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reverence for the works, than he has for the word of God.';. ; si · But, if some great and important ends were answered by the peculiar method in which the Lord punished the nations of Canaan, then the objection is not only removed, but the divine wisdom is illustrated, and a presumptive argument afforded that these books are a revelation from God.-Now who can deny that the world has been full of atrocious crimes in every age. Or who will say that it does not beeome the Ruler of the universe to take effectual methods for the restraint of man's wickedness? If then the Canaanites were addicted to abominable idolatries and detestable lusts ; if their altars reeked with human sacrifices, and their religious worship was connected with the most shameless impurities ; if this were notoriously the case ? then to inflict vengeance on them, in a way as extraordinary as their crimes had been atrocious, was suited to produce durable and extensive effects on the surrounding nations. God's powerful hand and awful justice, and the difference between him and the idols of the heathen, would be rendered far more conspicuous in punishing them by the
"We believe that the earth, at the express command of God, opened her mouth, and swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abi'ram, with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. This ' you esteem so repugnant to moral justice, that you spurn as
spurious the book in which the circumstance is related. When • Catania, Lima, and Lisbon, were severally destroyed by earth
quakes, men, with their wives, their sons, and their little ones, 'were swallowed up alive : why do you not spurn as spurious the • book of nature, in which this fact is certainly written, and from * the perusal of which you infer the moral justice of God.'— Bp. Watson.
sword of his worshippers, enabled, beyond all human probability, and in defiance of all their false gods, to execute the commission, than if he had desolated the land by earthquakes and inundations : for these are commonly ascribed to natural causes, and God is forgotten even in the midst of them. Thus the affecting solemnities of a public execution, are generally deemed more conducive to the ends of good government, than the concealed punishment of a criminal. But especially these transactions were calculated to warn the Israelites themselves against the abominations which they were commissioned to punish :1 and, if they did not fully answer that purpose, we must impute it to the strength of human depravity. The whole history throws immense light on the plan of divine government: it shews the malignity of sin, and proves that it will be punished far more severely than we naturally imagine : it teaches all, who reverence the Bible, to fear the wrath of God, to submit to his righteousness, and to seek his mercy: and the beneficial effects of these temporary miseries, on all succeeding ages and nations, exceed calculation; while the whole number that perished bears no more proportion to the vast multitudes who have profited by their doom, than the few criminals who suffer under the mildest government do to the nation that is thus preserved in peace and good order.
“The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." Surely then he had a right to bestow that proportion of it on his worshippers, which the Canaanites had
forfeited by their crimes. The Israelites did not come by stealth to take possession of it; but had long before avowed their purpose, and the grant of it which they had received from Jehovah. Those of the inhabitants who submitted were treated with clemency: and from these examples we may infer that others might have been spared, if they had not hardened their hearts in impenitent defiance of God." Had the infants alone been preserved; they must either have been retained in the most rigorous bondage, or have lived to perpetuate the bloody contest. The women were in general as criminal as the men: and, if there were exceptions, the righteous Judge would discriminate properly in another world; though national judgments, however executed, make not these exact distinctions. It by no means appears that Israel, in general, contracted ferocious habits by this exterminating war: few nations, if any, ever engaged less frequently, or in fewer offensive wars; and their agricultural habits, with other circumstances, operated against such wars of ambition and conquest. If any individuals, or the nation in some instances did gratify a ferocious spirit, they proportionably disregarded the law given them, which required love to neighbours, strangers, and enemies; and (the case of the devoted Canaanites excepted,) prescribed rules for war at least as equitable and mild as those of any heathen nation.” And it should be observed, that the just notions of modern times, and even those of infidels, respecting clemency to
wards enemies, originated not with the admired Greeks and Romans, but with Christians, who learned them from the scriptures: so that, when Christian princes were known in the world, more humane sentiments on these subjects soon began to be adopted. The most remote shadow of a proof cannot be produced, that Moses carried on war under pretence of religion. He made no proselytes by the sword: and neither he, nor any other person mentioned with approbation in scripture, made war on any nation, beyond the limits of the promised land, because they were idolaters. If any man pretend to draw the conduct of Moses in the case of Midian, or of Joshua in that of the Canaanites, into precedent, let him work such miracles and produce such credentials as they did: till that be done, Mr. P. has my free consent to direct against him that torrent of indignant reproach, which he has poured forth against some of the most excellent characters that ever appeared in the world.
Mr. P. most virulently reprobates the law, which condemned the stubborn and rebellious son to be stoned." Yet that law contained much wisdom and mercy under its apparent severity. The parents were the only prosecutors; and they must both concur. The prosecution was not admitted merely for “stubbornness,” but for obstinate, persevering rebellion against parental authority, contempt of correction, gluttony and drunkenness; crimes destructive to families and communities. These offences must be so fully proved as to induce the elders to condemn, and to order the execution of the criminal. Natural affection would almost always prevent the prosecution : the required proof would secure all but the most atrociously criminal from the hasty rage, or the deliberate malice of those few parents, who were capable of such desperate wickedness as combining to murder their children: and in fact natural affection would effectually prevent the frequent execution of the penalty denounced : and indeed we do not read a single instance in which the law was executed in the whole subsequent history. If, however, such an extraordinary event at any time occurred, it could not fail to excite general attention, and to produce immense effects on the minds both of parents and children: so that the solemn execution of one incorrigible criminal would be a salutary warning to tens of thousands. The very existence of such a law would increase the authority of parents, and give energy to their admonitions; as well as fortify the minds of young persons against the enticements of bad company, and other temptations. Thus it would powerfully tend to prevent wickedness, the great end proposed by every wise legislator.-It would likewise be a per
'Deut. xxi. 18–21.
petual monitor to parents, not improperly to in~ dulge their children; to establish their authority
by salutary correction in their tender years; to watch over them, and give them good instructions; to check the first buddings of vice, to set them a good example, and to pray for them without ceasing. These must have been the effects on all who duly attended to the law of Moses: and we may