A Conference WITH A THEIST.


SHEWING The Defects of Natural Religion; The Necessity of Divine Inspiration; The Rationale of the Mosaical Laws, and defence of His Miracles: Together With an Account of the Deluge, the Origin of Sacrifices, and the Reasonableness of Christ's Mediatorship.

By WILLIAM NICHOLLS, D.D. Rector of Selsey in Sussex, and Chaplain to the Right Honourable Ralph Earl of Mountague.

The Second Edition Corrected▪

LONDON, Printed by T. W. for Francis Saunders at the Blue-Anchor in the New-Exchange; and Thomas Bennet at the Half-Moon in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1699.

To the Most Reverend FATHER in GOD THOMAS Lord Archbishop OF CANTERBƲRY.

May it please your Grace,

I Having begged Protection for the former Part of this mean Perfor­mance, under the Ʋmbrage of Your late Dear Friend, and our good Bishop, I presume to lay the Second Part at your Grace's Feet, whom God has made next under himself; the Succourer of his Afflicted Family. And I humbly [Page] pray, That You would be pleased to add one more Token of your Respect to the Memory of that Admirable Per­son, as favourably to accept this poor Present from one of his Ʋndeserving Friends. This, My Lord, I address to Your Grace, with all Heartiness and Sincerity, and with the humblest Thanks for your kindness to the Rela­tions of my Ʋnfortunate Diocesan, and for Your Assistance in getting his Sta­tion, in the Church, supplied by so excellent a Successour, thereby mitiga­ting the unspeakable Loss, sustained by the whole Diocese, and, in parti­cular, by,

My Lord,
Your Grace's most Obedient, and Dutiful Son and Servant, Will. Nicholls.


THat indifferent good Reception which my Bookseller informs me, that the former Part of this Conference has met withal in the World, has made me pre­sume to venture abroad a second. It is my hearty Prayer to God, that these mean Endea­vours may contribute to the abating that reign­ing Infidelity which has poisoned such a number of the Gentry, and others of this Nation; or at least may stir up some abler Pen, to encoun­ter with it this way: For after all the Objecti­ons which I have heard made to me about my free way of arguing the Theistical Arguments in Dialogue, I think it is more like to do good among the Infidels, than a Methodical Dis­course ranged into Chapter and Section; for those that are tainted with these Opinions are generally a sort of fastidious Students, who though they talk much, read but very little, and every thing which is designed for their use must be attempered to their Palats, to make it go down with them. Now the Dialogical way of all others is most apt to excite Atten­tion, by constantly springing up new Objecti­ons, which set a continual edge upon the Mind, and make it eager to see them removed; so that the Author of a Dialogue has this advantage above others, that he carries the Read [...] Thoughts always fresh along with him, [...] [Page] are generally lost, or at least often grow lan­guid in a continued Discourse of any consider­able length. I have not indeed brought in such frequent Interlocutions as are requisite for a just Dialogue, like those of Plato and Lucian: For that would have taken up a great deal more Paper to little purpose, only to please a few curious Criticks; and at last the Argument would be but the more obscured by it. And on the other side I have avoided the dry me­thod of the Scholastick Ob. and Sol. where the Objection is proposed without any manner of Life, only in order to be refuted; which can never be pleasant to the Reader, who at first sight sees that the Author sets this up only as a Man of Straw, which whan he fights with it he shall be sure to get the better of. I have therefore made use of the middle way, in clothing the Objections in such a dress, as two Men that had a mind to convince one ano­ther, can be supposed to use. And this is the Pattern which the best of Writers, Cicero, in his Philosophical Tracts has set; whose very faults I should never be ashamed to imitate.

As to those Tragical Exclamations which some honest People have made concerning my urging the Infidels Arguments with that little Wit and Briskness, with which they are usual­ly talked in; and putting some Expressions in my Deists Mouth which reflect upon Christiani­anity: I cannot, upon the most serious Consi­deration, approve their Zeal. For when I was to write a Dialogue upon this Subject, I must make the Theist say something or other; and I think I should but little have observed [Page] the Rules of Decency, to have made the Infi­del talk in the Language of a Grave Theolo­gue. For, I am sure, if I had done so, I had made more People laugh at me, than now I have made angry. Besides, I have the whole World before me for Precedents in this mat­ter. Those Atheistical Prosopopoea's which are are brought in by Solomon in Ecclesiastes, are urged with a peculiar Poignancy of Wit, which the Atheists of all Times have endeavoured to excel in. And Cicero, in his Book de Natura Deorum, frames the Arguments of Velleius the Epicurean, with a great deal more Wit and Smartness, than those of Cotta the Academick, or Balbus the Stoick. And in the same strain all along in Minutius Foelix, Cecilius exposes the Doctrines of the Christian Religion. And so the Arguments of Trypho the Jew, recorded in Justin Martyr; Those of Celsus in Origen, and of Julian in St. Cyril, are more Blasphe­mous Reflexions and Insinuations against Christi­anity, than any that are found in this Confe­rence. If any shall say that I help vitious Men to Arguments against Religion: I answer, that these Arguments are common enough to be found elsewhere; and those whose Minds are byassed this way, know well enough where to look for them in those wicked Books, where they may find all the Poison without the An­tidote.

As to those Schemes of the Creation and the Deluge I have made in this and the former Part, I must tell the Reader again, that I design them only as possible Theories; which I do not lay down as if they were exactly true, but that [Page] they might be so; which is all I am concerned to prove against the Infidels who deny the Pos­sibility of these Mighty Revolutions. And those People that pretend to be angry at any Philosophical Explication of the Creation and the Deluge in this way, may as well be dis­pleased with Butio and Dr. Wilkins, for proving the Possibility of the Reception of the Animals in Noah's Ark, and with the generality of the Commentators upon the Bible, who do upon occasions shew the Possibility of those many mi­raculous Relations which are found there.

If this Part finds as kind usage abroad among those Judgments I most value, as the former did; or if I can learn it does any good among those I design'd it for, I will publish the Third and last Part: or otherwise I have done with the Subject, and ‘—Hic Caestus Artem (que) repono.’

Fig. I
Fig. II
Fig. III
Fig. IV.


CRedentius thinking himself obli­ged to return the Visit which Philologus had lately given him, after a small walk of some half a Mile, his House lying from Credentius's, but at that Distance, he very oppor­tunely hears that Philologus was retired to his study after Dinner, and not suffer­ing the Servant to give him the disturb­ance of calling him down, he with his wonted familiarity, enters upon him there. The Room it self was adorned with all the beautiful Paint and Figures [Page 2] which a skilful hand could add, and the Books were Methodically ranged into various Classes, under the Images of Ancient Philosophers and Poets, and some other celebrated Modern Writers. Nor was there wanting any Greek Philosophical, or Philological Writer down from Homer to Pletho; and all the Latin Classicks stood in the exactest or­der and the most curious binding; and what yet commended them most, they were chiefly of the charming Editions of Aldus, the Stephani, and Vascosanus. Here were all the Learned Adversaria, Disser­tations, &c. of the famous Philologers of this, and the last Age, Trapezuntius, Valla, Volateranus, the Scaligers and Casau­bons; here was a Collection of every thing curious in the Philosophy of the Moderns up to Petrach and Mirandula; all the Wits of our own and the Neighbouring Nations, every thing useful and delicate in the Methematicks and Poetry, most singular sets of the Modern History, Maps and Travels; in short a well chose Collection of the most refined and plea­sing Authors, which may tend to render the study of a Gentleman agreeable and to highten his Genius. Philologus drawing a Chair for him to sit down, according to his wonted pleasantness, tells Credentius he [Page 3] was heartly glad to see him, but for Entertainment he must expect the same that he gave him the other day, endea­vouring always to write after so good a Copy as Credentius, so that he must ex­pect to be treated only with Discourse. Adding with all, that the Entertainment too of that nature would be very mean, and be no tolerable recompence for that instructive Discourse he was pleased to afford him the other day, which he pro­tested had made him ever since both wiser and better.


I perceive, Sir, you retain still so much of the complemental strain that I have not yet brought you up to that plain sincerity of that Religion I am Ad­vocate for. And if you find any for­cible conviction in the Arguments I then urged, you must attribute that to the evident Truth of our Religion, and not to my management.


I would not have you, Sir, con­clude too fast neither, my Head is not so full of Revelation yet, as to swallow the whole doctrine of the Bible without chewing. Truly, Sir, I am a kind of an obstinate Heathen, I shall hold out my Infidelity to the last, and Faith must gain upon me by Inches, or not at all. You indeed have defended strenuously [Page 4] enough the History of the Creation and the Fall; but this tends no more to make a Man a Christian than to make him a Jew. I expect to have the reasonableness of the New Covenant as you call it made clear to me, and the Mediatorship in all its particulars. I must demand an account why simple Natural Religion should not perform as acceptable a service to God Almighty, as when 'tis cumbered with Jewish and Christian Rites; why God should not as well be pleased with a Mans doing his duty himself as for the sake of a Mediator; and to what purpose a Man must be forc'd to believe the Inspiration of a few Books wrote I know not when, and by I know not whom; and which for the most part tell us no more but what Natural Religion told us before. Therefore by your leave, Credentius, I will attack you, 1. With the sufficiency of Natural Religion in general towards the Worship of God, and a good life. 2.Particulars of the Con­ference. In opposition to the Mediatorship of Christ. 3. In opposition to the Writings of the Bible.

Of Natural Religion.

And now, Credentius, have at you upon the first head.

I think I need not de [...]uce Arguments for this out of the depth of Philosophy, for I [Page 5] dare say you will never be able to answer these four Verses of our English Poet.

Natural Religion easy, first and plain,
Riddles made it Fabulous, Priests they made it gain;
Offrings and Sacrifices next appear'd,
The Priests eat roast meat, and the people star'd.

I protest the cunning Blades had a brave time of it when they could fill their Bellies at the peoples charge, who thought themselves well paid to look on and see them feed. But in the mean time the poor folk were miserable be­fool'd, when they were made to believe, that they rendered the Deity more their Friend or themselves the better Men by stuffing the Priests Guts. For what sig­nifies a Fat Bullock to God-Almighty? but the roguish Priests knew well e­nough what use to make of it, when it served them thus to gormandize upon. And truly their Brethren of the holy Tribe have kept up the same Craft and Legerdemain ever since. It is but the same Juggle of the designing Priesthood that upholds all the superstitions in the World; that maintains both the Pagods of India, the Mosques of Turky, and pro­vides so confortable a maintenance for all the sanctified Gentlemen here in Eu­rope. The plain dictates of nature are [Page 6] a thousand times a better Rule of Life than the foolish rites prescribed by these superstitious Coxcombs; that rook the people of their money by telling them strange Tales and exhibiting odd Cere­monies for them to gape at. What cann't a Man Live and Die as becomes a good Man without Sacrifices and Ave Maries, and Sacraments and Absolution? Cann't I live as nature directs without being plagued and tormented by a parcel of Creed-contriving, Sin-making Hypo­crites? For my part I grudge those Har­pies every morsel of Bread they eat; and think that Cheats and Pick-Pockets ought to be maintain'd at the charge of the Nation as well as they. It vexes me to think that the generality of people should be such Cullies to part so easily with so considerable a part of their Estates to pay their Priests for Hypocrisy and Lyes; and at the same time to adore their Holi­nesses for their Piety and Good service. For my part, they shall get as little of my money as ever they can; and I generally tell them their own when ever I meet them. I know two or three of our Neighbours that tamely deliver up their Nose to their Priests Fingers, and truly you, Credentius, suffer them to buzze about you like so many Flies, but [Page 7] you have sense enough to discover the Foxes Ears through the Sheeps Livery; it is only your good nature that hinders you from doing any thing unkind to any one; but for my part, I make the Sparks know their Distance, I give them no quarter when ever they fall in my way; and that makes them as much scar'd at my Company as the common People are at their Tales.


I perceive, Philologus, The unrea­sonableness of vilifying the Clergy. you have a little transported your self by your own Talk, and have lost your Argument to railly upon the Clergy. But I must needs tell you, that this custom you have got of exposing the Profession and Persons of the Clergy is one of the worst qualities I discern in Philologus, and is a great blemish to those other Gentleman-like accomplishments which adorn his Cha­racter. I shall speak to that simplicity you would have in Religion, by and by; but in the mean time, I must beg leave to speak a word or two upon this irreli­gious ill-bred Custom of abusing Clergy-men, which has so much obtained among the Gentlemen of this Age. Now this piece of ill-breeding was not of our own Growth here in England, it was brought, like the rest of our Follies, from France. Our travelling Gentry, who had spent [Page 8] their time to no purpose beyond Sea, thought they must bring home some­thing remarkable, and it was generally that little banter and drollery with which the French Gentlemen used to make sport with their ignorant Friars and Curees. All the improvement it gained in our Nation was more Malice and more Dullness; for we English are generally a grave sober Nation, and no­thing looks so awkwar'd in us, and is such a force upon our tempers, as Drol­lery; so that when once we go to imitate Fools we generally are such. And indeed we have imitated the French in this but miserable sillily; for I think there is no comparison of our Clergy and the gene­rality of their Friars who are commonly very ignorant and silly, and often-times not only lewd themselves but Panders to other Mens Debauchery. But gene­rally our Clergy live lives of Vertue and strict Piety, at least few of them are no­toriously vitious; their Education is com­monly such as gives them Learning, e­qual at least to the Neighbouring Gen­tlemen; and considering the remiss Edu­cation of the Gentry under the late Reigns, for the most part superiour. There is nothing vile and contemptible in their Profession, as there is in some [Page 9] which tend to vanity or debauchery, or which do denote some vile servitude and drudgery; but their calling is high and noble, the subject of it God, and the most sublime and divine Truths; and the end which they drive at, is to make Men good and peaceable. Now there is nothing in all this that should render this order of Men the subject of Con­tempt and Drollery; and Men might, if they please, with as much advantage, make sport with Physicians and Law­yers, as they do with Divines. Give me leave to say, it is an unmerciful piece of Barbarity to fall foul upon innocent Men, to abuse their Persons and Profes­sion, when there is no manner of provoca­tion given them for it; nay, it is most piti­ful Cowardice to give such usage only to those who they know, by the Character of their Profession, must not revenge it, which they dare not offer to those whom they suspect may. If such a Man be­lieves the Gospel, he offers one of the greatest injuries to Religion, by expo­sing the Ministers of it, and lessening their credit, whereby they are less able to reform the lives of wicked Men; and doth withal foolishly give the lye to his Faith, by ridiculing and affronting the Officers of that holy Institution, which [Page 10] by his Baptism and Communion he has declared the greatest Veneration for. And truly a Man may as well pretend to bear a great respect to the Government, when he is always exposing and traducing the King and his subordinate Magistrates, as to pretend an esteem to Christianity, and to be always railing at its Ministers. This is a practice so shameful among Christians, that would render them an opprobry to Infidels, in seeing them so disgracing the Dispensers of those Do­ctrines and Mysteries they hope to be saved by. Nay to speak more particu­larly, neither will the known faults of some, or many Clergy-men, excuse this Custom; because though some are faul­ty there are others who conscientiously perform their duty in all respects; and therefore to involve all under the same imputation is shameful Injustice. But besides, the faults of a Clergy-man are of so tender a nature, and are of so nigh a concern to Christianity, that for the credit of Religion all good Men will be very cautious of divulging them; and therefore where-ever we find Men for­ward to pick up and relate stories of this nature, 'tis a certain sign they are no Friends to the established Religion, and is usually a sign that they are no good [Page 11] likers of the common Christianity. And truly, Philologus, I must own that the Gentlemen of your Sentiments have ta­ken very proper methods by vilifying the Clergy to propagate your Opinions, for this one reason, because it may ea­sily be observed, that the greatest num­ber of Atheists and Deists, in this Nati­on, is made up of such, as have former­ly, before they declared for Infidelity, been the greatest Railers against their Parsons. I will not determine whether this comes to pass by the Judgment of God, or the natural tendency of the thing; but this is certain, as far as my observation can reach, that the chiefest of the Body of these Infidels is made out of the Antimonarchical and Rebelli­ous Party of the late Reigns, and the Jacobites in this; Men that are grown sowr'd and peevish at the miscarriage of their design, and exasperated against the Clergy for their opposition to their pra­ctices; and so have resolved at last to be revenged upon Religion in spight to its Ministers. But I'll warrant you by that smile, Philologus, you imagine that the compliance of the Clergy with the last Reigns, and at last with the present Government, is the true reason of the growth of Infidelity now. I shall leave [Page 12] the Gentlemen of that Order to justify their own actions, who know their own Conscience best. But thus much I will say, that if the Clergy of the Church of England had not complied with the Go­vernment, we had had, by this time, such a medly and confusion in Religion, as would have made a great many Men have nauseated all. For nothing can be so great a cause of Infidelity as the unlimi­ted license of Fanatical Zeal and Enthusi­asm; and for one Atheist or Deist we have now we should have had twenty then. And it may be we had been in as bad a condition if the Clergy had not vigorously opposed the Rebellious Prin­ciples and Practices of those dangerous Phanaticks, and their Abettors, who were going to overthrow a Lawful Go­vernment, and an Orthodox Church. So that I am so far from condemning the Practice of the Clergy of the Church of England in these last Reigns, that I highly approve it, both as being very uniform, and of a piece with its self, and very consonant to Reason and Law. For by the same reason they comply with this Government which is established by Law; they refused to comply with the Illegal demands of King James, who was acting against Law, and to their utmost [Page 13] opposed the unlawful Seditions, and at last Rebellion of Factious People, who were for advancing the Title of a Law­less Heir, who had no pretence to the Crown by any Law in the World, in opposition to two Successive Princes, who had undoubted Right to, and were in actual possession of it; and to the injury of all the lawful branches of it. So much I have thought fit to say concerning the Abuses which are frequently given to Clergy-men, by Men that have not cast off all regard to Christianity, but are willing to lay hold on any pretence to fall foul upon them, and to wreek their Spleen. But further, as to Gentlemen of your perswasion, who look upon our Religion to be a Fable, and think you can have no tie upon you from that; yet methinks Civility and common Justice, which you pretend to be the greatest Ad­vocates for, should restrain you from abusing any one, especially those who are used to bespeak you with all civility and respect. And as for their Dues which you make a sport in defrauding them of, you know, by Law, they have as good a Title to them as you have to your E­state; and your Copy-holders might, with the same Justice, detain your Quit-Rents, as you do their Tithes. And if [Page 14] Religion be only a Politick Contrivance of State, if the Law think fit to direct it so, the Clergy by instructing Men to be Virtuous and Religious, and by that means keeping Men peaceable at home, have as good a Plea for the Tenth of our Estates, as the Souldiers have now for the Fifth, for fighting against our Ene­mies abroad.

I beg your Pardon for this long di­gression from our main design, which yet your discourse led me to. And now I shall speak to the Argument of your Poetical Friend; which one would think should be irrefragable, considering it is so often repeated by your Gentlemen with such Grace and Emphasis.

‘The Priests eat Roast meat, and the People star'd.’

The People partook of the ancient Sacrifices.But had not the People their share of Roast meat too as well as the Priests? Now here is a good Jest spoil'd for lack of understanding the Roman or Greek Antiquities, or for want of reading the Books of Exodus, or Leviticus. For every Child knows that the Jews were obliged every Year to go to Jerusalem, not to see the Priests eat the Paschal Sa­crifices, but to eat it themselves. And 'tis plain, that the People eat likewise of other Sacrifices, by 1 Sam. 9.13. where [Page 15] 'tis said, the people will not eat till Samuel come, because he doth bless the Sacrifice. And nothing of the Jewish Sacrifices were peculiar to the Priests but only the remainders of the voluntary piacular Of­ferings, Lev. 6.16. And so in the Hea­then Sacrifices, after some small parts were offered to the Gods, the rest made a Feast for all the Sacrificers together, both Priests and People in common. So Homer speaks in general of all present at that Sacrifice.

[...]. Hom. Il. 1.
And thus the Labour done and Dinner drest,
They every one do share an equal Feast.

And so speaking of the Wine in the Sacrifice, which he makes common to all. Likewise he says,

—Crowning the Bowls with Wine
Which they to all present—

And so Virgil whom Servius and Ma­crobius remark to be admirably Versed in the Sacrificial Rites, speaks of that Sacrifice of Aeneas in the Eighth Book of the Aeneis.

[Page 16]
Vescitus Aeneas simul & Trojana juventus
Perpetui tergo bovis, & lustralibus extis.
Aeneas and his Trojans, all do eat
In order, of the Sacrificed Meat.

But further Lylius Geraldus, in his Treatise de Diis Gentium, informs us out of Herodotus and others, that the people were so far from not having a share at the Sacrifice, that they might carry [...], or Cuts of it home with them to their Friends, so that they too might par­take of the Sacrifice. Which might per­haps give occasion to the like custom of the Christians in the Eucharist. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. Lib. 5. Cap. 24.29. Nay these voracious Priests were so far from eating up the Sacrifice, that many of the re­maining parts were afterwards sold at the Shambles. Vid. Herod. Clio. Augusto Expos. in Rom. which gave occasion to those scruples among the Corinthians, concerning the Idolatry, which St. Paul so judiciously satisfies, 1 Cor. 10. What­soever is sold in the Shambles eat, asking no question for Conscience sake, &c. Which Custom the Apostate Julian improved so far to be revenged upon the Christians at Antioch; as to make all the food which [Page 17] was brought to Market to be first dedi­cated at a Heathen Altar. Theod. Lib. 1. Cap. 14. And so much for your gorman­dizing Priests.


Well this is but a small matter to talk of. But I can never forgive the Sanctimonious Brotherhood, for all the mischief they have done to Natural Re­ligion, by burying its pure and divine Light in such a Load of Ceremonious Trumpery. If it were not for these In­ventions of Priestcraft, a Man might do his duty as far as nature directs, with all the ease imaginable. If a Man would but take care to do what unprejudiced nature prompts him to, not to over­charge her with more than she craves, nor to check her in her just desires, and to have as great and august thoughts as he can of the Deity; he might perform the whole business of Religion to all in­tents and purposes. All the ceremonious foppery which does so pester Mankind, is owing to the Priests contrivance, who would not have got so much by the free, easy directions of nature, as they do by long Catalogues of Articles of Faith, and a fine Pageant-like-Raree-show worship. For my money give me good old, Pure, natural Religion, which was in diebus illis. In pious times e'er Priestcraft did begin. Before, &c.

[Page 18]

Natural Religion not the Ten­dencies of nature.Which was in Ʋtopia, or only in the Brains of the Gentlemen of your way. For your notion of natural Religion is so far from being Gods Law, or a Rule of Mankind, that it was never dreamt of, till Mr Hobbs would make his viti­ous qualities the rule of humane Actions, and some of his Disciples had improved further upon him since. 'Tis true, I am for that natural Religion, which is the dictates of right reason, as much as any one; but your natural Religion is the corrupt inclination of a depraved will and disorderly Passions, made out of Fear, Pride, Lust, and a Selfish humour. Men of these Principles are Temperate, only for fear of the sickness of a De­bauch, or in hopes to live as long as the Old Gentleman of Malmesbury. They forbear to kill, or rob their Friend, for fear of the animadversion of the Levia­than, or Common-wealth; or that they may not incurr the danger of being hanged, or losing their reputation. Adul­tery indeed may be a little against the Pact we enter'd into, when we retired from a State of Nature; but moderate Whoring is as innocent, as Eating, Drink­ing, or Sleeping. And now what a no­ble Idea of natural Religion is this, for Men thus to Philosophize themselves [Page 19] into Beasts, and to call that pure Nature which is the worst sort of Brutality? It cannot be denied, but that we have some disorderly affections within, which are apt to prompt us to such Actions; but we have before shewn, that these Appe­tites have received an original deprava­tion, which has been the Opinion of all wise Men; and besides, in the midst of this Tumult of unruly Passions, we still find a right reason within us, disallow­ing of these irregular Tendencies, and a Conscience checking us for the submit­ing to them. And now let any one judge which has the justest claim to the Title of natural Religion and the unblameable practice of Mankind; those wise dictates of reason which restrain these desires, or the mad Passions themselves. And yet when all comes to all, your Infidel Sparks after all their cry for natural Religion, and pure uncorrupted nature, mean no more by it, than uncontrouled sensuality. Which is so vile an end for a Man to propose to him­self, that it reflects a disgrace upon our common Reason; and at last, let him gain as much of it as he can, he will never ar­rive that way to the happiness of an ordi­nary Beast. For a Boar, or a Monkey, can enjoy more of this sort of satisfaction, than e'er a Libertine of 'em all. Epicuri de grege Porci!

[Page 20]

I beseech you, Credentius, not so severe. All we Infidels are not such Hogs as you would make us; for some of us are better principled than this comes to. Such Men as you describe are our Hereticks, as I may call them; though they pretend to natural Religion they have highly corrupted it, and almost de­stroy'd it. But we Orthodox Unbelievers have our Tenets fixed upon a sounder Bot­tom, and take nothing up for natural Religion, which is not the Result of right reasoning, and grounded upon the clear principles of natural Light. For this is the sole Rule which God has given us to walk by; not that Men like these Libertines should mistake the cravings of their Irregular Appetites for the Law of nature, but to govern them by it. For I suppose God to have given us these Ap­petites not to be Law to our actions, but as a subject to exercise our obedience to this Law of God, or Nature upon; so that then we are said to act according to the Law of Nature, when we follow those dictates which every ones unbyassed reason affords him, even in opposition to these irregular Tendencies of our vitiated Appetites. This is that noble Rule which alone, if followed, will make a Man Wise, and Vertuous, and Happy. Under [Page 21] the influence of this Law alone (till the Priests began their Reign) Primitive Mankind liv'd golden Ages; and went to Heaven, at last, without Sacrifices and Revelations.

Hâc arte Pollux, hâc vagus Hercules
Innixus arces attigit igneas.

I find you are continually harp­ing upon the Priests being the Authors of all the ceremonious parts of Religion, and particularly Sacrifice; and that the World was a considerable time without either Priests or Sacrifice under the con­duct of pure natural Religion, and that the Priesthood was but of late date, and crept into the World by imposing upon the People pompous Ceremonies. Now to set you right, in this mistake, will you please to attend to these following particulars.

1. There was always in the World a Rank of Men who had the Office of the Priesthood annexed to them,Priests in all places of the World, and all A­ges. whose of­fice it was to put up Prayers to the Deity for the People, to offer Sacrifices, and the like. That this office was entailed upon Primogeniture, as some maintain from Numb. 18.16. Vid. Grot in Luk. 2. I think is not so certain; but that it be­longed, and was constantly practised by the Heads of Families and Princes, [Page 22] of Nations in the earliest times, is un­questionable. So Noah after the Deluge Sa­crified for himself and Family, Gen. 8.20. The like is recorded of Abraham, and Jacob, and Job. And so among the Gentiles, in the highest Ages, the Crown and Priest­hood went together; of which the Hi­story of Melchizedek King of Salem is a re­markable Instance in Scripture. And a­mongst Prophane Authors Virgil tells us the like of Anius King of Delus.

‘Rex Anius, Rex, idem hominum, Phoebi (que) sacerdos. Virg. Aen. 3.

Upon which Verse Servius has this note. Sane majorum haec erat consuetudo, ut Rex esset etiam sacerdos, vel Pontifex. Ʋnde hodie (que) Imperatores Pontifices dicimus. This was the custom of the Ancients, that the King must be also Priest or Pontifex. And from thence at this day we stile the Emperours Pontifices. And so like­wise in his notes on the 10. of the Ae­neads, he says Aeneas was likewise sa­crorum Rex, or Pontifex. And before him Priamus the Trojan King offers the Sacrifice which is described by Homer. Iliad. 3. And so not only Iulus, Aeneas his Son, succeeded his Father in the Priest­hood, but the Priesthood continued for many Ages afterwards at Rome in the Gens Julia, which descended from him. [Page 23] Numa instituted those sacra called Regia, which were to be performed by the Kings only; ordaining likewise some subordi­nate Priests, who should supply their places, when they were engaged in the Wars. So Julius Caesar, in right of his Fa­mily, was High-Priest, and after him Au­gustus; and at last the Emperours were Pontifices Max. on course. So that you see the Priesthood, Philologus, is not such a modern Incroachment as you Deists would pretend.


Let the Invention be early or late it matters not much, for 'tis so very and useless one that Mankind would not be a farthing the worse for, if it was quite laide aside; for it cost us, I am sure, a great deal of Money, and no body, that I know, is the better for it. For People may live honestly, and say their Prayers as often as they think fit, without the help of Parsons: or if they must have Guides, such an honest old Author as Tully, or Seneca, or the good Advice of some sober wise Gentlemen, will conduct them in the Rules of Morality, without taking Tithes for it.


The World is very bad as it is,The Advan­tage of a Ministry. but I believe it would be ten times worse, if there was not an order of Men that did continually put People in mind of their [Page 24] duty; and though they be very negli­gent of Instruction, yet by hearing their Duty so continually inculcated something sticks at last, even in the worst Minds, and keeps them from being so profligately wicked as they would otherways be: 'Tis true indeed, 'tis possible some Men may live good lives without a Priesthood, or Clergy to instruct them; and so 'tis possible to blunder out a strange way in the dark; but all Men must allow 'tis more easily gone with an experienced Guide. But besides, I have one Argu­ment to prove the Usefullness, of a Priest­hood, or Ministery, that will reach you Gentlemen that allow no Revelation. All you Theists grant to pray to God is a Part of Natural Religion, and that in publick too upon special occasions, as to deprecate God's Vengeance in publick Calamities, and to thank him for pub­lick mercies, and the like. Now you would not have all the People at Church to be charming and gabling together e­very one his own Prayer, but for decency and Order sake one ought to speak for the rest, to whom if the Publick allow any thing for his pains, then you have what we call a Priesthood or Clergy. So that even upon the pure Principles of Deism, this Order is requisite; and you must de­stroy [Page 25] your own Hypothesis by making them useless and insignificant. A good and conscientious Clergy-man that makes it his business to incourage Piety and Ver­tue, will do more good than a hundred Tully's and Seneca's; and the World would be well hope up, if they had no other Guides in Morality, than some of those wise sober Gentlemen as you call them, many of which continue lewd as long as they can, and in their old Age turn Moral-mongers when they can be vitious no longer. But to go on.

2. Neither is your other supposition true, that there was ever any Age or Na­tion in the World,Pure Na­tural Reli­gion no where pra­ctised. when or where such a pure Natural Religion as you imagine, without any manner of Rituous wor­ship, was ever practised. I know not what secret Histories your Gentlemen may have of the Golden Age, but as for us dull Believers, we cann't see one word in all the ancient Books we meet withal, that gives us the least hint of such a naked natural Religion as you speak of. If we have recourse to the Poets, to whom we are beholden for all that is known of these Golden Ages, when these brave men lived; they make Religion as Ritual as it is now; and altogether as full of Sacrifices and Revelations. Nay, [Page 26] the account we have of the Goddess Astraea, which is a principal part of the Poetical History of the Golden Age, is that she was a Numen sent from Heaven to converse with Men on Earth, to in­spire them with Justice and Sobriety, and to teach them Vertue and a good Life.

[...]. Arat. Phoen.
Although she did immortal glories share,
She freely did converse with mortals here:
She taught them Vertue as she walkt the streets,
She taught them Counsel in their close debates:
From her their Oracle they did derive,
Laws and the Vertues of a Social Life.

Which Fable by the way is but an an­cient Tradition of the frequency of God's conversing with holy Men, in the first Ages of the World. Neither did those Golden Ages want their Sacrifices more than their Revelations. Nay, if we will believe the Poet Hesiod, he tells us the Golden Age was particularly remarkable for their Sacrificing to the Gods; and that Jupiter was angry with those of the Silver Age, and took that race of Men out of the World for neglecting it.

[Page 27]
[...].— Hesiod. Op. & Dies.

Neither do we see any of the Ancient Poetical Heroes, your Hercules's, and Pollux's, your brave natural Religion-Men, but they are as much in at Sacrifices as other People. As we see by the Ex­amples of Priam, Ʋlysses, and Achilles, and Aeneas in Homer and Virgil, of Cadmus in Ovid, of Perseus, Theseus, and all the Argonauts in Apollonius and other Poets.

And as there was never any Age of the World in which this superfine natural Religion was universally practised, so neither was there, nor is there, any Part or Nation of it, where it can be found. All the anciently known World, from India to Britain, from Africa to Scythia, was all full of Rites and Ceremonies. To begin with our old Britains at home, they were so far from professing such a pure natural Religion as you contend for, that they were full of Idolatry and cruel as well as silly Ceremony. Their rites were almost wholly Magical, and they were so much wedded to that Art, as Pliny says, Hist. Lib. 30. Cap. 1. ut de­disse [Page 28] Persis videri possint, that they seemed to set a Copy to the Persians in it. They adored a multitude of Idols, portenta Diabolica pene numero Aegyptiaca vincentia, as Gildas calls them,Gildas de Excid. Brit. a Company of Devi­lish Monsters almost exceeding the number of those in Aegypt; for besides the Saxons Idols of Tuisco, Thor, Woden, Seater, &c. they had the Celtick Teutates and Hesus; and likewise Belenus, or Bellatucadrus, as appears by an ancient Inscription lately found in Westmorland, dedicated Sancto Deo Bellatucadro; as also another old God mentioned by Sedulius, Sedul. in op. Pascal. (who was a Scotch-Britain) called Geada, or Geta. And when we further consider the fond Ceremonies used by their Priests the Druids, in gatheringPlin. Lib. 30. Cap. 1. Plin. Lib. 16. Cap. 43. Oak-branches and seeking Misletoe for their Sacrifices, their cruelty in humane Sacrifices, their killing the VictimVid. Strab. Lib. 4. upon the Altar with Arrows, or binding him round with straw, and so burning him a live, with other barbar­ous and devilish Ceremonies; I say, when we consider all this we may very well exclude the Britains from the purity of natural Religion. And if we proceed to our old Neighbours the Gauls, we shall find them as deep in Ritual worship as the Britains: they had the same fop­pery of the Druids with them, which [Page 29] Caesar Caes. Bell. Gall. Lib. 6. says they borrowed from the Bri­tains, and those who would be exact in that Discipline travelled thither. They had the same humane Sacrifices, and well nigh the same Gods, as Lucan informs us, Lib. 1.

Et quibus immitis placator sanguine diro
Teutates, horrens (que) feris altaribus Hesus;
Et Taranis Scythicae non mitior ara Dianae.

The Spaniards, as Macrobius tells us,Macrob. Sat. Cap. 19. worshipped Simulachrum Martis radiis ornatum cum maximâ religione, Neton vo­cantes. They adored an Image of Mars adorned with Rays with very great vene­ration, calling him Netos. They had a Temple with the rites ofStrab. Lib. 4. Apollo Del­phinius; and Varro, as Pliny Plin. Lib. 3. Cap. 1. relates, derives Lusitania from Lusus the Compa­nion of Bacchus, whose rites were cele­brated there. If we look upon the anci­ent face of Germany there is as little of pure natural Religion to be found as any where else, but all is full of Idolatrous Ceremony.Bell. Gall. Lib. 6. And Caesar says they Sacri­ficed to the Sun, Vulcan, or the fire, and the Moon; which were the only Gods they saw, but as for others, ne famâ quidem acceperunt, they never so much as heard [Page 30] of. But Tacitus Ann. Lib. 4. andDe rebus Geticis. Jornandes make likewise Mars their principal God. Tacitus mentions their singing Hymns to Hercules when they went to War, De mo­ribus Germ. and Paulus Diaconus speaks of their Woden whom he interprets Mercury. To say nothing of the rites of Tuisco, Friga, &c. which the Saxons afterwards transplanted into Britain. If we look Southward into Africa, we shall find them there busy with the rites and Ora­cles of Jupiter Hammon, and with the worship of an abundance of their dead KingsTertull. Apol. Cap. 24. Lactant. Lib. 1. Cap. 15.; and if we look Northward in­to Scythia and Sarmatia, we shall find the Scythians bloody with the humane Sacri­fices to their Diana Taurica, or Scythica, so renowned of old; and the Sarmatians worshipping in strange rites one Deity called Pogwisd, another Jessa, a third called Lacton; and Nia, Marzana, and Zievonia, Goddesses; besides two fa­mous Deities named Zelus and Poletus, which were jointly worshipped like the Dioscuri. I need not make any remarks upon the Ceremonious worships of the Aegyptians, Greeks, and Romans; for among them I am sure natural Religion was buried under Loads of Ceremonies: There we shall hear of nothing but Tem­ples, and Priests, and Altars; Expiations, [Page 31] Lustrations, Pomps and Processions; Images, Hieroglyphicks, Auguries, Plays, and a thousand other Rites, which learn­ed Men have wrote large Volumes to explain. And if we go further East­ward into Persia, and Syria; we shall see the former employed about strange Ceremonies in the worship of the Sun, keeping in the sacred Fires Sacrificing Horses to Mithras, with many other rites which the Magi had invented; and shall find the Syrians running after a Troop of different Gods with a different Wor­ships, Moloch, Ashtaroth, Baal, Dagon, Beelzebub, Nisroch, Rimmon, Nebo, &c. Vid. Selden de Diis Syris.

And if you please to look upon the Books of Travels into the East and West Indies, you will find altogether as much Ceremony in the Heathens worship there: So that I beseech you, Philologus, to shew in what part of the World this natural Religion of yours lay sculking, in this universal Reign of Rites and Cere­monies. And if you cannot, I must con­clude, that this story of the ancient Uni­versality of pure natural Religion is all Philosophical Romance, and never had any being, but in the brains of the Gen­tlemen of your persuasion, and those of some System-Makers, and Preachers of [Page 32] late, drawn from the scatter'd sayings and Books of Philosophers, which some have fansied into a compleat System of Religi­on which alone was owned and practised for some Ages in the World. But I think it is clear from the foregoing obser­vations, that your notion of such a sim­ple natural Religion was never practised in the World as far as prophane History goes; and as for those that allow the sacred, the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel, will evince Ritual Worship to be as old as Mankind it self. Which will be yet clearer when it appears,

What is called Na­tural Reli­gion was at first Re­vealed.3. That the Common Rules of Mora­lity, or a Good Life, which we gene­rally call natural Religion, were at first revealed by God. This may seem a little strange to those who are prepo­sessed by other Opinions; but it seems ra­ther more strange to consider that those moral notions should come into the Soul by the usual ways they are generally sup­posed. It was formerly the current Opi­nion of the Schools that these moral no­tices were Idea's connate with the Soul, and in a certain manner inscribed upon it. But it is very odd to think, how such propositions as these, Parents are to be honoured, Friends are to be assisted, The Marriage-Bed to be undefiled, Whoredom and [Page 33] Drunkenness avoided; 'tis odd to think, I say, how that these propositions which are the complication of so many distinct and simple Idea's which we are sure are gene­rally attained by experience and reason, should yet be asserted to come into the mind by such an unaccountable way as this of Inscription. But saying no more is meant by this Inscription, than a kind of natural and universal Inspiration of the Soul, or Imbution of it with these moral Principles; this is altogether unagree­able to the Souls of Children, Ideots, and some very barbarous People, who we are certain do want most of these moral notions. So that of late this Opi­nion of Innate Ideas has been generally exploded by learned men and ano­ther taken up, it may be subject to as many difficulties, which attributes the origin of these moral notions to the de­ductions of right reason, asserting that the generality of Men having the use of reason, and few of them being so brutish but in their life Time they apply their minds to the consideration of these moral Duties, and so by the agreeableness of them to the Social Life of Mankind, do easily infer the obligation of them. And so the Law natural is by this explication nothing else, but a Scheme of Vertues and [Page 34] Vices which every Man, by his own rea­son and Experience, has found out to be such from their agreeableness and disa­greeableness to Society, and to the ends Man is designed for. Thus I am supposed to come to know, that to rob my Neigh­bour is unlawful, because this is contrary to thoseVid. Hobb's Le­viathan. Pacts of fidelity we have en­tered into together, or because this is in­consistent with that mutualParker's Law of nature. Love and kindness we ought to bear to our Fellow Creatures; or because this vio­lates the natural right which accrues to another by occupation,Puffen­dorff de Jur. Nat. & Gentium. and which can­not be alienated but by Gift, or Sale, or De­reliction. Now there is many a poor honest Indian who knows it is his duty not to steal, as well as e'er a Hobb's, or Puffendorff of them all; and yet he never in his Life so much as dreamt of Pacts, or Fides Data, or Occupation. Suppose I bargain with an honest Virginian for a Pipe of Tobacco, and a Bottle of Sack, to watch my Tent, whilst I sleep, from Wild Beasts, or Banditti's; now when he might cut my Throat, and run away with all that I have, what is the reason that the poor Fellow stays walking a­bout as trustfully with his Bow and Ar­row, as if he were set Centinal by a Cap­tain that would hang him for running a­way? [Page 35] Why, say most of our natural Religion-Men, by frequent exercise of his reason and thinking, he has come to the knowledge of the horridness of the Sin of Murder, and the Baseness of Un­faithfulness. But then who can ever think that this poor ignorant wretch should ever have given himself to such grave and Philosophick Disquisitions; that he should ever have considered that to kill a rational Creature was to deface the Image of the All-wise Deity, to usurp a barbarous power over one naturally e­qual with himself, and to take away that Life which mutual Friendship obliged to protect; that to violate a given Faith was a baseness beneath the dignity of a Rational Man, and which if univer­sally practised would destroy all Society out of the World. No certainly, the poor Indian never troubled his Head with these matters; his thoughts in his youn­ger days run all upon Hunting, and Swimming, and loving, and afterwards to get good store of Progg for his Wives and Children; but he never thought a word of these Rationale's of Morality which were invented by men of a learn­ed Education and busy Thoughts. How came then this poor fellow to the know­ledge of these moral Duties? Why truly [Page 36] I can conceive no other way than by Tra­dition; his Father taught them him, and his Grand-Father his Father, and so up to Adam, the common Parent of us all; who had them first from God-Almighty as the universal Laws that all his Poste­rity should be governed by. Nor is it any objection against this Opinion, that Tra­dition does not seem to some so proper a means to convey Morality by to Man­kind because of its liableness to Corrup­tion, and that it would have been more sensibly vitiated than we find it is, had it descended by this Method: For tho' Relations of matters of Fact, Ancient Customs, and difficult Articles of Faith, may suffer much by being conveyed this way, because the Understandings of Men cannot be supposed to have a clear under­standing of these things upon the first proposal, and so may be liable to mistake them, which must occasion very great alterations in such a number of Delive­ries; but these plain Rules of Morality, such as Worship God, Honour thy Parents, thou shalt do no Murder, thou shalt not steal, &c. are so natural to the understanding, so easy to be embraced by it, and ap­pear upon proposal to be so extreamly useful to Mankind, that they must be assented to and can never be mistaken or [Page 37] forgot. The same is the case of these Moral Rules, as of very early and useful Inventions, such as Spinning, Weaving, Arching, &c. which are conveyed to all the World, not by being written in Books, or in Mans Hearts, but by the handing down from one to another for several thousand years together. Now unless it was the general Opinion of Man­kind, that this was the ordinary way of conveying the Rules of Morality to their Posterity, to what purpose should they take so much pains in instructing their Children as we find men have done in all Ages, and in all Countries. But if Morality were inscribed on Mens Hearts, and so were all one as if it were im­planted in their nature; Parents might with as much Wisdom pretend to teach their Children to eat and drink, to love their Children, and desire a propagation of their Species, which they cannot but do; or if these moral Duties were the necessary and unavoidable, deductions of Reason, it would be as simple to go a­bout to learn them the rules of Vertue as to teach them that one and one make two. And it is further particularly re­markable, and which may serve as a good proof of what has been said, we find the Parents are commanded by God, [Page 38] Deut. 6.6. to teach their Children these Moral Duties. For after the recital of the Ten Commandments. (viz. the Moral Law) He adds, And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy Children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy House, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And 'tis yet further re­markable, that what Moses here says, shall be in the Jews hearts, the Apostle says, Rom. 2.15. was written in the Gentiles Hearts; So that unless there can be a substantial Difference evinced be­tween being in the heart and being written there, all the Doctrine of inscribed Pro­positions falls to the ground. And I am sure there is no reason why God should write Moral Laws in the gross and lite­ral sense in the Gentiles Hearts, and put them into the Jews by the ordinary way of teaching and instruction.

