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pilgrimage, to a place of rest. Under his conduct, after passing the river Jordan they entered the land of promise. But it was to be won before they could possess it. Of the occurrences which ensued, I shall take no notice, except only two circumstances, which were among the first that happened. And these I shall just mention, to shew that no person, left to himself, could have acted as Joshua did. He was arrived in an enemy's country, and it was necessary for him to keep the people upon their guard, as they had powerful nations to encounter. What then was his first action when he came among them? He made the whole army undergo an 'operation, which rendered every person in it incapable of acting. The people of the next hamlet might have cut them to pieces. The history tells us that it was by divine appointment, and so it must necessarily have been. The God, who insisted upon this instance of obedience and faith, would certainly preserve them for the confidence and duty which they shewed. But this was not in the power of their leader; the same conduct in him would have been madness. The last thing which I
Joshua v. 3,
* See Genesis xxxiv. 25.
purposed to mention is, the behaviour of the people before the city of Aï. This place could muster not much above six thousand men; against whom were to be opposed all the myriads of Israel. But an advanced body was defeated, and thirty-six of the Israelites slain; upon which it is said, Joshua vii. 5, 6. The hearts of the people melted, and became a water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to` the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the even-tide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. But wherefore was all this humiliation shewn? and why this general consternation at so inconsiderable a loss? This was the people, who were led on with a prospect of gaining the land of the Hivites and Amorites, and other powerful nations, who were to be opposed to the sons of Anak, men of great stature and prowess, and who had cities walled to heaven. We see that they faint at the first check. How could any leader, with such people and in such circumstances, entertain the least views of conquest? There were certainly none entertained by their leader either from himself or from his people. All his confidence was in the God of his fathers; and the whole history
must be set aside, unless the interposition of the Deity be admitted. All the operations, which at first sight may appear strange, are calculated for this purpose, to shew throughout, that God was the chief agent. This was particularly effected in the downfal of the city of Jericho, which was brought about merely by the priests of God, and the people going in procession round it for seven days, without the least military operation of the army. By these two events they were shewn plainly the great object to which they were to trust; not to the prowess of man, but to the living God.
Arguments from the Law.
I have made use of the internal evidence of the Mosaic history, as far as was necessary for my purpose. More light may be still obtained, for it is a source of intelligence not easily exhausted. The texture and composition, however simple, shew infinite marks of wisdom; and from what has been said, I flatter myself it is very plain, that the history proves the miracles ; and we may at every step cry out with the magicians of Egypt
This is the finger of God. The very nature of the Mosaic law shews the necessity of God's interposition; for, without his ordinance and sanction, it could never have been established. And we might rest the argument for the divine appointment of Moses upon this sole foundation, that these rites and institutes could not have been either conceived or enforced by him; nor could he possibly, unless commanded, have wished to have carried them into execution. They consisted of a code of painful rituals and burdensome ceremonies; to the purport of which the people were strangers; and, if they were not enjoined by the Deity, no good could possibly have arisen from them. For what reason therefore could Moses wish to impose upon his people so many rules and prescripts, and bind them to such severe discipline, if it were in his power to have acted otherwise? The whole was a cumbersome yoke to the necks of those who were obliged to submit; a yoke, says the apostle, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. Acts xv. 10. What one end could have been answered to Moses in framing these severe laws; or what good could accrue from them either to himself or the people?
But the chief question to be asked is, though he were ever so willing to frame them, how he could possibly enforce them. They must have appeared in many instances inexplicable, and even contrary to reason. What art or power could be used to bring the people to obey them; a people too who were of a rebellious spirit, impatient of controul, and devoted to superstitions quite repugnant to these ordinances? Human assistance he had none; for we find instances of his own sister and brother opposing him, and of the very children of Aaron being in actual rebellion. Laws are generally made when people have been well settled, and they are founded upon many contingencies which arise from the nature of the soil, the trade, and produce of the country, and the temper, customs, and disposition of the natives and their neighbours. But the laws of Moses were given in a desert, while the people were in a forlorn state, wandering from place to place, and encountering 'hunger and thirst, without seeing any ultimate of their roving. These prescripts were designed
1 Numbers xx. 2. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.