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vengeance on the Oppressors of an offending People, or to clear the Holy Land of Idolaters, he frequently availed himself of the Agency of wicked Kings and licentious Rulers. The same gracions Providence was displayed in the preservation of Religion under the latter Dispensation. For, when the time was come that the Christian Church was to be cleansed and purified from the long pollutions of an Antichristian Usurpation, God was pleased to make use of Instruments, who had neither motives nor manners that could do honour to the Reformation they were appointed to bring to pass.
UNBELIEVERS did not sufficiently consider this, when they made it an objection to revealed Religion ; nor Papists, when they made the same objection to the Protestant Reformation. To the First we have already said enough on this head; and, to the other, shall only add at present, that we are far from being ashained of receiving spiritual benefit from men, who supply these circumstances of reproach against themselves; while we find reason to adore that Hand which turned the avarice if such was the case) of a furious Friar, and the luxury of a debauched Monarch, from their natural Mischiefs, to become productive of the greatest blessings; the Restoration of LETTERS and RELIGION.
But it is now time to go on with 11. Voltaire, whose Philosophy, being grafted on his Pcetry, produces Fruit worthy of the Stock it comes from, viz. Fable and Fiction. So that the next instance he produces of the encouragement which the Law gives to human sacrifices, is Saul's abortive cou:—The wonder is, that he did not go on with the cases of Achan—the five Kings of the AmoritesSisera Agag-Adonijah-the five sons of Saul, hung up in Gibeah-and in short, all the civil and military executions recorded in the Old Testament. But in his rage to run down Religion, he has out-shot himself, and forgot his subject.—To bring him to himself, I will, in charity, direct him to a text, which, if he knows how to pervert with pro- : per dexterity, may appear more to his purpose than any of this senseless prate. It is in the Prophet Micah: who addressing himself to his corrupt and idolatrous Countrymen, amongst his other exprobrations, ridicules, and, at the same time, instructs them, in this manner,--"Wherewith
shall I come before the Lord? and bow myself before
the high God ? Shall I come before him with burnt" offerings, with Calves of a year old ? Will the Lord “ be pleased with thousands of Rams, or ten thousands 66 of rivers of Oil ? SHALL I GIVE MY FIRST-BORN
FOR MY TRANSGRESSION ; THE FRUIT OF MY BODY
FOR THE SIN OF MY SOUL? He hath shewed thee, “ O inan! what is good. And what doth the Lord re
quire of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to *** walk humbly with thy Göd*?"
Reasoners, like our poet, may fancy, that the Prophet is here reckoning up the most efficacious of the LEGAL SACRIFICES; and consequently, that INFANTICIDE and HOMICIDE are amongst the first of that number, since all are said to be offered up to the Lord the high God.
To confute this groundless fancy, let me previously repeat these two observations, First, that the Law of Moses is so far from requiring or directing human sacrifices, that it ever treats them with the utmost abhorrence; and therefore was very unlikely to speak of them as legal Sacrifices : secondly, it hath been shewn that the Idolatrous Jews of these times, were accustomed to bring into the TEMPLE-SERVICE the most detested Rites of Paganism.
This being premised, let us consider the season in which these Prophecies, sent to Micah, were delivered ;-to whom they were addressed and to what end, directed. They were sent, the prophet tells us, in the days of Jotham, Ahas, and Hezekiah, Kings of Judah t.
We find by the History of these Kings, that, in their reign, the House of Judah was sunk into all kinds of vice and iniquity. But still the leading crime, through the bad example of these monarchs, was IDOLATRY ; which consisted, sometimes in worshipping the God of Israel in the Pagan places of worship, called THE HIGH PLACES ; at other times in worshipping Idols in the very place of God's worship, THE TEMPLE. Jotham, indeed, is said to have done that which was right in the sight of the Lord. Howbeit that the HIGH PLACES were not removed ; the People sacrificed and burnt incense still in the high places I. But his son, Ahaz, we are told, " did not that “ which was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like
6 * Ch. yi. ver. 6, 7, 8. + Ch. i. ver. 1. 1 2 Kings XV. 34, 35,
David, his Father. But he walked in the way of the
Kings of Israel. Yea, and made his Sons to pass through " the FIRE, according to the abominations of the Heathen, “ whom the Lord cast out from before the Children of 56 Israel *.
Hezekiah supplied what was wanting in the Grandfather, and reformed what was amiss, during the wicked reign of his Father. ,
Amongst a people so corrupt, while any sense of Religion still remained, Rites and Ceremonies would always take the lead of moral duties. The Prophct seems to have availed himself of the good reign of Hezekiah: and to aid the reformation, which that Monarch had begun, attacks labouring Superstition in its head-quarters, amidst the fires of Moloch.