Riddles not the Corrup­tion of Na­tural Reli­gion.4. But in the fourth place, Philologus, you are something mistaken in asserting that it was the ancient Riddles, when Men affected to deliver sacred Truths in the Aenigmatical way that first debauched natural Religion, by introducing all the fabulosity of the Heathen Polytheism. This is a position which is asserted very [Page 39] confidently by some, who I believe are better Friends to Religion than you, but I think without just ground; for what ever I could see.


I beseech you, Sir, don't go to run down the grounds we build our assertion upon, without understanding what they are. For there is a great deal of reason to believe, that the Aenigmati­cal way of explaining the nature and pro­vidence of the Deity, gave occasion to the Heathen Polytheism, and serves very much to apologize for it. For I look up­on the Heathen [...], or Jupiter, with the learned AncientsCic. de Nat. Deo­rum. Lib. 3. Plat. in Timaeo. Sallust. de Diis & Mund. Cap. 6., to be but the Ae­ther, or that fluid agitated part of the Uni­verse which permeates the pores of all Bodies, and is the cause of all motion, gene­ration, fermentation, &c. and therefore is well called Jupiter, quasi juvans pater. The Goddess Juno Cic. ib. Plato in Cratyl., or [...] (i. e.) quasi [...], is the Air, which warm'd, or agi­tated by the aether, is a principal cause of the procreation of Animals and Vegeta­bles, and was for that reason worshipped as the Goddess of Child-births.Cic. ib. Natal. Com. Myth. Lib. 2. Cap. 2. Aug. Civ. Dei, Lib. 7. Cap. 19. Satur­nus quasi Satur annis, or [...], is said to be the Father of Jupiter, because before the World was Time was. He is said to de­throne his Father because the Creation of the World put a Period to that long un­measured [Page 40] Duration. Ceres quasi Geres à ge­rendo, the Goddess of Corn, or [...] qu. [...], or Mother Earth, is only the Ground, as Neptunus, the Sea, or the same Deity exercising his providence in all; or to use St. Austin's words, who ex­presses the meaning of the Ancients well, thus;Civ. Dei. Lib. 4. Cap. 11. Vid. De. hac re Var. De Ling. Lat. Lib. 4. Ipse in aethere est Jupiter, ipse in aere Juno, in mari Neptunus, in inferioribus etiam maris ipse Salacia, in terrâ Pluto, in terrâ inferiore Proserpina, in foris domesticis Vesta, in fabrorum fornace Vulcanus, in syderibus Sol, Luna, & Stella: in divi­nantibus Apollo, in merce Mercurius, in Jano initiator, in termino Terminator, Saturnus in Tempore, Mars & Bellona in Bellis, Liber in vineis, Ceres in frumentis, Diana in sylvis, Minerva in ingeniis, &c. So that all the ancient Theology and Theogony is only an account of the divine Attributes and Providence in an aenigmatical and mythological manner; and was only ow­ing to the mean capacities of the Vulgar, that they blundered into Polytheism by it: just as when the Scripture mentions Wisdom and Religion in the notion of a Person, her ways are ways of pleasantness, &c. an ignorant Christian should take her for a Goddess, and as when St. Paul Preached [...] Jesus and the Resurrecti­on, the Greeks took him for a setter forth [Page 41] of strange Gods, Act. 17.18. an Introdu­cer of a new God and Goddess, which the Athenians in all their Theogony had never heard of. So that at last there was but the same Deity under Varro's three thousand Names, and the same supreme Jupiter was not more distinct under all these, than when he was called [...], or Jupiter Capitolinus, or Sta­tor. And this I think is a fair account of the Rise of the Heathen Polytheism, and the many superstitious Rites which crept into natural Religion upon it.


I confess, Philologus, Heathen Polytheism not the di­verse Ex­hibitions of Provi­dence. you are not mistaken that many of the Ancient Philosophers have given this account of the rise of the Heathen Idolatry which you do, but then I very much question the Truth of their Assertion and the Va­lidity of their Arguments, and I think there are other and better Reasons to be given of the Origin of it. Nor is the Opi­nion of the Philosophers much to be reli­ed upon; for they lived long after Poly­theism was introduced, and knew as little of its Origin as we do; and besides, they had an Interest to serve, which was to represent the folly of the Heathen Poly­theism as favourably as they could to Men of Sense; they were (if I may so say) the Condoms of Paganism, to qualify it, the [Page 42] better to go down with men of Thought and Enquiry. Neither is there any thing in it, for ought I see, but a little Wit and Fancy, of which Plato, who (I think) was the Author of it, had enough. For Socrates having suffered for an Unitarian, and deriding the Gentile Multitude of Gods, Plato had a mind to Trim the matter, by this kind of Reconciliation, which you have mentioned in his Dia­logues Timaeus and Cratylus. And what I pray are all these fine derivations of the names of these Deities (which are the principal part of the Argument) but mere sportive rovings of Fancy, and as splenetick as making Men and Chariots in the Clouds? I would undertake as easily to make these Principal Deities to be the four Quarters of the Year, as you have made them the chief parts of the World; and I think with as much veri­similitude. Let Juno be the Spring, and the Greek [...] is nigher [...] the Spring than [...] the Air. Let [...] be the fervid hot Summer. Pluto the rich Autumn, and Neptune (or if you will Saturn) the cold watery Winter. Now if this had come from an old beard, and a Pallium, and had had but the prescription of two thou­sand Years, it would have been lookt upon perhaps by many of your Gentle­men [Page 43] as a rare comment upon the Hea­then Theology. But after all, these fa­bulous stories of the Gods are uncapable of allegorizing, or having any tolerable mystical sense put upon them. For what other sense besides the literal meaning can be put upon the Rapes and Whoredoms of Jupiter, and the other Gods? What mystical meaning can be put upon Jupi­ter's rape of Europa, in the shape of a Bull, or Danae, in a golden Shower? Indeed so far the story may be unriddled, that Jupiter who committed this wickedness was a Grecian Prince named Taurus, asPalaeph. de Incred. de Eu­ropâ. Palaephetus contends, or in a Ship called the Bull as others: that the golden shower by which he corrupted Danae was by giving her money, or by bribing her Keepers. But after all the story is a lewd story still, and which cannot without horrour be heard to be attributed to the supreme God of Heaven and Earth. And what good sense can be put upon those yet lewder Amours of Jupiter and his Boy Ganymedi, Apollo and Hyacinthus, Hercules and Hylas? Indeed Plato in his Dialogue de Pulchro, seems as if he had a mind to interpret this infamous familiarity of Ju­piter with Ganymede into his Platonick Love, but in my mind that very Dialo­gue lacks Apology its self, for a Man [Page 44] finds there so much of the [...] and the [...] the Amator and Amasius, with such odd allusions to that execrable Vice, that one had need of very vertuous thoughts and a very charitable mind to allegorize all the strange Metaphors of that discourse into a chast meaning. A Man would be hardly put to it, to mora­lize and unriddle all the Poetical Banter about Jupiter, and Mars, and Venus, and Bacchus, &c. and at the same time take them for Gods, or only particular Ener­gies of the Divine Providence. For what can one make besides some fanciful Re­marks, of Saturn's devouring his Chil­dren; of Jupiter's castrating his Father; of Rhea the old Beldam Goddess, her be­ing in Love with Atys, a Young Boy; of the Adultery of Mars and Venus; of the Titan's Wars and Vulcan's Celestial Forge? Now who can ever imagine that all this horrid, lewd, and simple stuff, was ever design'd for practical Divinity, and to teach Morality to Mankind by represent­ing their Gods so mean, so foolish, and so debauched? It remains therefore, that some other account, must be given of the Heathen Mythology, than that of ancient Riddles, and Theology and Morality's being delivered under those Umbrages.

[Page 45]Therefore I suppose that the Heathen Idolatry and Mythological Divinity was owing to the illiterate darkness of some Ages which succeeded after the Flood.Caused by the dark­ness of the Postdiluvi­an Ages. In Cen­sorin. de Die Nat. Cap. 21. Varro does very well divide Time (at least as far as 'twas known to the Heathens) into the [...], or that obscure Time which was from the beginning of things to the first Cataclysm (i. e.) Ogyges his Flood; the second was the [...] reach­ing from the first Cataclysm to the first Olympiad, called Fabulous, because all the Poetical History was transacted in it; and ever since has been the [...], or Time of History, when a true account of mat­ters of Fact have been given us. Now the reason why there was no certain ac­count of these two former Stages of time was the want of the Invention of Wri­ting, or at least the general use of it. So that all the Accounts of former times could only be deduced and carried down by Tra­dition; and what sad work this would make in History and Theology every one knows. The People of the several Nati­ons had some general Notions of the Dei­ty, they had heard of Gods freely conver­sing with the Patriarchs after the Flood, of the Ministery of Angels, &c. and this they jumbled together with the stories of their Kings, like a piece of Turkish [Page 46] Chronology. Their Kings, according to the usual flattery of those Ages, were made Gods, and then the common peo­ple who never stood upon the Decency of the Character, ascribed to them all the actions and infirmities which belonging to their Manhood, after they were Gods. When they told a story of former Times in a barbarous Age it was hardly worth hearing, unless there was something strange and prodigious in it, and it was safe making it as wonderful as one plea­sed, because there was no standing Histo­ries to contradict. From hence no doubt it must come to pass that all our Monkish stories and Romances much be out done as the barbarity of those first Times was the greater, so that all the stories of Jupi­ter, and the Centimani, and Pelion and Ossa, Bacchus and Theseus, Andromede and Medea, &c. were but the first Edition of Giants, Enchanted Castles, Knight Er­rants and Kings Daughters. Therefore it grieves me to see learned Men (Christi­ans especially) abusing their Time and Letters, to fish out Philosophical reason for all these Lying Fooleries.

By dei­fying of Princes.2. It was in great measure owing to the deifying of Princes. For most of those Gods which were worshipped by the old Heathen were Kings formerly of [Page 47] the Country where they were adored. It is agreed by all, that the great Assyrian Belus was either Nimrod, or some other great Prince of that Country: And Dio­dorus Siculus relates the same of the Ae­gyptian Horus, and Osyris. Hist. Sta­bul. Lib. 1. The Greek [...], or Jupiter was King of Crete, at least he that was commonly worshipped; as Tully himself is forced to own, though he be so great an Advocate for the Natural Deities. Saturnus, Janus, Faunus, Fatua, Do Nat. Deor. Lib. 3. Romulus, and all the Dii indigites, are generally owned to be Princes of Italy, and the Latin Jupiter might probably be Aeneas, who was called Jupiter Indiges. Neither doth he receive his name à juvan­do, as being so principal a part of the Universe, as Varro, and Tully pretend; but is only the Greek [...] with the usual addition of Pater, as Marspiter, Deispi­ter, in being usual to change the Greek ζ when put in Latin into J or G, which has the like sound, as [...] Gingiber. And as for Juno, I look upon her to be but the old Jana, and Saturn to be the True name of that old King, which is preserved still in the Teutonick, Seater. So was the famous Hammon of Africa, Cham the first Prince, or Foun­der of that Country, Bacchus a great Conquerour in the East, and the celebrated [Page 48] Rhea, or Cybele, an adopted Daughter of Minoes, an ancient King of Phrygia, and Ceres, or Isis, a Queen of Aegypt. There is no doubt but these Deities were first taken in as ascititious and Tutelar Gods of the place, and worshipped together with the supreme God, but in time, like Saint-worship among the Papists, they justled out God-Almighty through pre­tence of their particular inspection, and brought his worship to little or nothing. And besides people stood upon punctilio's of Honour to have their particular God the greatest God; so that there was not any little hedge God of a puny province but by his Votaries was equalled to the Gods of the King of Assyria. Hence Zeal, for their Deities, and a fanciful Bigottry, sounded abroad a number of their Miracles and Excellencies, which coming to the Ears of Foreign Countries they in time of extremity, when they were willing to try all Experiments, adopted them their Gods too; as theLiv. Hist. Lib. 39. c. 10. Mater Idaea was brought to Rome when Hannibal with his Army was ravaging Italy, andId. Lib. 10. Aescusapius was Canonized there in that raging Pestilence which happened, An. Ʋ. C. 460. So that in time this translating of Deities from one Country to another did very much [Page 49] conduce to the encrease of the Heathen Polytheism and Fabulous stories of their Gods.

3. Another great cause of it was the early and almost universal worship of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. It is certain,By the Wor­ship of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. that the Idolatry of the Sun and Moon is very ancient, by the Book of Job, which probably is the oldest writing extant; for Job there maintaining his Integrity, dis­owns his ever having worshipped the Sun or Moon. If I beheld the Sun when it shined, or the Moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth has kissed my hand; this were al­so an iniquity to be punished by the Judge, for I should have denied the God that is a­bove, Job 31.26, &c. And Macrobius spends seven whole Chapters in his first Book of Saturnalia to prove, that Apollo, Mars, Mercury, Aesculapius, Salus, Her­cules, Isis, Serapis, Adonis, Attys, Osyris, Horus, Nemesis, Pan, and even Saturn and Jupiter, were nothing else but the Sun. And if one considers the gloriousness of that Planet, and its extraordinary benefi­cialness to the Earth, one can hardly im­agine, but that the first Idolaters paid their worship to it. 'Tis plain by Hi­story, that the Persian Mithras was but another name for the Sun. And Learned [Page 50] Men have proved, that the Moabitish Baal-Peor, the Syrian Moloch, the Ara­bian Ʋrotalt, the Aethiopian Assabinus, and other Deities were nothing else but the Sun. V. Vossium de Orig. Idol. Spenc. de Leg. Heb. Selden, de Diis Syris. That Hecate and Diana were but other names, for the Moon, is known to every one; and, Orpheus in his Hymns makes her Proserpi­na too.

Spinster of Time, of bright and beauteous Form,
O shining, horned Goddess.

The same was in probability the Ae­gyptian Isis, the Assyrian Astarte, or As­taroth, the Arabian Alilat, and the Greek Ilithya. The other Planets gave names to some Gods, as to Mars, Mercury, Venus, or Dione, as the fanciful Forms of the Constellations might do to others, as to Hercules and Orion; and when all these different names, which were given the same Luminaries in so many several Countries, came to be carried to Greece, and Rome, who understood nothing of these barbarous Languages, they presently took them for new Deities, [...], outlandish Gods, which they had never [Page 51] worshipped before; so that this alone must in time swell their List of Deities to a considerable length.

4. Another cause of their Polytheism and Fabulous Divinity was their making Gods and Goddesses of words,By deifying words. a sort of Grammatical Deities that were made Gods when of the Masculine, and God­desses when of the Feminine Gender. Thus Somnus, and Dolor, and Pavor, were He Gods; and Pecunia, Prudentia, and Concordia, were She ones, with a World more of the like. Now when the Hea­then had gotten this way of stocking Heaven, 'tis a mercy they had not left us the whole Dictionary full of Gods. And just at the same rate the Nurses and good Women were the Authors of a multitude of Deities. It was they that invented the Office of Lucina to give an easy labour, of Opis to receive the Child;Vid. Var. [...]ing. Lat. Lib. 4. August. Civ. Dei, Lib. 4. Cap. 11. of the God Va­ticanus, that opened the mouth of the Child to cry; of Levana, that took the Child up when 'twas down; of Cunina which guarded the Cradle, of the Car­mentes which read the destiny of it, of Rumina which made it Suck, Educe, and Potina, which made it eat and drink; of Menas, Fortuna Barbata, Juguntinus, &c. Now I fancy, Philologus, I should make you break your brains, should I set you to [Page 52] give a philosophical Account of all these Deities, which an old Woman could Coin twenty of them in a Breath.


I thank you, Sir, for your kind offer, but I don't care to be set to such sort of work as the Conjurers do the De­vils they raise, to pick Oatmeal and tell Sand. But although some silly People might make odd sort of work with na­tural Religion heretofore; yet as it was taught and practised by the wisest of the Heathen, it was a noble Religion, full of wise thought and rational deduction; the dictates whereof were not proved by Chapter and Verse, but by solid and cu­rious reasoning. And this your Divines are aware of well enough, when they are forced now and then to bring in a shred, or two of the ancient Learning, to add a poignancy to their dull Discourses of Mo­rality, to keep the folk from sleeping; and I observe generally an Auditory of a sudden to look brisk upon Plato and Tully, when they have been nodding over Paul and Peter. And truly there is good reason for it, for their Books and sayings afford us such admirable Lectures of Mo­rality, in them we may see the duty of Mankind set out so fully and exactly, and in such charming strains of Eloquence, that all your inspired Authors, as you call [Page 53] them, look very poor things to them. Now who can blame me for standing up for Natural Religion, when you see it could raise these Philosophical Minds to such a noble height, as Revelation can never pretend to? I cannot read a piece of Seneca, or Plutarch, or any of those excellent Philosophers, but methinks, my Soul is warm'd with the braveness of the thoughts, and I am at the same time con­vinced of, and in Love with my Duty. And I doubt not but had I liv'd in those times to have made the observation, I might have perceived that the Lectures and Examples of these admirable Men had considerable influence upon the Lives of the common People; at least, I am sure, there was force enough in their Doctrine to make them compleatly good. Sit anima mea cum animis Philosophorum; and in another state, let me but consort with the Plato's and Zeno's, and I shall never envy your Armies of Saints and Mar­tyrs.


I will be kinder to you than you are to your self, and will put up my Prayers to God, that you may have a place in the Resurrection of the just, and may be of the number of God's Elect, and then I am sure you are safe. It shall not be my business to predetermine the future [Page 54] State of those good Heathen that have lived up to the Light of their reason; I know they are to stand or fall by the judgment of a merciful God, and there­fore for my part I am always inclined to hope very well of them. But this I am sure of, that the Morality of the Hea­then Philosophers was so far from be­ing a compleat rule of Morals, that it was very erroneous, both as it repre­sented the Nature of God and the notion of Vertue; and that it was so far from having any influence upon the Lives of the Commonalty, that for the most part it had little or none upon their own. As for the good language and handsom thought, that was the Talent and pe­culiar Study of those Ages; but then a­gain, that which sullied all their per­formances, and spoil'd the best things they did, or said, was, that Pride and vain glory, which was common to all of them, and which all their words and actions were bottomed upon. For I will make it appear to you, Philologus,

Morality of the Philo­sophers grounded upon Pride. Lib. de Animâ.1. That Pride and vain glory was the Primum Mobile, the first spring of the Morality of the old Philosophers, and not a design of doing good. Now such a pi­tiful end, as this is, is enough to spoil the best action in the World. Tertullian, [Page 55] I remember, calls a Philosopher the Ani­mal of Glory, and if one considers the generality of their Writings and Practice, one shall find he had great reason for it. And Cicero is so ingenious as to own the charge though against himself. For he tells us sincerely,Cic. de Amicitia. Vult plane virtus ho­norem: nec est vertutis ulla alia merces. Vertue does plainly desire honour, neither has she any other reward. And if a Man scans the whole tenour of the Philosophers Lives, he can never think they had any other end. For what other account be­sides gaining glory and a name in the World, can be given of their hatching so many different Principles, both in Phy­siology and Morality, but only to be taken notice of for inventing something singular and remarkable? What was it but this vain ambition that put them up­on such affected habits which many of them are reported to have worn, upon such singular Diet and odd actions which the Writers of their Lives relate of them? If they had design'd to do as much good as they could by their Philosophy, they would have communicated it to all; but instead of this, they taught it only to a select number of Men that were their own Disciples, and this oftentimes un­der an engagement of secresy, or in a [Page 56] way of Cant which was unintelligible to all others. So that all these noble rules of Morality which would have made the World so happy, were confined to a few Gentlemen only, that could afford Time and Money to get such Philosophical Tutours; but for the rest of the World, for all the Philosophers, they must be content to live like Beasts still.

The ancient Philoso­phers mi­staken in the Nature of God.2. The Doctrine which was taught by the generality of the Heathen Philoso­phers was injurious to the nature and at­tributes of God. Now to conceive wrong notions of Gods nature will per­fectly Poison Mens Morality; for Men must needs suit their Actions so as to be agreeable and acceptable to the Deity they worship. So that if Men fancy God an Impure, Sensual or Careless Be­ing, there is no doubt but their Lives will be of the same Piece. Therefore the erroneous Opinions of the Heathen Phi­losophers concerning the Deity, were not pardonable Blunders, as many others in their Physiology were, but such mistakes as were of fatal consequence to the Ver­tuousness of their own and Followers Lives. And what a World of mistakes shall we find them subject to of this kind? Some of them were downright Atheists, [Page 57] and believed no God at all, asSext. Emp. Hy­pot. Lib. 3. C. 24. Diagorus, Melius, Theodorus, and Critias Atheniensis. The Spirituality of God was denied by Epicurus, Id. ib. who was an Anthropomor­phite, simply presuming that God was of the figure of a Man; and by Zenopha­nes, who made him [...], a great impassible Sphere or Globe of mat­ter. So Parmenides Eliates Clem. Alex. Pro­trept. would have the Deity to be Fire and Earth, and Hip­pasus Metapontinus, and Heraclitus the Fire only, [...]. Co­hort. ad Graecos. which Justin Martyr relates of Plato likewise. The Ʋnity of the DeitySee O­natus the Pythago­reans Ar­guments for Plura­lity of Gods Stob. Eccl. Phys. Lib. 1. was Universally denied by them all, and they owned either the Gods of the Country, or the Parts of the World to be such; and though it was charged a­gainst Socrates in his Tryal, that he dis­owned his Country Gods, and their wor­ship; yet at his Death he discovers him­self to be down-right Pagan, and orders his Executours to Sacrifice the CockPlat. Phaedo. he had vowed to Aesculapius. And as for Plutarch Plutar [...] one of the soberest of the Phi­losophers, he was the horridest Polytheist of them all; for he asserts two supreme Anti-Gods, one infinitely Good, and the other infinitely Wicked, which of all er­rours is the most monstrous and abomi­nably absurd. The Infinity of God was denied by all those that asserted an in­finite [Page 58] number of Worlds,Stob. Ecl. Phys. Cap. de Ort. & In­ter. as Anaxi­mander, Anaximenes, Archelaus, Diogenes, Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus; and by the Stoicks who generally made him the Anima Mundi. For two actual in­finites are impossible, and if the World be infinite, God is not. And as for the Anima Mundi, they made that only a subtil corporeal flame permeating the whole World, and so must be terminated at the bounds of it, and consequently finite. The Freedom of the Divine Will was destroyed by the Fatality of the Stoicks; and so was God's Omnipotence fetter'd by the stubborn Laws of their un­alterable Fate. As for God's Providence that was perfectly excluded the World by Epicurus, and not allow'd by Aristotle Id. Ec. Phys. Cap. 25. on this side the Celestial Spheres. Thus you have seen how these great Oracles of Reason, and brave Natural-Religion Men have been mistaken, even in the common Notions of the Deity; let us see now whether they are not,

Erroneous in their Moral Do­ctrines.3. Mistaken in their Opinions concerning Vertue and Vice. I should make a Day of it, should I recite all the silly and the wicked Opinions which occur in the Writings and Lives of the Philosophers; I shall only mention seme few of them, to put you in mind that these old Sages are [Page 59] not such excellent Masters in Morality as your Theistical Gentlemen would pre­tend, and that their Reason is no such in­fallible Guide in Natural-Religion as you would have it. And now what shall we think of the little puny Philosophers, when the great Plato † himself was an Advocate for the community of goods,Plat. Res­pub. Lib. 1. which would perfectly destroy all indu­stry and peace in a Common-wealth, and what is yet worse, when he contends for the common use of one anothers Wives? The Famous Zeno Lactant. Lib. 3. Cap. 22. the Founder of the Stoical Sect, with his Followers after him, made all Sins equal, and that it was as great a Sin to steal a Pin, as to kill ones Father; and Sextus Empiri­cus [...]; Hyp. Lib. 3. Cap. 24. quotes out of him a Pas­sage, wherein he would prove, that it is as lawful to lie with ones Mother, as to stroak her Arm; he likewise brings in the same Zeno with the Cele­brated Stoick Cleanthes and Chrysippus Id. ib., as making that execrable Crime of Masculine Venery a thing indifferent. And Di­ogenes Laertis Diog. Laert. Vit. Zen. in his Life lays it down as one of his principles, to be merciful to no one, and to pardon no body. And Theo­philus Antiochenus Ad Au­tol. Lib. 2. brings in him and [Page 60] Cleanthes as asserting that Sons and Daughters might as lawfully roast and eat their Parents Flesh as other food. He asserted that his [...], or Greatness of Soul, which was nothing else but a Stoical pride, was sufficient for happiness;Laert. in Vit. Zen. but his Scholars Panaetius and Possidonius seeing this liable to so many Absurdities, were forced afterward to allow health, wealth, and strength to make it up. Diogenes the CynickLaert. in Vit. Diog., as all his currish Sect denied that there was any shameful­ness in publick Commixtures, and assert­ed, that ParentsTheoph. Antioch. ad Autol. Lib. 2. might lawfully Sacri­fice their Children, and eat their Flesh. And Epicurus Id. ib. allows incestuous Copu­lation with Mother, or Daughter. Ari­stippus Laert. Vid. Ari­stippi. refused to maintain his own Chil­dren, saying they were no more to be regarded than the spittle, or the Lice which were produced by the Body. He made the positive brutish pleasure of the Body (not Epicurus his Indolence) to be the chief good of Man; and taught that a wise Man might commit Theft, or Adultery, or Sacriledge, [...], when he saw a convenient opportunity, and not otherwise: that these Crimes are not sinful in themselves, setting aside the Opinion of the simple Multitude which has made them so. And Laertius re­cords [Page 61] a sophistical Argument of his, which he used, to prove the lawfulness of Sodomy.Cle. Alex. Strom. Lib. 2. Democritus condemns the use of Marriage for the trouble of it, and Epicurus agrees with him in the same. And even Aristotle Arist. ad Nicom. Lib. IV. 2. and Tully Cic. de Invent. 2. & Ep. ad. An. are Ad­vocates for Hatred and Revenge, those two most Diabolical Dispositions which Mankind is subject to. Now this is enough upon this head to shew how mighty deficient your natural Religion is to teach Men their duty, and how in­firm a Rule of Morals human reason is, when these so great Masters of it could in these matters be so shamefully mista­ken.

4. Neither was the practice of the Hea­then Philosophers, as to Moral Duties, Their Lives vitious. bet­ter than their Principles. And truly with­out breach of Charity, I may conclude them all, except Socrates (whom I am wil­ling to have a good Opinion of) to be a parcel of Hypocritical designing Knaves, who talked a great deal of Vertue, when they had not the least pretence to it. St. Austin Aug. de Civ. Dei, Lib. 8. C. 12. remarks Plato to practise the Idolatry of his Country, though against his Conscience. His Spleen and Pride were noted by all his Contemporaries; which made Antisthenes Laert. in Vit. Antist., when he saw him once vomiting, say, I see his Gall [Page 62] come up, but where is his Pride? The same Philosopher seeing a prancing Horse with gaudy Trappings, said to Plato, Behold your Picture. He spent a good part of his time with Aristippus, as a Flatterer in Dionysius his Court. Diogenes the Cynick kept a dirty Whore called Phryne Tertul. in Apol., and lay with her openly in the streetsLaert. in ejus Vit.. The famous Speusippus was killed in an Adultery. Aristippus Tert. A­pol. Lactant. Lib. 3. Cap. 7. Laert. in Aristippo., be­sides a Houseful of Boys and Whores which he kept, was familiar, as he ac­knowledges himself, with the famous Strumpet Lais. The same Aristippus vil­lainously forsworeTertul. in Apol. the Money which was deposited in his hands. Crates, and the Philosophess Hipparchia Laert. in vita Hip­par., used to strole about the Country, and lie toge­ther publickly in the Eyes of the People. Xenophon was a notorious SodomiteDiog. Laert. in Vit. Xe­nop., and kept a Boy called Clinias, to whom in Laertius he thus expresses his scanda­lous Passion, I would be blind to all things else, so I might see Clinias; thanks to the day and the Sun that reveal to me Clinias his face: and his Adversary Mero Phar­salius there upbraids him not for the Vice it self, but for his [...], he making use of grown Men for his lewd purposes. Menippus Id. Vit. Menip. the Cynick was a sordid Usurer, and hang'd himself [Page 63] at last for a great loss. Menedemus Id Vit. Menedemi. ano­ther Cynick (as most of the Tribe) de­spised all industry and human Sciences, and one shewing him a delicate Sun-dial, said only, 'twas a fine Invention for a Man not to lose his Supper. The Philo­sopher Herillus Id. in ejus Vit. was in his youth a Pa­thick Boy. Cleanthes Lact. Lib. 3. Cap. 7., Chrysippus, and Zeno, made away with themselves; and so did Cato, whom Lactantius calls So­craticae vanitatis imitator; and Cleombro­tus, by reading Plato's Book of the Im­mortality of the Soul. In short the Phi­losophers in general were noted for their beastly corruption of the young Scholars they had the charge of; and this was one of the ArticlesLaert. in Vit. Socr., though perhaps groundless, which Anytus and Melitus objected against Socrates, and which he was condemned for. Now this imputa­tion was so notorious against the Philo­sophers, that Lucian makes sport with it throughout his Dialogues, and the So­cratici Cynaedi was grown to a Proverb to denote the worst of those infamous Wretches. Nay I remember somewhere that Plutarch does in some measure Apo­logize for this Vice of the Philosophers, because they make amends by the impro­ving their Minds for the corruption of their Bodies. These are the Fathers, Phi­lologus, [Page 64] of your infidel Church, whom you build your Religion upon; but for my part, let my Soul be with Christ and his Apostles, and all his holy Saints and Martyrs, which I am sure are in a better condition than these lewd unrege­nerate Wretches.

The Lives of the com­mon Pagans highly viti­ous.5. And as for the common and illite­rate People, one cannot expect that their Lives should be any thing vertuous, when their Philosophers, who pretended to teach them Vertue, were so mistaken in their Principles, and for the most part debauched in their practice. For they poor People, for the most part blindly followed the impulse of their Senses and Passions, and could propose no other end of their actions but the present grati­fication of their Affections and Inclinati­ons. For Everlasting Life and Eternal Glo­ry, which is the great spring of the Chri­stian Vertue and Holiness, was unknown to them; and was the great promise on­ly of our blessed Saviour, who hath brought Life and Immortality to light through the Go­spel. They had nothing among them like it, but some fanciful stories of Elysium, which too was generally lookt upon as a Poetical Dream, and believed by none so as to found any Religious action upon it. And therefore the Philosophers (who de­pended [Page 65] little or nothing upon the Re­wards of a future state,They and the Philo­sophers wanted a True End of their Actions. though they might sometime talk of it) devised a hun­dred sort of several Ends of human acti­ons, or notions, wherein they fansied happiness did consist, which all referred only to this World; which they would never have done, had they stedfastly be­lieved a happy state, or a Reward for Vertue in the next. Thus Epicurus would have Man's happiness to consist in an Indo­lence or Freedom from all pain, in not hungring, or thirsting, or being cold; and of this he was so confident, that he was wont impiously to say, [...], he would contend with Jupiter for the Truth of this Opinion. Dinomachus and Callipho made their end, the doing a­ny thing a man might reap pleasure by. Ari­stotle, and most of the Stoicks, made their End to live according to Vertue: so that Vertue according to them was its own Reward. Cleanthes his end consisted in living agreeable to nature, and [...] in understanding Logick, or Rea­soning well. Panaetius his end was, in gratifying the appetites of nature, and Passidonius his, in contemplating the Truth and Order of the Ʋniverse. Herillus his end was, to live according to Philosophy, of Knowledge. And those of the latter [Page 66] Academy would have it consist in a firmly abstaining from appearances or representati­ons of senses. Vid. Cic. de Fin. Diog. Laert. & Plutarch. in Vit. Phi­los. & Clem. Alex. Strom. Lib. 2. Anaxagoras his end was, Contemplation; Pythagoras his, the Know­ledge of the Perfection of the Vertues of the Soul: Democritus his, the Tranquillity of the mind, which he called the [...] or well-being: Hecataeus his, sufficiency: Nau­siphanes his, Admiration: Antisthenes his, a vacancy from Pride: and the Anicereans, who were a party of the Cyrenaick Sect, despised their Master Epicurus his end, and neither would have pleasure, nor any thing else, the end of human actions, but to do what one list. And as for the Immor­tality of the Soul, it was denyed and ridi­culed by all the followers of Democritus and Epicurus, it was doubted by the Aca­demicks, it was made only very vivaci­ous and surviving to the Conflagration by the Stoicks: and even the great So­crates the Founder of the Platonick Phi­losophy is brought in by Plato in his Phaedo, as only having good hopes of it, and of which he will not be very confident. Now who can expect that the common People among the Heathen should make any great progress in Vertue, when the most knowing among them had no principle to practise it upon? Indeed some of these whimsical ends of human actions might [Page 67] serve a Philosopher to banter upon, but none of the common People would ever govern their Lives by them. When they did not believe the Immortal Bliss of ano­ther World, they must with the Cyre­naick Philosophers propose all their hap­piness in the pleasures of this, which was the most sensible deduction, and which the Apostles does plainly confirm upon this supposition, what advantageth me if the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die, 1 Cor. 15.32. And if we consider the Lives and Actions of the an­cient Heathen, we shall find their worship of the Gods, and the vitiousness of their Lives wholly agreeable to this Hypo­thesis: and though the Lives of Chri­stians generally be not answerable to those admirable Laws of our Saviour they are blessed with; yet those Divine Precepts have had that influence upon the Christian World, as to make the ge­nerality of them live better, and not to be guilty of those notorious Errours and Vices the Heathen were.

And truly, Philologus, The Lives of Christi­ans better than the Pagans in many par­ticulars. it is to me a de­monstrative proof of the great necessity of our Christian Revelation, and the de­fect of Natural Religion, that since the Preaching of the Gospel a great part of the World has been freed from many [Page 68] Epidemical Vices and Errours, which they were over-run with before. I shall not now trouble you with shewing what an Influence the Christian Doctrine had over the Philosophy of the Gentiles after its propagation; for it is easy for any one to observe, that Epictetus and Antoninus, Plutarch and Hierocles, Maximus Tyrius, and Arrian, had quite another cast in their Morality from the old Philosophers, and their thoughts appear every where more elevated and Divine after they had mended their Philosophy by Christian Principle. I shall only transiently touch upon some of those many wickednesses and mistakes which Christianity has dis­pelled, and with which the Heathen World was heretofore, and is still (where it continues so) infected with.

Idolatry.All Men of your perswasion allow that Idolatry and Image-worship are very great Errours and very injurious to the Divine Nature; and this you know the Hea­then World was over-run with: but Christianity as far as it spreads has fairly delivered it from; unless where the Pa­pists have in some measure brought it back to the scandal of our common Chri­stianity.

Magick.The use of Magick was a Vice that the Heathen were almost universally addict­ed [Page 69] to, not only Persians and Gauls, and other barbarous Nations, but also the Greeks and Romans, and even the Philoso­phers themselves, as appears by the Ex­amples of Apollonius Thyanaeus, Apuleius, and Porphyry; but in Christian Nations it is rarely known, it is generally abomi­nated, and when detected, severely pu­nished.

The several sorts of Augury were either superstitious Delusions,Augury or else a commu­nication with Evil Spirits by odd signs of the Flying of Fowl, by the entrails of Beasts, or feeding of Chickens, which universally obtained among the old Pa­gans; and which by the Grace of God we Christians are not taxable with.

Human Sacrifices, Human Sa­crifices. and the most unna­tural sort of it, of their own Children, was a Devilish Custom which was com­mon to all the Heathen Nations, and was used not only among such barbarous Peo­ple as the Syrians and the Britains, but among the Greeks and Romans; forJustin. Mart. è Demarato in rebus Tragicis, & Dorotheo in rebus Ita­licis. Lewd Wor­ships. Ere­ctheus Atticus Sacrificed his own Daugh­ter to Persephone, and so did Marius his Daughter Diis Averuncanis; which exe­crable superstition the Christian World is freed from.

We have nothing in our worship like the Heathens lewd Worship in the Feasts of [Page 70] Flora, Priapus and Cybele, in which such abominable Lusts were acted as is a Shame to mention; and this our part of the World may thank Christianity for too.

I do not know whether a perfect and chast Matrimony was used in any part of the World but among the Christians. Hasty and humorsome Divorces were al­low'd both by Greeks and Romans, Ʋnlawful Marriages. and sometimes they superinduced, as they call it, a new Wife over the other. The Persians Sext. Emp. Hyp. Lib. 3. Cap. 24. married their Mothers, Aegyptians their Sisters; and Polygamy, was practised all over the East, and in most Parts of the World. But Christianity has established the most decent and peaceable kind of Ma­trimony; which is most agreeable to the ends of nature, better for the education and provision for Children, and for the mutual satisfaction of each other.

We are beholding to the Christian Religion for that humanity and good nature which obtains in the World since the Planting the Gospel, in respect of that diabolical Cruelty which reigned among the Heathen.Cruelty. Our Christians, though otherways but bad Men, could take no pleasure in seeing the poor Gladiatours forced to Butcher one another, as they did; they would abominate that so ma­ny [Page 71] Men should die for no purpose, as were exhibited by Trajan, one of the best of their Princes, who in three Quarters of a Year Murdered ten thousand Men this way. Our Flesh trembles at the thoughts of those horrid punishments they took delight in seeing inflicted upon the poor Christians; and we cannot, with­out horrour, now think of Mens being torn asunder by boughs of Trees, and Wild Horses, of being roasted with Salt and Vinegar, of being broil'd upon Grid-irons, and scalded in boiling Oil. The most cruel Tyrant that ever the Chri­stian World beheld, never, like the Ro­man Emperours, fidled and sung over the Flames of a burning City, made an entertainment of seeing Men tortured, and were delighted with the musick of dying Mens groans, as Nero and Caligula were.

