Grotius, his arguments for the truth of Christian religion rendred into plain English verse.
Grotius, Hugo, 1583-1645., Virgil. Bucolica. 4. English.
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GROTIUS his Arguments for the Truth of Christian Religion, ren∣dred into plain English Verse.
THings visible declare a God unseen:*
Some things 'tis obvious did in time begin:
And these could never their own Beings cause;
Nothing we're sure could act before it was.
It's rise from something else it then must draw,
Which holds as well in what we never saw;
From which things subject to our Senses came,
Till that we find which always was the same,
And this is God, whatever be the Name:
A Being necessary to exist;
For else the World must have beginning mist.
This also the consent of Nations proves,
Where e're Barbarity Reason removes.
What only from Opinion rose, we see
Men often change, nor in the same agree:
This Notion always, in all places found,
Did even Aristotle's Doubts confound.
Some cause is needful then to be assign'd,
Which may extend alike to all Mankind;
And this God's Revelation must be thought,
Or, a Tradition from first Parents taught:
If it's the first, you grant the thing is sought:
Page 2But if the last; in what's of so much weight,
Why should first Parents propagate a Cheat?
If wheresoe're Humanity is known,
They the Idea of a Godhead own;
In places late found out, and long ago,
Not only with the dull, but witty too;
These would unmask it. if it were design,
Nor could the others lay a Plot so fine.
If some in sev'ral Ages have appear'd,
Who seem'd as if no Godhead they rever'd,
'Tis an Objection nothing to be fear'd:
For few they've been, their Arguments but vain,
Such as a Proselyte could rarely gain:
'Twas not from Reason common to Mankind,
But some Disease, or Folly, of the Mind,
An affectation something new to show,
Like him that Blackness would ascribe to Snow:
Or, no right Judgment could by such be past,
Be'ng like the Sick, whose Mouths are out of taste.
And this the rather is to be believ'd;
Because from all th' Accounts we have receiv'd,
We find the best of Men were always those,
Who with the notion of a God did close.
That a dissent from what so long obtain'd,
Only with Minds deprav'd its credit gain'd,
Whose vic'ious Int'rests cann't a Godhead bear,
To pass right Judgment on their Actions here,
Ev'n hence is seen; that whatsoer'e they fain,
Whether succession in an endless chain,
Or the wild Atoms undirected dance,
Or whatsoever Scheme they please t' advance;
The Difficulties all recur, or more,
Than lay against what was receiv'd before.
Some seem to disbelieve a Deitie,
Because they cann't his Sacred Presence see:
Page 3But these, if they can any thing descry,
Must ev'n the being of their Souls deny,
Which ne're were subject yet to mortal eye:
Nor ought 'gainst this Idea more to strive,
Because their shallow reas'nings cann't arrive
To understand the Nature which they find;
For it belongs to the inferior kind,
Not fully to conceive of what's above:
Beasts, of Man's nature, cann't fit Judges prove;
Less, how the few first gave the many Law,
And by what methods kept the Rout in awe;
How Men could trace the flights o'th' starry host,
And round the dang'rous Deep in safety coast.
These things above their reach must be confest;
And Man, as he excels the down-lookt Beast,
Should think that he who made him to excel,
Does in a distance far above him dwell;
And that there is an Excellence unknown,
Because it is superiour to his own.
Having thus found a Deity above,*
Let's try how we his Attributes can prove:
One Proof concerning them in this does lie,
That what he is, is by necessity,
And this clearly infers the Unity;
For if we this extend to more than one,
We unto numbers infinite must run.
What does exist by necessary Law,
That Force must into act'ual being draw,
And this to single things must be apply'd;
But when we speak of gen'rals, 'tis deny'd.
Multiplications too of things we know,
From a fecundity of Causes flow;
And as the numbers of the Causes were,
So are th' effects more numerous, or rare;
Page 4But nothing caus'd the Deity to be.
In diffe'rent things we differences see;
Th'Essence, not Difference, is needful here;
Nor does one sign of many Gods appear:
The Universe, a single World is found,
One radiant Sun enlightens all around.
In ev'ry Man only one living Soul
Is all in ev'ry part, and in the whole.
Were there, besides, more than one Deity,
In Pow'r and Will all absolutely free,
How if th'Almighty Powers should disagree?
Should one be opposite to th'others Will,
Each could not then its purposes fulfil;
But this is far below a Pow'r Divine.
*Next, full Perfection in this God does shine;
Which cannot but from hence be understood
That whatsoe're in things we find of good,
Or a beginning had, or else had none;
What ne're began belongs to God alone:
That which began, being from something drew,
And since from nothing, nothing ever grew;
It follows, what Perfections e're are seen
In the Effects, have in the Causes been;
And all must be from the first Cause deriv'd,
Which of Perfection ne're can be depriv'd.
What always was can no dependance bear,
Nor can an outward Cause its force impair:
Ne're from its self a diminution came;
For all things at their own Perfection aim.
*To these Perfections of the Deity,
We cannot but ascribe Infinity;
For all the limits we in things explore,
Are that no Cause communicated more,
Or else the Subject could not hold the store;
Page 5But God could nothing take from any cause;
Since, as we've shew'd, he necessar'ily was.
What acts more perfect is,* than that which can't,
And things endu'd with Life than those which want;
What understands, than that which nothing knows,
And what is good, than what does that oppose.
These then we attribute to the most High,
Nor can the manner infinite deny,
His Life, his Pow'r, his Knowledg, without end,
Nor does his Goodness one exception blend.
On what's already said it does depend,
That all things owe their rise to him alone,*
Who is, being of necessity, but one.
What e're else in the Universe has room,
From something divers from it self did come;
Either immediately, or in its cause,
From the Divinity beginning draws:
And this not Reason only, Sense may shew,
If we the Structure of our Bodies view.
Th'inward and outward parts for use conspire,
Without the Parents pains, or known desire,
And with an Art none can enough admire.
This shews the Excellence o'th'Sov'raign Mind,
Which made this all. Much we in Galen find
Our Admiration to confirm, or raise,
Where th'uses of the Hand and Eye he weighs:
This is declar'd ev'n by the Creatures mute,
Whose ev'ry part some certain use does suit,
And takes a Figure proper to its end,
To which the force of matter could not tend.
Of this Inanimates strong proof may yeild,
The Plants, and painted Glories of the Field.
Page 6Into the proof this the Waters flow,
And tho the Earth by nature lie below,
These in the middle between that, and Air;
To see the course inverted is not rare,
And Waters often intersperst with Earth,
To give things Nourishment, or easy Birth.
To have a certain aim in acting, shews
A Nature understanding what to chuse:
But things not only serve their proper end,
But do the good o'th' Universe intend,
Thus against Nature Water does ascend,
Lest somewhere a Vacuity prevail,
And the great Building wanting Juncture, fail:
But such a force could never move the whole,
Unless from him who did this Mass controul.
Actions so regular in Beasts appear,
As that they from some Reason mov'd, declare;
For this observe the lab'ring Bee, or Ant,
Nor yet in others do w'Examples want,
Who without any previous trial, use
Things hurtful to avoid, helpful to chuse:
That from no judgment of their own it came
Appears, in that they always act the same,
Nor can they other things, tho less, effect;
Wherefore some foreign Reason did direct,
Or else imprint their Natures with this force;
And we to God for this must have recourse.
The Lights above, chiefly the Sun and Moon,
Shine forth for this as clear as is the Noon,
Their Courses order'd, and attemper'd so,
That sublunary things may thrive and grow:
The ready motion through the Aequator were,
But they go slenting to refresh us here,
And that each Realm the benefits may share.
As th'Earth the living Creatures does preserve,
They, where much stronger, humane uses serve;
Page 7Which made even the rigid Stoicks write,
That th'Universe was made for Man's delight:
But since no Pow'r of Man could e're attain,
Over the bright Celestial Host to reign,
Nor could they put themselves under his sway;
'Tis then as some Superiour they obey;
And this must needs be that eternal Mind,
Which the vast Fabrick of the World design'd,
And the Contextures wonderfully joyn'd:
The Stars eccentrick Motions this proclaim,
Which not from matters force, but a free Agent came:
This the Positions they above maintain,
And the unequal form of Land, and main:
That this way, more than that, the Stars encline,
As in th'appointed places of the Heav'ns they shine.
The Earth in the most perfect form is found,
Which all Men must confess to be the round.
Some of its parts ev'n in Heav'ns bosom laid,
Declare the Pow'r which that Extrusion made.
Is there a Sot who can to chance ascribe,
What is more acc'rate than we can describe?
As if a casual Coalition cou'd
Make a fair Edifice of Stone and Wood,
Or Letters with an accidental cast,
Should make a Poem through all Ages like to last.
Who Geometrick Figures saw on shore,
Did thence the footsteps of a Man explore,
Knowing that Chance could ne're such things compose.
That Man began in time this also shows,
That by degrees Arts to improvement rose,
That sev'ral still successive Ages find
Places before unpeopled with Mankind,
And they their Language from some Neighbours take,
Or them who the discovery did make:
Page 8Some gen'ral Institutions too, have been
So common unto all the race of Men,
That them not instinct, or collective thought,
So much as a more plain Tradition taught;
Such as was Sacrifice in pious Rites,
And Shame first blushing at unchast Delights,
The solemn tying of the Nuptial Band,
And flying incest tho without command.
*Nor ought we, because ill does footing gain,
To raise a Question, whether God does reign?
As caus'd by him that never did exist,
He made only what truly does subsist,
From what Subsistence has, there may proceed
Such Accidents as is an humane Deed:
He Man, and his sublimer Mind, did make,
With a full pow'r to chuse what Path to take:
This is a glorious liberty of Will,
Good in it self, tho it produces ill:
This which is moral ill, beyond dispute
'Twere impious to the Godhead to impute:
But it his Goodness does not cloud i'th'least,
That what is ill, as on the Senses prest,
From him should come, to punish what is past,
Or to induce a better Life at last;
Tho 'tis like Physick, nauseous to the taste.
*To this the health we of our Souls do owe.
Some from two Principles think all things flow;
The ill from one, as absolutely bad,
As that was good, whence th'other being had:
But should such contrariety be found,
How could the course of things keep on their round?
One would the other's Workmanship destroy,
And neither it's Creation could enjoy.
Page 9Ill absolute could never self-exist,
For 'tis defect in what has something mist;
But then it's subject's to some good arriv'd,
In that of being it is not depriv'd.
That all things here below directed are*
By the Almighty's Providential Care
From hence is seen, that not only Mankind,
Happy to have an understanding Mind,
But Birds and Beasts, with something in it's stead,
Tenderly cherish what themselves have bred:
That this partakes of Goodness, need we prove?
And who can from the Godhead this remove?
The rather, since no limits can be found,
Which may t'his Knowledg, or his Pow'r, give bound.
What e're is done, or to be done, he knows;
And what can hinder when he'll interpose?
What was before observ'd * how things forsake
The Tendencies they of themselves would take,
That they may serve the common end of all,
Under this Head as properly may fall.
That the Celestial Orbs do not confine*
The Infl'ences of Providence Divine,
What's said already fully may perswade
(For that exerts its force to all things made.)
The Courses of the Stars besides appear,
To be appointed for our Service here;
But that, for which another thing's ordain'd,
The more immed'ate care must needs have gain'd.
Out of a sottish Error some contend,*
That Providence do'nt single things intend,
But only universals; which pretence
Would bar ev'n God of his own Providence:
Page 10Nor can that Knowledg infinite be thought
(As God's is prov'd in what's already brought)
Which does not take in all things singular:
If thus his Knowledg, what impedes his care;
Since we in single things, as such, may view
Their proper end, and universal too?
'Tis own'd that Gen'rals through his care exist,
And they only in Singulars subsist:
If these for want of Providence expire,
The kinds of them we should in vain desire.
*The special Influ'ence of a Pow'r above,
Kingdoms and Common-wealths continued, prove.
A form of Government that first prevail'd,
Has not through many Tracts of Ages fail'd:
For this we might all Histories apply,
Where a Republick, where a Monarchy,
All the Contrivances and Plots of Men,
If they unsettle, bring the same agen;
So that against a long fixt Pow'r to fight,
Seems ev'n the Providence of Heaven to slight.
Tho Human Wisdom might preserve it long,
Yet the subjected Rabble are so strong,
Such the Vicisitudes of human things,
That none could fix them but the King of Kings.
But then this Providence chiefly appears,
When the Foundations of a State he tears;
This Cyrus, Alexander, Caesar too,
Tartarian Cingi, and Namcaa shew.
These Men in things where Prudence has a share,
By far beyond its force successful are;
Nay, the uncertainty of things below,
Unto their prosp'rous Fortunes seems to bow;
When like Events to the same constant end
As 'twere by a Conspiracy do tend,
Page 11They argue a direction from on high:
Sometimes a lucky size turns on the Die;
But if the same an hundred times you fling,
'Tis evident it from some Art must spring.
But Miracles afford the clearest sign*
Of a presiding Providence Divine,
And the fore-knowledg of Futurity,
Of which we have such Proofs as none deny:
Since God is infinite in Pow'r and Skill,
Can any thing withhold his Sov'ragin Will,
From acting and imparting to Mankind,
What beyond Nature's course he has design'd?
That very Course he did at first ordain.
But if inferiour Minds to this attain;
Much more may God, who suffers what they do,
(If they do not his full intent pursue)
In Kingdoms constituted where we live,
Who made the Law, can Dispensation give.
That Miracles have been we may believe,*
If we the Story of the Jews receive;
Whence their Religion of such date we know,
Tho all things have conspir'd its overthrow:
It long has been depriv'd of humane Aid,
And ev'ry where a Scoff and By-word made;
Yet still continues, when all others move
(Except the Christian, which does that improve)
As soon as that Authority is gone,
Which forc'd, or laid inviting Colours on.
Thus fell the Pagan, Mahomet's does last,
Because it's Empire's date not yet is past.
If any ask me what could be the cause,
Which gave such rooting to the Jewish Laws?
Page 12'Tis plain, it was the Miracles were wrought,
When God himself did lead, and for them fought,
And which were by a clear Tradition taught,
Which might be trac'd from Father unto Son,
Till they reacht Moses, and the Son of Nun:
Who else can think such stubborn Men as they,
Would so severe a Ritual Law obey?
Or, that a People evidently wise,
Would chuse with so much pain to circumcise?
Which other Nations needs must have contemn'd:
Nor could them in it self to God commend
*Moses his Sacred Writings, where we find
These Miracles to memory consign'd;
Not only this their lasting Credit gave,
That the Tradition, which the Hebrews have,
Speaks him to be of God chose, and inspir'd:
But that he his own Glory ne're desir'd,
Nor sought th'advantage of his Friends, or Blood;
From hence is manifestly understood,
That his own Sins he never seeks to hide;
And the High-Priesthood to his Line deni'd,
As well as in chief Civil Pow'r to place,
Fixing them with the vulgar Levites Race:
Which shews he had no cause to falsify;
Nor did he use that Art becomes a Lie:
No varnish to set off a studi'ed Tale;
But Truth did with its native force prevail.
Consider further the unequall'd Age
Of the known Writings of this Jewish Sage:
The Greeks, to whom most own their Learning due,
Theirs from abroad most evidently drew,
And many Proofs 'twas from the Hebrews shew.
The Attick Laws, & Roman, sprang from thence,
From those which Moses taught did first com∣mence.
And Men of other Rites full witness bear*
Unto the Ancient Truths he does declare;
This th' old Phoenician Histories do shew,
As we in Sanchoniatho may view.
Indians, Egyptians, many of the Greeks,
Teach how the Chaos was to him that seeks;
How first the Animals, and Man at last,
(Man in an heav'nly mould divinely cast,
Out of the egg (for so they call't) did haste,
That Man had giv'n him pow'r o're other things;
This, among others, Ovid sweetly sings:
And this from Grecian Poets he did take.
That God the World into its being spake,
The Platonists and Epicarmus thought,
And he who long before in Verses brought
A rich Collection of what Orpheus taught.
That the bright Sun did not produce the heat,
But as it was ordain'd its lucid seat
Empedocles confest: Catullus too,
And Aratus did in their flights pursue
A fixt abode above the starry Skys;
That there's perpetual Light Homer descrys.
Milesian Thales out of ancient Lore,
That there's a God, whom nothing ever bore;
That th'Universe is fair, as by him made;
That antecedent to the Light was Shade.
With this the Orphics, Hesiod too delights,
And thence some Nations count the time by nights.
Wise Anaxag'ras in his search did find,
That all things came from a superior Mind.
Smooth Aratus, that God the Stars did make,
That from his Breath all things their life did take
Did Virgil, after Grecian Poets say,
Hes'iod, that Man was form'd from out the Clay.
Page 14Homer, Callimachus, that God is one,
And that all things proceed from him alone.
Maximus Tyr'ius strongly holds, that this
The uniform consent of Nations is.
That Honour which Latines and Greeks did shew
To the seventh Day (not here to name the Jew)
Which in unquestion'd Authors one observes,
The mem'ry of God's sev'n Days works preserves.
The Celticks this, and this the Indian speaks,
Who portion out the Seasons into Weeks,
And this the Names which they assign'd each day:
That Men at first liv'd in a simple way,
Their Manners rude, they naked to the Skin
Is ev'n in some Egyptian Writers seen.
Th' Indians, as Strabo shews, did celebrate
That Golden Age the Poets do relate:
Wild Indians did i'th'History agree,
Of Adam, Eve, the Serpent, and the Tree,
If to Maimonides we Credit give:
Nay, Witnesses who in our Age do live,
Affirm that Indian Pagans keep the same;
Their learned Brachmans mention Adam's name.
Those at Siam reckon with us, the World
About the Poles six thousand Years has twirl'd:
That at the first Men liv'd a thousand years,
In the Caldean Registers appears:
Egyptians this, with some Phoenicians say;
Nor want there Greeks as positive as they.
And this may the more easy credit gain,
Because to after-ages did remain
Vast Graves, which did the mouldred Bodies, shew
Compar'd with present, of a monstrows hew.
Pausanias and Philostratus of Greeks,
And this the Roman Nat'r'list, Pliny, speaks.
How God and Angels did with Man converse,
Till he provok'd their absence for a curse,
Page 15After the Greeks Catallus does relate;
And the old Giants truly ferine state,
With Moses Greeks and Latins do agree;
And in all Nations we some Proofs may see,
Of what about the Deluge he has shown:
All time to that old Varro call'd unknown.
Those things on which the Poets Fictions ground,
In other Writers are unblended found,
Agreeing with the Truth in Moses seen:
Berosus with the Chaldees, Abidene
Among th' Assyrians, did hold forth the same,
And the pacifick Dove the last does name:
This Grecian Plutarch, Lucian mentions this,
Who says, that Syrian Hierapolis,
Retain'd the Story of the Ark of old,
Which the sav'd race of Men and Beasts did hold:
In Damascene and Molo this you'l see,
The last does in the name of Ark agree:
Apollidorus does transmit to fame
Deucalion's Story, differing but in name:
And sev'ral Spaniards do at large attest,
That in America remotest West,
The mem'ry of the Flood they plainly trace,
And preservation of all Mortal Race:
The Raven forc'd to keep upon the Wing,*
And well-come Dove which th'Olive-branch did bring.
Where Men inhabited before the Flood
By Joppe, nam'd in Pliny's understood:
And to this day Tradition does remain
Where th' Ark did rest, the Flood b'ing in again,
Mount Ararat on the Armenian Plain.
The Father of us Europeans here,
Japhet in Ethnick Authors does appear
Ion or Javan the learn'd Grecians own,
And Hammon Arts to th' Africans had shown,
Page 16Names the Mosaick Writings have preserv'd:
Josephus too, and others have observ'd,
That many Names of Men and places shew,
Apparent Footsteps of what there we view.
Which of the Poets does not proof supply,
Of the condemn'd attempt to scale the Sky?
Clouds of Authorities confirm that Fire,
In which polluted Sodom did expire.
We might as many Witnesses produce,
To shew that Circumcision was in use,
And this continues among Abram's Seed,
With Isma'elites, and Idumean breed:
The Hist'ry of the ancient Patriarchs too
In Philo's Sanchoniatho we view;
In Hecataeus this, and Damascene,
Berosus and Demetrius may be seen;
Artap'nus, and Eupol'mus we may add:
This he who wrote the famous Orphics had.
Some part of this Justin's learn'd Book affords,
Which from Pompeius Trogus he records;
Scarce one of them but tells of Moses's fame,
How he was sav'd from water th'Orphics name,
And that two Tables he from God receiv'd,
And Polemon confirms what's here believ'd.
Sev'ral of the Egyptian Writers shew
How vainly Pharoh's Hoast did Israel's Flock pursue.
And who that thinks of Moses can believe,
That he should e're have ventur'd to deceive;
When with wise Enemies encompast round,
Who would have noted all the faults they found,
If former Authors what he wrote controul'd,
Or 'twere oppos'd by a Tradition old,
Or he of the then present times did tell,
What Witnesses then living could refel:
Page 17Sicilian Diodore, Pliny the young,
Longinus of sublimity of Tongue,
Strabo, and Tacitus, of Moses speak;
Jamnis and Mambris, in their Sorceries weak,
When they his Credit to impair did seek,
The Talmud, Pliny, Apuleius, name.
Some Laws, and Ritu'als, which from Moses came,
The golden Pythagorean Verses shew,
And many of them you elsewhere may view.
Strabo and Trogus Testimonies give,
How just, how pious, the old Jews did live:
What we of Joshua, and others find,
Early or late, to memory consign'd,
Agreeing with the Jews, need not be join'd;
Since he who will to Moses credit give,
Whom now it were a shame to disbelieve,
Must not deny, which here we sought to prove,
That God in a mirac'lous way did move,
Exceeding all the Laws which Nature knew:
That he such Acts in after-times did shew,
As when Elijah, and Elisha liv'd,
Is with less hesitance to be receiv'd;
Because the Jews were then become more known,
Their Rites held more in detestation,
The World then could not but have jealous Eyes,
And stop the growth of the most speci'ous lies.
Hazöus and Lycophrones do tell
What in the swall'wing Whale Jonas befel,
Only the name for Hercules they change,
To whom they us'd t'impute things great, and strange.
The truth of History did Julian force,
(Who ne're t'wards Jews or Christians had remorse)
To own, that God did often Jews inspire,
And burnt Elijah's Sacrifice with Heav'nly Fire.
Page 18Add to this farther, that the Jewish Law
All vain pretence to Prophesy did awe;
It did Obedience to their Kings perswade,
Yet they that sacred Office fear'd t'invade:
Esdras, and others wiser than the rest,
That they were less than Prophets still confest;
This gift some Ages before Jesus ceast.
But who on many milli'ons could impose
With Prodigies they did to all expose,
Such as the High-priest's Breast-plate did disclose?
That Light and Truth which thence shone forth to all,
Continu'd fresh till the first Temple's fall;
In this such certain Faith have all the Jews,
As that 'twas known to their Fore-fathers, shews.
*To this of Miracles, we may subjoyn
Another proof of Providence Divine,
The knowledg of Contingencies to come,
Which was imparted from above, to some;
When not one cause, or sign could then appear,
To them their Times and Tendencies were clear,
As th'Orbity of him who should restore
Jerico curst by (a)Joshua long before.
Who should the Temple on Mount (b)Bethel fire,
More than three hundred years e're 'twas t'expire:
Esaiah too (c)Cyrus the great does name,
And his chief Actions since made known to fame.
Jerus'alem from (d)Caldean force being freed,
Jeremy saw that they should yet (e) succeed,
The fate of the Assyrian Monarchy,
Daniel(f) did in the womb of Time descry,
That first to Medes and Persians it should fall,
Then (g)Alexander should ingross it all.
Seleucus then, and Ptol'omy(h) part divide,
What mischief should from these, the (i)Jews, be∣tide,
The truth of these when searching Porphry found,
To this poor subterfuge he driven was,
That they were wrote after they came to pass.
But we as well a warm dispute may raise,
Who wrote the Books whence Virgil has his Praise;
The Romans knew not that by surer fame,
Than had the Jews for what bore Daniel's name.
Did not oracular Predictions shew,
What Mexico should feel, and rich Peru,
Which the relentless Spaniards should subdue?
To this those many Dreams we may refer,
Which to Events full Correspondence bear,
Events which they who dream't could ne're foreknow,
From any thing observable below:
These to ascribe unto some casual hit,
Or nat'ral cause, can't thinking Men befit:
Of these Tertulli'an, writing of the Soul,
Brings many Instances beyound controul.
Of Sp'irits assuming vehicles of Air,
Which Men not only did discern, but hear,
Authors by no means credulous declare.
Such Spectres in America have been,
In Mexico, and Sina, often seen.
And those fire-Ord'eals with old Germans known,
As in their Histories, and Laws are known,
Prove an Almighty Power the just does own.
If less exertions of the Power Divine,*
For Miracles, and Prophecies now shine;
The force of what is prov'd it can't impair;
Since 'tis enough, that once such things there were:
Page 20If they have been less frequent than before,
God in great Wisdom these his Works forbore▪
Nor is it fit to violate the Laws
Printed on Nature, but for weighty cause;
As when the Jews in a small Corner clos'd,
Were to maintain a Worship all expos'd;
Or that the Truths in Christian Doctrine found,
Were to enlighten all the World around:
Such times are well becoming God to show
That Nature's but his Hand-maid here below.
*Some question whether Providence presides,
Seeing how Sin flows in with mighty Tides,
As if 'twould deluge all the World again;
Which Providence, if any, should restrain.
But th'answer's easy, since Man's Will is free,
And God alone good by necessity:
To bridle and keep in our Sins by force,
Were to make Man no better than an Horse.
Bate, that of freedom we are not bereft,
No proper means are unattempted left:
A Law is made our wild Desires to chain,
And none for want of Knowledg can complain;
Inward and outward Admonition's joyn'd
And Threats and Promises to bend the Mind:
That very Wickedness that's suffer'd here,
Has limits set by God's o're-ruling Care;
In vain it strives to swell beyond its bound,
To force th'enclosures of the sacred Ground.
His Church, hem'd in with the tempestuous deep,
His Pow'r does from an Inundation keep:
Civil Societies his Influ'ence share,
Else the mad Multitude no Laws would bear:
And ev'n that Mischief, which does license get,
Has some good end by his appointment set,
Page 21To punish, or correct, those Souls that stray
Out of the Paths of Vertue's narrow way;
Or else a glori'ous is Specimen to give,
How nobly the Adult in Vertue strive,
'Gainst those Temptations which in Crouds arrive!
While Pati'ence does its perfect work maintain,
And constancy unto the last remain.
And they, whose Punishment has been delay'd,
For this forbearance have large int'rest pay'd;
Thus they who disobey'd th' Almighty's Will,
Against their own, his purposes fulfil.
If Wickedness unpunish'd long appear,*
The weak still suffer'd Violence to bear,
In sorrow long to draw their hated Breath,
And die at last an ignominious Death;
As if their Innocence had no regard:
Man is not therefore from God's Care debarr'd;
For no Man knows how God exerts his Pow'r,
In inward Blessings, th'ill can ne're devour:
Besides, before was prov'd an Aid Divine;
Wherefore we with the wise in the belief should joyn,
That since God knows our Acti'ons, and is just;*
Yet sometimes seems to authorize distrust;
A future Judgment needs must be behind,
Where Sinners their due Punishment may find,
And all egreg'ious Vertue, here unblest,
Exalted to a state above the rest,
May meet full Recompence for all its Pain.
For this we must believe, that Souls remain,*
When loosned from the Body's cumbrous Chain;
And this belief so general is known,
That we it's rise must from first Parents own:
Page 22This Homer sings in Verses ever new,
And this the Gauls, as well as Grecians knew;
Their learned Druids this most fully taught,
And this the Brachmans with the Indians thought:
Aegyptian, Thracian, German Sages, all,
Upon this Truth with one consent do fall;
For proof we might unquestion'd Authors call:
In Strabo, Plutarch, and Laertius, see
How the Aegyptians, Indians too, agree,
In the expecting of the Day of Doom,
After this Life is to its period come:
Histaspes, and the ancient Sybills spake,
What Conflagrati'ons shall the World o're-take;
Ovid and Lucan, both this thought pursue,
This at Siam the savage Ind'ians knew;
Of this Astronomers a Proof have found,
In that the Sun draws nigher to the ground.
Parts farthest off at first discov'ry prove,
That we can no where from these Truths remove;
Canaries yield this Fruit, the Western Shoar
Largely enriches with this Golden Oar.
*Nor can one Argument in Nature found,
This old Tradition, so extensive, wound:
For if we any thing observe to fail,
'Tis either, that what's mighti'er does prevail,
In its own Nature contrary to that,
As Cold does through the force of Heat abate;
Or the removing that in which it stands;
As when a Glass is fallen from our hands,
And into several little peices broke,
The form is perisht which at first it took:
Or else 'twas from deficience in the cause;
As Light does vanish when the Sun withdraws:
Page 23But none of these can of the Soul be said;
For nothing contrary to that was made;
In this does its peculiar b'eing delight,
Things to each other the most opposite,
At once it's intellectu'al Pow'r receives.
This for the first: The second who believes?
For on what Subject can the Soul depend?
If we for this the Body should commend;
How happens it that when the Body's tyr'd,
The Soul to farther Action still is fir'd,
Without least lascitude from thence acquir'd?
An Object also that too much excels,
All the weak forces of the Body quels;
And thus the feeble Organs of our sight,
Cannot endure the Sun's prevailing Light;
The nobler Objects entertain the Mind,
Its force is stronger, Pleasure more refin'd;
As when its Thoughts from matter it abstracts,
And about lofty Universals acts;
The Body's forces cannot but embrace
Things, which are circumscrib'd by time and place;
For that's the Body's Nature, while the Mind
To what's eternal, and immense, is joyn'd:
Since then the Body don't its Acti'ons give,
It's Essence how can it from thence receive?
The Natures of the things we ne're discern,
We can but by their Operations learn.
Nor more to this can we ascribe the way
Mention'd the last, as reason of decay;
For no efficient cause we can invent,
Which failing, all the reasoning Pow'r is spent:
For this the Parents you can ne're assign;
For then their Deaths would cut off all their Line:
No other cause 'tis possible to name,
Than th'universal, whence at first things came,
Page 24Whose Pow'r we're sure can no defici'ence know;
But that his Will's deficient, who can show?
That 'tis the pleasure of the Deity
Souls should in total Abolition lie?
*Nay th' Arguments o'th'other side are clear:
That Man o're his own Actions pow'r does bear,
And all the an'imal World his beck obeys;
That he his Mind to God's own Throne can raise,
And for his sake contemn all outward things:
That in his Soul a grateful thirst there springs
Of an immortal State above the Earth,
And he diverts himself with solid Mirth,
While a good Consci'ence does supply the Feast,
With which he in each Circumstance is blest:
This comforts him to bear the heavi'est stroke;
Nor can the anchor of his hope be broke:
But then if he a wicked Life has led,
What gastly Horrors all his Thoughts o're-spread!
Death is the King of Terrors truly found,
And the last Judgment inwardly does wound;
Under the force of which great Tyrants groan,
And hardly dare they trust themselves alone:
Examples are too numerous to give,
Of those, who under these Tormentors live.
*But if such be the nature of the Mind,
That of it's failing we no cause can find:
And God has pleas'd to give us many signs,
That when the Body moulders, that still shines:
What nobler end can mortal Man propound,
Than that with Happ'iness this may be crown'd?
Hence Plata, and the Pythagoreans taught;
Man should to imitate his God be brought:
Page 25What that Felicity, and how attain'd,
May in some part by humane thought be gain'd;
But what God has discover'd in his Word;*
Must most of Truth, and Certainty afford;
Which since the Christian Doctrine does hold forth,
Let us examine what belief 'tis worth.
THou, blessed Jesus!* who in Heav'n dost reign,
Assist my Thoughts, while in an humble strain,
The Truth, and Certainty, I represent,
Of that Religion, for which thou wast sent!
That while Tiber'ius did the Empire sway,*
Jesus of Naz'areth did in Judah stay,
Not Christians only constantly profess,
Jewish, and Pagan Authors, do no less:
Sueton'ius, Pliny, Tac'itus, have his Fame,
And numbers after them repeat the same:
And that this Jesus, Pilate crucify'd,
Howe're reproachful, Christians ne're deny'd:
Nay this the Jews ne're scruple to declare,
Tho great, on that account, their Suff'rings are,
Where e're disperst they among Christians live.
And Proofs beyond desire the Pagans give;
Who Pilate's Acts have down to us convey'd,
In whose Memorials this as chief is laid.
Julian, and others, who the most oppose
That rule of life, which blessed Jesus shows,
Concerning this did ne're one Question move:
This the most disagreeing People prove;
The Proofs so full, no History has more.
*Yet him most distant Realms as God adore.
And this appears not in our Age alone,
But we may trace it back unto his own:
And when at Rome fierce Nero did preside,
Many for that Profession bravely dy'd,
As Tacitus, and sev'ral others tell.
*And of these Worsh'ppers, many did excel
In Judgment and improvements of the Mind
(Not here to name whom of the Jews we find)
Such Serg'ius was who did in Cyprus rule,
And Dionysius, Head of a fam'd School;
That glorious ancient Martyr Polycarp,
Justin, and Irenaeus, Writers sharp;
Wise Athenagoras at Athens bred,
And Origin, whose Learning far has spread,
With Alexandrian Clement many more,
Unto this suffering Lord like Rev'rence bore.
What with such thinking Men as these could sway,
Most of them bred in quite another way,
On such an Object of their Faith to call,
*Where neither Honour could, or Gain befal?
Were it not this, that having us'd the care,
In things which of the chiefest moment are,
Fit for the wise, trying the constant fame,
Which did his supernat'ral Works proclaim;
They found them such, beyond the least dispute,
As did all vain Philosophy confute:
Diseases quitting the long ravag'd Field,
When nothing in all Nature help could yeild:
Sight giv'n to him who ne're could use an Eye;
That questionless miraclous supply
Page 27Of thousands, with created Loaves of Bread,
Repeated, and thro' distant Regions spread;
And Life call'd back again after 'twas fled.
Not here the numerous instances to name,*
Which had obtain'd such an unblemisht Fame,
That Celsus, and ev'n Julian, them confess,
And the learn'd Jewish Talmudists no less:
These they ne're scruple Prodigies to call,
And therein own them supernatural.
Long fixt Diseases yeilding at command
Of the least motion of the Lip, or Hand,
Argue a Pow'r which Nature must obey:
But if in this such Efficacy lay;
It no less strange appears, that of all those,
Who Christ, and his Religion, did oppose,
None should the mighty Secret yet disclose.
And hence we with just reas'ning may collect,
That of Imposture none can these suspect;
Since they were publick, and expos'd to sight
Of Men, who 'gainst Convicti'on us'd to fight,
And Men well conversant in ev'ry Art
That nat'ral Wit, or Study could impart.
And the like things repeated as was need,
Shew'd that these Works did not from chance proceed.
Besides th'effects were such as long did last;
When things by accident are quickly past.
These things with due Consideration weigh'd,
'Gainst which the Jews have no Objections made,
Their Force from something more than humane had;
Which either a good Spirit was, or bad:
The bad would never these great Truths attest,
By which their Empire here is so deprest,
And which prohibit their beloved Feast,
Page 28Deeds, and Desires obscene; Experience shows,
That Daemons all their Pomp and Worship lose,
Magick, and all their other Arts held vain,
Where e're Christ'anity does footing gain:
Porphiry owns, Christ's Advent did impair
The Forces of those Princes of the Air.
Who can think Evil Spirits so unwise,
Where there no Honour Advantage lies,
But great Disgrace and Detriment t'ensue,
Yet the same Acti'ons still they should pursue?
Less is it to be thought it should agree
With the known Wisdom of the Deity,
And that extensive Goodness all Men see,
To suffer Men, guilty of nothing ill,
Devoted absolutely to his Will,
Such as all grant the Prim'tive Christ'ians were,
To be trapan'd into a fatal Snare;
Men in their Lives unblam'd, and suff'ring pain,
That they a faultless Conscience might maintain.
But if you say these Deeds must be assign'd
Unto some good, but secundary Mind;
Therein that they the Godhead pleas'd you own;
For all good Spirits look at that alone.
Not here those wondrous Works of Christ to name,
Which no less Author than a God proclaim;
As with new Life informing Breathless Clay:
And who, besides, can of th' Amighty say,
He does; or suffers Wonders without cause?
For no wise Maker of well-founded Laws,
Would without weighty Reason make them vain:
But then who can another Reason feign,
Than what our Saviour did himself declare?
That God thereby did Testimony bear
Page 29Unto those sacred Doctrines which he taught.
By those that saw them what else could be thought?
They being such as we observ'd before,
As 'twere a scandal to the God w'adore,
And impious to believe, he would impose
On Men so perfectly resign'd as those.
This was the cause why many of the Jews,
Who Moses for their constant Guide did chuse,
About that time when Jesus here did move,
Receiv'd him as a Master from above,
Such were the Nazarens and Ebio'nites,
Zealous Asserters of the Jewish Rites.
Christ's Miracles like Confirmation have,*
From his return to Life out of the Grave:
This has not only been for Truth receiv'd,
But a chief Article to be believ'd
By all who e're Christ'anity profest.
But it for certain needs must be confest,
All could not this matter of Faith have thought,
Unless the Men, who first Christ's Doctrine taught,
Had full perswasi'on in their Hearers wrought;
But, evidently, this could ne're have been,
Without asserting what themselves had seen:
None moderately wise, would e're have chose
A Faith, which to such Dangers did expose,
Unless they had affirm'd it's Truth, who saw
This great Foundation of the Christian Law:
But, that it always was affirm'd, is shown
By other Writings, fully as their own.
And, as in Books as clearly 'tis reveal'd,
They to five hundred Witnesses appeal'd,
Who saw our Saviour come to Life again,
But how durst any so appeal that feign?
Page 30And who could on such Multitudes prevail,
To cheat the World with a fictitious Tale?
Nay were the Twelve all who had this maintain'd,
They were enow full Credit to have gain'd;
For no Man would for nothing be a Knave.
Honours 'tis sure thereby they could not have;
For those were at the absolute dispose
Of Jews and Heathens, who did them oppose:
Nor could they have by this encreast their store,
Thro' it they lost what they had gain'd before:
Nor could one benefit of Life, invite
To cheat the World with any cunning slight:
Their very preaching, as full well they knew,
To Labours, Hunger, Thirst, and Prisons drew:
Then Fame with their own Sect could never tempt
Plain Men, from all degrees of Pride exempt,
So many Inconveniencies to bear,
For the thin diet of that pop'ular Air;
Nor could they hope that Doctrine would succeed,
With Nature, still intent upon it's need,
When all Authority on Earth oppos'd;
But as they with God's sacred Promise clos'd.
This may be added; that whatever Fame
They might propound, by preaching up Christ's Name,
They had no expectation it could last,
For, so with Clouds God's Purpose was o'recast,
They thought the World did to it's Period hast;
Which is in theirs, and other Writings plain.
The sole Objection which can yet remain,
Is that they ly'd for their Religion's sake:
Which no Man, that had duly weigh'd, would make;
Page 31For either their Religion true they thought,
Or, what they knew to be a Falshood, taught:
But had they not believ'd it to be best,
They would not have forsaken all the rest,
Among which Safety lay and Honour too,
Nor had profest it, barely as 'twas true,
Unless they that Profession needful knew:
For nothing else could free them from the Guilt,
Of all the Blood through that Professi'on spilt:
But if they that believ'd, not true alone,
But best, and necess'ry for them to own,
After the Founders Death to be receiv'd;
This could not have obtain'd, had he deceiv'd,
Declaring his own rising from the Dead:
No Men whose Understandings were not fled,
Finding their Expectations frustrate there,
Would to that Faith still holy Rev'rence bear.
Then all Religions, chiefly Christ's, deny
To blemish sacred things with any Lie:
Religion therefore, such an one besure,
Could never this officious Lie procure.
The Men besides were such, as their worst Foes
For nothing but simplicity expose:
Nor had, such, Wit enough so well to feign,
And who would do it for the sake of pain?
Which that Profession certainly would gain:
I'th'utmost Tortures Malice could invent,
Many for this out of the World were sent:
How much soever some might chuse to bear,
For an Opinion which they valu'd dear;
Who can imagine Men with Sense indu'd,
Not one alone, but a great multitude,
Should make themselves subject to certain Woe,
For what themselves had known to be untrue?
Page 32But then their Lives, and Writings which they left,
Shew that they were not of their Wits bereft.
What may confirm the Evidence of those,
Who the first Witnesses for Christ arose,
Serves for St. Paul as much, who did declare,
That rapt above the Regions of the Air,
Whether with strengthned Rays of mortal sight,
Or meerly by an intellectu'al Light,
The Soul being sep'rate from the Body's Chain,
He saw where Christ does with his Father reign.
All that the Jews could teach, he had acquir'd,
Nor greater honour need to have desir'd,
Than what he might expect in his old way:
When on the other side, for this, he lay
Expos'd to th'utmost hatred of his Friends,
Nature depriv'd of all its darling ends,
Travels, and Labours all his worldly Meed,
And a reproachful death was to succeed.
*VVho can assent to proofs, so clear delay;
Unless that 'tis impossible he say,
That is a contradiction does imply?
Which we of this may with good grounds deny.
At the same time to be alive, and dead,
VVere contradicti'ous: but when life is fled,
Back by the Pow'r that gave it to be brought,
Can never sure impossible be thought:
As Plato writes, to Eris this befell:
Heracl'des this does of a VVoman tell:
Of one Herodotus does this relate:
And this, says Plutarch, was anothers fate:
VVhich shews that VVise-men thought that it might be;
If, that 'twas possible, we then agree,
For Christ to breath again with living breath,
After its be'ng extinguisht once in death;
And that 'twas so in fact's so fully prov'd,*
That it the Jewish Rabbi Becai mov'd:
But as his Followers, and others, shew,
He held forth to the World a Doctrine new;
This must by needful Consequence be true,
Since he maintain'd 'twas by divine Command;
For with God's Justice it can no way stand,
Or Goodness either, to exalt so high
One, who in so momentous things would lie:
Had he been such an one, who would believe
That he the certain notice should receive
Both when, and how, he should from Life retire,
And have his Reins new fill'd with active Fire,
Himself declaring that all this was wrought,
For Confirmat'ion of the Truths he taught?
These Arguments do from the Fact arise.*
Let's come to what within the Doctrine lies:
He who believes, that God did all things make,
And care of his own Workmanship does take;
And thinks withal, how great is Humane Mind;
Unto what noble purposes design'd!
To be acquir'd by freedom of the Will,
In chusing either Moral Good, or Ill,
To close with the Rewards which so invite,
Or take the Penalties in endless Night,
Can't think all Worship should aside be laid,
Or that refuse which Jesus does perswade.
Not only this the Evidence of Fact,
Intrinsick Motives strongly this exact;
For no Religion ever yet arose,
Which did so excellent Rewards propose,
Or such a perfect Rule of Life did lay,
Or went on in so wonderful a way.
*Here to begin with the Reward, the end,
Which in their Act'ions Men do first intend,
Tho in the execution last 'tis seen:
Those Institut'ions Moses did bring in,
If we the Letter of the Law regard,
Beyond this Life did promise no Reward;
Rich Soil, a plentiful encrease of Store,
Conquest o're all that Arms against them bore,
A vigorous old Age, and prospect clear
Of Issue long the taintless Name to bear,
Were all that did, without thick Clouds appear.
From which the Wise alone themselves had wrought,
Through a long chain of recollective thought.
Hence Moses tho the Sadduces receiv'd,
They nothing of a future state believ'd:
The wisest Grecians, who their Learning drew
From all Caldaeans, or Aegyptians, knew,
Conceiv'd some hopes of Life when this were out;
Yet still 'twas mingled with o're-shad'wing doubt.
In the Socratick Writings thus 'tis found;
Nor do the Latins less with doubts abound:
Of Tully this, and Sen'ca may be said;
When to the Truth their Arguments have led,
They seem'd afraid with their own thoughts to close,
Which on so fallible a ground arose,
That 'twould with Beasts as well as Men agree,
The consequence of which when some did see,
A Transmigration they of Souls did feign,
From Men to Beasts, from Beasts to Men again:
Nothing like Proof did e're this recommend;
Yet it be'ng evident Man has some end;
Some thought that Vertue was its own reward,
In Instances most perilous and hard;
Page 35That that alone gives pleasure to the full,
The Wise be'ing happy in the burning Bull:
But most Men saw thro this so thin pretence,
A form of words against apparent sense;
As if the height of happiness could lye,
In dangers, Nature robb'd of all supply,
Faintings, and dissolutions at the last,
After a life in wasting torments past.
Others, who law the vanity of this,
In gratifying Sense plac'd all their bliss:
But this the nature of Mankind deprest,
And humbled Man to the degree of Beast,
Extinguishing those gen'rous inbred Seeds,
Which carry him erect to noble Deeds.
In such incertainties Men groapt about,
Till Christ in Charity remov'd the doubt;
The perfect knowledg of Man's end he taught,
Life without death, or pain, and happy beyond thought;
And this not only for that part of Man,
For which some Ages a Conjecture ran,
If not Tradit'ion, that it should remain,
After the be'ng unloos'ned from its Chain;
But that God would our Bodies spiritu'alize,
That they may to a joynt Communion rise;
And this with mighty Equity, since they,
As they the Sacti'ons of God's Laws obey,
Are often forc'd to bear with dol'rous Pain,
And Death at last, for all their Labour gain;
Wherefore some Compensation should remain:
Nor are the promiss'd Joys so grosly low,
As were the chiefest some dull Jews did know,
Perpetu'al Feasts, or that the more refin'd,
Restless Society with Woman-kind,
That powerful Lure sly Mahomet design'd:
Page 36These are peculiar to a Mortal State,
To cherish Life, or else to propagate.
Vigour in Bodies never to abate,
Beauty beyond what in the Stars does shine,
Knowledg of God, and Providence Divine,
A mind with steady light, without one cloud
Of baleful Error, or reserve to shroud,
Perfect tranquillity of settled wills,
While God himself the Soul with Raptures fills,
Th' extatick Soul wholly imployd in Praise,
And admiration which no time decays;
This is the happiness, which Christ declares,
Which he much undervalues that compares.
*Some urge a difficulty yet unsolv'd,
How Bodies should, after their being dissolv'd,
Have all their scatt'red Particles agen,
And make the self-same individual Men.
But by their search Philosophers can tell,
That what ere changes have in things befel,
The matter of them still continues fit
Of sev'ral different Species to admit.
How far soever they may be disjoind,
Th' Almighty can their Receptacles find,
And into the same mass together bind.
Things of like kind the Chymists can unite,
Of him who made the World shall we deny't?
If into Nature's common works we look,
We find where things have diff'rent species took,
To the first form they oft again return;
As we by sev'ral sorts of Seeds discern.
Nor yet a Knot more difficult t' unty,
In human Bodies eat by Beasts does lie,
And they again for Men becoming food,
This may concerning them be understood;
Page 37Of what we eat 'tis but a little part,
Which Nature to our Substance does convert,
Most, Excrement, or such accession, proves,
As Phlegm, or Choler, which with ease removes;
Diseases, inward Heat, and outward Air,
Much, ev'n of that which nourishes, impair:
Which being so; what should our God impede,
Who of mute Creatures still preserves the breed,
Of human Bodies so much care to take,
That what of theirs does food for others make,
No more of added substance should produce,
Than Poison, or the Med'cines which we use?
And this the rather, since we plainly see,
Man's Flesh by Nature don't for Food agree.
But yet for once, let us admit it were,
And part of th'last must to the first repair,
To constitute the Man which was before;
Yet this Objection does not press the more;
For the same Person it may well be thought,
Tho back to th' first some Particles are brought;
No less Mutati'ons ev'n in Life are wrought.
In Worms we may discover little Flies,
In Plants, and Wine, a secret Virtue lies,
Which the same substance after waste supplies.
Of the like kind we might name many more,
And shall we think the God whom we adore,
Can't make a Body, tho dissolv'd, the same?
Men we are are sure, for Learning great in Fame,
Not only this as possible receiv'd;
But that 'twould be in future times believ'd.
This did Caldaean Zoroaster own,
And scarce one Stoick was against it known:
Peripatetick Theopompus too,
In his Researches did this thought pursue.
*The second Proof, that Christ's Religion's best,
Is in the holy Rules it gives, exprest:
All others that have been, or can be fram'd,
Compar'd with this, deserve to be disclaim'd,
Both for the Worship of the Deity,
And every Office which in Life does lie.
The Cruelty of the old Pagan Rites,
Is fully seen, in what their Porph'ry writes:
And where e're late discov'ries any find,
They 'ppear to be unworthy of Mankind.
In almost ev'ry place a Notion ran,
That God's were pacify'd by Blood of Man,
Nor Grecian Learning, nor the Roman Law,
Did it's Authority from this withdraw:
The bloody Bacchanali'ans this may prove,
And the warm Sacrifice to Lati'al Jove,
Their Cere'al Mysteries, most sacred held,
With all sorts of Obscenities were fill'd;
As was most visible to ev'ry sight,
When their Arcana were expos'd to Light:
Clement of Alexandr'ia this does blame,
With other Authors of undoubted Fame:
Grave Cato was asham'd of those lew'd Plays,
With which they kept their Consecrated Days.
But the Religion of the Jews, indeed,
Allow'd no wicked or dishonest Deed;
Yet loads of Ceremonies it enjoyn'd,
That People, to Idolatry inclin'd,
By no means tending to improve the Mind;
Meerely their own Will-worship to restrain;
Hence were the Beasts in Sacrifices slain:
Their painful circumcising the Foreskin:
And counting Work on the seventh day a Sin,
With the prohibiting some sorts of Meat:
When cunning Mahomet set up his Cheat;
Page 39This was a Pattern unto his design:
A Law he added to abstain from Wine.
But that Religion which to Christ we owe,
Does how we should the Godhead worship, show;
That we must offer to the purest Mind,
What is, as much as may be, of the kind,
And Works good in themselves: whence he requires;
Not Circumcision of the Flesh, but of Desires:
Our Hands from ev'ry Work not to withdraw;
But what is contr'ary to th'justest Law:
Not for our Sins with Blood of Beasts t'atone,
But, if the Truth require, to yeild our own.
To think our God himself has Debtor made,
For whatsoe're to help the poor is paid:
Not to abstain from certain kinds of Meat,
But with fit Moderati'on any eat,
Such as we find unto our Health is due:
Sometimes with Fasts the Body to subdue,
That it may be more subject to the Mind,
To the pursuit of things sublime, enclin'd.
But the chief Proof of our Religion's shown,
To lie in pious Trust of God alone,
Thro' which devoted wholly to his Will,
We wait when he'l his purposes fulfil,
With certain Faith, a pledg of future things,
Whence lively Hope with solid Pleasure springs,
With an exalted Love, sincerely true,
Not only of our God, but Neighbour too:
Hence we obey not out of servile fear,
But that we him may please whom we revere,
Looking that as his Sons he'l us regard,
And with Paternal Blessings at the last reward.
We're farther taught, unto our God to pray,
Not for that Wealth, which must in time decay,
Page 40Honours, or other things, too often found
To Men's chief Infelicity t'abound:
In the first place God's Glory to desire,
But of these perishing things what Nature does require;
However trusting Providence Divine,
To which we should wholly our selves resign.
But then to think no Labour is too great,
In foll'wing what tends to th'immortal State,
Pardon of Sins, and God's assisting Grace,
That thro' all hazards we may Truth embrace.
This Worship Christ in his Religi'on taught,
Than which none can of God be worthier thought.
*And, suitable to this, you that will find,
Which with relati'on unto Man's enjoy'd.
Mahomet's way, brought forth, and spread by Arms,
Breaths nothing else but terrible Alarms:
So the Laconic, which the Greeks commend,
And th'Oracle approv'd, to this does tend;
Which Aristotle both observes, and blaims;
Yet War against Barbari'ans just proclaims,
As if 'twere nat'ral; when o'th'other side,
By Nature we to Friendship's Laws are ty'd:
What more unequal than when Skin for Skin
Is pay'd, where ever civil Rule has bin;
When Slaughter takes whole bleeding Nations in,
Such Acts as glor'ious Men are proud to own,
And hence their Heads triumphant Lawrels crown.
War, oft unjust, procur'd the mighty Name
To Rome, that City flatter'd so by Fame:
What but their Glory, and unweildy Might,
Made them 'gainst Cyprus, and Sardin'ia fight?
In gen'ral, as the best Historians write,
No Nati'ons look'd on robbing as a fault,
When from beyond their Confines Spoils were brought:
Page 41That to revenge a Wrong a Vertue was,
Did with the Stagyrist, and Tully, pass.
The Gladiators mutilating Fights
The Pagans us'd in publick, for Delights;
And their own Children Men did oft expose.
That Discipline, with which the Jews do close,
Better, and much more holy does appear;
Yet, even that, with many things does bear,
Or rather grants, which give their Passions force;
As using 'gainst sev'n Cities no remorse,
With which their licence, howe're not content,
They think't of all who differ from them meant;
And hence they hate all Men of other ways;
The Jew now curses Christ'ians when he prays:
Their Law allow'd to make Returns of Pain;
An Hom'cide might b'a private hand be slain,
When to the dead th'Avenger was of kin;
But such return Christ's Law has made a Sin:
Nor should we in our Actions imitate,
What shewn in others we most justy hate:
In the first place to help the good w'are taught,
And like our God, to benefit the naught,
God who has giv'n in common to Mankind,
The Sun, the starry Host, Air, Shours and Wind.
Nothing does more the care of Laws befit,*
Than th' union which does the two Sexes knit:
No wonder that the Pagans this did slight;
Since of th' Adulteries, and Rapes they Write,
In which the Gods they worship'd did delight:
Nay by th' example of the Gods they prove,
That Male with Male may do the Act of Love:
For this cause with the Gods have been eroll'd
Antin'ous latest, Ganymed of old.
Page 42This with Mahometans is usu'al known;
Sineses, others too, for lawful own.
Grec'ian Philosophers much Art do use,
Under an honest name that Vice t'excuse,
And these whole Cities render'd common stews,
While they Community of Women prais'd;
When yet indulgent Nature seems t'have rais'd
A conjugal Affection, ev'n with Brutes:
How much more equal is't, t'avoid Disputes,
That the more holy Creature, Man, proceed,
From an united Love, and unmixt Seed?
Lest all Paternal Care, and Filial Love,
But empty useless names on Earth should prove.
The Jewish Law to check Uncleanness strives;
But yet too plainly yeilds one many Wives,
And, for small causes, gives the Husband leave
To be divorc'd from one he did receive:
This at this day Mahometans maintain,
Among the Greeks, and Latines, did so reign,
That the Lacon'ians would let out their Wives,
And this reproach, ev'n Cato's Fame survives.
But by that perfect Law Christ did perswade,
The Ax unto the very Root is laid.
Who does a Woman's Chastity invade,
Or but commits with a lascivious Eye,
Can by no means the Imputation fly,
Before the great Discerner of the Mind,
Who, as 'twas done, judges what was design'd:
And, since true Friendship does in Union lie,
Body, as well as Soul, to one would tie.
And this is much more profitable known,
For bringing up the Children which we own.
Few Ethnicks were contented with one Wife:
The Romans, thus, and Germans, led their Life,
Page 43The Christi'ans thus; that as the Wive's desire
Is giv'n the Man, she should have his entire;
And the affair at home may well proceed;
While diff'rent Mistresses would discord breed.
To come to th' use of things which pass for good;*
Some Ethnicks Theft, as crim'nal, n'ere with∣stood:
For this Egyptians, Spartans, licence had;
Romans this, but in private men, forbad;
The chiefest business of the Publick 'twas;
Which made their Orator that Sarcasm pass,
That if they should to all their own restore;
They'd live in Cottages, as heretofore.
Against this was the Jewish Law severe;
Yet did with Usury to Strangers bear:
Thus it to suit their Geniuses did strain,
Who valu'd their Religion by their Gain.
Christ did Injustice totally restrain;
Without enquiring who the persons were:
And for frail things forbad all carking card;
Our minds being unfit for two desires,
Either of which all of the Man requires,
Each of them prompting him in sev'ral ways.
Those cares, which Riches keep, as well as raise,
Bring so much servitude, and constant pain,
As steals away the pleasure of the gain,
While little cost and diligence, acquires,
Those few, and easie things, Nature desires;
And if indulgent Heav'n affords us more,
We need not throw away an useless store,
As some Philosophers have done before;
Nor without profit it at home retain,
Or lay it out in things profusely vain:
Page 44But we are taught it nobly to apply,
While we the wants of those that need supply,
Giving, or leading, as those well becomes,
Who know they are but Stewards of their Sums,
Plac'd in their hands by God, but to dispence,
Yet they true Treasures may obtain from thence;
What's well laid out, God takes as to him paid,
And makes returns which nothing can invade.
Hence Liberality, next to divine,
Did in the practice of first Christ'ans shine,
The farthest parts of Greece help'd Palestine;
As if the World were all one Familie.
But in the Law we may this Caut'ion see;
We should beware of looking for our pay
At other hands, than his to whom we pray;
Lest we deflow'r the Benefit we do,
Whilst Profit, or Vain-glory we pursue:
And lest, as 'tis too common, we pretend,
That we should want our selves what we should lend,
That Age and Accidents come on so fast,
That 'twill not for our own Occasions last;
The Law does promise a divine Supply,
For those who with its lib'ral Rule comply:
And that we may the more in God confide,
Bids us observe how well he does provide
For th' animal, and vegitable kind:
And we think meanly of the Sov'raign Mind,
If we distrust his Word without a Pawn,
As if he were a Man whose Credit's gone.
*Forswearing is forbid by other Laws:
By this, to swear at all, without just cause;
And such Veracity it does require,
That if'twere kept, we need no Oaths require.
In this Religion we shall find amass'd,*
What-e're of Excellent has ever past,
In Sentences, or Writings of the Wise,
Besides the Sanction added from the Skys.
In what a moving manner does this teach
A modesty in actions, and in speech,
Temperance, Goodness, honest deeds, and mind,
Prudence, with ev'ry office of Mankind;
What is from Magistrates, and Subjects, due,
From Parents, Children, Servants, Masters too,
And what, where Marr'age-rites one of two:
Often it does the needful Rule repeat,
Against what with such specious shews do's cheat,
Honour and Glory, which have past for brave
With Greeks and Romans, most reputed grave:
But then the Summary of all does prove,
That we should worship him through whom we move,
And as our very selves, our Neighbours love;
That is, should never fail for them to act,
What for our selves we should be sure t'exact.
But some may urge against those Verities,
The mighty oppositions that arise
Among Professors of Christ's holy Name;
The multitudes of Sects themselves proclaim.
Yet this a ready answers may receive:*
That in all arts we may the same perceive:
Either thro imbecillity of mind,
Or that to parties they're too much inclin'd:
Yet these are limitted to certain bounds,
Which in their controversies serve for grounds,
On which each his own Argument would build;
And thus the Men Mathematicks skill'd,
Page 46Have heates about the making Circles square:
When 'tis as evident that none e're were.
Whether if equals be from equals ta'en,
That is not equal which does yet remain.
In Physicks, Med'cine, other Arts beside,
This diff'rence, and agreement is descryd:
Nor does vari'ty of opinions, known
Among the Men who Christ's Religion own,
Hinder at all but that they may agree,
In what we the cheif Rules of living see,
Those gen'rous Principles, before exprest,
Which recommend it's worth above the rest.
And even this it's certainty proclaims:
That they, whom warm dissention most inflames,
That he commanded these never deny,
E'vn they who will not with his Law comply.
If any yet, to contradict delight,
'Tis questi'oning whether the Snow be white;
For as the Error, here, Sense can refel,
An vniversal concord, these can tell,
Among all Christians that have ever wrote,
Or from the first to last Christ's Doctrine taught,
To which some by their deaths have Attestation brought.
That they did these for their Religion own,
To equal Judges is as clearly shown,
As 'tis that Zen'phon did, or Plato, write,
What does this Age under their names delight:
Who wrote what we to Socrates ascribe,
Or Zeno, Founder of the Stoick Tribe.
*A third rich Magazene of Motives lies,
For the embracing Christian Verities,
I'th'admirable way in which 'twas taught,
And to so far extended Regi'ons brought;
Page 47This brings us to the Author of the Rules.
The chiefest Masters of the Grec'ian Schools,
Confest they nothing with assurance tell,
And fancy'd Truth lay bury'd in a Well,
Our Minds they thought were dim at things divine,
As th'Eyes of Owls when the bright Sun does shine.
Besides, some Vice the best of them did taint,
Some with gross flattery their Princes paint,
Some Brothel's lov'd, and Acti'ons of the dark,
Others with Cynick Impudence would bark;
Clear Proof of their contenti'ous Tempers springs,
From quarrels about words, and trifling things.
In sacred Worship they're discover'd cold;
Since they who but one Deity did hold,
Put mighty slights on him they did adore,
Giving that very Worship unto more,
Such as they knew had no Divinitie,
Thinking from Blame the publick use would free.
Nor were they sure what meed Vertue should have,
And this shew'd Socrates, when nigh his Grave.
Mahomet, Author of far spreading Rites,
As is confest by his own Proselites,
Dissolv'd in Luxury and Lust did live,
Nor left he the least earnest to believe,
That the Rewards he promis'd shall be found,
Perpetua'l Feasts and Lusts for ever crown'd;
When his own Body ne're had Life again,
And does intomb'd at Mecha still remain.
Moses who had the Jews divinely taught,
Tho a brave Man, yet was not free from fault;
When God would send him to th'Egypti'an Land,
He did too long the Embassy withstand;
Page 48And when God promis'd Water from the Rock,
He thought 'twas his Credulity to mock,
And he himself scarce any thing enjoy'd,
Of all that has his Foll'owers Faith employ'd,
In desert places with their Factions tir'd,
Himself debarr'd entring the Land desir'd.
That Christ was sinless his Disciples taught,
Nor was one Proof against it ever brought;
He was th'Example to the Rules he gave,
And executed all that God would have;
Patient of Injuries, and Torments too,
As on the Cross he did most fully shew;
A lover of Mankind, and ev'n of those,
Who to that cruel Death did him expose;
Ev'n for those Miscre'ants he to God did pray,
Nor did he to his Foll'wers Promise pay,
In which himself had not first led the way,
As is not only said, but clearly prov'd.
His Visit, after being from Life remov'd,
How many were there that at large declar'd,
Who him had touch'd, as well as seen, and heard?
The Twelve were Witnesses when he did rise,
And was receiv'd within the joyful Skies,
Where, as appears, a Pow'r supream he gain'd,
From which they whom he left behind obtain'd,
Not only Tongues which they were never taught,
But Pow'r for other things, which Nature never wrought;
All which he promis'd when he left this Life,
And which should silence ev'ry doubtful Strife;
Whether he will, or's able to make good,
What he has promis'd for our Spirit'ual Food.
And hence we gather his Religion's best;
That he perform'd himself what e're he prest,
And was of his own Promises possest.
They're such, that either God his World neglects;
Or we must think the Doctrine from above.
Nothing more worthy of God's care does prove,
Than that what's best should be the farthest spred;
And this of Christ's Religion may be said,
'Tis taught thro' Europe, and ev'n farthest North,
All Asia, with its Islands, know its worth,
Egyptians, Ethiopians, Africans,
Are joyn'd in this with the Americans:
Nor has't been only late, but long ago,
As Hist'ries of successive Ages show,
The Books of Christians, Acts of Synods too:
Among Barbarians a Tradition's known,
Of Miracles by some Apostles shown,
The Lives and Journeys are with them exprest,
Of Thomas, Andrew, and some of the rest.
Clement, Tertullian, and others note,
That Britains, Germans, places most remote,
Did, in their time, Christianity imbrace.
What other Worship e're reach'd such a space?
If you say th'Ethnick's rival in this Fame:
It is not one Religion, but one Name,
Nor ever all of them worship'd the same:
Some Stars, the Elements some did adore,
Some Ani'mals, some what no subsistence bore,
Nor did they the same Law, or Master own.
The Jews, a scatter'd People, were but one;
Nor has their Law been much observ'd to spred,
Since Christ his beams of Truth divine did shed.
Many the Rules of Mahomet obey;
Yet Christians live among them of that way,
And often are more numerous than they:
When in some places where they Christ receive,
Not one Mahometan is known to live.
*Men readily enough Examples take
From Kings, and others who great Figures make,
Especially if Law, and Force, they add;
Hence their encrease th'Ethnick, and Turkish had:
But they, who Christ's, Religion, first profest,
Nothing of Empire, or of Wealth, possest,
As humble in their Fortunes, as in Mind,
Foll'wing mean Trades to which they'd been design'd:
Yet in the space of thirty Years, scarce more,
They this disperst, the Roman Empire o're,
And to the Parthians this, and Indians bore:
And for three Ages only private hands
Did carry on the preaching Christ's Commands,
Without external Promises, or Threats,
Nay ev'n against th'Authority of States;
Yet before Constantine in Christ believ'd,
Thro' most o'th' Roman World he was receiv'd.
Who with the Grecians preach'd up Moral rules,
For other Arts were famous in the Schools;
Plato for th' Art of measuring the Earth,
Peripateticks how the growth, and birth,
Of Animals, and Plants, did Lectures read:
And with what subtilties Disputes proceed
The Stoicks in their labour'd Logicks shew,
The Pythagori'ans th'art of Numbers knew;
Plato, and Zenophon, could charm the Sense,
So Theophrastus, with their Eloquence:
But they who first the Christi'an Doctrine taught,
By no such art upon their Hearers wrought,
Their Speech was simple, without any snare,
They only did in downright terms declare,
What their great Master gave them in command,
And how the Threats and Promises did stand.
