« 前へ次へ »
no hand in it, nor were they any way acceffory to what had been done to Ifrael by their forefathers, and, consequently, were not parties in their cause ; so they could not be guilty of their crimes : and, therefore, the above commission must have been both cruel, and unjust. Upon which I obferve, that how agreeable foever the above commiffron may be with the character of the local national God of Israel, or any other tutelar Deity, the faculties and powers of whose nature, and the rectitude of whose actions, may fall greatly short of the powers, perfections, and rectitude of the supreme Deity; yet such a commission will by no means comport with the just and proper character of the supreme God, who is absolutely compleat and perfekt, in all natural and moral endowments; and, therefore, will not take up an unreasonable and groundless resèntment against some of his creatures, nor shew a partial and groundless regard for others.
The use that I make of this, is to observe to my Readers, that as the fictitious, supposed, tutelar, and national Deities of the Pagans, were not considered, by them, to be the Kings, or civil rulers, of those Pagan nations, but only their divine guardians,
who protected, or were supposed to protect and assist them, by a secret divine influence and providential care ; so this was the case of the local, national God of Israel. And, agreeably to this, the great and extraordinary events that are spoken of, as taking place among the Yews, in their forty years travel through the wilderness, and afterward, whilst they were under the direction of Yoshua their leader, these are manifestations of the extraordinary power and presence, and the secret influence and provi, dential care, of their local national God, among them, and over them, until he had brought them to, and settled them in the promised land; but then, these are not to be considered as the administration of civil juftice, because they were not the execution of those laws, that related to their civil policy. And as to the prosperity and adverhty that afterwards attended the Jewish nation, in which the righteous and wicked were equally involved, as these attended their publick virtuousness and viciousness; so they cannot, with any more propriety, be confidered as acts of civil justice, than the profperity or adversity of any other nation or people, when springing from the like causes.
And as to those extraordinary events, that took place among the Jews, which were particular and personal, such as the fire coming down from heaven, and destroying two captains, and their fifties, for their delivering an ungrateful message to the Prophet Elijah, according to the command of the King their Master, as in 2 Kings i. 10, 12. and two she-bears tearing forty and two children, for mocking the Prophet Elisha, calling him, bald-bead, in consequence (as it may seem) of the Prophet's cursing them in the name of the Lord, as in 2 Kings ii. 24. These instances * of cruelty, as I think
* Supposing that Abaziah, king of Israel, had rendered himself the object of a juft resentment to the local national God of Israel, by his sending to enquire of the God of another nation, viz. Baalzebub, the local national God of Ekron, whether he should come down from that bed on which he had gone up, and which, indeed, was offering an affront to the national God of Israel, as it suppoles, that Ekron's God was fitter to be applied to, on that occasion, than he ; yet, furely, the soldiers and melsengers of king Ahaziah must have been altogether innocent, in that behalf; and therefore, it seems to have been contrary to the rules of right and wrong, of good and evil, to prosecute them with so severe a revenge, on their master's account, and for his fake. And, as to the chidren's calling the prophet, bald-head, which childita and improper behaviour, probably, was occasioned by the oddness of the prophet's dress, or by something of like kind, as it is not likely those children should have treated Elisha with contempt, on account of his being a pro
they may be called, capnot, with any more propriety, be considered as acts of civil juftice, than the sudden deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, (as in Asts v.) with respect to which events, the latter, I think, is not pretended to be such. Moreover those laws, that related to the civil policy of the Jews, had their respective sanctions annexed to them ; of which, I think, we have not an instance, upon record, of the God of Israel's interposing and putting those laws in execution. Thus Exodus xxi, the rule is, life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. Here we see, that the punishment inflicted was to be, both in kind and degree, the same as the injury
phet ; seeing he was but then entering upon that office, and seeing they were but little children, who could scarcely have been supposed to have taken up any antipathy against prophets; therefore, Elisha's wrath, which was thewn by his cursing those little children in the name of the Lord, and the God of Israel's gratifying the prophet's resentment, by sending two bears, out of a neighbouring wood, to destroy those children, seem, at least, to favour of harsbriefs and cruelty. However, though the severity shewn to the foldiers and children, here referred to, may comport with the just character of the local national God of Israel, who, by his conduct, seems to have been of the angry, wrathful kind; yet it does by no imeans agree with the proper mcral charaster of the ONE GOD OVER ALL.
done'; and the question arising from hence is, who was intended, and that did, in fact, inflict those punishments ? and the answer is obvious, namely, that the God of Israel did not interpose; by any secret power, or providential influence, and render burning for burning; wound for wound, &c. and thereby execute the office of a civil magiftrate among them; but it must have been done, or intended to be done, either by a body of men set apart for that purpose, to govern them in civil matters, or by such as should asume that power, and which seems to have been the case of those who were stiled Judges, as well as those who afterwards became their Kings; or else every one must have been intended, and were left to avenge their own wrongs, in their own persons, or by their nearest relations, and which may, perhaps, be thought to be the case of those who were stiled the avengers of blood. By the appointment of Moses, according to Numbers xxxv. Deuteronomy xix. and Joshua xx. fix cities were fet apart, for those to fly to, who should have taken away the life of others, that thereby they might be protected from the wrath of the avengers of blood; that is, froin the resentment of those who