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and family the stroke that was ready to descend on thein: “I have sinned, and done wickedly: these

sheep, what have they done? Let thine hand, I

pray thee, be upon me, and upon my father's "house.” Notwithstanding all this, I say, it should seem, that the people were by no means without fault. For the history opens thus : “ The anger

of “the Lord was kindled against Israel, and”-as a consequence of it-" David was excited to number “ Israel."

But of what nature, then, after all, was this act of numbering the people, and why should it have been followed by a plague?

I am persuaded that we are much in the dark upon this point. If any light can be thrown upon it, that light must proceed from a passage in the book of Exodus, ch. xxx. 12. where God says to Moses,

When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel " after their number, then shall they give every man

a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou " numberest them; that there be no plague among “them, when thou numberest them.” To number the people, then, was not, as it should seem, merely to count them out of curiosity or vain glory. It was a religious rite, it was a muster, a review, a visitation, an inquisition into their conduct, into the religious and moral state in which they at that time stood before their God. For upon such inquisition something came out, or appeared against them, which required an offering, by way of atonement or ransom for their souls: “ They shall give a ransom, that “there be no plague amongst them, when thou numberest them.A very observable expression; for when David numbered them, this was the very thing that bappened; there was a plague among them, in consequence of their being numbered. They might be in such a state, that God would not accept them, or their offerings. It is not improbable that they should be in such a state, if we consider what corruptions must needs creep in under Saul's wicked reign and David's long wars, during most of which time the country had been overrun by the Philistines, &c. who would propagate their idolatry, with its flagitious concomitants. In short, Israel had provoked God; for otherwise, his anger would not have been kindled against them, as we are informed that it was; their offences called for punishment, and, on the numbering of the people, an opportunity was taken to inflict it. Joab appears to have been aware of the consequence, as a known case. Why,"

be “ will my lord the king be a cause of punishment, trespass, or forfeiture', to Israel ?" as if he knew that, upon a visitation, they must be punished who should be found guilty; and was unwilling that the number of the king's subjects should be lessened. But David might think it necessary, and his zeal prevailed. Otherwise, it is extraordinary that such a man as Joab should see what David either could not or would not see.

This account of the transaction was offered to the public, many years ago, by a learned writer, well skilled in biblical knowledge and criticism. That it

P rows) 1. Chron. xxi. 3.

is entirely free from objection, or will solve all difficulties, is more, perhaps, than can be affirmed. But it is curious, and certainly deserves attention.

On the whole, to adopt the words of Dr. Chandler, “ If they who object, credit the history of the “ Old Testament in this part of it, and think it is

true, that one of these three plagues was offered

to David as the punishment of his offence; that he “ chose the pestilence; that it came accordingly, and

was removed upon his intercession; they are as “ much concerned to account for the difficulties of " the affair, as I or any other person can be.

If they do not believe this part of the history, as the “sacred writers represent it, let them give us the "account of it, as it stands in their own imagination; " and tell us, whether there was any plague at all, “how and why it came, and how it went and disap“peared of a sudden."

LETTER XVI.

A few more doubts remain, touching the prophecies, and some passages in the New Testament.

Page 39. “ The great evangelical prophet could “ foretel the downfall of Babylon by Cyrus, but could not tell the name of the Messiah."

Who enabled him to foretel the downfall of Babylon by Cyrus?—“He might take the advantage of writing that prophecy after the events took “ place,” say the infidels, page 40. But how so? Isaiah spake of Cyrus at least one hundred years before his birth. Had a history of Cyrus been among the books of Scripture, under the name of Isaiah, they would have placed the author, for longevity, in the same class with their friend Jasher.

“ Isaiah could not tell the name of the Messiah.” He could have told it, had it been communicated to him, as that of Cyrus was.

He has described Mes. siah in a manner not to be mistaken. There might be very good reasons why the name was not declared beforehand. And as God did not see proper to do it, there certainly were such reasons.

But " if Christ were intended by the name Immanuel, the prophet was mistaken, for he was never called by that name.

The first commentator one opens will inform one that, in Scripture language, to be called is the same as to be. Thus, of Messiah it is said, chap. ix. 6. “ His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,' &c. though he was never called by any of the names there enumerated; of the same person, Jer. xxiii. 6.

This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness;" of Jerusalem, Isa. i. 26. " Thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness.' No man should presume to criticise a book, if he will not be at the pains to study the phraseology peculiar to it.

Page 40. “If the prophecies are evident and clear, how happened it, that the whole Jewish na

tion, together with the angel Gabriel, should mis“ take, and

suppose the kingdom of Messiah to be “ temporal ?”

The angel Gabriel was certainly under no mistake upon this point, because of Christ he says expressly Luke i. 33. “He shall reign for ever, and of his

kingdom there shall be no end." And as to the case of the Jews, it is treated of at large in a discourse under that title, by the author before-mentioned, at page 173, to which these gentlemen are referred.

Page 40. “Could not those inspired writers, who “ prophesied concerning things of no consequence, " as the thirty pieces of silver, and the casting lots “ for Christ's garments, have predicted with equal “ certainty the more important circumstance of his " death and resurrection ?"

The death and resurrection of Christ are predicted in the strongest terms, Psal. xxii. cx. Isa. liii. And

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