But to strike at the root of the evil, which was substituting ritual modes of Worship, in the place of moral duties, he informs them how unacceptable the external pomp and pageantry of Religion was to the God of Israel, when not accompanied with purity of heart, and integrity of manners. This is the general sense of the Text quoted above: which, without doubt, should be thus paraphrased -Wherewith shall I come before the Lord (says the Prophet, personating an idolatrous and immoral Jew), shall I bring a profusion of Calves, and Rams, and Oil, AS THE LAW DIRECTS; Or if these be insufficient, or unacceptable to the Deity, shall I seek, as is now the practice, for a more powerful atonement, AMONGST THE FOREIGN RITES OF OUR PAGAN NEIGHBOURS, who boast of soinething still more precious and worthy the Altars of their Gods--MY FIRST-BORN TO BE OFFERED UP IN SACRIFICE? Vain man, (subjoins the Prophet) do not God and Nature proclaim, that without VIRTUE, Rites and Ceremonies are of no avail, whether they be such as the Law prescribes, or such as IDOLATERS (to whose practices thou art so enslaved) impiously fancy to be still more horribly efficacious.
And how, human Sacrifices came to be so 'esteemed, we have shewn, in the course of this dissertation, concerning the rise and progress of Sacrifice,
2 Kings xvi. 3.
III. From the Sacrifice of particular men, charged by M.Voltaire, on the Jewish Law, he rises in his impiety to accuse it of the SACRIFICE OF A WHOLE NATION: These are his words." It is said in Leviticus that none “ devoted which shall be devoted of men shall be re“ deemed, but shall surely be put to death. The Jewish “ books bear evidence, that when the Israelites overran " the little country of Canaan, they massacred, in most “ of the villages, men, women, and children-because
they had been DEVOTED.
In these words are included two charges against the LAW.-d. That this devoting of the Canaanites was a religious Sacrifice. 2. Or, at least, a commanded extermination of a whole people, by the ministry of the Israelites. So that if one of them should fail, the other
yet may hold.
I have already acquitted it of the first, by an explanation of the famous mistaken text in the xxviith chapter of Leviticus. We come now to the second, the censure of extreme cruelty and inhumanity in executing the cominand. And this will bring us to the concluding head, on this subject.
THE MORAL GOVERNOR OF THE UNIVERSE administers his Sovereignty in two different ways: while moral Governors ainongst men can, in their several departınents, administer theirs only in one.
God, the Author of Nature, and Framer of its Constitution, hath so ordered and combined moral Entities, that VIRTUE generally, or for the most part, produceth HAPPINESS ; while MISÈRY is as generally attendant upon
Vice. On this disposition of things, the rewards and punishments of FREE AGENTS are first of all ado justed. But this makes it neither superfluous nor inexpedient for the God of the Universe to punish and reward in another manner, likewise. Not supcrftúous ; since this constitution of Nature does not always, by reason of certain traversies in free agency, produce its designed effects. Not inexpedient ; since, in that other mamer, the power of the divine Administration is more sensibly manifested ; as in the first way his Iisdom may be
better collected: While, both together serve more fully to convince us, that the FIRST CAUSE is a free Agent; and that the constitution of Nature is his ordinance; and not the effect of chance or destiny.
On these accounts, a reasonable analogy would lead us to conclude, from what passeth in the government of the NATURAL WORLD, that in the early ages of inankind, when an EQUAL PROVIDENCE prevailed (as it did while men retained the knowledge of their Governor and Creator; of which more in its proper place) God would frequently interpose, in an extraordinary manner, to prevent or redress those irregularities which would, from time to time, arise, and did actually arise in God's moral government, while solely administered by that relative order of things, which his wisdom had so beautifully connected, and so firmly established, as to be disordered by nothing but the traversies of free 'agency in his Creatures.
That he did thus, in fact, interpose, holy Scriptures bear full evidence. The first account we have of it, after the DELUGE (in which, this part of God's moral administration was so signally displayed) is in the fate of Sodon and Gomorrah : And afterwards, in the EXTERMINATION OF THE CANAANITES : both these nations having, by the same unnatural crimes, filled up the mea: sure of their iniquities.
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, the enormity of their vices, and the total depravity of their manners, impose silence on the most profligate opposers of Religion, lowever clamorous they may be in the Patronage of the Canaanites. Their Plea, in favour of these, arises from the Choice God is said to have made of the INSTRUMENTS of his Vengeance. Fire and Brimstone they easily submit to : but Fire and Sword revolts their humanity.
They can never (they tell us) be brought to believe that the common Father of All would einploy some of his reasonable Creatures to execute his vengeance upon others of the same species, even though these others had been justly sentenced to perdition for their beastly and inhuman Vices. They pretend to say,
66 that God could not, consistently with his nature and attributes, put fellow: