William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

. (page 31 of 47)
Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 47)
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itndyet theTheory of it be not forced, then may both of them be
ufed. And truly, there does not want good Reafon to
think, there is more couched under fome Expreflions and
Paffages of S^cripture, than upon firft Sight, and in the
primary Intention does appear. Becaufe the Scriptures are
a divine Compofition, written by the Diredions of an
All-knowing Mind, which can forefee a thoufand Acci-
dents and future Contingencies, befides the principal Mat-
ters, which the indited Words have Relation to. Indeed
we Men, by reafon of the Scantinefs of our Knowledge,
are forced to adapt our Words folely to the Thing, which
we are at prefent thinking of; becaufe our Thoughts will

* Ifidor. Pelu£ Ep. ciii.

J THe Ancients called the Allegorical Way of expounding Scripture*
0fe!yj{cc, Theory. *

Z 5 HQt



not extend to more than one Thing at the fame Time ;
and becaufe all future Accidents are beyond the Ken of
our Underflandine. But what Reafon is there, that we
jQiiOuld tie God Almighty to this Rule, and make our
Imbecillity the Meafure of his boundlefs Knowledge? His
Thoughts are not like our Thoughts, nor his Wajs like our
JVajs, 'Tis true, all other Books, befides the Scriptures,
being the Produftions of human Underftandings,are only
to be interpreted according to the mod obvious Senfe of
the Words ; becaufe it is to be fuppofed, that the limited
Thoughts of the Writer had no farther a Reach. But
when the great God of Heaven and Earth is pleafed, for
the Good of his Creatures, Himfelf to indite Writings,
which are to be the (landing Directions to Mankind, for
all future Generations ; there is no Doubt to be made, but
almoft every V/ord of that divine Compoiuion takes its
Place there, by the Diredcion of an infinite V/ifdcm ;
and that He, by his Fore-knowledge, has an Eye to the
Circumftancesof future Ages, whilft He is direcling Him-
felf feemingly only to tliofe, in whofe Time the Books
were wrote. Such an heavenly Coinpofdre muft needs
bear many IropreiTes of the boundlefs Thoughts of its
Almighty Author ; and cannot eafily be thought, to be
limited to the narrow Paiticulars they were iivPt defigned
for. One might inftance in many Texts of Scripture,
where 'tis obvious, that the Holy Ghoft has induftrioufly
worded an Expreflion fo, as that it might be a Diredi-
on, either for the Faith, or Pylorality of future Ages ; and
yet feemingly, it may be, to the infpired Writers themi-
felves, nothing like it was intended. I lliall content my
Self with one Particular. Our bleffed Saviour is recorded
by the Evangelifl, Mat.xxv'u zj. in the Delivery of the
Cup in the bleffed Sacrament, to fay to the Communi-
cants, Drinks ye all of this. Now I doubt nor, but that
the Holy Ghofl, befides the bare Relation of theHiftory
of this Sacrament, which was all tliat the Church for fe-
vera! Hundreds of Years^, and perhaps the Evangelifl him-
felf under ilood by it ; I fay, befides this, I doubt not,
but that ti^e Holy Ghofl did defjgn particularly, to fet up


Part III. ^ilh aT HEIST. 345

an everlafting Monument of the Truth, and to fix an
eternal Brand upon the impious Sacrilege of the Ro??2iJh
Church. For when the Evangelift omits the Word -^/Z, -
in the Relation of the Delivery of the Bread, and men-
tions it, as it iliould feem, fo emphatically in that of the
Cup ; it is plain, that fomething more is defigned, than
a bare hiftorical Relation. And this I take to be the Cafe
of many of the Types, and Predictions, of the Old Tefta^
rnent. They were not fo exadly difcoverable, before the
Coming of Chrift ; becaufe Men were not acquainted
with the Life," and Adions, of That bleffed Perfon, which
did fo exadly correfpond with thofe remarkable Paflages
of the Old Tejiamenty that did prefigure them : But, after-
wards, they could not but own them to be defigned for
Marks of Him, when they compared our blelfed Saviour,
and the Types and Prophefies together. For then, there
appeared fuch a wonderful Analogy, between the O eco-
nomy of the Old and New Law ; that the Ceremonies
and Expiations, commanded by Mofisy were known to
be but Shadows of the Dodrine and Satisfadion of Chrifi: ;
and that the Lives and remarkable Aclions of feveral fa«
mous Perfons, before the Birth of our Saviour, w€i^ but
laid out, by Order of God's Providence, for rough
Draughts of the great Defign of Chrift's Mediatorfhip.
There are a Multitude of Infrances, of this Kind, to be
produced out of the five Books of Mofesy and other Books
of the Old Teflament, which will convince any one, that
will be at the Pains^ to obferve them himfelf by a careful
Reading, or out of Chriftian Expofitors, and other Wri-
ters ; nay, they may be difcovered even from the Jewiih^
Rabbins themfelves, who make many of thofe Pafiapes
Types of the Mejjias^ as we do. And now after nil,
what Abfurdity is there, that a Book wrote by divine In-^
^irationy as we fuppofe the Old Tefi'ament to be, fhould
have a wife Regard to the uitiions and Occurrences of fu-
ture Times ; and have another Accom^iijl^ment of its ///•=
'fiory or Predictions > different from what was primarily de-
iign'd ? Have not you and I oftentimes fjveral Reafont
^-^A Motives, fordoing one and the fame Thing ? And

