« PreviousContinue »
the person of the father, although the father was only named in the grant.” This yet will not help out succession : for if, as our author says, the benefit of the grant be intended to the issue of the grantee, this will not direct the succession; since, if God give any thing to a man and his issue in general, the claim cannot be to any one of that issue in particular ; every one that is of his race will have an equal right. If it be said, our author meant heir, I believe our author was as willing as any body to have used that word, if it, would have served his turn : but Solomon, who suca ceeded David in the throne, being no more his heir than Jeroboam, who succeeded him in the government of the ten tribes, was his issue, our author had reason to avoid saying, that God intended it to the heirs, when that would not hold in a succession, which our author could not except against; and so he has left his succession as undetermined, as if he had said nothing about it: for if the regal power be given by God to a man and his issue, as the land of Canaan was to Abraham and his seed, must they not all have a title to it, all share in it? And one may as well say, that by God's grant to Abraham and his seed, the land of Canaan was to belong only to one of his seed, exclusive of all others, as by God's grant of dominion to a man and his issue, this dominion was to belong in peculiar to one of his issue exclusive of all others.
$ 163. But how will our author prove that whensoever God made choice of any special person to be a king, he intended that “ the (I suppose he means his) issue also should have benefit thereof?” has he so soon forgot Moses and Joshua, whom in this very section, he says,
“ God out of a special care chose to govern as princes," and the judges that God raised up ? Had not these princes, having the same authority of the supreme fatherhood, the same power that the kings had; and being specially chosen by God himself, should not their issue have the benefit of that choice, as well as David's or Solomon's ? If these had the paternal authority put into their hands immediately by God, why had not their issue the benefit of this grant in a succession to this power? Or if they had it as Adam's heirs, why did not their heirs enjoy it after them by right descending to them ? for they could not be heirs to one another. Was the power the same, and from the same original, in Moses, Joshua, and the Judges, as it was in David and the kings; and was it inheritable in one and not in the other? If it was not paternal authority, then God's own people were governed by those that had not paternal authority, and those governors did well enough without it: if it were paternal authority, and God chose the persons that were to exercise it, our author's rule fails, that “whensoever God makes choice of any person to be supreme ruler,” (for I suppose
I the name king has no spell in it, it is not the title, but the power makes the difference), “ he intends that the issue also should have the benefit of it," since from their coming out of Egypt to David's time, 400 years, the issue was never “so sufficiently comprehended in the person of the father," as that any son, after the death of his father, succeeded to the government amongst all those judges that judged Israel. If to avoid this, it be said, God always chose the person of the successor, and so, transferring the fatherly authority to him, excluded his issue from succeeding to it, that is manifestly not so in the story of Jephthah, where he articled with the people, and they made him judge over them, as is plain, Judg. xi.
$ 164. It is in vain then to say, that “ whensoever God chooses any special person to have the exercise of paternal authority,” (for if that be not to be king, I desire to know the difference between a king and one having the exercise of paternal authority), “he intends the issue also should have the benefit of it,” since we find the authority the judges had ended with them, and descended not to their issue; and if the judges had not paternal authority, I fear it will trouble our author, or any of the friends to his principles, to tell who had then the paternal authority, that is, the government and supreme power amongst the Israelites: and I suspect they must confess that the chosen people of God continued a people several hundreds of years, without any knowledge or thought of this paternal authority, or any appearance of monarchical government at all.
$ 165. To be satisfied of this, he need but read the story of the Levite, and the war thereupon with the Benjamites, in the three last chapters of Judges; and when he finds, that the Levite appeals to the people for justice, that it was the tribes and the congregation that debated, resolved, and directed all that was done on that occasion; he must conclude, either that God was not“ careful to preserve the fatherly authority” amongst his own chosen people; or else that the fatherly authority may be preserved where there is no monarchical government: if the latter, then it will follow, that though fatherly authority be ever so well proved, yet it will not infer a necessity of monarchical government; if the former, it will seem very strange and improbable, that God should ordain fatherly authority to be so sacred amongst the sons of men, that there could be no power or government without it, and yet that amongst his own people, even whilst he is providing a government for them, and therein prescribes rules to the several states and relations of men, this great and fundamental one, this most material and necessary of all the rest, should be concealed, and lie neglected for 400
$ 166. Before I leave this, I must ask how our author knows that “ whensoever God makes choice of any special person to be king, he intends that the issue should have the benefit thereof?” Does God by the law of nature or revelation say so ? By the same law also he must say, which of his issue must enjoy the crown in succession, and so point out the heir, or else leave his issue to divide or scramble for the government: both alike absurd, and such as will destroy the benefit of such grant to the issue. When any such declaration of God's intention is produced, it will be our duty to believe God intends it so; but till that be done, our author must show us some better warrant, before we shall be obliged to receive him as the authentic revealer of God's intentions.
$ 167.“The issue,"says our author,“is comprehended sufficiently in the person of the father, although the father only was named in the grant:" and yet God, when he gave the land of Canaan to Abraham, Gen. xiii. 15, thought fit to put his seed into the grant too: so the priesthood was given to Aaron and his seed; and the crown God gave not only to David, but his seed also: and however our author assures us that “ God intends that the issue should have the benefit of it, when he chooses any person to be king,” yet we see that the kingdom which he gave to Saul, without mentioning his seed after him, never came to any of his issue: and why, when God chose a person to be king, he should intend that his issue should have the benefit of it, more than when he chose one to be judge in Israel, I would fain know a reason; or why does a grant of fatherly authority to a king more comprehend the issue, than when a like grant is made to a judge? Is paternal authority by right to descend to the issue of one, and not of the other ? There will need some reason to be shown of this difference more than the name, when the thing given is the same fatherly authority, and the manner of giving it, God's choice of the person, the same too; for I suppose our author, when he says, “ God raised up judges," will by no means allow they were chosen by the people.
$168. But since our author has so confidently assured us of the care of God to preserve the fatherhood, and pretends to build all he says upon the authority of the Scripture, we may well expect that that people, whose law, constitution, and history are chiefly contained in the Scripture, should furnish him with the clearest instances of God's care of preserving the fatherly authority in that people who it is agreed he had a most peculiar care of. Let us see then what state this paternal authority or government was in amongst the Jews from their beginning to be a people. It was omitted by our author's confession, from their coming into Egypt, till their return out of that bondage, above 200 years: from thence till God gave the Israelites a king, about 400 years more, our author gives but a very slender account
of it; nor indeed all that time are there the least footsteps of paternal or regal government amongst them. But then, says our author, “God re-established the ancient and prime right of lineal succession to paternal government.
§ 169. What a “lineal succession to paternal government” was then established we have already seen. I only now consider how long this lasted, and that was to their captivity, about 500 years: from thence to their destruction by the Romans, above 650 years after, the “ancient and prime right of lineal succession to paternal government was again lost, and they continued a people in the promised land without it. So that of 1750 years that they were God's peculiar people, they had hereditary kingly government amongst them not one-third of the time; and of that time there is not the least footstep of one moment of “paternal government, nor the re-establishment of the ancient and prime right of lineal succession to it,” whether we suppose it to be derived, as from its fountain, from David, Saul, Abraham, or, which upon our author's principles is the only true, from Adam.