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the Lord, highly pleased therewith, accepted of the Sacrifice he had thus offered, of chose audacious Transgressors, as an Atonement for their Wickedness, and immediately the Plague was stayed. Nor did Phinehas himself go unrewarded, for this his reasonable and holy Zeal for the Honour of his great Creator, for the Lord gave him his Blefling, and assured him, the Priesthood should remain in his Family for many Generations, as it accordingly did.
Thus have we a remarkable Example both of the good Effects of Zeal against Idolairy, and of the fatal Effects of being given to that heinous Sin; no rooner are che Israelites drawn away by the Midianitish Women, to join themselves unto Baalpeor, than they are fmitten with the Plague, and in a few Days, nay, for aught we know to the contrary, in a few Hours; Twenty-four Thousand are cut off. Whereas, on the other hand, Phinehas, by a sealonable Sacrifice of an audacious, Offender, not only appeases God, and stays the Plague, buc intails the Priefhood, the second Digniry aniongit. the Jews, upon himself and his family. To lay the Truth, che Ifraelites themselves, as prone as chey were otherwise to Idolatry, seem to have taken Notice hereof, and kept is in their Remem. brance for some considerable Time ; for we hear no more of their Idolatry all the Days of Moses, nor yer of Tolbua who !ucceeded Mofes, nor of the Elders who our lived 7 pua, and had known all the Works che Lord had done for Ifrael.
But not long after, we find, when they had not those Monitors, to put them in Remembrance of the Lord's mighty Deeds, chey again revolt, intermarry wich the Heathen that are around them in the Land of Canaan, and serve their Gods. (lereupon the Lord immediately forfook them, and delivered them inro che Hand of Chushan-rifhathaim,
King of Mefopotamia, whom they were forced to ferve for Eight Years ; and no doubt their Servitude was hard enough. For, towards the Expira. tion of that Time, they returned unto their God, and cried unto him, and immediately he raised them up a Deliverer, in the Person of Othniel che Son of Kenaz, who defeated Chushan-rishathaim, and fecured to the If aelites, the Enjoyment of Peace forty Years.
This was but a short Time, and yet it was as long as that unthankful People could remember their Deliverance, or even their Sufferings ; for we find they tell again into their old Sin, and accordingly the Lord again delivered them into the Hand of heir Enemies, namely, of Eglon, King of Moat, whom they were forced to serve Eighteen Years. Being by that Time come a little to themselves, and returning to their God, he raised them up a Deliverer, in the Person of Ehud, a Benjamite, who by the Death of the King of Moab, whom he killed with his own Hand, and by the Slaughter of Ten Thousand of his People, rescued the Israelites trom Bondage, and procured them the Enjoyment of their Liberty for fourscore Years.
Towards the Expiration of that Term, they returned, like a Dog to the Vomic ; upon which the Lord delivered them into the Hands of Fabin King of Canaan, who oppressed them grievously for Twenty Years. Whereupon they became sensible of their Folly, and turned again unto their God, and he again had Pity on them, and sent them Deliverance by the Means of Deborah, Barak, and Jael, who utterly defeated the Army of Fabin, scaving not a Man of them alive, and New Sisera his General, so that the Ifraelites were fully avenged of, and delivered from their Oppressors. It is nos mentioned in Scripture how long they enjoyed the Liberiy Heaven thus sent them ; but of one Thing
we may be well assured, namely, that they were not disturbed in the Enjoyment thereof, as long as they continued obedient to their God; as also, that no sooner did they revole from him, than he severely chaised them, by delivering them again into the Hinds of their Enemies.
Accordingly we find them soon after groaning under the Tyranny of the Midianites, who almost ftarved them, having utterly deprived them of all Manner of Sustenance, and not suffering them to enjoy even the Fruits of the Earth in Peace; insomuch that, after having threshed their Corn, they were forced to hide it, for fear of their rapacious Ene: mies. Under this revere Scourge -did they groan Seven Years ; che' Midianites coming upon them every Season with innumerable Flocks and Herds, and devouring the Increase of the Land for which the poor Ifraelites hid toiled, as fast as the Earth. gave it. At the End of that Time, upon their crying to the Lord, he had Mercy upon them, and sent chem Deliverance by the Hands of Gideon, who with no more than Three Hundred Men, gave an. incire Overchrow to the united Powers of Midian and Amalek, purring to the Sword One Hundred and Twenty Thousand, with Oreb and Zeeb, two of their Princes, as allo Zebah arid Zalmannah, two of their Kings.
