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to descend, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. The land of Canaan was also to be theirs, though at that time peopled with nations more powerful than they, the measure of whose wickedness at a distant period would he filled up, and who would be destroyed on that account; it being expressly declared that the land was taken from the Canaanites as a punishment for their crimes, and not for the purpose of giving a country to the Israelites.

Four hundred years after these promises were made, the descendants of Abraham who had fallen into bondage in Egypt, were delivered from their miserable condition, by a series of miracles, and were thence led by Moses to Mount Sinai, where they received a code of laws from God, and were henceforward taken under His immediate government. The natural character of the Israelites was not, however, altered by any miraculous interposition : they were selfwilled, and easily and strongly excited by present pain and pleasure: they were, in fact, children in character, though men in stature,' and such they long remained: to this first stage of the human mind, the dispensation under which they were placed was wisely and mercifully adapted. Their laws were exact, clear, and

even minute, and admitted of no evasion : if they obeyed them, they prospered and were happy ;-if they disobeyed them, severe and frequently instant punishment followed. Obedience was their only duty, and the reward of performing that duty was given them in this world. To apply general precepts to the direction of their daily conduct, and to look for their reward in a life beyond the present, was an exertion of mental and moral power of which the Israelites were evidently incapable. This should be carefully kept in view while tracing the progress of their history, as it renders many events instructive which might be regarded as unimportant, except as bearing upon this one supreme duty of exact and unhesitating obedience.

There are two other circumstances which require' attentive consideration in following the history of the Israelites; namely, the peculiar nature of their situation as the chosen people of God, and the manners and customs being different in that early age and eastern clime, from those which prevail in more modern times and in a colder region, with which we are too apt to compare them. Young persons especially are led into this error, as they usually read the history of the Israelites, before becoming acquainted with any other; and consequently they compare what they read only with what they see and hear around them. It will easily be perceived how many errors must arise from a view so contracted, and so false: while the interest and beauty of the narrative is weakened, if not entirely destroyed. With regard to the conduct of the patriarchs and the leaders of the Israelites in after times, they were in some instances expressly commanded to perform certain actions, and to abstain from performing others. Where this is the case, their conduct is above our scrutiny; when the Will of God is declared, Man has only to reverence it and obey. It is true that in many instances we may understand the wisdom and mercy of the Divine commands, but in some cases it is very possible that we may not: for we are human beings, who see but in part, and that darkly, and how should we understand God, whose wisdom is unsearchable--whose goodness ‘is past finding out? Let us then bow with humility to His appointments, confide in His all perfect wisdom, and acknowledge our own ignorance and weakness.

The patriarchs were not, however, divinely directed in every action of their lives : they were

frail beings like ourselves, liable to err, and free to choose between good and evil. Thus their character is often mixed, and the truth and simplicity with which their faults and virtues are pourtrayed, is one of the strongest internal evidences of the authenticity of the Scriptures. But, in judging of their actions, we should endeavour to place ourselves in their age and country, and bring their conduct to the test, not of Christianity, but of the rules of moral obligation then acknowledged and practised; modified, indeed, and in some cases altered by the superior advantages which they enjoyed. To judge the Israelites by our standard of Christian excellence, is obviously unjust. Their virtues and vices were those of men in the childhood of existence. Taught by revelations from God, they were appointed to set an example to the nations around of purity of worship, and a corresponding purity of life. The LORD their God was one Lord,-a God of justice, mercy, and truththis was their sublime faith, opposed to the polytheism of the ancient world: this great truth they were to hold sacred; and for that purpose they lived a distinct and chosen people—for that they underwent the discipline of trial and suffering—and for that they received, and, on their restoration, according to the sure word of prophecy, will again receive the blessing of their God.

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