We Christians do abhor Self-Murder,Self-Mur­der. and fix a publick Infamy on those that lay violent hands upon themselves; but among the Romans it was accounted a piece of Bravery, and countenanced by the Philosophers. Vid. Sen. de Ir. Lib. 3. Cap. 15. Plin. Nat. Hist. Lib. 2. Cap. 63.

Common swearing is forbid by our Religion,Common Swearing. and discountenanced by all [Page 72] good Men of our Faith, and the most wicked are not so impudent as to use it in their serious Discourse, or their Wri­tings; but among the Heathen it was used by the most sober Men, for [...], and Meherculè: to swear by Jupiter and Her­cules, is the usual Phrase of Socrates, Plato, and Cicero; to speak nothing of Epicurus, whose Books are noted to be filled with unhallowed Oaths.

Exposing Children.In all places where Christianity has footing, Men have a tenderness for their Children, and take care to educate them as well as they can, though to their own detriment; but among the ancient Hea­then it was a common thing to throw their Children, when born, into the next Ditch they met with, and leave who chance to find them to take care of them.

Ʋnjust Wars.Though the Arms of Christian Princes cannot always be excused, yet none of them have ever had the confidence, as the old Heathens had, barefacedly to Pro­claim War for Honour and Glory sake. No Prince among us ever went to Butcher so many Countries as Alexander did, on­ly to wear Garlands; or as the Romans did, to have the glory of a Triumph; who, as one observes, if they should have restored again what they had unjustly [Page 73] got, must have been reduced to their Romulean Cottages. And I am sure none of our Divines ever stated the case as Tully did, That Wars for Glory sake were not absolutely unlawful, but only mitius gerenda sunt, they are not to be carried on with such Cruelty as others.

The most prodigal among us are so­berly parsimonious,Luxurious Living. if compared with those mad excesses in the way of living among the Ancient Romans; if we con­sider what prodigious quantities of Mo­ney were expended in making Shows for the People, in Largitions, in building Baths, Amphitheaters, and the like; if we recollect, how some of them have made Suppers that cost the Revenue of Provinces, that pounded inestimable Jewels to drink their Mistresses and Lovers Healths; that Heliogabalus exhi­bited a Naval Fight in the Amphitheater, and made all the Ships Sail and contend in Wine, and that see made a Dish of the Brains only of six hundred Ostriches; that so inconsiderable Fellow as Aesop the Tragedian, who had got an Estate by Stage-playing, made a Dish of a hundred of the rarest Singing Birds which imita­ted Mans Voice, which cost six thou­sand Sesterces a piece; so that the whole Dish stood him in, of our English Money, [Page 74] four thousand seven hundred and forty eight found.

Enormous Lusts.We live indeed in a very vitious Age, in which Sensuality does highly abound among Christians: but if you consider the Lives of the Ancient Heathen, or even Mahometans and Idolaters now adays, our Vices are no ways comparable to their scandalous Turpitudes. The Greeks and Germans used Masculine Venery as one of the laudable Customs of their CountryCor. Ne­pos. Alcib. Sext. Emp. Hyp. Lib. 3. C. 24.; and in Aegypt the more com­mon a Whore was, the more honoura­ble, and for this reason was allowed to wear a [...], or a Garland of honour upon her head. In short, the Christian World has indisputably gained so much of Vertue by the means of the Gospel, that many of those abominable Lusts which were generally practised by the Hea­thens, as appears by their Authors, have never been heard of by the generality of the most lewd and debauched Chri­stians.

No devout Worship.And lastly I observe, that before Chri­stianity there was hardly any such thing as a conscientious and devout worship of God, or even of their own Deities. They never prayed to God for Vertues and Graces, but only for Riches, Ho­nours, or Children, or the like; Their [Page 75] Prayers were generally such as the Wo­mans in Juvenal.

Formam optat modico pueris, majore puellis
Murmure, cum Veneris fanum videt anxia Mater,
Ʋs (que) ad delicias votorum—Juv. Sat. 10.
The anxious Dame to Venus Temple hies,
And for fine Boys she moderately cries:
But for fair Girls her Voice is higher rais'd;
Eager, and with her bare Petition's pleas'd.

And all their Sacrifices, which we have an account of, were only design'd to bribe the Gods, to procure them a Victory, or some such Temporal Advan­tage, or else to return them thanks, for the same, Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano, was rather a Philosophical thought, than the practice either of the multitude or the Philosophers themselves; and it was never known that ever Men met together in Assemblies, or usually prayed to God in private, for any bles­sings of this Nature; but under a Re­vealed Institution.

So that upon the whole, Sir, you see, that Natural Religion, as it is the result of Reason only, is a Rule of Morals mi­serably defective. For how strangely at a loss must the poor common People be, to get a knowledge of a great part of their [Page 76] Duty, which the most sagacious and learned Philosophers blundered at? Or how shall we think that Natural Re­ligion is sufficient to regulate the lives of ignorant and barbarous People, which the World is for the most part made up of, when two such knowing Nations, as the Greeks and Romans, were so scandalously mistaken in it? Make the best of Na­tural Religion you can, it will be at least but a Candle to the Sun, in respect of the knowledge which our Christian Revela­tion affords; for under the Gospel our very Women and Children, and the or­dinariest of our Catechumens, are more knowing in Moral Duties, and more right in their notions of the nature and Attributes of God, than the Sages of old were after a Life spent in the Porch or the Garden; and tell me any Philosopher that has bravely defied Death; and we will with infinite Advantage on our side, confront him with whole Armies of Chri­stian Martyrs.


This is brave positive tearing stuff, for a Person to talk to a bigotted Auditory, where there is no fear of be­ing contradicted; but I can never be­lieve, that God should give such an im­perfect Law, which you would make of the Natural one, to the generally of [Page 77] Mankind, and put no body of all the vast swarms in the Gentile World in hopes of Salvation, but only some few Christians for their believing in Jesus Christ. God Almighty I am sure is a kind and merciful Father, and contrives the greatest good for all his Creatures, which they are capable of; and therefore whereas all the Gentile Nations have Im­mortal Souls, and are capable of Ever­lasting Felicity, it can never be supposed, but that in this World they are in the way to Salvation, and that the Law that is given them, which can be none but the Natural one, is sufficient to attain it by: So that if this be sufficient to carry them to Heaven, you may banter what you please about the imperfection of it. For my part I am for going thither the near­est way, and that is by Natural Religi­on: I am not for coasting about to take in Ceremonies and long Articles of Faith to no purpose. Either God Almighty has damned all the Heathen World, that practised Natural Religion, which none but a Popish or a Calvinistical cruelty can assert; or I, who am for the same Na­tural Religion, am in as comfortable a way of Salvation, as e'er a Gospeller of you all.


I think, Sir, you conclude a lit­tle [Page 78] too fast,God more severe to modern Theists than ancient Heathens. when you say, that you modern Theists are in as good hopes of Everlasting Happiness, as the old Hea­then; for I take your cases to be very dif­ferent. They poor People never were in a Capacity of receiving the glad Ti­dings of the Gospel, or they were possessed with such invincible prejudices of Educa­tion under a superstitious worship, that they could not receive the blessed seed to improvement; which without all doubt God will make great allowances for. But the Persons of your way, after having re­ceived the seed of Gods word, have tramp­led upon it; you have seen the light of the Gospel, and shut your Eyes upon it; you have turned Renegado's to your blessed Redeemer, and perfidiously deserted his Institution, which in your Baptism you swore to live and die under. So that you are strangely mistaken, to think that your condition hereafter will be as good as the old Pagans. Your cases are as wide, as those of Foreigners and Domestick Rebels, in a Civil War; their Obedience was not expected by Christ, but you have traiterously deserted him, and fought against him, contrary to your sworn Al­legiance. So that whatever mercy they may find at God's hand; you can expect nothing but the utmost severity.

[Page 79]And then as for the case of the Heathen,Heathens do not go to Heaven. which you would willingly skreen your selves under; though I cannot be so un­charitable as to think, that all they are concluded under Eternal Damnation, for not being of a Religion they never heard of; yet I can see no grounds to believe they shall ever be Heirs of our Chri­stian Salvation, or that State of Glory which Christ has promised to his Fol­lowers. To be saved, or to partake of whatsoever Glories are comprehended under that name, is the peculiar Privi­ledge of us Christians; for the Scripture says plainly, there is no other name given under Heaven, by which we may expect Sal­vation, but only the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; that no man cometh to the Fa­ther but by him; that God added to the Church such as should be saved, and the like. So that a Heathen has no more Title or probability to be saved, than I have to be a Nobleman of Venice. Because Sal­vation, as I observed, is the peculiar Christian State of Glory, that place which our Saviour says he is gone to pre­pare for us, John 14.3. So that, though the Heathen may probably have other Places, or States of Glory, ours does not belong to them. Nay it is hardly recon­cileable with the distributive Justice of [Page 80] God, to advance unregenerate Heathens to the same State of Happiness, as those that are redeemed by the blood of his Son, Baptized into his Cross, have par­taken of his Sufferings, and have denied and mortifyed the dearest of their affecti­ons in obedience to his Commands.

What other provision God may make for them.But however, I doubt not but that God may in another manner make provision for the honest sober Pagans in another World; for in that very Verse, in which our Saviour says, he goes to pre­pare a place for us Christians, he tells us, that in his Father's House are many Mansi­ons. There are many glorious Places or Seats in the Universe, unto which these good People may be transferred there to enjoy a considerable happiness, though very unequal to the Joys of our Christian Paradise. Our Mansion or State of Hap­piness seems to be the choicest of all the rest, one of our Saviour's own choosing, and taking up. In my Father's House are many Mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you. It is a Metaphor taken from a Harbinger's Office. And the sense is this: Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Fathers House, &c. I would not have you dismayed upon my sufferings, and [Page 81] be distrustful about your future State, upon your being initiated into a new Sect of Religion, as if you were not to enjoy so much happiness hereafter as the Jews, or other Sects of Religious worship in the World shall; for in my Father's House are many Mansions; there shall be some degrees of happiness, some seat of blessedness for good People of all sorts; but I go and prepare a place for you, I who am the beloved of my Father, and the chiefest in his Glory, will obtain a place of the most extraordinary happiness for you to abide in.

So that at last, though it should be granted, that you Theists, that have had a Christian Education, should be admitted to the state of good Pagans in another World, yet you are a very narrow Soul'd People, that you will aspire to no higher a degree of happiness, when it lies easy before you, only by maintaining your Gos­pel-Covenant, which in your Baptism you have engaged to.


That is more, Credentius, that I have Faith to believe yet; I have a great many Rubs to get over, before I can come to that. But however I have no abhorrence to your Christian worship, I can go to your Churches upon occasion, hear a Sermon, and say my Prayers [Page 82] with you, without any check of Consci­ence at all. I have no reason to think but I might lawfully go to an Indian Pagod, and worship the supreme Deity, though under the representation of a Horse-faced Image, I should never stick out to pray to him among Mahometans in a Turkish Mosk, or hear Mass in a Popish Chappel; nay I am of Opinion, I might, as one expresses it, Summi Entis vim adorare in flosculo An E­pistle of a Deist in Przircovi­us his works, pag. 600., adore the power of the supreme Being in a little Flower. For the princi­pal part of all Religions is the same, viz. Morality and a good Life, and the com­mon notions of Good and Evil; so that I do but laugh at all the little squabbles of so many Angry Sects in the World one with the other; for my part I fall out with none of them, for they all a­gree with me as far as my Creed goes, so that I have no reason to forbear Com­munion with the worst of them. Indeed most of them have added some super­structures of their own to Natural Reli­gion, which I do not approve, but I can step over a hundred things of this na­ture, for the sake of Peace and Unity. And to speak freely, I could never ap­prove your Christian Zeal and earnest Prayer to have all the World of the same Christian Religion; for, as the King of [Page 83] Siam has observed, that diversity of Re­ligious Worships is one of the great Beau­ties of the Universe. For says that wise Prince to the Person who came to him in the name of an Embassadour from the French King, and proposed to him his turning Christian, I wonder that Prince should so busy himself in a matter relating to God, for which there is no sign that God does shew any concern himself, as leaving it altogether to Man's Discretion. For (says he) the true God who created Heaven and Earth, and all the Creatures comprehended therein, and who has endowed them with na­tures and inclinations so various, had it pleased him, when he gave Men Bodies and Souls alike, he could have infused into them the same sentiments of the Religion they were to profess, and have united all Nations under one Law. But 'tis obvious, that Pro­vidence permits variety of Sects and Opinions, because God takes as much pleasure to be a­dored with different Forms of Worship and Ceremonies, as to be glorifyed by the wonder­ful diversity of his Creatures, whose various Beauties set forth his Infinite Power. So that in short, Credentius, I think it every Man's duty to comply with the Religion established in his Country, whatever his private thoughts may be concerning it, and that God-Almighty is satisfied with [Page 84] the inward worship of ones mind, though for peace sake he complies with an erro­neous outward one. But however I hold his folly inexcusable, that will ex­pose himself to suffering and contempt, rather than to comply with a few simple Niceties which particular Sects and Na­tions are fond of; when all of them own Natural Religion for their foundation. In a word, as some have boasted them­selves to be Citizens, so I am a Church-man of the whole World; and though you perhaps may be offended at me for an extravagant Latitudinarian, yet I am sure I have more reason on my side, than those narrow-soul'd People, that are hedging in Salvation, and keeping their Communion only within the bounds of a little Paultry Sect.


Not indif­ferent to be of any Re­ligion.I thank you, Sir, for this great freedom, for by this frankness you have laid open the very Soul of Deism, but withal have given such a vile Character of it, as no honest Man would be very fond of embracing it. I am afraid there are too great a number of Men in the World of these sentiments, and by whom Religion suffers more than by avow'd Atheists; for these are open and gene­rous Enemies, whilst the other are stri­king at the Vitals of the Church, as they [Page 85] lie foster'd in her Bosom. But that you may understand how unreasonable and wicked this Opinion is, be pleased with me a little to consider,

1. What horrid Hypocrisy and Dis­simulation it is,'Tis Hypo­crisy. to communicate with a Religion, that you do not believe a Tit­tle of the Truth of. There cannot be a greater Falsity and Cheat in all the World than this is. To tell a Lie, or to act a shuffling Trick in bargaining, or the like, seldom deceives but a very few; but such a wicked dissimulation, in mat­ters of Religion, deceives a whole Con­gregation, or it may be in a Man of Figure, a whole Nation, This is the basest act which any Man of honour or any pretence to Vertue can condescend to, so perfidiously to deny the Truth, to make use of such false Arts, and such lit­tle creeping Tricks, to pursue an Ad­vantage. But what is worst of all, it is the most intolerable Affront to God Almighty that can be imagined, to offer to pay a worship to him which we are conscious that neither he nor our selves do approve, and to joyn in Prayers and De­vations, which we know must be an abo­mination to him. Which must,

2. Be more wicked when the worship you joyn with is downright Idolatrous.Sometim Idolatry. [Page 86] What excuse can you make for worship­ping or falling down before a Popish Host, which you believe to be only a Wafer, and you pay to it the worship due to the supreme God? How can you without horrour think of worshipping an Indian Idol, with pretence it is but a Symbol of the Deity, when 'tis general­ly but the Representation of some hor­rid Figure the Devil uses to appear to them in? You may talk what you please of the Extensiveness of your Communi­on, but I protest I am scar'd at such a Religion as you pretend to, and I think you had better, with the Atheist, openly bid farewel to all, and lay claim to none.

Morality not the same in all Reli­gions.3. As to what you assert, that the Morality of all Religions is the same, and is the principal part of them; I think that is a great mistake. For many Re­ligions are so made up of Ceremonious Foppery, that Morality is little taken notice of in them; and some retain such Dangerous Errours and Faults in their Doctrine and Worship, that there is no Communion with them, without vio­lations of moral Honesty, or intrenching upon the dictates of Natural Religion. As when the worship is Idolatrous, when wrong and injurious Notions are enter­tain'd [Page 87] of God's nature, when Dead Men, Devils, or Images have divine honours paid them; when Indulgences are gran­ted to Sin, and Crimes are pretended to be pardoned without Repentance; when a good Intention shall be allow'd to justi­fy Evil actions, and the like. So that there is no communicating with such Religions, without committing an Of­fence against the ordinary Rules, even of Natural Religion, and Schismatically and perfidiously deserting that true Reli­gion, we have been educated in.

4. As to what you say concerning e­very Mans being obliged to be of the established Religion of his Country,Not al­ways to be of the Religion of our Coun­try. and to profess (to speak in the usual way) all the Tales which the supreme Magi­strate shall think fit to allow; I look upon this to be wildest of all Hobbs his silly Paradoxes. For if the Magistrate be the Publick Conscience by which all Men are to be governed, as he asserts, why did God give every Man a Conscience of his own, which Natural Religion in­forms us every one is to be governed and judged by? There are very few Men can quiet their own Consciences af­ter the Commission of a grievous Crime, only because their Prince might allow it; or believe a Ballad to be Holy Scripture, [Page 88] though there was an Act of Parliament to call it so. But if we must be of the Religion, which the Magistrate enjoyns, we must make the Magistrate, God Al­mighty; for no one but he has Authority to command any Religious Doctrine to be believed, but God. Besides, this Opi­nion would make Religion the most tri­fling and inconstant thing in the World; a Man might change his Religion as often as he does his Cloaths; and the poor Men of the Frontiers in Flanders should be Papists, Calvinists or Lutherans, three difference Religions, in so many Moons. This would be to render contemptible the noblest thing we are capable of do­ing, the service we owe to Almighty God, and to make it the sport and May-game of Prophane and Atheistical Men.

Sin out­ward is to comply with a false Reli­gion.5. But whereas you assert, That God Almighty will be satisfied with the in­ward good Intention and worship of the mind, whilst you outwardly comply with the most false and erroneous wor­ship: This Opinion will open a Gate to all the Deceit and Villany in the World. Upon this Principal, Men may Murder and Steal, for the glory of God; and cut Mens Throats, to save their Souls. There would be no tying any Man by [Page 89] Oath or Compact; linguâ juravi, mentem injuratam gero, would always be the bur­den of their Song, and a good pretence too, if the inward sense of their mind might be allow'd to be different from their Actions.

6. As to what you lay down,No folly to suffer for Religion. That 'tis a folly to suffer for a True Religion, rather than to comply with a false one; I take that to be a most false and pesti­lent Doctrine, but however it is that which your Sect is founded upon. For you Theists owe your Origin here in Eu­rope to this pusillanimous Opinion, and to the want of Christian perseverance, and a patient bearing of Afflictions. For as calamities make good Men better, so they make often very ill Men worse. Not a few sufferers in our late civil Wars took up with these damnable Opinions, because their Religion had exposed them to some Losses; and the same, I hear, has been the mishap of many poor Gen­tlemen in their late persecution in France. But are Religion and a good Conscience things of so slight a value, as to be par­ted with for such temporal profits? Must Truth be thus Sacrificed to interest? If a Man believes the Holy Scripture, it will make him tremble when he but thinks of such a perfidious Defection. He that [Page 90] denies me before men, him will I deny be­fore my Father which is in Heaven, Mat. 10.33. 'Tis hardly possible that they that were once enlightened, &c. if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto Repentance. Nay if he considers but the words of a Heathen Poet, it is enough to make him much more honest than this comes to.

—Phalaris licet imperet ut sis
Falsus, & admoto dictet perjuria Tauro:
Summum crede nefas, animum praeferre pudori,
Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas. Juv. Sat. 8.
Though Phalaris commands thee to deny
The Truth, or in his Brazen Bull to fry.
Tell the fierce Tyrant, that his Threats are vain,
And Vice must not be chose, to bribe off Pain:
That he's the greatest Villain, who will strive
To lose the ends of living, for to live.

K. of Siam's Argument answered.7. But for the King of Siam's Argu­ment, I wonder how so many Men should be dazled with such a Tinsel Reason as this. Whether this be the King of Siam's Argument, as is reported, or no, I shall not now dispute, although by the sophistry of it, one would guess it had more of the Jesuit in it, than the Prince. But I pray how he knows, that God takes so much pleasure in these vari­ous forms of worship? This is a thing taken for granted, which no body that owns a Revealed Institution will al­low. [Page 91] For if God have revealed his Will by the command of any particular Wor­ship as he has done to Jews and Chri­stians, then all other Religions do of course fall to the ground. Well, but God permits these different Religions, by his not ordering all Men to be of the same Sentiments in Religion; whereas he might as easily have done this, as to have made their Bodies and Souls alike. But is God's permission a sign of his good liking? Why then by the same rule all the villanies which are committed in the World are well pleasing to him, because they cannot be done but by his permis­sion. Besides, 'tis very true on the o­ther side, That God might have infused into all Men the same Sentiments of Ver­tue and Vice, and have made all Men good alike; but 'tis plain, that he per­mits the greatest number of Men to be vicious, which is therefore an evident sign that he does not concern himself about Vertue and Vice, and therefore 'tis a wonder that Men should shew such a concern about Morality, which God himself by this permission does seem to have little regard to. Now you see this same Argument, if there be any thing in it, will make as much against Natural Religion, as it does a­gainst [Page 92] Revealed; and therefore you Theists ought to have a care, how you make use of it, for you thereby put a Weapon into the Atheist's hands, and plainly give up your cause to him. But on the other side, you ought to consider, that as God's permission of Vice is no sign of his liking it, he having other­ways declared his will by giving to all Men a Law of Vertue; so his tolerating so many false Religions, does not evince his Approbation of them, when he has manifestly declared his will how he will be worshiped, viz. in the Christian Re­ligion. This is that way which he him­self has set out for us to walk in, and to go in any other road is but wandering.

Simplicis ipse Viae dux est Deus, ille per unam
Ire jubet mortale genus, quam dirigit ipse
Sublimem dextro célsa ad fastigia clivo. Prud. cont. Sym.
God is our Guide in one plain simple way,
He would not have Mankind in others stray.
That one steep Road which to the right does tend,
Is the sole way that does to Heaven ascend.

Of Revealed Religion, and the Doctrine of the Mediator.


I think, Sir, we have talked enough about Natural Religion, and therefore, Sir, if you will oblige me with your Thoughts concerning that Reveal­ed [Page 93] one which is owned by Christians, and will give me satisfaction as to some scru­ples, I have conceived concerning it, it will be a very agreeable favour. I con­fess I am not very averse to think, that there is a great defect generally in Man's reasoning concerning religious matters, and Men's Thoughts do very much vary therein, so that it is not a difficult sup­position to suppose that the gracious Dei­ty, who had compassion upon all our in­firmities, has contrived a way more cer­tainly to guide fluctuating Nature in such momentous concerns, and may have been pleased sometimes to have en­lightened Men with a Ray or two of his Wisdom, from above, by revelation of some divine Truths. But then how shall we come to know, to whom he has particularly vouchsafed this favour? What marks of Grace shall we go by, to distinguish who are Heavens darling Favourites, that are blessed with such obliging manifestations? The Jews and Christians indeed pretend to it, but why not the Turks and Tartars as well as they? But if a bold pretence to Re­velation, be an Argument for it, every little Hedge-Sect of Idolaters in India shall bid as fair for Inspiration, as e'er a Jew or Christian of you all. And in [Page 94] truth if there be any such thing as in­spiration, for ought as I know, all the dif­ferent Religions in the World may be (to use the Apostle's phrase) but diversity of gifts of the same spirit. The Chinese may have the same Divine Revelation to wor­ship their Tanquam and Teiquam, as we have to worship Jesus Christ. The Banians and Bramins the Priests in India, may have the same plea for all the De­votions they claim for their Deities there, and so may the Japonese for their famous Gods Fotoques and Games, as the Mexi­cans for the rites paid to their Virachoca. Nor does my conjecture stand singly a­lone, but I have your own sacred Writings to back me in it. For there are many Texts of Scripture, which seem plainly to affirm, that God-Almighty has re­vealed his Will by a Positive Institution to the Gentile World, whom you look down with so much contempt upon, un­der pretence of your superabundant pri­vileges. For Gen. 14.18, &c. it is said, that Melchisedeck was King of Jerusalem, and Priest of the most high God; and that he blessed Abraham, which was a principal Office of the Mosaical Priest­hood (Numb. 6.23.) and that Abraham pay'd Tithes to him of his Spoils. From whence it is plain, That God had a re­vealed [Page 95] Institution before the Jews or their Forefather Abraham's time, and that when Abraham is commended for keeping God's commandments, and statutes, and Laws, Gen. 26.5. it is only these positive injunctions in the Land of Ca­naan which Melchisedeck was the Priest, or Prophet, or Dispenser of. So Malachi 1.10. Who is there among you that would shut the doors of my Temple, that fire should not be kindled upon mine Altar. For from the rising of the Sun unto the going down thereof, my name shall be great among the gen­tiles, and in every place Incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering, for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts. By which words it is plain, That at that time the Prophet did not think the Jews dearer to God than other People, and that the Heathens worship was as acceptable to him as theirs. So Psal. 145.18. The Lord is nigh to all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in Truth. And in the same Psalm v. 9. it is said God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. So God himself gives a Testimony of Job a Gentile, that there was none like him in the Earth, a perfect and an upright Man, Job 1.8. So Jonas said he determined to flee to Tarsus, be­cause [Page 96] he knew God to be a gracious and merciful God, Jon. 4.2. and who would therefore pardon even the Gentile Nine­vites. Besides, we read in Scripture that several uncircumcised Gentiles had the gift even of Prophecy, as Enoch, Noah, Abimelech, and Balaam. Nay several of the Jewish Prophets prophesy for the use of the Gentiles, Ezechiel prophesies to all the Nations then known. Obadiah prophesies only for the Children of E­dom; and Jonas principally for the Nine­vites; Isaias foretells the calamities and deliverance of the Aegyptians, Is. 19.19. and the Prophet Jeremy is call'd expresly a Prophet of the Nations or Gentiles: Before thou camest out of the Womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a Prophet unto the Nations, Jer. 1.5. and Chap. 48.31. he says he will howl for Moab, he will cry out for Moab: and v. 36. My heart shall sound for Moab like Pipes, &c. which pathetick expressions shew that he was sent by God a Prophet, as well for the Gentile Moabites as the Jews. But as for the Prophecy of Balaam, that is so express, that all the major and minor Prophets cannot pretend more to the Spirit of Prophecy, than this one Gentile Seer. So that, Credentius, you may make what brags you please of the Jewish and Christian [Page 97] Revelations, but if you do not own old Balaam, as much a Heathen as he was, to be a very good Prophet, you will want one of the most considerable proofs of Christianity. Nay the Scripture gives this Man all the Characters of a Prophetick spirit. He hath said who heard the words of God, who saw the Vision of the Almighty, falling into a Trance, but having his Eyes open, Numb. 24.4. Now methinks it is a little unfair, for you, to make such an outcry about God's particular Favour to you by Revelation, when those very re­vealed Scriptures themselves, which you make such brags of, allow it to the Hea­then as well as you.


One can hardly think you Theists are in earnest, when you object against the Scriptures and our Religion, that God has revealed himself to other Nati­ons as well as us;No Reve­lation to the Gen­tiles for their Reli­gions. I always take you to have a mind only to be pleasant, and to put a banter upon us Christians, rather than to defend your own Tenents, which do not seem much to be furthered by it. And when Spinosa contends so mightily for it, I fancy it must be only an humorsom Paradox of that odd Man, and not his setled Opinion; or at least the effect of a Pique he had conceived against the Jews, and so was resolved to set them upon the [Page 98] same foot with other Mortals. But that the rest of the World have no Revelation for the diverse Religions they profess, will appear by considering.

Because Idolatrous.1. That most of the Religions in the World are Idolatrous. Now it is impos­sible to suppose, that God by a Revela­tion should command Men to do that which all wise Men would be ashamed to do: to fall down before Stocks and stones, to worship the Sun and the Moon, senseless, inanimate Creatures, and to adore dead Men, and Tyrannical Prin­ces; or even Herbs, or Beasts. Now though we should suppose, that God was in no ways jealous of his honour, and that it was indifferent to him whatsoever Thing we worshipped, yet as he is the God of Truth, 'tis impossible he should command a false worship, or instruct People in paying devotion to things as Gods, which are only mean and perhaps wicked Creatures. Now the far great­est part of the Unchristian World, are and have been such Idolaters; and there­fore to make God to have revealed to them their superstitions, is to make God to represent himself such as it is im­possible for him to be; to be delighted in a worship which is false and wicked, and to be himself the Chief Author of [Page 99] the Imposture; which is so horrid, as no body will contend for.

2. Other Unchristian Nations that are not Idolaters (as chiefly the Mahome­tans) profess a Religion which allows Im­morality,Immoral. the Founder whereof was rather possessed by the Devil, than inspired by God. A Lewd debauched Fanatical Wretch, that lived by Rapine and Murder, and spent his days in Whore­dom, Adulteries and Sodomies. Now his Religion allows its followers to propa­gate it by the blood of the opposers, and by all manner of cruelty and barbarity against Men of other perswasions. It allows Concubinacy and Whoredom, and even Sodomy it self; and the very re­wards it proposes in another World, are such infamous Lust, as a good Man would be ashamed to think of in this. 3. As for your Instances out of Scripture,Melchise­deck. because you should not too much insult over us, as having wounded us with our own Weapons, will you be pleased to ac­cept this answer to the first, That Mel­chisedeck is no proof of a Revelation a­mong the Gentiles, more than of that Universal Revelation, which was given by Adam and Noah, to all Mankind; and upon which, as was shewn before, what is generally called Natural Religion, is [Page 100] grounded upon. For though Melchisedeck, was no Jew, as not descending from A­braham; yet he was not properly a Gen­tile, especially such a one as is usually understood by the word, viz. one that has degenerated from the ancient and true Religion, into an idolatrous super­stition. For Melchisedeck was a true and Orthodox Member of the ancient Noa­chical Church, and no ways tinctured with the prevailing Idolatrous Vice of those Ages, but in the midst of the migh­ty defection to false Gods and Idols, was a Priest of the most high God. So that 'tis a great mistake to say, That God had a Priesthood among the Gentiles, from the Instance of Melchisedeck; be­cause I say Melchisedeck was no Gentile, but a constant Perseverer in God's Church, from which the Gentiles had even at that time made a defection; he kept up to the Noachical Precepts, which the Gentiles round him had neglected. But if in strict speaking you will have him a Gentile, because he was not cir­cumcised, it does not from hence follow, that God had an instituted Church a­mong other Nations, distinctly institu­ted as the Jewish was. For the Scrip­ture does not give us a particular account who this Melchisedeck was: the Jews [Page 101] will have him to be Shem the Eldest Son of Noah, because perhaps they would allow no body else to be greater than their Father Abraham to bless him; but though this does well enough agree with the Age of Shem, who lived till after Abraham's time; yet it is not probable that Shem dwelt in the Land of Canaan, which was the Seat of Cham's Posterity. But be he Shem, or any one else, and though he were a Worshipper of the true God, yet he was so only upon the Princi­ples of the old Revelation made to Noah, which was common to all the World with him: he had not any particular Re­velations afforded him, as Moses, to found a new Church upon; neither he nor his People had any such Favour vouchsafed them, as to have the Oracles of God com­mitted to them, as the Jews had, Rom. 3.2. He was a Priest as he was the El­der of a Family in the old Patriarchal way, and not by any positive Institution among the Gentiles; and so blessed Abra­ham who communicated with him in the Divine worship whilst he did officiate, as he might have done with Abraham in such an Eucharistical, or any other Sa­crifice. 4. As for that Text of Malachi, where it is said, that God's name shall be great among the Gentiles; (though Spinosa [Page 102] translates, it is great among the Gentiles, when the Verb is wanting in the Hebrew, which is wrong, for the Book is pro­phetick, and speaks of futures, and there­fore must be rendered shall be) this does by no means set the Gentiles at that time on a Level with the Jews, but is a remarkable Prophecy of the Kingdom of the Messias, when the Partition-Wall should be taken away, and God should have one Church made up both of Jews and Gentiles. 5. As to those places of the Psalmist, that God's tender mercies are o­ver all his works; and that God is nigh unto all them that call upon him: It is the design of the Psalmist to shew forth God's superlative goodness in this Psalm, and therefore among the rest of God's Attri­butes, does praise him for his merciful Providence over his Creatures, his tender mercies are over all his works. And so his being nigh unto all them that call upon him, does not in the least denote any parti­cular divine Institution like the Jewish Revelation among the Heathen, but is only in general, an Assertion of God's Universal Love to Mankind, and his willingness to assist them, which no rea­sonable Man can deny. 6. As for your Instance in Job, that he was a good Man and acceptable to God; why, so were all the [Page 103] good Patriarchs before the Law, or the Circumcision; nay though we should grant that God spake by Revelation to this good Man, as it may appear from Chap. 38.1. yet it does not follow, that all the Idolatrous Heathen afterwards re­ceived the same favour. For before the Law, and in other Nations, where the Law was not received, Morality to­gether with the easy Noachical precepts, were the Rule of their Duty; and there­fore until they had forfeited this commu­nication of the divine favour, by the enormity of their Lives, and their devia­tion from the True worship, they had as good a Title to the Inspiration of God, whenever he should please to afford it them, as the Jews had after their Church was instituted. 7. But as for what you alledge, that Jonah was only an Ethnick Prophet, I think by your favour, that is a great mistake. For Jonah was principally a Prophet to the Jews, and prophesied under Jeroboam the second, the King of Israel, as is plain from the 14. Chap. of the 2 Kings, where it is said, that Jeroboam restored the coast of Israel from the entering in of Hameth unto the Sea of the Plain, according unto the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the Son [Page 104] of Amittai, the Prophet, which was of Gath-hepher. Whether or no that Pro­phecy which is there referred to were ever written or no, or whether it was only verbal, we cannot now determine, there being nothing like it in our Canon of Scripture; but it is from hence very evident, that Jonas was a Prophet origi­nally to the Jews. That he was after­wards sent to the Gentiles, was a great favour indeed to that Heathen City of Niniveh; but then he had first Prophe­sied to the Israelites, and when they had profited little or nothing by it, he like Christ and his Apostles, turned to the Gentiles. 8. As for your exceptions from Enoch, Noah, &c. they lived before the general corruption by Idolatry, and therefore it is but reasonable to suppose, that they living up to the old true Patri­archal Religion, might partake of the divine Revelation as well as the Jews. And the Prophet Ezechiel's Prophecy is wholly taken up in shewing God's judgments upon the Jews, and endea­vouring to bring them to a true sense of their Sins; only a Chapter or two are interposed to foretel God's Vengeance likewise upon their Enemies, whose wickedness God's All-wise Providence had made use of to be a scourge for the [Page 105] Sins of his People. And so for the Pro­phets Isaiah and Jeremy, their bemoaning the Calamities of the Heathens of Jazer and Edom, that is not a prophecy on their behalf, but only is a lively Hypotyposis, or Poetical Description of the sad Miseries which those People should undergo, to hearten up the Jews in their afflictions when they should understand, that God would lay such heavy burdens upon their Enemies; and to shew them that they had no reason to forsake the true Religion, when they should see that the Heathens underwent as severe judg­ment as they. 9. And so again as to the Prophecy of Obadiah, whom you assert to have been a Prophet only to the Edo­mites, he was a Prophet only to the Israelites, and for ought appears to the contrary, originally of Jewish extracti­on; for I think little credit is to be given to the Jewish Authors, who would make him an Edomitish Proselyte. But that Obadiah was a Prophet to the Jews only, is evident by the whole tenour of this short Prophecy, where first are denounced God's severe judgments a­gainst the Edomites the Enemies of the Jews, and his vengeance for their Pride and Insolence, and afterwards the Jews delivery from them, and conquest over [Page 106] them. But upon mount Sion shall be de­liverance, and Jacob shall possess their posses­sions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house Joseph a Flame, and the house of Esau for Stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them, and there shall not be any of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it, v. 17, 18. Now does this look like an Edomitish 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 pre­dicting so plainly such remarkable Events, which afterwards so punctually came to pass; as the greatness of the Common­wealth of Israel, the destruction of the Ca­naanitish Nations, and the coming of the Messias. But then altho' 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 [Page 107] a small priviledge of the Heathen 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, Baalam's Ass would be as good a one altogether to prove, That In­spiration is common to Brutes too, be­cause God once made use of his mouth, to confute his Master's folly. 11. Well but Baalam, you say, 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, Cap. 24. 1. and what we from the Vulgar, Tran­slate the rewards of divination, are in the original only divinations (i. e.) instru­ments of divination, conjuring Books, Wands, or the like. And secondly he is called Kosem, a Diviner, or Sorcerer, Josh. 13.22. Which word has always an ill Character fixt on it in Scripture, not­withstanding Spinosa maintains the con­trary, though without any Instance of it. I have carefully examined all the words [Page 108] 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, Is. 24.25. Jer. 14.14. Ezech. 13.7, and 23. Micah 3.6. &c. Where they may seem to signify simple Prophecy, yet it will be manifest by closely consider­ing the places, that they are only harder words to characterise the false prophecies of some lying Prophets, among the Jews; as if I should 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. 16.10. 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 sagacious Man in his judicial deter­minations, makes shrewd conjectures from outward appearance to discover Mens inward Intentions, and by that sort of Political divination awards judgment accordingly. The second is, Is. 32. where it is said, The Lord doth take away from [Page 109] Judah the judge and the prophet, the Kosem, the Conjecturer, or the prudent and the Ancient. Where the Septuagint do very well translate Kosem [...], 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 Childrens play at Even and Odd:

Est etiam, par sit numerus qui dicat, an impar,
Ʋt divinatas auferat Augur opes. Ovid. de Nuce.

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 Balack's Messengers word, what the Lord Jehovah the true Judaical God, should speak unto him, Numb. 22.7. The LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you, v. 13. I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God to do less or more, v. 18. And God came unto Balaam, &c. And Balaam 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 Necroman­cer?

[Page 110]

I think, Philologus, you are not a little mistaken in Arguing after this manner. For it 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 Balack'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 Baal, 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. some deifyed Prince of that part of the World, for Jehovah, or the True God; and therefore Moses 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 Prediction of [Page 111] 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 Priest; since the Sibyls have predicted 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 of.


But if Natural Religion be so Defective, 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,Tacit. Hist. Lib. 5. Just. Hist. Lib. 36. were ex­pelled Aegypt for a pack of scabbed Le­pers, that would have infected the whole Country; and when they lived at Rome, they were observed by Juvenal, Juv. Sat. 6. to be of such a dogged Temper, that they [Page 112] 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, suppose, 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 such a favour; for they were Nations of great Candor and Generosity, who had minds that did generally abound with extraordinary Vertue and Honour: but the Jews of all Nations in the World were remarked for soure unsociable qua­lities; and whom 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.


I do not in the least see, 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,

[Page 113]1. This was no more than what God had done before in other Ages of the World,This agree­able to God's usual Providence. in order to preserve to himself 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. 6.2. And the Children of Shem and Japhet, are separated from the prophane off-spring of Ham, Gen. 9.26, 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 Posterity of this good Man, to be the Worshippers of the True God, when the rest of the World had lapsed into pro­phane Idolatry.

2. Neither can this argue any injustice in God,No injustice in God. because 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 Pu­nishments were annexed to that, they were either to expect, or fear. This was sufficient (though with more difficulty) to square their Lives by; and God was in no ways obliged to make their Task [Page 114] 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 Jews and Christians with less, why should the divine Justice be taxed with Partiality, more than you should be, when you 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 In­stances of Providence as unac­countable.3. Neither can I see any reason why the Justice or Wisdom of God should be called in question for this liberal distribu­tion of Revelations to the Jews alone, for which we can assign no reason. For there are a thousand Instances in Providence to be made which are subject to the same dif­ficulties. Tell me why the unhappy Inha­bitants of Greenland, and Island, are not all born in such a Garden of the World as I­taly? Or why God bestowed such a Deli­cious soil upon the Italians only above all the rest of the Europeans? Tell me, Philolo­gus, [Page 115] why God has blessed you with a more delicate Personage, and a happier Stock of Natural Parts than your Neigh­bours? Why such an one is born to a great Estate, and others to none at all. Why such an one is made a Man, and not a Monkey? Why another Thing is an Animal, and not a Tree? Now these are all particular favours of God Al­mighty, which other parts of the Crea­tion want; and yet you will not say that this is any reflexion upon the Wisdom or Justice of God. Why therefore should we tax them in bestowing this favour of particular Revelation to the Jews? For I dare say, I can as easily prove, That the Jews were as much de­serving of their Prophecy, as any Man can be to be an Italian, or an Englishman, to be beautiful or wealthy. We Men are not able to give a reason for any of these benefits, and therefore must refer all to the [...], or good pleasure of God. Not that this good pleasure of God is any capricious resolution of him, but a wise determination of his Will, grounded up­on just reason, although unknown to us. Nay, I doubt not, but we Men in another World shall be able to give an account of many difficulties in God's Beneficent and Vindictive Providence, which in this [Page 116] World are so apt to amuse us; and that in the great circles and revolutions of God's future Dispensations all the present Inequalities shall be made up, and all ac­counts ballanced. But after all, the Or­der of the Ʋniverse alone is a sufficient reason to satisfy all reasonable Men of the Wisdom and Justice of God, in placing Men and Things in a better or worse sta­tion in the World, and in communicating to them greater or lesser benefits. If all were to enjoy the same favours of the Dei­ty, there would be no subordination of Be­ings, which is the great Beauty of the Uni­verse; there would be only one confused Heap of good Things without order or de­sign, which would be so far from being an Argument of the divine Wisdom, that it would be a considerable proof against it. Besides, no one would praise God for the Benefits they enjoy, if all enjoy'd the same in common with them, for the universality would take off the edge of Mens Admira­tion, and consequently of their Gratitude; and they would be as listless to give thanks to God in this condition, as they are to thank God for Health, or Wealth, as when they never experienced either Sick­ness or Poverty. And therefore as God has wisely contrived it in his Natural and Political Providence, for the Beauty [Page 117] and Order of the Universe, that some Be­ings should be Vegetables as well as others Animals, that some should be Brutes and others Men; and among Men themselves, that some must be Poor as well as others Rich; that some must labour as well as others govern: so likewise in his Spiritual Providence, or in his care of the Everlast­ing wellfare of Mens Souls, it is no won­der, that God should ordain several Classes or Orders of Future Happiness, or should be more or less bountiful to them in af­fording them Means in this World of at­taining it.

