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were nearest of kin to them that were Nain, whose wrath was supposed to be greatly, and. suddenly raised upon the occafion (or as it is expressed Deuteronomy xix. 6. left the avenger of blood pursue. the player, wbiist bis heart is hot) until the case could be heard, and judged of, by the congregation, that is, by a court of justice, set up for that purpose; who were to determine, upon hearing the case, whether the ilayer was guilty of murder, or not. And if the person tried was found guilty of murder, then he was to be put to death, and the avenger of blood was appointed to be the executioner ; but if it appeared, that the manslayer had killed his neighbour unawares, then he was to be conducted, in safety, back to that city of refuge he had before fled to, and there to remain until the death of the high-priest, by which time, it might well be presumed, the avenger's resentment would be abated. From these accounts, together with other passages in the pentateuch, it is evident, that the Jews, in civil matters, were originally governed by a body of men,appointed for that purpose, who were stiled the congregation ; but after they became settled in Canaan, they seemed to be so surfeited with the
fatigues of war, that they became indolent,
into * Judges ii. 10. and iv. 4, 5. and X. 1, 2, 3. and xii. 7, 2 Kings xxiii. 22.
into a resolution of having a King, who might not only go in and out before them in their wars, and thereby protect them from foreign enemies ; but also, to be a foundation of civil government among them . selves, and thereby prevent them from talling a prey to each other. What I have here observed is plain matter of fact, from which it evidently appears, that the God of Israel, whether he be considered, as only a tutelar national God, or the one God over all, was not a king, or civil governor, to that people. This doctrine of a Theocracy among the Jews, as it is not founded in fact, but is only a meer invention; so it seems deSigned, and calculated, to excuse and justify the cruelty and barbarity exercised by the Jews upon Idolaters; which, as it is shocking to human nature, so the abettors of the aforesaid doctrine would fain father that cruelty upon the supreme Deity. Indeed,
The Reverend Mr. Foster, in his ser non of the unity of God, and the * Jewisi theo ocracy, has given up the latter, as haing no folid foundation ; but then, he has altempted to vindicate the rigour, exercised by the Jews upon those Idolaters that were P
of * See Mr. Foster's sermons, vol. III. sermon xv, pages 375, 376.
of their own nation, another Mr. Foster has offered, is as followeth.“ As,
therefore, the end for which the civil
constitution of the Jews was formed, viz. “ to prevent their being over-run with
Idolatry (which, as it prevailed among “ the neighbouring nations, corrupted their " internal sense of the difference of good ~ and evil, and banished humanity and de
cency, and many of the most considerable " and important of the social virtues, by
introducing shameful impieties, and hu
man sacrifices, quite detestable to nature) « as the end, I say, for which the civil
constitution of the Jews was formed, ap
pears, when thus explained, and ab“stracted from all considerations meerly re
ligious, to be most wife and gracious in
itself; and as the judicial laws, in that « scheme of government, were admirably
adapted to subserose and advance this wise “ and gracious end; it neceffarily follows, " that Idolatry, which would have fruf" trated the whole design of the constitu" tion, and have entirely dissolved and def
troyed it, muft, upon the same reasons " that are allowed to be just in all other
polity, have deserved capital punishment.
“ And this, I think, will effectually vin“ dicate it's being treated with such severity « in the Jewish state, but not excuse the « like rigour exercised against it in any other, “ where it is merely an error of speculation, " and the offender, by not disturbing the “ external peace of society, renders him“ self account able to God alone." Upon which I observe, that there have been men, who have come under the denomination of Idolaters, that have been guilty of those bad things before mentioned, may possibly be true ; but that this was the case of the idola. trous Canaanites, at the time referred to, or of the Israelites, afterwards, when they became Idolaters, or that idolatry does naturally produce those bad things, are points, which, perhaps, inay not be easily and clearly made out. There are many bad things, practised by christians, which, yet, surely, are not the natural produce of christianity, and therefore are not to be placed to it's account; and if the bad things referred to have been only practised by Idolaters, but are not the natural offspring of idolatry, then, surely, they ought not to be placed to it's account, And, indeed, Mr. Foster supposes, that Tometimes idolatry does not bring forth such