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"before me"." But what way? Not merely his journey, for he had leave to take it conditionally. Way must necessarily be understood in its moral acceptation. Something was wrong in the course of his thoughts, his imaginations, in his design and intention, now changed from what they were at setting out. "The foolishness (or wickedness) of "man PERVERTETH his WAY"." Therefore God was angry, not, as it is in our translation, " because "he went";" but "as he was going-while he was "on the road"." Upon Balaam's humbling himself, and offering to return, leave of proceeding is again granted, but with a significant repetition of the original proviso: "Only the word that I shall "speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak """ Go, on; but remember, to me your heart is open, your "desires are known. If you betray your trust, the "drawn sword of the angel waits to punish your "duplicity as it ought to be punished." This appears to be a fair and reasonable solution of the first difficulty.
As to the second, it is observed, page 17, that "the ass exhibited a specimen of penetration and "prudence, of which the asses of modern times 66 seem to be divested."
The observation brings to my mind one made upon the subject some years ago, by that father of the faithless, Dr. Tindal. "What a number of ideas
m Numb. xxii. 32.
• Numb. xxii. 22.
? Ver. 85.
Prov. xix. 3.
כי הולך P
"must Balaam's ass have (says he) to be able to "reason with her master, when she saw and knew an angel'?" Will these gentlemen do me the favour to accept Dr. Waterland's answer?" Now, "as to the number of ideas which the ass must "have; I believe she had as many as asses com. monly have: and he may please to count them at "his leisure, for his own amusement"." If they have ever an anatomist among them, I dare say he could very easily demonstrate, from the configuration of its organs, the impossibility of the creature's speaking at all. And his demonstration would be just as much to the purpose, as Tindal's question. The plain truth is this: if it pleased God to take "this particular method of rebuking the prophet's "madness," the severest philosophy cannot question his power to produce sounds articulate and significant, either with the organs of any animal, or without them. A voice proceeding from a dumb creature was made, upon this occasion, to teach a lesson similar to that deduced, upon another, from the example of the same creature: "The ox knoweth his owner, "and the ass his master's crib; but man doth not "know a prophet doth not consider "." If it be objected, that the occasion was not worthy; that it was not dignus vindice nodus; we shall certainly take the liberty to think that God Almighty was a much better judge of that matter than the infidels can possibly be, even were they ten times wiser than they are. The whole transaction, in which Balaam
Christianity as old, &c. p. 254.
12 Pet. ii. 16.
Scripture Vindicated, 4. 42.
u See Isa. i. 3.
bore so conspicuous a part, is of very great moment, and the history which relates it, full of deep instruction, as well as abounding in the beautiful and sublime*.
A predecessor of these gentlemen, Mr. Chubb, I remember, called the Supreme Being to a very severe account for his conduct respecting the Canaanites; and they seem disposed to do the same, in a bitter, sarcastical, canting section, page 19, &c. the drift of which is to compare the Israelites in Canaan to the Spaniards in Mexico, and represent the former as the more detestable people of the two. The objection will perhaps be obviated, and its futility evinced, by proposing the few following queries:
1st. Has not the Almighty a sovereign right over the lives and fortunes of his creatures?
2dly. May not the iniquity of nations become such, as to justify him in destroying those nations?
3dly. Is he not free to choose the instruments by which he will effect such destruction?
4thly. Is there more injustice or cruelty in his effecting it by the sword, than by famine, pestilence, whirlwind, deluge, or earthquake?
5thly. When these latter means are employed, do not women, children, and cattle, perish with the men?
6thly. Does not God take away thousands of children every day, and perhaps more than half the species, under ten years of age?
"Nihil habet Poesis Hebræa in ullo genere limatius aut exquisitius." LowTH de Sacra Poesi Heb. Præl. xx. ad fin.
7thly. Does not the circumstance of a divine commission entirely alter the state of the case, and distinguish the Israelites from the Spaniards, as much as a warrant from the magistrate distinguishes the executioner from the murderer?
Sthly. May not men be assured of God's having given them such a commission?
9thly. Were not the Israelites thus assured; and is there not at this day incontestable evidence upon record, that they were so?
This is a fair and regular distribution of the subject into its several parts. Whenever the infidels shall find themselves in a humour to discuss all or any of them, we must consider what they may offer farther upon this topic.
Page 18. They cite the following passage from Judges, i. 19. "The Lord was with Judah, and "he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain: "but could not drive out the inhabitants of the val"ley, because they had chariots of iron." They subjoin: "It is difficult to conceive how the Lord of "heaven and earth, who had so often changed the "order, and suspended the established laws of na(6 ture, in favour of his people, could not succeed against the inhabitants of a valley, because they "had chariots of iron!"
At the end of this sentence is placed only a single note of admiration. There ought to have been at least half a dozen; for never was any thing more truly wonderful! The "difficulty of conceiving it" is very great indeed! so great, that one should have thought, for very pity's sake, our adversaries would
have looked about them a little, to see whether they understood the text, and whether there were no possible way of bringing us off. As they have not been kind enough to do it for us, we must e'en try what we can do for ourselves.
We apprehend, then, in the first place, that when it is said, "HE drove out the inhabitants of the "mountain, but could not drive out the inhabitants "of the valley ;" the antecedent is Judah, not Jehovah; because Jehovah had often displayed much more eminent instances of his power; and he that effected the greater, could certainly have effected the less. In the second place, though it pleased God to give success to Judah in one instance, it does not necessarily follow, that therefore he should give it in all.
So that there is no more absurdity in the passage, than there would be in the following speech, if such had been addressed to the sovereign by one of his commanders returned from America: By the blessing of God upon your majesty's arms, we "overcame general Greene in the field; but we "could not attack general Washington, because he
was too strongly intrenched in his camp." There is no reason, therefore, for supposing, that "the Jews "considered the God of Israel their protector as a "local divinity; who was in some instances more, "and in others less powerful, than the gods of their "enemies"."
Nor is it altogether "THUS that David in many "places compares the Lord with other gods:" since
y Page 19.