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IN ANSWER TO
The Rev. DRS. STEBBING and SYKES : Serving to explain and justify the two Dissertations in the
Divine Legation, concerning the command to Abraham to offer up his Son; and the Nature of the Jewish Theocracy; Objected to by those Learned Writers.
PART II. and Last--- continued.
SOON after the publication of Dr. STEBBING'S
Examination ; another Book came out against me, as much larger in bulk as honester in its production : for it carried the name of its Author, Dr. A. A. Sykes, in the front. To this Gentleman, likewise, I sent a civil message; to inform him, that I had seen his Book, in which he likewise professes to “examine my Account" (for they are all Examiners, and would be Inquisitors) as of the Conduct of the Ancient Legislators---of the “ Double Doctrine of the Philosophers--of the Theo
CRACY OF THE JEWs—and of Sir 1. Newton's “ Chronology:" That I supposed he would think himself neglected to have no notice taken of him : that I was not at leisure to go through the whole; but that if he would point out to me which of the Four Parts he chose to trust to, I would endeavour to give him the satisfaction he seemed to want. To this, he sent me word back, “That he should not be, in the least, concern
ed, were I to forbear all notice of him: but, if I took any, that he hoped I would keep to the merits of his Book: that he was not to chuse for me; but that he thought, one or two of the parts were more immediately
to the purpose to clear up: but expected that this " should be done in such a manner as every good man VOL. XII.
wishes; 66 And
“ wishes; in the love of truth, and in the spirit of one " that seeks it: and that then I should find, in him, a “ mind open to conviction.” All this was very well :: and, from the reasonableness of the demand, who would not believe, but his book was a standard of candour, politeness, and ingenuity? at least, who would have suspected the contrary? So that his civil preliminary, when interpreted on the principles of the DoubleDoctrine, is in plain English this, ---That the liberties which he and old honest Mr. P. have so freely taken with my
book and character, should be entirely overlooked, or received as compliments : and that I should address myself to their conviction; as to the service of: my two best friends, who wrote only to recommend the truths I had advanced; by putting me in a way to remove all doubts and difficulties concerning them.
therefore, that I should keep to the merits of his “ book;" that is, be tender of his bad logic, and worse criticism; overlook his ill expression ; and find out his meaning if I can
And, indeed, who would not engage in any labour for the sake of finding so rare a curiosity, as a “mind open to conviction," in an Answerer by profession? Well then, be it so. Since they profess to lye so open, let them be received with good humour at least, and suffered only to expose themselves;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can, “ But vindicate the WAYS OF God to Man. However, this is a mere act of good-will; and what the Doctor has not the least claim to; as may be seen by the preliminary conversation between him and his old friend Mír. P. part of which I shall hcre beg leave to transcribe for the reader's entertainment:
“ You know very well (says Dr. Sykes to the Rev. “Gent. to whom he addresses his Examination) our
old friend Mr. P*** ; he calls Mr. Warburton's book. “' a learned Romance; and he says, WITH SOME
HUMOUR, that the digressions in it about the Mysteries, “ the Hieroglyphics*, the Book of Job, are, or may be
“ deemed, Foreigners seem to have a different opinion of The Divine Legation, from these two learned friends. The Journal des Sçuvans, Mars 1744, in an Abstracı of a French translation of part of The
“ deemed, so many ingenious Novels, which serve to “ relieve or divert the reader. But then he goes so far
as to doubt whether Mr. Warburton writes for utility
or for truth. For he has told us so much (says he) “ about the practices of those old Philosophers, and “ how much they were wont to lie for the public good " and he declares himself to have come from the schools “ of those Heathen Philosophers, THAT I CANNOT BUT
THINK HE MAY BE REASONABLY SUSPECTED-to “ have received an infection from them, and to have « learnt to lie for the public good, as his masters did “ before him. It is true (says our friend) that Mr. • Warburton does not think those men to be altogether
free from blame ; and it may be said in his favour, " that what he blames a little in them, he would not do “ himself: but yet his censure of them is so very soft, “ and he is so tender of their moral character, while he “ is so ready to flame out against, and to shew no mercy
Divine Legation, speaks thus of the discourse on the Hieroglyphics : " Il regne une si belle analogie dans le systeme de M. Warburton, " & toutes ses parties tiennent les unes aux autres par un lien si “ naturel, qu'on est porté à croire que l'origine & les progres de “ l’Ecriture & du Language ont été tels qu'il les decrits. Le “ Public doit avoir bien de l'obligation au Traducteur de lui avoir « fait connoitre un Ouvrage si curieux. Mais il auroit été à " souhaiter, pour rendre la lecture de sa traduction plus agreable,
qu'il ne se fut pas si fort attacbé à rendre mot a mot le texte “ Anglois."
