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ened destruction did not necessarily imply a total extirpation of all the individuals, but might be viewed as truly accomplished with respect to allwho were driven out of the land of promise in whatever way. In consequence of the gradual execution of the sentence, time was also left to individuals to consider the wonderful works of the true God : and it would seem, that if they repented and forfook their idolatry, they would be spared and admitted into communion with the Church, in the same manner with Rahab and her father's family.
In a word, all the cities and nations, which the Ifraelites deftroyed, appeared in arms against them. Not one of them made any overtures for peace, or teftified a wish for it. “ There was not a city
that made peace with the children of Israel, “ save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all “other they took in battle. For it was of the “ Lord to harden their hearts, that they should ' come against Ifrael in battle, that he might deftroy them utterly, that they might have no fa
vour, but ihat he might destroy them, as the “ LORD commanded Mofes i." Let us take the different parts of the narrative in connexion. They “ heard how the Lord had dried up the wa“ter of the Red Sea for the Israelites k, how he had “ dried up the waters of Jordan from before “them !,” and knew what had happened to Jericho m. As they could not doubt the truth of these miracles, one would naturally suppose that
they i Joth. xi. 19, 20. k Joh. ii. 10. 1 Joh. v. 1. m Josh. x. 3.
they would have imitated the conduct of the Gibeonites, and tried at least if the fime mercy would be extended to them. But fo far was this from being the case, that a number of the kings of Canaan were so exasperated against the Gibeonites for accepting of peace with Ifrael, as to join their forces for the express purpose of destroying them. The king of Jerusalem sent to the rest, saying; " Come up unto me, and help me, " that we may smite Gibeon ; for it hath made
peace with Joshua, and with the children of “ Ifrael"." Greater obduracy, or more invetcrate enmity, can hardly be conceived. Thus they were ripened for destruction. Their destruction indeed is immediately afcribed to their obduracy. The reason given for their resistance is, that " it “ was of the Lord to harden their hearts,--that
they might have no favour, but that he might
destroy them,” that is, God in righteous judgment gave them up to hardness of heart, as a punishment of their former guilt, and as a preparative for a still greater punishment a. Let no one say,
“ If God had devoted them to “ destruction, they would certainly have been de
stroyed, whether they had hardened themselves “ or not. Suppofing such a purpose, any appli“cation for mercy would have been unavailing.” No one has a right to speak in this manner. We may safely assert the contrary. For such is the inseparable connexion between the purpose itself, and all the circumstances leading to the exe
n Joh. x. 4.
cution of it, that it is just as easy to suppose the failure of the purpose, as the want of one of these circustances. It is clear from the event, that these nations could not have been destroyed, had they not hardened themselves against God and his people. For we are certain that they did thus harden themselves, before they were destroyed ; and therefore we no less certainly conclude that God predetermined their destruction only in this way. When we are informed that they were given up of God to this astonishing obduracy,“ that they might have no favour, but that he
might destroy them;" it is evident not only that their obduracy was the crowning part of their guilt, and that which immediately procured their destruction ; but that he denied them favour, only as obdurate in their wickedness. Could we for a moment suppose any circumstance different from what must have been pre-ordained; we might safely infer from the language used, that they would have “had favour," had they, not hardened themselves, and “ come against Israel in bat“tle.” This may be illustrated from the example of the Gibeonites. They belonged to one of these nations. But they hardened not themselves, so as to war against Israel ; and they obtained fa
The deceitful means which they employed, and the error of Joshua and the princes in not asking counsel of God, affect not the argument. It is clear from the event, not only that God had determined that they should not be destroyed, but that he had determined that their submission
should be the immediate mean of their preservation. He, who can bring good out of evil, overruled their falsehood and the oversight of the leaders, for the accomplishment of his own purpose of mercy. The contrast which we have, in the words above quoted, between the conduct of the Gibeonites and that of the other nations, affords no inconsiderable evidence that God, in his purpose, had no less certainly connected the preservation of the former with their submission, than the destruction of the latter with their obduracy.
1. We now proceed to vindicate the justice of God in the destruction of these nations. Their crimes, as we have seen, were of the deepest dye. He must be “ worse than an infidel,” who will deny that such crimes merit punishment. IVere wicked nations suffered to escape with impunity, how could it appear that there was “ a “God who judged in the earth ?” It is necessary that crimes, which may properly be called national, should be punished in time ; because men, although existing individually, have no national existence in the eternal state. The crimes of the Canaanites were not only great, but, as we have also seen, highly aggravated ; and they had arrived at such a pitch of obduracy, that they paid no respect to the most astonishing miracles. Their “ iniquity was full.” The honour of divine justice required that their crimes should be fignally punished. Their fate, accordingly, not
only exhibited to the surrounding nations an awful example of the necessary connexion between fin and punishment, but still conveys to us the fame important lesson. It is, at the fame time, a most striking emblem of the tremendous punishment of the finally unbelieving; and awfully prefigures the justice of God in the everlasting destruction of all who refuse to ask peace of the true Joshua, who continue in arms against him. Those only who are brought to enter into a league with him, to enter into his covenant, can be delivered from this destruction.
As the justice of God demands the punishment of transgressors; from his essential sovereignty', he hath an unquestionable right to inflict punishment in whatever way he pleases. Many, who deny the truth of revelation, admit that God maintains his moral government of the world by bringing temporal calamities on the wicked. They acknowledge that famine, pestilence and the sword, are arrows in his quiver. If it be granted that the defolations of war are the tokens of divine vengeance, and that God overrules these for the accomplishment of his purposes; it is impossible to prove that he might not actually give a commission to one people to execute the sentence of his wrath against another. Deists themselves admit that “ God can, if he pleases, communicate “his will to mano." If he employ the inanimate and irrational creatures in fulfilling his vengeance, it is nowise repugnant to reason to fup
pose o Age of Reason, Part I. p. 5.