4. And as for the Jews whom you do not think to be such fit Objects of the Divine favour in communicating to them his Revealed will,Jews not such ill Peo­ple as pre­tended. as the Greeks or Ro­mans; that is a Point, I am afraid, you will never be able to make out. Indeed it is grown a mighty fashion of late, even among those that are better Friends to Christianity than you, to cast very severe Reflexions upon the Jewish Institution, and, under pretence of shewing the No­bleness of the Christion Religion, do up­on all occasions be-devil the Poor Jews. I do not think this the best way to sup­port Christianity, by undermining the foundation, which it is built upon; for the Law is but the Ground-work of the [Page 118] Gospel, and if we destroy the first, the latters falls. And as for the People of the Jews, which of late are so much used to be vilified, I do not find that they are more liable to censure of this nature than other Nations. It cannot indeed be de­nyed, but that this People were prone to Idolatry, and did very often lapse into it; which is the occasion of those very severe reprehensions you meet withal in the Prophets, and which you hinted at just now. But then this is in some measure to be palliated by the mighty grandeur and pageantry of the Idolatrous worship of all the Nations round about them, and the great scorn and reproach which was cast upon the Jewish singularity in the worship of one God, which must needs have no inconsiderable influence upon vulgar minds. And as for their aver­sation to a familiarity with the Heathens, it was but a practice agreeable to the Mosaical Law (Vid. Deut. 7.) which was a wise command of God, which a­lone preserved his True Worship, in that Nation only, free from the infection of Idolatrous Nations round them, for so many Ages together. And although perhaps in the Times of Trogus and Tacitus, the Jews might be more scrupu­lous this way, than their Law required; [Page 119] yet that must be imputed to Pharisaism, which was the prevailing Sect among the Jews at that time, and which by false Glosses and superstitious Doctrines, had perfectly debauched the Jewish Religion, and soured the greatest part of them into an unsociable Temper. But after all the faults that may be charged upon them, the stedfast worship of the One True God, for so many Ages in that Na­tion only, when all the World besides was over-run with Polytheism and Ido­latry, when they were so much scorned and vilified by the Heathen World for his sake, underwent so many Captivities, Persecutions, and Martyrdoms; this was enough to endear them above the rest of the World to God Almighty, to incline him to commit his Oracles to them alone, and to guide them by his revealed Word; rather than to the Greeks or Ro­mans, or any other Idolatrous Nation, who, besides their diabolical superstiti­ons, were ten times more lewd and de­bauch'd.

5. As for a few scandalous reflexions which are usually brought against the Jews out of Justin and Tacitus, Justin, &c. considered. I think nothing in them is worthy being taken notice of, unless it be the disingenuity of the Relators, who I am confident re­port [Page 120] things which they themselves do not give the least credit to. For why, I pray, are not the Holy Scriptures and Josephus, that are the Books of that Coun­try, fitter to be relied upon, than the mistaken reports of malicious or half informed Foreigners? I beseech you, Sir, where would you look for a true account of the Matters of England, in Camden, Speed or Baker, Men of our own Nation, or in Mounsieur Sorbeir of France? I think the question is easily resolved; and then why should you take these scandalous accounts of the Jewish Nation from Justin and Tacitus, when you have Wri­ters of their own Nation which give con­trary accounts of them? Both of these Heathen Authors are notoriously mistaken in their account of the Jews; but because Justin gives the fullest account, be pleased to observe one or two of the Absurdities of his Relation. It is plain, that the foun­dation of Justin's Relation was out of the Book of Genesis, by the names of Abraham, Israel, the particular History of Joseph Minimus aetate inter fratres Joseph fuit, cujus excellens ingenium veriti fratres clam interceptum peregrinis mercatoribus vendiderunt, à quibus deportatus in Aegpytum, cum magicas ibi artes solerti ingenio percepisset, brevi ipsi regi percarus fuit. Nam & prodigiorum sagacissimus erat, & somniorum primus intelligentiam condi­dit; nihil (que) ei divini juris humani (que) ei incognitum videbatur, adeo ut etiam sterilitatem agrorum ante multos annos providerit: periisset (que) omnis Aegyptus firme: nisi monitu ejus rex edicto servari per multos annos fruges [...]ssesset. Just. Lib. 36. Cap. 6., the Envy of his Brethren, his Interpre­tation of Dreams, his being sold peregi­nis [Page 121] mercatoribus, to foreign Merchants, [...] [...]rediction of the Famine, his famili­ [...]y with Pharaoh, his storing of the [...]rn, and the like. Now it is impossi­ble, that such a particular account should be had any where else, than from the Bi­ble. The Bible therefore must by you Theists be allow'd to have so much of the Truth of Prophane or secular History, as to regulate Justin's History, who seems plainly to have copied either at first or second hand from it. So that if there be any Truth in Justin, the same must be more express in the Bible, from which Justin had his Relation, though he has blended it with other Fables. Nor is it difficult to think how a Heathen should come at a sight of that Book, or at least a Relation out of it. For Trogus Pompeius, who wrot the History which Justin Epitomized, was a Retainer in the Family of the Great Pompey who Con­quered Judea, and therefore in the Expe­dition of his Master there, without doubt he picked up this imperfect Relation of the Jews, either by reading their Books, and afterwards, forgetting or mistaking them; or by mixing the True History with the Fabulous reports of some Neigh­bouring Gentiles. So that in short, the Scripture-History must regulate his re­port. [Page 122] And then see how finely This does agree with it. He makes the Jew­ish Original to be from Damascus, and that Abraham was King of that place; where Arathes the Wife of Syrus, one of their ancient Kings, was worshipped. That after Damascus, who gave name to the City, succeeded Azelus, and then Adores, and then Abraham and Israel, which Israel divided his Kingdom among his Ten Sons, but made them all to be called Jews from his Son Judah. That Joseph was Israel's Youngest So [...], and that Moses was Son to him: That the Jews were drove out of Aegypt for being Scabby; that they were followed after by the Aegyptians, because they had stolen some of their Sacra, and that the Aegypti­ans were forced to return home by a Tempest: That they were forced to fast seven days in the deserts of Arabia, which occasioned the Institution of the Sabbath; That the Memory of their being drove out of Aegypt for their scabbiness, made it a part of their Religion not to converse with strangers, lest the Knowledge of their Infirmity should render them con­temptible. That Moses his Son's name was Arvas (i. e.) Aaron, who was an Aegyptian Priest, who afterwards suc­ceeded Moses in the Kingdom, and from [Page 123] hence came the custom that the Jewish Kings were always Priests.

Now what a foolish and contradictious account of the Jewish History is this Re­port of Justin? Who ever heard of the names of Azelus and Adores in the Jewish story? When was such a Goddess as Arathes worshipped generally by the Jews, who were always fam'd for the worship of one God? where by the way this is only a simple mistake of the Author, to say Arathe for the Astarte, or Astaroth, of the Sidonians. Here is again Abraham mistaken for the Father, who was the Grand-Father of Israel. Here are Israel's Ten Sons set down for his Twelve; his little Estate mistaken for an Empire, and the Twelve Tribes for Ten Kingdoms. Here is Joseph taken for Jacob's Youngest Son, who was his eldest by another Venter; and Moses passes for Joseph's Son, who lived Three or Four Hundred Years after him. Here is the name of Jews said to be imposed by Jacob, which was not known till the time of the Captivity, a Thousand Years afterwards. Here are the Plagues which Moses inflicted upon Ae­gypt, altered for the scabbiness of the Jews, as if those heavy judgments came only by infection; and the spoiling of the Ae­gyptians of their Bracelets, Ear-rings, &c. tur­ned [Page 124] into the running away with their Sacra. Here is the History of the Manna and Quails confounded with the Institu­tion of the Sabbath; and their Injuncti­on of not communicating with the Nati­ons attributed to the foolish Fable about their Itch, or Leprosy. And, besides, here is again Aaron, Moses his Brother, mistaken into his Son, and turned from a Jewish into an Aegyptian Priest; here is the same Aaron made King of the Jews, who was never otherways than Priest; and that said to be the original of the Custom of the Jews having their Kings their Priests, when never any such Custom obtained amongst them; but only the Author has blundered the History of the Maccabees Government into this Fa­ble. So that, Philologus, I would have your Gentlemen for shame leave of, to abuse the Jewish Nation with false stories out of Heathen Historians, that knew so very little of their Country, and are guilty of so many mistakes about it. For in this short account of Justin you see there are almost as many mistakes as words; whether they are willful and malicious, or no, I shall not determine; but I am sure the account we find in Scripture, to all reasonable Men must be ten times less liable to exception.

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These are but small things, Cre­dentius, for us to make many words about; but I am afraid, you Inspiration Men are guilty of a very great fundamental Errour, in taking that for some superna­tural Revelation of God, which is only Natural Reason. For I cannot be brought to think, that the Prophets or other Writers of the Bible, which are said to be inspired, had the Mind of God revealed to them, any other way, than by the common natural way of reason­ing, and Knowledge. For Natural Knowledge is but the Revelation of God, wherein God reveals to our minds the natures of things, which were unknown to us before; so that God may he as well said to speak to us by our reason, as by the Scriptures; and Natural Knowledge may be allowed to be divine, as proceed­ing from God, as well as they. And I doubt not, but that it was the Hebrew way of using the word, God, that has betrayed both Jews and Christians into the fancy of Inspiration and Revelation, in the mo­dern sense; when formerly nothing but pure natural Knowledge was meant by it. For the Hebrews had always a very Religious and Devout way of talking, and attributed almost all Natural Actions to God: if they had gotten Money by their [Page 126] industry, they would say it was given them by God: if they had a good thought, they would say, God put it into their Hearts, and the like. So a great many other things were said to be divine, or to come from God, which were only na­tural, but wonderful, or extraordinary. Thus the mountains of God is only ano­ther name for great mountains; they Sleep of God for a deep sleep; and the Sons of God, Gen. 6. are but great Sons or Giants. Now it would be a mad way of Interpretation, to say all these things were inspired, because they have God's name added to them. Therefore why should we suppose that those Men, who are called Prophets in Scripture, had any divine and supernatural Revelation, only because they are called the Men of God, or are said to have the Spirit of God? For this is only an usual Hyperbole to denote that they were extraordinary Men, Men of sound Reasoning and notable parts, and exquisitely gifted to move and perswade the People. And this is no more than what the Greeks and Latins mean by Divine or Godlike (i. e.) extraordinary; only because the Hebrews made use of Genitives instead of Adjectives, they called him the Man of God, which the Heathens would have called a divine, or [Page 127] extraordinary Man. So when the Pro­phets are said to have the Spirit of God, what needs I pray of coyning an Inspi­ration or Revelation of divine Truth, to explain this by? For the Spirit of God has so many senses; and those so very diverse in Scripture, that I think it is not fair to clap that particular sense only upon it, which it may but bare possibly signify. Sometimes it signifies only the Wind, as Is. 40.7. The Ruach, or Spirit of the Lord, blew upon him, that is a very dry and fatal wind. Sometime it signi­fies the Soul, as Job 47.3. The Ruach, the Spirit or Breath of God is in my nostrils. Sometimes it signifies Life, as Ezech. 37.14. I will give my Spirit to you, and you shall live: That is, I will recover you, and give you Life or Spirit again. O­ther times it signifies Mercy, as Mich. 2.7. is the Ruach, the Spirit (i. e.) the mer­cy of God straitened? And the word Spirit it self singly is noted to signify a Temper of mind, as, Caleb was of ano­ther Spirit, (i. e.) a better temper than the murmuring Jews, Numb. 14.24. And in other places of Scripture the Spirit of Jealousy, the Spirit of Meekness, the Spi­rit of Holiness, &c. all which signify Tempers and Dispositions of Mind.

From all which I conclude, that when [Page 128] in Scripture the Prophets are said to have the Spirit of God, the meaning is only, that they have great Minds, or Spirits, or extraordinary holy dispositions, above the rest of the People. Which expres­sion signifies no more in Hebrew, than what the Greeks mean when they say, the same of a brave Poet or Orator, that he has in his Writings [...], some thing divine and admirable, and far above the rate of common Authors. So that when by these Passages of Scripture, it will ap­pear, That the Prophets were good solid Writers and Excellent Preachers; why should you go about to spoil their Cha­racter, and make them only Enthusiastical Dreamers? And now, let my Infidelity be as great as you would make it, you see I am a better Friend to your old Pro­phets, than you your self.


You have given us here a great deal of learned Banter, and it is great Pity that Men should study Scripture so much to make such ill use of it. But to give an answer to this wild sort of Ar­guing, which I can hardly perswade my self you urge in earnest;

Natural Knowledge not Reve­lation.1. You assert, That Natural Know­ledge is the Revelation of God, and that the Scriptures have not any more reason to be called so than that: But this is a [Page 129] great mistake. For Natural Knowledge cann't be said properly to be the Revela­tion, but only the Gift of God. Indeed what ever we know, we should never come to the Knowledge of, unless it had pleased God's goodness to endow us with these intelligent faculties; but then no body says, that God reveals these na­tural Truths to us, but only he gives us the faculties of discerning them. Nay let us be as Platonical as we please, and assert that all the notions of the Soul are but so many Intuitions on the Deity, and our viewing some of those Infinity of Truths, which he is pleased to exhibit to us, by communicating himself to us: I say although we explain natural Know­ledge this way, yet this is far from be­ing the same, which we generally under­stand by divine Revelation. For this first is a general way of God's communi­cating himself indifferently to all Men; for all Men do indifferently partake of a considerable measure of Natural Know­ledge. But this latter way of God's re­vealing himself, which in particular we call Divine Revelation, is a favour which God has vouchsafed but to a very few of all Mankind, that they might com­municate, what was so revealed to them, to the rest. By the first, Men only have [Page 130] a power of perceiving the Ideas and Im­pressions of outward Objects, of com­pounding and dividing thoughts, of affirming and denying concerning them, of fitting premisses, and deducing Conse­quences; which every ones own experi­ence tells him he has by nature. But the latter is a supernatural Impulse of the Divine Power, which instills into Mens Minds Thoughts not attainable by human Reason, or else gives them an Authority, as coming from God, which they had not before. And therefore it is an idle Fallacy, to call those natural Deductions of Reason and Common Ideas of Things by the name of Revelation, from which they do as widely differ, as Light and Darkness. This is only a ludicrous Arti­fice which your sort of Men have got of making use of Religious Terms, when you believe nothing of the Thing, and exposing Religion, by leaving nothing in it but a few empty names. And besides, they have another end to serve by it, which is this, That then their Infidelity does not appear so barefac'd when they make use of the old Terms in an Infidel sense; for otherways such Writers as Hobbs, Spinosa, and the Author of the five Letters, would appear so horrid to all Ears that had the least spark of [Page 131] Christianity left, that Men would be scar'd from them at the first reading; and so all hopes of making Proselytes for the Devil would be over. But by this ban­tering and mincing the matter, Readers are cajoled into Infidelity unawares, and the Authors escape the punishment like­wise, which would otherwise attend an open and barefac'd Blasphemy.

2. And it is much such another kind of Argumentation,Prophets not only extraordi­nary Men. when you would have the Prophets, which are sometimes in Scripture called the Men of God, to be only Men of good Parts, and very consi­derable Men; because forsooth great things in Scripture are sometimes called by the name of God. For what though the Mountain of God be a great mountain, and Nimrod a Hunter of God be a mighty Hunter, may not therefore Moses, and Isaiah and Jeremy be inspired Prophets? I pray where lies the consequence of this? Indeed if they were only in general said to be Men of God, and had no other Ti­tle, nor no other demonstration of their Prophetick Spirit, there would be then something tolerable in this Argu­ment. But the name of Men of God is an expression which is but rarely, but once or twice in Scripture, made use of to signify a Prophet, 1 Kings, Chap. 13. [Page 132] there are other names which are general­ly used for that purpose. Such as Nabi which signifies one that has particular converse and familiarity with God, Gen. 20.7. and Roeh, 1 Chron. 9.22, and 16.28. and Choseh, 2 Sam. 24.11. 1 Chr. 21.9. both which words signify Seers, as denoting Men that are accustomed to divine Visions, or supernatural Revela­tions.

But besides there are such innumerable expressions in Scripture which demon­strate a particular Revelation from God Almighty, and a peculiar intercourse of these holy Men the Prophets with him, that no reasonable Man can deny it, unless at the same time he denies the Authority of the holy Scripture and makes it altoge­ther an Imposture. Gen. 15.1. The word of the Lord came to Abram in a Vision saying, Fear not, Abram, &c. Now what tolerable sense can be put upon these words, but only that this was a particular Revelati­on of God to Abraham? You cann't say that this is only some remarkable say­ing of Abraham, and is therefore in the Jewish Phrase called the word of the Lord. For here is no room for any such kind of Metaphor. Here is a particular Dialogue of God and Abraham, God said: Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield and thy [Page 133] exceeding great Reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the Steward of my House is this Eliezer of Damascus? Then v. 4. is related the reply of God Almighty. And behold the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thy Heir, but he that shall come forth out of thine own Bow­els, &c. Now what can be more positive and express of Abraham's immediate Reve­lation and Intercourse with God, than this Relation? So again, Exod. 2.5. The Revelation made to Moses is related as expresly. God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. Then follows the answer of Moses, and Moses said, here am I. And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people, &c. Come now therefore and I will send thee unto Paraoh. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the Children of Israel out of Aegypt? And God said, Certainly I will be with thee, &c. And after this rate the Dialogue continues the full length of the Chapter. Now if this be not a re­lation of an Intercourse with God, and a Revelation from him, there is no sense to be put upon any words, though never so plain, there must be no assent given to the literal narrations of Thucydides, or [Page 134] Livy; but the credit of both those Hi­stories may as well be criticized away as this.

So again as for the other Prophets, when we are particularly told, that the word of the Lord came unto them at such a time, in such a manner, in such a particular Year of such a King's Reign, what can possibly be meant less than that God re­vealed this to them? When they are commanded to take rolls and to write, as Is. 8 1. and Jer. 36.2. and the Pro­phecies so commanded to be written, are there recorded; when every Prophecy begins with the word of the Lord, or thus saith the Lord, when in some of them are particular Interlocutions between God and the Prophet; if this be not Revela­tion, the Prophets who wrote these Writings, must be the greatest Cheats and Impostours in the World, in so often pretending to it when they had not the least share of it. But it vexes one to spend time to answer so simple an Ob­jection, which is worth no ones notice, but that the great Spinosa has taken so much pains in it; and other retailing In­fidels after him would seem to do some great matter with it.

[Page 135]3. Nor are your Criticisms upon the Hebrew Ruach, or Spirit, more solid,Spirit of God in Scripture signifies Revelation▪ by which you would pretend that word does not signify Revelation or Inspirati­on, but only Wind, Life, temper of Mind, and the like. But what an unreasonable mistake is this? I do not deny but that word in Hebrew has many significations, as several other words have in that nar­row Language. But then on the other side there are a great many places in the Bible, in which it can signify only Inspi­ration or Revelation, what think you of Gen. 41.38. Where Pharaoh says of Jo­seph, after he had interpreted his Dream, and prophesied of the Years of Plenty and Famine, Can we find such an one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? Cer­tainly by the Spirit of God here is meant the Inspiration of God, or there is no sense at all in it. And so again, Numb. 27.18. The Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the Son of Nun, a Man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thy hand upon him; where by Spirit the Chaldee Paraphrase interprets Prophecy. And what else can be meant by that Spirit of the Lord, 1 Kings 18.12. which carried Eliah from place to place, by which he did such mighty Miracles, and so undauntedly uttered his, Prophecies, but only a super­natural [Page 136] power of God which did conti­nually attend him? And so Isa. 59.21. God tells the Prophet, that it was his Spirit that inspired him with the words that he spoke. Saith the Lord, My Spirit which is upon thee, and the words which I have put into thy mouth, &c. And so seve­ral times in Ezechiel, The Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, Ezek. 11.5. and the Spirit entered into me, Chap. 3.24. And of­ten in the Book of Daniel, the Spirit of the holy Gods is said to be in him, Dan. 4.8, and 9, 5.11, and 14. In short, divine Revelation is all over the Old Testament called by the name of Spirit; and even that extraordinary Inspiration which was foretold by the Prophet Joel to prevail un­der the Gospel, is called so likewise: I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your Sons and your Daughters shall prophesie, your Old Men shall dream dreams, and your Young Men shall see Visions, Joel 2.28. Where you may particularly observe, that the word Spirit is joyned with Prophecy and Revelation. And upon this account the Holy Ghost which was the giver of these Prophetick Gifts, is in the New Testa­ment called [...], the Holy Spirit. And so is divine Revelation among the Heathens called by the same name. As, Dii coeptis inspirate meis, and Inspirante Deo.

[Page 137]It is plain therefore that by the word Spirit in Scripture is frequently under­stood Divine Revelation, which is the effect of the Operation of God's Holy Spirit, conveying to the minds of several Prophetical Men, whom God has been pleased to choose, many extraordinary Truths, conducible to the good of his Church. Which is a thing so frequent and so plain in Scripture, as is not to be bantered away by a little foolish Criti­cism; and is a Truth never to be shaken, unless the Infidels have force enough to overthrow the whole Body of the Scrip­tures.


Well we will see, Credentius, what we can do as to that matter, some time or other. But in the mean time methinks you outshoot your selves a lit­tle in your Notions of Revelation. For you generally assert, that Revelation is caused by a more immediate and super­natural Application of the divine Spirit, to the mind of Man, and so does make known to it, those extraordinary Truths; which indeed is only a Cast of the Jewish Unphilosophical Ignorance. For when they, poor Wretches, could not un­derstand the Natural Causes of Inspira­tion, they were presently for a [...], for calling in God to help out [Page 138] their sorry Philosophy. Every thing which was a little surprizing to them, they must needs attribute to the immedi­ate Act of God, they were every moment making Mountains as well as Men of God; and according to their Philosophy, an equal degree of the divine power was requisite as well to make a Great Hunter, as a great Prophet. But if they had un­derstood better the Natural Causes of Inspiration, they would never have been guilty of such manifest Absurdities. For that Inspiration which the Jews, and the Christians after them, would needs have proceed immediately from God, is only the effect of a vivid Imagination. For it is not to be thought that the Pro­phets had any more immediate Converse with God Almighty than other Men; but only they had warmer Heads, a quicker Imagination, and a more lively Fancy. Other Mens Imaginations and Dreams did not leave such deep and lasting Impressions upon their Minds, but were quickly over, and they perceived that they were but Dreams and Fancies: but the Prophetick Imaginators had such strong Fancies in their Heads, that were as clear to them as the representations made by their outward senses, and they thought they were as certain of what [Page 139] they so fansied, as of what they heard or saw.

And 'tis plain from Scripture, that strong Imagination only is the grand Requi­site for Prophecy. And upon this account without doubt the Jews will not allow Solomon the Gift of Prophecy; for he was a Wise Man in whom good sense and a clear Judgment was prevalent, and there­fore he was ill qualified for Prophecy, to which Fancy was chiefly requisite. So those famous Men in Scripture, who are renowned for their Prudence, Heman, 1 Chr. 2.6. 1 King. 4.31. Dar­da, Kalchol, were not Prophets; but on the other side, the Prophets were for the most part out of the Country People, or Men of no Erudition; or sometimes Wo­men, as Hagar, Abraham's Maid, had the gift of Prophecy. For these People having but little understanding, had stronger Passions, and did abound more in Imagination, than Men who had bet­ter sense, and who governed their Fancies by their Reason.

And that you may understand that Imagination was the Foundation of Re­velation, be pleased to consider, that their Prophecies differ'd only by the di­versity of their Imagination, which is a plain Argument, that the one was the [Page 140] cause of the other. If the Prophet was of a merry chearful Temper, then Vi­ctories and Peace were revealed to him; because Men of that complexion are apt to entertain their thoughts with such de­lightful subjects. If he was a Melancho­ly Man, then he prophesied only Wars and judgments, and such other dismal things, which are usual to go along with such black Thoughts. And so the like Diversity, if the Prophet was addicted to Anger, or Grief, or Pitty. And for the proof of this there is a remark­able Instance of Scripture, 2 Kings 3.15. The three Kings of Judah, Israel, and Edon, are in a great strait for want of Water for their Armies, they go and consult Elisha the Prophet, and he being very Angry at the sight of his Enemy, the King of Israel tells him, if it was not for the presence of Jehosophat King of Ju­dah, he would not look toward him, nor see him. Now he could not prophesie any thing that was pleasing to them, whilst his Choler was so high. And therefore he very prudently desires that a Minstrel should be brought him: And when the Minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. That is, the Musick put him in a good humour, and then he was in­clined to imagine as pleasant Things as the Kings would have him.

[Page 141]So when Moses was Angry with Pha­raoh, he had revealed to him the misera­ble slaughter of the Aegyptians first-born, Exod. 11. So God was revealed to Cain when his Reason was over-clouded with passion, when he was very wroth, and his countenance fell, Gen. 4.5. When Eze­kiel was impatient with excessive Anger, (for the Text says, the Spirit lifted him up in bitterness, and in the hot Anger of his Spirit, Ezek. 3.14.) then he prophesies the miseries, and stubbornness of the Jews.

So Jeremy was alway a Melancholy Man, and weary of his Life, and there­fore he does nothing but prophesie dread­full Calamities, which should befall the Jews; and upon this account King Josias would not consult him, but chose rather to consult Hulda the Prophetess, who being a Woman had more tender Passions, and to whom it was more fit that the mercy of God should be revealed. Nay oftentimes Revelation does proceed from the strong, though false Opinions of Men.

Thus King Nebuchadnezzar's Augurs Prophesie of the Destruction of Jerusalem by looking into the Entrals of Beasts, and by divining with Arrows, Ezek. 21.21. and thus the Nativity of Christ was [Page 142] revealed to the Magicians, Mat. 11. who believed the fooleries of Astrology, un­der the Imagination of a Star, which they supposed to have arisen in the East.

So that in short this Prophetick Imagi­nation was a very good way of recom­mending a Religion to the Jews, who were a very ignorant People, and were more wrought upon by these fanciful Re­presentations of God made by the Pro­phets, the descriptions of his feigned Ap­pearance, Interlocution, Promising, Threatning; than by any just and Phi­losophical Discourses of Vertue and Vice, which should be made to them.

Not but that Natural Knowledge does include more certainty than this Imaginary Prophecy, only this latter serves better for the use of less inquisitive Men. For Natural Knowledge brings Self-Evidence with it, but Revelation requires always a Sign, or reputed Mi­racle, which the Prophets were forced to make use of as the Credentials of their Prophecy. Indeed Revelation may have something in it of a moral Certainty, that the Men who pretend to it are ho­nest, well meaning Men; and that the matter, which they speak, is designed for the bettering of Mankind, and the re­claiming them from their Vices: but I [Page 143] think there is little evidence concerning [...]t, that it proceeds immediately from God, and that it may not proceed from [...]atural Causes, as I think, I have already sufficiently shewed it to have done. Therefore I wonder, Credentius, that a Man of your sense should have recourse to occult Qualities and an Omnipotent Power to explain matters, which you see might be accounted for, by such an [...]asy cast of your Philosophy.


For my part, Sir,That Pro­phecy doth not consist in Imagi­nation. I do not care [...]o make use of my Philosophy to dispute [...]way my Religion; nor do I see any [...]eason, why Men should use so much [...]ndustry and Artifice to prove, That Re­velation does not proceed from God; when wise Men in all Ages have ever [...]llow'd it. Read but Jamblichus his Book of Mysteries, and Tully de Divinatione, and you will see the Opinion of those wise Heathens, that the divine Nature has [...]evealed it self to Mankind, and that [...] prescience of future things can come no other way than by a Revelation from God.Xen. Me­morabil. Lib. 1. And hear how admirably Socrates [...]n Xenophon (as well as a Heathen could [...]e expected) reasons of these matters. Of [...]ll these predictions, to refer none to the re­velation of God, but only to humane pru­ [...]ence, is (says he) [...], to be per­fectly [Page 144] mad. That in those things which are obscure to us, we should consult the Gods by Divination, for they make known those things to them, to whom they are propitious. In­deed I think it but a vain attempt to go prove to you, That Imagination is not the Cause of Inspiration: for I do not suppose that in reality you do believe it; only by this odd sort of disputing, you endeavour to make our Religion stand upon as loose a bottom as you can, that you may be a­ble to overthrow it at your leasure. For I dare say, you do not believe a word of Revelation at all, and therefore why should you trouble your self about the causes of it? All that you and your Ma­ster Spinosa mean, when you talk of Prophecies consisting in lively Imaginati­on; is, that the inspired Prophets were only a parcel of Melancholy, crack-brain'd, Enthusiastical Folks, that preach­ed to the People of Judea a number of Phanatical Dreams and Visions. But because there is so much pains taken in this Argument, I will shew you, that the Prophets, or inspired Men of Scrip­ture, were not Men of this complexion, as you contend for, and that the Instances which you have alledged, make nothing for this Opinion.

1. For it does not appear, that the [Page 145] Prophets were more Melancholy or Fanciful than other Men are.Prophets not Melan­choly. And it is but a fancy of Mounsieur Petit, de Sibyllis Lib. 1. to assert, that Melancholy was the chief Disposition to make a Pro­phet; and that Moses was an extraordina­ry Melancholy Man, because he chose to live a solitary Life in the Wilderness, feeding his Father-in-law Jethro's Sheep; and because he is noted in Scripture to be slow of Speech, Exod. 4.10. For these do not appear to be any Arguments at all of Melancholy. For a Pastoral Life does by no means denote a Man, to be of a Melancholick Complexion, but contrariwise more debonair and pleasant; and therefore the Shepherds in polite Nations, as among the Greeks and Ro­mans, are always described as Men of great Mirth and Jollity, and spending their whole Time in Pleasure and Gay­ety. Neither did Moses leave the Ae­gyptian Court, for a Melancholy Re­tirement in the Country; but was forced to fly from Aegypt to avoid the Anger of the King, after it was known, that he had slain the Aegyptian. Neither, whilst he so absconded, did he shew any sign of Melancholy there, but only accord­ing to the Custom of his Nation, and generally of those Ages, chose to make [Page 146] his Employ the Keeping of Sheep. So that David, who is described in Scripture to be of a sanguine Complexion, and famed for sprightful Singing and Playing, may be as well taxed for Melancholy, when he kept his Father's Sheep, as Moses might. Neither is the slowness of his Speech any Argument of his Melancho­ly, because very sanguine Men are often troubled with that infirmity, which does generally arise from some defect of the Vocal Organs in the Mouth, and not from Mens Complexion and Temper of Mind. And besides, what is commonly translated slow of Speech is in the original, Heavy, or Difficult of Mouth, which may be any defect of speaking, which does render Men less easy to be understood, by stammering or fast speaking, as well as slow speaking. And therefore, Ezekiel 3.5. People of another Nation are said to be heavy of Language, because they could not be easily understood by the Jews. And Moses might as well have been very quick in his Talk, and upon that account mightily given to Hesita­tion; and then this would rather ar­gue him to be of an eager and volatile Temper, than any ways given to Melan­choly.

But as for all the rest of the Prophets, it [Page 147] is plain, that they were no Melancholy Enthusiasts, because their Discourses and Writings are perfectly different, from what is usually said by that sort of Men. There is nothing comes from them, but what is grave and sedate, and agreeable to good sense and Reason, and a well-composed mind. Do we find any thing in them, that is like the mad Transports of James Naylor? Read but the lives of Sancta Teresa, Vid. Dr. Stilling­fleet's Fanaticism of the Church of Rome. Dr. Wil­liam's 1 Sermon 1696. and Maria Magdalena de Pazzi, and see if the Prophetick Writings bear any manner of Correspondence with their foolish talk. Did ever any one of the Prophets spend three Years before his Death, in nothing but repeating such an odd Ejaculation, as thy Will be done in Time, and in Eternity, as Molinos reports of Gregory of Lopez? Besides their Wri­tings are full of just reasoning and seri­ous unaffected Relations, which do by no wise agree to Enthusiastical Men. Read but the History of the Pentateuch, and o­ther Historical parts of the Bible, and see if they look like the Compositions of wild Enthusiasts. If Naylor had been to write the Book of Genesis, he would have made an otherguise spot of work of it than Moses has. He would have clogged every Rela­tion with odd Parentheses, [Great is the Lord of Host! Judgment! Horror! [Page 148] Desolation, Damnation! &c.]; he would never have kept his brains close to the order of a just Narration, but would have jumbled the Creation and the Flood, Noah, and Abraham, and Pharaoh, all to­gether. Do you think that any one of those Popish Dreamers could have made use of such solid Reasoning, and such Critical Remarks upon the Old Law, as are to be found in the Writings of St. Paul, and the Author of the Book of the Hebrews? Could they have made such wise observations upon humane Life, and given such Rules of Piety and Conversa­tion, as the Books of Solomon are full of? Could they have framed such admirable Forms of Devotion, as the Book of Psalms? All that they were able to do, would be to write some mad stuff, which no Man of sense would have Patience to read three Leaves of. Had the Scrip­tures no other inspiration, than the ima­gination of fanciful Brains, there would no one part of it be coherent with ano­ther; History would be clashing with History, and Prophecy with Prophecy, and nothing suit together, with that order and symetry, as now we find it. Ask two craz'd Men in Bedlam to tell a story out of the Bible, and then see how these Men of Imagination will correspond to­gether; [Page 149] talk singly with two Enthusi­astical Quakers, till they be warm upon the Book of the Revelations, and see then how finely their Prophecies will agree. I am sure they will fall infinitely short, of being so uniformly of a piece, as the holy Scriptures are. Let the greatest Infidel of you all consider, that wonder­ful correspondence there is between the four Evangelists, among themselves, where there is no difference to be found, but what among Writers, which had not confederated together, should be; and observe the same in the Books of Kings and Chronicles. See how the same great Design is visible throughout the Mosaical Writings, the Prophets, and the Gospel. How exactly does the lapse of Mankind, by Adam, agree with the Repa­ration made by Jesus Christ? How does the old Levitical Law plainly appear, to be but the Sciography, or rough draught of the Gospel, and the Characters and Lines of one exactly visible in the other? For my part, I think it impossible for so many, though judicious and wise Men, without assistance from God, to carry any one design with that exactness that the Penmen of the Holy Scripture have: but I am sure it is the greatest of Absurdities to assert, that such a noble and uniform [Page 150] Design should be carried on, through so many Ages by a parcel of wild Enthu­siasts. So that let the Writers of the Bible be what you please to style them, either Inspired Men or Impostors, I shall not dispute that now, they must needs be Men well in their Wits, and what is more, Men of good sense.

Prophets had the In­spiration of the Holy Ghost.2. It is very evident from Scripture, That Prophecy proceeded from another Cause, viz. the Influence of God's Holy Spirit. The innumerable Instances in Scripture of the Prophets and Apostles being in the Spirit, of the Spirit's coming upon them, of their speaking things by command, and of the Lord, of their being caught up into heaven, &c. are undeniable Proofs of the cause of their Revelation, viz. the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of God. In­deed it is not easy, to give a Philosophical and Notional account of this supernatural Influence, or by what means it was con­veyed, or by what criterion, or marks; they could distinguish it from a Delusion; because we who are not honoured with these supernatural Gifts, and therefore can have no Idea of these things, as ha­ving never been the Objects of our Under­standings; but it is not to be doubted, but these Holy Men had as absolute cer­tainty of the Truth of them as we have [Page 151] of things that do immediately strike our senses, and did as perfectly know them to be the word of God, as that those things are, which we see to be, and that they could as little question their Inspi­ration, as we do our Senses. For as the Senses are only the ordinary way of God's conveying Ideas to us, and these are so clear to us, by their familiarity and re­peated Trials of their faithfulness, that we cannot but rely upon them, and can­not but give assent to them; so the In­spiration of God to the Prophets, by their clear Evidence continually, and by their wonted Experience of it, left no more doubt in them of the Truth of it, than the Appearance of the Sun does leave in us, that it is Day, or that what we see is really seen by us, and is not the Delusion of a Dream. To say we ordinary Per­sons can have no notion of this Extraordi­nary Influx of God, and therefore it can­not be, is only to expose our own Igno­rance; and a Blind Man might with as much Modesty pretend to demonstrate against the Existence of Colours, or a Clown laugh at Mathematical Theo­rems, as we pretend to dispute against the certainty of this supernatural Influ­ence, which God Almighty has been pleased to give us no notices of. Might [Page 152] not God Almighty as well have given us Ten Senses as Five? And if he has been pleased to make an extraordinary Im­pression upon some Mens Minds, which his does not on all, must we therefore assert this as impossible; because we, who do not experience it, do not perceive it? Must all Men be blind, because we are so? Or must every Man be Mad and Enthusiastical that hath better Eyes than we? I am sure this is a very mad way of Arguing, and yet there is no more reason for Men to question the Truth of the Revelation of the Prophets, than blind Men have to question our sight. Nay the miraculous power which did usually attend Prophecy, was more un­deniable Evidence to the Beholders of their Divine Influence, than the joint as­sertion of the generality of Mankind can be that there is such a Thing as Sight or Colours to a Blind Man; Because Sensati­on is a greater degree of Evidence, than Testimony, and because a Man will sooner believe his senses than a Thousand Witnesses. A Blind Man cannot believe there are Colours but only by being told so; but when I see a Prophet, doing Miracles, I am sure he is influenced by God, because I see he does works above the power of Nature.

[Page 153]3. You are very much mistaken,Prophecy not inconsi­stent with Wisdom. when you assert that prophecy is inconsistent with Wisdom, and that Men of good sense, such as Solomon, Kalcol, Heman, &c. were no Prophets, but only, poor Shepherds, Women, and other Persons of mean parts were endowed with that Gift. One would wonder how Men could lay down an Assertion, which is so easy to be confuted as this is. Pray what must be thought of Moses, to whom there arose not since in Israel a Prophet like unto? Does his noble Genius, his invinci­ble Courage, his sagacious Prudence, his vast Depth in Philosophy, argue him a Man of mean parts? Methinks the Hea­then Longinus his Character of him, that he was [...], No mean Man, should be enough to free him, at least, from his share in this Calumny. What do you think of Nathan, Israel, and Da­niel, who were bred up Courtiers, and made a great figure in the Ages, when they lived, and the Writings of two of them shew them to be Men of fine parts? But, I think, you have a little outshot your self, in the instance of Solomon, in deny­ing him to be a Prophet. For it is re­corded in Scripture, that God revealed himself twice unto Solomon, First at his Entrance upon his Kingdom, when [Page 154] he asked Wisdom of God, 2 Chron. 1.8. Secondly, upon his finishing the Temple, 2 Chron. 7.12. Nay what do you think of David, who was a Prophet as well as a King? And as for your Instances of Kalkol, and Heman, those great Ma­sters of Musick, as if they were Men of too good sense to be Prophets, if you please to turn to 1 Chron. 25.5. you shall there find, that one of them, viz. Heman, is there expresly called the King's Se [...], or Prophet.

Prophecies no [...] variable according to the Pro­phets Pas­sions.4. You lay down also another very false Supposition, that the Prophecies vari [...]d always according to the different Passions and Dispositions of the Prophets, and therefore would hence conclude, that their Prophecy was only Imagination. But this is very false, and very Illogical. First, it is false. For Moses who is Characterized to be the meekest of all Men, did Prophecy as dreadful judg­ments against the Israelites as any of the Prophets, Vid. Lev. 26.14. Isaiah his Prophecy is in the several places very different, sometimes he Prophesies joy­ful, at other times very dismal things. And even Jeremiah the most mournful Prophet of all, does foretel the Jews joyful deliverance from their Captivity, as well as the Captivity it self. And [Page 155] Daniel at that very time, when he was mourning and fasting in Sackcloth and Ashes, had revealed to him by the Angel Gabriel the joyful coming of the Messias, with all the Benefits which should fol­low from him. Secondly, there is no consequence in the Argument, if the sup­position were true. For if God did so far comply with second causes, as some times to cooperate with them, it does not follow that those causes could produce a supernatural effect of themselves. Tho' God should pick out merry Men to fore­tel joyful things, and Melancholy ones to foretel sad ones; it does not follow that either Merry or Melancholy Men could foretel any thing without the assistance of God. Because prediction is the effect of Divine and Infinite Knowledge, and not of Bodily Temperament: it would be still the Gift of God, though such qualifications were necessary for the re­ceiving it.

