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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.”
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 “ water to drink.” And, depend upon it, they found some, or it had been very bad with them indeed. But the truth is, that nothing is more common among writers, both sacred and profane, than the use of the word all, not in an absolute, but a relative, or comparative sense, as implying many, some of all sorts, &c, By adverting to this simple and obvious consideration, you might have spared yourselves the trouble of labouring in vain, through three or four pages, to be witty on the subject of Pharaoh's cattle being killed more than once, and such like pleasant conceits. These are poor peddling doings; but we shall have some flashing, by and by, to make amends. Page 15.
c Exod. vii. 24.
“Some weak believers are in doubt, ” whether so mean, so ungenerous, and so dishonest
an act, as borrowing the jewels of the Egyptians, “ without any intention of returning them, did not “ rather originate in that disposition, which charac“terizes the Jews to this day, than in the command “ of the just God, who certainly could need no such “ tricks to accomplish his intentions."
Much reason have we to wish, that some one among the unbelievers would take the pains to acquire a moderate stock of Hebrew, that so he
might have to give," upon such occasions as these
to him that needeth.”. For that the Isralites, in the proper sense of the English word, borrowed these jewels, or gave the Egyptians reason to expect a return of them, does by no means appear from the original, to which a man, when he is disposed to play the critic upon an author, should always have re
course, if he be solicitous to deserve the character of an honest man and a scholar. The general signification of the word is to ask, to require, to demand. In the three texts relative to this transaction, the Seventy', and in the two former, the Vulgate, render it by a term of similar import. It is said, “the Israelites spoiled the Egyptians ;" they took these jewels, vessels, &c. and the Egyptians gave them, as the spoil of a conquered enemy, glad to escape with life, and to dismiss a much injured people; they took these spoils, as wages due, and withholden, for immense labour undergone; as a recompense for long.and cruel oppression; some of them, probably, as insignia of the vanquished Egyptian deities, to be afterwards employed in the service of the true God, whom Egypt, as well as Israel, ought to have acknowledged and adored; who, as the great Lord and Proprietor of all things in heaven and earth, taketh from one, and giveth to another, according to his good pleasure, founded evermore in wisdom, truth, and righteousness; who at the beginning foretold that the Egyptians should be spoiled, and when the time came, directed his people so to spoil them.
“God gave them favour:” the act was his, and the Israelites were instruments only in his hands. If men are pleased to concern themselves at all with the history, they must take the whole as it stands, neither blaming those on whom no blame can properly fall, nor accusing their Maker of ini