Page 51This progress ne're had been from that alone,
But Mir'cles or God's Blessing we must own,
Or both, to carry it so strangely on.
This may be added here,* concerning those
Who first with Christianity did close;
They were not in all other Rites untaught,
So with more ease to that Religion brought:
Much less were they brought up in any way,
Which might dispose them Christ for Lord t'obey,
While Turks and Pagans, and the stubborn Jews,
Had something prev'ous, helping them to chuse:
The last, their Circumcision had before,
And learnt only one Deity t'adore,
Which made them ready Moses to receive:
While they, who in Christ Jesus did believe,
Had many Obstacles which would withdraw,
Custom a second Nature, humane Law,
Parents Authority, all urg'd t'have kept
The way in which their grave Fore-Fathers slept,
Being Jews or Heathens bred, so to remain.
Add to all this the certainty of Pain,
Which they by that Professi'on were to gain,
Pain, which by Nature all Men would refuse,
Nor readily would what procures it chuse.
The Christians long debarr'd from Honours were,
Mulcts, Confiscations, Exiles hard to bear,
Were to be 'counted their appointed share:
These things were light, into the Ballance cast,
With Tortures but too exquisite to last,
Cruel as witty Malice could invent;
And Life was often in the Conflict spent;
As the Histor'ians of those times have wrote,
So many Deaths, no Famime, Plague, or War, has brought.
Page 52Nor were they with the common Deaths to strive;
But put into consuming Flames alive,
Or look'd for Crucifixion, and the like,
Reading, or thoughts of which, with Horror strike:
Thro'out the Roman Empire these did last,
Till their Religion Constantine embrac'd,
Without them but short intervals were past:
Elsewhere they did continue longer still:
Yet all the blood they did so freely spill,
The Church, but with more living seed did fill,
And thus the more was scatterd, more did spring:
If other Rites into the Scales we bring,
The Greeks and other Heathens, us'd the most
Of their admir'd Philosophers to boast,
Bate Socrates, Gymnosophists a few,
Scarce others dying for their way can shew,
And who that thinks can well deny of these,
That in their Deaths the hope of praise did please?
They thought it glor'ous to survive in Fame,
And have Posterity their Deaths proclaim.
While many suff'ring for the Christi'an Name,
Were Men in Fortunes, and Ambition low,
That such Men were, their Neighbours scarce did know,
Women, and tender Virgins, gentle Youths,
With their last Blood bore witness to these Truths.
Who can believe of these, a vain desire,
Or hope of lasting Fame, to this should fire?
Besides our Martyrologies contain,
But a small part of those who thus were slain.
And rarely can the Jews a Martyr boast,
Beyond Antiochus his time at most,
Since Christ's Religion is for this the best,
Is it not to be chose before the rest?
Page 53When the vast Multitudes we duly weigh,
Who did their Lives for this Religion pay,
Each Sex, each sort of Men, in ev'ry Age,
We needs must think some pow'rful cause t'engage;
And what to so great constancy could move,
But Truth, and th'holy Spirit from above?
If by the Arguments already brought,
In some Conviction is not wholly wrought:
Let them consider, Proofs in sev'ral ways,
As is the nature of the thing, one weighs;
One sort does with the Mathematicks suit,
Another when in Physicks we dispute,
One when for Action we would Counsel take,
Diff'rent when Fact does th'only question make:
And this is always yeilded by the Wise,
When no exception 'gainst the Witness lies:
And if we will not this for Proof admit,
We all the use of History must quit,
The most approved Med'cines we must loose,
That Piety too, which does its self diffuse
Where ever Parents are, and Children, known,
For want of Evidence must needs be gone.
It is the pleasure of the Pow'r most high,
The things wherein he'd have our Faith to lie,
That our Obedience it's Reward may gain,
Should not appear so evidently plain,
As things which Sense or Demonstrati'on shew;
Yet as much Light should carry, as is due
For raising a most firm belief, in those,
Who will not pertinaci'ously oppose;
Hence we the Gospel as a Touch-stone find,
To try and prove which is the upright Mind.
For since so many good, so many wise,
Embrac'd so highly [penal] Verities;
Page 54It shews that other's Incredulitie,
Never from a defect of Proofs can be,
But that they would not have that pass for true,
Which their Affecti'ons did so much eschew,
That it was hard, with a regardless Eye
To suffer all that glitters here, to lie;
Which needs must be, if they for truth would hold
All that has been concerning Jesus told,
And therefore would obey the Rules he gave:
An Evidence for this herein we have,
These, many Histories for true receive,
Which they on bare Authority believe,
Of which no Foot-steps at this day are known;
As for the History of Christ, are shown:
This in the Jews Confessi'ons we many trace,
And the Assemblies which these Truths embrace,
Of which some cause we cannot but assign;
Nor can't be any thing below divine:
No humane force could it so long maintain,
And such remote and spreading Conquests gain:
This could proceed from Miracles alone,
But if we are resolv'd them to disown,
That without them it should such force acquire,
Is what we ought much rather to admire.
*HE whom these Arguments, or others, move
As true, and best, Christianity t'approve,
Would he the knowledg of it's Precepts gain,
Must search those sacred Scriptures which obtain
Page 55The name of Testament, or Cov'nant, new;
Where we the whole of this Relig'ion view:
For this we should not scruple to receive,
What Christi'ans always hold that they believe:
To Men of ev'ry Sect we Credit pay,
As to the Books they shew us of their way:
And thus the Alcoran is justly thought,
To shew what Doctrines Mahomet has taught.
Since then the Truth of Christ's Religion's known;
And that lies in the Books the Christi'ans own;
If any a more special Proof require,
We them t'admit this equal Rule, desire,
That they who any Writing will oppose,
With which for sev'ral Ages Men did close,
Are bound those Arguments first to maintain,
Which may impeach the Credit that did gain,
Till which, of full Authority it must remain.
The Books in which no Christians disagree,*
To which some certain Names affixt we see,
To have been wrote by those whose Names they bear,
The Writers of succeeding times declare;
Thus Justin, Irenaeus, Clement, shew,
With other Men of Ages that ensue,
That all the sacred Books were titled true.
Add farther, as Tertullian does declare,
Some of th'Orig'inals in his time were fair:
And ev'ry Christian Church the same did own,
Ev'n before Councils to unite them, known.
Nor did the Jews, or Pagans, ever doubt,
But they were theirs, whose Names they bear about.
Julian confest in terms by no means dark,
That Peter, Paul, with Matthew, Luke, and Mark,
Page 56Were Authors of those Books which bear their Names;
Thus he but his own want of Wit proclaims,
Who doubts of what both Greeks and Romans thought,
T'have been by Homer, or grave Virgil, wrote:
More on that Evidence should we rely,
Which almost ev'ry Nation does supply.
*Yet does the Volume now in use, contain
Books, which at first did not like Credit gain;
Thus 'twas with one which we St. Peter's call,
The same did those of James and Jude befal:
And thus with two, which the like late consent,
From John, the Elder sty'd, supposes sent.
Th' Apocalyps as doubtful has been thought,
And the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote:
Howe'r that many Churches them receiv'd,
And sacred their Authority believ'd,
Appears, in that Christi'ans who first did write,
Them, as of such Authority, do cite;
Which may in reason well be thought to shew;
Of some, nothing at first, some Churches knew;
Howe're the Truth being set in a clear light,
They did with others in their use unite:
Nor was there any cause in these to cheat;
For without them the System were compleat,
The self-same Doctrine they do but repeat.
*Nor should th'Epistle to the Hebrews wrote;
Or two reputed Johns, be spurious thought,
Or the Apocalyps of doubtful Fame
'Twixt John th'Apostle, and one of his Name:
Page 57The quality of Books is most esteem'd:
Some Histories have been authentick deem'd,
Whose Authors never did themselves declare;
Thus the Account o'th' Alexandrian War,
Does with a gen'ral Reputati'on pass,
Since part of what he writes the Author plainly was.
So since the Authors of the Books we cite,
Liv'd in the very times of which they write,
And as they add themselves, partakers were
Of Gifts, which fell to an Apostle's share;
It is enough our full belief to gain:
If any say these qualities they feign,
And to some Books fictiti'ous names did give:
They urge what none that think can e're believe;
As if who preach up Truth, and Piety,
Should venture without any cause to lie,
Which not all good Men only, would refuse,
But to forbid by Law the Romans chuse.
The Books which the new Cov'nant, then,* declare,
Were doubtless wrote by them, whose Names they bear.
Or such, at least, as they themselves profess:
And, what there is like reason to confess,
The things of which they wrote the Authors knew,
Nor could desire to mix what was untrue:
For Falshood we no other grounds receive,
Than Ign'rance, or intention to deceive.
Matthew, John, Peter, Jude, were known of those,
Whom Christ t'attest his words, and Actions chose;
And therefore needs must know the things they tell,
And this to James may be apply'd as well,
Page 58Be'ing an Apostle, or to Christ of kin,
And Bishop of Jerusalem had bin,
Advanc'd by the Apostles to that See.
St. Paul from Error must have been as free,
When what he learn'd from Christ he did declare,
Being rapt above the Regions of the Air:
To him, or Luke, who always clos'd his side,
For what Christ did, Faith ought not be deny'd:
That Luke did know, 'tis easy to suppose,
What of our Saviour's Life and Death he shows;
Being born hard by, and having travell'd o're
The places Christ had visited before,
And had, Eye-witnesses of what he writes
Often consulted, as himself recites;
Many with whom he Friendship did contract
Besides Apostles, could attest the Fact,
Some whose Diseases at Christ's word had fled,
Who saw him living after being dead.
If Tac'itus, and Suetoni'us, are believ'd,
In things which happ'ned long before they liv'd,
Because they're diligent Enquirers thought;
Rather should one esteem what Luke has wrote.
Of Mark a constant Fame is known to pass,
That he Companion to St. Peter was,
And what he wrote should have the like esteem,
As if St. Peter dictated to him:
And farther hardly any thing is there,
But what th'Apostles Writings do declare:
Nor could the Writer of the things (a) reveal'd,
When God large folds of Providence unseal'd,
Have been impos'd upon in what he saw;
Or he, who wrote (b) to them o'th' Jewish Law,
In what he says from th' holy Spirit came,
Or the Apostles witnessing the same.
That they to cheat with Lies could not design,*
Mention'd before, we always should subjoin,
When we would reinforce that Law divine,
Which from our preaching King at first was spred,
With his return to life from being dead.
Who Witnesses of ill intent'ion blame,
The grounds of such their ill intent'ion name;
Here can be none: If any say they feign,
That they the cause they manag'd might maintain.
For such a cause why should they so contend,
Which no advantage here could recommend?
Nor did they any dangers thereby shun,
For that alone they did all hazards run,
And, as to wordly Goods, were quite undone:
No Man can therefore think they chose this cause,
But in obedience to God's holy Laws;
Which would not have encourag'd Falsities,
Chiefly in that wherein Salvation lies.
So ill a charge these things with strength oppose;
The pious Doctrines which they did propose,
Their Lives unspotted, and so free from blame,
That their worst foes their Ign'rance only name,
No proper Parent of invented tale:
To shew their faithfulness this should not fail,
That their own faults they leave upon record,
That all forsook, and Peter thrice deni'd their Lord.
But God himself did witness to them bear,*
Whilst he by Wonders did their Truth declare;
On which since they, and all Men of their way,
Such mighty stress with such assurance lay,
And to the Publick Scrutiny advance
The Times, and Places, ev'ry Circumstance;
The Magistrates concern'd, did they so please,
The truth or falshood might have learnt wth ease.
Page 60This too th'assisting of Heav'n do's shew,
That many spake the Tongues they never knew,
And Pains fled suddenly in publick view.
Nor were they terrifi'd from what they prest,
To think the ruling Jews were foes profest,
Nor were the Romans less enclin'd to close
With what might them for Novelties expose.
Nay Jews and Pagans, of the Times most nigh,
That these had Wonders wrought durst not deny.
St. Peter's Mir'cles Phlegon does report,
An Annalist o'th' Emp'rour Adrian's Court:
And Christians pleading before any State,
Urge all these facts, as being past debate:
That at the Tombs of Martyrs there remain'd
A wondrous Pow'r, they publickly maintain'd;
And that throughout some Ages it did last;
Which if untrue, they might with shame be cast,
When they were put to justify their Cause,
Before Dispensers of the Civil Laws:
So frequent were the Prodigies there wrought,
Of them such uncontested Proofs were brought;
As even Porphiry himself confest.
With what's already said we well might rest;
Yet there's an heap of Arguments behind,
Which may commend those Books to 'a serious mind.
*In them are many things plainly fore-shown,
Which no Man could by nat'ral skil have known;
Th' event declaring them for God alone.
As the (a) large sudden-spreading of that way,
And that (b) no Age should see its pow'r decay,
That it should (c) be rejected by the Jews,
While Gentiles far remote obedience chuse:
What Cru'lties for Christ's Name Men should endure:
The (e) siege, and dismal ruin to invade
That (f) City, where the Jews their Worship paid;
That there the Temple should be left forlorn,
With the (g) Calamities still to be born.
Add here, if God regard our mortal state,
Chiefly in what t'his Worship does relate,
He cannot suffer Errors to abound,
Where nothing but his Honour Men propound.
But for the sacred Books this proof supplys,*
That of all Christian Sects did e're arise,
Scarce any has been found that these denys.
Some the whole Volume for authentick take,
And they who doubts concerning any make,
Others receive which do with them agree;
When yet we such warm differences see,
That what one Party for their Rule have chose,
Others would shun, if 'twere but to oppose.
Indeed some Christians did those Books disown,*
Which were against their darling notions known,
Either, who, out of hatred to the Jews,
Their God, and Law, did with reproaches use,
Or, fearing Evils Christians were to bear,
Themselves deceitfully did Jews declare.
But by all Christians these abandon'd were;
While, as they were by the Apostles taught,
No differences unkind Divisi'ons wrought,
So they did not from Piety withdraw:
These, who adult'rate thus the Christi'an Law,
May meet Conviction in what's said above,
Where that there is (a) one Deity we prove,
Nay, ev'n the Books they for authentick take,
Shew that the Hebrew God did all things make:
He was by Moses represented (c) good,
But is thro' Jesus better understood.
The other sort of Men we will confute,
Where we against the real Jews dispute.
In the mean while this wonderful may seem,
That with these Men St. Paul has no esteem:
More Churches no Apostle did erect,
And those stupendous Works he did effect,
Were then by Christians publickly maintain'd,
When they might be discover'd if they feign'd:
If it be granted Miracles he wrought,
What colourable ground can then be brought,
We should his heavenly Visions disbelieve;
Or what he says, he did from Christ receive?
But if on Christs he did so much attend,
That he would nothing teach, him to offend;
Durst he have ventur'd with a lie t'impose?
His Doctrine, most condemn'd, who can oppose,
Where, from their Ritu'al, Jews discharg'd he shows?
Nothing but Truth its self could this procure;
He (d) Circumcision did before endure:
(e) Some voluntary Proofs in him, they saw
Of def'rence pay'd unto the Jewish Law,
And to more (f) hardships did for Christ aspire,
Than did the Rigor of that Law require:
These things, by no means pleasing to the Ear,
He did to all his Followers declare;
Instead of one, the Jews no more afford,
To keep all days for (g) Sabbaths to the Lord;
(h) Instead of some small charge did them befal,
To bear with equal Mind the loss of all;
Page 63And for the Blood of Beasts, they us'd to slay,
Our own an Offering to our God to pay.
Nay he affirms, that hands with him were joyn'd
By (i)Peter, John, and James, all of one Mind;
Had it been false, he durst not this proclaim,
When they might have deny'd it to his shame.
Excepting then, those we before observ'd,
Who scarce to bear the Christi'an Name deserv'd,
The manifest consent of all beside,
Who with these Books, as sacred, have comply'd,
Joyn'd to the Miracles their Writers wrought,
And God's (k) peculiar care of such things taught;
Should be enough to quiet doubting Minds;
When for all Histories of other kinds,
Which are not of such Proofs as these possest;
No man will their Authority contest,
Unless some Reason do against them weigh,
Which none, that well considers, here can say.
If any say these Books such things contain*
Which, as impossible, no Credit gain;
It soon appears that the Objection's vain.
W'have shown above the Pow'r of the most High
In things that carry no (l) Repugnancy,
Tho they by far all humane reach exceed,
Such are the things that Admiration breed,
Those hidden Vertues Nature never knew,
And after Death seeing the Moon's renew.
Nor is there greater weight in what they move,*
Who somethings there would against Reason prove:
More Wit or Learning can such Men pretend,
Than did from the first times these Books defend?
Page 64What e're we with right Reason shew'd t'agree,
In lively Characters you there will see;
Possest of all (o) Perfection ever known,
Pow'r, Wisdom, Goodness, Life, beyond degree,
That the whole (p) Universe he caus•d to be,
That he alone (q) preserves things what they are,
But (r) chiefly Man, his more immediate care:
That he both (s) can, and will, fully reward
Those, who him only, as their End regard.
That we our (t) loose Desires should bridle in:
That all the race of Mortals are of (u) kin;
From whence an Argument of force does prove,
That we should one another truly love.
Reason's a Guide deceitful, very weak,
If to know any thing beyond we seek,
Or of God's Nature, or his Soveraign Will:
What lew'd Dissentions all the Schools did fill,
While best Philosophers betray'd their want of Skill!
Nor need this be a wonder, since we find
They little understood of humane Mind,
And how can the Supream then be defin'd?
The Prudent know, that it much danger brings
To search into the purposes of Kings;
And that the search however would be vain.
But what Conjecture can expect t'attain,
To what th'Almighty freely does ordain?
That 'tis not to be known Plato did hold,
Unless an Oracle that secret told:
But then no Oracle that ever was,
Had proofs so clear, as the new Cov'enant has:
Nor ever yet did Man attempt to prove,
That any Revelati'on from above
Page 65Did, of God's Nature, or his Will, make known
What is repugnant to what there is shown:
Some things of middle nature we may view,
Which of themselves claim'd no obedience due,
Or else in which no turpitude did stand,
Which before Christ had licence, or command;
These Books for want of such, are no less full;
Since later Laws may former disanul.
But some their doubts concerning them declare,*
Upon the disagreeing senses there:
Yet this should credit add with them that find,
How they for Faith and Doctrine are conjoyn'd,
So as in other Writings ne're was seen,
Amongst the Learn'd that ever yet have been,
Whether you Jews, or Greeks, or Romans name,
In ev'ry Science Men of greatest Fame:
Of ev'ry Sect some Men will disagree,
This we in Zenophon and Plato see:
Men from themselves are often diff'rent known,
Either forgetting what before had gone,
Or being doubtful what to fix upon:
But all those Writings which we Sacred call,
About those things to no division fall,
Which do the Rules of Faith and Life contain,
Or how Christ liv'd & dy'd, and liv'd again,
And they agree entirely in the main.
Indeed in circumstances of no weight,
We sometimes find occasion of debate;
But many things, which lie from us conceal'd,
Might all these seeming diff'rences have heal'd;
Or, that like things at diff'rent times abound,
Or Names ambiguous do the Mind confound;
Or had one Man, or Place, Names more than one;
And such-like circumstances, now unknown:
Page 66But this them from imputed fraud may free;
Who lie by compact, will in all agree.
If some slight disagreement still appear,
Which will no Reconciliati'on bear;
We ought not therefore all these Books suspect,
Unless we will all History reject;
For we as much may of that kind perceive,
In those which we without dispute receive:
Polybi'us, and Herodotus to name,
Livy, and Plutarch, Authors of great fame:
How much more equal is it not to doubt,
When it appears the Writers were devout;
And thought it criminal, things false to tell?
We by extrinsick Proofs might such refel.
*But I affirm, none such are to be found;
Unless our doubts on later times we ground,
Where Enemies the Christi'an Name would wound.
We cannot such for Witnesses receive;
Nay, foreign Proofs confirm what we believe.
That Jesus suffer'd, Jews and Heathens taught,
And that he and his Follow'rs Wonders wrought,
Some forty years from Christ Josephus wrote,
Who does in Terms the most perspic'ous own,
What was by Herod, Pilate, Festus, done;
Foelix, John Baptist, and Gamali'el names,
And how Jerusalem expir'd in Flames:
The Talmudists the same fully relate:
Tacitus tells th'effects of Nero's hate,
When he against Christi'anity did rage:
And several Books were extant in that Age,
(Such was old Phlegon's we before did name)
And publick Records menti'oning the same
Page 67To which the Christi'ans commonly appeal'd;
Nor was the Star, pointing at Christ, conceal'd:
They name the Earth-quake, and Eclipse o'th'Sun,
Against the Course in which Nature had run,
When yet the Moon at Full felt not the loss,
About the time when Christ was on the Cross.
No other difficulty I can name,*
But that the Writings are not still the same:
To fate of other Writings we must own,
To have betided these may here be shown:
The Copier's Neglect, or faulty Will,
If not his want of necessary Skill,
In Letters, Syllables, or Words, might wrong,
By change, omission, some of them too long:
But these things should no Controversy raise,
Being but incident to length of days:
But that by fraud, or any other ways,
In Doctrinals all Copies vicious were,
Or where they memorable Facts declare,
Don't or by Books, or Witness, of those times, appear.
What ever of that kind is offer'd since,
Must pass for Railing, not for Evidence.
This may be thought enough to silence those,
Who for Mutations holy Writ oppose;
On whom it lies not to object, but prove;
Since they'd a settled Reputati'on move;
But we their vain pretence may soon detect,
Who what ne'er was, nor can be, here object.
Before we prov'd, to any equal Mind,
The Books were their's whose Names affixt we find;
It follows then there was no change of Books:
And if to every part of them one looks,
Page 68No change of part materi'al can be found;
Some end who made the Change must needs propound:
That, where the Change was made, should differ more
From those remaining what they were before,
Than here the sharpest search could e're explore:
Nay, as before was in this Tract observ'd,
A wonderful Consent's throughout preserv'd:
Besides, when any of th'Apostles wrote,
Or Men who Apostolical were thought,
Sincere Professors of the Christi'an Name,
As their concern for Truth it well became,
Must needs have us'd all diligence, to gain
The valu'd Transcripts of what they maintain,
Through Europe, Asia, Aegypt, these diffus'd
(For the Greek Tongue among all these was us'd)
Could not but spread as far as Christ was known.