Z 4 there*

q/^^ A Conference

therefore, Why may not God Almighty indite antH'fio^
rjy or Prophejj, which may ferve Tii^o feveral Ends, or
which may have Two feveral Completions ? The carry-
ing en of two fuch Defi^ns, can in no wife be denied to
the Jivme Wifdom ,• which, we fee, does in fome Meafure
lie, within the Compafs of human Sagacity. And *tis but
reafonable to think, that fuch a great and unparallerd In-
fiance of the divine Providence-^ as i\\t fending of theVlt^us
to fave the Souls of Mankind, the like of which never
was, nor ever will be known again ; I fay, *tis but rea*
fonable. That this amazing Difpenfation fhould not fland
lingly by it felf , and fall upon Mankind without any
previous Preparation ; but that Men fliould be difpofed
thereunto, by fome great Prophefes and Prefigurations ', and
that many of the other leffer Lines of God's Providence\
fhould be pointing at, and drawing to this mighty Cen-
ter. And belides, this is yet more reafonable, when the
infJlible Spirit of God in the New Teftamem, does it felf
dired to thefe Types, and does point out to us, what
former Occurrences were Prefigurations of the Meftas^
and his Difpenfation. But, however, we ought not (as
fome do) to make ufe of this typical Way of explaining
Scriptfire, to the deflroying the Letter, and when, it i$
plain, the Words are literally Prophetick ; when only the
Prophet has gone off, on a fudden, from his firft, to i.
more fublime and diviner Subjed:. And now, having
premifed thus much, I will give a fhort Anfvver to the
prophetick Texts of Scripture, jufi: now quoted.

PhiL And I wiih you good Luck in your Expojttiom
of them ; I am fare, they make the Generality of your
Commentators, to fweat under the Difficulties^ and ferve
only to make us hfidcls Sport, with their clafliing with
one another.

Cred. Why then, by your Leave, I will begin with

GenAtxAS' that of the third of Genefis, vcv. 15. 1 2i>ill put Enmity be-

A Prophecy f^i^cen thee and the Womany and between thy Seed And her

QfChrifi. ^^^^, ft pall bmife thy Head-, and thou JlMlt bruife his

Heel. I fay, this is a very dired and clear Prophejy of

our blelfed Saviour* For God Aknighty, who fpake

■" thefc

Part III. with a The i sT. 34.5

thefe Words, direds them to the Devil, an envious and
malicious Spirit, who had embodied himfelf in,and made
Ufe of the corporeal Organs of a certain u4nimdy which
"Mofcs here calls a Serfent ^ and therefore he fo exprefles
himfelf, that the Words may agree both to the Devil
and the Serfent too, who by this PoJfeJJion had acquired a
fort of perfend Vmoft with one another ; fo that what
was faid to one might be underftood of either of them.
The Senfe of the whole Maledi^ion^ in which this Pro-
phefyis cronrained, (as it is laid down in the prefent, the
-foregoing and following Verfes,) feems in fhort to be
this- ^^ Becaufc there are four Belinqnents^ who have
had an Hand in this great Depravation of human ISTa^
ture\ and the vitiating this nobfe Work of human
Kind ,• therefore you fhall all of you Ihare your al-
lotted Punifhments. As for the Serpent, whofe Bo-
dy was made Ufe of for this wicked Defign, I ad-
judge his Body, for a Monument of this unhappy
Miicarriage, to be changed from his original Figure ;
from that ered Gate, that beautiful and iliining Form,
that nimble and volatile Motion which he4ias hitherto
enjoyed, into the hated Shape of one of the ordinary
creeping ferpentrnc Kind. As for the Man, who Was
overcome by the Allurements of his Wife, the Earth
fhall be cuffed for his Sake, and he fhall be forced
with Labour and Toil to earn the Neceffaries of Life,
fince he would' fo perverfely violate the Law of God,
and unnaturally ruin his whole Pofterity, for fuch a
foolifh Gratification of his Appetite. ^ The Woman,
for her Guilt, lliall undergo the Pains and Difficulty
of TraveL But the' Devil, who was the principal
Author of this Mifchief, fhall have his Head bruifed
by the Seed which fhall be born of the "Woqian.
Though thou, O Satayi^ mayft bfuife the Heel of the
^ Woman, and of her Off-fpring, by diflurbing them
^' with Temptations, and making them obno>£:ious to
" temporal Calamities ; yet Chrift, that Holy Seed, which
*' fhall be born of her, fhall bruife thy Headf he fhall
*' perfedly deftroy thy Powety and ruin thy Kingdom t

Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 47)