The judgment of the Jesuits of Trevour, in their Journal of July 1744, differs not much from that of Paris. 6 M. Warburton n'a
pu, sans une erudition profonde, une lecture murement digerée « & des reflexions infinies traiter avec tant de precision, de jus
tesse, & de netteté, un sujet de lui même si difficile à mettre en
cuvre - Les plus savans hommes se sont laissé seduire sur “ l'origine des Hieroglyphes, & la plupart ont regardé un effet du
peu d'experience des Egyptiens, comme un rafinement de la plus inysterieuse sagesse. C'est cette erreur que M. Warburton
s'applique particulierement à detruire dans la premiere partie. “ Il le fait de la maniere la plus naturellemce n'est point un
Systene fondé sur DES IMAGINATIONS VAGUES. Ses raison“ nemens, ses preuves, sont appuiées sur des Faits, sur la NATURE “ des choses, & sur les principes les plus lumineux du SENS “ COMMUN." But as to this last testimony, I shall not chuse to insist upon it; lest it should be now said, that these famous modern practisers of the Double Doctrine, and the Apologist for the ancient inventors of it, had too close an understanding with one another.
to others, who do not think as he does, that one cannot “ help imagining, that in his opinion, the good end they “ had in view, did sanctify the means they used, and that “ it was no great fault in them to have external and in“ ternal doctrines* ;" &c. &e. Now a man so apt to fiame out would have been as apt to call this a piece of dull scurrilous buffoonry, in another writer; but in so candid a disputant as Dr. Sykes, who writes, we see by his own words, ““ in the love of truth, and in the spirit of one who seeks it,” I can consider it only as the effect of a pious zeal for the interests of Revelation, which is apt to warm itself in a conversation between two such friends; and a charitable fear that the author of the Divine Legation was indeed artfully undermining the foundation, while he pretended to new-fortify the structure of Religion: and they, good men, as faithful sentinels, thought it their duty to give the alarm. But here, their * candid simplicity of manuers, which makes them utter strangers to all the tricks of free-thinking, has put them upon a false cry. It would be charity therefore to set them right; and, as they have minds so open to conviction, indeed but justice. And, for this, all the return I ask, is only to share with them in the pleasure, which a clear conviction, that their suspicions were groundless, must needs give them.
In order, therefore, to this, it would seem sufficient to observe, that if indeed the Divine Legation were written to undermine Revelation, and (as is said) by an author initiated in “ the cabinet councils of old lawgivers,” and just come “ from school, from Heathen Philosophers," he must have learnt very little of his masters : for it is certainly the most bungling, ill-contrived attempt that was ever made against Revelation. But if this be not enough, let us go further, and consider how an artful Freethinker would probably have executed such a design as is here laid to my charge. And the same intimacy in the cabinet councils of old lawgivers, and in the schools of Pagan philosophers, which makes it so unlikely that I could have
* An Examination of Mr. Warburton's Account of the Conduct of the Ancient Legislators, of the Double Doctrine of the old Philosophers, of the Theocracy of the Jews, and of Sir Isauc Newton's Chronology, 1744.