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on the one hand; or to conclude against Covenanting, as a ceremonial duty, because of this circumstance attending it, on the other.
FOURTHLY, The PUNISHMENT of such as would not seek the Lord God of their fathers deferves to be considered in the next place: " That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman *.” This punishment was first denounced when God gave the judicial law to Moses; and Asa applied it to the particular case of the kingdom in his day. The only question to which I shall attend is, If this law were peculiar to the Jews, or common to all men? In answer to which I shalt observe,
1. THAT Idolatry, respecting the object of worship, is a crime punishable by the law of nature, being a manifest violation of it. But, to set the matter in a clearer point of view, The law of nature must be considered as operating in a state of nature ; or, as in a state of civil society. Idolatry in a state of nature, is a crime against the law of nature; but, in that state, one man is to another as one inde
pendent nation is to another; no man having • right to hurt another, except in the case of
self-defence; or in the prevention and repara
* 2 Chron. xv. 13.
tion of injuries. The right of executing the law of nature, in this state, cannot be exerted in the restraint of crimes which are, by remote consequences only, hurtful to society. Idolatry, therefore, though a crime against the law, of nature, prior to the erection of focicty, muit be left to the judgment of God; fecing there is no human jurisdiction empowered to restrain it. But, in a state of civil society, it is quite otherways. The civil law is super-induced, and coines in aid of the law of nature : And the execution of that law is intrusted to the civil inagiftrate. Therefore, wliere the magistrate knows the true God, and where his subjects have known him likeways, he is bound to punish such idolaters as set up false gods within his jurisdiction; nor can he protect tlie public safety if he does otherways : For the acknowledgment of God is essentially necessary unto the being of society, that oaths, which are appeals to his omniscience and omnipotence may be of force. Oaths are the ligaments of fociety; but if that being, by whom we swear, be superseded, and vanities substituted in his room, these ligaments are diffolved, and, by consequence, society itself *.
* The doctrines of toleration and restraint, in matters of religion, ought to be touched with a delicate hand, I grant ; but, I hope, I have not exceeded in what is delivered. Dr Owen, who was never suspected of intolerant principles, carries the matter much higher : “ It
2. The magistrates of the Jewish republic were bound to punih idolaters on a two-fold account: They were bound to do it on the principles just inentioned; and for reasons peculiar to their theocratical government. God was King of the Jews, or head of the theocracy; therefore, he could not suffer any other deity, more than any earthly king could admit a rival into his kingdom. Two lreads of the same kind and order in any commonwealth are absolutely incompatible. Hence idolatry had a particular aggravation in Canaan, beyond what it has in any other country; it amounted to nothing less than high treason : Now, treason has been deemed capital in every age. Hence, we may fee, how unjustly the Mosaic fystem in general, and this covenant in particular, have been charged with cruelty by the Deists and libertines of these times. They grant, that treafon has ever been considered as a capital crime among mankind; and they dare not deny, but the traitor justly pays his head, when in the power of majesty : But here they tax the execution of traitors with the most flagrant injustice ! Shocking absurdity! Gross infatuation! "
is the duty of magistrates,” faid he, “not to allow any public places for false and abominable worship; as also, to demolish all outward appearances of such fuperftitious, idolatrous, and unacceptable service. Let Papists, who are idolaters ; and Socinians, who are anthropolatræ, plead for themselves.” See Dr OWEN on Toleration, and Dr Lowra's Letter to Dr Warburton.
FIFTHLY, We may now consider the OcCASIONS of this Covenant. The interval between this transaction and that in lait year of David's reign was near feventy-six years : For the kings which were between David and Aliz reigned just sixty years; and this covenant took place in the fifteenth year of Asa's reign. Alore particularly,
1. THIS covenant obtained after God had accomplished various promises made to Israel in the Davidic Covenant. He had set Solomon on the throne of his father David, blefled Israel with remarkable peace and prosperity under his government; enabled him to build a most fplendid house for the name of the Lord*; and brought every part of the ceremonial worThip unto the highest pitch of perfection and glory. Now, the accomplifliment of God's promises laid them under new obligations to devote themselves to him who bestowed all things fo liberally on them: And it was proper to testify their gratitude for the advancement of his work among them, by vowing to him who had brought them hitherto..
2. Tie glory of the kingdom, and especially the splendor of religion, had been greatly eclipsed by Solomon's apostacy. That same
* For a delineation of this fabric, and a view of the myfte ries vailed under it, see Lee on Solomon's Temple, as alfo Arias Montan. Villalpand. aud Lewis Cappellus on the subject. Hhh 2
Solomon who had been so much the object of divine love, unto whom God had appeared twice, even he fell into the horrid sin of idolatry; and that in an advanced period of life. Fondncís forimitating the fashions of the great, in matters of religion as well as common life, has been the plague of both ancient and modern times ; therefore, it is not improbable, that, in compliance with their prince, his courtiers relinquilled the true religion and a good conscience along with him. Solomon himself was probably reclaimed, however, and wrote the book of Ecclcíiastes after his reformation.
3. Tue apostacy of Solomon had been fignally punishıcd in the revolt of the ten tribes from under the authority of the family of Darid, which was followed with remarkable apoflacy from the true religion, and dreadful covenant-violation. Jeroboam, for political reafons, prohibited the males from appearing three times a-year before the Lord at Jerusalem, as was required by the law of Moses. To accommodate them in his own dominions, he set up one calf at Bethel, the south end of his kingdon, on the borders of that of Judah, to prevent the Israelites from going into it: Another at Dan, that he might at once accommodate the northern territories, and also draw perfons hither from the southern parts. These reasons were tvo gross, however, to be either alligned or avowed: The ostensible one was, their personal ease; “ It is too much for you