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The article of cruelty, for proof of which we are referred, in a note, to the acts of Joshua, may be deferred till we come professedly to consider those acts. Their ingratitude towards God their Saviour was indeed flagrant; but perhaps might be matched. elsewhere. As to the charge of inurbanity, it was brought against them by Voltaire, who spake of them as a "wretched nation, ever ignorant, and vulgar, and strangers to the arts." The following reply was made to him. When the infidels shall have duly considered it, we shall hope to be favoured with their sentiments upon it.
"Does it become you, a writer of the eighteenth century, to charge the ancient Hebrews with igno"rance?-a people who, while your barbarous ancestors, whilst even the Greks and Latins, wandering in the woods, could scarcely procure for "themselves clothing and a settled subsistence, al
ready possessed all arts of necessity, and some of "mere pleasure; who not only knew how to feed "and rear cattle, till the earth, work up wood, "stone, and metals, weave clothes, dye wool, em"broider stuffs, polish and engrave on precious
stones, but who, even then, adding to manual arts "those of taste and refinement, surveyed land, appointed their festivals according to the motions of "the heavenly bodies, and ennobled their solemni"ties by the pomp of ceremonies, by the sound of
instruments, music, and dancing; who even then "committed to writing the history of the origin of "the world, that of their own nation, and their ances
"tors; who had poets and writers skilled in all the "sciences then known, great and brave commanders, "a pure worship, just laws, a wise form of government; in short, the only one of all ancient nations, "that has left us authentic monuments of genius and "of literature. Can this nation be justly charged "with ignorance and inurbanity ?"
PAGE 11. "Unbelievers affirm, that a just God "could not punish Pharaoh for a hardness of "heart of which he himself (God) was evidently the "cause."
When we meet with an assertion apparently contrary to all the truth and equity in the world, it is but common justice to any writer, human or divine, to suppose, that we mistake his meaning, and that the expression employed to convey it is capable of an interpretation different from that which may at first present itself. We cannot, for a moment, imagine, that God secretly influences a man's will, or suggests any wicked stubborn resolution to his mind, and then punishes him for it. We are therefore to consider, by what other means, not incompatible with his nature and attributes, he may be said, in a certain sense, and without impropriety, to harden a
There are many ways by which we may conceive this effect to be wrought, without running into the absurdity and impiety above mentioned. The heart inay be hardened by those very respites, miracles, and mercies, intended to soften it; for if they do not soften it, they will harden it-God is sometimes said to do that which he permits to be done by
others, in the way of judgement and punishment; as when his people rejected his own righteous laws, he is said to have. "given them" the idolatrous ones of their heathen neighbours, "statutes that were not "good."-The heart may be hardened by his withdrawing that grace it has long resisted; men may be given up to a reprobate mind; as they would not see when they possessed the faculty of sight, the use of that faculty may be taken from them, and they may be abandoned to blindness. But all this is judicial, and supposes previous voluntary wickedness, which it is designed to punish. The case of Pharaoh is exactly that of the Jews. God is said to have "blinded their
eyes, and hardened their hearts." But how? As it is here represented? Would he do this to his own people? Was HE the cause of their rejecting their Messiah; or does he can he―intend to SAY that he was so? Let us hear no more of this, for the sake of common sense and common honesty, if such things are yet left among us.
But it is asserted that, when the objection is urged by unbelievers, "we (Christians) usually answer, that "the potter has power over the clay, to fashion it as "he lists;" to which the infidels in the gaiety of their hearts triumphantly reply, that, "if the clay in "the hands of the potter were capable of happiness "and misery, according to the fashion impressed on "it, the potter must be malevolent and cruel, who "can give the preference to inflicting pain instead " of happiness."
The similitude of the potter is employed by St. Paul: but it does not stand exactly in his writings,
as it does in the pamphlet before us. By him it is adduced in proof of one single point only, that, when men are become sinners, and obstinate sinners, God has a right of dealing with them according to his pleasure, and as may best answer the purposes of his dispensations, respecting others as well as themselves. The comparison is first used by God himself (Jer. xviii.), and applied to the power by him exercised of destroying or preserving an offending people, as they should either continue in sin, or repent and amend. It is applied precisely in the same manner by St. Paul (Rom. ix.), to show (as appears by the verses immediately following) that God might, without injustice, deal with the Jews as he had before dealt with a hardened Pharaoh; and for the same reason, because they had refused to hearken to his voice, as Pharaoh had done. He might reserve them for a more signal destruction, which would display his glory, and forward the conversion of the nations; while, at the same time, he showed the riches of his mercy to such, whether Jews or Gentiles, as embraced the Gospel; whom he owned as the spiritual seed of Abraham, and his peculiar people. Whoever will condescend with candour and attention to peruse Dr. Whitby's annotations on Rom. ix. cannot, I think, have the shadow of a doubt left on his mind, respecting either the drift of St. Paul's reasoning or the truth of it.
Page 12. "We know it is our duty to believe that "Aaron's miracle was performed by the power of "God; but we are at a loss to discover, by what power the magicians performed theirs."