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Secondly, Under the Mosiac dispensation, obedience to the will of God was enforced by the hopes of a future life, as well as by the promise of temporal happiness. From the time of the patriarch Jacob until the appearing of Moses, we have no account of any additional revelation which was made to mankind in general, or to any particular nation or family. But when the Israelites returned from captivity, and were about to take possession of the promised land, it pleased God to give them a law by his servant Moses, which was intended to keep them distinct from all the rest of the world. By this law, however, neither the religion of the patriarchs, nor the particular promises made to them, were superseded. On the contrary, if we look into the law itself, we will find that the covenant made to Abraham was expressly made of that sanction by which obedience was enforced under the Mosaic dispensation. “ Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel ; your little ones, your wives, and the stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood, unto the drawer of thy water ; that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day; that he may establish thee to-day for a people unto himself, and that he
may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."* Whatever, therefore, was contained in the patriarchal covenant, was promised in the law; and in whatever manner God had sworn to be a God to Abraham, and to his seed after him ; in the same manner, he engaged to be a God to the Israelites, as long as they continued obedient to his commands. And if we attend to the matter dispassionately, and interpret the promises of life and happiness that were made in the land, so as to make these promises intelligible, and consonant with themselves, and with the event ; and if we follow the authority of our Savi. our and his apostles in interpreting them ; we shall find, that those who lived under the Mosaic dispensation, had the hopes of a future state given them, to enforce their obedience to the will of God.
Thirdly, Christianity completes the patriarchal religion, and promises the happiness of another life, upon easier conditions than the law of Moses had
Deut. xxix. 5-10.
promised it. The Christian dispensation is the revelation of God's will to mankind; and in this the gracious design is completed, which was begun after man's fall, and carried on under the Mosaic law, Our first parents were early informed that God would be reconciled to them, and would restore them and their posterity to perfect happiness and immortal glory; and in this general promise all the descendants of Adam were equally concerned. And it is in this light we are to consider that Christianity is plainly the end and perfection of the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations. “ Thus, at length, the day-spring from on high has visited all mankind; it has given light to the Gentiles, who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, and, by giving knowledge of salvation for the remission of sins, it has guided the feet of the Jews into the ways of peace.
This is the point to which I designed to bring the reader. I have endeavoured to show him, that the events of nature, and the imperfections of reason, have made a revelation necessary, both to teach us how to make ourselves happy, and to oblige us to be virtuous ; that God has taught mankind, in every age of the world, to expect their final good in another life, as the reward of their obedience to his will in this ; and that the promises of all former revelations were so contrived as to make the gospel necessary, and were all of them intended by their author to lead us to Christ.”*
We have thus given a short detail of the system which Mr. Rutherford advocates in his “ Essay on Virtue.” Every reader will see that the principle on which his reasonings are grounded are precisely the same as those on which the doctrine of utility is founded. It is therefore quite unnecessary to make any farther remarks upon Mr. Rutherford's work, except merely to observe, that those who will peruse it, will find in it a vast number of excellent remarks upon some of the moral writers who had preceded him.
Mr. Rutherford was also the author of “ Institutes of Natural and Political Law.”—This is a work of considerable merit, and is the substance of a course of lectures on Grotius, read in St. John's College, Cambridge. This treatise has been referred to by Dr. Paley, and other subsequent moral and political writers.
* Essay on Virtue, p. 384.
THE SYSTEM OF UTILITY.
David Hume was born at Edinburgh, on the 26th of April 1711. His ancestors had, for several generations, been proprietors of a small estate at Ninewells, about five miles east of Dunse, in the county of Berwick.
After the preparatory rudiments of a school education, our author was removed to the College of Edinburgh. His friends intended him to follow the profession of the law; but he felt a great and lasting aversion to all kinds of business, and devoted himself industriously to the pursuits of philosophy and general learning. “ While,” says he, “my friends fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the authors whom I was secretly devouring.”