5.Passions not the Cause of Prophecy. As for your Instances of some Mens being under some Passions, at the time of their Revelation, and therefore they must be the cause of it. This is an Argu­ment with a Witness. What though Elisha called for a Minstrel, must there­fore Mirth be the cause of Prophecy? I suppose the reason why he called for it, [Page 156] was to compose his Spirits, which were ruffled at the presence of a wicked King, and it was therefore proper to render his Mind sedate, before he presumed to offer up his Petitions to God, for the prophetick influence of his Spirit. What though Moses did predict the slaughter of the Aegyptian First-born, when he was angry with Pharaoh, must Anger be the cause of Prophecy? Indeed angry Men may wish ill, but they seldom, I think, Prophecy it; for if they did, the World would be in a sad condition. But, I think, Moses brought it to pass too; so that it appears there was some­thing more in this heavy judgment than a little Scolding Threatning, which you Theist make of the rest of the Prophecies. Cain was wroth when God spoke to him, but in those ancient times, God was wont to reveal himself to Mankind in o­ther Tempers. And when Ezekiel is said to be in the hot anger of his Spirits, be­fore his Prophecy, this must not be un­derstood of natural Anger, but only the violent exagitation of the Spirit in him. So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me a­way, and I went in bitterness, and in the heat or anger of my Spirit, but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me. Which is a most lively description of the operation [Page 157] of the Prophetick Spirit in the Body of the Prophets, with all his struggles and reluctancies under it. 'Tis a Metaphor taken from a hot fiery Horse, that strug­gles and contends, and is impatient under the Bridle of his Rider. It is a Descrip­tion not unlike that of Sibylla in Virg. Aen. 6.

At Phoebi nondum patiens immanis in antro
Bacchatur Vates, magnum si pectore possit
Excussisse Deum, tanto magis ille fatigat
Os rabidum, fera corda domans, fingitque premendo.

Neither is there any force in what you say, as to the Distinction which you would have Josiah make between Jere­miah and the Prophetess Hulda; for there is no doubt to be made, but if Jeremiah had been consulted upon the same point, he would have given the same answer.

6. But in the next place,Vain Opi­nions not mixed with Pro­phecy. you advance a strange Paradox, when you assert that Prophecy varied according to the idle opinions of the Prophets, as if King Ne­buchadnezzar's Diviners, and all the Per­sian Magi, were true Prophets. For that passage in the 21th of Ezekiel does not say that those Diviners did truly Prophe­sie, but only that the King of Babylon made use of those Divinatory Arts, the [...], the [...], and Au­ruspicy [Page 158] which are there mentioned; he does graphically describe the coming of the Babylonians, and therefore prophetical­ly relates all the superstitious rites which were preparatory to that expedition. And as for the Persian Magi, by whom, you would have our Saviour's Birth to be revealed, whilst they were looking after their Astrological Fooleries; I answer, that by this, God gave no countenance to any divination by the Stars, as if there were no more certainty in divine Revela­tion, than in this sort of fortune-telling, as you would slily insinuate; but that there being an universal Belief through­out the whole East, that some great Man should about that time be born in Judea, as Suetonius relates, these Magi, or Wise Men, took occasion to travel into Judea upon the appearance of this extra­ordinary Star, supposing that this might prognosticate something of this great expected Birth. God might take this occasion to make known the Birth of his Son to the Gentile World, and yet give no countenance to all the fooleries of Ju­dicial Astrology. Such an extraordinary Phaenomenon as this was enough to a­waken the attention of any inquisitive Men, though they were not given to that superstition, so as to search after the [Page 159] meaning of it; whose diligent Endea­vours God was pleased to bless with the glad Tidings of the Gospel of Peace, and a Saviour of the World.

7. Besides,More in Prophecy than fancy and well meaning. I would beg you to consi­der, that there is something more in Pro­phecy than Fancy and Well-meaning. The Prophets were something better than religious Madmen. They general­ly had a foundation of good sense and a learned Education, being for the most part brought up in the Schools of the Pro­phets, whereof one is mentioned at Naioth in Ramah, where Samuel lived, 1 Sam. 19.19. another at Kiriath Jearim, 1 Sam. 10.5. Neither was Prophecy a­mong the Jews, only the running about the Country, now and then, of a crazed Wretch, as your people are wont to say; but in a manner, a settled Dispensation; there being great numbers of the Pro­phets in that Nation. For even in the most corrupt times, there were Fifty of the Sons of the Prophets together, behold­ing Elijah when he was caught up in­to Heaven, [...] Kings 2.7. and Obadiah hid an hundred Prophets, fifty in a Cave, during the rage of Ahab's persecution, 1 Kings 18.4. Now it is not possible that such a number of Men so regularly edu­cated, should all be Enthusiastically mad. [Page 160] But I see any thing can be asserted, to serve a Turn, or to vilify Religion; sometimes God's Ministers must be mad Fools, at other times cunning Knaves, though methinks the Priest-craft, which you are so often upon, and Madness, do not so very well agree.


Come, Credentius, we won't make any words about that matter now; for we are now entering upon another Stage of difficulties, which are so many and so great, that, I am afraid, they will make you sweat under them, before you have got through them. What say you to the business of Miracles? Are not these think you pretty things to cheat the Mob with? But I am afraid they will never stand the Test of Philosophy and Reason. One would wonder how such Non-sensical Notions as these should come into the World, but considering the stupidity of them, one might guess them to be of Jewish Original. For probably when the first Jews saw the Neighbour­ing Gentiles worshiping the Natural Gods, as Sun, Moon, Earth, Water, &c. they to shew these constant mutable and visible Gods, to be under the domini­on of their Jehovah, or Invisible one; be­gan to brag of the Miracles which they pretended Jevovah had done by triumph­ing [Page 161] over poor Nature for their dear sake, for whom they were fond to believe all things were made. Thus this notion got from the Jews to other Nations, and so they have been coining Miracles ever since. But really, Sir, a Miracle in your sense, is Non-sense. For you suppose something above the power of nature, which is the greatest and highest power in the World. For the power of Nature is the power of God. Nature is one, eternal, fixt, immutable Chain, which is infinitely drawing out and ex­panding it self, and not capable of the least alteration; now if it was possible (as you suppose) by a Miracle that one Link of this, should be disturbed or broken, the whole frame of nature would be confounded, and the whole Scheme of future Beings would be infinitely irre­gular. Nature is the Eternal Will and Decree of God, executing it self, and the Will of God is his very Essence; howe­ver it is firm and immutable, nay im­possible to be changed by the contrary Will of God himself: and therefore we may be sure, it is not to be inter­rupted by the Hocus Pocus of every Ca­pricious Prophet. And indeed Miracles are nothing else but the Dreams of blockheaded brains, or a ready solution [Page 162] of what the uneducated Mob are wont to gape at, and can give no account of, so that I doubt not, but that a common Almanack-maker that could calculate an Eclipse, or write it out of an E­phemeris, would be a most wonderful Prophet among the Indians; but when these People, by liberal Education, come to understand the exact motions of the Heavenly Bodies, the Miracle would be at an end. Nay any thing that is un­usual is by the vulgar reputed a Miracle, because forsooth they admire it, though it be never so natural; but it ceases to be a Mi­racle, when their Admiration is wrought of. Thus a Comet is to them a most wonderful Miracle, because it appears but now and then in a great many Years: but the Sun is no Miracle at all, because they see it every day; not that they un­derstand the nature of the Sun better than that of a Comet, but by continu­ally beholding it, it does not make so great impression upon their fancies, and therefore they cease to admire it. And I doubt not but this is the true reason of most of the reputed Miracles of Scrip­ture, which are but the unusual works of nature, which would necessarily have been for all any Inspired Person; but on­ly, they being uncommon works of na­ture, [Page 163] the vulgar wondred at them, and deemed them Miracles. O! but we must have a care of exploding Miracles, because they do demonstrate the being of a God; and very lamely too. For the necessary Laws of Nature, and the frame of the World, are a thousand times more demonstrative of it. For Miracles, or Interruptions in Nature, make wise Men rather doubt of it, and seem rather fortuitous Blunders, than the wise works, or Efflux of the Deity. Nay what proof is there by Miracles of any thing else, or that any Doctrine came from God? For the Jewish Law allows, that Miracles might be done by false Prophets, as ap­pears by Deut. 13.1. If there arise among you a Prophet, and giveth thee a sign or won­der, and the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, &c. you shall not hearken unto the Prophet, for the Lord your God proveth you. Nay what were the Jews the bet­ter for all the Miracles they had among them, supposing they were true? Moses with all his Miracles was not gone from them but a few days, but they were turned as arrant Heathens as any in the World, and fancying the Image of God into the figure of a Calf. Nay, for all Miracles and Inspirations, the great Solo­mon [Page 164] himself was a down-right Epicurean, and imagined all things to come by chance, Eccl. 3.19, 20.


By your leave, good Philologus; You have heaped here together so many Falsities, or Mistakes, that I am forced to interrupt you, before you go any fur­ther.

First noti­on of Mi­racles not from the Jews.1. I pray what reason have you to think that the notion of Miracles had its origin from among the Jews? Had not the Greeks and Romans, in the earliest time, before they ever consorted with the Jews, the same notions? What more common in Homer and Virgil than strange Prodigies which are wont to amaze whole Armies, till they be unridled and rendered favourable by some Augur? What more usual in Greek and Latin Authors, than [...], Ostenta, Portenta, Miracula? And you may see a whole Chapter of several of these Miracles collected together in Vale­rius Maximus, and a great deal of the same in Plutarch. Inquire of any Barbarous Nations in the World, and you shall find, that they have the same notion of Mira­cles, though they never heard of the Jews. For our notion of Miracles, that it is the extraordinary power of God, or a power above Nature, is natural and easy to the [Page 165] minds of all Mankind; but that a Mira­cle should be the necessary power of un­wonted nature, is only a Dream of the Hobbian Philosophy, that few People who are awake, think of.

2.No Immu­table Chain of Nature. Neither is it any good Argument against Miracles, that they would break your fixt and immutable Chain of Na­ture which you contend for. For there is no proof that there is any such fixt immutable Chain; for if there was, there would be no such thing as Free­dom, either in God, or Man, but all things would be bound up by a rigid Fate, of which every word we speak, or action which we do, is a sufficient Con­futation. Now either this fixt immu­table Chain of Causes is God himself, or the Creature, or Work of God. That it is not God himself I think I have sufficiently evinced,Conference with a Theist. Part I. in a former Dis­course, with you; from the Absur­dities which would follow by allow­ing in God all the Imbecillities, Vices, and Irregularities in Nature, which are inconsistent with his Infinite Per­fection. And the Freedom of Man, the Spontaneous Actions of Brutes, and the Alterations and Changes in the inanimate parts of the World, are suf­ficient Arguments against the latter. [Page 166] Now if the World be the Creature of God, as we have proved it to be, then it must be subject to his Power and Provi­dence. For God's Creation supposes it subject to his power, for what is not subject to the Power of God must have a greater Power of its own to resist his Power. But this is impossible for the World, or nature to have, because all the power which they can possibly have, they had from God in their Creation. Therefore God still keeps the power o­ver them, either to annihilate them, to continue them in their being, or to alter them. To say that God has alienated this power, or given them a greater, is more absurd. For this is in effect to say God has divested himself of his Deity, and made the World God instead of himself. All that can, with any probability, be said, is, That God by the frame and con­stitution of the World has been pleased to make it immutable, and therefore this power being passed out of his hands, he cannot recal it, without violation to his Wisdom, and a perfect Confusion to the present Scheme of Beings. But to consi­der this a little. As God by his Omni­potent Power created all things, so by his Providence he governs them, and takes care of them. And it is equally ab­surd [Page 167] to say any thing should not be go­verned by Infinite Providence, as to assert any thing might be created without Omnipotent Power. Both these are God's Attributes, and to do Violence to either of these is injurious to God. Now how can it be said, that God by his Provi­dence takes care of the World, when he has made such a fatal unalterable World that it is out of his power to take care of? For whatsoever is governable, or the sub­ject of Government, must be in ones power and alterable: but God can no more govern a fatal World, than a Man can govern the Winds and the Sea. But to govern and take care of his Creatures is the necessary Attribute of a Wise and a Good God; and therefore the World which he takes care of must be governa­ble, and consequently not Fatal.


But by the way, Sir, is it not more agreeable to the Divine Wisdom to create a World fixt and immutable, than such a one whose Laws should be weak and shatter'd, that they must need his Assistance every moment, to preserve them, and make them go according to his Will?


I do not deny but that the Laws of Nature are in themselves sufficiently firm and immutable,God's Pro­vidence bet [...]er than Fatality. and that they will [Page 168] unchangeably preserve their Course when it does not please God they should be inter­rupted by his superior power. But it is no reflection upon God's Wisdom, that he did not make the World so immuta­ble, that his Providence could not inter­pose in it. Nay it would have been a greater Reflection upon his Wisdom, to have made such a World, which it was out of his power to controul. Let any one judge, if a Prince does not act more prudently by granting a limited Commis­sion to a General and Deputy to be su­perseded at his pleasure, than by grant­ing an absolute and unlimited one, which it is our of his power to restrain.


This is true among Princes, be­cause they have a finite understanding, and can have no knowledge of futures; and so may undo themselves by not reser­ving a power to themselves upon some extraordinary emergency; but God Al­mighty knows all things, because he e­ternally decrees them: and therefore no­thing can happen afterwards unexpected, or contrary to his foresight; and there­fore he might very well compose a fixt and immutable World, without any prejudice to himself, or reflection upon his Wis­dom.


Though we must not consider [Page 169] God as a finite Prince,God a wise Governour without Fa­tal Laws. yet must consider him as a wise Governour; and he cannot be a wise Governour by fatal Laws. For the Laws of Virtue which are certain­ly God's Laws suppose Liberty; but to command a thing to be freely done, which cannot but be done, or is impos­sible to be done, does argue a foolish Go­vernour; and therefore God cannot do so. God must therefore reserve to him­self the continual management of the af­fairs of nature to maintain the Freedom of Man's Will; and to adjust matters so as becomes a good Governour. But to go on where we left of.

3.Miracles not Occur­rences, which the Vulgar do not under­stand. It is another of your great mistakes to assert, That Miracles are only such oc­currences in Nature as the vulgar do not understand. For generally the Mi­racles which are recorded in Scripture, are such as the vulgar are as proper Judges of as the greatest Philosophers. Indeed if the Miracles were only some ex­traordinary performances in recondit Arts and Sciences, then they would af­ford some reason for Learned Men, to question their sincerity. If they were the Resolution of some very difficult questions in Algebra, some curious Ta­bles of the motions of the Heavenly Bo­dies for many Years, some wonderful [Page 170] performance by Mechanick Philosophy, which had amuzed the common People into the Opinion that they were Miracles; then something of this nature might be pretended. But when all the Miracles in Scripture are such as the meanest Men might be Judges of, and which they cannot be deceived in, the case is quite different. Any ordinary Man might be Judge whether it were not by a Miracu­lous power, that Bitter Waters by a word of the Prophet were made sweet; that an Iron Hatchet was made to swim; that a Dead Child was raised to life. Every ordinary Man was as good a Judge of Tast, of the Heaviness of Iron, and when the Soul was departed from the Body, as the greatest Philosopher. When our Saviour, by a word spoke, turned Water into Wine, Cured the Blind and the Lame, and raised Men from the Dead; in these cases the relieved Per­sons, and every beholder, could tell that this was above the power of nature, as well as those that had continually ap­plied themselves to the study of it. There is no need for an Insight in Philo­sophy, or the Mathematicks, for Men to know when they are sick, or when they are well; to know that though Phy­sick does often cure diseased Men, yet [Page 171] words naturally do not; that Medicinal Operations are slow and gradual; and therefore when they see Men instantane­ously cured of a Disease, which for a long while has baffled the power of Me­dicine, that this must needs be by a su­pernatural power, when they see all na­tural means have failed.

4. And your Assertion is equally false,Miracles not make Men doubt of a God. wherein you lay down, That Miracles do rather make Men doubt of a God, than prove his being to them. Now we do not say, that Miracles are the best Argu­ment to prove the Being of a God, for the most excellent frame and contrivance of the World are the most obvious proof of it. But Miracles are far from making a­ny wise Man doubt of the being of a God. For the wise, and constant Ends and Regularities in nature are so forcible a Proof upon Men of his Being; that e­very little disorder cannot make a wise Man doubt of it. For if I behold in any work a thousand Wise Ends that I am able to discover; I may very well con­clude that a few other things were as wisely design'd, whose ends I am not a­ble to guess at. But why should Mira­cles make Men doubt of the Being of a God? In my mind they do plainly prove his Existence. For when ever a Mira­cle [Page 172] is done, there is something done by a power superiour to nature: now if there be a Power superiour to Nature: then Nature is not Self-existent, and conse­quently there is a God which created Na­ture. This must be demonstration to all materialists, that allow nothing in the World but infinite and eternal Mat­ter, and a necessary concatenation of Causes. For if a Miracle or supernatural Power breaks or disturbs one Link of these Causes, and Nature afterwards goes on undisturbedly again, it is most certain that there is a Power above nature which directs it; for otherways a necessary and fatal Nature would move on with an infinite disturbance. So that I say, Philologus, that though to an Epicurean who would have all things come by chance, Miracles are not so good a Proof of a Deity, as the Frame of the Universe, and the Wise Ends of things; yet to a Materialist, who will have all things to be nature, the Eviction of a Miracle must be demonstration: for this over­throws his whole Hypothesis, and tells him to his face, that Matter and Na­ture are but a limited and subordinate Power, and in subjection to a superiour Mind or Power, which is God. Nay let the Miracle be true or false, either [Page 173] wrought by God, or the Devil, it is home-proof against a Materialist; for a Witch, or an Apparition, is total Destruction to that Philosophy. Therefore it is no wonder, that so great an outcry is raised against Miracles and preternatural Powers; for if these are once evinced, the Hobbist is at an End.

5.False Mi­racles no Argument against true ones. And whereas you object against Miracles, that they are no Proof of an Inspiration from God, because there may be a great many false Miracles; and that Moses, in the 13th of Deut. gives them warning of the same: I think this is only puzzling the Case, and raising a dust instead of arguing the Point. For what though there be false and pretended Miracles, are there therefore no true ones? Because there have been many false Wit­nesses, must therefore no true Evidence be credited? Because there are very many Quacks and Empiricks, are there no good Physicians in the World? Because there are many Knaves, are there no honest Men? This is a mad way of concluding, which would de­stroy all humane Society and Conversa­tion out of the World. Men must nei­ther eat nor drink, because some Men have been poisoned those ways. They must receive no good money, because [Page 174] there is a great deal of Counterfeit. They must believe nothing that is told them; because there are many Liars among Men. Now Man would be the most miserable Creature in the World, if he were to square his Actions by this Me­thod. But God has given to all Men judgment and reason to distinguish between Truth and Falshood, between sincerity and design. And this we must make use of in considering miraculous powers, and proving the Spirits whether they be of God. By this we may discern whether the produced Miracle be above the Power of Art or Nature, or whether it does not shew the finger of God; whether it be the effect of a deluded Ima­gination, and not rather the Evidence of clear and undisturbed Sense; whether it be the operation of God, or the power of the Devil; whether it tends to the Ad­vancement of the Kingdom of Light, or of Darkness; whether it tends to further Moral Goodness and Piety, or else Wick­edness and superstition; whether it con­tributes to the strengthening or over­throwing of God's Laws; whether it con­firms what we are sure God has revealed before, or contradicts it. Now with this caution we may very well distinguish true from false Miracles, and assent to [Page 175] the True, whilst we reject the False. And therefore Moses, in the Chapter which you alledged, does with very good rea­son, give the Jews warning that they do not receive Impression from Miracles with too great precipitancy, and gives them a good Rule to judge when they are false, viz. namely, when they contra­dict the standing Rules of Morality or any other Revelation of God. If there arise among you a Prophet, or a Dreamer of Dreams, and giveth thee a sign, or a won­der, &c. saying, Let us go after other Gods &c. ye shall not hearken unto the words of that Prophet, &c. but ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and keep his Command­ments, and obey his voice, &c. This is but wise and discreet caution; but to con­demn all true Miracles for the sake of some Impostures, is unreasonable Scepti­cism, and would tend to dispute all Truth and Certainty out of the World, and make all men turn Pyrrhonicks and Seekers.

6. And it is likewise false,Instances of the Jews, and Solo­mon, con­sidered. which you in the next place lay down; That the Miracles, and Inspiration among the Jews, had no influence upon their Under­standings, or Lives, from the Instances of the Idolatrous Jews in the Wilderness, and King Solomon. Indeed I can by no [Page 176] means excuse the Jews for their Perfidi­ous Defection to Idolatrous Worship, whilst Moses was in the Mount; but yet I cannot go with you so far, as to assert, that the figure of a Calf was thought, by them, to be the Divine Image. For this is such a Grosness as is not to be supposed in Humane Nature; it is most probable that they designed this only as an Hiero­glyphick, or Emblem of the True God, in imitation of the Aegyptians. For as the Aegyptians, with whom they had long conversed, worshipped their God Apis, under the Hieroglyphick of a Bull, or Calf: so the Jews who loved a pompous ceremonious worship, thought to worship the True God so too. For it is plain, that they intended to pay their Devotion to the true God, because in the relation of this passage, Exod. 32.4. It is said, This is the Elohim, or God, which brought thee out of the land of Aegypt. Which is more particularly explained in the next Verse, To morrow is a feast to the LORD, or to Jehovah. And as for those places in Ecclesiastes, after all that is objected by Atheists, and Socinian [...], I do not see any thing to the contrary; but that these are only Prosopopoeia's of Epicureans, wherein the Absurdities of these Opinions are ex­posed, and brought into the number of [Page 177] those other Vanities, which in this Book he is condemning.


But after all, Credentius, I can­not be perswaded, but that it was the prejudiced Opinions of the Unphilosophi­cal Jews, and their pretence more imme­diately to the Divine Protection, which gave occasion to the rise of so many Mira­cles in Scripture which might otherways be naturally accounted for. It would be too long to run through all the pre­tended Miracles in Scripture, which I could easily make out to be done by the power of Nature; I shall only pick out one or two which may serve as a sampler for the Rest, and may prove, that they all may receive a Philosophical Solution. Now, 1 Sam. 9.15. God is related to send Saul to Samuel, but in this mission there was nothing, but what the Order of Nature did require; for Saul at that time was seeking his Fa­ther's Asses. So God is said to send the Locusts as a Plague upon Aegypt, of which there was a plain natural Cause, for an East-Wind blew them out of another Country, and a West-Wind carried them back again. So God is said to set the Rainbow in the Clouds, which is pro­duced there by the natural Cause of Re­fraction. And again, there is a wonder­ful [Page 178] Miracle related in Joshua of the Sun's standing still, and making a long and miraculous day, when it happened only by the reflection of the Sun-Beams on the Neighbouring Hills, or the refraction which was caused by the Air, which at that time was full of Hail and Snow, as is evident from the great shower of Hail­stones, which so annoyed the Enemy. Now, these, and such like Miracles, were devised, only to raise the com­mon People's Devotions, and to affect their Fancies, which would not receive an Impression by an ordinary way of Rela­tion; but when it was said, That God immediately interessed himself in such an Action, it made them presently to prick up their Ears, and be very attentive and devout.


Miracles not natu­rally come to pass.Although it cannot be denyed, Philologus, but that the Jews had a Re­ligious way of talking and attributing to God the ordinary effects of his Pro­vidence, when brought to pass by the most easy and natural means; yet it is impos­sible that those supernatural and stupend­ous Relations, which are to be met with in many places of Scripture, are to be ac­counted for, this way. Neither do your Instances, which you have alledged, in any wise prove what you contend for. [Page 179] For as for your Instance of God's sending Saul: although Saul by the bent of his own Inclination was seeking his Father's Asses; yet God by making use of this natural Act of his Will and proper Reso­lution, brought it to pass, that he should meet the Prophet Samuel, who came to anoint him King. For unless you al­low that God Almighty has the power of inclining, over-ruling, and turning to his own proper ends the Wills and De­signs of Men, you must exclude God from having any thing to do in the Go­vernment of the World; otherways Mankind would be the arbitrary Lords of the whole Creation, and as a long as they had a free-Will, (unless opposed by an open and apparent Resistance) they must act in Defiance to their Soveraign Lord and Maker. And therefore God in his infinite Wisdom is pleased, to let his Almighty Power mix and blend it self with the natural actions and inclina­tions of Men, that he may gently lead them to the Ends he has proposed, whilst they are seemingly going thither themselves. Which is a great kindness and condescention to Humane Nature, that he will not ruffle and struggle with them, and force them against their Wills to do what he would have them, but [Page 180] only casts such a gentle influence upon their minds that they shall do that of their own accord, which he might o­therwise have forced them to. 'Tis need­less to give a philosophical account of the divine Inclination of the Will, whether it be by exciting new Ideas in the mind, or reviving old ones, by Reminiscence, or Memory, by raising and setting a keener Edge upon the Passions, by bring­ing new objects to the senses, or engaging them in a nicer Observation: for let the Modus of this be how it will, as long as God is the Governour of the World, and does exercise a providence over his Crea­tures, some way or other, he must have an Influence over Mens Wills, though at the same time they seem to make use of them with the greatest Freedom. And this way God Almighty is said to have sent Saul to Samuel, by gently influencing his Will, and the exterior Objects which inclined it, so as to make him seem to do that of his own proper mo­tives, which God would have him do. It is not easy to ascertain, where Divine Influence gave the first Impression in this case. It may be probable upon the fancies of the Cattle, who had some unusual Idea raised in their Imagination, which in­clined them to wander, and then it was [Page 181] natural enough for Saul their Master's Son to pursue them, where he met Sa­muel. So that you see in this case that every thing worked with its own proper tendency, but yet all was managed and over-ruled by the Wisdom and Power of God. But as to your Instance in the Rainbow. Now though this does pro­ceed from natural Causes, yet it is very properly in Scripture attributed immedi­ately to God. For though it is probable, that the Rainbow was antecedent to the Deluge, (there being the Sun and Seas, and consequently Clouds and Rainbows) yet God is very properly said to set his Bow in the Clouds: because he sat it there for a Token, or a Sign: although it was a Rainbow, yet it was not a Sign or Token before it was a Rainbow by the ordi­nary Course of Nature, but it became a Token by God's special Ordinance. And so for the matter of the Locusts, Exod. 10.14. What though they came with an East-Wind, and went away with a West? Will the pure blowing of an East-Wind produce Caterpillars? Or supposing them to be blown from another Country, such innumerable quantities of them, as were never heard of before, so great as utterly to destroy all the Herbage of Aegypt, were equally, as miraculous, as if [Page 182] there had been an instantaneous Creati­on of them. And what reason is there to assert this Plague of Aegypt to be natu­ral, when all the others are so apparently miraculous? You must either deny the History, or grant the Miracle; for there is no bantering of all those wonderful and tremendous Plagues with such little Criticisms. And the same I have to say to your Explication of the Sun's standing still in Joshua's time. Now let any rea­sonable Man consider, if there be any thing in that Relation which looks like Spinosa's account of the matter, viz. the Twilight, being at that time more than ordinary protracted by the refraction of the Sun-beams, through the Snowy Air. I grant something like this may happen, for a minute or two; but what is this to the Suns standing still a whole day? So the Sun stood in the midst of Heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. Josh. 10.13. Nay though we should grant you, what sometimes comes to pass from the thick sleety Air in Greenland, that the Sun was seen when it was a degree or two below the Horizon; yet this will not salve the matter. For the Text says expresly, that the Sun stood still the whole day in the midst of Heaven, or the Twelve a Clock Line; that is, it was [Page 183] twelve a Clock for twelve hours toge­ther, the Sun staying so long in that one Point. But if your account by Refracti­on were true, the day must receive its Lengthening about Sun-setting, when the Sun was near the Horizon, and that not above a quarter of an hour at the most. Neither could this easily come to pass, in so thin an Atmosphere as that of Palestine. Besides, the Scripture says expresly, that this was prayed for by Joshua, in order to encourage the Jews, and to dishearten their Enemies. But why should he pray for such a natural Effect as you would have this to be? Was it worth any ones while to wish for a minute or two more day light, which it was impossible, that either the Jews, or their Enemies, could observe? But I am weary of answering such Arguments as these, which fall of themselves, and which I am confident can never convince those that urge them; and 'tis honester to deny the Authority of Scripture alto­gether, than to explain the Force of it away, by such jejune interpretati­ons.


Why then, Credentius, if you would have me appear a Barefaced Infi­del, I must plainly tell you, that I do not think, that either Moses, or the Prophets, [Page 184] who succeeded him, had any degree of that Inspiration which they pretended to. For what ever is inspired must needs be true, and agreeable, both to Reason and Goodness; but there are many things to be found in their Writings and Lives, which are contrary to both. I shall be­gin with Moses. Indeed, Credentius, you have, in some measure, vindicated him from some Absurdities, which are usually imputed to his History of the Creati­onConfe­rence with a Theist. Part I., but I'm afraid your Art will fail you in doing as much, for some other Objecti­ons against his Books and Character. Now I pray; Sir, what do you think of his History of the Deluge? Don't you think this very odd, that the whole World should be drown'd at the same time? For my part I can as soon believe, that a Man could be drown'd in his own Spittle, as that the World should be deluged by the Water in it. Now Moses says expresly, that all the high Hills under the whole Heaven were covered. Now to do this, we must have water enough to reach up to the Top of the Pique of Tenariff, which is at present three Miles perpendicular, and at the Time of Noah much more, a considerable part of it being washed down by the rains since. Now where shall we find water to cover the [Page 185] Earth above three Miles high quite round? If the whole Ocean were cir­cumfused, it would do little or nothing towards this effect, much less a Rain of forty days. For the Water of the Sea, take one place with another, is hardly a quarter of a Mile deep; for though in some places in a deep Channel it may be half a Mile, towards the shore it is but three or four fathoms, so that all toge­ther it is not more than a quarter of a Mile deep. But if this were all pumped out of the Channel of the Sea, and kept against its Nature by a Miracle stagna­ting upon the higher Earth; it could co­ver the whole Earth no deeper in Water than the Sea is now, which is but a quarter of a Mile; So that there will want two Miles and three quarters of the height which Moses assigns to it. This is upon supposition that the Sea and the Dry Ground are nigh of the same Extent; but I believe an exact survey of the Earth about the Northern and Southern Poles, would shew that the Earth was much larger. But granting them of the same bigness; to raise the Channel of the Sea, three Miles higher (that is, to the Tops of the highest Mountains) round the World, would take up twenty-four times as much Water as there is [Page 186] now in the Sea, twelve Quarters of a Mile deep in Water (i. e. twelve Oceans) to be laid upon the Sea, and twelve more upon the Land. And then pray consider, what becomes of the pre­tended Inspiration of Moses his History, when 'tis Demonstration that there is not the twentieth part of Water in the World, as is sufficient to cause such a Deluge.


Difficulties of the De­luge ac­counted for.Your Gentlemen are often wont to call that Demonstration, which is of­tentimes but lame Argument. For no­thing can be Demonstration against the Divine Power, but absolute Incompatibi­lity and Contradiction. And every Sup­position which shews the possibility of the thing is sufficient to overthrow your Demonstration, as you call it. And therefore several Learned and Ingenious Gentlemen have of late years set them­selves to consider how to give a Philoso­phical Account of the Deluge; and have published some Hypotheses upon this sub­ject, which are full of fine learning and curious Thought. The main of all of them, are good Argument against the Infidels, because each Hypothesis, shews the possibility of that Deluge which they deny. As for the Ancient suppositions, that this immense quantity [Page 187] of Water was owing to the coming down of the supercelestial Waters, or the Con­densation of Air; they are, I think, a lit­tle too unphilosophical for this inquisitive Age, and are therefore like to do very lit­tle good among the Unbelievers.

The most agreeable,Remarks on the late Theories, &c. and surprizing Book which of late Years has offered it self to the World, was Dr. Burnet's Theory upon this subject. The Design whereof was so Great and Noble, the Language so exact, the Thought so de­licate; the whole work so uniform and of a piece with it self, and adorned with such variety of pleasant learning; where­in were such ingenious Accounts given of the Great Revolutions of Nature, of the Formation of the World, the Paradi­siacal state, of the Antediluvian Longevity, the Deluge and Conflagration; that tho' there might want some degrees of pro­bability to make every Reader believe his Theory, exactly True, yet it pleased most of them so, as to think it was pitty it was not. Far be it from me to detract from the ingenious guesses of that Learned Man; but yet there are some things in that Hypothesis, which ly very difficult in my mind, and do not seem so agreea­ble to the Mechanical Laws he goes by, [Page 188] and other Phaenomena, which are obser­vable in Nature. The Oval Figure, which he ascribes to the Antediluvian Earth, seems inconsistent with the present Figure which it is found to be of, that is a Prolate Sphaeroide, or an Oval turned about its lesser Axis (i. e.) of the fashi­on of a Loaf. Which was a prudent design of Nature to make it of this fi­gure, because the additional Heaps of Ice and Snow, which are continually lodged at the Poles, by the vapours con­stantly flying North, and South, should never increase the Globe beyond a Circle. His excluding the Annual Motion of the Earth, and its Motion of Parallelism to the Poles of the World, allowing it only a simple Motion round an Axis Parallel to the Poles of the Ecliptick, and consequent­ly taking away the vicissitude of Sea­sons, which is one of the greatest Beauties of the World; and leaving the greater part of it uninhabitable, is a matter which one cannot so easily comply with; especi­ally when the first Chap. of Genesis says, that the Stars shall be for times, and for seasons, and for Days, and for years. And so is his exclusion from thence of the Seas, Hills, and Great Rivers, allowing only some trilling streams from the Poles. For the World without the Sea, would be [Page 189] but a Prison, where Men would be lock'd up from one another without intercourse, would have no communication in Com­merce, Arts, Invention; but People must be content to live uncomfortably at home, upon their own Stocks, and their own Improvements. Without Hills, Men would be bereaved, of the Ornament and Convenience of Metals, of the usefulness of Minerals and Stones; and Men would have wanted Money, Domestick Utensils, Physick, and Buildings. Nay without Hills to drain off the Mist and Rains, and Seas to eva­porate the Mist and Rains from, it is un­accountable to me, how there should be such a thing as a River in the World; and I fancy the easy descent upon the de­clivity of an Oval as big as the Earth, is not agreeable to the Laws of Hydrosta­ticks, and the usual current of Waters. Nor is it less difficult to me to imagine, how a Crust of so vast a Thickness, as that of the Earth must be, should be bro­ken by any natural force, especially being supported equally by the subterraneous Waters; or as for any fissures or cracks by the Heat of the Sun, they are de­monstrated in the hottest Countries, not to go many Yards into the Ground; and as for any Earth-quakes raised by evapo­ration [Page 190] of the Abyss below, every Ditcher can tell, that the Heat of the Sun-beams does not go so many inches under Ground, as this Hypothesis must sup­pose Leagues; and besides Earth-quakes, and subterraneous Eruptions, are not caused by rarefied Vapours, but by the accension of sulphureous Damps, which like Gun-powder, rend, tear, and car­ry all before them, and are often wont to break out in visible Flame. Nay fur­ther, those vast Fissures and ugly Gaps would have been more inconvenient and unsightful in the Antediluvian Earth, than the most barren Mountains and roughest Seas are with us. Neither does the usual depth of the Channels of the Sea, seem to answer to the Depth of the Abyss; nor the regularity of the Mountains to the accidental Fragments of such a Crust. There would then appear frequent­ly prodigious Wells and Gaps, where the fragments did not exactly meet, and such horrid and naked Apices, which could not by this time, have been any thing smoothed by Rains, or covered with Grass or Herbs. Nay even in the very situation of the Mountains, and greatest Hills, there appears wise contrivance, and not accidental Fracture; for to go no further than our own Country, all our [Page 191] great Ridges of Hills, in England, run East and West, so do the Alps, in Italy, and in some measure, the Pyrenees; so do the Mountains of the Moon, in Af­rick, and so does Mount Tauras, and Caucasus. And further there appears a prudent foresight, in not making the ridges of Hills, continued, but by break­ing them off into Tumuli, or Heads, parts of each of which lies obliquely behind another, and generally admits a skew passage between. For unless there was such a Ridge of Hills frequent from East to West, the Vapours would all run Northward, and there would be no rains in the Mediterranean Countries, but the Rivers dried up, and the Sea it self in time evaporated and frozen into Polar Ice. And unless the Hills were divided into these oblique Breaks, so as to keep back the Vapours and let in the Northern Air, the World would be far more liable to Pestilences and Putrefaction than now they are, and all Places as unhealthy as Scanderoon. These things, with the De­duction of the Americans from another race than Noah, and some other matters of less consequence, are my reasons why I cannot subscribe to that learned Doctor's Solution of the Noachical Deluge; and therefore must beg his leave to cast about [Page 192] and see if I can find a better elsewhere, that I can more easily acquiesce in.

Dr. Woodward, to whom the World is forever indebted, for his curious and dili­gent Observations of Shells and Minerals, and other subterraneous Phaenomenas, has promised in his Essay, a more natural Hypothesis; but one of the Grounds which he designs to build his Theory upon, does seem to me so precarious and impossible, that I must see a great deal of good proof, before I can assent to it. For it does not appear to me, how it is possible that the waters continuance a few months upon the face of the Earth should dissolve the Compages of the most rigid Fossils, and suspend the particles of them all in the circumfused water, except only conchous substances; and that, when the waters were withdrawn, they should be let down to fix and be com­pacted again. For if it was possible that water in so short a space could dissolve Marbles and Adamants, yet methinks the same should more easily dissolve Oister­shells and Cockles, which are of a more tenuous composition, and more easy of Dissolution.

Mr. Whiston, in his Theory, has avoid­ed most of the Difficulties which were chargeable upon the First, and has given [Page 193] the World a Tast of the extraordinary Mathematical, and Philological Learn­ing he stands possest of. The chief fault I find in him is, that he has stuck more to Mr. Newton's than Moses his Philoso­phy, and seems too too fond and credu­lous of his Ingenious Hypothesis of the Comet. Nay the imputing this great Catastrophe to the necessary Laws of a Comets Trajection, which the Scriptures tell us was sent by God for the Sin of Mankind, seems to give too great a scope for the scoffs of Libertines, and the Atheistical Fatality. His Turning Days into Years, and denying the Diurnal Re­volution of the Earth at first, is methinks a little too bold, when it does not seem at all to favour his Hypothesis, but only to give God six Years time to work in, when the Infidels already grudge him so much at six days. His fancying two Courses of Rain from the Scripture, which only seems to repeat the Relation of one, is not to me so satisfactory; nor his Exclusion of Clouds and Mists, which is agreeable indeed to the Burnettian Theory, but, I think, not to his. Nei­ther can I conceive, that the bare pas­sing through the Tail or Atmosphere of a Comet could afford the thousand part of the Water that Theory has occasion for, [Page 194] and he himself is forced to fetch a great part of it from the Abyss. Nor is it cre­dible, that the Earth, a cold Planet, should go off with 750,000. Miles of the Comets Tail, which could not be supported by the Comet it self, but only by reason of the burning heat of the Body of it. And it is a mi­stake, I suppose, to think, that the round Circle about the Body of the Comet is a watry Atmosphere much grosser than the Tail, so as to afford nine times as much Water to the Earth passing through that, as through the Tail; for the Ring is by some curi­ous observers thought to be only the curling and winding round of the smoke, rising at first to a determinate height from all parts of the Comet, and then making off to the part opposite to the Sun, as you may see Fig. III. Nei­ther do I fancy that the Earth, passing e­ven through the Atmosphere of a Comet, could gain any more Water by that, than any thing can do by passing through the smoke of a Chimney; for both of them are but smoke, only the former is the thinner, as being the Fume arising from the Terreous part of the Comet, by its Parelion almost vitrified and calcined, the aqueous parts being first [Page 195] evaporated and sent off farther in the extremity of the Tail. And besides, I cannot conceive, how the Earth should not almost have been fired, and Noah, and his Ark, burnt to powder, by the glow­ing heat of the melted Planet; for ac­cording to my little Philosophy, I should imagine it as comfortable living in a red hot Oven for an hour or two, as in such a sultry Atmosphere as this. And it is hard to think, that this Comet should give no more disturbance in this part of the Universe, but only to turn the Earths Annual Orbit, from a Circle to an Ellipsis; for according to Mr. Newton's Principles, if the Comet had been bigger than the Earth, it had carried it away to rights in its Parabola, through the vast extra-Satur­nine spaces, and if it had been less, it had been stopt by the Earth, and so we had been troubled with its smoaky Tail about us ever since. Or if it had been of the same bigness with the Earth, and if it had well nigh the same celerity with the Earth, we should have had the same troublesom Companion nevertheless; or however, it is ten thousand to one, but it would have run away with our Moon, if it had happened to have come nigher to That than the Earth does. Nor does it ly easy upon my mind, how such a prodi­gious [Page 196] quantity of Water, that he sup­poses to have come from the Comet, could be disposed of; it is impossible it could be one quarter of it suspended in the Air, or lodged in the Channels of the Seas; for the Channels could bear no pro­portion to it. Nor can I think the Seas were so much as inlarged by the Deluge, but that they both, before and since, have been growing less, and less, by the pro­digious quantities of Water employ'd in the production of Trees and Plants, which are reduced afterward into Mold, and always retain the species of Earth, or ly buried in the Ground, and never re­turn to the Sea again. To say nothing of how much more is employed in the con­cretion of Stones and conchous substances, how much is licked up by the Aether out of the Atmosphere as the Earth is swim­ing through it, how much more flies over in vapours to the Poles, notwith­standing the Barricado of the Hills is frozen there and never returns again, un­less some few Particles, it may be, of them at some seasons of the Year in Winds: and to pass over the observations of the Channels of great Rivers near the Sea, which seem formerly to have been far broader than they are now, and the many great Countries which the Sea has [Page 197] deserted. And besides lastly, in my mind it is impossible that the swelling of the Abyss should alter the figure of the Earths Crust, from a Circle or Oval to a Sphaeroide; that the Water had force e­nough to do it; or that this effect could happen without shattering the whole Compages being of a brittle saxeous sub­stance, into pieces. These are my rea­sons, why I cannot acquiesce in the Hy­pothesis of that ingenious and learned Gentleman, as exactly True; Yet I think it a curious Essay to shew the Infidels not only the possibility of the Mosaick Hi­story, but how finely it may be made to correspond with Philosophy; and af­ter all, that 'tis easier to find faults with this Theory, than to compose another so good.


