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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 govern“ ment; 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
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.
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 man's heart.
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 anno tations 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.'
It is a pleasure to me to find these gentlemen solicitous about the performance of their duty; and therefore, let me address to them a word of consolation and encouragement. Be not swallowed up by overmuch uneasiness, as touching this matter. Rest satisfied that whatever may be determined concerning the wonders wrought by the magicians, whether they are supposed to have been wrought in reality, or appearance only; by legerdemain, or the power of evil spirits, through the permission of God, willing to make his power known in this grand contest either way, the argument drawn from miracles, in support of revelation, will remain in its full strength. The superiority of the God of Israel was manifested, and the contest yielded by the adversaries, who could not protect themselves or their friends from the maladies and plagues inflicted by omnipotence. Whatever the magicians did, or however they did it, it appeared evidently, they might as well have done nothing. Mankind can never be ensnared by pretences of this sort, when they see such pretences controlled and overruled by a superior power. You are men of too much sense, I am sure, to be found on the side of Jannes and Jambres, or to take a retainer from Simon Magus.
Page 13. “Where did the magicians find water to “ practise their art upon, since Aaron had already
turned it all into blood ?"
Not all, gentlemen, by your leave. The Egyptians not being able to drink of the water of the river, digged round about it (as you are told') for
c Exod. vii. 24.