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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?
8thly. 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 nature, 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 can do for ourselves.
we must e'en try what
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
▾ Page 19.
he compares him with them, only to set him above them; as sufficiently appears by the passage quoted: "The Lord is a great God, and a great king above "all gods"." In the heathen world there were gods many, and lords many. An Israelite acknowledged one only God, the maker of heaven and earth, and of all the supposed deities that were therein. "All the gods of the heathen (so styled by "them) are but idols; but it is the Lord that made "the heavens."
Such, as an Israelite, must have been the sentiments of Jephthah, as well as David; and therefore the citation from his address to the king of the Ammonites will avail nothing to the purpose for which it is adduced: "Wilt thou not possess that, which "Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So "whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out "from before us, them will we possess." It cannot be seriously thought that Jephthah, a judge in Israel, intended to acknowledge the real divinity of the Ammonitish idol, Chemosh. No: the argument is evidently of the kind which logicians style argumentum ad hominem, an argument formed upon the principles of the adversaries, and therefore conclusive to them. "You deem yourselves entitled to
any possession acquired, as you imagine, by the "assistance of him whom you call your god, and can"not reasonably expect us to yield that which we "know the Lord our God has awarded to us." Jephthah, in a negotiation with the Ammonites, had
no occasion to discuss the subject of their idolatry, or tell them what he thought of Chemosh; but states the matter according to their own ideas, supposing them, for a moment, to be true, though he believed them to be false; as is done every day.
Voltaire has amused himself much with this text, and between one and another of his manifold publications, kept it up like a shuttle-cock. He struggles hard for it—but in vain. "The words of Scripture," says he, "are not, Thou thinkest thou hast a right "to possess, &c. but expressly, Thou hast a right to
possess, &c. for that is the true interpretation of "the Hebrew words, otho thiraschb." Ay, my little man, so it is, according to the Vulgate-" Ti"bi jure debentur." But any modern schoolboy would have informed thee better, and told thee, that the words, in very deed, denote neither more nor less than, "Thou wilt possess it." Are we to give up our Bible, and pin our faith upon the sleeve of such a man as this?
After Balaam's Ass, the Canaanites, and Chemosh, one naturally expects-and lo, she is at hand
THE WITCH OF ENDOR.
It was not unusual among us here in England some years ago, for an old woman, if she had the misfortune to live at the corner of a common, to be suspected of witchcraft, and tossed into a horsepond, to see whether she would sink or swim. To put an
b wn n Treatise on Toleration, chap. xii.
end to such ridiculous barbarities, as well as some others of a more serious and solemn kind, the legislature of Great Britain very wisely ordained, by an Act of 9 G. II. ch. 5. that no person should in future be vexed or prosecuted under that notion; and that whoever pretended to any thing of the kind, should, on conviction, be adjudged to the pillory. These gentlemen have their fears upon this occasion, for the authority of the Bible. I cannot say, for my part, that I feel any such apprehensions.
Page 23. "The witch of Endor and the Jewish "law, both prove by divine argument (whatever "that may be), the existence of such professors, "though, like miracles, they have now ceased to "appear."
But the non-existence of miracles at present is no proof that they never existed; for they most certainly once did exist, if evidence be evidence. The argument therefore is full in their own teeth; and there might be witches, as well as possessed persons, formerly, though there may be none now. The Bible may yet be true, and (blessed be God) the parliament not infidel. They "deplore the infidelity of "that parliament." Bold words these, indeed! I would not have said such things of any parliament, for the world-They are apprehensive of persecution -Let them take care another time.
It appears by the Jewish law, that there were then men and women, who, in the language of our translation, are styled "diviners, observers of times, en"chanters, witches, charmers, consulters with fami