Consider farther, as before was shown,
That some Originals were seen to last,
Until the second Century was past:
A Book of which so many Copies were,
Preserv'd not only by a private care,
But by whole Churches which did Christ obey,
No Man to have been counterfeit can say.
Add, that 'tis evident the sacred Text
Was read in sev'ral Tongues i'th'Ages next,
The Syriac, Aethiopic, Arabic,
And Latin too, agreeing with the Greek,
In all those weighty things of which we speak.
Farther their Writings to our hands are brought,
Whom the Apostles, or their Follow'rs, taught;
Who many Passages from them do quote,
Agreeing with that Sense which now we note.
Page 69Nor in the Church was any Man possest
Of such Authority above the rest,
That they'd comply, if he a Change had prest.
This Irenaeus, and Tertullian, shew,
The Cyprian too, who without fear withdrew
From those who then were most reputed sage:
And, if we come to the succeeding Age,
We find Men of best judgments, greatest parts,
Wh'had run their Stages thro' the lib'ral Arts,
After the utmost search these to receive,
And of Orig'nal Purity believe:
In proof of this divided parties joyn;
All who believe the World a work divine,
And Christ the Founder of a sacred Law;
Each against changing would the other awe:
Nor yet did any Sect that licence take,
That to have chang'd them for their side would make;
Which hence is seen, that when e're they dispute,
Each would from thence his Opposite confute.
What's urg'd of Providence concern'd for all,
To every part of these alike will fall,
Nor ought it of our God to be believ'd,
That he would suffer Men to be deceiv'd
(In what's of greatest moment to the Mind)
Who had his Honour above all design'd,
And next the way to Happiness would find.
For many thousands such as these to run
Into those Errors which they could not shun!
This may be thought sufficient to maintain,
What the New Testament does there contain,
And there at large is our Religion seen.
Yet since th'Almighty's Pleasure it has been,
Which no small Light to our Religion bear,
'Tis not amiss to shew their Credit here.
What prov'd those other Books were titled right,
Will serve for these, where any shall deny't.
The Authors of those Books the Jews receiv'd,
Were Prophets, or most fit to be believ'd,
Such Esdras was, thought to have joyn'd in one,
Those scatter'd Books which went before alone;
When at that time some Prophets were alive,
Who would against an Impositi'on strive,
Such Haggai, Malachi, Zach'ry, were known:
To pass what was in praise of Moses shown;
Pagans confirm not only what he wrote,
But what of later times the Jews were taught:
So the Phoenician Annalists proclaim
David, and Solomon, so great in Fame,
And they their Treaties with the Tyri'ans Name.
Nebuchadonozor, with others joyn'd,
Who Caldees rul'd, we in Berosus find;
Aegyptian Vaphres, Jeremy does name,
And Aphri'es in Her'odotus, are the same.
Of Cyrus, and who follow'd in his charge
Until Darius, Graeci'ans speake at large.
And in those Books Josephus did endite,
When Appian to his way he would invite.
We many things may gather in a Throng,
Which to the Honour of the Jews belong.
And to what's mention'd here we well may add,
What we from Strabo, and from Trogus had:
But we who in our suff'ring Lord believe,
These Books without disputing should receive;
Since there is scarce a Book but ours do cite,
And so far to agree with theirs delight;
Page 71And when Christ blames the Doctors of their Law,
And what in the proud Pharisee he saw,
He never menti'ons any Change they made,
In what from any Prophet was convey'd,
Or that supposititious Books they brought,
Nor can this after Christ of them be thought:
Consid'ring how the wandring Hebrew Sheep,
Scatter'd throughout the World, these Books did keep.
Ten of the Tribes first from Assyr'ia led,
And after two, did through all Media spread;
And after Cyrus did the Jews restore,
Many did ramble Foreign Nati'ons o're,
These Men the Macedoni'ans did invite
In Alexandria to take delight:
The Cruelty Antiochus did shew,
The Civil Wars the Asmodaeans knew,
The Wars which Pompey, and which Sossius made,
Did force the Jews, in various parts to trade,
These did the Cyrenaic Region fill,
The Cities too of Asia saw their Skill;
This Macedonia, Lycaonia, knew,
The Isles of Crete, Cyprus, and others too:
That anciently at Rome they num'rous were,
Both Horace, Martial, Juvenal declare.
No Art could People, so divided, cheat;
Nor could they have conspir'd t' a Fraud so great.
Almost three hundred years e're Christ was here,
Some Kings of Egypt made their care appear
To propagate to those Books the Jews admire,
Whilst they the Seventy's Version did require:
So in like sense the Greeks did them receive,
Whence with a change 'twas harder to deceive:
The Language which we from Caldeans take,
And that which at Jerusalem they spake,
Page 72That is half-Syriack, help't these Books to spred,
Part before Christ, part after he was dead:
Aquila, Sym'chus, Theodosion,
Each to have turn'd them into Greek are known,
Which with the Seventy, Origin did view,
With others, in the main all of them true,
In things of weight none can a diff'rence shew.
Philo liv'd famous in Calig'la's Reign,
Josephus to Vespasian's did remain;
Both cite, out of the Books among the Jews,
The very same which at this day we use:
And many then of Jews, Christians became,
Who'd certainly what change they found pro∣claim,
If't were of moment, which they might compare
With the most ancient Copies that there were;
But far from doing this, they oft delight,
In the same sense with Jews, their Books to cite.
But any Crime 'gainst Jews has more pretence,
Than either Falshood, or else Negligence.
With such Devotion they these Books imbrace,
That they will tell you ev'ry Letter's place.
Add yet a stronger proof, which last we range,
These Books the Jews would not on purpose change,
Since thence, who for their Saviour Christ receive,
Prove strongly, or at least as they believe,
That he they worship, that Messias was,
Of whom the Promise to the Jews did pass;
And none can think since that dispute arose,
The Jews would, had they Pow'r, a Change have chose.
TO see Mens Perils while we sit at ease,*
Is what does to much Human Nature please;
But it becomes us Christi'ans to rejoyce,
Not only at our happiness of choice;
But to endeavour, to our Pow'r, to free
Those who are tost in Errors stormy Sea,
And to have them our Happiness partake,
T'wards this great end the former Books did make;
Because the proof of Truth doth that expose,
Which do's it self against that Truth oppose.
But since all other Worships that are known,
The Pagan, Jewish, that the Turks do own,
Besides the Errors common unto all,
Have each what to its proper share do fall,
And against ours, in diff'rent methods fight;
I think I shall do Truth the greatest right,
If I of each make the dispute entire;
Which doing, of the Readers I desire,
That laying all Parti'ality aside,
And what e're Customs long have held them ty'd,
They'd use unbyass'd judgment for their Guide;
While with us such Impediments have place,
We go with Fetters unto Truth's embrace.
First then, against the Pagans we dispute,*
And these we did before enough confute,
Page 74If they believe more than one Pow'r above,
In an eternal equal state to move;
We having shew'd only one God to reign,
Who all things of himself did first ordain;
If of created Minds their God they make,
Either for good, or bad, we these must take:
If good they say; First, let them have a care,
Lest they are cheated with a Name so fair.
For it is very dang'rous erring there;
Lest Foes they take for Friends, and those that fell,
Instead of those who should God's Pleasure tell:
In Reason too we should some diff'rence find
For Worship paid to them, and the first Mind:
Let's know what order is assign'd to each,
What good respectively to us they reach:
That we may judg what Honour the great King
Intends we to those lower Pow'rs should bring:
Since none of these they can pretend to know:
This how uncertain is their way may show;
How much more certain they were not to err,
If to the Chief this Worship they transfer:
This Plato held the duty of the Wise;
This does he with more confidence advise:
Since the good Minds be'ing Servants to the Best,
If him they please they may securely rest,
Of their good Offices they can't but be possest.
*Then no flight Arguments belief perswade,
That unto devil Spirits Pagans pray'd.
First, that their Followers they did not bring
Unto the Worship of th'eternal King;
Nay, did his Worship what they could impair,
Or strove with him to have an equal share:
Page 75Then they did strongly Magistrates incite,
Against the Men who worship'd God alright;
And the misguided Rabble urg'd their pains:
When yet the Poets in licenti'ous strains,
With Parricides and Rapes their Gods did charge:
And Epicurus, that things go at large,
Without the Conduct of a Pow'r Supream,
Was hold to make the subject of his Theam.
And the most diff'rent Rites one Compound made,
Aegyptian, Phrygian, Greek together laid,
The Thuscan too, they did at Rome perswade.
They ridicul'd the Jewish way alone;
As is i'th'Epigrams and Satyrs shown,
And sometimes Banishments shortned their Woes:
Then against Christi'ans Persecuti'ons rose;
Of which the only cause to be assign'd,
Is, that they worship'd the Eternal Mind;
That thus the Gods they serv'd their Honours lost,
Fearful of him alone who all engrost.
The third Exception's taken from the way,
In which they worshipt those they did obey,
Such as could never please an honest Mind.
Thus there we humane Sacrifices find;
Themselves in Temples naked Men expose,
And Lewdness reign'd in their most solemn shows;
These Rites now in America proceed,
And Africa these Monsters still does breed:
Nay, further yet, those there have been, and are,
Who worship Minds which evil they declare.
Thus Ariman a God the Persians made,
And Greeks to Cacodaemons worship paid:
The Latins to Vejov's, and Indians yet,
With Ethiop'ans to such Pow'rs submit.
Page 76And what more truly imp'ous can be found?
For of Religious Worship what's the ground?
But the belief of Goodness we admire,
Which we t' express i'th' humblest way desire:
If a known evil Spirit this receive,
Our selves the lye to our own Worship give.
This too no less than Treason must be thought,
When th'Honour which due to our King is taught,
Is not withdrawn alone, but giv'n to those,
Who are his Rebels, or at least his Foes.
But they are sottish, who e're count upon't,
That a good God will not avenge th' Affront:
They should consider that his Clemency,
And Justice no less infinite, agree;
Where bold-fac'd Wickedness all bounds exceeds,
Justice, as of necessity, proceeds.
Nor do they less deserve Rebukes to bear,
Who say they only worship out of Fear;
When He whom we believe supreamly good,
Is, as communicative, understood,
And thence from Him all other Natures rose;
From whence this Consequence directly flows:
That the does use an Absolute Command,
O're all these Workmanships of his own hand;
So that from none of them can that proceed,
But he at his free Pleasure could impede;
Which being granted, we collect with ease,
Who e're our God so great, so good, does please,
Can ne're from evil Spirits have that hurt,
Which to good purposes God won't convert;
Nor can the evil Spirits that command,
Which we should not on that account withstand;
Page 77For when the guise of Good the Evil bear,
Then ought we of their slights the more beware,
The Gifts of Enemies deceitful are.
Some there have been,* and yet are known t'have pray'd,
To Men whose Honours in the Dust are laid:
This Worship should have proper marks assign'd,
Distinct from what is paid the Sov'raig Mind,
And thence some good we should expect to find;
But this their Worshippers could never shew,
Not knowing what these Souls departed do.
But against this we chiefly should inveigh,
That many Men to whom they this did pay,
Were more than others for some Vices fam'd,
And thus for Drunkenness is Bacchus nam'd;
For Lust thus did their Hercules surpass;
Against his Brother Rom'lus impious was;
And so against his Father was their Jove;
So that the Honour paid to them, would prove
A great Reproach to the true God above;
Who does in Probity chiefly delight:
Against it self they make Religion fight;
While what should scatter Vice with conqu'ring Rays,
Is taught to flatter it with its own Praise.
The Stars and Elements ev'n long before,*
Fire, Water, Air, and Earth Men did adore:
But nothing is more brutish than this way:
Since the chief part of Worship is to pray,
Th'Objects of this should have Intelligence;
That th'Elements have none is plain to Sense.
If any say Stars are with this endu'd;
The ground of such their Fancy ne're was shew'd,
Page 78By th'Operations, which their Natures tell,
We cannot judg that this to them befel;
Nay, the unalter'd Course in which they move,
The contrary with mighty strength does prove;
This argues they no freedom have of Will,
But do another's Purposes fulfil;
We their subserviency to Man have shew'd,
Whence we should think our selves the best endu'd,
Our better part unto our God more near,
And for that likeness, unto more dear:
Therefore our selves we ought not to debase,
To what's subjected to us through God's Grace;
Off'rings of Praise for them by us are brought,
Which how to pay the never can be taught.
*Some in their Worship lower yet do fall,
And thus on Beasts for Aid Aegypti'ans call:
A shew of Reason some may seem to share,
What it't when we with Man's would it com∣pare?
And their Concepti'ons, whatsoe're they frame,
Ne're from within by words, or writing, came,
Their Works in kind, and manner, are the same.
Numbers and Measures can they comprehend?
Or how the Course o'th'Heavenly Host does bend?
Man on the other side, of strength but small,
Into his Snares makes Birds, Beasts, Fishes, fall,
These by his Wit he brings under his Law,
Ev'n Elephants and Lions keeps in awe,
Horses and Oxen makes together draw;
Things the most nox'ious useful to him makes;
And thus from Serpents wholsome Med'cines takes;
Their Bodies frame, and scite of ev'ry part,
Unknown to them, do not escape his Art:
Page 79Thence he the use and worth of them can tell,
What Species, and what Genus, each befel:
Then he the Structure of's own Body views,
Which him by far the nobler Creature shews:
Whoe're compare aright, so far will be
From thinking one of these a Deitie,
Him he would rather think God did ordain,
As a vicari'ous Pow'r o're hem to reign.
Latins, and Greeks, we find, Devoti'on paid,*
To what of no Subsistence Nature made,
But were meer Accidents to things that were;
Impudence, Fever, and the like, to spare:
Health, which in this did much more justly share,
But a true temp'rament of parts we find:
Fortune, that Deity acknowledg'd blind,
Is but a set of Chances to one's Mind:
Th'Affections, Anger, Fear, warm Hope, and Love,
Or others which from Good, or Ill, do move,
As we consider them remote, or nigh,
Chiefly i'th'moti'ons of the Blood do lie,
As th'Animal Spirits carry'd thence are known,
Of these none have a motion of their own,
But on the Empire of the Will depend,
At least for their Direction, and their End.
Of Virtues Worshippers with them were seen;
Prudence, which lies in choice of the right mean,
When we pursue what's represented good;
The braving Dangers, counted Fortitude:
Justice, in keeping from another's right,
And Temp'rance moderating our delight;
These Dispositions unto Good we find,
Setled by a long Custom in the Mind,
Page 80But these, as they encrease, so may decay,
And, much neglected, vanish quite away:
Honour, to which they oft did Temples raise,
Is known to lie but in another's Praise,
This oft the Good have mist, the Bad receiv'd,
So easie 'tis for Man to be deceiv'd!
Since no Subsistence then these have at all;
And so below things of Subsistence fall;
Nor can these understand the zealous Pray'r,
With which our Rev'rence of them we declare,
To worship such Reason must disallow:
Rather to Him we should devoutly bow,
Who only gives, and can to us preserve,
What we the most to be admir'd observe.
*But then to Miracles Pagans appeal
As if the Truth these of their Worship seal:
Whereas we may with Justice them suspect:
Their Sages many, as unprov'd, reject.
Night and Retirement were for some the Scene,
To others but few Witnesses have been,
Such as with ease night swallow down a Cheat,
From subtle Priests, well practis'd in Deceit:
Not knowing Nature many did admire,
And qualities occult their search did tire;
With admiration thus some Load-stones saw
To its embrace the distant Iron draw:
Simon did in these Arts successful prove;
And thence did Apollonius wonder move.
Some things by such we must effected own,
Which have a Pow'r more than of Nature shown,
Or what Man could draw forth from that alone;〈1 page missing〉
Page 81Yet these do not imply a Pow'r Divine,
To which we should Omnipotence assigne:
But intermedi'ate Spir'its for this suffice,
Higher than Men, yet under Deities,
Who being very nimble, strong, and wise,
May bring together what remote does lie,
And thence compose things wondrous to the Eye;
But that these Spirits cannot good be thought,
Their Worship therefore bad, before was taught:
And this against their Venerati'on Arms,
That Men pretend to force them down with Charms;
When yet the wisest Heathens own it plain,
That words the pow'r but of Perswasi'on gain,
And that according as their Sense we find.
This proof may of their pravity be joy'nd,
That oft they promiss'd him or her to move,
Against their Inclination, unto Love;
Injuri'ous in the Promise, or Command,
And Humane Laws such Acts with Sorc'ery brand.
Nor is it strange, if he whom we adore
With the Delusi'ons of ill Spirits bore,
To punish the who fell from him before.
But then this may their Impotence perswade,
That none had signal ben'fit by their Aid:
If any thence return'd to Life again,
They ne're were known in Life long to remain;
Nor could they act like those who Life enjoy'd.
If e're a Pow'r divine did seem imploy'd,
It never was foretold that this was done,
That Men might into that Religion run:
And nothing hinders but the Pow'r divine,
Might have, what greatly differs, in design.
As for Example, If one should believe,
That to one blind Vespasian fight did give,
Page 82'Twas that he Reputation might acquire,
To gain that Pow'r to which he did aspire,
He being one whom God before did chuse,
To execute his Judgments on the Jews.
For other Prodigies like cause might be,
In which we nothing of Religion see.
*What was before observ'd we may apply,
When on their Oracles they would rely:
Chiefly that God may Cheats on them permit,
Who nat'ral Light, or old Tradition quit.
And generally 'twas doubtful what was meant,
The words complying with what e're event:
If any thing more plainly was foretold;
A Pow'r divine for this we need not hold;
From nat'ral Causes known it might proceed;
Physicians thus known how Diseases breed:
Much comes from due observing what has past,
For which th'experienc'd need no Figure cast.
But if by Pagan Prophets e're was shown,
What had dependance on God's Will alone,
No cause of which besides that e're was known;
It was not to confirm one Pagan Rite,
But rather it against them all did fight.
Thus Virgil, not discerning what was meant,
In his fourth Eclogue, yet, did represent,
What some old Sybils scatter'd leaves did shew,
*Of Christ, and the great Benefits t'ensue.
Those Leaves to shelter noble Fruit were made,
While they an universal King did shade,
Whom to obey if we'd be happy they perswade:
That he who of this Pow'r should be possest,
Should make his Progress from the brightned East.
And Porphiry an Oracle does name,
Where th'Hebrew God Apollo does proclaim,
Page 83To be the only God the World should fear,
While others vanish'd into empty Air:
If this Apollo's Votaries obey'd,
Even his own Worship must aside be laid:
But if their Worship still they paid at large;
They'd their own Deity with falshood charge.
If by their Oracles these Spir'its design'd,
Any advantages to humane kind;
Some certain Rule of Life they needs must give,
In following which Men happily might live:
Yet they nor Rule, nor Happiness, propound,
With which their blind Devotos might be crow'd:
Nay, on the contrary, we've often found,
They in their Verses worst of Kings did praise,
And Wrestlers unto sacred Honours raise;
Unto unlawful Loves they did incite,
And catching Wealth without regard to Right,
Encourag'd Slaughters, and a vici'ous Train,
The bare reciting which, our Leaves would strain.
This against Paganism strong proof supplies,*
That it on humane Force so much relies,
That whensoe're that was no on its side,
As if through that it stood, it quickly dy'd:
But where Christi'anity, or Turcism, reign'd,
Only in story th'Ethnick Rites remain'd;
When yet Christianity was known to grow,
Ev'n with the Blood did from its Martyrs flow.
This Conquest's gain'd in spite of all the Pow'rs
Of the enrag'd, and bloody Emperours.
Nor could learn'd Julian's Wit keep up their way,
But sensibly it fell into decay,
Nor Force, nor high Descent, against it brought;
A Carpenter, the Founder's Father, thought;
Page 84Nor did that way which made all others fail,
With flow'rs of Rhet'rick on Men's Minds prevail;
None of these Ornaments their Speech did grace,
Who first perswaded Men Christ to embrace:
Of Gifts, they being poor, made no pretence,
Nor mov'd by Flatteries to tender Sense:
Nay, they declar'd that Pleasures they must shun,
And for that Law all worldly hazards run:
And this subdu'd not Paganism alone,
But ev'n the Spirits which did that Worship own,
Christ's Name of them Mens Bodies dispossest,
And their known Voices they at that comprest:
And being ask'd, why then they silent were?
They were against themselves forc'd to declare,
That where Christ was invok'd their Pow'r dissolv'd to Air.
*Some, hardly worth the labour to confute,
Unto the Influ'ence of Stars impute
The rise, and progress, of Religious Rites:
But this their Science no known Rule unites,
And all the certainty which there is known,
Is that from Stars there's nothing certain shown:
But none of those effects I here do mean,
Of which some necessary cause hath been,
According to the Law which Nature gave,
But what the Will of Man for causes have,
Which being of its self entirely free,
Can't from abroad receive necessity:
But if th'Impressi'on from without's so strong,
That the meere passive Will is forc'd along;
In vain was giv'n that grateful pow'r of Mind,
Which we in choice, after consid'ring, find,
The Equity of Laws could not but cease:
From all Rewards and Penalty's that frees;
Page 85For where the Act is necessary found,
What fault to punish; Merit to be crown'd?
Besides some Acti'ons of the humane Will,
Justly deserve the Character of ill;
But if of these Heav'n were the proper Mint,
As heav'nly Bodies God did so imprint,
That they compel the Act we seem to chuse;
Of causing Moral Ill 'twould God accuse,
Who must be thought in full perfection good:
Besides his hate to Ill is understood,
By his known Law which does from that disswade;
But if he it inevitable made,
By an effective Pow'r himself Instill'd:
'Twould shew as if things contrary he will'd;
That the same thing should, and should not be done,
While by his impulse into Sin we run.
