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would be appropriating to him the ufe of an idea: but the enjoyment of the exclufive right of printing does not imply any appropriation of ideas, but leaves knowledge as common as if this right was not appropriated.

From these extracts, the merit of this publication will be fufficiently apparent, without any laboured encomium.

ART. X. The Apology of Benjamin Ben Mordecai to his Friends for embracing Chriftianity; in feveral Letters to Elifha Levi, Merchant, of Amiterdam. Letters V. VI. and VII. 4to. 6s. fewed. Wilkie. 1774.


HERE are few converts that seem to be fo well inftructed in the knowledge of chriftianity, both as to its doctrines and evidence, as Ben Mordecai. His Mercantile friend, we are perfuaded, will be ready to allow, that he has much to fay in bis own defence, for having renounced his old profeffion; and, unless his native prejudices and attachments are peculiarly strong, Mr. Levi will very foon follow his example.

The friends of rational and fcriptural chriftianity in general are much indebted to the labours of this excellent advocate in their cause; and, after perufing this series of letters with the attention and candour which they deferve, they will join us in opinion, that, whatever may be the iffue with respect to Mr. Levi and his brethren of the circumcifion, they cannot fail to serve the most useful purposes in establishing the truth and explaining the genuine doctrines of revelation.

The ingenious Author has taken great pains to remove those prejudices that arife from a mifinterpretation of the facred writings; and, by vindicating revealed religion from thofe corruptions which have obfcured its glory, and furnished its adverfaries with their main objections againft it, prepared the way for an impartial examination of its evidence, truth, and importance.

We are happy to find, that the cause of the petitioning clergy, with whom our best wishes are embarked, derives credit from the concurrence of this refpectable Writer, who has made the fubjects immediately connected with his profeffion his peculiar ftudy, and who deduces his fyftem of religion, not from creeds and articles, whenever fabricated or by whomsoever imposed, but from an attentive and impartial perufal of the facred Scriptures. It cannot but give concern to the friends of truth and humanity, that minds fo liberal and enlarged fhould, in any measure, be confined and bowed down by restraints and fhackles of human invention.

Our Author's motto to the 5th letter, extracted from the preface to Dr. Sykes's Essay on the truth of the chriftian religion, is amply verified in his fucceffive publications: It has always been my defire, to fee religion treated as a rational thing; free


from all abfurdity and folly.-The religion of Nature is capable of the strictest evidence, and therefore that is never to be deviated from, or given up. The religion of Christ, as it lies in the New Teftament, is perfectly agreeable to, and confistent with, what natural religion teacheth; and fo it will be always found by them that examine into its truth with fincerity.'

The fifth letter is introduced with an explication of thru criteria, by which the truth of chriftianity is to be examined. A revelation from God must be agreeable to the nature and condition of thofe beings, for whofe direction and benefit it is communicated; whence it follows, That, if, upon a ftrict and impartial examination into the evidence in proof of a reve lation from God, our understanding is not convinced, there can be no merit in believing it; for the merit of believing confifts in opening our hearts to evidence, and then determining as our understanding directs. In like manner, if our understanding, after the beft inquiry, is not able to direct us, what revelation comes from God, and what does not, there can be no more merit in receiving a true revelation than a falfe one: it depends entirely upon chance: and if in fuch a fituation we should reject the truth, and espouse the error, it would not be our fault, but our misfortune; and we should deserve the pity and compaffion, but by no means the refentment of those who fhould be acquainted with the importance of the truths we had rejected, and the ill confequence of the errors we had espoused. But to apply force and violence, or any other means in fuch cafes, except evidence and reafon, to convince the underftanding, is as inconfiftent with the nature of man, as it is abfurd and ridiculous to think of forming axioms out of halters, or fyllogifms out of chains and gibbets.'


