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gave of his obedience, God is pleased thus to express himself; “ By
By myself “ have I sworn, saith the Lord, for be
cause thou hast done this thing, and hast 66 not withheld thy son, thine only son : “ that in blessing I will bless thee, and in
multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the < stars of heaven, and as the sand which is
on the sea-shore; and in thy seed shall all “ the nations of the earth be blessed ; be“ cause thou hast obeyed my voice.”
The Jews were the immediate descendants from Abraham; and the great partiality God did shew them, and was ever inclined to shew them, had they given him leave, is probably to be ascribed to the beforementioned obedience of Abraham. The history of this partiality is minutely recorded in the Old Testament, wherein we read with what a high hand they were emancipated by God from their Egyptian bondage; of the extraordinary manner in which they were fed and protected in the wilderness ; in short, we are there informed of the series of miracles, and constant interposition of God, exerted in their favour, till they were finally settled in the land of Canaan. Likewise we read of the great promises made to these
people by Moses; of God's peculiar favour if they would serve and obey him; which indeed is expressed in a very particular manner by God himself, in these emphatic and affectionate words ; “O that there were such
an heart in them, that they would fear me, " and keep all my commandments always, “ that it might be well with them, and with " their children for ever* !" A confirmation of the same gracious declaration is made at the dedication of the temple by Solomon, and frequently by the Prophets. We likewise read of the certain punishment they were to incur, if they were guilty of idolatry, and departed from the worship of God; and all this we find verified in action. When they had respect to God and his worship, which they shewed during the government of Joshua and the reign of Solomon, these people lived happily and securely under their own vine and fig-tree; but as they departed, and in the degree in which they departed, from the true worship of God, they suffered. Under the government of their judges their conduct was extremely criminal and idolatrous; and accordingly they were
* Deut. v. 29.
oppressed and enslaved by the Moabites, Midianites, Philistines, &c. but when they humbled themselves before God, he constantly relieved them from these oppressions. Afterwards, when their conduct was more criminal and more idolatrous under their kings, they are more oppressed than before; their temple is destroyed, and they are sent into captivity: on their humiliation and contrition in their captivity, they are released from it, and their temple is rebuilt. After this, having first corrupted the word of God, and made it of none effect by their traditions, they then fill up the measure of their iniquity by the crucifixion of the Messiah, in consequence of which their temple is again destroyed. According to Josephus one million three hundred thousand Jews suffer exquisite misery at the siege of Jerusalem; their government is annihilated ; and from that time to this they have been scattered over the face of the earth, and always lived a separate and distinct people, despised in every country where they have since resided. Moses predicted this 1500 years before it happened, and the evident accomplishment of his prophecy we see with our own eyes.
The same conduct of the Almighty is recorded, and may be observed towards individuals, in the instances of Saul, David, and Solomon, whose crimes are punished in such a manner, as proves that God will not clear the guilty; and I think there can be no reason to doubt that God does and has observed the same conduct towards all man. kind. He holds the same language to every man, to every set of men, and to every nation, that he did to Cain; “ If thou doèst well, " shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou “ doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Every man's conscience will enable him to interpret the truth and force of this just dealing of the Almighty: he is often forced to acknowledge the justice of the punishment he feels, and sees his crime in that punishment; for, as Seneca observes in one of his Epistles,“ Sącer inest in nobis spiritus, bos 4 norum malorumque custos, et observator; " et quemadmodum nos illum tractamus, ita “ et ille nos *.” Though, from the imperfec
* The Stoics thought every single person had a tutelary genius assigned him by God, as a guardian of his soul, and superin, tendant of his conduct; and that all virtue and happiness consisted in acting in concert with this genius, with reference to the will of the supreme Director of the universe. Diog. Laert. lib. vii.
tion of history and the want of annals, we cannot trace either the exact degree of the iniquity of mankind, or the exact degree of its punishment; it is equally agreeable to reason as to Scripture to imagine that God has ever dealt thus with the human race, and that the overthrow of empires has arisen, not because empire should travel westward or eastward, northward or southward'; it being extremely derogatory to our ideas of God's justice to suppose this; but because such a degree of excessive viciousness and wickedness is engendered in a state, by a long series of prosperity, as fills up
that measure of iniquity and guilt which God in mercy to the human race will never suffer to bé exceeded on earth. And the reason why the goodness of God induces him to keep all human events in his own hands, or at least a check and control over them, is probably not from a motive of overruling the free agency of man, or because he has absolutely determined the fate of all men, but that he may govern the world wisely and justly, (which, if wholly left to man, it certainly would not be,) and that he may punish and reward men according to their deserts, as far as the reasons of his providence and good