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but one supreine * God, whom they worship in their Minds, and look upon all those as profane who represent the Godhead with mortal and perishing Matter, and in the Figure of Men. So far are they from fuffering Images in their Temples, that they do not so much as admit them into the Cities where they dwell, and will not pay that complimental Flattery to the Statues of Kings and Emperors themselves ; and this he has the Face to say, when almost in the same Breath, in the very Page before, he had declar'd they had the Image of an Ass in their Temple. If this is not pugnantia secum frontibus adversis componere, I do not know what is. Again, as if he could not help blundering when he speaks of the Religion of the Jews, after he had done them the Justice to say, that they maintain’d the Unity of the Godhead, that they worshipped but one God, whom they thought an eternal and unchangeable Being, he soon after assigns them a Plurality of Gods ; and faith, that before the Ruin of the Temple, a Voice was heard there, saying, + excedere Deos, that the Gods were departing and forsaking the Place; and that a Noise was heard on their leaving it. A learned | Critick endeavours to bring him off, by saying, that he spoke Tanburtixãs, in the plural Number, more gentili, according to the Manner of Speaking of the Heathen. But I can
* Judæi unum Numen intelligunt. Profanos, qui Deorum imagines, mortalibus materiis, in speciem hominum effingant: summum fillud æternum, neque mutabile nec interiturum. Igitur nulla fimulacra urbibus fuis nedum Templis funt. Non Regibus hæc adulatio, non Cæfaribus honor. Ib. p. 672. + Tacit. & Hift. 1.5. C. 3.
cælumconcurrere acies, rutilantia arma, & subitò nubium igne collucere Templum. Expaffæ repente delubri fores & audita vox major humanâ Excedere Deos, & fimul ingens motus excedentium. Tacit. Hift. 1. 5. c. 13. Edit. Gronovii. || Mr. Le Clerc, С
not be of his Opinion, nor think so favourably of an Author who commits fo many Errors and Mistakes, and can hardly take a Step without a Blunder or Fall. And yet such a Writer as this, who lived at so great
a Distance from the Time and Place where those Facts were transacted, shall, in the present Age, be thought to deserve greater Credit than Moses and the Evangelists, who were actually upon the Spot, and recorded what they saw with their own Eyes, and heard with their own Ears. And the false and malicious Accounts he gives of the Christians, shall be preferred to that of Pliny, one of the best and wisest Men of his Time, who was a Governor of a Province
at was full of those of that Persuasion, which deserves, for their Honour, to be written in Characters of Gold. I remember a few Years ago, when Mr. Gordon's elegant Translation of Tacitus came out, some of our Unbelievers, who had not Learning enough to read the Original, triumph'd very much, and were greatly delighted with the Scorn and Contempt with which he treats the Laws and Religion of the Jews, and the scandalous Accounts he gives of the Christians. But it is common (as a very ingenious * Writer has observed) for Deists,and Enemies to Reveald Religion, when they meet a Pagan Antiquity that contradicts and discredits the Jewish History, to cry up a Greek Hiftorian, as an Evidence to which nothing can be replied. An imperfect Hint of Herodotus, or Diodorus Siculus, thoone lived a thousand, the other fifteen hundred Years after the Point in Question, pick'd up from any lying Vagabond they met with in their Travels, shall outweigh the History of Moses, who wrote of his own People, and lived in the very Times he wrote of. But
* Mr. Warburton's Divine Legation.
to turn the Tables, and apply the Testimony of these very Writers, and others of Credit of the same Nation, to the Confirmation of the Jewish Hiftory, and then nothing is more fallacious and uncertain than those ancient Records. I beg Leave to add to this Observation of Mr. Warburton, that some of the Writers on the side of Infidelity have not scrupled to mangle, corrupt, and falsify fuch Passages in ancient and modern Books that seem to pinch them, and to favour in the least the Cause of Religion. There is but one poor little Passage in the whole Account of Tacitus in favour of the Antiquity of the Rites and Religion of the Jews, which a Writer of Figure among them has wrested from, and warped directly against them. Tacitus faith, * that these Rites of the Jews, however they were introduced at first, have Antiquity on their Side to support and defend them; which Mr. Blount, with great Ingenuity, translates in this Manner:t These Rites, however they were introduced at first, have no Antiquity for their Patronization, || and has the Modesty, without a Blush, to refer his Readers to the very Passage in that Historian. With equal Candor and Sincerity the same Writer has quoted a Paffage out of Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici, in relation to the Ark, ** where that learned Man saith, “ How all Kinds of Creatures, not only in “ their Bulks, but with a Competency of Food " and Sustenance, might be preserved in the Ark, “ and within the Extent of three hundred Cubits,
to a Reason, that rightly examines it, will ap
pear very feasible.” Thus the Words stand in the Book itself, and in the Annotations upon it.