Some, with more probability, declare,
That Stars first influence the ambi'ent Air,
Our Bodies this; and qualities conveys,
Which in our Minds such kind of Passi'ons raise;
That these often entice the yeilding Will,
And their Commands it often does fulfil:
Suppose that this were granted ne're so clear;
'Twould nothing make to help the questi'on here;
For Christ's Religion doth withdraw the Mind,
From things to which the Body is inclin'd:
How the could bodily Affecti'ons move,
The Christian way of Worship to approve?
And how could Stars to cause its rise be thought,
When they only by those Affecti'ons wrought?
Whatever Laws to Men the Stars would give;
The wise and good exempted from them live:
Wisest Astrologers do this confess;
And wise were they who first did Christ profess:
Page 86But if in Learning any force we see,
From the Contagi'on of the Flesh to free;
Such among Christians have been ever known,
Who in this Praise to flourish, all must own:
Besides the learned in the Syd'ral Arts,
Own the Effects reach but to certain parts,
And those Effects but temporary are;
When this Religion yet has lasted fair,
One thousand and six hundred Years, and more,
It's Praises eccho'd forth from Shoar to Shoar,
In distant Regions stretch'd out ne're so far,
Whatever the Positi'on of the ruling Star.
*This to Christian'ty may Trophies raise,
That every part shines with such piercing Rays,
Does with so fair a Countenance delight,
That it convinces with its Native Light:
So that enough we among Pagans find,
Out of whose Sayings in one System joy'nd,
All our Religious Truths we might descry:
As that Religion don't in Rituals lie,
But th'Efficacy in the Mind to place:
Adultery to lie in wish't embrace:
Not to repay the Wrongs which we receive:
One Wife, one Husband, should together live;
The Bond perpetual which does them unite:
That this, Man's Office which should most delight,
To do to Men what good is in his pow'r,
Chiefly where sharp necessities devour:
From Oaths as much as may be to forbear;
To be content for Clothing and for Fare,
With what the needs of Nature do require.
But where Christian'ty still rises higher,
And diffidence with wonder seems to strike,
We with the wisest Pagans find the like.
Page 87What of the Souls immortal State they hold,
And Life returning unto Bodies cold,
We shew'd before. Plato of Caldees taught,
Of the Divin'ity this distinction thought,
The Father and the filial Mind, from whom
He held the Universe at first to come:
He adds a Mind which over-spreads the whole.
Nor does sly Julian their Belief controul,
Who think the Humane Nature with Divine,
Might to compose a single Person joyn:
Such he believ'd that A soulapius was,
Whom he would have from Heav'n in dircetly pass,
To teach Mankind the helpful Art of Cures;
Who sees not what offence Christ's Cross pro∣cures?
Yet Heathens in their Gods the like things brook:
Some we find Servants, others Thunder-struck;
Some into pieces cut, Wounds others took;
Their wisest held a good Man's Joys the most,
When him his Honesty the dearest cost.
Plato, as if what was to come he found,
Says, If we a true Pattern would propound,
It must be one whose Vertue is despoil'd
Of all those Ornaments with which it smil'd:
He must be wicked thought, expos'd to scorn;
A shameful Death must after all be born.
Patience exemplify'd unto the height,
Must by such Instances as these incite.
*THat glim'ring Light saluting by degrees,
As from a dismal Cave himself one frees,
Points out their State, who quitting th' Ethnick way,
After the Jewish Rites their Worship pay.
That part of Truth, that noble entrance made,
Makes me in friendly manner Jews perswade,
What's offer'd to receive with equal Ears;
We cannot but confess that it appears;
That they from those Religious Men descend,
To whom th' Almighty Embassies did send,
By Prophets and his Min'istring Spir'its above;
From out of them did the Messias move,
And they who first preach'd up the Christian Law;
Theirs is the Stock whence Nourishment we draw,
Being ingrafted there; that they preserve
Those Oracles of God which we observe,
With the like Veneration as do they:
And with St. Paul most zealously we pray,
That God would suffer soon that day to dawn;
When from before their Eyes the Clouds with∣drawn,
They may discern with us the Law fulfill'd:
And, as into their Prophets was instill'd,
That we who long no sacred Cov'enant knew,
May lovingly embrace th'enlightned Jew,
And hand in hand that only God adore,
Whom Abr'am, Isaac, Jacob, serv'd before.
What pleading for themselves they urge as fit.
If to them any Pagan Questi'on move,
How Miracles by Moses wrought, they prove?
They say no more, but that so constant Fame
Of their own People, did his Works proclaim;
As needs must come from those who saw the same.
So, that Elisha multiply'd the Oil,
And purg'd th' Assy'rian from his leprous Soil;
That with new Life a Young Man did arise,
After his weeping Mother clos'd his Eyes:
And several, other things of the like kind,
Among the Jews firmly believ'd we find,
As From good Witnesses to them consign'd.
But that Elijah sprang up to the Skies,
They trust Elisha, thought t've seen him rise.
Twelve Witnesses, whose Lives none could re∣prove,
Attest t'have seen our Sav'our hence remove,
As he ascended to his Throne above.
A greater Cloud of Witnesses maintain,
That after Death, they saw him live again.
Which, if considered, manifestly shew,
That what he taught on Earth, must needs be true.
Nor can one Argument be urg'd by Jews,
But what we equally at least may use:
But to omit Authorities to press,
The Jews, and their learn'd Talmudists, confess,
That our Messias things prodigious wrought;
And this might against them enough be thought;
Nor can God authorize a Doctrine more,
Than shewing Miracles upon that score.
Which Calumny we did before refute:
Shewing that where Christ's Doctrine did prevail,
The Pow'r of Daemons totally did fail:
That Christ in Aegypt Magick-Arts did learn,
To have less shew of Truth we may discern,
Than the like Accusation Pagans raise,
To blemish Moses his less setled Praise,
As is in Pliny and Apuleius, seen:
But that in Aegypt Christ had ever been,
Does only from his Follow'rs Books appear,
Who that he went an Infant thence, declare.
Moses, and other Jews, expresly own,
That he resided there to Manhood grown;
But then the Laws Moses and Christ promulg'd,
Should stop the progress of this Charge divulg'd;
Since both of them against such Arts inveigh,
As hateful to that Pow'r all should obey.
But that in Aegypt such had ever Birth,
While Christ, or his Disciples blest the Earth;
Or any other place, who can believe,
To do what we, as done by Christ, receive?
The Dumb to speak, the Lame to walk, the Blind,
All of a sudden long-wisht Light to find.
The Emperors, Tyberius, Nero, more,
Who spar'd ho Costs th'utmost of this t'explore,
Had th' Art: thus far arriv'd, had known't before:
And if the Talmud we admit as true,
The Jewish Such'drim th'Art of Magick knew;
The better to convict the Guilty here:
And since to Christ they th'highest hate did bear,
Envy'ing that Pow'r his Miracles declare;
They would the like by the like Art have done,
Or shew'd them thence, by Proofs which none can shun.
Some Jews ascribe the Miracles Christ did,*
Unto a Secret by King Sol'mon hid,
Which for above a thousand Years had slept,
By two fierce Lions in the Temple kept:
That this was read by Christ; a Fiction bold;
Since of those wondrous Lions nothing's told
In any Book of the Old Testament,
Or by Josephus, or the Romans sent
Along with Pompey to the Temple's spoil.
But if the Jews confess the Fact, the while,*
It follows from their own Mosaick Law,
That none should from blest Jesus Faith with∣draw.
Moses in (a)Deuto'my expresly says,
God after him would other Prophets raise;
And, that the People should obey them, shews,
Denouncing Penalties if they refuse:
Of these are Miracles the certain sign;
Nor can we more illustrious ones divine:
If one a (b) Prophet shall himself declare,
And make by Miracles his Title fair;
He bids them not to listen to his Speech,
If he to worship other Gods should teach;
For God will (c) such among his People bear,
To try if to his Worship they'l adhere.
Hence their Interpreters rightly collect,
That as true Prophets they should all respect,
Who don't the Worship of that God divide,
Who does unequall'd over all preside:
It being enjoyn'd, that in this case alone,
They should not trust the greatest Wonders shown.
No Worship to false Gods Christ taught to pay;
Nay shew'd it penal unto such to pray:
Moses, and foll'wing Prophets, he requir'd
To be receiv'd as Men of God inspir'd:
Page 92Against his Miracles then nothing lies:
That he and Moses differ, can't suffice.
*For this their Rabbies as a Rule maintain,
That he who does a Pow'r for Wonders gain,
And proves himself a real Prophet thence,
With any sacred Precept may dispence,
Except the worshipping the Pow'r Supream.
'Tis clear as if 'twere wrote with a Sun-beam,
What Legislative Pow'r with God did rest,
When unto Moses he his Will exprest;
In times succeeding he the same must have.
Who in his proper Right Laws ever gave,
Is not thereby hindred from making those,
Which do directly former Laws oppose.
To urge that God's immutable, is weak,
Not of his Nature, but his Works, we speak.
The Light for Darkness, Youth for Age does change,
Summer for Winter, works with God not strange.
Adam(d) had leave, only one Tree deny'd,
To feast himself with ev'ry Fruit beside:
The killing Men in general God forbad;
Abram(e) to slay his Son his Precept had:
Off'ring elsewhere than at th'appointed place,
Now he refus'd, now (f) blest of his free Grace.
Moses his Law, besides, tho good we own;
Dos't follow that a better can't be known?
With Children childish Talk the Parents use,
Nor to connive at faults of th'Age refuse;
But when adult they will correct the Speech,
And Precepts of the strictest Vertue teach.
How great the beauty of an honest Mind!
And what Rewards it shall hereafter find!
But that the Law did of (g) Perfection miss,
This to be thought a Proof suffici'ent is;
Page 93That in those times some holy Men out-do
Whatever by the Law they're prompted to;
Moses Revenge does partly lawful make,
Partly the strictest Justice bids them take;
Yet, (h) being wrong'd in the most high degree,
Him praying for those Murmurers we see.
So his (i) Rebelli'ous Son David would spare,
And (k) bitterest Curses did with Patience bear.
We read not that good Men their Wives did quit,
Altho their Law did plainly this permit.
Laws are adapted for the major part:
Some things were to be past by, there, with Art,
To a more perfect Rule then to be squar'd,
When Men God's Spir'it in larger measure shar'd,
By which out of all Nati'ons God would draw
A People subject to a purer Law.
Moses propounded, plainly, no Reward,
Beyond what does this mortal State regard.
Who then can question but there might have been
A Law more perfect, than what that is seen,
Which might eternal Bliss clearly propound,
And this is in Christ's Instituti'on found.
Here by the way we this Remark may chuse,*
With what Injustice the coaeval Jews
Christ, tho obedient to their Law, did use:
He had been (l) circumcis'd, like them did eat,
His (m) Habit too was Jewish, as his Meat;
He to their Priest sent (n) Lepers which he cleans'd,
Nor with one of their (o) Festivals dispens'd;
The Paschal, and the rest observ'd with Zeal;
When he did any on the (p) Sabbath heal,
Page 94Shew'd that their Law, and Commentators too,
Allow'd Men on that day such works to do.
Some of their Laws, then (q) first declar'd repeal'd,
After his Triumph over Death raveal'd:
He being into th' inmost Heavens receiv'd,
The (r) Holy Sp'rit adorn'd those that believ'd.
And thus he his full Regal Pow'r maintain'd,
In which the Legislative is contain'd.
This (s)Daniel saw in his Prophetick view,
Who, after Syria 'and Egypts Fate did shew,
(The last of which was while Augustus sway'd)
That unto one all Pow'r should be convey'd,
To whom, tho in his outward habit (t) low,
All Nations of the Earth should ever bow.
That part, besides, of the Mosaick Law,
Th' obedience unto which Christ did withdraw;
Had nothing honest in it self alone,
But things indiff'rent, mutable, thence known.
If of themselves they necessary were,
Would God but to one People them declare,
And that not till two thousand years and more?
While Abel, Enoc, Noe, who liv'd before;
Melchis'dech, Abram, Isa'c, Jacob too,
And Job, all dear to God, hone of this knew,
Or what from nothing hardly was remov'd;
Yet was their Faith never the less approv'd;
Large were the marks that them th' Almighty lov'd.
Moses on Jethro did not urge those Rites:
Nor Jonah on repenting Ninivites;
Nor others, writing to the Moabites,
To those of Caldee, Egypt, Zidon, Tyre,
Any account concerning these require,
When to a reck'ning all their Sins they call:
These Precepts therefore were not general:
Page 95But either to keep off some Sin, design'd,
To which the Jews were known the most inclin'd:
Or else that People, so stiff-neck'd, to try,
How far they'd with the Will of God comply;
If not to typify some future things.
And this no greater cause of wonder brings;
Than if a King all Borough-Laws repeal,
That one may flourish thro' the Commonweal.
Nor any thing the face of Proof has gain'd,
That God from changing has himself restrain'd:
What tho he sometimes these perpetual call?
The like does often human Laws befal,
As different from temporary Laws,
Made for a certain time, and transient cause.
Yet what does hinder but new may be made,
When publick benefit does so perswade?
Thus God the Jews did variously command,
By Laws perpetual, those God therefore meant,
Which were to stand till his reveal'd Intent.
Which way of speaking all the Nations use,
And should the less move wonder in the Jews,
With whom, as such, that (x) right and service past,
Which but from Jubilee to Jubilee did last;
Then the Messiah's Coming they agree
To be the finishing great (y) Jubilee.
The Jewish Prophets too plainly foretold
Of a new Cov'nant, promis'd long of old:
And full of this does (z)Jeremy delight,
Where God does promise to (a) infuse the Light,
That none need farther groap in baleful Night;
While Truth inscrib'd on ev'ry Breast appears:
Besides a gen'ral Amnesty declares,
Not much in this unlike a mortal King,
If we such low Similitudes may bring:
Page 96Who after a defection from his Pow'r,
While Subjects one another would devour,
The better to establish lasting Peace,
Them from some loads of Impositi'ons frees;
And on a perfect Law lets them depend,
Who for the future promise to amend.
What is already offer'd may suffice;
Yet take their Law as in its parts it lies;
And 'twill appear that nothing there displac't,
Could please God in it self, or always ought to last.
*Their Sacrifices first themselves present,
Which ev'n some Jews thought Men did first in∣vent:
Them fond of various rites we plainly find,
Whence against many Gods they are enjoin'd;
Perhaps but requisit, their minds to wean
From what they had living in Egypt seen.
When Sacrifice was, with their Offspring, come
To take up in Religion too much room,
As if 'twould in it's self th' Almighty please,
And him, provok'd unto the heighth, appease,
Without a Reformation in their Lives,
Then it of Reputation God deprives:
*Of this, he tells them, 'He makes no account,
'How high soe're their Holocausts may mount,
'While Flocks and Herds they on each other 'heap,
'Bullocks, & Goats mingled with harmless Sheep;
'With these they would propitiate him in vain,
'Since they but render back his own again,
''Tis his what feeds on Mountain or on Plain:
'No Beasts or Birds, says he, my notice flee,
'And should I hunger, need I tell it thee?
'Mine is the Ʋniverse with all things there:
'Dost think the Blood of Bulls or Goats my fare?
Page 97'Offer to God the Sacrifice of Praise,
'And pay those Vows which thy distresses raise.
Some Jews, still to this ancient Rite enclin'd,
Think the Reproof not against that design'd;
But th'off'rer's pravity of Life and Mind:
Yet who what here is cited well has weigh'd,
Will find, that Victims on the Altars laid,
As of themselves cannot th'Almighty please;
This in the Series of the Psalm one sees:
For to the pious he directs the Speech;
Whom there he does after that manner teach;
That such are call'd together, there we find,
Immed'iately hear, yea my People's joyn'd,
After the Passage we above did quote;
We may a (b) diff'rent form to th'impious note.
In other places the like Sense is found;
'What tho with Holocausts the Altar's crown'd,
''Tis not the Sacrifice that pleases thee,
'But th'Heart that's humpled its offence to see;
'For tho, O Lord! dost not that Heart despise,
'Which broke and contrite at thy Footstool lies.
Elsewhere, 'The Sacrifice does not delight,*
'And the Burnt-off'ring's nothing in thy sight:
'Me thou hast mark'd for thine, nor dost require
'A warm Oblati'on with piac'lar Fire.
'Then said I, I am here to do thy Will,
'In which my own chief pleasure I fulfil:
'Not meerly as an hireling this I do,
'But to th'Impression on my Heart am true.
'My inward pleasure streams forth in my words;
'The transports of my Soul my Tongue records,
'The Contemplation of thy Mercy this affords:
'Thy Nature so veracious, and benigne;
'I ev'ry where proclaim, as 'tis, divine,
Page 98'Thy Faithfulness and large Compassion shown,
'I loudly in the Congregati'on on own.
Thus does our God, Esaiah represent,
* 'Why are so many Sacrifices spent?
'Your Holocausts of Rams have tyr'd me quite,
'Nor do I in the richest Fats delight:
'The Blood of Bullocks Goats, or tender Lambs
'Pleases no more, than di the toughest Rams:
'Who bids you thus my sacred Courts profane?
And Jer'my has a passage no less plain;
Nor does th'Interpreter the meaning strain.
*Thus says the God of Angels, Israel's Lord,
'What tho ye heaps of Holocaust afford?
'Eat them your selves for all the good they bring.
'Freeing your Fathers from th' Egyptian King,
'Nothing of any Sacrifice I said;
'This for the necessary Rule I laid,
'That I should absolutely be obey'd;
'So I their God, my People they should prove,
'And they to take the Paths I shew, should love:
'Thence all things should to their desires succeed.
Thus in the Prophet Hose we may read;
* 'Beneficence does Sacrifice exceed;
'Right thoughts of God before Burnt-Off'rings 'pleasd.
Thus where in Micah one the Question sees,
*What God, displeas'd with us, may reconcile,
Numbers of Rams, or measures of rich Oil?
God thus is represented there, 'I'le tell
'What's truly good, and pleases me full well;
'That you to ev'ry one render his due,
'And unto all Bowels of Mercy shew;
'While humbly before me your self you bear:
Which places, if consider'd right, declare,
Page 99That these things of themselves, or i'th'first place,
As pleasing God we ought not to embrace.
But if the People by degrees were known,
As Superstition had upon them grown,
In them to place great part of Piety,
As if they slake the Wrath of the most High;
What wonder is't if God did them remove,
Indiff'rent in themselves, tho ill they prove:
Thus when the Brazen Serpent Moses rais'd,
Men, as of Pow'r divine, devoutly prais'd;
Good Hezekiah cast it to the ground.
And among them some Prophecies are found,
Fore-telling that these Rites should one day cease:
This from their Law we may collect with ease,
Where only Aaron's Race a Pow'r receive
For off'ring these, and while at home they live.
But then a (c) King is promiss'd far to reign,
'Who should from Sion lead his humble Train;
'And both a Priest and King always remain,
'Resembling what Melchisedec was known.
And in Esaiah's Prophecy 'tis shown;
'That Men in (d)Egypt should an Altar view,
'Where the Egyptians, and Assyri'ans too,
'Should joyn in Worship with the happy Jew.
Again, '(e)They whem vast distances divide,
'Who have no common Language for their Guide,
'Shall with the Isra'elites their Off'rings bring,
'As Priests and Levites to th' eternal King.
This could not be till their Law were repeal'd.
Besides, in (f)Malachi it is reveal'd,
'That God the Off'rings of the Jews did hate;
'That East and West his Name should celebrate,
'And Clouds of Incense should perfume the Skies,
'As from pure hands it to his Throne did rise:
This Oracle concerning Christ, records:
The Sacrifice and Off'ring he removes.
And God by Instances most real proves,
That all th'Oblations Moses had enjoyn'd,
Cannot with him any acceptance find;
When more than sixteen hundred Years are gone,
Since Jews have had no Temple of their own;
No Altar, or distinction of their Tribes,
That they may know to offer, as their Law prescribes.
*Their Law forbidding Meats of sev'ral kinds,
No better grounds for its continuance finds:
For it is evident after the Flood,
No sort of Meat under Injuncti'on stood:
Noah, and his, had the free use of all,
Which as a Right unlimited did fall
To Abram, Isa'ac, Jacob, sprang from Sem,
As well as unto Japhet, and bold Cham:
But when th' Egyptian Superstition spread
O're Isr'ael's Seed, thither to Bondage led,
Th'eating some Animals was then deny'd,
As thence were the Egypti'an Rites supply'd,
And thence they thought things future were descry'd:
Or else their Law, with Types and Shadows dark,
Did by some Ani'mals certain Vices mark:
That this was not a gen'ral Rule design'd,
We in the instance of those Beasts may find,
*Which free from outward force their Breath resign'd:
Of these unlawful 'twas for Jews to eat,
Which for Inhabitants was licenc'd Meat;
Such too, who met with this Indulgence, were,
As God himself commended to their care:
Page 101Nay, the old Jewish Rabbies did maintain,
That when Messiah should begin his Reign,
He should this Prohibition quite remove;
And Swines Flesh should as clean as Bullocks prove.
And surely since it pleas'd the Pow'r Divine,
People of ev'ry Land in one to joyn;
A liberty in these, beyond dispute;
More than restraint, must such Communion suit.
Let us consider next their Holy Days:*
They first were kept in the Almighty's praise,
For their deliverance from th' Egypti'an hand,
And leading to the promiss'd Sacred Land:
But Jeremy a time to come did shew,*
When new, and greater benefits t'ensue,
Should so the memory of this surpass,
That Men should hardly menti'on that it was:
Besides, as 'twas with Off'rings, so with these;
'Twas thought they God so in themselves did please,
That keeping them they might indulge their Ease:
Thence representing God, Esaiah says,
I hate all your New Moons and Holy Days, *
They're such a burden as I cannot bear.
