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which is plainly the doctrine of the famous Author of the Rights h, and, I suppose, upon the foot of his law of nature. Such loose casuists as these can never seriously condemn lewd stratagems. But Scripture does it, and under pain of hell-fire, as every man knows that knows Scripture; and therefore it can be nothing but grave banter in the Objector to charge Scripture as too loose upon this head. But let us hear how he enforces his plea, to make it look like reasoning. Speaking of Judah,
“For though before he knew himself to be the man, he was resolved to burn her;" yet after, he cried, SHE HAS BEEN MORE RIGHTEOUS THAN I. And “ for this righteousness she was blessed with two twins, “ from whom the noble house of Judah, with all its “ kings, and the Messiah himself was descendedi.” Passing over the buffoonery and profane turn of this paragraph, let us only examine the author's acuteness or honesty in saying, “ for this righteousness she was blessed “ with twins.”
Does Scripture say any thing of Tamar's righteousness in playing the harlot; or of her being blessed for it? Not a syllable. Perhaps the Author of the Rights could have written her panegyric, for her procuring the existence of two immortal souls at any rate. He might have deemed it great righteousness in her; as he might think it a crime next to self-murder, in such a case, to abstain. But Scripture knows no such doctrine, nor would ever have reckoned Tamar among the righteous, upon any such lewd account. Tamar indeed had kept her faith with Judah for a considerable time, living long a widow in expectation of being married (as she ought to have been) to his son Shelah. In that respect, Tamar had been more righteous and faithful towards Judah, than Judah had been to her. But it is not necessary to say, that she was strictly righteous at all, but that she was less to blame than Judah in a certain respect. For when Judah said, SHE HATH BEEN MORE RIGHTEOUS THAN I, he intended not to commend himself as righteous at all, but to signify in other words, that he had been more to blame in that matter than she, as having defrauded her of Shelah, who of right belonged to her, and ought to have married her. A frank and ingenuous confession from Judah, wherein he showed himself so far an impartial judge, and a considerate man. Hereupon he acquitted her, revoking the sentence he had pronounced against her. And now, what is there in the whole story of that affair, that can give the least countenance or colour to the Objector's calumnies k?
See the Author of the Rights, &c. p. 264. His words at length are, “ The desire of propagating the species being by Divine wisdom the most “strongly implanted in man, next to that of his own preservation, abstain‘ing from it must be such a crime as is exceeded only by refusing to preserve one's own being; and on some considerations greater; since this
prevents the existence of an immortal soul, that only dissolves the union -“ between it and the body: and both equally would, with a few years differ“ence only, put an end to the race of mankind; the only reasons of the mo“ ral turpitude of unnatural lusts."
Qu. Whether he means that celibacy is the next greatest crime to selfmurder, or only continence in celibacy ?
i Christianity as Old, &c. p. 279.
I shall bere take leave of him for this time, having run through all the texts of Genesis. The rest, that are to come, are much thinner spread; so that two parts more may take in all the texts of the Old Testament; unless the Objector's second part should appear in the meanwhile, and furnish us with new cavils upon other texts. It will be easy enough for him to do it, requiring neither wit, por judgment, nor learning, nor any thing but dull malice, and want of better employ. What he means by thus endeavouring to propagate irreligion, he best knows. One would think, if infidelity were a thing so valuable and pleasurable, he might most prudently confine it among a few select friends : for it is demonstration, that the farther it spreads, the less it is worth to them, if it be really worth any thing. If licentiousness once goes round, all the satisfaction it aims at is entirely lost, and expires in
Compare St. Austin contr. Paust. lib. xxii. p. 396, &c.
confusion : for where all have much more liberty than they ought to have, it is certain none can have any. It is as much the interest of a set of infidels, that the rest of the world should be believers, as it is the interest of any select number of knaves, that all the world besides should be honest. . Why then this overabundant zeal to publish infidel systems, and to diffuse licentiousness all over the kingdom? The case I take to be this: when men are stung with guilt, and are conscious of their own shame, they are uneasy under it, and much afflicted by it: it lies as a load upon their thoughts, and they cannot forbear talking of it, and trying all possible ways to bear up against it. It is a kind of relief to them to have something to say in all companies to confront religion, (the thing that galls them,) and something to write also, if they chance to have any smattering in letters. It is not enough for them to enjoy their beloved vices by themselves; they want some approbation, countenance, and encouragement from others, to render their vices more delectable, and to support themselves against their guilty doubts, fears, and misgivings. They are not fully persuaded in their own minds, of what they would persuade others to: for if they were, they might be content with it, and silently repose and rest themselves upon it. But their inward uneasiness prompts them to be saying something, however silly and trifling; and so at the same time that they are defending infidelity, they sufficiently discover that they are not satisfied with it, nor can ever enjoy it with any true peace. In a word, they are “ like the 6 troubled sea, when it cannot rest,” through the consciousness they have of their detestable principles and practices : and then what wonder is it, if they perpetually “ cast up mire and dirt ?"