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viate from their fanguinary course, because the Gibeonites practised on them a gross imposition, not attributed to any of their neighbours ? Or, did they spare them for slaves ? If so, how were they satisfied with so few? Why did they prefer them collectively to any individuals of the other nations ? It is impossible, indeed, to find any good reason for the preservation of this people; unless we admit, according to the scriptural narrative, that the execution of the precept was suspended in this single instance, in consideration of the oath taken, in the name of JEHOVAH, by Joshua and the princes of Israel v.
Did the historian inforın us that the Israelites were eager to enter on the possession of Canaan, and to destroy all the nations said to be devoted ; did he inform us, that they actually did so, being more afraid of having such dangerous neighbours than of meeting them at once in battle; we might discern some reason for supposing that he had recourse to a pretended mandate from heaven for excusing their severity. But we are told, on the contrary, that they were very reluctant to enter into Canaan ; that their leaders cagerly swallowed an imposture which prevented the execution of the sentence on one body of people; nay, that the Israelites in general did not obcy the command of God in destroying these nations, although their disobedience deprived them of the possession of their lands, and exposed them to many dangers. We accordingly find the guilt of this difobedience often charged upon them by God, and confessed by themselves in fucceeding generations w.
obedience v Josh, ix. 15.-20.
Had we been informed that the Gibeonites im. posed on Joshua and the princes, and that they or the people disregarded the oath as contrary to an express command, and gave up the Gibeonites to the sword; it might have been argued with some degree of plausibility, that this command was a mere pretence for the indulgence of their fanguinary dispositions. But when we learn that Joshua and the princes considered their oath as suspending the execution of the commanded destruction, and that the congregation submitted to this; we see no ground for the charge of cruelty ; we perceive the greatest reason for crediting the history in all its circumstances. They discover that dread of a solemn oath which characterizes all conscientious persons; and will rather dispense with a positive precept than with a moral one; being more afraid of divine wrath on account of perjury, than of the consequences threatened in case of their not obeying the command to destroy the Canaanites *.
The history of the destruction of these nations, was “ written for our adınonition.” It exhibits the justice, the sovereignty, and the wisdom of God, in a very striking light. It in a special manner points out to us the hatefulness of fin to a God of infinite purity; and teaches us that we ought to hate it “ with a perfect hatred !" Were God's VOL. II.
ancient w Psal. cvi. 34, 8c. * Josh, ix. 20. .
ancient people typical of his spiritual Israel ? Their enemies were also figures of ours. God hath set before us all the good of the land of promise. He calls us to go up and inherit it. But he assures us at the same time, that we must fight our way through an host of powerful enemies. Our lusts, like the nations of Canaan, seek to keep us from that inheritance which the LORD hath given us. But he commands us to destroy them utterly, to make no covenant with them, to have no mercy upon them; assuring us that if we fpare them, they will prove a snare to us, and lead us astray to serve their gods. What are the gods which these Canaanites serve? They serve Mammon, " this present evil world ;” Ashtaroth, the goddess of Pleasure ; Satan, “ the god of this “ world.” What is our conduct ? Like the Ifraelites, we obey the command of our God only in a partial way. He enjoins us to “ crucify the “ flesh, with its affections and lusts, that the body “ of fin may be destroyed, that henceforth we ” may not serve fin.” He gives us Jesus as “ the “Captain of our salvation,” and promises strength for fighting his battles. But we make little progress in this war. We often make a trụce with our fpiritual enemies. This is our folly and guilt. But God, in his infinite wisdom and holiness, overrules our conduct for his own glory and our good. He leaves a remnant of the devoted nations to prove us. He “ slays them not” entirely, “ left “ his people should forget.” He “ destroys them " by little and little.” At length, “there shall
“be “ be no more the Canaanite in the house of the " Lord of hosts."
On Divine Sovereignty ;-in Creation ; in the Ma. · nagement of the Natural World ;-in the Time
appropriated to the Worship of God ;-in the Permission of the Entrance of Sin ;-in the Frame of the Covenant of Works ;-in God's Conduct towards Angels ;-in the Choice of Israel ;-in the Distinction of Nations with respect to External Means of Salvation,
• To no perfection of the divine nature, do men show greater antipathy than to that of sovereignty. This not only appears by their refusing to submit to the grace of God, but by their reluctance to his precept, and their rebellion against his providence. Man strives with his Maker for the dominion, with respect to his faith, his practice, and even his lot. He will acknowledge both justice and mercy, in the divine nature ; he cannot, however, accede to the sovereignty of God in the exercise of these perfections. But fovereignty is impressed, in the most legible characters, not only on the word, but on the works' of God. Wherever we turn, it meets our eye. Do we en
deavour to draw a veil over this ungrateful attribute, as clearly revealed in the doctrines of revelation? It arrests our attention in the histories. Do we attempt to throw it out of our eternal interests? We must acknowledge its influence, however reluctantly, in every thing that concerns us for time. Do we exclude it from the affairs of men? We see it written in the fate of angels. Do we banish it from earth? We find it enthroned in heaven. The Pfalmift, therefore, in celebrating this perfection, exhibits in one view the various parts of the universe, as harmonizing in its praise : “ Whatsoever. the LORD pleased, that “ did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and " in all deep places y.” Does he, who bears the name of Christian, refuse to join in the ascription ? Let him go and learn the truth from a heathen. Let him listen to the instructions of the wiser Nebuchadnezzar: “ All the inhabitants of the earth " are reputed as nothing: and he doth according “ to his will in the army of heaven, and among " the inhabitants of the earth : and none can stay “ his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou ? ?”
As the corruptions of men are most deeply engaged against the work of redemption, the greateft oppofition to divine sovereignty appears in this quarter. Here it more directly opposes the pride of reason, and the pride of will. Besides, the enemies of the gospel especially aim their shafts against divine sovereignty, as displayed in our salyation. Hence are men staggered and overpower
ed; y Psal. exxiv. 6.
2 Dan. iv. 35.