Imatges de pàgina

In such a season too, artful Leaders are most disposed to support themselves by inspirations; have most need of them; and are thought, by the People, most worthy to receive them.

There is the same ditference between the Writers of the New Testament and of the Old, as between the Writers of the several ages of the Old. The Apostles (who worked Iliracks as well as Moses and the Prophets) represent the followers of CHRIST as under the same common Providence with the rest of mankind : Unlike in this, to the first propagators of the Law, who always declared the Israelites to be under an extraordinary Providence.

From all this I conclude, that as amidst the concurrence of so many favourable circumstances, no such claim was made; but that, contrary to the universal practice of all false Religions, the Jews saw and owned a great change in the Divine Economy, that therefore their former pretensions to the peculiar protection of Heaven were TRUE.

But it hath been objected, that the early sacred Writers themselves frequently speak of the inequality of Providence to Particulirs*: and in such a inanner as Men living under a common Providence are accustomed to speak. It is very true, that these Writers do now and then give intimations of this inequality. And therefore, though ro shall bereafter prove an extraordinary Providence to have been actually administered, in which, not only this objection

Asaph de Dei providentia dubitavit, & fere a vera va deflexisset --Salomon etiam, cujus tempore res Judæorum in summo vigore erant, suspicatur omnia casu contingere-- Denique commibus fere prophetis hoc ipsum valde obscurum fuit, nenype quomodo ordo naturæ & hominum event'is cum conceptu quem de' providentia Dei forınaverant, possent convenire.-Spinoza Theologico-Pol. pp. 73, 74.

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will be seen to drop of itself, but the particular, passages, on which it is founded, will be distinctly considered; yet, for the Reader's satisfaction, it may not be amişs to shew, here, that these representations of inequality are very conşistent with that, before given of the extraordinary Providence. We say, therefore,

I. That when the Sacred Writers speak of the inequalities of Providence, and the unfit distribution of things, they often mean that state of it amongst their Pagan neighbours, and not in Judea : As particularly in the Book of Psalms and Ecclesiastes *

IL. We sometiines find men complaining of inequalities in events, which were indeed the effects of a most equal Providence. Such as the punishment of Posterity for the crimes of their Forefathers; and of Subjects for their Kings. Of the first, the Prophet Ezekiel: gives us an instance in the People's case : What mean ye, that you use this Proverb. concerning the Land of Israel, saying, The Fathers huve eaten sour grapes, and the Childrens teeth are set on edget? Of the second, David gives it in his own; not duly attending to the justice of this proceeding, where he says, But these Sheep, what have they done ? And that he was sometimes too hasty in judying of these matters appears from his own confession: Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world, they increase in riches. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me : suntil I went into the Sanca tvary: oficGod; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places : thou çastedst them down into destruction. --So foolish was !, and ignorant ::I was as a beast before thecg, That is, I understood not, the course of thy justice, till I had

* See Appendix... + Chap. xviii. ver. 2.

1 2 Sam. xxiv. 17., $ Palm lxxiii. 12--22:. ... VOL. V.



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considered the way in which an equal Providence must necessarily be administered under a Theocracy, and the conseguinces of such an Administration For,

IH. Even admitting the reality of an equal Providence to Particulars in the Hebrew State, the administration of it must needs be attended with such circumstances as sometimes to occasion those observations of inequality. For 1. it appears from the reason of the thing, 'that this administration did not begin to be exerted in particular cases till the civil Laws of the Republic had failed of their efficacy. Thus where any crime, as for instance disobedience to Parents, was public, it became the object of the civil Tribunal, and is accordingly ordered to be punished by the Judge *. But when private and secret, then it became the object of Divine vengeancet. Now the conses quence

of this was, that when the Laws were remissly or corruptly administered, good and ill would some times happen unequally to men..: For we are not to suppose that Providence, in this case, generally, interfered" till the corrupt administration itself,' when tipe for vengeance, had been first punished. 1: 2: In this extraordinary administration, one part of the wicked - was sometimes suffered as a scourge to the other: "3. The extraordinary Providence to the State might sometimes clash with that to Particulars, as in the plague for numbering the people. 4. Sometimes the extraordinary Providence was suspended for a season; to bring on a national repentance: But at the saine time this suspension was publicly denounced i And a very severe punishment it was, as leaving State which had not the sanction of a future state of Rewards and punishments in a very disconsolate condis * Exod. xxi, 15, & '17. #Deut. xxvii. 16. & Prov. XXX. 17.

Isaiat iii. 5. Chup. lix. ver. 2, Chap. Ixix yep.72 33

tion. And this was what occasioned the complaints: of the impatient Jews, after they had been so long accustomed to an extraordinary administration*..

IV. But the general and full solution of the difficulty is this, The common cause of these complaints arose from the GRADU A'L WITHDRAWING the extraordinary: Providence. Under the Judges it was perfectly equal.: And during that period of the Theocracy, it is remarkable that we hear of no complaints. When the people! had rebelliously demanded a king, and their folly was so far complied with, that God suffered the Theocracy to be administered by a Viceroy, there was then, as was fitting, a great abatement in the vigour of this, extraordinary Providence; partly in natural conse quence, God being now farther removed from the immediate administration ; and partly in punishment of their rebellion. And soon after this it is that we first fmd them beginning to make their observations and complaints of inequality. From hence to the time of the Captivity, the extraordinary Providence kept gradually decaying, till on their full re-establishment, it intirely ceased t. For what great reasons, besides punishment for their crimes; and what consequences it had on the religious sentiments of the People, will be occasionally explained as we go along.'

But now, let it be observed, that though I have here accounted for the appearances of an unequal Providence, yet this is ev abundanti ; the very nature of

my general argument evincing, that there must needs have been an equal Providence actually administered : for a People in society, without both a future State and an equal Providence, could have no belief in the moral

Isaiah v. 19. Jerem, xvii. 15. Amos v. 18. Zeph. i. 12, Malac. ii. 17. See note [U) at the end of this Book, vis


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government of God. And under such circumstances,
it hath been shewn, that they could not long subsist,
but must fall back again into all the confusion of a
savage state. We must conclude therefore, that what
appearances soever there may be of inequality in the
admuistration of Providence, in the early tiines of the
Jewish Theocracy, they are but appearances : that is,
nøthing which can really affect such a mode of admi-
nistration The Adversaries therefore of the Divine
Legation, such of them, I mean, who profess themselves
Believers, should consider that, while they oppose
the reality of an ertraordinary Providence.' over the
Jewish peoplc; they are weakening the evidence for the
miracles recorded in the Old Testament. But this is
the least of their care. One of them, with an assurance
that liath something in it of a prodigy, affirmis, "that
the Providence administered : under. the Law was
exactly tlre same kind with that administered under
the Gospelt.” Ilow this. conld be the case, without
impeaching the veracity of God ivitself, as not making
good his repeated engagements, this man would do well
to consider before he becomes the scorn and contempt
of Unbelievers. But as such sort of men bear worse
the disgraée of folly than impiety, I shall consider
this Portent on its ridiculous side.only. ,5" widow
c: Temporal rewards and punishments administercd
by the hand of God, followed, as a consequence, from
the Jewish Government's being Theocrutical; and an
catraordinary Providence followed, as a consequence,
from the dispensation of temporal rewards and punish-
mients. Yet hert we have a Regius Professor of
Divinity affirming; That both temporal Sanctions and an
ertraordinary Providence are administered under there
Gospel in the very same manner they formerly were
* See note (X) at the end of this Book. + Dr. Rutherforth.



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