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beneficent plan, requiring the agency of his dependants, although no individuals among them may be entitled to the preference, yet it must be enjoyed by some. Individuals must be selected to the honour of becoming instrumental to the general good. In such cases, we cannot conceive of a mode by which the necessary inequality can be produced, less offensive to others, or more operative upon the minds of all, than to render the superior virtues of paor progenitors the motives of choice. This manifests a marked respect for merit, which all must approve, and by which numbers may be encouraged. But the post of honour is also the post of danger. The man who is placed in a distinguished station, has a character to acquire and to maintain. Responsibility is attached to his office; for he has duties to perform which are not expected from others. Marks of complacency cannot be conferred upon him in his new character, by a wise director, until he deserve them; and if he fail, he incurs severe displeasure, notwithstanding the virtues of his ancestry. The conduct of the Israelites, as a people, could have no claim to approbation, notwithstanding their superior advantages. They were frequently the objects of divine indignation. The only indulgence shewn, on account
of their patriarchal ancestors, consisted in a manifest reluctance to punish, and in the encouraging assurances given them, that upon reformation, they should return to the immediate protection of heaven.
The dispersion and subsequent annihilation, as a people, of not less than ten tribes of the house of Jacob, illustrate and confirm these assertions. Had the chosen nation been the personal favourites of the Almighty, in the manner that had been generally supposed, his watchful eye would have prevented their foul disgrace. These tribes were in fact the bulk of the nation. The two remaining tribes could not have been sufficiently numerous, for the accomplishment of the promises made to the patriarchs, if a personal predilection for their numerous progeny, had been the primary object. These promises were fully accomplished by the exclusive. privileges which their descendants had enjoyed, for a series of ages: but when their privileges were abused, to the subversion of the religion they were bound to protect; when they became as profligate as the Antediluvians, as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, or as the Canaanites, whose lands they occupied, without attention to the conditions of the tenure, they were also swept away as abandoned and incorrigible.
Miraculous interpositions were destined to higher objects than to the protection of favourites, who were not to be reclaimed by the usual dispensations of Providence. The remaining tribes, notwithstanding their degeneracies, were much less vicious, and were still corrigible; and, notwithstanding the comparative paucity of their numbers, they were competent to all the purposes of Jehovah; consequently they, and they alone, of the numerous tribes of Israel, were appointed to bring these purposes to the intended issue. A similar dispersion of these must have left the plan unaccomplished. They were therefore miraculously prevented from being dissolved as a nation, punished with the severity which their sins required, regenerated by their afflictions, and then restored to the land of their fathers.
Let the above statement correct those vague and indiscriminating ideas which have been formed, concerning the love of God to his chosen people the Israelites; by which some minds have been greatly embarrassed; and others have been induced to palliate flagrant immoralities, as if any among them had a prescriptive right to act as they pleased, without the charge of cul
pability. Such sentiments are most dishonourable to God, and totally inconsistent with those principles of morality he incessantly commands us to cherish.
MEDIUM OF THIS DISPENSATION,
HAPPINESS, THROUGH THE
WE have shewn, from every part of the Jewish history, that the grand object was to destroy idolatry, which is so fatal to human happiness, and to establish among a particular people the important doctrines of Monotheism, or the existence of one God, the great creator and sovereign ruler, without rival or competitor, possessing every natural and every moral attribute. We have shewn, from the very nature of rational religion, or of such sentiments concerning religion as are most consonant to our reason, that human happiness cannot be ensured in any other way, than by submitting to their influence. We have also shewn that these very sentiments of the Deity, and his moral relations, are uniformly inculcated in the Jewish dispensation; that the practice of every moral virtue is
founded upon them, and represented as being essentially necessary to obtain the favour of God, or to enjoy that happiness of which our nature is rendered capable.
But we are not to suppose that to destroy idolatrous worship, and to establish, after the lapse of many centuries, sublimer principles of religion, among a small remnant of a particular people, was the ultimate purpose of God. The beneficial effects of this change would be too circumscribed, and too disproportionate to the length of time and complicated means employed, and to the numerous obstaclės surmounted. The result of these unwearied exertions, would have been of small importance, were it not preparatory for other blessings, for the enjoyment of which religious ignorance was a total disqualification. The sacred history, which has informed us of so many important facts, informs ús also that higher purposes are to be answered; --that à much more extensive good is in reserve for mankind at large, through the medium established, and the progressive operation of the means pre-ordained that the whole human race shall be rendered partakers of signal blessings; and that the descendants of Abraham shall finally become the objects of the divine