Most confident they of the Sabbath are:
They urge that Precept always ought to bind;
That 'twas in Paradise Adam enjoyn'd:
To which I say, with Rabbies on my side,
The Precepts teaching this we thus divide;
One is, that we the Memory preserve;
Th'other, the day religiously observe:
The first of these is to this day obey'd,
In grateful owning how the World was made:
Page 102Th'other requires from all those Works t'abstain,
Which on the common days full licence gain:
The first the Pious kept before the Law,
Obeying this, Men, Enoch, Noah, saw,
This Abram, Isa'ac, Jacob, kept in Mind,
Whose Travels we at large recorded find;
With them this is not found a day of Rest,
As after leaving Egypt 'tis exprest;
From that and the strange progress thro the Sea,
We th'Institution of the Sabbath see;
On (a) the first day their Thanks to God they sung,
And from that time the sacred Rest begun.
The first observance which is enter'd found,
Was, (b) when they heavenly Food took from the Ground;
And (c) their deliv'rance from th'Egypti'an Land,
Is mention'd as the cause of this Command:
Care of those Servants too this Law exprest,
Whose cruel Masters would allow no rest,
Who sojourn'd there were to it likewise bound,
That the same face of Quiet might go round,
That this does not take other Nations in,
May be from hence most evidently seen,
That we in many places find it nam'd,
A (d)Sign, a Covenant, God with Isra'el fram'd:
But that those Laws which did their Sanction gain,
In mem'ry of be'ing freed from Egypt's Chain,
Were not intended ever to remain;
Appears i'th'Promise we observ'd before,
Of greater benefits preserv'd in store.
Add to this farther, If Sabbatick Rest,
As indispensable, at first were prest;
All interfering Laws could not but fail;
When against this some Jewish Laws prevail.
Page 103Thus Circumcision on the Sabbath's good:
Beasts then were offer'd while their Temple stood;
It's mutability their Doctors preach,
Who working on the Sabbath lawful teach,
If authoriz'd any Prophet's Speech.
Joshu'ah's Command for taking Jerico,
They urge as what does such Commission show:
But that in the Messiah's promiss'd Reign,
There should no differences of days remain;
Some, from that passage in Isaiah, hold,*
Where 'tis concerning that blest time foretold,
'That God's true Worship should be constant known,
'From Sabbath unto Sabbath, and from Moon to Moon.
Let's come to Circumcision long in use,*
Before that Law which Moses gave the Jews;
To Abram and his Seed this was enjoyn'd;
Yet this th'incepti'on of that Law we find:
Thus God to Abraham; 'You and your Seed,
'Ʋnto the Land of Cana'an shall succeed;
'That Land where now a Pilgrim's Life you lead:
'See that my Cov'nant you observe with care:
'This is the Cov'nant I with you declare,
'You and the Males which from your Loins descend,
'Shall all be circumcis'd unto the end.
Before we shew'd that i'th'old Cov'nants room
A new one, common unto all, should come,
And this distinctive mark then needs must cease:
Besides some Myst'ry in this Rite one sees;
And this their Prophets shew when they impart,
Precepts for Circumcisi'on of the Heart;
Which is in all our Saviour's Rules desc∣ry'd:
Besides the Promises to that apply'd,
Page 104Must needs be thought intended to relate
Unto the prospect of a better State,
Eternal Life, which Jesus shews us clear,
Till when it did only in Types appear.
That Promise top which did to Abram fall,
That many Nations him should Father call,
Seems to describe that happy time, design'd,
When all the World should in one Faith be joyn'd,
Which, to express the Gospel-state we find.
No wonder that the Shadows flee away,
At the desir'd approach of perfect Day;
That to this sign God did not stint his Grace,
Appears, in that his Favour did imbrace
Abram, and many who before him liv'd,
Before this Mark was in their Flesh receiv'd.
And while the Jews through the parch'd Desart came,
It was omitted without any blame.
*Much they to Christ and his Apostles owe,
Who their discharge from this encumbrance show.
And this evinc'd by Gifts and Deeds so high,
As nothing short of Moses we descry.
Yet they who taught the Rule which we admire,
Did not their owning this great Boon require:
But in such things indulg'd them their own way,
So they on others did not th'Imposition lay:
This shews they without cause from Christ with∣draw,
Upon pretence of their old Ritu'al Law.
The almost sole Objection they have brought,
Against the Miracles our Saviour wrought,
Being thus remov'd, let's other Mediums chuse,
Proper for the Conviction of the Jews.
That Men endu'd with the Prophetick Light,
Did the clear notice of One promis'd bring,
From whom much greater good to them should spring,
Then e're before from Heav'n did Men befal;
HIM, the Messias all agree to call.
We, that he has been here already, say;
They, yet expect him in a future day.
Let's search those Books, fairly this Doubt to end,
Which for Divine both sides alike commend.
He would not cheat, nor could hav' bin deceiv'd
In what from Gabr'el he affirms receiv'd.
He (b) from the Angel's dictating declares,
That there should not elapse five hundred years,
After the Edict publish'd to restore
That City, where the Jews all met t' adore;
But the Messias should on Earth be seen;
When now above two thousand there have been;
And yet the Jews expect him still to come;
Nor can they name another in his room,
To whom this circumstance of Time agrees,
And this their Rabby Nehumias sees,
Who fifty years e're the Messias's Reign,
Say's, more than fifty years can't now to that remain.
Another Note we touch'd upon before,
Of having Pow'r from God all Nations o're;
When the Seleucan with the Lagian Line*
Should all Authority, of Force, resign:
The last in Cleopatra did expire,
Little before the World did Christ admire.
*In Daniel a third Note deserves regard,
Where, from Prophetick Spirit, 'tis declar'd,
That after the Messias here injoy'd,
Jerusalem should wholly be destroy'd;
And this Josephus to his Age applies,
*A Passage of like sense in Haggai lies;
*Their Governour, with the High-Priest, we find,
After a great dejection shew'n of mind,
Seeing the Temple then but lately rais'd,
If with the first compar'd, not to be prais'd,
Had hence their drooping hearts with spir'ts sup∣ply'd,
Such honour this shall crown, as was the first de∣ny'd.
Of Size, Materials, Art, or Ornament,
'Tis plain by Story the could not be meant.
Besides, the greatest Hebrew Rabbies hold,
The later was infer'our to the old,
Both for the Majesty, and Light Divine,
Effusion too, which with the first did shine.
Wherein the last should yet the first exceed,
We may of Sacred Revelation read;
Where God declares his Peace with That should rest,
By which his Grace and Favour is exprest.
*This we in Malachy at large may find;
'Who comes to seal my Cov'nant with Mankind
'I send before: The way he shall prepare,
'And in the Temple suddenly appear,
'Whom you expect to come, your Hearts delight.
Under the second Temple he did write.
'Tis clear then, while the second Temple stood,
The Jews were to expect this promis'd Good,
Which from Zerubb'bel to Vespasian's under∣stood;
Page 107For 'twas not wholly from its Ruine rais'd,
While Herod, they who valu'd Grandeur, prais'd,
By sev'ral parts they did compleat the pile,
Which the same Temple we may justly stile.
'Tis plain they then did for Messiah look,
From whence, some blindly Herod for him took.
Some, others; some, Judas the Gaulonite,
When Jesus liv'd who needs must be the right.
Some Jews perceiving how these Motives press,*
That the appointed time is past, confess.
But think their Sins of it th'occasi'on were:
To wave how positive their Prophets are,
Without Condition tacitely imply'd;
How could the Advent be for these deny'd?
When Dani'el from a sacred impulse spake,
That Ruine should for these Jerusalem o're-take,
Soon after the Messiah's peaceful Reign:
Besides another cause of's Advent's plain,
To be the Healing a corrupted Age,
And Men t'a better Rule of Life t'engage;
While for the past he did God's Wrath asswage.
In Zach'ry see a sacred Promise lie,*
That God with Grace would David's House supply;
From thence an open Fountain should appear,
Which from their Sins Jerusalem should clear.
The Jews besides a strong Traditi'on own,
That Ischopher Messiah should be known;
That is design'd th'Almighty to appease;
But could he be with-held for that Disease,
Which 'tis most evident he was to ease?
That the Messiah's come, we may evince*
From a by-no-means disputable Sense:
Page 108God's Cov'nant with them in their Law exprest,
Declares they shall in Palestine be blest,
While they obed'ient to those Precepts rest:
But when from these they a Defection make,
Exile and other Woes should them o're-take:
But when a lively Sense of their Misdeeds,
Sincere Compunction and Contrition breeds;
How much soever distant they remain,
They all should see the Holy Land again.
More now are past than fifteen hundred Years,
And no Completion yet of this appears:
Still they in Exile without Temple live:
Often they to rebuild it vainly strive.
Wond'rous Erupti'ons of resistless Fire,
Have forc'd the baffled Work-men to retire.
This Ammianus Marcellinus shows,
Tho he did Christianity oppose.
When formerly that Peoples Sins encreast;
When with their Children they did Saturn feast;
When for no Crime Adultery did pass,
To rob Widows and Orphans usu'al was,
And to fill up the measure of their Guilt,
Innocent Blood was without Mercy spilt;
For these against them Prophets oft complain'd,
And Exile they, for Punishment, sustain'd;
Yet seventy Years, of this was th'utmost date,
And God compass'onating their low Estate,
Did by his Prophets keep their Spirits up,
And tell when he'd remove that bitter Cup.
But since they last were driven from their Land,
They seem kept out by an Almighty Hand,
Banish'd, contemn'd, their Prophecies all ceast,
And no fixt time for their return exprest;
Their Rabbies with Delusion seem possest,
Page 109To Fables alid ridic'ulous Doctrines fall,
Which they their Oral Law sottishly call;
These like blind Insects in their Talmud crawl.
Sometimes they're equall'd, and sometimes prefer'd,
To what their Lawgiver from God declar'd.
There they the Godhead represent t'have wept,
To see Jerusalem's mighty Ruins heap'd;
Of Beh'moth and Leviathan maintain
Things so absurd, as to repeat were pain:
Yet all this while they the true God have serv'd,
And to the Worship of no false one swerv'd:
None do their Slaughters or Adulteries blame,
And a warm Zeal does their griev'd Hearts inflame.
They fast and pray, an angry God t'appease,
And yet without Remorse he hears and sees:
None of their Propiti'ati'ons can prevail:
Which shews that the Mosaick Law does fail:
Or else some Sin their Nation has involv'd,
Through such a Tract of Ages unabsolv'd.
It lies on them, either the Sin to name,
Or own 'twas slighting the Messiah, when he came.
That the Messiah's come already's plain:*
That Jesus was the true, we here maintain.
Of all that e're with that Pretence arose;
Or else, with whom, for such, People did close;
Not one of them has left a Sect behind,
By which what they deliver'd we may find.
Nor Herod, Judas, or Barchochebas,
Who for the Christ with learned Men did pass,
When Adrian did the Roman Empire sway:
But down from Jesus, to this very day
Page 110There have been, and thoughout the World re∣main,
Those who this Jesus for the Christ maintain.
And many other signs I here might give,
Which were fortold, or People did receive,
Which as fulfill'd in Jesus we believe.
As that he was from (g)David's Seed to spring:
That Him a (h) Virgin to the World should bring;
He who betroth'd her this (i) from Heav'n was taught,
Or else the Nuptial Tie would not have sought:
Did the first spreading of his Doctrine see.
To every Mala'dy he did Cure afford,
(m) Sight to the Blind, Feet to the Lame restor'd:
But on one Sign alone I might rely,
Th'effect of which we at this day descry,
Do in plain Prophecies expresly shew,
That Christ should not instruct the Jews alone,
But that all Nations should his Precepts own;
The Worship of false Gods, though him should fail,
And over far-spread Multitudes, the True prevail.
Uuntil he came false Worships did abound;
Thence forward by degrees they all lost ground,
And in the Worship of One God were drown'd.
To Jesus and his Follow'rs this we owe:
No such effect from Jewish Doctors know.
The People thence who were not (r) God's, became
Such, as for his, he with delight does name.
This, the fulfilling Jacob's (s) Blessing shows;
That Civil Pow'r (t) fierce Judah should not lose,
That this is the Messiah Jewish Doctors say.
The hard'ned Jews here an Objection feign,*
That many things still unfulfill'd remain,
Belonging to the true Messiah's Reign.
But those things at the best are but obscure,
And may as well another Sense endure:
For these, we ought not Evidence to leave,
Such as shines forth in that which we believe;
The Holiness of what this Jesus taught;
The excellent Reward to Light he brought;
All things exhibited in Speech most clear;
By Miracles his Mission made appear.
To prove his Doctrine true these should suffice:
But then for understanding Prophecies,
Which to seal'd Books we often find compar'd;*
Men with some helps from God should be prepar'd,
Of which who slight things plain, are justly bar'd.
They know besides, that what makes their de∣fence,
Is often render'd in a diff'rent Sense:
If they make search with an imparti'al Mind,
They ev'n their own Interpreters will find,
Who during their Captiv'ity had wrote,
Or much about the time that Jesus taught,
In these agreeing with what Christians thought:
If one observe how later these oppose,
Writing since Hatred against Jesus rose;
This a plain Biass to their party shows.
Ev'n they themselves will without scruple own,
That Figures oft in Holy Writ are known,
The proper Sense being diff'rent from the True,
Which we in num'rous Instances may view:
Page 112Thus God is mention'd coming from the Skies,
And oft describ'd with Mouth, Ears, Nose, and Eyes.
Why should we not in the like way explain,
Some things foretold of the Messiah's Reign?
As that the Wolf and Lamb, Leopard and Kid,
Lion and Fatling in one Covert hid,
Should lie together in a peaceful way?
That suckling Instants should with Serpents play?
God's Mountain should above all others rise,
Thither should Strangers come to sacrifice?
Either the follow'ing or preceding words,
Where holy Penman, what's foretold, records,
Oft prove Conditi'on in the Sense imply'd:
Some Promises are thence the Jews deny'd,
Because they have not with the Christ comply'd.
Our Faith on this account they should not blame;
Since for the failure they must take the shame.
Some Promises we find without reserve;
If such they unaccomplish'd still observe,
What prejudice that yet their time's not past?
They hold Messiah's Reign till all things end shall last.
*Jesus his low Estate gives some Offence;
But the Objection is a vain pretence:
Almost throughout the Holy Writ 'tis seen,
God will debase the Proud, exalt the Mean.
Jacob past Jordan with his Staff alone,
But to return with Flocks and Herds was known.
Moses, a banish'd Shepherd, hardly far'd,
When in the burning Bush our God appear'd,
And him the Leader of his Flock declar'd.
David from Sheep, was to a Kingdom chose,
Many such Instances the Scripture shows.
Page 113We find it read of this long-promis'd King,
That he glad-Tidings to the Poor should bring:
That he should not in publick make a Noise,
Nor use Reproaches, but a gentle Voice:
Would cherish the bruis'd Reed, and that small heat,
Which in a snuff maintains a doubtful seat.
His Death, and other Ills which he did bear,
Should not his Credit in the least impair.
God often in his wise Dispose thinks fit
The Imp'ious in their Ravage to permit,
And force the Pious poorly to submit.
The Sodomites with lustful Fury hot,
Made a poor Fugitive of right'ous Lot.
Some have been slain, Abel by Parricide,
Isaiah is by piece-meals said t've di'd.
The Maccabees in Tortures did expire,
The Mother, with the Sons of her desire.
Many such Instances we here might bring;
'Tis written in those Psalms which th'Hebrews sing,
Thy Servants Carcases a Prey did yeild
Ʋnto the Birds o'th Air, Beasts of the Field: *
Their Blood like Water in the Streets does flow,
And none dare give the Burial which they owe.
That the Messias was his Pow'r to gain,
Thro' many Troubles, and Death full of Pain,
Is from Isaiah beyond questi'on plain.*
'Who has what we report duly receiv'd?
'Who has the Pow'r of the most High believ'd?
'And that the rather, since before his Eye
'He grows up like a Plant wanting supply;
'A starv'ling Root plac'd in a Sandy Ground,
'No Form or Comeliness in him is found;
'Nor if you see him, can you Beauty find,
'Which thro' the Eye should work upon the Mind.
Page 114'Of Men rejected, and expos'd to scorn;
'And many are the Sorrows by him born.
'Those who insult not, will their Faces hide;
'These exercise their Pity, others Pride:
'Yet he our Griefs does surely for us bear;
'Our's the Advantage, his the Sorrows are.
'In his wounds our Transgressions are descri'd,
'And our Iniquities have bruis'd his side.
'His Chastisement procures our setled Peace,
'And we are heal'd in what gives him Disease;
'We all, like silly Sheep, have gone astray,
'And each run bleating his own foolish way:
'For all our Aberrations he does pay.
'Silent he bears Afflicti'ons beyond thought,
'And like a Lamb is to the Slaughter brought;
'Or as a Sheep, before her Sheerers dumb,
'So does he to the bitter'st Suff'rings come.
'After a Pris'n and shameful Sentence past,
'With form of Law he's taken off at last.
'Yet after all, who's worthy to declare
'That life of Glory falling to his share?
'My Peoples Sins occasion'd his remove;
'Thence 'twas he went so soon to's place above.
'The wicked ins'olent with the Pow'r they have,
'Drive him to Death and the devouring Grave:
'Altho he never did commit a Wrong,
'Or e're impos'd with a deceitful Tongue.
'But tho God suffer'd all this to be done,
'Since he refus'd not for our Sins t'atone,
'But did himself a Victim for us pay;
'His Seed, his Life, shall never know decay;
'And thro' all Ages he our God shall please,
'After his Travel he shall sit at ease,
'With Joys the most sincere for ever crown'd,
'While numbers thro' him justifi'd are found.
Page 115'And he discharg'd the Debt which on them lay,
'Him with the price of Victory I'le pay;
'Because he did himself to Death resign,
'As a Transgressor suffer'd Wrath Divine.
'For others Sins he did endure the pain,
'For them an Intercessor does remain.
What other Prince or Prophet can they shew,
To whom his Character may be thought due?
What some of the late Jewish Writers feign,
As if 'twere of their Nation meant, is vain:
As if they, scatter'd over every Land,
Should many bring the Truth to understand,
By their Example, and diffusive Speech,
The contrary to which the Scriptures teach:
Shewing that they have suffer'd nothing ill,
But for their Sins they worse should suffer still.
The Ser'ies too of what's deliver'd here
Will not endure such a strain'd Sense to bear:
The Prophet, rather God, does there declare,
My Peoples Sins of this th'occasion are.
God's, or Isaiah's People, were the Jews:
This then, That 'twas another suffer'd, shews.
Their ancient Jewish Rabbies have confest
These things of the Messiah were exprest:
With which some of the later being prest,
Upon the Ficti'on of two Christs do fall;
One they indeed the Son of Joseph call,
Who was to suffer Ills and Death at last;
Another for the Son of David past;
All things with him should happily succeed:
This from parti'ality must needs proceed.
'Tis easier, and does better far agree
With what we in Prophetick Writings see;
Page 116T'acknowledge one who was to gain his Pow'r,
By Life of pain, and shame at the last hour;
Which we believe of Jesus to be true:
If we were silent, This, the thing it self should shew.
*Some Jesus and his Doctrine disbeliev'd,
On an Opinion they had preconceiv'd,
That they who did first Oppositi'on raise,
Were Men for Probity deserving Praise:
Chiefly the Priests who warmli'est did proceed,
Here I, for Satyr, no Invention need,
Let them but their own Law and Prophets read,
There does in lively Characters appear,
What sort of Men their Predecessors were;
As Men uncircumcis'd of Heart and Ear,
That with Lip-service they to God draw nigh,
With Hearts which in Earth's furthest Corners lie.
Their Predecessors would have Joseph slain,
Slav'ry was all the mitigation he could gain.
Of them they were whose Factions Moses tir'd,
So much that he to end his Life desir'd,
Whose Rod the Earth and Air were known t'obey,
At one dread shake the astonish'd Sea made way;
The Sea less deaf, and less disturb'd than they.
These were not satisfy'd with heav'nly Bread;
Belching up Quails still wanted to be fed.
Such leaving David their Anointed King,
To his Rebellious Son their Homage bring.
They Zacharias at the Altar slew,
The Victim of their Cruelty, the Priest did view,
Nor were their Priests less scandalously ill;
They by false Witness Jeremy would kill.
Page 117Lay-Piety indeed came in to's aid;
Yet him their Influence a Captive made,
Until themselves were forc'd to the like fate.
Is't said, while Jesus blest this Earthly State,
The Priests then living greater consci'ence made?
This fond Belief Josephus will dissawde:
Read there, how great their Crimes, how strange their Woes:
That these were short of their Demerits he avows.
Nor can the Sanhedrim be better thought,
Since, as by th'History of those times we're taught,
Not choice, but great Men's Pow'r to th'Office brought.
Often who gave the most, promoted were,
Before for Life, then but from Year to Year.
What wonder then if People swell'd with Pride,
With Av'arice or Ambiti'on for their guide,
Should be with an insatiate Fury mov'd,
At one whose holy Life theirs so reprov'd?
Against him they could no Objection raise,
But what they always met who merited most Praise.
The Prophet Micah thus to Prison was brought,
For standing to the Truth which God had taught,
Against four hundred of a diff'rent thought.
Ahab against Elias that did urge,
From which the Priests put Christ himself to purge,
That he was the disturber of that Rest,
Of which till then Israel had been possest.
Did Christ against the Jewish Temple preach?
For this they did condemn their Jeremy's Speech.
Add farther, as their ancient Rabbies say,
Men shall be known in the Messiah's day,
Page 118As bold as Dogs, as stubborn as the Ass,
The Cruelty of Beasts far to surpass.
And God himself who plainly did foresee,
What in Messiah's time the Jews would be,
Says a new People he for his will chuse:
While from the Streets and Cities of the Jews;
Scarce one or two ascend the holy Mount,
But he with Gentiles would fill up th'account.
*A Stone of stumbling, an offensive Rock,
Shall Christ become to Isra'l's scatter'd Flock.
*But yet that Stone which the first Builders leave,
Others shall into the chief place receive.
*Two Calumnies do yet untouch'd remain,
With which the Jews Christi'anity would stain,
First, That we worship many Gods they feign.
But here with malice obvi'ous to discern,
A Doctrine opposite to their's they turn.
Th'Objection equally affects the Jew,
As does their Philo evidently shew.
He three Hypostases in God does name,
Unto him adds his Word which made this frame;
Who otherwise than Men from's Father came;
On the belief he of a Third does fall,
Him does Embassador, or Angel call,
To whom he does assign the care of all.
