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situated, be at once wrested from the grasp of tyranny? What could possibly induce the people themselves to consent, with one voice, to follow a leader who must have been unknown to a very large majority of them; and whose absence of forty years must have rendered him a stranger to them all? The dangers, difficul. ties, and wants to which they were exposed on their journey, and during their residence in the wilderness, required a miraculous interposition. Their organization as a nation that was to be distinct and independent; the wisdom that pervaded their political institutions; the purity of all their religious ordinances, without a single model for imitation, manifest the importance and necessity of a divine superintendence.
A people themselves grossly ignorant, surrounded by nations ignorant, depraved, and superstitious in the extreme, must have required a power superior to their own, to preserve them from the influence of the examples they were so prone to imitate. In what could this
power consist, but in juster conceptions of a Deity, of duties, and of obligations, enforced by promises and threats adapted to their situation? Whence could these be derived but from the grand source of all knowledge and instruction? Moses, it is true, was educated in all the wis
dom of the Egyptians, but this wisdom would not have made him a Monotheist. It would not inform him that the only living God, the creator and sole governor of the universe, possessed every perfection natural and relative; that he indispensably required the strict observance of every moral virtue ; and that he would in. variably punish and reward, according to the moral deserts of liis people. The Egyptian . superstitions would not have inspired those sublimities of devotion which christians themselves have never equalled; with those : rules of religious discipline, and maxims of political justice, which christians admire more than they imitate.
Upon the death of this leader, it was necessary, that the same principles should be per-petually inculcated by precept and example, and be rendered efficient by the influence of encouragements or of terror. If this be admitted, a succession of holy men, and of prophets, in the manner which has-been amply stated, must have been essential to the grand plan of their preservation. Such perpetual requisites could not be expected from natural sources, during these ages of deep ignorance and depravity, but it is easy to advert to a source · whence they could be copiously supplied.
The various miracles wrought during the Babylonish captivity, strange as they may appear to have been, vindicate their authenticity by the circumstances which called them forth; and by the beneficial purposes to which they were subservient. It was through their operation that the divine plan received its final accomplishment.
Notwithstanding the miracles, recorded in the old Testament appear, in their collected state, to have been numerous, yet when we reflect that not less than fifteen centuries elapsed, from the commencement to the final accomplishment of the divine plan, respecting the Jewish nation, we have reason to be surprised at the comparative paucity of their number. After those occasional appearances to the patriarchs, natural causes were permitted to operate for a series of years, without any ostensible intervention of the Almighty. In the cruel treatment received - by Joseph from his brethren; his being sold for a slave; being stationed in the house of Poti. phar; his exciting the impure desires of a lascivious woman by his personal attractions; and - his subsequent imprisonment 'from a spirit of -revenge, we perceive the subserviency of human passions to the purposes of God. When Joseph
was raised by the immediate interposition i providence from a dungeon, and placed next i the throne of his sovereign, he was recompense for his distinguished virtue, and rendered a pul lic blessing by the wisdom of his administri tion; and a new train of events was again mad to prepare the way for the promotion of thi great plan, apparently according to the natur course of things. The famine in Egypt, an in the neighbouring countries, became the occi sional cause of an interview between Josep and his brethren, which issued in the removal. Jacob and his family from their native land, au was thus introductive of a new and importar epoch. The contenipt in which the occupatio of an herdsman was held by the Egyptian and the Hebrews being, for several generation in a state of abject slavery, preserved the rac from becoming deeply contaminated by th Egyptian superstitions, without any obviou necessity for a miraculous interference; nord we learn that it was exerted. Although a rapi series of miracles was manifestly necessary, t liberate these people from a state of bondage and many difficulties were to be surmounted by supernatural means, as laws were to be institu ted and habits : formed, before their introduc tion into the land promised to their fathers, je
in the midst of these divine interpositions, á singular æconomy of miracles, if we may use the plirasé, is observable. Thus the miraculous supply of manna was continual, because it was continually necessary, being a substitute for grain and pulse ; when the people became stationary, and had leisure to slay their cattle, the provision of Quails was suspended; but it returned when they were upon the journey. The communications to Moses the leader and legislator, were perpetual and abundant, because every institution was to be introduced and established, by his instrumentality; but when established, it was expected to operate according to its latent powers. Divine communications
accordingly became less necessary, and were more sparingly granted to the succeeding pro
phets; yet they were always proportionate to the exigencies of the case. The history of all the kings of Israel manifests, that from the introduction of a monarchical form of government, to the Babylonish captivity, that
, is, during the space of about four hundred years, natural causes were permitted to operate in a powerful manner, with varied effects. But when the grand plan was in danger, and miraculous intervention became necessary; and when human propensities and follies plunged this people into idolatrous practices, to a degree