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Judges, we read, it must be confessed, of massacres and desolations unlike what are prac

tised now a days between nations at war, of cities and districts laid waste, of the inhabitants being totally destroyed, and this, as it is alledged in the history, by the authority and command of Almighty God. Some have been induced to think such accounts incredible, inasmuch as such conduct could never, they say, be authorised by the good and merciful Governor of

the universe.

I intend in the following discourse to consider this matter, so far as to shew, that these transactions were calculated for a beneficial purpose, and for the general advantage of mankind; and, being so calculated, were not inconsistent either with the justice of God, or with the usual proceedings of divine provi

dence.

Now the first and chief thing to be observed is, that the nations of Canaan were destroyed for their wickedness. In proof of 3 K 2 - this

this point, I produce the 18th chapter of Leviticus, the 24th and the following verses. Moses, in this chapter, after laying down prohibitions against brutal and abominable vices, proceeds in the 24th verse thus—“Defile not yourselves in any of these things, for in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out before you, and the land is defiled; therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself voniteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: for all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled, that the land vomit not you out also, when ye defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from amongst their people. Therefore shall ye keep my ordinances that ye commit not any of these abominable customs, which

Were

were committed before you; and that you defile not yourselves therein.” Now the facts, disclosed in this passage, are for our present purpose extremely material and extremely satisfactory. First, the passage testifies the principal point, namely, that the Canaanites were the wicked people we represent them to be; and that this point does not rest upon supposition, but upon proof: in particular, the following words contain an express assertion of the guilt of that people. “In all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out before you ; for all these abominations have the men of the land done.” Secondly, the form and turn of expression seems to shew, that these detestable practices were general amongst them, and habitual: they are said to be abominable customs which were committed. Now the word custom is not applicable to a few single, or extraordinary instances, but to usage and to national character, which argues, that not only the practice, but the sense and notion, of morality was corrupted amongst them, or lost;

and it is observable, that these practices, so far from being checked by their religion, formed a part of it. They are described not only under the name of abominations, but of abominations which they have done unto their gods. What a state of national morals must that have been Thirdly, The passage before us positively and directly asserts, that it was for these sins that the nations of Canaan were destroyed. This, in my judgment, is the important part of the inquiry. And what do the words under consideration declare: “In all these, namely, the odious and brutal vices, which had been spoken of, the nations are defiled, which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it.” This is the reason and cause of the calamities which I bring on it. The land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. The very land is sick of its inhabitants; of their odious and brutal practices; of their corruption and wickedness. This, and no other, was the reason for destroying them. This, and no other, is the reason here

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alledged. It was not, as hath been imagined, - to to make way for the Israelites: nor was it simply for their idolatry. It appears to me extremely probable, that idolatry in those times led, in all countries, to the vices here described : and also that the detestation, threats, and severities, expressed against idolatry in the Old Testament, were not against idolatry simply, or considered as an erroneous religion, but against the abominable crimes, which usually accompanied it, I think it quite certain, that the case was so in the nations of Canaan.— Fourthly, It appears from the passage before us, and what is surely of great consequence to the question, that God's abhorrence and God's treatment of these crimes were impartial, without distinction, and without respect of nations or persons. The words, which point out the divine impartiality, are those, in which Moses warns the Israelites against falling into any of the like wicked courses; “that the land,” says he, “east not you out also, when you defile it, as it cast out the natiows that were before you; for whoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls, that commit

them,

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