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15. Job v. 17, 18......The Benefits of Affliction......
69. xxi. 34. Against Sensuality and Worldly Cares.
GOD A JEALOUS GOD.
Exod. xxxiv. 14.
For thou shalt worship no other God: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
An infidel writer, who has lately made a secret and insidious attack upon divine revelation, while he affects not to dispute its authenticity, nor to oppose Christianity, alleges, that he is compelled to believe that the histories of the Old Testament are either impositions on the credulity of mankind, or else that they are chiefly, if not entirely, allegorical compositions. * The Platos, the Ciceros, and the Senecas of the Pagan world,' says he, 'would probably have been astonished, if they had been assured that the following sentences had proceeded from the highest intelligence : "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” Exod. xx. 5. • I will bring evil upon this place.” 2 Kings xxii. 16.
“ Mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place.” Jer. vii. 20.' It is certain, however, that these sages of antiquity never did express any disgust, horror, or indignation at their own poets, who represented the innumerable objects of their worship, of different sexes, as gratifying their sensual appetites in the most irregular manner, as giving occasion for the lowest kind of jealousy, and indulging the bitterest and most groundless
resentments. On the contrary, the Old-testament writers, though they represent God's displeasure against sin, by strong figures, taken from human passions, yet never represent Jehovah as being angry without cause; they describe him as displeased only with sin; and consider all sin as hateful in his sight, and bringing down his righteous judgments. They enforce the most extensive, pure, and useful morality ;
and prohibit all injustice toward men, as well as idolatry; and reject all ceremonial religion as worthless, when disconnected with moral obedience. It is true, they teach us that God will act, not only as the guardian of the rights of man, but of the rights of God also. And is there any thing irrational, or unphilosophical, in supposing that the Most High will pay respect to his own glory? If there be one only living and true God, is he bound to tolerate the worship of idols ? to disregard the conduct of his creatures? or regard it only in case of injury to society ? Is it inconsistent with his goodness to appoint any positive test of obedience ? or to punish the violation of such injunctions, as well as of moral transgressions ? Or has he a right to avenge every kind of disobedience? What punishment may God justly inflict ? And how may he execute his threatenings? Must he always do it immediately by himself? Or may he use instruments ? Is he at liberty in any case to suffer sinners to punish each other? Or may he sometimes commission his voluntary servants to execute his vengeance? Had he a right, when the iniquity of the Amalekites and the Amorites was full, to employ the Israelites in punishing them? Or ought they to have been left to go on with all their impurities and idolatries, offering their own children to Moloch as long as they pleased ? Had God a right to destroy Sodom, &c. with all the inhabitants? or to cut off the seven nations with pestilence, but not by the sword of Israel ? As long as evil exists in the world, the puny worm who censures the God of the Bible must censure the God of nature also, or plead that he is utterly unable to prevent it.
But let us inquire, First, What is evidently intended by this declaration“ The Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." ? Not that the divine mind is subject to any disquietude, or groundless
suspicion, or undue resentment. His happiness cannot be interrupted by any perturbation, and he is perfectly acquainted with the whole truth respecting every one, and his judgment is according to equity. But it means that the Most High God is ardently concerned for his own honor and glory, and requires a proper regard to the same object to be paid by others. That he is attentive to the conduct and disposition of all intelligent creatures, in every respect wherein they affect his declarative glory. His essential glory they cannot affect, but he is not therefore regardless of his declarative glory. God's greatness is no reason why he should disregard the disposition his creatures manifest towards him. God knows himself. He forms a just estimate of his own character and station. He cannot but treat himself according to the just idea he has of his own greatness and excellency. God cannot deny himself, nor can he be indifferent to the manner in which his creatures are affected towards him. He requires them to love him supremely, to place their happiness in the enjoyment of his favor, and to consider his glory as the chief end of their existence. He expects them to show their love by obedience, or intentional conformity to his will. He requires universal obedience, springing from supreme love. He demands also unfeigned gratitude for all his benefits; and the greater the benefits he bestows, the higher is the gratitude demanded. If other objects are preferred to him, he will undoubtedly resent it. If divine worship be formally paid to objects which have no claim to divinity, God will be highly displeased. Hence the strict prohibition of polytheism and idolatry: which crimes were greatly aggravated when committed by Israel, a people so highly favored by him ; a people whom he had as it were espoused to himself, by entering into a national covenant. Hence idolatry in them was considered as spiritual adultery, and he threatened to judge them as women are judged that break the vows of wedlock. Nor are the obligations of Christians less binding, or their sins less aggravated. If they violate their professed attachment to God, they may expect the severest tokens of his holy displeasure. Though the Divine Being is not susceptible of painful agitation, yet his resentment against whatever tends to his dishonor will be found