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their votariés, with an effect proportioned to the power of their supposed divinity, and establishing the value of their protection by the greatness of the victories they atchieved.
This strong principle of idolatrous seduction, nothing could so effectually counteract, as the abundant experimental proof which the Jews received, that the ONE ONLY TRUE GOD, JEHOVAH, their guardian God, and immediate sovereign Lord, was in this, as in every other respect, decidedly superior to all the Gentile idols confederated together; and, that as he had promised to be “an enemy to their
enemies, and an adversary to their adver"saries," so he was able effećtually to fulfil his promise of *« sending his fear before them,
and destroying all the people to whom they "should come, and making all their enemies “ turn their backs unto them;" and as their confidence in the divine protection was thus established, by their being made the instruments of exterminating the Canaanites, more than it could have been by any other possible mode of effecting their settlement in the promised land; so by the very same dispensation was a salutary terror impressed upon them, preparing them for being governed without any further continued miraculous interposition. Their God had denounced against them, that if they forsook his worship and violated his Law, he would cause them to be * " Smitten before their enemies; “ that they should go out one way against " them and flee seven ways before them,
then, * Exod. xxiji. 27.
and that they should be removed into all “ the kingdoms of the earth.” They now clearly perceived the full power of God to execute this dread denunciation; they now felt practically and decisively the power of JEHOVAH, to make man the instrument of punishing idolatry, however previously unwilling, or apparently unable, to inflict this punishment: they were now experimentally convinced, that no military superiority of multitude or discipline, could protect them from the sword of their enemies, or preserve their nation from total destruction, if they forsook the covenant of their God. Hence, after their settlement in the land of Canaan, the terror which the hostility of the surrounding nations inspired, was fitted to become the principal check to restrain them G 2
Deut. xxviij. 25.
from idolatry ; they were prepared to recognise in their defeats the effect of divine displeasure, and the arm of man was fitted to become the instrument of that punishment which their God might determine to inflict. Thus the scheme of discipline and correction, which divine wisdom judged it necessary to exercise over his chosen people, was conducted by a system which was easily connected with the common course of events, and assimilated to, and blended with the general, and, as it were, natural progress of the providential administration of human affairs.
In this view, the punishment of the Canaanites by the sword of the Jews, rather than by any other means, seems à necessary part of the divine oeconomy; and the event proves, that the rigour and extent of that punishment were not greater than the objects of that economy indispensably required; for if the dreadful example thus exhibited in all its terrors to the Jews, and imprinted, one would suppose, indelibly on their hearts, was yet insufficient to prevent them from yielding frequently to the seductions of idolatry;
what must have been the result, had no such severity of discipline been employed ? Assuredly the exclusive worship of Jehovah could not have been preserved beyond a single generation, or restored by a less signal or prolonged display of miracles, than that which was first employed to establish it. Now either the total abolition of true religion; or its repeated restoration, by such repeated and continued interruptions of the course of nature, and the regular tenor of the providential government of man, seem utterly inconsistent with the purposes of the divine dispensations.
The TREATMENT OF THE AMALEKITES has also been considered as a great difficulty: much of what has been said as to the treatment of the Canaanites applies to it; but it has its particular circumstances, which it becomes necessary briefly to consider.
The first notice of the Amalekites is in Exodus, * where it is said,
* where it is said, “ Then came so
Amalek and fought with Israel in Re"phidim.” Their miraculous defeat is there recorded, and the monument which Moses
* Exod. xvii, from 8 to the end.
set up to preserve the memory of it, and the order of God concerning it.
« And " the Lord said unto Moses, write this for "a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in " the ears of Joshua; for I will utterly put " out the remembrance of Amalek from
under heaven. And Moses built an altar "and called the name of it JEHOVAH ! NISSI, * for he said, because the Lord “hath sworn, that the Lord will have war ** with Amalek from generation to genera: tion." But in the recapitulation f of this history, Moses mentions
mentions the particulars, which prove this to have been an hostility on the part of the Amalekites totally unprovoked, and attended with very aggravating circumstances. “ Remember,” says he, ( what Amalek did unto thee by the
way, when ye were come forth out of
* « The Lord my banner;" the next verse ought, as seems to me, to be translated, " For he said, because the
hand of the Lord shall be for ever upon the banners of “ war against Amalek.” This translation is justified, by changing da, " a throne,” into os '! a banner:” the alteraţion was proposed by Houbigant, and seems preferable to any other. Those readings proposed by Le Clerc in locum, and by Shuckford, Vol. III. p. 31, seem, though ingenious, not so natural. Vide 's note on the passage.
+ Deut. xxv. 17.