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SERM. Exod. ix 7. Once more, after the plague
is attributed to himself, under both these forms of expression, which 'may serve to convince us that they are both of like meaning or importance. When Pharaob saw that the rain, and the hail, and the thunders were ceafed, be finned yet more, and hardened bis heart, be and bis servants; and the heart of Pharaob was hardened, neither would be let the children of Israel go, as the Lord had spoken by Mofes, Exod. ix. 34, 35.
In the following Plagues indeed, as well as in that of Boils, which came between the Murrain and the Hail, it is said exprelly, that the Lord hardened the beart of Pharaob. But, from the instances alledged, it is sufficiently evident, that he had first hardened himself; and consequently, that God did no otherwise harden him, than by forsaking and
to his own sinful affections, after he had obftinately resisted the most flagrant methods of conviction, and abused that mercy (which ought to have reclaimed him) into an occasion of his greater obduration.
For the fuller clearing of which point, it is, in the next place, fit to be considered, that the scripture has let us know by what steps and degrees of false reasoning the King of Egypt did advance to such a height of impiety. For (1.) we are informed, that,
in some of these severe Plagues, the Ma-Serm. gicians of Egypt did (either in reality or in XIII. appearance) the same, with their enchantments, as Mofes by the finger of God. From whence Pharaoh seems to have collected, that the God of Isrrel was not more powerful than their Egyptian Deities. For which reason, in the case of the River turned to Blood, his hardness is immediately connected with that observation, as its proper
effect. The Magicians of Egypt did fo with their enchantments, and Pharaob's heart was hardened, says the Text, Exod. vii. 22. Again (2.) It is obfervable, that, in those miracles which the Magicians could not perform, but were forced to acknowledge in them the Almighty power of God, Pharaob saw however that God was merciful, and easy to be intreated, and he no sooner made a Thew of repentance and fair promises to Moses, but the plague was presently removed, from whence he entertained no great apprehensions of danger from that Being, who was so easily inclined to pity and forgive. Thus, for the purpose, it is observed, Exod. viii. 15. When Pbaraob saw that there was respite, he hardened bis heart, and bearkened not unto them. And so again, in the ixth chapter, at the 34th verse, When Pharaoh saw that the rain, and the bail, and the thunder, were ceased, be finned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and
SERM. his servants. All this is represented as his
XIII. own crime and obstinacy; and if, after
the perverseness and malice of his own
And, if then his fin was wholly from
ing is our own.
Our minds had not other- SERM. wise been more truly and sincerely virtuous, XII. only their filth and viciousness had been covered and conceal'd. At least we had had the reputation of greater strength and constancy than really belonged to us, since this falling, after all, must leave the reproach of weakness and inconstancy. And chus far of the four first kinds of exceptions that are made against the doctrine of the Text. The
(V.) Fifth objection follows, That God foreknows and foretells the sins of men, and sometimes makes them subservient to his own Decrees.
The truth of the fact will not, in this case be disputed by us. For, the certain foreknowledge of every event which comes to pass, we judge to be a necessary perfection of the Divine nature. And therefore when we see so much evil every day committed in the world, we are sure that God must know of it before-hand; otherwise there would something come to pass, of which he had not that certain foreknowledge which the perfection of his nature requires. And, that the evils thus foreknown, are sometimes predicted or foretold by him, we have so many proofs and examples in the sacred scriptures, that, as there is no room to dispute the allegation,
SERM. so there can be no need to recite the testiXIII. monies. The difficulty then remains, to
account how that which is thus certainly foreknown, and therefore will certainly come to pass, should be reckoned a spontaneous or free action, and not to be ne. cessarily bound upon us by fome unalterable law of Fate.
But here, in the first place, let it be confidered, that we are not less clearly instructed in our own natural privilege, as to the liberty of choice and action, than we are in this doctrine of Prescience itself.
nce itself. From whence we are always treated as rational and free Agents, the precepts of religion are proposed to our serious confideration, as matter of duty and not of natural neceffity, and there are fit motives set before, us to influence our practice, the prospect of reward to quicken our obedience, and the fear of penalties to deter us from fin. Whilst thus the whole scheme of our religion is contrived to evince that we are ourfelves the Authors of our own iniquity, it must be most disingenuous to charge it upon God, on account of some other doctrine which we may not be perfectly able to reconcile with it. For, what can be more unreasonable than for us to expect to comprehend the nature of all those Divine truths, which our God is pleased to reveal. or propound to our belief