A divine revelation must likewife be agreeable to the nature, attributes, and moral character of God; for, as nothing can become our duty, which it is contrary to the nature of man to perform, so neither can any thing become our duty, which is contrary to the nature and attributes of God to require.' The chief of thefe, at least so far as they are immediately concerned in the moral government of mankind, are the divine juftice and goodness; on each of which our Author has made feveral pertinent and judicious remarks. The third criterion, by which the truth of chriftianity is inveftigated à priori, is its confiftency with the Old Teftament hiftory; and this leads to an illuftration of the Scripture doctrine, concerning the fall of man, and his recovery from the ill effects of it by a mediatorial redemption.

With refpect to the hiftory of the fall, our Author obferves, that, whether it be literal or allegorical, the doctrine conveyed by it, as far as it relates to our conduct in life, and our future happiness, is much the fame in either cafe. There is another


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queftion, which has created needlefs contention on this fubject, viz. Whether man was created immortal, and fin produced mortality, and Chrift reftores that immortality which Adam loft: or whether Adam was created mortal; and Christ confers upon us an immortality, which Adam failed of gaining by not performing the conditions, upon which it was offered him. It is fufficient for the explanation of the chriftian fcheme to obferve, that God promifed life to Adam upon his obedience; and confequently, whether he was at firft naturally immortal or not, he could not ceafe to live, while he continued obedient; and on the other hand, whether he was naturally immortal or not, he would certainly die if he was difobedient; and in either cafe, it may be faid, that death entered into the world by fin, and that by man came death; whether it was a pofitive infliction of punifhment, or merely the confequence of withdrawing the particular providence by which he was preserved.

However, it is certain, that the Scriptures never give us the leaft hint of Adam's natural immortality; but through the whole hiftory confider his exiftence to be dependent on the tree of life.'

In confidering the effects of the firft apoftacy, our Author obferves, there are many, who, in order to account for the prefent weakness and wickedness of mankind, imagine, that upon the fall of Adam, the human faculties were depraved, either naturally, by fome taint derived from him, or by fome act of God. But the Scriptures fay no fuch thing; and we want no fuch hypothefis to account for them; becaufe the very fame reafon or caufe, be it what it will, which accounts for the fin of the first man, who came pure out of the hands of the Creator, will account for the fins of all men ever fince: and to fuppofe that God would deprave the will, or weaken the understanding of man, merely as a punishment for what they could not help, is a most unworthy imputation on the divine goodness; and ic is no lefs fo upon his wifdom, as if he were capable of contradiction and inconfiftency. For, if he defigned to give them eternal life, why did he make them lefs capable of gaining it? And if he did not defign it, why did he fend them a Saviour? This notion was first invented, to fhew the certainty of eternal damnation to all the pofterity of Adam, if Chrift had not died; for as much as by this taint or corruption of nature, it was ren dered impoffible for them to do things well pleafing to God. But this argument proves too much, and therefore concludes 'no thing. For, the lefs capable a man is of perfection, the less will be required of him; and if it were impoffible for him to do things well pleafing to God, it would ceafe to be his duty. Upon this mistake the generality of chriftians have built another equally inconfiftent with their own Scriptures; that,



upon account of this depravation of the will and natural powers of man at the fall, a Mediator was at firft introduced, as a kind of fupplement to the original scheme, which was interrupted by Adam's fin. But this is not true. For it was the original defign of God before the foundation of the world, to bring mankind to happiness, by the fame person whom he has fince conftituted a Prince and a Saviour: having appointed him from the beginning, according to the different circumftances of the world, and under the different characters of the Angel of the Covenant and the Messiah, to minister to the will of the father in all things relative to the falvation of man; and to do every thing that was neceffary according to his will, pro re natâ, to bring down upon them those bleffings, for which they were created and defigned.'