Afrer so signal a Deliverance from fo cruel ? Slavery, one would have imagined the Jews would not soon forget their Divine Benefactor; and yec we find that, even during the Life of Gideon, they were drawn away to worship an Ephod, of Gideon's setting up in Ophrah ; and which is yet more strange, that he himself, with his Family, set them the wicked Example: It was no Wonder, therefore, that after his Decease, they revolted yet more, and went a whoring, as the Scriptures express it, after Baalim, and made Baal berith their God. Nor•
withstanding which, so long. suffering is the Almighiy, that we do not find that he visited their Sins upon them for some Time, not even during all the Days of Abimelech, or of Tola, and Jair, who judged Ifrael afrer him, the former Twenty-three, and the latter Twenty-two Years. One Reason in. deed may have been that he left them to be punish. ed by Cheir wicker King Abimelech, the Bastard of Gideon, whom they had ungrarefully preferred lo his lawful Sons, God suffering him to be advan. ced to the Throne, that he might be a Scourge to his Brethien, (seventy of whom he flew upon one Stone,) for having been the first to worship the Ephed, set up by their Father in Ophrab.
However that be, certain it is, that it was not rill after the Death of Jair the Gileadite, when If: rael, revolring absolutely from the Worship of the Living God, served not only Baalim, but Ashta. roth, and the Gods of Syria, Zidon, Moab, the Amo. nites, and the Philistines, char the Lord, whom they had so highly provoked by this Complication of Abominations, thought fic ro scourge them again severely by the Hands of their Enemies ; and accordingly suffered them to become the Servants of those who bore a tyrannous Hate against them, and vexed and oppressed them grievously, namely, The Philipines and Ammonites.
Being thus diftreffed, they bethink themselves ar laft, grow senlible of their Folly and Wicked. ness, and turn again to their merciful Father ; who being always more ready to forgive than they were to repent, again received his rebellious Children with open Arms, though not without a severe Ex. pftulation with them, and reminding them of their incorrigible and frequent Backslidings, “ Did not or I deliver you, said the LORD, from the Egyptians, 16 and from the Amorites, and from the Children of " Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zido
«i nians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites « did oppress you, and ye cried to me, and I deli. 6. vered you out of their Hands.' Yet ye have for« Caken me, and served other Gods, wherefore I " will deliver you no more. Go, and cry unto the ci Gods which you have chosen ; let them deliver you " in the Time of your Tribulation.
How curring was this Reproof! What could che, guily Ifraelites answer thereunto, self-condemned as they were? Nothing certainly. They were therefore now in an evil plight, being thus seemingly abandoned by their only Friend and Proreco tor. They take however the wisest Course ; chey do not offer ac justifying themselves, that they weil know would be in vain ; but purring a way their Strange Gods, and returning sincerely to the Lord, they confess their Sins, throw themselves upon his Mercy, and rehgn themselves wholly to his Will. " We have finned, say they; do thou unto us what “ seemeth good unto thee ; deliver us only, we $6 pray thee, this Day." And soon did they find the falutary Effect of so prudent a Conduct; for we are immediately told, « And his Soul was griev. "ed for the Misery of Israel." In effect, the Almighty, who had only seemed to turn his Back upon them, that he mighe try che Sincerity of their Re. peniance, and humble them thoroughly, foon Shews ihem he has nor forgot to be gracious, and sends them Deliverance by the Means of Jepthab.
Ever prone however to revolt, forgetful of the Hand chat fed them, and equally unmoved either by Mercies or Sufferings, we soon find that stiff-necked People again forsaking their God, and again enslaved by their old Enemies the Phi. lifines : Nevertheless, he did not utterly abandon them for bis own Sake, but raised them up a De. Jiverer in the Person of Sampfon, who smote the Philifines from Time to Time, and prevented their F4