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“ do all the words of this lawn” The will of God's purpose is often very different from that of his precept, which is the only rule of our duty. It was the will of God's precept, inculcated on the Israelites for many centuries, and repeated in a great variety of forms, and by many mepengers, that when the Messiah should appear, they should hear him in all things. This was enjoined on them under the severest penalties. Yet we are equally certain, that it was the will of his purpose, that they should crucify him. Therefore said the apostle Peter; “ Him being deliver“ed by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge " of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands “ have crucified and slain."
Although he actually reserved these nations for the punishment of his people, there was nothing in this inconsistent with his veracity. On the contrary, in this very manner was his veracity displayed. Whatever may be thought by selfish man, who views the divine conduct merely as it regards the creature ; God finds his honour no less concerned in verifying his threatening, than in fulfilling his promise. When he commanded the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites, he did not tell them, indeed, that he had immutably purposed that this should not be the case. But he at the same time warned them of the danger of disobedience. He said ; “ Take heed to thyself, “ left thou make a covenant with the inhabitants “ of the land, -left it be for a snare in the midit “ of thee p.” He expressly threatened, that this should eventually be a snare, as subjecting them to the deserved punishment; as in a passage formerly quoted, “ It will surely be a fnare unto “ thee 9." When, therefore, he afterwards spared these nations, it was an illustration of his veracity, in the fulfilment of the threatening.
a Degt. xxix, 28, 29.
o Acts ii. 23.
The whole conduct ascribed to God in this matter, was not less consistent with divine wildom. His judgments are so mysterious, that we cannot pretend fully to explain them. But so much is clearly made known, that Wisdom must be “justified of all her children.” God had indeed determined, that these nations should not be totally exterminated, even before he gave the command to Israel to execute his vengeance. But he had determined this, only in a certain connexion; as what should eventually prove the just punishment of Israel's disobedience. It is one of the modes adopted by infinite wisdom, in the ordinary course of providential dispensation, to make the punishment of the finner to arise from his fin, or from that which hath been the occasion of it. Thus it is said ; 6. Thine own wickedness “ shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall re
" We cannot conceive that fin could be punished in any way, more to the honour of divine wisdom. For as, in this manner, God manifests that, notwithstanding the atheistical suggestions of the heart, he marks the fin; he
Exod. xxxiv. 12.
9 Exod. xxiii. 33
Jer. ii. 19.
no less clearly shews the design of the judgment inflicted.
Referring to what has been replied to this objection, that it was because of breach of covenant that God would not henceforth drive out the nations' from before the Israelites, this author further says; “ The precept, it is confessed, was po“ fitive and absolute; but the promise of power
to fulfil it, was limited and conditional. It was “ not until after the Israelites had forsaken the “ LORD, and worshipped other gods, that the LORD “ would no more 'enable them to expel the Cha“ naanites. That is to say, the LORD would not “ enable them to remove, or break the snare, un“ til after they had fallen into it; and when they “ have fallen into it, he reproaches them for the
non-execution of his precept: and says, the snare “shall remain to prove them s.”
The inference which this writer attempts to deduce, that “the LORD would not enable them “ to remove, or break the snare, until after they “ had fallen into it," as it is evidently meant to exhibit the scriptural history in a ridiculous light, is entirely sophistical. The author throws darkness on the passage, which may thus tend to bewilder the reader, by the insertion of the particle until. He also recurs to his fallacy in the use of the term fnare, employing it throughout the sentence, as if it must necessarily bear the same meaning; whereas the snare into which “ they had * fallen," had a relation to fin, and that which
Geddes's Trani. Pref. p. iii.
was not to be broken, to punishment. The infe: rence, indeed, is altogether false. For the Lord did still “ enable them to break the snare, until
they fell into it;" that is, he gave them success against the Canaanites, until they wilfully disobeyed his commandment, and apoftatized to their idolatrous courses. Then, indeed, he would no longer " enable them to remove or break the
snare,” because by their sin they had brought this fnare upon them, in respect of judgment. This, then, is the only conclusion that can fairly be deduced from the premises :-God would not remove the punishment, after they had fallen into that fin, with which it was inseparably connected, according to the threatening.
God had promised to Mofes, with respect to those nations ; “No man shall be able to stand “ before thee, until thou hast destroyed them." But, according to the Sacred History, no breach of promise is ascribed to God. For this objector himself acknowledges, that “ the promise of
power-was limited and conditional.” The accomplishment of it depended on their adherence to the worship of Jehovah.
This writer adds a question, for confirming his objection! “ Why was it," that is, the snare, “ not completely removed in the days “ of Joshua, and of his contemporary elders, “ during a period of twenty-five years, when " the people had not abandoned the worship < of the LORD t?" It might be a sufficient answer to this cavil, to say, that although God
had $ Deut. vii. 24.
t Geddes's Trann. Pref.
had seen meet to make trial of their fidelity to him, for the space of twenty-five years, before he gave them full possession of the land of
promise, no one could justly have said that the trial was either long or severe ; especially as he had so recently attested the religion given them, by the most astonishing miracles, continued for a longer time than this, and wrought at the expence, not merely of the nations that opposed them, but also of their gods.
But, according to the narrative, no room is left for this question. Although God had promised to cast out the nations, if his people adhered to him, he had never pledged himself to do it all at once. It was his will to call them to the exercise both of faith and patience; and in this respect, his conduct was also marked with mercy. To Moses he had said, “ I will not drive them out before “thee in one year, left the land become desolate, " and the beast of the field multiply against thee.
By little and little I will drive them out before "thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the “land u."
I shall only add, that, according to this writer, there is reason to suspect, that what is called the command of God to exterminate the Canaanites, “ is the fabrication of some posterior Jew, to jus"tify the cruelties of his nation.” But let the Gibeonites reply to this objection. If the Israelitęs were so cruel, why did they spare that people more than the rest? Did they in this instance de
viate o Exod. xxiii. 29, 30. See also Deut. vii. 22.