* Hi ritus quocunque modo inducti antiquitate defenduntur. + See Dr. Jenkins's Reasonableness, Pref. 1. Vol. I. p. 10.
|| See Dr. Jenkins's Reasonableness of Christianity. Pref, to 2d Vol. ** Oracles of Reason, p. 132. C 2
But this Gentleman, by a small Alteration, and finging in the little Negative * not, makes the Doctor speak quite otherways, and say, "That to a “Reason that rightly examines it, it will not ap
pear very feasible", which should set Men upon their Guard against the Quotations of those Gentlemen, and oblige them to go to the Spring-Head, and to consult the Originals themselves. I could make many other Remarks upon that unhappy Gentleman and his Performance, that has been so much cried up by a Set of Men in our Days, but that I take no Delight in insulting the Memory, and trampling upon the Ashes of the Dead.
This brings to my Mind another very extraordinary Quotation in a late Book, intitled, An Enquiry into the Constitution, Discipline, &c. of the primitive Church ; where the Author, quoting Ignatius, makes him fay, that Christian Deacons were [only] Ministers of Cups and Meats, 'EoMÈO και ποτηρίων και βρωμάτων διακονοι ; but unluckily omits the Negative x which makes a little Alteration in the Text, š 28 fouğu, which stands in the very Edition of Volus, to which he refers his Readers. By such Citations as these, by this Liberty, all the Passages of the Ancients may be turned and warped like å Nose of Wax, and be brought to prove the greatest Fallhoods and Absurdities in Life, and that---Nil intra est oleum, nil extra eft in nuce duri. Since the writing of this, I have met with a Passage in an anonymous Letter to the present Archbishop concerning the Validity of Lay-Baptism, and think myself obliged to do some Justice to the Writer of this Enquiry ; I say, fome Justice ; for if the Account of the Letter-Writer be really true and Matter of Fact, (as there seems to be no just Reason to think otherways) that Gentleman
Cannot entirely be excused. The Author of this Piece was long supposed, and has been known fince, to be the late Sir P-K-, the great Honour and Oracle of the Law, of whom it was hard to say, when he pleaded at the Bar, whether the Judge and the Audience took more Pleasure and Delight in hearing him, or whether his Clients had more Joy and Assurance of Success in the Affairs which they committed to his Management and Care. But as no one made a greater Figure in his Profession, so no one made a worse, and committed greater Errors and Mistakes, when he ventur'd out of it : I have just now mention’d one, which, in Charity, I am inclin'd to believe, was only an eastíc, or Oversight. I could give more Proofs out of the fame Book ; as, where he speaks of Diocefan Episcopacy, and endeavours to prove the Equality of Bishops and Priests in the primitive Church. And thus it generally happens even with the greatest Men when they venture ultra crepidam, and do not keep within their true and proper Sphere. I could name some learned Men here, who, for want of this, have lost some Honour and Reputation they had justly acquir'd ; I mean, for want of confining themselves within the Bounds of their Profession, of following the old Rule, nosce teipsum, and measuring their Strength,
Quid ferre recufent, quid Valeant humeri,
An Answer was made by a very learned and judicious Divine to this Book in 1717, which Sir P- saw and read in MS before it was printed ; and he had it in his Power to prevent the printing of it effectually, if he pleased. But so far was he from that, that he gave up his own Book, which had just then had a second Edition, without asking his Consent, by one Bell, a Dissenting Bookseller, thereunto