Well! Now you see how these great Wits are miserably at a loss, to ex­plain this unaccountable History; and therefore it is in vain to try any further to explain that, which will admit of no solution. So that you had better ingenu­ously give up the Cause, and own that it is an impossible Relation, calculated only for the Illiterateness of those times, to make the Jews stand in fear of the Deity, when they were told that such [Page 198] a Tragical Punishment was inflicted by him upon Mankind for their Sins.


If God was the cause of the De­luge, as our Religion supposes, and not Natural and Mechanical Causes of their own proper Tendency; then God might bring it to pass a thousand ways, that we know nothing of; for his Omnipotence will be able to bear up against all the pre­tended Impossibilities that you are able to raise against the History of the De­luge.

Tradition in all Na­tions of a Deluge.1. But if this History of the Deluge be such an impossible unaccountable Hi­story, how come all the Nations of the World, to have such an impossible No­tion got into their Heads? Though se­veral Men might have the same unac­countable fancies, yet it is hard to think that all Men should be troubled with the same Dreams. And it seems to me to have more impossibility, that all Nations should have Traditions of a Deluge, if there had been no such thing as a Deluge; than a­ny you can shew me in the Deluge it self. The Babylonians, Phoenicians, Assyrians, in their Histories make mention of a De­luge, as you may see in Eusebius and Jose­phus. Deucalion's Flood was so famous in all the Greek and Latin Mythologists and Poets, that nothing more need be said of it. [Page 199] Martinius in his History of China relates the same of the Chinese; and so does Josephus Acosta, Herera, and De Laet of the Americans. And Lucian De Deâ Syriâ. relates the ancient Tradition they had of the De­luge at Hierapolis in Syria; which is al­most as exact as the Mosaick relation of it. The account, though it be some­thing long, is not unpleasant, and deserves consideration. This Race of Men, which now is, was not the first; but that Race was quite destroyed. But these are of a second Generation, and from their first Progenitor Deucalion have increased to so great a Mul­titude as we see. Now of those former Men they tell this story: They being contentious, did very unrighteous things, they neither kept their Oaths, nor were hospitable to strangers; for which this great misfortune befel them: All of a sudden the Earth gave out of her self a great quantity of Water, there were mighty showers, the Rivers overflowed, the Sea was much higher, by which all things became Water, and all Men perished. Only Deucalion was left unto the second Generation, [...] This is a­greeable to what the Scripture says of Noah his being a Preacher of Righteousness to the ungodly Antediluvians. upon account of his good Counsel and Piety. Now he was saved after this manner. He had a great [...] (i. e.) an Ark or Chest, into which he came with the Children and Women, of his House; and then enter­ed, Hogs, and Horses, and Lions, and [Page 200] Serpents, and all other Animals, which live upon the Earth, [...], all of them with their Mates. And he re­ceived them all, and they did him no harm; for by assistance from Heaven there was a great amity between them. So all sailed in this one Chest, as long as the Water did predominate. But these things are told in the Greek Histories of Deucalion. But of those things which happened after, one thing worthy of great admiration is told by the Inhabitants of Hierapolis; That in their Country, there was a great Gap in­to which all this Water sunk. Ʋpon which, Deucalion built Altars and a Temple over the Gap, and consecrated it to Juno. I my self saw the Gap. It is very little at the bot­tom of the Temple, as I told you. Whether it was formerly bigger or no, and grown nar­rower by Age, I cannot tell; but this I can tell, that That which I saw was but little. Now they make this the sign of the History. Twice in a year Water is brought into the Temple: and not only the Priests bring it, but all Syria and Arabia. Nay Men come even from Euphrates to the Sea, all carry­ing Water; which they first pour into the Temple. Then the Water descends into the Gap; and though the Gap be small, yet it receives a prodigious quantity of Water. And when they do this they tell, that Deu­calion [Page 201] first instituted this Custom, to be a Memorial of the Calamity, and his Deliver­ance from it. This is the ancient Tradition which those about the Temple tell.

From which Relation it is remarkable, that it was the Opinion of the People of Syria, that there had been an universal De­luge, that a certain Man and his Family were saved in an Ark, and a Male and Fe­male of every kind of Animals, to restore again the drowned Creation; and that all this vast quantity of water sunk into an Hiatus of the Earth, and made the World habitable again. Now I hope, that Moses his Relation is not so incredi­ble when it has the joynt Testimony of so many Nations, and particularly the Heathen Syrians so exactly corresponding with it. Indeed this story in Lucian is told after his way drollingly, as if he did not believe it; but yet there is no questi­on to be made but that it was the relati­on of those People, though he has a mind to expose it.

But I need not trouble my self to prove the Being of a Deluge by Traditi­on of Nations, when late observations have given Demonstration of it. The Beds of Shells which are often found on the Tops of the highest Mountains, and petrified Bones and Teeth of Fishes, [Page 202] which are dug up hundreds of Miles from the Sea, Trees and Shrubs buried many fathoms under ground, are the clearest E­vidence in the World, that the Waters have some time or other overflow'd the highest parts of the Earth; which was the Deluge which we contend for. The truth of these matters is not to be con­tested now, by any that have but the least Insight in Experimental Philosophy. Nor can it be with any degree of proba­bility said, that all these subterraneous Bo­dies are but only the Mimical and mock Productions of Nature, for that these are real Shells, the nicest Examination both of the Eye and the Microscope do attest; and that they are true Bones, may be experimented by burning them; and then they will first turn into a Cole, and afterwards into a Calx, as other Bones do. How far Nature may sport her self in the subterraneous World, in the impression of the Images of Terrestrial Plants upon Slate and Coles, I will not dispute; but that it should produce True Bones and Shells, which answer in all respects to those of the Genuine Animals, is incredible, and next to the boldness of an Epicurean Concourse, for the Frame of the World.

[Page 203]2.That the Deluge was possi­ble. I shall therefore only set my self to prove, that there is Water enough in or about the Earth to drown it, and to rise up to that height which Moses did report it did.

I confess I do no think, that the Waters of the Sea are one quarter enough for such a Deluge, and therefore it must be sought for elsewhere. That there is a vast quantity of Waters under ground,Vid. Dr. Burnet's Theor. p. 1. and an Abyss within the outward Crust of the Earth, is I think evident to any who considers, that in many places the Sea disgorges it self into the bowels of the Earth, and does not pass off by any Out-Current. The single Mediterranean Sea is a sufficient Instance of this: for considering how many, and some vast Rivers run into it, and it having no vi­sible outlet, what should become of the Waters? Nay considering that there are two Currents of the Sea set into it, one at the Straits of Gibralter, and another vastly strong one of the Pontus, which the Ships do, with difficulty, bear up a­gainst; it must necessarily be allowed, that this Sea does empty it self by sub­terraneous passages into some great receptacle of Waters underneath. For otherways, many Ages ago the Mediter­ranean had over-flow'd and drowned se­veral [Page 204] Countries on the adjacent Shores. Nay the fathomless bottoms there which some have tried in vain with so much Cordage to reach,Vid. Dr. Smith's Account to the Royal Society in the Phi­losophical Trans­actions. is the most evident proof which can be of the Truth of this Assertion. And the same holds likewise in the Caspian-Sea. And I think there is little doubt to be made, but those dange­rous Gulfs and Eddies which the Sailors shun in many parts of the Ocean, are but only great Holes or subterraneous Passages, through which the upper Sea is gulping down into the Abyss beneath. Now if there be such a great Receptacle of Waters beneath the Earth, as there is no question to be made of it, so many mighty Seas continually running into it, then the Earth must be hollow, and on­ly a superiour Crust concluding within it an Abyss of Waters, as is represented, Fig. I. and Fig. II. If there be the same Quantity of Water remaining as there was at the Creation, then the total Hollow of the Earth will be filled up with Water: but if any part of it be lost, or consolidated upon the outward superficies of the Earths Crust; then by the Laws of Attraction, if the Water does not exceed in Gravity the Circum­ambient Earth, it will lye round it in the Ring P S R Q and there will be a [Page 205] Hollow in the Central Part u w x z. But if the Body of Water be of greater Gravity than the Crust of the Earth, then the Mass of it will lie next to the thickest part of the Earth, or where there is more Matter; so that if the Earth be thicker about the Pole X, or if there be any Internal solid there, it will then lie round part of the Limbus of the Earth U T X Y and leave the Hol­low at U Y. Fig. II. Now suppose the Diameter of the Earth or Terraqueous Globe to be, as it is thereabouts, 8000 Miles, and the thickness of the Crust of the Earth a 32d part of this, as the second Figure represents, then the Crust will be 250 Miles thick, which will be a so­lidity strong enough to contain the In­ternal Waters, to resist the chapping from the Sun, to keep a consistency in all the rapid motions of the Earth. Or let it be an Eighth part, as is represented, Fig. I. and then the Earths Crust will be 500 Miles thick, which to be sure is abundantly sufficient. Now upon either of these two Suppositions, there will be Water enough, when drawn out upon the superficies of the Earth, to drown the World to a far greater height, than what Moses relates. Now it is but supposing, that God by a Miraculous power sucked [Page 206] out part of this Abyss through the Fora­mina, or subterraneous passages which ly dispersed at Bottom of the Sea, as sup­pose about the Point T of Fig. II. to the height of four or five Miles; and then the highest Mountains will be laid under Water, the Water diffusing it self both ways from h to k; so that if it be in h four Miles high, it will be at least three in k, And then if after that the suspend­ing force were taken off, and the Water descended through the same Foramina, and left the Earth dry as it was before; you have, Philologus, at least a possible Account of the Deluge.


But truly, Sir, this Miraculous power sticks most in my Stomach; That is so strangely Unphilosophical and such a subterfuge of dull Divines, that methinks any Man of sense should be ashamed to make use of that shift. Besides, I am not very well reconciled to your Waters which you suppose to fill up the Hollow of the Earth. Indeed those who allow a Central solid have some­what more to say for themselves; but your Hypothesis destroys the Laws of Specifick Gravity, and makes the lighter Waters most unnaturally to ly below the Crust of the heavy Earth.

[Page 207]

Let the supposition of a Miracu­lous Power in the Deluge be as Unphilo­sophical as you please, I am sure it is more Unchristian, and more Unreasona­ble, to suppose, that it came to pass by natural Causes. For if it came to pass by natural Causes, there must have been a Deluge, whether the Antediluvian World had been so wicked or no; and then, the Preaching of Noah to them had been all collusion, and God's Menaces before-hand had been inconsistent, both with his Justice and Verity. If they had repented upon Noah's Instructions, they could not have escaped the Deluge, which by this supposition depended upon necessary Causes, and could not but have been. Or to say that it was ne­cessary both for the Antediluvians to be so perversly wicked, and that the De­luge must likewise happen; is to assert a Fatality of sinning, is at the same time to destroy all Religion, Free-Will, and the Goodness of God. 'Tis therefore plain, that the Deluge did not depend up­on natural and necessary Causes; but upon the just and providential Power of God, which over-ruled the Power of Nature, and might either bring the Deluge upon the World, or withhold it, according to his good Pleasure and Wisdom, or [Page 208] as the Deserts of Mankind did require.

Neither is your Notion of specifick Gravity any Objection against our Sup­position of an Abyss being included with­in the Crust of the Earth, even without the Fancy of a Central Solid, or Dense Fluid, which some imagine. For the notion of a Central Solid is but a Contri­vance to keep in the Central Fire that some men fancy there, which otherways would be quenched by the circumambi­ent Waters. But this Central Fire is on­ly Cartesius his Conceit, who by this means has contrived to turn burning Earths into Suns, and incrustated Suns into Earth; which is a Fancy the World now begins to be weary of. And as for a dense Fluid, that I take to be a more precarious Hypothesis, and less to be re­lied upon than the other. Neither can it be supposed, that Nature must be con­fined to work in the Creation according to the Laws of specifick Gravity. For according to this Rule the Sun, which is the Centre of the Magnus Orbis, must be the densest of all the Planetary System, which though it be the biggest, yet is the most thin and Refined.See Mr. Newton's Princip. Philos. Math. Venus, Mer­cury, and the Moon, though nigher to the Centre of the System, are Denser than the Earth. Neither is this rule ob­servable [Page 209] in the Earth it self. For seve­ral of the heaviest Fossils, as Metals, Mar­ble, and Stone, lie often very high to­wards the surface of the Earth, and o­ther lighter Strata below them. Nor is there any reason to think that God in the Creation wrought by such Laws of Gra­vity. For without doubt he wrought either by his immediate Omnipotent Power, or else by a subordinate Plastick Nature, as he does in the Production of Animals and Vegetables since. And here the Laws of specifick Gravity have little or nothing to do; nay we see they are constantly superseded. When the Fibres of a Tree thrust themselves up­wards from the Centre, and the Juices of it, contrary to their own proper Ten­dency, are drawn up so many foot from the Ground, what become here of the Laws of specifick Gravity? Is the body of any Animal composed after this man­ner? If this were so, there would be no such thing as Organical Parts, which are composed so admirably for the Use and Beauty of the Animal. If this were so, a Man, which is the most Beautiful, would be the most clumsy Creature in the Creation. His Bones must all lie towards his Feet, his Flesh next to them, his Blood and Spirits where his Head. And [Page 210] then consider what a Monster of a Crea­ture, this specifick Gravity would make him. Neither does it avail any thing to say, that the Composition of an Ani­mal does in some measure answer to the Laws of specifick Gravity, because the heavy Bones which lie inmost are inclo­sed with the Flesh and Blood which are lighter. But then pray consider, that the Bones were not placed there by this Law, but by the prudent direction of nature to support the pliable Flesh, and to extend it to that just proportion which she designed. But granting the suppo­sition True; yet the Marrow, which is much lighter than the Bones, is conclu­ded within them; the Bones being its superficial Crust, in the same man­ner as we suppose the Earth to be to the Abyss. Now why should not we sup­pose that God used as much Wisdom and Contrivance in the Formation of the Body of the Earth, as in that of an Ani­mal? Or why should specifick Gravity tye him up more in one than the other? No doubt there was the same most admira­ble contrivance in the formation of the course Body of the Earth as in other finer and smaller contextures. Only the Earth is a Body whose parts are so great as they cannot be distinctly view'd at the [Page 211] same Time, and many of them hid from us, and therefore we are apt to conclude that they are less elegant; so we proceed to Philosophize upon it under this mi­stake, and allow it only the rude con­texture which might arise from the bare subsidency of Parts and the Laws of spe­cifick Gravity. But this is a grievous errour, and we might, with as much Phi­losophy pretend to give an account of the Organization of Animals by the same Laws. For I doubt not, but if we were let into the subterraneous World, and could have a distinct view of Stones and Minerals, the excellent Disposition and variegation of the several strata, the won­derful Contrivances of subterraneous Cur­rents, by which one Sea is fed by another, and all receive their Origin from the one great Fountain of the Abyss, and to which they all pay their Tribute again; to consider the spreading Veins of the lesser Springs, which at first are distilled from the Rains and Mists, by uniting together do form the greatest Rivers; if we consider all this, we cannot but al­low, that God formed the Earth with as much Wisdom and Contrivance as other parts of the Creation, and that he might make it to be a Thick-shell surrounding the Abyss, though contrary to the Laws [Page 212] of specifick Gravity, if that did contri­bute to the good of the Whole and the Usefulness of Mankind, as I think the Communication of the upper and lower Seas sufficiently does.


But still, Credentius, this unac­countable Miracle lies hard upon me, especially when your Divines allow, That God generally works by Second Causes, even when he acts Miraculously and above the power of Nature; by gi­ving Nature as it were a power superior to it self. And indeed in the present case, it looks very odd, that God should engage his Omnipotence to make the Water of the Abyss ascend contrary to its Nature, or that his Inferiour Agents the Angels should be employ'd invisibly to pump up so much Water from thence as would drown the World. Without doubt it would lie more easy upon Mens Minds, if this great Catastrophe were ac­counted for in a more natural way; in which the Laws of the Universe are not so forcibly opposed as in this supposition.


For my part, it lies as easy up­on my mind to think, in general, that God miraculously raised up the Water of the Abyss, and sent such continual Spouts and Rains, that in forty days time the whole World was drowned; [Page 213] as if I was able to find out those immedi­ate Causes he made use of in this dreadful Judgment. For after all I must own it to be the Finger of God, either making use of intermediate Causes, or himself immediately producing the Effect. If I am sure the Effect was miraculous, what need I care where the divine power was first impressed, whether immediately upon the effect it self, or upon any of its pre-ex­isting and necessary Causes? I am sure by the divine Relation, that God is in it either first or last, and this is sufficient for my Conviction; and I think, the Holy Scrip­ture is not so much obliged to gratify our Curiosity. I doubt not but there are in­numerable ways which God could have made use of to drown the World, even by intermediate and natural Causes, which the wisest Philosopher never dreamt of; and if any of these ways are shewn to be possible, then all the Argu­ments which would infer the Impossibility of the Deluge are at an End. Now to com­ply with your curiosity for once, I will endeavour to shew what second Causes God might possibly make use of in the de­luging the World, and by what means the Abyss was drawn up over the Face of the Earth. Not that I am so vain to think that he did make use of these [Page 214] means; but that if he did, the effect would be so far from being impossible, that it would, upon that condition, be necessary.

Now it is most generally among the best Philosophers agreed, that the Moon is the Cause of the Tides, and that the nigher she is to the Sea, as at her time of Southing, she raises the Water the higher by her Attraction of it towards her. So that if by the supernatural power of God the Moon were brought very near to the Earth, or the Earth to the Moon, such a vast Tide would be raised, upon supposition there is communication be­tween the Abyss and the Upper Seas, that the World would be drowned to the height which Moses assigns. Now I fancy this might come to pass by the pure Acceleration of the Earth's Annual Motion. For let C D A B represent the Annual motion of the Earth in the time of the Antediluvians,Fig. IV. which is a perfect Circle, in which it is probable all the Planets, af­ter their Creation at first, revolved. Let B represent the Earth, and I the Moon, revolving round the Earth in the Circle I p i l. Now when the Earth was in the Point I, let us suppose its Annual motion to be accelerated, so as to exceed the Exact Proportion there was formerly between the Attraction of the Sun H, [Page 215] and the Celerity of the Earth; and then the Earth, instead of coming to the point B in the Circle C D A B, will go off to the Point c and move in the Ellipsis E F D A. Now by this new Elliptical motion the Earth in the point c will be nigher to the Moon I, by the distance B c, than it was in the point B; which would raise such a Prodigious Tide as would produce the Effect we contend for. And then the Moon for a considerable time would revolve about the Earth at c in the Circle I m h, instead of its ancient Orbit I p i l, which will so long keep up the Tides over the whole face of the Earth, as is described Fig. I. and II. But the Tides will decrease gradually as the Moon by her Menstrual Course shall have made more Perihelions, for every time she comes nigher to the Sun, the Sun will more and more conduce toge­ther, with the resistance of her own Im­pressed Motion, to draw her from her late contracted to her ancient and more enlarged Orbit. So that a month or two after, when the Earth, in its Annual Course, shall be in the Point F, and the Moon be in her Perihelion Q she shall then have enlarged her Orbit to o Q [...] greater than her contracted one w y z, or m h I, so that after five months, the time of the [Page 216] Continuance of the Deluge, when the Earth shall have come to the point D, then the Orbit of the Moon shall be in­larged to u s t, equal to her former one I p i l, or as great as her other she had before the Acceleration of the Earths Motion. So that then the Moon being as far distant from the Earth as formerly she was, those great Tides will be over, and the Deluge at an End; all the Wa­ters being again sunk into the Belly of the Earth, through the same Cavities by which they ascended.


But stay, Sir, this does not much mend the matter, for this attributes the cause of the Flood only to the breaking up the Fountains of the great Deep, which Moses likewise attributes to another cause, viz. the Rain of forty days and forty nights.


Indeed, Moses says, that at the beginning of the Deluge it rained forty Days and Nights; but he does not say that these Rains added any thing considera­bly to the Deluge of the whole World. They only raised the Waters to such a height that the Ark was born up, and swam upon the Waters. And the Flood, or Rain, was forty Days upon the Earth: and the Waters increased and bore up the Ark, and it was lift up above the Earth, Gen 7.17. But in the two following Verses is [Page 217] expressed the Effect of the Waters rising out of the Abyss. And the Waters prevail­ed and increased greatly upon the Earth, and the Waters prevailed exceedingly upon the Earth, and all the high Hills, that were un­der the whole Heaven were covered. So that what was the Effect of the Rains to lift up the Ark, Moses calls only increasing of the Waters; but when he afterwards speaks of the eruption of the Abyss, he says a great deal more, that Waters in­creased greatly, and prevailed exceedingly. And indeed this previous Flood from the Rains, or Preludium of the Deluge, was wisely designed by God Almighty, that the Ark might be lift up, before the Torrent from the Abyss came; or other­ways such a mighty Current running with so great a Force, would have overthrown and drowned it before it could have been lifted up. But a Rain of forty Days having before made a Land-Flood, great enough to bear up the Earth, the fury of the roaring Torrent of the Abyss would be broken by the yielding Waters under the Ark; and so would by degrees be raised to the height which the Waters rose to without Danger. I will not contend that there was no more than this forty Days Rain; for it is probable that it Rained the great­est [Page 218] part of the Time that the Waters co­vered the surface of the Earth; for the Sea then being above as large again as it formerly was, must supply a far greater quantity of vapours than could possibly be suspended in the Air, and therefore must fall down in frequent, or continual spouts, or Rains. This I take, Philo­logus, to be a possible account of the De­luge, and is a sufficient confutation of them who decry it as an impossibility.


Well! supposing that the Ab­surdities of Moses his relation of the De­luge are not so great as are generally ima­gined, yet I cannot allow him to be a true Prophet; because the pretended Miracles by which he endeavoured to establish his Laws and Doctrines, seem to me to be mere Artifice contrived only to beguile the silly Jews, and to lead them tamely by the Nose without opposition. They poor Creatures! thought that God wrought mighty Miracles by his hand, whilst he was only working De­signs for himself, to purchase himself Admiration among the Rabble, or else to gain a Jurisdiction under the specious name of a Theocracy. But alas! these Miracles are all Craft and Collusion, which any Cunning Man might seem to do, If he had but such simple Inspecters. [Page 219] Witness his pretending to receive the Law in Mount Sinai; where he gave out that he conversed with God, who appeared there in smoke, and thundering and lightening. No doubt the poor folks were strangely amazed at this terrible Scene. But Moses or any other intelligent Man, knew well enough, that there was no great matter in it. For all this wonderful Appearance was in all probability only a Volcano in that Mountain, which Moses did very politically forecast, that the Jews should not come to the knowledge of. For if they had run gazing up the Mountain as well as he, the secret would have been found out, and the Miracle spoil'd. But Moses very prudently commands,Ex. 19.13. that a hand shall not touch the Mountain, but he shall be stoned or shot through, whether it be beast or man: nay, not so much as the Priests themselves must come up, lest the Lord break forth upon them, ver. 24. but only Moses and Aaron, who were let into the Mystery, must come there. Nor is this Volcano in Mount Sinai only a Con­jecture, but is confirmed by the observa­tion of Travellers, who still behold the Mountain full of Ashes, which do plainly shew the Ruins, as it were, of an ex­tinguished Aetna. This, Credentius, is an Objection not to be bantered off; for [Page 220] if this stands, your whole revealed Reli­gion shakes; because this is the very Foundation of the Jewish and Christian Institution; and if there be any Trick here, as is much to be feared, all that is built upon it, is good for nothing.


There is so much false suggesti­on and groundless Assertion in this last Objection, that it is intolerable; and one had need of the Patience of that Holy Religion you are opposing, to be unmoved at it.

1. But 'pray, Sir, what By-Ends had Moses to serve by his playing this sham Prank, as you do suppose, in the Mount? He could not get a greater Authority o­ver them than He had before; he had been their Deliverer from the Aegyptians, and was their conducter in the Wilder­ness, and had as absolute command over that People as could be desired. Neither could Fame or a Desire of raising his Fa­mily, put him upon any such indirect Methods. For he seems to have been the most sincere and modest, and most disinterested Man of all Men that ever lived. He is so open and faithful in his History, as to record his own Failures, and those of his dearest Relations, his Brother, and Sister. He gave the Priest­hood, which was the most considerable [Page 221] honour in that Nation, away to his Bro­ther Aaron's Family, contenting himself that his own Posterity should only be ranked among the Ordinary Levites. And at his Death disposed of the Govern­ment to Joshua, a Stranger. Neither is it credible, that he would make use of such a mean trick as this, which was so easy to be discovered by every bold Man, whose curiosity might prompt him to venture the Menaces, especially when he had established sufficiently in them an Opinion of his miraculous power, by all the wonders which he had done in Aegypt, and at the red Sea.

2. Nor is there any tolerable ground for this supposition of a Vulcano's being formerly in Mount Sinai: I know your Brother Infidels make a mighty Noise with this story, but I believe they have very little Authority for it. I have seen several Draughts and Descriptions of this Mountain in Books of Travels, but ne­ver found any thing which made for this story. The likest matter, which ever I could find, and which might perhaps give contenance to this Assertion, is a Relation I find in the Travels of Christo­phorus Furerus a German Knight.Itinerari­um Christo­phori Fureri Printed at Norimberg, 1621. And he in the Description of St. Catharines Hill, which is nigh Sinai, has these [Page 222] words. In valle propinquâ Collis est miri aspectus, quasi totus exustus esset & cineribus tectus, quo loco Mosen ovium soceri sui pascendarum curam habuisse memorant. In the Neighbouring Valley there is a Hill which is wonderful to look upon, appear­ing as if it was all burnt and covered with Ashes; in which place they say is the place where Moses kept his Father-in-Laws Sheep. Now unless it can be suppo­sed that this Hill was Mount Sinai, it will signify nothing. But the same Furerus gives a particular Description of Sinai in the following Chapter, and therefore, that can be none of the Hill which he before described. This is in all probability some little Hill nigh St. Catharines and Mount Sinai, whose Earth is of a blackish colour and barren, not unlike many of our Heaths. And this is all the ground I can find they have for the Volcano of Sinai. But supposing that little Barren Hill, were Mount Sinai, they very little un­derstand the Nature of a Volcano, to think there should remain no other Marks of it, than only a black ground like Ashes. Read but the Descriptions of Mount Aetna in Polybius and Strabo, and you will strait be of another mind. For all such Burning Mountains have an Open Mouth on Top of them through which [Page 223] they belch out their Flames, which the Ancients called the Crater; because the disgorged Cinders and melted Metals of Mount Aetna, being hardened about the Brims of the Hiatus, did resemble the Lips of a Pitcher. Now 'tis impossible there should be a Burning Mountain without such a Crater, or Hiatus; which would needs appear after the Fire was gone out, in the figure of a Monstrous Gap unto the End of the World.

3. Nay this Appearance of God, or of an Angel representing him, in Flames of Fire, with Earth-quake, Thunder, &c. is very agreeable to all the Ancient Theo­logy. For my part I am of Opinion with many of the Ancients, that it was a superior Angel that personated God, and not the second Person of the Trinity, as some. And this is more agreeable to Scripture, as when it is said, Gal. 3.19. That the Law was given by Angels in the hand of a Mediator (i. e.) Moses. And so Josephus remarks of his Nation;Antiq. Hist. Lib. 15. We have received of God the best and holiest Parts of our Law by Angels. And so the Author of the Questions to the Orthodox,In Just. Martyr's Works. The Angels which spoke in Gods stead to men, were called after Gods name, as the An­gel which spoke to Jacob and to Moses. Nay sometimes men are called Gods. To both [Page 224] these it is granted to possess God's Name and his Place, by reason of the Office which is intrusted to them. But when their Office expires, they then cease to be called Gods, be­cause they received that compellation only for the sake of the Office. And therefore Jamblicus Jamb. de Mysteriis Sect. 2. Cap. 3. calls the Heroes and Daemons [...], Spirits that appear for themselves to Men; whilst the superiour Spirits have their Representatives. And so Socrates Plutarch de Genio Socratis. could not believe that the Gods did appear [...], and said all were Pretenders and Cheats who affirm­ed it. Now that when Great Angels appeared, very great Flames of Fire were seen, and great commotion in the things about happened, may be known from the words of an Heathen Author, and who is therefore more unexceptionable.Jamb. de Mysteriis Sect 2. Cap. 4. As often as Archangels appear, certain parts of the World are shaken, and a fore-running Light ushers them in, and according to the largeness of their Empire, is the largeness of their preceding Light proportioned. And so again afterward, the Archangels are full of an excessive Splendour, Angels have some Light, and Daemons a turbid one, &c. And again he says, Archangels Fire is un­divided, that of Daemons is divided, and more circumscribed; and the Fire of the Archontes, the higher they are, is the [Page 225] brighter. And so God himself is repre­sented by the Ancients as dwelling, or inclosed in Fire. So Orpheus in his Hymns:

For round thy burning Throne attending stand
Crowds of Angelick Orders—

And so the Chaldaick Oracles.

When you shall see the shapeless sacred Fire
With dancing gleams shining quite through the World,
Then hear the Voice from out the Fire.

And to the same purpose that Oracle which is extant in Cedrenus and Malela, Not. in Jambli­chum pag. 300. and corrected by the learned Dr. Gale,

[...], &c.
There does from the capacious Heaven descend
Vast and Eternal Light, Immortal Fire,
Which all things tremble at, Earth, Heaven, Sea,
With the Tartarian Vaults; which Daemons dread:
Fatherless Father of all things, alone,
Father and Son to his Eternal self,
Born of himself, Ʋntaught, Ʋnchangeable,
His Nature unaccessible to Reason,
[Page 226]His Habitation Fire; and this is God,
Of whom we Angels are a slender part;
And now in silence from our Altars go.

Now this Notion was so frequent in the most ancient and Oriental Theology, that it might possibly give original to the Worship of the Fire among the Chal­deans and Persians; to those Magi among the Cappadocians, called Pyrethi, which Strabo Lib. 15. make mention of; to the Vestal Fires among the Greeks and Romans, and the like Custom among theSolinus Cap. 35. Britans. Therefore the Unbelievers shew a great deal of Ignorance, when they tax this Relation of Moses representing God's ap­pearing on the Mount in a flame of Fire, with any Incongruity, or invent any groundless stories to account for it; see­ing this is nothing but what is agreeable to the Ancient Divinity and the usual Sentiments of most Nations in the World. And so as for the Earth-quake, or shak­ing of the Mountain, it is no more than what all Nations have thought has come to pass at the presence of God. As Psal. 68.8. The Earth shook, the Heavens also dropped at the presence of God. And Psal. 104.32. He looketh on the Earth, and it trembleth. And Virgil in his Description of the Approach of Phoebus, does in a [Page 227] manner but translate the words of Moses.

—tremere omnia visa repente,
Limina (que) Laurus (que) Dei: totus (que) moveri
Mons circum, & mugire adytis cortina reclusis,
—all things do seem to quake,
The Doors and Laurels of the Gods do shake;
The tott'ring Mountain moves in Eddies round,
And from the Curtain creeps a hollow sound.

So whenever the coming of Hecate is described, as in Theocritus his Pharmaceutria, &c. Or when any great Deity appears, as that great Demogorgon which Lucan mentions, Lib. 3. the Earth is always said to tremble.

—peretis, an ille
Compellandus erit, quo nunquam terra vocato
Non concussa tremit—

But after all here was not the least ground to suspect any Deceit in this wonderful occurrence; for Moses deals very openly with the Israelites in this matter, and suffers them to come up into the Mountain after the LORD had departed thence. And there is a signal given them when they shall venture to come. When the Trumpet soundeth along, they shall come up to the Mount, Exod. 19. v. 13. Now if there had been any thing of this pretended Vulcano in the Moun­tain that Moses had cheated them with, [Page 228] to be sure Moses had forbid them to come up to the Mountain altogether; for their viewing those natural Eruptions af­terwards would have laid open the Cheat; as much as if they had been pre­sent, when Moses gave out he was re­ceiving his Law from God, who exhi­bited himself in that Appearance.


But still, Credentius, there is ano­ther of this Legislator's Actions, which sticks much in my stomach, and that is his making the Jews believe that by a divine power he turned the Waters of the Red-Sea into two solid Walls standing up on each side of the Israelites to let them pass through upon the dry-ground. But to say nothing of the pleasantness of this Miracle: Methinks this was but a cast of the Legislator's Cunning; to coin a Mira­cle out of the Seas Low-water. For it is a Tradition among the Aegyptians, that Moses being a little more subtile than the ignorant Jews, or the Aegyptians which pursued him, understood the exact time of the Tide of that Sea, and so car­ried over upon the Ebb, his People safe, whilst the Aegyptians were lost for lack of better observation.Ant. Lib. 2. Cap. ult. Which Thought so wrought upon the Learned Josephus, that he allow'd the same to be done by Alexander, in passing the Pamphylian Sea. [Page 229] Or however this Miracle is much lessen­ed, if we assert with a great many of the Divines, that the Jews did not cross the Sea; but only went in a little way, and came out again on the same side; and then ignorant folks that lived far off from the Sea, might be imposed upon at the same rate, every time 'tis low water with us.


It is a wonder at this time of Day that you witty Gentlemen who are endeavouring to settle all things upon a new Bottom, should be beholding to one of old Porphyry's Cavils to bespatter our Religion; or to an idle Tale of the Aegyptians. But in answer to these In­sinnations.

1. I am of Opinion,The Israe­lites did not pass round the Head of the Sinus. there is no reason to think, but that the Israelites passed quite through the Channel of the Sea from one shore to the other. For the only reason which gave rise to the other Opinion was the Relation of the Journies of the Peo­ple, Numb. 23. where v. 6. it is said that they departed from Succoth which is on the Aegyptians side of the Red Sea, and pitched in Etham, and from thence mo­ved to Pi-hahiroth, passed through the midst of the Sea into the Wilderness, and so went three days journey into the Wilderness of Etham. Whence they conclude that [Page 230] Etham, and the Wilderness of Etham, must needs be on the same side of the Sea; and consequently the Jews did not march cross the Sea, but only through one side of it, in a semicircle, and out again a lit­tle higher on the same side. But this is contrary to the express words of Scrip­ture which say, they passed through the middle of the Sea. And as for the difficul­ty about Etham, that is fairly solved, by allowing only two Ethams, the one a Town which they encamped at, on the Aegyptian side, the second on the Erabian side, a Wilderness. Instances of which are common enough in Scripture and Pro­phane Histories. But if we must needs have the Wilderness of Etham denomina­ted from the Town, Mr. Le Clerk Dissert. de Maris I­dumaei tra­ject. has ingeniously guessed that Etham the Town was situated nigh the upper part of the Sinus Arabicus, and gave denomination to a great Desert which surrounded the Head of that Bay, and reached down a considerable way on both sides. So that though they marched from the Wilder­ness of Etham cross the Bay, they would be only in another part of the Wilderness of Etham still.

The Waters did not stand erect.2. Neither do I see any reason to assert that the Waters are miraculously conso­lidated; or that they did in a literal sense [Page 231] stand on an heap, or erect like a Wall. But only God sent a strong Wind, as the Text says, which blew back the Tide and all the waters, which covered the sands o­ver against Pi-hahiroth, further towards the Ocean; leaving some waters stagnating towards the Head of the Sinus all along towards the Mediterranean Sea. So that by this mean the sholes about Pi-hahiroth must needs be left dry, for the Israelites to pass over: Indeed it must be a North wind which must produce this effect, or at least a North-East; whereas our Tran­slation says, an East. But there is no ne­cessity of translating Cadim East, it sig­nifying only a strong wind. And so St. Jerom interprets it, ventum vehementem & urentem, a vehement and burning wind. And Ps. 48.7. Thou breakest the ships of Tarsis with a Kadim, the LXX.Vid. Cler. Diss. translate it, [...], with a mighty wind. Vid. Ez. 27.26. Job 27.21. Jer. 18.17. And then this explication will be ve­ry agreeable to the words of the Text, and that division which is assigned to the Waters there. And the Lord caused the Sea to go back by a strong East-Wind all that night, and made the Sea dry-land, and the Waters were divided, Ex. 14.21. Now as for those words in the song of Moses and Miriam, where it is said, that the [Page 232] Flouds stood upright as an heap, and the Depths were congealed in the heart of the Sea, that must be taken only as a Poetical or Metaphorical Expression. And where it is said that the Waters were a Wall unto them, it must be understood only that there were Waters on both sides the sholes they passed over. And this is agreeable to the expression in the Prophet Nahum, Art though better than No-ammone, or po­pulous No, that was situate among the Wa­ters, that had Waters round about it, whose Rampart was the Sea, and whose Waters were a Wall? Nah, 3.8.

Not beat back by a natural Wind.3. Nor did this come to pass by any natural Wind, but by a miraculous one, which the Scripture says was sent imme­diately by God, for that purpose. For no Histories give account, that ever since that time, the Waters were so blown out, which must have often come to pass, if the cause had been natural; nay more frequently of late than formerly, the Wa­ters of all Creeks and Sinus's, being more shallow in these later Ages of the World, than the Centuries which were nigher to the Deluge. But if such Ebbs had been so natural and frequent as the Infi­dels pretend, it was impossible that Moses could have put such a Banter upon so great a Multitude, who could not have all [Page 233] been ignorant of the Tide of so Neighbour­ing a Sea, nor would the Aegyptians have ventured into the danger of a Sea, the time of whose return they must needs know as well as Moses. Nay it is im­possible, that such a great Army should be drown'd by the coming back of an or­dinary Tide, and that there should not re­main so much as one of them. It must there­fore be allow'd, that God kept the Wa­ters back by this preternatural Wind, till the Israelites were passed over, and then suffered them to return back upon the Aegyptians, in their full fury.

4.Alexan­der's pas­sing the Pamphy­lian Streights, no Parallel. It does not make any thing against the Truth of this Miracle, that Alexan­der passed his Army over the Streights of the Pamphylian Sea; for those Streights are naturally dry at every low Water; which, I believe, Josephus was ignorant of, which made him compare it with this great Occurrence in the Mosaical Expe­dition. Now of that matter Strabo writes thus,Strab. Lib. 14. About Phaselis there are Streights towards the Sea, through which Alexander passed his Army. There is also a Mountain called Climax, which lies to the Pamphyli­an Sea, leaving a streight passage to the shore, which is quite bare, in good weather; but when the Waves arise, it is for the most part covered with them. Now the Road by the [Page 234] Mountains is about, and difficult, and there­fore in calm weather they go by the shore. Now Alexander name thither in stormy wea­ther, and trusting to his Fortune, would go over before the Waves were abated, which made his Souldiers go all day up to the Navel in Water. And much to the same purpose does Plutarch speakPlutar. Vit. Alex­andri.. This March through Pamphylia has been a subject to ma­ny Historians of mighty wonder, and fine Declamation, as if the Sea, by order of the Gods, gave place to Alexander, which al­most always is a rough Sea there, and does very rarely open a smooth way under those broken Rocks. And this Menander hints at in his Comedy speaking of a Wonder [...], &c. But Alexan­der himself in his Epistles speaks of no Mira­cle, but only says he passed by Climax as he came from Phaselis. Now 'tis plain this was no Miracle, by the joint Authority of these two Excellent Historians, who make the passage there an ordinary Thing; but the Mosaick Transit must re­main a Miracle still, till you can find as good Historians to vouch for the same commonness of a passage through the Red Sea.