But the principal object of confideration is the method of our redemption from a state of fin and death: Grotius, Stillingfleet, and other learned men, have defended the two following propofitions, as the fundamental doctrines of chriftianity, both: which are contrary to the Old Teftament, and abfolutely falfe. First, they affert, that there is a neceffity of God's vindicating his honour to the world, upon the breach of his laws; if not by the suffering of the offenders themselves, yet by the suffering of the fon of God as a facrifice for the expiation of fin, by undergoing the punishment of our iniquities, which appears to me to be the fame thing as to affert, that God is not able to forgive fins, duprav, freely.

Secondly, That a perfon notwithstanding his innocency may oblige himself by an act of his own will, to undergo that punishment which otherwife he did not deferve; which punishment in that case, will be just and agreeable to reason.' The first of these principles is examined in the fequel of this letter, and the fecond is the fubject of the feventh letter.

Having done (says the Author) with the unfcriptural opinion of the chriftians, who teach that God has not the power to forgive fins freely; or without the punishment of the finner, or of a mediator in his ftead, I am immediately called upon, on the other hand, to answer an objection of the Deifts, that God cannot forgive fins by, or for the fake, or at the interceffion of a mediator, which is no lefs oppofite to the chriftian doctrine. Mr. Chubb is fo extravagantly fanguine upon this subject, that he tells us, If the Apoftles themselves preached any fuch doctrine, they were mistaken, and even a miraculous confirmation of it would not make it credible.' And indeed as he understands it, he may bid defiance to whom he pleases; for he entirely mistakes the fenfe of the doctrine revealed, and it is impoffible that the Apoftles fhould have understood it, in such a fenfe as he does.'



Our Author proceeds to enquire what is the Scripture fenfe of the phrafe (for the fake of) and how it is generally received in common language; when it is faid, that a perfon does a benefit, or forgives an injury, upon the interceffion, or for the fake of another, it is never (meaned) that fuch interceffion made the " perfon applied to, 'either benevolent or placable; nor can it be intended to depreciate his natural difpolition to forgiveness, or to exclude any other motives and confiderations, which might perfuade to that particular act of benevolence; but it barely means that it was a motive to it. And one would imagine, that a person well inclined to revelation, would rather have explained there words in any manner they are poffibly capable of, than in a fenfe fo big with abfurdity and contradiction; for it is equally abfurd and antichriftian and antitheiftical, to fay, that any combination of circumstances can make God merciful or placable, as to fay, that they can make him juft and good and true. The attributes of God are eternal and unchangeable, and are not to be affected by the conduct of any being; but his providential acts may be, and certainly are, affected by the virtues and vices of his creatures: and if they were not fo affected, he could not be a moral Governor, by the exercife of a judicial Providence. Repentance is a cause or motive to forgiveness, but it does not make God placable or merciful !'

After all it is remarked, That there is no expreffion in the Greek Teftament, which neceffarily fignifies, that our fins are forgiven us for Chrift's fake.' The Author largely explains and vindicates the ufe and efficacy of the interceffion of Christ, against the objections of Mr. Chubb and other Deifts.

Thus we fee (fays the Author at the close of his fifth letter) how the mediatorial scheme of falvation, as far as it has hitherto been confidered, may be explained, agreeably to the divine attributes, the nature of man, and the antient Scriptures given to our fathers; and the fundamental doctrine of chriftianity freed from thofe difficulties, with which it has been loaded both by its friends and enemies; viz. that Almighty God has an abfolute right either to forgive fins, as an all powerful benefactor, for his own fake and for his mercy's fake; or for the fake of a mediator, and at his interceffion; as he bleffed Ifrael for the fake of Abraham and David; and forgave the fins of Abimelech and the friends of Job, upon the interceffion and for the fake of Abraham and Job, in order to manifeft how much the fervent prayer of a righteous man prevails with him, as the patron of righteoufnefs and judge of all the world. And we have no reafon to imagine, that God would have given forgiveness and eternal life to penitent finners, in any other way; because we cannot fee how these bleflings could have been given in so safe and wife a manner; or how the tremendous character of God,

REV. Sept. 1774.



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