the old Adamical Revelation to walk by, and what Rewards or Panishments were annexed to that, they were either to expect or fear. This was sufficient (tho' with more Difficulty) to square their Lives by; and God was in no Ways obliged to make their Task more easy, since he might dispense his Rewards upon what Conditions he pleased. I doubt not but that good Gentiles had their Reward allotted for them ; but then I see no Reason why they should be their own Caterers, and cut out what Work they pleased for themselves. For, if it pleased God to set the Gentiles to work out their Salvation with more Pains and Danger, and the Jew's and Christians with less, why should the divine Justice be taxed with Partiality, more than you should be, when


think fit to set some of your Workmen to an easier, and others to an harder Task, when all of them are obliged to undergo the most difficult and painful, when you shall be pleased to assign

it? Other In- 3. Neither can I see any Reason why the Justice or ftances of Wisdom of God should be called in Question for this Providence

liberal Distribution of Revelations to the Jews alone, for countable.


As knac


« AnteriorContinua »