The Aegy­ptian Tra­dition groundless.5. As for your alledging the Traditi­on of the Aegyptians making this Miracle only a Trick of Moses: I think there is [Page 235] little to be built upon the credit of the Aegyptian Traditions, which if hear­kened to, would fill all History full of Fable. And they are less to be depend­ed upon, when they seem to be set up on purpose to discredit the Nation of the Jews, whom they had such a mortal En­mity to, and whom to discredit they coined so many Lies, as appears by the Books of Manetho, Lysimachus, &c. Well, but what is this Aegyptian Tradition? It is only a report of the Memphites which was as strongly opposed by the Heliopo­litans. Vid. Clem. Alex. Strom. Lib. 1. Euseb. Praep. Lib. 9. Cap. 27. As appears from the fragment of Artapanus his History of the Jews. Now the Memphites (says he) tell, that Moses who was well acquainted with all the Country, knowing the Time when the Tide would be out, carried over all the Multitude when the Sea was dry. But the Heliopolitans say otherways, That the King followed the Jews going away with what they had borrowed from the Aegyptians, bringing with him a great Army and his holy Animals. But Moses was commanded by a Divine Voice to strike the Sea with his Rod; he touched the Sea with his Rod, and the Waves giving place, he led over his Forces in a dry Tract. Now set this Tradition of the Heliopoli­tans which is very agreeable to the Let­ter of Scripture, and that of the Memphites, [Page 236] which seems only to be a ground­less Cavil against the Jews, both toge­ther; and what do they make more for the Infidels than the Believers? And why are the Memphites to be believed a­gainst the Scripture-History, more than the Heliopolitans for it? But there is no wonder to be made but that there would be variety of Traditionary Stories in the Neighbourhood about such a wonderful Occurrence as this. And thus we find a like story among the Ichthyophagi, who were situated not far off from that place of the Red-Sea, where the Israelites in probability went over, being over against Mount Sinai, Hist. Fab. Lib. 3. thus related by Diodorus Siculus. [...], Among the Ichthyophagi who live hard by, this History is handed down by tradition from their Forefathers, that once there was a mighty Ebb of the Sea, so that every place of this Bay was dry, which then looked green, the Sea flowing to the contrary parts. But when the Earth had for some time appeared, there then came again a great Tide, and made the Bay as it was before. So that you see, Philologus, that these Traditions of the Aegyptians are so far from discrediting the Truth of this Mosaical Miracle, that they tend much to support it. It not being to be supposed, that the Tradition of [Page 237] such a remarkable Action should be to­tally lost in the Country where it was performed; or that it should be handed down with all the particulars of Truth, with which he that did it himself has re­lated it. And besides, if you consult the Descriptions of this Bay given by Belon, Furerus, Thevenot, &c. You will not find that any such Reflux ever happens there now, or that, though there be some shoals which incommode the Ships, Men can at any time pass over upon dry ground.


This is pretty plausible, Sir; but pray how will you be able to excuse his Laws from the Absurdities which they abound with? Now these stab the Jewish Religion to the Heart; for how can those Laws have God Almighty for their Author, which do not so much as seem to be composed by wise Men? I cannot stay to run through his whole System of Laws; but for my part I look upon a great number of them to be ab­surd and ridiculous, others contrary to common Justice, and the rest but mean and pitiful, and unworthy of God the Author. What more silly than the com­mand of not eating the blood of an Ani­mal? as if it was worth the cognizance of a Legislatour to forbid Men the use of [Page 238] Black-Puddings. Is it worthy a Divine Law to forbid the sowing of Maslin, or that poor Folks should wear Linsey-Wolsey? And does it not look a little like a jest gravely to establish, that an Ox and an Ass shall not be yoked toge­ther? Besides, there are other things in the Body of his Laws, which contradict the common notions of ordinary Justice. What is the setting up in his Common-wealth so many Asylums, but only ma­king a Rendezvous, or an Alsatia, for a number of Hedg-Rogues to plague their honest Neighbours; His Lex Talionis is unmerciful Cruelty, that when I by chance, or in a scuffle, have beat out a Mans Eye, I must stand still to let him bore out mine in cold blood. His re­demption of Estates, after the year of Jubilee, is to discourage good Parts and Industry, and to entail Estates for ever, it may be, upon the Block-headed Heirs of those particular Families which first laid hands upon them. His other Laws about Murder, Theft, Sacrifices, &c. are such as are equaled by the meanest Com­mon-wealths, and the ordinariest super­stitions; only here are some things more ridiculous than are to be found elsewhere, with a deal of Injunctions about Red-Cows, Scape-Goats, and forty things [Page 239] more of the same Nature. But if God had been the Author of these Laws, and this Institution, they had without all doubt been grounded upon admirable reason, excellently fitted to the benefit of Mankind, and the usefulness of them to Society, and to make Men good would have been apparent to all that considered them; but these seem only to be an odd jumble of Arbitrary Precepts; for which there is no other but a Womans Reason to be given, Because, forsooth, God would command them. And is not this a fine way of making Laws—


I find you are running,The Jewish the best of all Politi­cal Laws. Philolo­gus, upon your old strain, and therefore I must beg leave to interpose a little. I believe it is want of due consideration of the Laws of Moses, which makes you talk against that, which when you un­derstand better, you would rather admire. For my part I look upon the Judaical to be the most excellent Civil Constitution which ever was, or ever will be in the World; and if you will but compare the three Legislative Books of Moses, with what are extant of the Aegyptian, Attick, and Lacedemonian Laws, the Roman twelve Tables, their Plebiscita, and Imperial Rescripts, nay even when they were collected into the Digests, You will [Page 240] find, that they all fall short of these Laws of Moses. I do not speak this at random, nor in the least to detract from the Roman Laws; but considering the Circumstances of the Jewish Nation, their Laws do, I think, far exceed the o­ther. Indeed the Jewish Laws were not drawn up into such an exact a Systemati­cal Method, nor adorned with such Ar­tificial Terms, nor do so precisely set out the minute Boundaries of Right and Wrong, as the Roman; but yet they are better calculated for ordinary Justice and Neighbourly Society;The extra­ordinary merciful­ness of them. and what is better yet, for Mercy and Charity. I say Mercy and Charity, and I defy any Civil Constitution in the World to shew so many good-natur'd Laws, and enacted with such a tender regard to their Fellow Creatures, as the Jews can. What more kind Constitution could there be than to ordain Cities of Refuge for the innocent Man-slayer to fly to, to avoid the impo­tent Anger of the Relations of the killed, which according to the Custom of those times, were wont immediately to revenge their Kindreds Death; thereby to give him Time to clear himself: which if he could not, the Law allows him to be dragged even from the Horns of the Al­tar, Exod. 21.14. The kind usage [Page 241] which by those Laws is to be given to Slaves; and the stripes which are not to be exceeded in punishing Criminals, are another Argument of the Mercifulness of these Laws above others. The great care which is taken to prevent mischief which might happen by the flat roof'd Buildings of those times by ordering Bat­tlements to be made round them; and the penalty of Womens taking abortive potions, do confirm the same. The for­bidding the Jews to suffer a Beggar a­mong them, and not allowing new Mar­ried Men to be forced from their Wives the first year to the Wars, are a Tender­ness which most other Nations are want­ing in. Indeed the same Laws punish Adultery with Death, but then they are so mild as to punish Theft with only a­bundant Restitution. In which sancti­ons you may see an admirable Tempera­ment of Justice and Clemency; and which may serve for an Example to other Governments, where Adulteries which are irreparable are pretended to be recom­pensed by pecuniary Mulcts, and Thefts, for which restitution may be made, are Capital. Nay in these Laws there is a tender Regard had to Beast themselves, of which the forbidding to muzzle the mouth of the Ox that treadeth out the [Page 242] Corn, is a sufficient instance; mercifully providing that the poor Beast which pro­vides sustenance for us, should not be de­nied its natural cravings after its own. And so it is in the case of the coupling an Ox and an Ass and other [...], ten­derly taking care that one Beast of grea­ter strength should not force another poor Creature of less toil beyond its ability. Thus much I have thought fit in some few particulars to point out the Merciful Disposition of these Laws, which is not so visible in any civil Constitution in the World as in this.

The great Wisdom in them.And, besides, you may perceive as much Wisdom and excellent Design running through the whole frame of it. The Distinction of Families and Registery of their names was the most useful thing which could be in a Common-wealth; thereby to know its own strength and abilities, to prevent Law-suits, and to set­tle Inheritances. The sabbatical or fal­low year was a noble contrivance to keep a Country in fertility, and from being worn out of heart by covetous Tillers. The weekly Sabbath, setting aside the Religiousness of it, was a wonderful ease both to Servants and Cattle, and must even upon this account be esteemed a very wise Establishment, which other [Page 243] Nations were wanting in. But their severe punishment of Idolatry of all sorts, and the great encouragement of the Wor­ship of the one true God, from whom the whole World had relapsed, is such a Glory of the Judaical Laws above all other, as can never be eclipsed by all that can be said against them by Infidel Tongues. Talk what you will of your Solon's, Lycurgus's, and Numa's, but the Idolatrous Worships which they esta­blished by their Laws is enough to ruin their Character in the Opinion of all sober Deists; whilst they must needs have a secret esteem for the Jewish Legislatour in setting the Worship of the one true God among his People alone, in opposi­tion to the whole Idolatrous World. Nay that hostile odium which the Historian calls their Aversion to a free conversation with other Nations which their Law obliged them to, was that which preserved both their Religion and their Laws from the encroaching powers of their Neigh­bouring Potentates: For if they had wanted this, they had been lost in their Babylonian Captivity, and forever mixed with that Idolatrous Nation. And truly this surliness was such a good piece of Policy among the Jews, that we English­men in the midst of our complaisance, [Page 244] should not do amiss to learn, who have so long been fond of fetching over the Customs of a Neighbouring Nation, that they seeing us so very obliging, were once in a fair way to have sent us over their Government and Religion too.

Objections against par­ticular Laws an­swered.As to your exceptions which you have raised against some particular Instances in the Mosaical Law, I think they are not very material. The forbidding of the Blood of Animals for food was a Noachi­cal Precept, as well as Mosaical; which God by a new sanction thought fit under Moses his dispensation to continue. And at the first giving of it in Noah's time it was a very proper Injunction, and highly rational: For God at the same time gave Mankind a Licence to eat the Flesh of Animals, excepting only the Blood. This being as it were a kind of Sacrament, or Token, to put them in mind of the ten­derness they ought to have in shedding Human Blood; as appears by the Con­text, where Murder is forbidden, and Blood is required for Blood. As to your objection against the Law of sowing mixed seed, I presume the reason which Philo gives is sufficient, that the strength of the ground might not be worn out thereby, and no incouragement given to the Husbandman's Covetousness. The [Page 245] wearing linsey woolsey was probably a proud fantastick fashion of the Heathens at that time, which therefore the Jews were forbid to imitate. Though further I believe all the three Conjunctions men­tioned, Deut. 22. of yoking the Ox with an Ass, the mingling of seeds, and wear­ing Linnen mixed with Woollen have, as Theodoret observes, something emble­matical mixed with the precept, to make Men have the greater abhorrence of all venereal commixtures contrary to nature. As for the Lex Talionis of the Jews, let it have been as rigid as you would make it, it is no more than what was practised in other Nations, and had a place among the celebrated Roman Laws in the 12 Tables.Nuct. Anic. Lib. 20. c. 1. And as it is set down in Aulus Gellius is thus; SI MEMBRƲM. RƲPE­RIT. NI. CƲM. EO. PACIT. TALIO. ESTO. But the Jews say that for Mu­tilations where Death did not ensue, a pecuniary Mulct was generally accep­ted and granted to the maimed person; and that the Judge did never inflict the Talio, but upon the desire of the injured party, who unless he were very malicious would rather accept a recompence in Mo­ney. And so for the Return of mortga­ged Estates to the owners at the Jubilees, there is no manner of injustice in this [Page 246] Law, because the Estate could be sold for no more Money than an Annuity from the time of sale till the year of Jubilee, was worth, and it was at the purchaser's peril if he ventured more upon it. And there was incouragement enough for Men of Parts and Industry to raise them­selves by purchace only of Annuities for fifty years: Nay further this Law seems to be excellently contrived to hinder the encroaching purchaces of Covetous Men, which has given so much disturbance in all Common-wealths, and which occa­sioned the Leges Agrariae, which gave such great Content to the RomanLiv. Hist. Lib. 4. cap. 48. Lib. 6. c. 11.14. Citi­zens. So Aristotle in his Politicks says,Arist. Pol. Lib. 2. c. 7. That Solon made a Law, and that other Countries have the same, that every Man should not purchase as much Estate as he had a mind to. And again, the Law forbids to sell a Man's Houshould goods; Id. Lib. 6. c. 4. as the Law of the Locri, which obliges a Man not to sell them unless he can make it out that some great calamity has befel him. Besides, the Law commands to keep those ancient Patri­monies which came by Inheritance. And so again in another place. In many Cities it is established by Law, that no one should have power to alienate the ancient Inheritances. And there is a Law which is said to be of Oxylus, which injoyns that no one should [Page 247] lend Money to another, and take his Estate as a Pawn for it. So that if this be a fault in the Mosaical Laws, the Attick and Ro­man are liable to the same Censure. As for the Red Heifer which is commanded to be Sacrificed, Numb. 19.2. the rea­son most probably is, that such an one is more beautiful and choice, such as the Ancients made use of for Sacrifice; of whichPlut. Isid. & Oysr. Plutarch says the Aegyptians were so scrupulous, that if a Red-Bull had but one black or white Hair, he was unfit for Sacrifice. And lastly for the Scape-Goat, I take that to be an Expiatory Sa­crifice purposely designed to be a Type of our blessed Saviour, and was expiatory only by relation to his sufferings.


For my part I have no great liking to your Types and Figures; but why should not these Laws be given in opposition to the Zabii, those ancient Ido­laters, which Learned Men of late have found out; and from whose Doctrines methinks they give a pretty handsome Rationale of the Mosaick Laws.


Let this Rationale be as pretty as you please, I believe it is very false, and that there were never any more such a Nation as the Zabii, than the Ʋtopians. They never had any more being than in [Page 248] the Dreams of the falsifying Jews, who four or five hundred years [...]go writ some Sham-Books, under their Name. I do not doubt but that Maimonides saw them, and was imposed upon by them, so that the cheat does not lie at his door. The Zabii among the ancient Arabians were esteemed a Name for Sorcerers,Aul. Gellius Lib. 4. c. 1. or Fortune-Tellers, and signified no more than the Chaldaei Az. 2. in Latin and the Gypsies in English. And thus 'tis used in the Alchoran Hist. Dyn. p. 281.: and Abu [...]-Pharaj [...]us set out by Dr. Pocock, says their Profession was the same with that of the ancient Chaldeans. Now should not we make pretty work of it, if we should go to give an account of the old Aegyptian rites and customs, and the Coprick Language, from the lies and cant of our vagrant Gypsies? and tru­ly the case is the very same of those Books which Maimonides relies upon, that pretend to give an account of the old Chaldean Idolaters in Abraham's and Moses his time, and to be wrote as long ago as that.Vid. Maimon. More Nevoch. Part. III. Cap. 29. Now if these Zabian Books, which Maimonides and his Fol­lowers so much rely upon, prove to be Forgeries, then all this Zabian Hypothesis fall to the ground. Now these Zabian Books which Maimonides saw, were one called Haistamchus, another Hattel esh­maoth, [Page 249] or of speaking Images; another called Tamtam, another named Hasscha­rabh, another of the Degrees of the Celesti­al Orbs, and of the Ascendant Figures in each degree, another Book of speaking Images, a certain Book attributed to Hermes, a Book wrote by Isaack the Zabian, which disputes for the Law of the Zabians, and his great Book of the Customs and Particu­larities of the Zabians. Besides, another Book of Agriculture. Now is not this a pretty Library of Books, for the Abra­hamical and Mosaical Times. But if they are so ancient as is pretended, how came they never to be heard of, but a­mong the Jews in Aegypt, or Spain, about four or five hundred years ago? One would have thought, that some of the Writers of the Old, or New Testament, should have spoke of some of them, or some of the Learned Fathers, who under­stood the Orientals, as St. Jerom and Origen, who were so inquisitive this way; methinks, they should have somewhere mentioned them. But to go no further, some of these Books carry forgery in their very Titles. The Book of speaking Images looks like the stories of the Talis­mans which the Arabian talks so much of about that time. The Book of Celesti­al Orbs and Ascendants looks like a forgery [Page 250] about Rambam's time, when the Follies of Judicial Astrology among the Arabians were at the height. But Isaack the Zabian was infatuated to give himself that name, pretending to be older than Abraham, and yet take his Son's Name. Or however his Jewish Name must needs tell all the World, he was no Zabian. And besides Isaack, in his great Book, treats of the Temples dedicated by the Zabii to In­tellectual Forms; whence any body would know, the Book to be wrote by some one, who had been bred in a School of the Peripatetick Philosophy. And the Disputes in those Books about the E­ternity of the World shew, they were compiled by some one, who had been where Aristotle's Arguments upon that subject had been bandied about. I should weary you, to tell you all the simple Tales which Maimonides quotes of these Books; which are all composed in the very strain of the Talmud; from whence any body may guess their Original. They make Abraham very doughtily disputing with a great King of the Zabians, That there is another God besides the Sun, and that the Sun is but the Hatchet in the hand of God. For which the King claps Abraham up into Prison; but not­withstanding that, Abraham disputes [Page 251] there still; so that the King at last fear­ing, lest Abraham should do mischief a­mong his People by his subtile Disputa­tions, seizes all his Goods, and banishes him to the further part of the East. Now does this look like a Zabian, or rather not like a Jew, who had a mind to ag­grandize the great Parts of his Progeni­tor? Besides, the foolishness of that Wri­ter is betrayed, by making such great Monarchies in those Ages of the World, when Kingdoms were generally confined to Cities, or small Provinces, as appears by Abraham's fighting half a score of such Kings with 318 Men. The same Books tell you strange Tales, of Adam, and Seth, and Noah, &c. which plainly shew them to be wrote by one, who was acquainted with the Mosaick Ge­nealogy. That Adam was the Apostle of the Moon, and exhorted Men to her Worship; that Seth was a Renegado to his Father's Worship, and so was Noah, who condemned Image-worship. That Adam went into a far Country nigh India, and brought home a Tree with Flowers, Leaves, and Branches of Gold; and like­wise a Tree of Stone, with the Leaves of another green Tree, whose Leaves would not burn in the Fire; that was so large that ten thousand Men of the bigness of [Page 252] Adam might shelter themselves under it, and that the two Leaves which he brought with him were so large, that each of them would cloath two Men. But I will tire you no longer with these insipid Talmudical Lies, which methinks any body might guess, a Jew to be the Author of. But however, what rare stuff is this to explain Scripture by? One would wonder how it should come into the heads of Learned Men to think, that God in framing his Sacred Laws should have any regard to such idle Tales. For my part I pity them when I see them so sweating themselves in such a silly Enter­prise, and throwing away so much La­bour and Learning to no manner of Pur­pose: and besides the great Advantage they give to the Infidels, to expose the Laws of God, when they see that Chri­stians settle them upon so slender a foun­dation.


It behoves you to be as zealous for your Religion as you can, for you find we get ground upon you every day. We live in a very prying Generation, and 'tis not laying your hand over a sore place in your Religion, that will se­cure it now, you must maintain your cause by pure dint of Argument, or lose it. But what say you now to your great [Page 253] Legislator, when we shall prove, that all his Celebrated Religion which he pretended to give the Jews from Hea­ven, was only pinched from the Wor­ship of the Heathen Aegyptians? And this your own Divines are sensible of at last, and, by reason of the plain Evi­dence of the Case, have given over the Cause to us. For some of them have proved the Christian Religion to be all Jewish; and others the Jewish Religion to be derived from the Heathen: and therefore for my part, I am for taking my Religion at the Fountain head, and so will continue a Primitive Heathen in defiance to all innovation. I have nothing to say to Christianity, for the Judaical Laws are the matter now in hand, and these, I say, were most of them (the Ce­remonial especially) nothing but Aegypti­an Rites, which Moses brought over with him thence; which is a considera­ble Argument against the Divinity of them: for to be sure God Almighty would never have copied his Laws from a parcel of simple Idolaters. To begin with Circumcision, which is pre­tended to be the Characteristick of the Jews, that to be sure was taken from the Aegyptians, or some other Nation; that Ceremony being used not only in Aegypt, [Page 254] but in Aethiopia, by the Colchi and Ara­bians. Thus the Ʋrim and Thummim was enjoyned in imitation of that Locket of Jewels, which hung from the Neck of the Aegyptian High-Priest, mentioned byHist. Fab. Lib. 1. c. 37. Diodorus Siculus. The Linnen-Gar­ments which the Jewish High-Priest and other inferiour ones wore, were copied from the Aegyptian Priest, who wore the like, as Herodotus Herod. Hist. Lib. 2. c. 37. and Plutarch Plutarch de Iside & Osyr. relate. The Cherubims were only the imitation of Apis his Hieroglyphick, or Image the Bull, or of those [...], so much in fashion among the Aegyptians; as the Image of Sphinx upon their Tem­ple Doors does evince. And so was the Ark of the Covenant fetched from the use of the Cista, in the Rites of the Ae­gyptian Osyris, the Orgia of Bacchus, and the Eleusinian Sacra. The Feasts of New Moons were taken from the like practice, among the Heathen; and so were the Jewish Purifications from their Lustrati­ons. And lastly the Temple of Jeru­salem, was but a Copy of those Ae­gyptians, who are observed by Herodo­tus Herod. c. 4., to be the first Authors of Altars, Images and Temples. And what I pray becomes of your Religion now, when the Foundation of it was borrowed, you see, from the most stupid of all the Hea­then [Page 255] Idolaters, that fell down and Wor­shiped the very Pot-herbs of their Gar­den?


I am heartily sorry that the learn­ed Author De Legibus Hebraeorum has put a keen Sword into the Infidels hands,Jewish Rites not derived from the Aegyptian. the better to attack Religion with, which their blunt Arguments would have been less able to do. Not that I think, if Dr. Spencer's supposition should be true, that the Judaical Rites were derived from the Aegyptian; that the Infidels would absolutely get the better of us. For 'tis possible that God Almighty might make such condescentions to the hardness of the Jews hearts and their slavish hanker­ing after the Pomp of the Aegyptian Worships, as to allow them in some par­ticulars of their Ceremonies. But I think there is no necessity of granting this; for all the Rites commanded by the Jewish Law seem either perfectly set up in op­position to their superstitions, or are such as were practised in common with them, and the ancient Patriarchs, or else were such ordinary performances in Religious Worship, as no Nation could easily a­void. I confess, I am far from the other opinion of those who assert, That the Aegyptians, and others of the Heathen World, learned all these Religious Acts [Page 256] from the Jews, because some of them they might learn from their common Fore-Fathers, and others they might jump upon by chance, or be led to them by the natural Tendency of the thing. There are a Thousand things which Men do very alike, and yet neither of them can be said to learn or copy from one another; nor can be so much as said to dream of what the other did. Indeed, Men of Wit and Learning may make a pother about them, shew their own parts in maintaining a Paradox, and amuse un­wary People; but they can make nothing solidly out in such a manner. To make use of an odd Instance. I will undertake to take an ordinary Scrivener's Convey­ance, that is drawn up after the most blundering Rate, and put it into a Learned hand that will vouchsafe to lay out time this way; and he shall fetch your Parallel cases for every period or word out of the Antiquities of Greece and Rome, bring like quotations to every line out of the Codes and Pandects, alledge ap­posite sayings out of Tully and Demosthe­nes, Libanius and Themistius; so that the Scrivener might almost seem to have stollen the Conveyance out of these Books: whereas perhaps the poor Man never heard a word of them in all his Life. And [Page 257] truly I think Dr. Spencer's Book is but a Project of the same Nature. He finds that some things in the Jewish and the Heathen Ceremonies agree, and therefore resolves the first was derived from the latter. Now 'tis an easy thing for a learned Man, that has leisure enough, to pick up out of such a number of Hea­then Books, which are extant, a great many expressions in their Explication of Heathen Rites, which may make them look something like the Jewish Ceremo­nies; and yet in reality they might be no more alike than the Scrivener's Con­veyance to Cicero's Oration pro Milone. But to speak to the particulars which you have mentioned:

1. Circumcision, Circumci­sion not from the Aegypti­ans. though it were not a Rite purely Judaical, yet it was first given to Abraham, and so descended down to all his Posterity; and as to what other use of it there was in other Nati­ons, it was learned from him and his Off-spring. As for the use of Circumci­sion among all the Ismaelitish Race in Arabia, and among the Edomites and o­ther Descendants from Esau and Abra­ham's Sons by Ketura they being of the Seed of Abraham as well as the Jews, it is no wonder that they maintained their Paternal Rite as well as the other. As [Page 258] for the Colchi, Grotius has proved them to be probably of the Ten Tribes car­ried away by Salmanasser, for the Scho­liast upon Aristophanes declares, that they own themselves to be of Jewish Extracti­on. And if the Testimony of Alexander Polyhistor, Jos. Lib. 1. c. 16. quoted by Josephus be to be credited, that the name of Africa came from Afer the Son of Abraham by Ketu­ra, who planted a Colony there; then we have an easy account how Circumcision came to the Aethiopians also. There re­main then only the Aegyptians, and why they might not learn it from Abraham, or Joseph, especially when he was in his grandeur in Pharoah's Court, I confess I could never see any good Reason. In­deed, it is something difficult to think, that a whole Nation should learn such a troublesome Rite of a Stranger. But the whole People of the Aegyptians were not circumcised only the Hierophantae, and the Priests.Epiph. Har. 30. And they might take this up in emulation to Joseph, that they might not seem to be out-done by him in any extraordinary mark of Holiness; as the Magicians vied with Moses in pretend­ing to do the same Miracles with him. And I take it to be plain, that no other Nation made use of an univer­sal Circumcision of all their Males, but [Page 259] the Jews only. The Aegyptians had a­mong them a sort of a Female Circumci­sion mentioned by Strabo, a custom never dreamt of among the Jews. And 'tis evident that the Gentiles generally be­lieved that Circumcision was the Cha­racteristick only of a Jew, or else those reproachful names given to the Jews up­on this account, such as verpus, recutitus, curtus, &c. mentioned by Juvenal, Mar­tial and others, have no sense in them; they being designed to stigmatize the Jews by them, for a particular singulari­ty in this matter above other Nations; which if so many Nations, as you pre­tend, had used, there would be no ground for. But we never find, that these odd names were given to the Aegyptians, Ara­bians, the Colchi, or the Aethiopians; and therefore 'tis plain, that they were not universally circumcised, as the Jews were.

2. And so for the Ʋrim and Thummim, Nor Ʋrim and Thum­mim. although the Heathen Aegyptians might use something like it, yet 'tis more pro­bable, as Grotius says, that they did it ut pueri virorum res imitantur, imitate this as Boys use to do what is done by Men; than that this usage should be taken from the Heathen: This being the Custom of the malicious Daemons, to put their Idolatrous Worshippers upon, as may be seen in [Page 260] many particulars, as learned Men have proved at large. There are two Authors which make mention of this analogous Rite of the Aegyptians, Diod. Hist. Fab. Lib. Ael. Var. Hist. Lib. 14. c. 24. Diodorus Siculus, and Aelian. Diodorus says that the Chief Justice of Aegypt had an Image of Precious Stones hanging from his Neck by a golden Chain, which they called Alethea, or Truth. And that the Causes then began, when the Chief Justice had fitted to himself this Image of Truth. And Elian relates the same not much unlike. Of old among the Ae­gyptians the Priests were Judges. And the Chief Judge was the ancientest among them, who gave judgment to all. Now he of all Men ought to be the most Just and Imparti­al. He had an Image about his Neck of Saphire Stone, which was called the Image of Truth. And Diodorus adds further, that after the Litigants had twice given their Libels to the Judges, then the 30 Judges confer among themselves, and the Chief Ju­stice does [...], apply the Image of Truth to the other side. Now in all this there is nothing so like the Ʋrim and Thummim, as does neces­sarily evince that this Jewish custom was derived from the Aegyptian. For in Ae­gypt this was the Ornament of the Chief Justice, among the Jews the Ensigns of the High-Priest. Among the Jews, it [Page 261] was a standing Oracle to consult in ex­traordinary affairs of state, among the Ae­gyptians used in ordinary Justice. Nor does it appear to me, that this Aegyptian Alethea was any more, than an Honorary Ensign of the chief Judge, who could not regularly perform his Office without it, and had nothing more Oracular in it than a Serjeant's Coif, or an Alderman's Chain. And Petrus Vallensis in a Letter wrote from Grand Cairo seems to have seen a Mummy of one of these old Judges, which does ascertain the Figure of the Aegyptian Alethea. Where he says he had seen a Mummy, about whose Neck a Golden Collar was painted, hanging from his Neck like the Knights of the Golden Fleece. And in the middle upon his Breast, was the repre­sentation of a Plate of Gold, with the Fi­gure of a Bird upon it. Epist. 18. Now this is very different from the Ʋrim and Thummim of the High-Priest, which was made of Cloth beset with Pretious stones. All the difficulty is what Diodorus means by his [...], by applying the Alethea to the contrary side. Now since no History mentions any thing oracular in this; we cannot fancy it more than only some Hieroglyphical Memento to the Judges, of the Regard they ought to bear to Justice and Truth; or to the [Page 262] Witnesses or Litigants, which the Chief Justice did often exhibit to them, to put them in mind of their Duty. But you will say, how then came the Jews to have an Usage so very like the Aegyptian, if they did not learn it from thence? Why, I answer it was a common Ensign of Ho­nour in all Nations, to wear a Golden Chain, and many other People have used it as well as the Jews and the Aegyp­tians. Thus not only Pharaoh, when he had a mind to advance Joseph to honour and a place of great Trust, put a Chain of Gold about his Neck, Gen. 4.42. but the King of Babylon did the same to Da­niel, Dan. 5.29. For as Crowns and Scepters in all Nations have been Ensigns of the Regal Authority, so are Gold Chains and Rings Tokens of the higher Honour, and used not only by the Eastern Satrapae, but even by the noble Gauls in the West. As is evident by what Pliny relates of the rise of the Family of the Torquati at Rome from the first Torquatus, Plin. Hist. Lib. 20. who was called so from his killing a noble Gaul and taking his Chain from him, yet reeking with blood, and puting it about his own Neck. Now what great occa­sion for wonder is there that the Chief Justice of Aegypt had a Chain, with a re­markable Medal appendant to it diffe­rent [Page 263] from other Nobles? Or why might not the Jewish High-Priest hang his Breast-Plate by a Golden Chain, without going to Aegypt for the Invention? For any other Nation could have taught that won­derful contrivance as well as the Aegypti­an. And as to the Appendants, there is so little agreement between them, viz. a Cloth a span square beset with Jewels, and a Golden Medal representing the Fi­gure of a Bird, that one of these can hard­ly be said to have given rise to the other.

3.Priests lin­nen Gar­ments not from Aegypt. As for your borrowing the use of Linnen only for the Garments of the Priests; I think the just contrary thereof is true, and that the Jews in this were ra­ther perfectly opposite to the Aegyptians, than their Imitators. The Breast-Plate and Robe of the Jewish High-Priest were ordered to be made of Scarlet, Blue and Purple Woolen Cloth, only embroidered with wreaths of fine Linnen. But the use of Woollen Cloth was, as Plutarch says, execrable to the Aegyptian Priests, de Is. & Osyr. And Herodotus tells us,Herod. Lib. 2. c. 37. that they wore only linnen, and shooes of the Papyrus, and that it is unlawful to them to use any other garments or shooes. But the Jewish High-Priests Robes were rather like the Babylonians than the Aegyptians. For of the Babylonians Herodotus writes thus, This is the fashion of their Clothing. They use a [Page 264] linnen Garment down to the Ankles, over this they put on another of Wooll, and over all a [...],Id. Lib. 1. a kind of a short white Coat, which does exactly resemble the Ephod. And besides he relates this of the Laity a­mong the Aegyptians, That they wear linnen Coats fringed about the Legs, which they call Calasyris, over this they put white woollen Garments, but they do not come in­to the Temples with them, nor are buried in them, that being profane. Now to take all this together, it seems rather that Moses his Laws, concerning the Sacerdotal Robes, were given in pure opposition to the Ae­gyptians; by ordering that the Jewish High-Priest, the most Sacred Person of all, should wear some of his Garments of Linnen and others of Woollen, like the ordinary Aegyptians in their common con­versation; and that the subordinate Priests should be drest in the Temple but like the common Laity in Aegypt.

Not the Cherubim.4. And so for the figure of the Cheru­bim, there is as little ground for the pre­tended imitation in this as the other. There is no constat in any records of the Aegyptian Antiquities, that there was any thing among them like a Mercy-Seat or Covering over the Ark, adorned with such like figures. I think there is no ne­cessity to assert, that this Covering of the [Page 265] Ark was to be absolutely plain, without any manner of Sculpture. And if the fi­gure of something must be engraved, why not the figure of Cherubim as well as any thing else? Do you think that Imagery was proper only to the Aegypti­ans? Or do you think that all Nations in the World must be beholding to them to make a figure of any thing? Had not they Eyes to behold postures, and fancies to delineate them without going to Aegypt for them? Nay is there not in this Ordi­nance a particular opposition to the Ae­gyptian Idolatry? For their Temples were generally filled with the Images of Monkeys, and Calves, and Serpents, the re­presentations of real Animals, which ac­cording to the natural Deism of those Times, they fancied to be Parts or exhi­bitions of the Deity, and had supreme worship given them. But Moses here orders figures to be made,Antiq. Lib. 3. Cap. 6. which had little or no resemblance of any thing in the World; and therefore Josephus says they had a form [...], like nothing that is seen by Men. Their Ima­ges had divine Worship paid to them, and Temples consecrated to their Ho­nour; but these by the Mosaick Instituti­on were made subservient to the supreme [Page 266] Deity, and constituted Attendants upon his Mercy-Seat; as it were in despight to the Aegyptian Polytheism, shewing that these were the representations only of Angelick Natures, who were so far from being Gods, that they were only God's Ministring Spirits. What was the par­ticular figure of these Cherubims, at this distance is hard to imagine. Indeed, Grotius and others have very inge­niously conjectured from the Creature [...] seen by Ezekiel in his Visions, Ezek. 1.5. and 10.15. which he calls Cherubims, that they had the Face of a Man, the Wings of an Eagle, the Mane of a Lyon, and the Feet of an Ox. And by this Grotius will have the Dispensations o [...] the Divine Providence by the ministery of Angels Symbolically represented; The Lyon representing the Severity of his Justice, the Eagle the Celerity of his Bounty; The Man his Goodness and Mercy; and the Ox the slowness of his Punishment; which comes, (as the Greek Proverb says) [...], with an Ox's foot. Whether or no the Angelick Ap­pearances in this Form were common to the Patriarchs, I shall not now dispute; but the Ideas of the Cherubim seems to have been ordinary enough among the Jews, by Moses his not describing them [Page 267] [...]s he does other Things; and was as [...]ell known as the painting among us of [...]n Angel, in the figure of a Beautiful Tall Youth with Wings. Among all the [...]egyptian representations, I do not find [...]ny thing like this to represent the Ange­ [...]ck Natures; and therefore 'tis in vain to [...]ring in their other Simulacra [...], which were Hieroglyphicks of their Osyris, [...]sis, &c. which they worshiped not as Angelick natures depending upon the [...]upreme Deity, but as Sympiternal Deities [...]hemselves. Neither need we grant that his Hieroglyphical, or Symbolical Imagery was at all owing to the Aegyptians, more [...]han to other Nations; that sort of enig­ [...]atical representation being in use over [...]ll the Eastern Countries, and even the Teraphim in use in the Patriarchs time, Gen. 31.19. And as for the Image of Sphynx, which was frequently Pictured upon the Doors of the Aegyptian Tem­ples, as Clemens Alex. relates, Strom. 5. that cannot be conceived in any wise to have contributed an Origin to the Cheru­bim, not only because they were situated in a quite different place; but because the occasion of the Sphynx being painted there, was to be an Hieroglyphick, that a great many of the Ceremonies in their Temples were enigmatical, and had [Page 268] another hidden meaning more than their outward one did declare.

Nor the Ark.5. Indeed Dr. Spencer has amassed to­gether an abundance of Learning to prove, that the Aegyptians, and Ancient Idolaters made use of a Cista, an Ark or Chest,Plut. de Isid. in their superstitions. That the Stolistae, or those of Osyris his Wardrobe, made use of a Chest or Ark; which any body might guess, without that Doctor's learning, was to keep their Cloths in He shews a great Deal of the use of the Cista in the Orgian and Eleusinian Sacra.

Pars obscura cavis celebrabant Orgia Cistis.
Catul. Pelei Nupt.
Et levis occultis conscia Cista sacris.
Tibul. Lib. 1. El. 8.

Now what a mighty wonder is this, that these Idolatrous Priests, who pre­tended to such an abundance of mysteri­ous and absconded Rites in their super­stitions, should make use of a Chest to keep their Trinkets in, from the Eyes of the Vulgar. If they had been laid open to every Bodies Eyes, all their mysteri­ous Sacredness had been lost; which was kept up by their lying under Lock and Key. Besides, these Priests of Cybele and Bacchus, were a sort of Itinerant Gypsies, that carried about their Trinkets from place to place, and therefore they must [Page 269] have a Chest, or something like it, to carry their Raree-show in; unless you would have them put them in their Pockets. For my part, I cannot imagine any Analogy between these Cistae, and the Ark of the Covenant; only they were both Repositories, the one for the Law, the other for the Idolaters lewd Fop­peries. If the Law was to be laid up carefully, why was not a Chest a very proper and apposite Convenience for this Purpose? Or why must they needs copy from Aegypt such a wonderful Contrivance? Certainly no Nation in the World could be so stupid, as not presently to think of this themselves. But who can think without horror that God Almighty should institute his Sa­cred Ark in imitation of the Lewd Cistae of the Heathen? Read but Clemens Alexandrinus his Protrepticon, and see what those Cistae were filled with, Phalli, Pudenda Bacchi, &c. and let any modest Christian judge, if it can be supposed, that the Purity of the Divine Law could condescend, to be the Ape to such hor­ [...]id Debauchery.

6.Feasts of the New-Moons not Aegypti­an. The reason why the Feasts of the New Moons were commanded to the [...]ews, was not, I conceive, any wise in [...]mitation of the Gentiles; but to engage [Page 270] them more particularly to Piety, and in observation of the Ancient Patriarchal Usage. They were enjoyned them as a pious Institution, that some portion of each division of Time might be kept Ho­ly to give a Blessing to the rest; for as the Sabbath was set aside to be kept Holy in the Week, the Passover, Feast of Ta­bernacles, &c. for the Year; so was the Feast of the New-Moon ordained to give a Blessing to the Month. Indeed, it can­not be denied, but that the Heathen [...] kept holy the New-Moons too, whe [...] they offered up considerable Sacrifice to the Gods, as Meursius, and Monsieu [...] Petit have sufficiently proved, and D [...] Spencer more at large. And it is plai [...] from that passage of Demosthenes, [...]rat. I. in Aristog. when he says, that in the New-Moons all com [...] up to the Acropolis, and supplicate the God to give Blessings to the City and themselves. But then I can never assent, that Mose [...] took this from the Heathens. It rathe [...] seems to me to be a practice of the Tru [...] Worshipers of God through all Age [...] down from the earliest Times; and f [...] descended both to the Jews and Gentile [...] from their common Progenitor Noah [...] And it is yet more probable to assig [...] these Feasts an Original in those ancien [...] Times, when perhaps the Lunar wa [...] [Page 271] the only Year, the Solar Motion being not yet sufficiently adjusted; and then the New-Moon must with them have all the Solemnity of a New-Years Day. Which Opinion will be yet more satis­factory, if we consider the observation which a learned Man has made,Jo. Cler. in Numb. 28. That God does not bid the Jews remember to keep holy the New-Moons, as he does the Sabbath, but only gives them such rites to observe them with, supposing they knew, that they were to be observed before.

7.Nor wash­ings. And as for Washings and Lustra­tions, I cannot assent that they had by any means their Original from the Gen­tiles Lustration, but were probably brought into use by the first Sacrificers in the Eastern Countries, and might be as old as Noah or Adam. For washing the Hands and the Feet was a part of the Ancient Cultus, or Neatness, which was a preparation which was never omitted, when they enterprized any thing which required Neatness or Reverence. Thus we find it used always before Meals in Abraham's time, Gen. 18.3, 19, 2. And without doubt natural Reason would suggest that the same respect was owing to God Almighty, by all who approached his Altar at a Sacrifice; and was as easy [Page 272] and natural a Token of their Reverence they owed to him, as putting off the shoes and bowing down. And I doubt not, but the sprinkling the People with Wa­ter mixed with the Ashes of the Sacrifice, was as ancient: It being used; not only in the Jewish, but in the Roman Sacri­fices. Ovid. Fast. Lib. 4. For it was thought requisite that all, who were present, should in some measure partake of the Sacrifice; therefore as I shewed you before in the beginning of this Dis­course, some eat of it there, and others carried pieces of it home with them. But in expiatory Sacrifices, for the whole People where the Sacrifice would not suffice for all to eat of it, it was thought sufficient to mix the Ashes of it with Water, and so to sprinkle them all with it, that so all might receive something of the Expiation.

