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III. WE SHALL Not ICE THE OBJECTIONs which SCEPTICISM HAS RAISED AGAINST THIS PART OF THE SACRED WRITINGS.
1. THEY obj ECT TO THE conDuct of THE IsrAELITEs As IMMORAL. They have compared the settlement of the Jews in Canaan, to the cruelty of the Spaniards at Mexico, and have asserted, that the one had as little right as the other, to dispossess the original inhabitants of these respective places, of their territories. Before the writings of Moses are condemned altogether on these plausible pretences, we shall interpose a series of propositions drawn up by a most able hand *, which we think are unanswerable, but upon which you will form your own conclusions. They are as follows: “That “ the Almighty has a sovereign right over the “lives and fortunes of his creatures: That the “ iniquity of nations, may become such as to “justify him in destroying those nations: That “ he is free to choose the instruments by which “ he will effect such destruction: That there is “ not more injustice, or cruelty, in effecting it “ by the sword, than by famine, pestilence, “ whirlwind, deluge and earthquake: That the “circumstance of a divine commission entirely “alters the state of the case, and distinguishes “ the Israelites from the Spaniards, or any other “plunderers, as much as a warrant from the magistrate distinguishes the executioner from “ the murderer: that men may be assured of “God’s giving such a commission: And there “is incontestible evidence upon record, and “ from facts, that the Israelites were thus “ assured.” We think it will require no small degree of skill, to overturn propositions so reasonable, and so admirably dependent upon each other. 2. THEY OBJECT To IT As CRUEL: on account of the slaughter of children. This is an argument produced on every occasion in which the Bible records human desolation. We have again to remind them, that, on this principle, they ought to quarrel with famine, and earthquakes, and all the scourges of nature; and not only so, but with the natural stroke of death, by which thousands of children are destroyed every day. In a word, if the security and tranquillity of infants be the reasonable result of their freedom from actual offence, we must arrive at this point, that they ought in justice to be delivered from the infliction of all
* Bishop Horne,
evil; and thus must we either deny the experience of every day, which exhibits children suffering pains and sorrows incessantly, or habitually dispute the justice, and the goodness, of God in the government of the world. 3. They obj Ect to 1T As IMPROPER. They assert, that God should not use instruments, who might be hardened by the execution of their commission. In every point of view the case was different with the Jews. It was not effected, said the text justly, by their “ own “sword,” and by their own bow :” but by the “ hornet,” and by a series of miracles, which plainly demonstrated the interposition of Providence. . Moreover, the execution of their commission, was not calculated to harden their hearts against any thing but sin; and was designed as an awful lesson of caution to themselves: since they were expressly assured, that the same vices would draw upon them the same displeasure, expose them inevitably to the same calamities, and drown them in the same perdition. The history which has passed under review, affords a striking exemplification of divine fidelity and purity, and of the harmony and success of all the designs of God. Whatever is difficult and obscure, this is plain and luminous : whatever in Providence is calculated to impress C C
awe and terror, this excites only the emotions of admiration and delight. It is pleasant to observe, amid the caprices, and the fluctuations of human purposes, the undivided, and unshaken plans of Jehovah, hastening with undeviating perseverance to their completion. Man commences operations to-day, which he abandons to-morrow. Either the difficulties that present themselves are insurmountable, or he is weary of the length of way which is between him and the attainment of his wishes, or some new object is started, or he is interrupted by death: from some cause or other, it is seldom that his purpose is accomplished. He began to build, but either he had not counted the cost, or not well chosen the ground, or through lack of materials, or workmen, the tools fell from his hand, and the unfinished edifice stands a lasting monument of the folly, the poverty, or the caprice, of the architect. It is not so with the Deity. No difficulty can impede his designs: he commands, and the mountain becomes a plain. No length of time can frustrate his wishes: for time is swallowed up before him. That which his will purposes, is, in his estimation, accomplished: for, to him, the distance between the plan and it's execution, is annihilated. A thousand “ years with the Lord are as one day,”—“a “ thousand ages, as yesterday when it is past.” No new object can distract his attention, and * lead him aside from his original purpose: for “ he is of one mind, and who can turn him P” and he “seeth the end from the beginning.” Death cannot interrupt his operations: for with him is “neither beginning of days, nor end of “ life.” He counts the cost, and lays the foundation of the edifice, deep and lasting; he furnishes materials, and raiseth up workmen to prosecute his designs; and although these “cannot continue by reason of death,” as they drop the tools, he puts them into the hands of others! One strikes a blow or two with the hammer, and drives a nail : another spreads the mortar, places “one stone upon another,” leaves it to . cement, and falls asleep : a third pursues the process; and amid the removal of the labourers, the building of God continues to rise, - till “the topstone is brought forth with shout“ing.” It is pleasant to see the Deity superintending the deliberations of those who acknowledge him not, and from their chaos causing a beautiful creation to spring to light. In the midst of senates, of privy councils, and of camps, the invisible God presides. The conqueror knows him not, and the assembly think not of him, who is in the midst of them. Short-sighted and be-, C. c 2