Moses, Nehmanni's Son, with him agrees;
And in their Cabalists the like one sees.
They God distinguish as a threefold Light;
Some have the Names of which the Christi'ans write:
The Father, Son, or Word, and Spirit Divine.
Here what's confest by all the Jews to joyn;
Page 119That Spirit known the Prophets to inspire,
They do as something increate, admire,
Distinguish'd still from him by whom 'twas sent:
And so of what by Schechina is meant.
That Force Divine should in the Christ reside,
Which they call Wisdom, many Jews confide:
Whence the Chaldaean Par'aphrast does accord
With Christi'ans, calling him th'Almighty's Word.
David, Isaiah, with more, taught of Heav'n,
The Name of God and Lord, to him have giv'n.
Another Imputation here they lay,*
That we to a meer Creature Worship pay:
But this with mighty ease is wip'd away;
Since we to Christ no other Honour give,
Than what we in the Psalms his due perceive.
The second, David Kimchi thus applies;*
Finding King David not so high to rise,
In Christ the Character at large descries:
Yet none did more than he Christ'anity op∣pose.*
The hundred and tenth Psalm which this yet fuller shows;
Must needs be thought of the Messiah meant.
That which some Jews of later time invent
Of David, and of Hezekiah some,
Is but their Malice boyling up in scum.
the Psalm is David's, as th'Inscripti'on shews;
Where then King David calling, Lord, one views;
Can it be thought, this to himself he'd use?
Or Hezekiah coming from his Line,
When yet he did in nothing him out-shine?
Abr'am no Priestly Character possest,*
And him Melchisedec devoutly blest,
As one whom a more sacred Order did invest.
*That which we added by the Psalmist know,
'A Rod of Strength shall out of Sion go,
'And make his distant Foes his Prowess see,
Does evidently with the Christ agree.
Nor did the ancient Jews e're differ here,
And this in their old Paraphrasts is clear.
So great their Probity was fully known,
Who for the Christ, the Nazarite, did own,
That we for this might credit them alone;
As well as Moses is by Jews believ'd,
In what himself alone declares from God receiv'd.
But more, and stranger Arguments, maintain,
That Pow'r Supream this Jesus did obtain;
That many saw him come to Life again:
That he was seen when to the Hev'ns he past;
That out of Men he raging Daemons cast:
Diseases cur'd by his tremendous Name:
And that the Gift of Tongues t'his Follow'ers came,
Which he had promis'd for his Empire's sign;
His Scepter too, that is, his Word Divine,
From Sion went devoid of Humane Aid,
And did the Limits of the Earth invade,
People, and Kings, its sacred force obey'd:
Exactly answ'ering what the Psalmist told.
Their Cabalists a middle Nature hold,
Between the Highest, and the Humane Mind;
For whom the name of Enoch's Son they find;
With a much lower Pow'r to him assign'd.
To him how much more justly this we yeild,
Who has himself with so much Light reveal'd?
Against the Father's Pow'r, this does not make;
Since we confess he this from him did take:
*To him at th'end of all it must return;
And we his Honour brightned hence discern:
Were but the Readers time in waste to spend:
These things I think may be enough to prove,
That no Objection any Skill can move,
Argues the Doctrines which this Jesus taught,
Either absurd, or impious to be tought.
What hinders then, but all Men should imbrace
Those Doctrines, which such Miracles did grace,
Which Precepts of such Sanctity commend,
With a Reward so glorious in the end?
Whoever this for his Live's Rule does take,
But Questi'ons more particular would make;
Must search those sacred Books, which we maintain,
The whole of our Religi'on to contain.
That on Mens Minds these their due force may gain.
We ought with fervent Zeal that God t'im∣plore,
Whom Jews, and we, with holy Fear adore;
That he to them would open the clos'd Door;
That they may feel the beams of Light Divine,
In their most inward Parts serenely shine:
That that warm Pray'r may efficac'ious prove,
Utter'd for them by Christ when he did hence remove.
*SInce now with that Religi'on we engage,
Which Mahomet set up in a blind Age;
It may be fit to count those Judgments here,
Drawn down by Christians e're he did appear.
While Presecuti'ons did the Church enclose,
More florid, like the branching Palm, it rose:
Piety sparkled through its humble State,
Grew cold, and stiff, when favour'd by the Great.
When Constantine, and others of like pow'r,
Pal'd in and cherish'd this Celestial Flow'r;
The Church became a Garden of delight,
And thither humane Honours did invite;
The World came crowding in at the large Gate;
And it might seem to admit of some debate,
Whether the State was in the Church, or Church in State.
Secular Int'rest then began to sway,
The stronger Princes on the weak did prey,
Boundless Ambiti'on urging them to Wars;
Sometimes the Bishops were the Trumpeters:
Often the Clergy's Quarrels for the See,
Divided Men under one Politie;
The Laymen's Lives be'ing Off'rings for the Priest;
When by the rout o'th'one the Tumults ceast,
In curi'ous Questi'ons they spun out that Ease,
And study'd more themselves than God to please:
They chose, like Adam tempted by his Wife;
The Tree of Knowledg for the Tree of Life.
Page 123Religi'on, fram'd by God for common use;
Became a Sci'ence, and an Art abstruse;
Vain Affectati'on of things most sublime,
Like them who did to build proud Babel climb,
To Discord, and divided Tongues did draw:
Which, when the thus confounded Vulgar saw,
Scarce knowing where the Streams of Life did lie,
The very Scriptures they, as tainted, fly:
Then specious Rites engrost Religi'ons Name;
Instead of Piety that Heav'n-born Flame,
Juda'ism one would have thought again return'd:
As if the Mind were but the least concern'd,
Bodily Exercise Religi'on seem'd,
With Zeal in crying up a Man, or side esteem'd.
Religi'on then dwindled to outward shows,
Many were Christi'ans call'd, but few were chose.
At this did God just Indignati'on shew,
From Scythi'a, thence, and Germany, he drew
Legions of barb'rous Enemies, who came
Like Inundati'ons o're the Christi'an Name.
They who surviv'd this so devouring loss,
Not being purg'd from their contracted dross,
Sank under Mah'met fighting 'gainst the Cross:
Arabi'a saw the First-fruits of that Weed,
Which sprung up thick, and choak'd the sacred Seed;
In words it often suits the Christian Life,
With it in truth nothing is more at strife:
The Saracens these Precepts first obey'd,
Who a defecti'on from Heracli'us made,
These did Arabi'a, Syr'ia, Palestine, invade;
Aegypt and Persi'a felt their dread Alarms,
From Africa to Spain they wafted o're their Arms:
Tho others them did warmly entertain,
The Turks did the most equal Wars maintain,
Page 124And after mutu'al various chances past,
They struck air undivided League at last.
Then, a Conformity of Manners, brought
The Turks to close with what the others taught:
Friendship prevail'd where Force did fruitless prove,
So much more pow'rful is the bond of Love;
Of Empire with the Turks remain'd the Seat,
Taking in Partners, they became more great:
Cities of As'ia, and renowned Greece,
They soon compell'd to render up their Keys;
Their prosp'rous Arms in Hungary were crown'd,
And they broke through the stubborn German Bound.
*This Doctrine, set up to encourage Fights,
Is flaringly drest out with gaudy Rites;
Their Books, call'd Holy, from the vulgar hid,
All free enquiry after Truth forbid:
Nothing more justly may Suspiti'on breed,
Than that they are prohibited to read:
Who would not think that an adult'rate Ware,
For which who puts it off takes mighty care,
That none shall view the purchase he has made,
This being the conditi'on of the Trade?
All Men indeed can't equally be brought
To understand all Objects of their thought;
Pride, Affectati'on, Custom, may misguide;
But that the way of Truth should be deny'd
To them who seek it without by-respect,
Themselves and all things else to God subject,
With this the Aid Divine warmly implore;
Would cloud the Goodness of Him we adore.
And since a judging Pow'r adorns the Mind,
What of that Pow'r can we more worthy find,
Page 125But that those things should exercise it most,
Through Ignorance of which Eternal Life is lost?
Moses so-pow'rful with his wondrous Rod,*
Mahometans confess was sent from God;
This they of Jesus own, nor stick to say,
That holy Men first spread about his way:
Yet in their Alch'ran many things do lie,
Diff'ring from Moses and the Christi'an Verity.
Here, that I may but one Example name,
That on the Cross Christ dy'd, Scriptures proclaim;
That the third day he came to Life agen,
Without delusion, seen of many Men:
O'th'other side by Mahomet, 'tis said,
That he was privately to Heav'n convey'd,
Upon the Cross th'Effigies only laid.
The Death of Christ he plainly thus denies,
And would not have the Jews believe their Eyes:
Th'Objection can no other Answer bear,
But that the Books remain not what they were,
The contrary to which we've made appear.*
If any this against their Alch'ran urge,
The bare denial would be thought to purge;
But they for that can ne're such proofs pretend,
As have been shewn on holy Writ t'attend:
As that it soon throughout the World did pass,
Not in a single Tongue (as th'Alch'ran was)
Faithfully kept by each divided Sect,
Who one anothers Frauds must needs detect.
Christ's welcome Promise, enter'd by St. John,
To send the Comforter when he was gone,
Mahometans suppose t'have curtail'd been,
That something there of Mahomet was seen;
Page 126But that the Christi'ans to suppress this Light,
Blotted the passage of malicious slight;
On which this Question may an Answer need,
Was't after Mahomet; or did precede?
After it could not be, since then were found
Copies disperst throughout the World t'abound,
The Greek, the Syri'ac, Arabick, were known,
Aethi'opic, and in Latin more than one:
But in that place these all are known t'agree,
Nor can we the least vari'ous Vers'ion see:
No cause of change before that could be thought;
None could foresee what would by him be taught.
Tho nothing contrary to Christ he brought;
Who can of those who follow Christ believe,
They should the Books of Mahomet receive
Before what Moses and the Hebrew Prophets leave.
Suppose on neither side a Writing were,
That might what Christ or Mah'met taught declare,
Reason would teach that that for Christ's should pass,
Which that esteem among the Christians has,
*For Mahomet's that, which so his Foll'wers take.
Of both now the Comparison let's make,
While we the Adjuncts and Affecti'ons view,
Whence which deserves the pref'rence we may shew.
First for the Authors; th'other side agree,
Men did in Jesus that Messiah see,
Of whom the Promise in the Law did pass,
The Word of God's his Name; which Mah'met has,
Vary'd to Wisdom, and the Filial Mind:
That he no Earthly Father had, is joyn'd;
While Mahomet was got the common way,
As the most zealous of his Foll'wers say,
Page 127Long was rapaci'ous, ever too inclin'd,
To sati'ate his warm lust with Woman-kind.
Mahomet owns Jesus t'ascend the Skies,
Under his Tomb himself a Relick lies;
Who cannot see which most we ought to prize?
Compare their Deeds: ev'n Mahomet does own,*
That Christ t'endue the Blind with Sight was known;
To Cripples he the use of Feet did give,
And made the Dead with Breath recall'd to live.
Th'other for Miracles urges Alarms,
And thinks to prove his Mission by his Arms:
Yet they who after him his Rules imbibe,
What they call Miracles to him ascribe;
But either they from human Art might move,
As what is story'd of th'attendant Dove,
Or such as by no Witnesses they prove;
As that a Camel spake to him by Nights,
Or what against all Sense absurdly fights,
As that upon him part o'th'Moon was found,
Which he return'd to fill a starry round.
Who will not say, that when Disputes arise,
That Law is to be chose where one descrys
That clearest proof of sacred Sanction lies.
Let us observe what sort of Men were they,
Who first took up the one, or t'other way.
Christi'ans the World, Men fearing God,* did know,
Of Innocence unsully'd from below:
And with God's Goodness how can it agree,
To suffer such to drown in Error's Sea,
Cheated by Words of the most speci'ous shew,
Or Deeds seeming miraculous to view?
Who first for Mahomet their Notions chang'd,
Were Robbers, even from Humanity estrang'd.
*Mark then the manner, in which each was found
To propagate the Rule he did propound:
Christ's was not spread by Miracles alone,
Grew by their Suff'rings who the Cross did own,
Neither of these Mahometans can boast,
Miracles wrought, Lives for their Doctrines lost:
But their Religi'on with their Arms encreast,
A meer accessi'on unto them at best;
Their mighty Empire and in Wars success,
Their Teachers as the pow'rful Motives press,
Than which can nothing more fallacious be:
Them to oppose the Ethnick Rites we see,
Which Persi'ans, Mecedoni'ans, Romans, spread,
Conquest attending where they Armies led,
Their thriving Limits stretch't out vastly far:
The Turks were oft improsperous in War;
By Sea and Land how often were they beat?
How forc'd in Spain to quit their ancient seat?
What is so mutable a doubtful Chance,
Which now the Good, now does the Bad advance,
Can be no standard by which one may shew,
Which is the false Religion, which the true?
And that the less, since we can rarely find,
That they the Justice of their Arms will mind,
These often they injuriously extend,
Where they no Provocation can pretend,
Unless that they would strive this way t' enlarge
The bounds of Truth committed to their charge;
Thus hood-wink'd Zeal should for those Deeds atone,
Than which nothing's more irreligi'ous known:
God's Worship in the Will is known to lie,
Which whoso forces, takes away the Tie;
This may be wrought upon by gentle ways;
'Tis not of Will when one by force obeys:
Page 129Where ever Proselytes such means do gain,
'Tis not that they believe, but poorly feign,
To shun the present, or impending pain:
Who does by Violence Assent-compel,
Therein the weakness of his Cause does tell;
Yet they themselves take this pretence away,
For many People subject to their sway,
Have an Indulgence for their former way.
Nor do Mahometans scruple to own,
Men may be sav'd trusting in Christ alone.
Let's next the Precepts mutually compare:*
One teaches greatest Injuries to bear,
And take our Enemies into our care,
Th'other usurps upon the Right divine,*
While it Retaliation does enjoyn.
The Nuptial Band one renders ever fast,
And checks ev'ry occasi'on of distaste,
The other makes it but on pleasure last:
The Husband does what he would have his Wife,
Leading with her an undivided life;
By his Example teaches single Love,
More, there allow'd, to lust Incentives prove.
This calls Religi'on inward to the Mind,
That it may bring forth Fruits worthy Mankind:
That does its force in Circumcision spend,
With other things which to no good do tend.
This yeilds the temp'rate use of Meat and Wine,
There 'tis prohibited to eat of Swine;
Wine too, the Gift of God, is there deny'd,
Tho thence, provided Moderati'on guide,
Body and Mind are with fresh Spir'its supply'd.
No wonder if before the perfect Law,
Men Childish Rudiments as previous saw:
When from the Sun God did the Clouds with∣draw,
Page 130And Men its open Glories might discern,
Prepost'rous 'twere to Figures to return:
Since Christ's Religi'on Men must perfect own,
What ground for adding to it can be shown?
*Warmly Mahometans urge in dispute,
That to the Godhead we a Son impute;
When yet a Wife was never to him joyn'd:
As if the name of Son in God sublim'd,
Something far more divine we did not find,
Than th'acceptation when to Man confin'd:
Besides a Female partner of his Love
Would much more worthy of the Godhead prove,
Than many things which Mahomet has told,
As that his Hand is beyond measure cold,
Experienc'd by himself who did it hold:
That in a Chair he's carry'd up and down,
With other things which Reason must disown.
We, who the Son of God, blest Jesus call,
On an Idea no less sacred fall,
Than he, where he the Word of God does name:
And as an Offspring from his Mind it came.
Add here the Spir'it supply'd a Father's force,
A Virgin bore him against Nature's course:
Him God did visibly to Heav'n translate;
These things does Mahomet himself relate;
All which evince that in peculiar way,
That he's the Son of God, we may, and ought to say.
*Beyond due bounds it would this Treatise swell,
Did we of all those idle Fables tell,
Which in the Alchoran are known t'abound;
As that some Angels, while the Cups went round,
Page 131And a fair Virgin sat attentive by,
Taught her a Song with which to mount the Sky;
That oft she thither went with this inspir'd,
At last unto an higher flight being fir'd,
There caught by God was turn'd to a fixt Star;
That this was Venus, Pattern to the fair.
That while the World liv'd in a single House,
The Elephantine Dung brought forth a Mouse:
And that a Lions Breath produc'd a Cat:
Nor surely, less ridiculous is that,
Where he of a scape-Ram does Wonders tell,
Hung in the middle between Heav'n and Hell,
Which carries on its back Death's murd'ring-stores;
And of excerning Banquets through the pores:
That each should have his Flocks of Women-kind,
For his continu'd lusts, in Heav'n assign'd:
Their Faith in these we must a Judgment think,
Through which into Stupidity they sink;
Since chiefly, the bright beams of Light Divine
About them with commanding Lustre shine.
This Argument I need no farther press.*
Here not to Strangers only I address;
But unto them, as much, who Christ profess.
What's said already let's to use apply;
Follow what's good, and what is noxious fly;
While we with spotless Hands invoke his Aid,
Who things unseen and seen equally made;
Assur'd that all things in his Conduct share,
And not a Sparrow falls without his Care:
Him let's not fear who can the Body kill,
But who can Soul and Body crush at will.
Now must we in the Father only trust,
To place the like in Jesus is but just;
Page 132Who has obtain'd the only Name on Earth,
Through which the state of Happiness has Birth;
And yet in vain we call or God, or Lord,
Unless we yeild Obedience to their Word;
Him to a Life of Glory God will raise,
Who does his Will, not him who loudly prays.
Christ's holy Doctrine let's a Treasure hold,
Exceeding far that valu'd triflle, Gold;
Oft read those Books which shew what we believe,
Where none can be deceiv'd, who don't them∣selves deceive.
More faithful, more inspir'd the Pen-men were,
Than that they'd necessary Truths forbear,
Or wrap them up in any envi'ous Cloud;
Minds we must bring obsequiously bow'd,
Which if we do, our God will nothing shrow'd,
By us to be believ'd, or hop'd, or done;
He'l perfect this his Work in us begun,
Will cherish and excite his growing Grace,
A pledg of what shall crown our finish'd Race.
From imitating Pagans let's abstain;
First in their worshipping of Idols vain,
Nothing in truth but Names ill Spir'its brought in,
To make Mens very Worship prove their Sin:
If of their Rites held sacred we partake,
Christs Sacrifice to us we fruitless make.
Next let's not live in their licenti'ous way,
Who servilely the Law of Flesh obey.
Christians should to far nobler things aspire,
Beyond ev'n what the Jewish Laws require,
Or the proud Phar'sees, seeming to rise higher;
Their Right'ousness lay but in outward things,
Th'observing which to Heav'n none ever brings:
Page 133Heart-Circumcision, not the work of hand,
With true obedience to Divine Command,
Are things in which we shall accepted stand:
God's Spirit must without resistance move,
And raise a living Faith working by Love:
This shews true Isr'aelites, those mystick Jews,
Who sing God's Praises, and whom he does chuse.
Diff'rence of Meats, Sabbaths, and holy Days,
Are shadows scatter'd by Messiah's Rays,
In him we the Completi'on of those Types should praise.
Mahometism may this t'our Thoughts suggest;
That in the Christian Law it is exprest,
That after Jesus many should arise,
Who should pretend their Missi'on from the Skies.
But tho an Angel should from Heav'n descend,
Did he another Doctrine recommend,
Than what Christ taught, and Miracles maintain'd,
We should reject, and think his Errand feign'd.
In vari'ous ways God heretofore did speak
To them who did his Will sincerely seek;
At last to such his only Son he sent,
Who did his Father fully represent,
The perfect Image of paternal Light,
Which in the bright Reflecti'on feasts the Sight,
The Lord and Maker of the World's great Scene,
Whose Influ'ence still throughout the whole is seen.
When for our Sins he had Atonement made,
He was immediately to Heav'n convey'd,
Where the offici'ous Angels give him place,
Whom with a Throne of Glory God does grace.
Such be'ing the Author of the Law w'obey,
For something still more noble should we stay?
Page 134On this occasi'on we should call to Mind,
What are the Arms Christ's Souldiers have assign'd,
Not such as bloody Mahomet enjoyn'd;
Such as the Spirit'ual Warfare does require,
To raze those holds to which our Lusts retire,
Which to subvert Gid's Law boldly aspire.
Faith would a Shield invulnerable lend,
'Gainst all those fi'ry Darts the Daemons send.
A right'ous Life's a well-wrought Coat of Mail,
Which in no Circumstance is known to fail:
The hope of Happiness an Helmet proves,
Which danger from the threatned head removes:
Instead of Sword, the sacred Writ we find,
Piercing the close Recesses of the Mind.
Such Concord should unite each Christi'an Heart,
As Christ bequeath'd when he from hence did part.
We should not many for our Guides receive;
But him, the only One from God, believe.
Baptiz'd into his Name all Christians are;
Wherefore of Sects and Schisms we should beware,
His seamless Goat 'tis impious to tear:
And that into this fault we may not fall,
Th'Apostle's Dictates we should oft recal;
Who bids each Man be temperately wise,
According to the measure God supplies,
T'another's Weakness Tenderness to show,
That we, as in one Body, may together grow.
If more than others one has understood,
In their Instructi'on let him make it good;
If yet they can't arrive to the true Sense,
Still hope that God will farther Light dispence.
Page 135I'th'int'rim let's act up to what we know;
Our knowledg is imperfect while below,
We shall be fill'd above where the clear Foun∣tains flow.
Each in particular should have a care,
Not t'hide the Talent fallen to his share;
But to lay out the utmost of his Pow'r,
That Men may close with Christ in happy hour;
For this, as well as good Advice to give,
He an Example of his Rules must live;
That of the Master they may well conceive,
Who see what Men in him alone believe;
And they that Law may value as the best,
Whose Purity is in their Lives exprest.
If any thing which I have offer'd here,
Does under a good Character appear,
Let God, from whom it came, the Praises bear:
And let the Sense of humane Frailty move,
At least to pardon, what you don't approve;
Think too of time and place when this came forth,
Rather an Embr'yo, than a perfect Birth.