Nor the Temple.8. After so many Ages from the first use of Temples, it is a very difficult mat­ter exactly to ascertain the Original of them. 'Tis true, Herodotus says the Aegyptians first invented them, because the Greeks derived most of their Cu­stoms from that Nation, and therefore the Greek Writers seldom fetch the Ori­ginal of any thing any further. I am apt to think that there was not a general [Page 273] use of Temples, till such time as Idolatry spread over the World, and had dedicated the Tombs of Heroes to a superstitious use. But yet long before this, and as an­cient as the Noachinal Times, there were not wanting Temples, or Houses dedicated to a Religious use. For good Men in all Ages have used a Religious Worship in Publick, even in Enos his time, when men began to call upon the name of the Lord in publick Congregations, after Mankind was considerably increased; and therefore in great Cities and setled Polities the Con­venience of Temples for appointed places to meet together in, and to defend from the Injuries of the Weather, could not be long wanting. The ancientest places of Religious Worship I take to be Groves; which were used by the Patriarchs, and were Lawful places of Worship till such time as, by reason of the Idolatrous su­perstition they were applied to, they were taken away by the Mosaical Law. So Lucian says, that Woods and Mountains were first consecrated to the Gods. Lib de Sacrif. And Pliny speaking of Trees says, Haec fuere Numinum Templa, prisco (que) ritu simplicia rura etiam nunc Deo praecellen­tem arborem dicant. These were formerly the Temples of the Gods, and those rural [Page 274] places which maintain the ancient and sim­ple Rites, are wont to dedicate an extra­ordinary Tree to some God. Thus Gen. 21.33. Abraham planted a Grove in Bershe­ba, and called there on the name of the Lord the Everlasting God. And it probably was in a Grove, where Abraham design­ed to Sacrifice Isaac, and where the Ram was caught in a Thicket by his Horns, Gen. 22.13. And so probably was the place where Jacob slept, Gen. 28.22. which he says shall be called the house of God. Not that from hence can be con­cluded that there were no Temples at that time, because the Patriarchs did not use them. For they living a Pastoral unsettled Life could not have conveni­ence to build them, and were therefore contented with the more ancient Cu­stom; but this very last Text implies there were at that time Temples or Houses of God, because Jacob, Meta­phorically, calls that stone, or Place so, which is an undoubted Allusion to the Temples of those Times. And in all probability Noah built a Temple pre­sently after the Flood, for the Conveni­ence of Religious worship. He is in Scripture expresly said, to have built an Altar, Gen. 8.20. which is directly con­tradictory to Herodotus, who make the [Page 275] Aegyptians Inventors of Altars too. And why he might not build a Temple, as well as an Altar, I see no reason. Nay prophane History gives a great deal of incouragement to the Conjecture that he did. For Lucian in his description of the famous Syrian Temple before mentioned, says, [...], &c. Most Men say that this Tem­ple was built by Deucalion, namely that Deucalion in whose time the Deluge happened. So that this ancient Tradition makes Tem­ples as old as the Flood, and does con­firm, that Noah was the first builder of Temples. And Janus, whom learned Men will have to be another name for Noah too, is said by Macrobius out of Zeno, primum in Italiâ templa fecisse, & ritus instituisse Sacrorum, Lib. 1. Sat. cap. 9. He first built Temples in Italy, and instituted Sacred Rites. So that up­on the whole I think, there is vastly more reason to think, that the use of a Temple among the Jews came rather down to them by Patriarchal Tradition, than that it was copied from the Aegyptian Idolatry.

And I doubt not,Other Na­tions have Customs as like the Jewish but that a great ma­ny usages in the Jewish Law came the same way, and were taken up both by the Heathens and them from their com­mon [Page 276] Progenitours; and sometimes it may be by chance and ordinary conveni­ence. And I dare say, a learned Man might as easily prove that the Jewish Ceremonies were derived from any other Nation, where the like are to be found, as the Aegyptians. Vid. Ap. Lib. 3. Cap. 4. Philostratus describes the Vestment of the ancient Indian Priests just like the Jewish; and says they use Oil in their Consecration. And Strabo says it is a great crime there (as among the Jews) to offer a maimed Victim;Str. Lib. 15. that they have a Lex Talionis, and that there is a Law, that no Indian should be a Slave. The Brachmans, the Indian Priests wear Bells about them like the Jewish High-Priest. Slaves there have their Ears bor'd through, and a perpetual Light is kept in their Tem­ples; Women and New-Born Children are unclean till they are purified with Lustrations. They punish Incest and Adultery with death. Only the Brach­mans like the Levites must go into the inward Parts of the Temple. They are defiled by a dead Body, and have Cakes before their Idols like the shew Bread; and the Brachmans like the Jewish High-Priests must marry Virgins.Vid. Theve­not. Huet. Dem. Prop. 4. Cap. 6. And the Inhabitants of the Country of Tan­gath redeem their first-born with a Ram. [Page 277] Now when the Jewish and the Indian Rites are so very like, why might not I assert, that Moses had them from India, as well as you from Aegypt? Nay even the Barbarous Tartars have many things not unlike the Jews.Vid. Con­ring. Thes. Rerump. They celebrate the New-Moons with Songs and Compota­tions, they bewail their Dead Thirty Days, they breed no Hogs, and punish Adultery with Death. And so as to the new World, the Children of the People of Mexico and Jucatan are Circumcised; and the Mexicans keep in a perpetual Fire. The Charibeans celebrate the New-Moon with the sound of a Trumpet, and abstain from Swines Flesh. Those of Mechoacana are defiled by dead Bodies; and those of Peru, and new Spain, mar­ry their Brothers Wives. And in Nica­ragua Women after Child-Birth are un­clean. Besides, the Attick and Roman Laws and Rites are in many things as like the Jewish as the Aegyptian. The Attick Laws establish that no [...] or Heiress should marry out of her own Tribe, their [...], or Cakes answer to the shew-Bread;Plut. Sol. and the Law of Solon that Women in grief should not tear their Cheeks is not unlike that of Moses, Lev. 19.28. Their Priests were to mar­ry Virgins and Citizens; and no Lamb [Page 278] was to be a Sacrifice less than a Year old. And we may say the same of the Roman. Their Sacrifices bore a great correspon­dence with the Jewish, the burning the Holocausta, their Mo [...]a S [...]lsa, Lustrati­ons, &c. Their Nudip [...]dales seem very like the Eastern Devotion of [...]ulling off the shooes. Their Puer [...]ae abstaining Forty Days from the Templ [...] the Frondeae Casae in the Feasts of Anna [...]erenna, and the Neptunalia, so like the Feast of Ta­bernacles; the unhallowing of a Priest that touched a dead Body, or who [...]sso­ciated with his Wife before Sacrifice; all look as like the Jewish Laws, as any Custom in Aegypt. From all which I conclude, that since so many Nations, in so different parts of the World, have the same Rites with the Jews, either by chance or Tradition, or it may be by the mimikry of the Devil; I am sure it is very great Boldness to say, that all these came to the Jews from the Aegypti­ans.


Well, Credentius, you have made a fine learned Harangue upon the matter, if we Infidels were to be convinced by that. But I have a notable Objection which lies both against Moses and all the Sons of the Prophets. And that is, they appear to be like the rest of the Jews, [Page 279] miserable ignorant People, and after all their mighty pretences to the Knowledge of the Divine Nature, are scandalously ignorant concerning it. They every where seem to be gross Anthropomorphites, re­presenting God as having Eyes, and Hands, and Feet. Adam to whom God made his first Revelation, knew nothing of God's Omnipresence, or Omniscience, but pre­tended to hide himself from him, and to make a simple Excuse to him. And Moses, who relates the story brings in God like a Man walking in the Garden. The same Moses was so silly as to fancy God visible, and to desire to see him, Exod. 33. And some of the Prophets endow God with humane Passion, and make him to repent, to be sorry, and to be glad. But above all the contrivance of the Prophet Jonah is the wisest, who thought to run away to Tarshish out of God Almighty's reach, as if God had no power out of the Coun­try of Judea. Now who can expect Re­velation to come from those Heads, which were not furnished with the common no­tions of natural Religion?


You do a great injury to the ho­ly Scriptures and to the memory of the Holy Men, recorded there, to conceive such an extravagant Opinion of them: [Page 280] especially when it is taught there, that God is a Spirit, that he beholds all things, is present every where, that he is not a Man,Jews far from being Anthropo­morphites. and the like. And therefore you ought in all candor to suppose that these expressions which attribute Hands, Eyes, &c. to God, are only to be taken meta­phorically, and are spoke only [...], after the manner as Men speak. And to this the Jewish Writers, who are supposed to understand their own Lan­guage best, do unanimously agree. This Maimonides spends several Chapters in his first Book of his More Nevochim to prove. So the Targum, when the Scri­pture seems to impute any corporeal Action to the Deity, interprets it in a way more agreeable to the Divine Nature. As Gen. 28. And behold the Lord stood above it. Onkelos paraphrases, the glory of the Lord stood afore it. So Gen. 31.49. The Lord watch between me and thee, The Targum says, the Word of the Lord watch between me and thee. And this is the constant use of that Interpreter, says Maimonides More Nev. Lib. 1.Author Halic. Ol. c. 1. quoted by Hottin­ger in his Dissertat. Theolog. Philolog. Cap. 46. And a Jewish Rabbin writes, that when they meet with any expression, or Meta­phor, concerning the Deity of this Na­ture, they are used to interpose Cabiacol, if I may so speak. Vid. Buxtorf. Lexicon [Page 281] Talm. Rad. [...]. Now the true reason why the Scripture does express the At­tributes of God by Bodily actions and properties, is not, that those Writers thought God of a bodily shape, but by the reason of the narrowness of the He­brew Tongue they wanted abstracted Terms to express them by. And when these Corporeal Terms were applied to God, the People of that Nation knew as well what was meant by them, as the Schools do by all their Quiddities. Thus the Eye of God is the same as the Provi­dence of God. So Jer. 39.12. Cast thine eye upon him (i. e.) take care of him. And 2 Chr. 16.9. The Eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole Earth; (i. e.) God takes care of all People in it. So the Heart of God was as well under­stood to the Jews, as if it had in more Scholastick Language been called his Decree, or his Will. David was a Man after God's own heart, that is, lived as he would have him, or according to his Will, or Laws. By the Mouth of God they easily understood his revealed Will, by the Hand of God his Power. By God's arising, his Vengeance; by his hiding himself, his Dereliction, or withholding his Grace and Providence. Vid Maim. More Nev. Lib. 1. Adriani Isagog. Lit. [Page 282] Sac. ed. per David Hoeschelium. Nor is there any reason to blame the Sacred Wri­ters for these Metaphorical ways of expres­sing the Nature of God, because they are best adapted to give the People an under­standing of them,Hebrew Language as well expresses the nature of God as the Scho­lastical. and to animate their af­fections towards God; whilst dry Scho­lastical and abst acted terms would lie flat upon their Minds, and serve only to amuse and confound them. And after all, the most precise and Philosophick way of speaking concerning the Deity must needs be very improper and altogether Meta­phorical. For Languages were not com­posed to speak of the Deity, but for Men to maintain an intercourse with one ano­ther; and therefore unless we would con­trive a perfect set of new words, we can­not speak at all of God if we should not use our old Terms in a tralatitious sense. And thus the words Providence and Mer­cy, &c. if we respect their Original use, and do not take them in a Metaphori­cal sense, are altogether as absurd, when applied to the Deity, as the Eye, or Hand, or Heart of God, in the grossest sense: For how improper is it, literal­ly speaking, to say, God looks before him like Men when they act cautiously, or that God has that yearning of Bowels [Page 283] which pittiful Men have over a compas­sionate Object? And truly if we should perfectly contrive new Words to speak of these transcendent Truths, they are so far above the reach of our under­standings, and we are acquainted so little with them, that even then there would be a World of improprieties in our speech concerning them. Therefore I think, that we may sit down very well contented with the Jewish Forms of Speech concern­ing the Nature of God; and that we have rather great reason to bless his Good­ness in ordering it to be explained in such a way as is intelligible to the mea­nest People, who would have been but amused and distracted at the abstruse niceties and explications which Philoso­phick and Scholastick brains would have made concerning it. This I take to be a very proper Explication of those hu­man Parts and Affections which are in many places of Scripture attributed to God.

But as concerning some natural Acti­ons which are applied to him, as his Walking, Coming, Going, Wrestling, &c. this to be attributed to the Angel which did represent the Deity in those Appearances. And I doubt not but it was such a Vicarious Angel which ap­peared [Page 284] frequently before the Fall to A­dam and Eve in Paradise. And that it was the Voice, or sound of him whom they heard walking in the Garden in the Cool of the Day. That is, they heard that Wind or Voice which used to go before the Representing Angel which they were sufficiently acquainted with. For with this circumstance the divine Appearance used to be attended. As the Lord answered Job out of the whirl­wind, Job 28. And 1 Kings 19. And be­hold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and after that, an Earth-quake, and a Fire, and still small Voice. Now the guilty couple understanding by these preludes the com­ing of the vicarious Angel hid them­selves for fear. Nor did they pretend to make simple Excuses to God Almighty out of Ignorance of his Omniscience, as you falsly imagine. For they are so far from that, that they unhappy Creatures plainly confess the fact upon the first charge, in all the naked circumstances of it. The woman whom thou gavest me to be with me, gave me of the Tree, and I did eat. The Serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. There is nothing in these words which implies any thing like such absurd Ex­cuses. Only some fanciful Expositors [Page 285] will make Adam here to shift off the Crime upon his Wife, which God had given him, and to cast a severe Reflection upon God's Ordinance of Wedlock, which they say he here slily insinuate to be the cause of his Fall; and will have Eve to lay all her blame upon the Devil. But the words import no such thing, here is only a just confession of exact matter of fact; and I think there is no reason they should make their case worse than it was, and take the blame of others up­on them, when they had sufficient of their own. Neither is it to be supposed that Moses desired to see the Divine Essence, but only to have the Glory of the repre­senting Angel more particularly mani­fested to him which had hitherto been wrapt up in a Cloud; that That might be a more evident Token to the mur­muring Jews of his divine Mission. And it pleased God to hearken to this request, and to let the divine glory make such im­pression upon his Face as dazled the Eyes of his Beholders. And the Children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the Skin of Moses's face shone, &c. And as for your instance in Jonas, which you Tri­umph so much in, no body can with any reason think, that he should be so silly, as to imagin that that Great God whom he [Page 286] worshiped as the Maker of Heaven and Earth, should have no power over him out of the land of Judea; or that he could suppose when he got to Tarshish, he should be out of God's presence. That was the least of Jonas's Thoughts; and the words of the Text do not imply any thing like it. It is said, Jonas arose up to fly to Tarshish, not Miphne, from the face or presence of God, but Milipene from before the face or presence of God; dead facies Jehovae: That is, he turned his back upon God at that hazardous and uncomfortable Revelation, and endeavoured by any ways to get off from the Appearance of God at that Time. He might have thought of any other place to flie to, where his dejected Fancy let him, as well as Tarshish; but only that place lying just contrary to Ninive, he contrived to fly thither. He could not think of avoiding God's universal pre­sence, which he could not but know was every where, but only by flying some­where he might avoid God's Prophetick presence at that time which he had either hopes he should not be tried with again, else fondly imagained, as most of the other Jews did, that no Revelation could be afforded in a Gentile Country.


I design to speak but one word [Page 287] more concerning your Prophets of the Old Testament; but that shall be a home Thrust at last. They seem to me to be either a parcel of Whimsical Crack-brain'd People, that play'd a hundred Enthusi­astical pranks to make the Rabble gape at them; or else were seditious Muti­neers, that set themselves up, under the umbrage of God's Authority, to be saucy with their Princes. One of them you may find pushing with a great pair of Horns upon his Head, another lying 390 days upon one side, and a third marry­ing a Whore in the midst of his Prophe­tick Spirit. You may see Samuel carrying himself after that presumptuous rate to King Saul, as if he was a School Boy. And Hanani the Prophet gives King Asa, whom the Scripture remarks for a good King, intolerable Language and provo­cation, only for making a League with the King of Syria. And I think the King did very well for putting the Seer into the Prison-House for his pains. Now are these Men fit to be trusted with Re­velation for the government of the Lives of all Mankind, that are not able to go­vern their own actions or passions with common decency?


Your prejudices, Philologus, transport you too far in censuring the [Page 288] actions of the holy Prophets, without considering the Customs of those times, and the extraordinary Messages they were sent about. There are none of their Prophetick Speeches which were delivered to the Princes of those times, but what are made with all due Decency and regard to their Character; but yet the Prophets having an immediate Com­mission from God himself, they ought to have spoken with greater Boldness to them than every ordinary Haranguer, who could only pretend to speak by way of Perswasion. When they were com­manded by God, to reprimand wicked Princes, and to denounce Judgments a­gainst them, they had betrayed their Trust if they had not spoken the Truth with boldness; and had incurred the penalty of those who feared God less than Man. And as for some unusual actions which they did, as Micaiah's making him Horns of Iron, that was the usual way of those Times to prophesy by signs: for under such Hieroglyphical representations most of the Morality and Divinity of the Eastern Nations were couched. Neither were all those signs which are related in the Prophetick Writings really acted, but some of them only in Vision; and this in all probability was the case of Hosea, [Page 289] when he took the Wife of Whoredoms, and of Jeremy, when he is said to have lain so many days on one side. As for your Instances in the Prophets Samuel and Hanani; Samuel had had the Administra­tion of the Jewish Theocracy immedi­ately under God, before Saul, and was a Prince when he was but a Peasant, had singled him out and Anointed him King, and when besides he had the command of God to rebuke that headstrong King; this will bear him out in all his severity of Expressions he used towards him. And as for Hanani, he did very justly reprove King Asa, for his relying on the King of Assyria, and not on the Lord his God. 'Tis not his bare making a League with the King of Assyria, which he is repro­ved for, but for his putting more confi­dence in this than in God's Providence. Besides, to compass this he had used very indirect means; for he purchased that King's favour, by sacrilegiously taking the Treasures of the House of the Lord 2 Chr. 16.7. to make a present to him.' And though the Scripture does affirm of this King Asa, that his heart was perfect all his days, yet this is to be understood only of his Zeal against Idolatry; yet several grievous faults he was guilty of, as particularly the imprisoning this Holy [Page 290] Prophet, and his oppressing the People at the same time, v. 10. and even in his last disease it is recorded, that he sought not to the Lord, but to the Physitians, v. 12.


We are arrived now at last to a leisure to talk more particularly of the Me­diatorship, and a satisfaction to be made for Sins. Now your whole Religion is bot­tomed upon the supposition of that which is all false and erroneous, and inconsistent with the Nature and goodness of God. For this supposes God a rough implaca­ble Being, that is easy to be offended, and hard to be pleased; when on the contra­ry nothing is so good and kind and will­ing to be reconciled to his Creatures. Indeed the wickedness of Men, who have been apt to think every one as bad as themselves, has inclined them to have such hard Thoughts of God Almighty, and made many of them think, for ma­ny Ages ago, the Deity to be a severe sort of Being, and the subtile Priests found it for their Advantage to encourage the no­tion; and hence the Practice of Sacrifi­cing got into the World. For when Men found they had done something which was displeasing to God Almighty, they thought to make him amends another way, and so would sacrifice a good fat Bullock or Ram, at his Altar. This [Page 291] was the first silly Logick in early and Bar­barous Ages, and the Priests for their profit have been improving it ever since; till at last they have vamped it up into that Mediatorship and satisfaction which the Christian Religion is grounded upon. But in the first and purer Ages of the World, these idle worships were un­known, when they worshiped God with Prayers only, and Praise, and never thought of appeasing the Deity with these foolish Briberies, which must be so far from being grateful to him, that they must needs be his Aversation.

What Man is such a silly Wight,
To think that Gods should e'er delight
In nasty Bits of Broiled Meat,
Which hungry Dogs would hardly eat;
And to be pleas'd in such a sort
As to grant Men their Blessings for't?

And this the Scripture Writers them­selves are forced to own, although they were bred up under Sacrifices. In burnt-offerings and Sacrifices for Sin thou hast no pleasure. Psal. 40.7. To what purpose is [Page 292] the multitude of your Sacrifices unto me, saith the Lord, I am full of the fat of the burnt offer­ings of Rams, and the Fat of fed Beasts, and I delight not in the Blood of Bullocks, or of Lambs, or of He-Goats, and the conclusion from all which the Prophet makes is, that they should lay aside this Expiatory Trumpery, and take up with good honest Deisin and natural Religion: Put away the Evil of your doing from before mine Eyes, cease to do Evil, learn to do well, seek judg­ment, relieve the oppressed, judge the Father­less, plead for the Widow, Is. 1.12, &c. So that you see this Sacrifice and Expia­tory satisfaction is all Butcherly stuff, which is neither acceptable to God, nor agreeable to the sentiments of Wise Men.


Expiation consistent with the Mercy of God.You run away a little too fast with your Argument, when you make such exclamations about the severity and implacableness of the Deity, where it is asserted, that he requires Expiation and Satisfaction for Mens Sins. Wicked Men, that are resolved to live on in a Course of Sin, may flatter themselves, that God has nothing in him but Mercy; but I am afraid in time they will find, That God in his Laws has regard to his Justice too. I will not assert, That it is impossible that God as God, all whose [Page 293] Attributes are infinite, should forgive the Sins of Men without a satisfaction to his Justice; but yet I say, that considering God as a Legislatour who designs to go­vern Men by his Laws, it is not agreea­ble to his Wisdom to suffer his Laws, to be trampled upon with impunity by Bold and Regardless Sinners. And indeed all God Almighty's Attributes are di­rected by his infinite Reason and Wisdom, and his Mercy is not, as a great many take it to be, a sort of Feminine tender­ness that cannot hold out against the Cries of suffering Offenders: but such a good and wise relaxation of the punish­ment which his Justice in rigor might demand, as may secure the honour of his Laws, his Eternal Justice and Purity, and with all make all possible allowances for the Infirmities of Mankind. And upon this reason I take the nature of Expiatory Sacrifices in all Ages to have been groun­ded, to shew the great Aversion God has always had to Sin, and to deter Men from Sin, by shewing the great satisfacti­on which he required for it. And there­fore I do not approve the Reason which a late AuthorDiscourse concerning Natural and Reveal­ed Religi­on, p. 100. gives, that the end of Sacrifices was to make Sin costly to the Of­fender, and to appease the Consciences of penitent Sinners, by shewing that God [Page 294] accepted the Death of the Beast in lieu of theirs. For these are only general Ends, but the most principal and particular End which was aimed at in the Sacrifices of Beasts was, that they might be Types and Fore-runners of the Great Sacrifice of our Blessed Lord, from the Efficacy of whose infinite satisfaction they re­ceived all their Expiatory Nature. For as the Apostle argues, Heb. 10.6. It is not possible that the blood of Bulls and Goats should take away Sins; and therefore these must all have reference to the infinite sa­tisfaction of Christ, which alone can. So that these Bestial Sacrifices both before and under the Law, were to the Sacri­fice of Christ as the Tabernacle to the Temple, God Almighty was pleased to accept them as expiatory till such time as that great Sacrifice was finished: but as when the Temple was built, the Taber­nacle was destroy'd. So after the suffer­ing of Christ, these ritual Sacrifices were at an End. Nay we have rather great reason to adore the infinite Mercy of God, than to tax him with severity, for accept­ing of such vicarious sufferings; for he might in justice have demanded the personal suffering of the Offended himself, his Life, for every Trangression, which would soon have put an end to the Race [Page 295] of sinful Mankind. To have forgiven all without any satisfaction would have been in effect to have given an uncon­troulable licence to Sin; and to have punished to the utmost rigor, would have left no room for Men to adore his Mer­cy: but by this admirable mixture of Justice and Compassion, his own Ho­nour is preserved, and Mens Sins are pardoned.

Neither can I assent to your Opinion,The Origin of Sacrifi­ces from ancient Re­velation. that Sacrifices are the pure Invention of Men, for it is highly probable that they were at first instituted by God Almighty, and Directions for the performance of these sacrificial Rites given to the first of Mankind, and so have been handed down to the several Branches of their Posterity ever since. Indeed, Grotius, and some others are of Opinion, that Sacrifices owe their Original to the Gra­titude of Mankind, who in thanks to God were willing to return back to God some part of the good things they did enjoy; and that before the Flood there was no Sacrifice offer'd of Animal Crea­tures. But granting, that Gratitude have Origin to Eucharistical Sacrifices, we are as much at a loss to find a reason for the Piacular, unless we allow they came by the Institution of God. Nei­ther [Page 296] is his reason convincing, by which he would prove that no Beast was Sacri­ficed till after the Deluge; viz. because Sacrifices are never but of such [...]hings whereof Men used to eat: now there be­ing no flesh eat before [...]he Deluge, that indulgence being afterwards granted to Noah, he concludes, that no flesh was Sacrificed. But this Argument is but weak. For it is very much to be doubted whether the Antediluvians did not eat flesh; and Bochartus contends strongly that the Grant to Noah, Gen. 9. was not larger than what was afforded to Adam, Gen. 1. And besides in piacular Sacrifices in many Nations they never stood upon the edibility of the Sacrifice; but often­times Sacrificed Horses or Men. Besides, it is probable that these Expiatory Sacri­fices of Blood commenced from the first fall of Mankind, to be the [...], or vicarious Punishments for the Lives of Adam's Off-spring then forfeited. And then there is some reason for their Institution at that time; but there is none that I know for their being set up in the Time of Noah. And when the Scripture says expresly that Abel Offered of the firstlings of his Flock and the fat thereof, methinks it is a jejune interpretation, to say he Of­fered only Lanam & lac pinguissimum, [Page 297] Wool and very Fat Milk (i. e.) Cream. I am therefore perswaded, and I think up­on good ground, that a Model of Sacri­ficial Rites, or at least a command in ge­neral of Piacular Sacrifices was given to our first Parents, and by them transmitted down to all their Posterity. For otherways it is impossible to give a satisfactory ac­count why we should meet with the same in all Ages, in all Countries from the East to the West-Indies, from Africa to Scythia, and there find Men practising the same Piacular Rites almost in an uni­form manner. If their Sacrifices were owing to the Gratitude or Reasoning of the different Inhabitants, they would be as widely different as their Customs and Manners are; but when we find so ma­ny different People that have no inter­course with one another doing exactly the same things as if it were by confederacy, killing the Sacrifice, burning the Flesh, and that too upon an Altar, by the Mini­stery of a Priest, and with an Opinion that their sins are discharged by that vi­carious punishment of the devoted Ani­mal, with many other like circumstances; this must needs prove that they could not all jump upon these things by chance, but had them delivered down to them by [Page 298] some ancient Predecessor, who was Pro­genitor to them all.

Conf. Part I. p. 154.And as I proved to you before by this Argument, that the Americans did pro­ceed from the Europeans; so I think it is as plain that they did all proceed from Adam, from whom the general System of sacrificial Rites has been propagated to them after the succession of so many Ages. And here we may fix our foot, and settle the Commencement of all Moral and Ritual Religion, and whatsoever we find of them both, though never so viti­ated in the different parts of the World, esteeming them to be but corrupted streams of the ancient Revelation afford­ed to our first Father: and as for those Texts of Scripture which you alledge, they do by no means undervalue or cast any reflection upon God's Ritual Laws and Sacrifices. But the design of them is to shew, that Men should not place their Obedience only in the Ritual Parts of Re­ligion, whilst they neglect the more sub­stantial Duties of Morality; and this is a Truth which every honest Christian, as well as you Deists, thinks himself bound to believe.


I confess what you say does not altogether want some Probability. But still methinks these vicarious Punish­ments [Page 299] seem but insignificant Trifles in matter of Religion, because they do not make Men the better or the more innocent. Indeed if these Expiations ei­ther in themselves, or as they had rela­tion to the Death of Christ, did perfectly take away sins, then there is something in what you said: but they only leave the Man as they found him, unless true repentance did make him better. So that the Mediatorship without Repentance signifies nothing at all, and Repentance where they know nothing of this Medi­atorship must by all charitable Men be allow'd to be valid; and therefore what need of the Mediatorship or satisfaction at all? Repentance after sinning is all that Man can do, or God can require. 'Tis true the Debt we owe to God Al­mighty by sinning is infinite, and what then,Oracles of Reason, p. 207. If I owe a Million and can pay but a thousand pounds, my Creditor can have but all. 'Tis true my Body is then subject to imprisonment, that is to the further Extent of the Law; but then that Law is void of Mercy. So that when I have done my All, that is repented, what need is there of Expiation; when God's Mercy will acquit me, as having paid what I was able?

[Page 300]

God's ho­nour to be considered in the Me­diatorship.It is true, that God's Mercy is that blessed Attribute to which the pardon of all our sins is owing, and upon which the Mediatorship is founded. This is that which gave life to the stipulation between Christ and the Father, that He should dy for the sins of the whole World, in which all sufficient Sacrifice all other Expiations received their Force and Energy. And it's likewise true, that after Sin committed, Repentance and Amendment is all we can do on our Parts. But then further we Christians say that the Mediatorship must do something like­wise on God's part as well as ours. By Sin God's honour is violated, and our Lives are forfeited, now both these are to be re­medied by the Efficacy of the Mediator. Indeed Mercy for God to Pardon, and Re­pentance for us to amend, is all that is ne­cessary for our security. But then on the other side why must there be no satisfacti­on given for the injured honour of God? God may be as merciful to the World as he pleases, but still he must be just to his own Dignity; for otherways he would devest himself of the Government of the World, and leave impudent Sinners to Sin without controul. And therefore we say that therein lies the admirable Wisdom of [Page 301] the Mediatorship, that both Parties are thereby satisfied; God has the security of his Honour, and Man of his Salva­tion.


But, Credentius, this satisfaction, as you call it, in the Mediatorship, is a Business which lies so cross in my Brains, and is pregnant with such a number of Absurdities, that I can never away with it. And therefore you see, that not only we, but your Brother Christians the So­cinians, are so aware of the Grossness of this Doctrine, that they are unanimously agreed upon it, to explode it; as giving Men such a barbarous notion of the De­ity, as is inconsistent with the Excellency of his Nature. For satisfaction does sup­pose an angry revengeful Temper, which desires to be glutted with the punishment of the offending Party; which when that is brought about, becomes tame, good-natur'd, and reconcileable. But this is such a pitiful imbecillity, even in humane nature, as wise Men are ashamed of; and therefore to attribute this to the infi­nite Purity and Wisdom of God, is no less, I think, than the most daring Blas­phemy. But supposing there was such an Angry Vindictive Nature in the Deity, yet methinks even then he should rather choose to take revenge upon every one [Page 302] for their own Demerits, which would be agreeable to Justice; and not make one Innocent Person, viz. Jesus Christ, who had no Sin, as you suppose, to suffer for the Sins of all other wicked Men; and to lay the deserved Sufferings of so many outragious Offenders upon the back of the most pious and spotless Man, that, by your account, ever came into the World. But when we farther consider, that this innocent Person is owned by you to be the Son of God, and his only Son too, and must nevertheless be Sacrificed to appease this Vindictive nature of God before he could be reconciled to the World: this is such a horrid Represen­tation of the Best of Beings, as shocks hu­man nature to consider; and far outdoes all the stories of Scythian Sacrifices, and Busiris his Altars. And yet greater Mon­sters of Absurdities do appear, when we consider, That this suffering Person was the supreme God himself, who by this Scheme is supposed to have took upon him all the Infirmities of an Human Bo­dy, was hungry and thirsty, and at last, was crucified, and died. Now this does imply a sort of a Passibility in the Deity, which of all Heterodoxies is the most gross and absurd.


I have not time now to enter [Page 303] with you into the nice disputes of the So­cinian Controversy upon this Subject.What is meant by satisfacti­on. But however I do not see any thing in the general notion of Christ's satisfaction, which does reflect at all upon the Good­ness of the Divine Nature. Indeed the word satisfaction is not found in Scripture, but the whole substance of what the word imports, is; and this and all other words which are used to express any of the divine actions, or nature, must be used Metaphorically, and not be taken in so strict a sense, as when they are used properly, and according to their original application. Now the satisfaction which is here meant, is not such a satisfaction as an angry Man requires, but a Ju­dicial or Forensical satisfaction, which a Governour requires of an Offender, upon the violation of his Laws. Now whereas the whole Oeconomy of our Salvation is delivered in Scripture in Forensical Terms, as when God is represented as a Judge, Man as an Offender or Criminal; God's word as the Law by which he is Con­demned, Death as the Punishment, Christ as a Mediator and Surety, his Death as an [...], or Price of Redemption; now I think it not at all improper to call that which Christ did to free us from the obligation we were under to the Divine [Page 304] Justice, upon account of our Sins, by the name of Satisfaction. For this is no bloody revengeful satisfaction, which impotent and passionate Minds are wont to call for; but only such a just debt as ought to be pay'd to the Justice of God, considered as the Governour of the World. I am not insensible, that some Calvinistical Writers have carried this matter a little too far, by leaving no room at all for the Mercy of God to ex­ert it self in this wonderful dispensation, and making the divine Justice to require a satisfaction to be made, by the same specifick Infinite Punishments which we had deserved, in the Sufferings of our Saviour; so as to think that no satisfa­ction could be, unless Christ actually suf­fered upon the Cross all the Eternal Tor­ments of the Damned intensivè, as they speak, though not extensivè; so that our Saviour in his Agony and Crucifixion, must suffer Torments as much infinitely greater than Damned Souls, as their Eter­nity of Suffering is longer than the hours of our Saviour's Passion. But this has no foundation in Scripture, and seems hor­rid to Christian Ears. It is enough to say, That the Mercy of God disposed him to accept of the Temporal Sufferings of Christ for our Sins in lieu of the Eternal [Page 305] punishments, which we had deserved. And so the infinite dignity of the person suffering was a sufficient satisfaction to the Divine Justice offended, and unspeak­able mercy was shewn to offending Man­kind by being free from that punish­ment which otherways they must have undergone themselves. So that Infidel and Socinian scoffers do very ill to arraign the Mercy of God, and to tax him with Revenge and Implacability in demanding such a Legal satisfaction; for by the same Rules they might expose all the Legisla­tive Authority in the World when Cri­minals suffer by their sanctions. For there is no other way to maintain the L [...] ­gislatours honour, and to engage Men to observe his Laws but by inflicting an Ex­emplary punishment on offenders: for otherways their Laws would be but Cobwebs, and their Authority the May-game of Licencious Transgressours. But in this vicarious punishment of Christ for us, God is far from shewing himself an Angry or Implacable Governour; but does rather manifest the greatest Tender­ness and Compassion in being willing that all the World should escape their deserved punishment, and Christ only suffer for them all; and in accepting the Temporal Pains of his Cross for those of [Page 306] Eternal Death which they had deserved.

AVicarious punishment not unjust. Gen. 9.25. 2 Sam. 21.8. 2 Sam. 24.15. Jos. 7.14. 1 King. 21.29.2. Neither is it unjust that Christ should undergo a vicarious punishment for us. For that vicarious punishments are not in themselves absolutely unjust, may be proved not only from Scripture Instances where Children are punished for their Parents, and Subjects for their Princes; but by the notion which the most civilized Nations have always had of the lawfulness of punishing sureties for the Parties they were engaged for, by their denying the publick honours to the Children of notorious Offenders, by De­cimations in their Armies, and by killing the innocent Hostages when the Articles were not performed. Now if the Greeks and Romans, who of all other Nations pretend to the exactest Rules of the aequum bonumque, could see no obliquity in these vicarious punishments; there is certainly a far less pretence of injustice to be laid to God's charge in ordering Christ to suffer for the Sins of the World. Now it is impossible here that there should be any injustice, or injury. Here was no injustice done to Christ, for he was plea­sed voluntarily to lay down his Life for us. Neither was it any injustice done to God, for God Authorized him to do it, by a mutual stipulation betwixt the Fa­ther [Page 307] and the Son. And our Saviour says expresly, Joh. 10.18. I have Power or Authority, [...], to lay down my Life. So that there is no more injustice commit­ted in our Saviour's laying down his Life in a voluntary Suffering for us; than there is in his laying it down according to Socinus his Notion, for a Testimony of his Doctrine. And I am sure I could prove it as equally unjust for God to put him upon preaching a Doctrine that would cost him his Life; as to let him lay down his Life to save a World.

3.Christ tho' God might suffer. And as for your Tragical Exclama­tions against the Orthodox Doctrines which makes the Eternal Son of God, who is himself God blessed for ever; to be incarnate, and to suffer for the Sins of the World; this does by no means ren­der the Deity passible, a Notion which all Christians abhor. But by reason of the Union of the Deity with Flesh or Humanity which was Patible, Christ was then in a possibility of suffering, and those sufferings which were proper only to one Nature are attributed to the whole person by reason of the intimate Union of the two Natures. Nay the Scripture it self attributes the properties of the in­feriour Nature, viz. the Humanity, to the Divinity the superior one. As when it [Page 308] is said, that we are redeemed by the blood of God; we must not think as if God could bleed or die, but that That Person who was both God and Man, who by vertue of his Humanity, was capable of suffering, laid down his Life for us, to redeem us. Now here is nothing in this of Absurdity but only adorable mystery, and admirable Wisdom, which the Thoughts of Man could never have reached to, and no hu­man Counsel could ever have contrived: To find out such a way to save the Souls of Lost Mankind, and to secure God's honour, and the Authority of his Laws.


I have one thing more to objects to you upon this head, and that is the Christian Doctrine which you teach about Christ's Intercession, and that is so odd and gross a notion, as no rational Man can assent to. For you make Christ continually at his Prayers in Heaven to God the Father, to pardon the Sins of Mankind upon their Repentance, and to bestow his Benefits upon them; which God in his own nature is inclined to do, without this bustle of Intercession. Be­sides, it looks like a piece of Pageantry (as your Doctors explain it) to have Christ continually exhibiting the wounds of his Crucified Body to the Father, to [Page 309] move him to compassion, and to put him in mind of the Sacrifice he was made for Mans Sins, which it is impossible that an Omnipotent Knowledge could be unmind­ful of. Methinks this looks like a Piece of Homerick Divinity, when the Poet de­scribes Heaven acording to all the forma­lities and sillinesses which are seen in hu­man nature.


There is nothing in the Christian Doctrine of Intercession but what is a­greeable to good sense and reason:No Incon­gruity in the Do­strine of Christ's In­tercession. and all expressions which do seem to imply any such grossness in them, as you ima­gine, must only be understood Figura­tively. To what state of Bliss the Glo­rified Body of our Blessed Saviour is ex­alted, whilst we poor Christians live in this Vale of Misery and Tears, we are not able to imagine; or with what di­vine actions his humanity is employ'd. All that we can be certain of is what the Scripture tells us, that we have an Advo­cate with the Father Jesus Christ the righ­teous, 1 Joh. 2.1. that he is said to in­tercede for us at the right hand of God, Rom. 8.34. that he is entered into Heaven it self now to appear in the presence of God for us, Heb. 9.24. that he is a Priest continu­ally, and his blood speaks better things than that of Abel, that he offers his own [Page 310] Sacrifice for sin for ever, Heb. 9.25. and the like. Now there is no need to assert that all these Expressions are taken lite­rally, when it is plain that many of them are Metaphors taken from the Levitical Law, from the Piacular Sacrifices, from the Intercession of the High-Priest fo [...] the People, from his entring into the Sanctum Sanctorum, &c. Now St. Pa [...] makes use of these ritual Phrases, the better to explain to the Jewish Converts th [...] Nature and Efficacy of Christ's Death, from those outward Ceremonies of the Mosaical Law, which they were well acquainted with. And I doubt not but the Unbelievers themselves do think these Expressions are Metaphorical; but only they have a mind to be picking up something to be flinging at Religion though they are at the same time sure [...] will do no harm.


Pardon, me, Sir, for t [...]is, and I will not at present trouble you with any more Infidel Objections; and f [...] the rest of the Time that you will ho­nour me with your Company, I will endeavour to entertain you with more inoffensive Discourse. Though I ca [...] not but acknowledge that I wish I wa [...] fully perswaded of the Truth of you [...] Religion; which seems indeed, upo [Page 311] further consideration, to be a Rational In­stitution, and well laid together, which lays down the Laws of Morality more exactly and fully, than the ordinary Rea­son of Mankind; which gives an ac­count of the grand Periods and Revolu­ [...]ions of the World, and God's Provi­dential Dispensations, beyond common [...]hilosophy, and the light of Nature; and [...] I could get rid of some other doubts, which I beg you will, at your leasure satisfy; then I hope you will make a thorough Convert of me.


NOta Bene, That the Internal Solid, which is engraved in the Plate, Fig. [...] and is supposed to move round the [...]orthern part of the Globe, in a Circum-Polar Line, does not belong to the pre­sent Hypothesis; but is a supposition [...]hereby, in Time, may possibly be [...]ade out two great Difficulties in Na­tural Philosophy, viz. The Cause of the direction and alteration of the Magnet, [...]nd the Constant Parallelism of the Earths [...]xis to the Poles of the World.

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