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bad fruit, that is, it does not naturally produce those things so greatly injurious to fociety, as he seems to have charged it with, but admits that, with regard to society, it may be a harmless thing; and therefore, he excuses innocent Idolaters, that is, those whose idolatry is not hurtful to society, from that severity, which he thinks was just, when exercised upon the idolatrous Ifraelites. So that, when Mr. Foster is to justify the severity used by the Jews against Idolaters among them, then he considers it as the natural parent of every thing that is mischievous to society; and this he seems to make the reason why the Jews were to be kept from it, the doing of which, according to Mr. Foster, was the only end and the whole design of their civil constitution ; but when other Idolaters are to be excused from such severity, then Mr. Foster seems not to perceive any such natural connection or relation betwixt Idolatry and those bad things, so as that one will naturally produce the other, but Idolatry may be, with respect to fociety, very innocent and harmless. But, surely, if Idolatry (that is, paying respect to a fictitious Deity, or to the true God, by or through an image, set up to represent either of these)
may be practifed in some countries, without any
such mischievous consequences to society, as Mr. Foster seems to suppose it may; then,
, why must it be presumed, that it had, or would produce those bad things in Canaan, except it can be made appear, that such a malignant infe&tious quality in idolatry was peculiar to that country only?
AGAIN; that the laws against Idolatry, in the Jewish constitution, were designed and intended to keep that people (not as Mr. Foster has put it, from being over-run with, but) quite clear of all idolatrous practices, I think, does not admit of a dispute ; but that the whole civil constitution of the fews was folely intended to answer that purpose, seems, to me, to be paft all belief. For, supposing that end had been obtained, that alone would not have been a security to them ; because, notwithstanding that, they might have been
wicked and unhappy people, and which was too much their case, after the Babilonish captivity, tho' they kept themselves clear of idolatry. The civil constitution of the Jews was intended to answer several lefser designs, besides the great and ultimate end to which that, and all other civil constitutions are, or ought to be, directed. Thus
it was intended to keep the Jews from idolatry, as aforesaid : And thus it was designed to keep them diftinet, and separate from all other people of the world ; and accordingly, they were forbid to mix themselves, by marriages, with the people of any other nation; which political Jewish conftitution is so far stifly adhered to, by the people called Quakers, as that they do not admit of any marriages among them, but where both parties are of the same religious or political society, viz. Quakers. Now, tho' the Jewish constitution was intended to answer both these ends ; yet, to aver that it was solely intended to answer either, or both of these purposes or to averthat to actagainst either or both of those designs, by paying respect to a fictitious Deity,as aforesaid, or by marrying a foreigner,fuppofing these practices becamegeneral, that this entirely dissolved, and destroyed the whole dehgn of that constitution, would be to aver without any ground or foundation for it. The great and ultimate end, which the civil constitution of the Jews was intended to obtain, must needs have been to guard and secure the common good of that people, so far as their civil interest was concerned, by engaging each individual to join in mutual asistance and protection, whereby
the indigent would be supported and the weak protected ; and, accordingly, many laws, or rules of affection and action, were given them, to answer this grand purpose ; and, probably, it was to this that all leser designs were intended to be subservient. Now, if the principal (not to say the fole) design of the civil constitution of the Jerew, considered meerly as civil, (for Mr. Foster has excluded all religious considerations out of the case) was to answer the purposes of civil asociation, by securing to the people their civil interest, which it must needs have been, else it would not have come under the denomination of a civil constitution ; then, all such facts as direčtly and immediately affected the welfare of that society in their civil interest and was injurious to itand which, if such practices became general, they would wholly subvert the grand design of that constitution, such facts, according to Mr. Foster, would deserve capital punishment, of which kind, perhaps, theft and murder may be thought to be : but then, such facts as did not directly and immediately affect fociety in their civil interest, but only might do it in their remote and uncertain consequences, and which, if they became general, would
not entirely dissolve and destroy the main deSign of that constitution, of which kind the paying respect to a fictitious Deity, as aforefaid, and marrying a foreigner,may, perhaps, be judged to be ; these lefs offences against society, surely, upon Mr. Foster's foot of argument, ought to be treated with much greater lenity. And, seeing the civil confiitution of the jeu's required the less offence against fociety, viz. Idolatry, to be punilhed with death, and the greater offence, viz. Theft, with only requiring the criminal to restore fourfold; the question is, wherein lies the widom, equity, and goodness of these branches of that constitution ? Upon the whole, it appears, at least to me, that what Mr. Foster has offered, does not justify the severity exercised by the Jews against Idolaters, tho' of their own community; and that it rather burts, than helps, the cause it is inte;ided to serve.
BESIDES, as to the idolatrous Canaanites abovementioned, it may fairly and pertinently be asked, what had they done more than other Idolaters, that they should be fingled out, and made the monument of so severe a revenge? And that too, to make way for the settlement of a stubborn worthless