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Law; and if we bring ourselves fairly to this Tert, it is much :o be questioned, whether we thall not all find ourselves to have been Transgressors at some Time or other : Happy is the Man, whose Conscience can acquit him upon this Head!
Neither will it at all mend the Matter, to plead, when we have done any Thing repugnant to the Divine Law, that it was in Obedience to those in Authority over us ; not though it were the most absolute Monarch in the Universe; because our Obe. dience to earthly Princes must always be subordi. nale to our Duty to the great King of Kings; and whenever the one clases with the other, we are always to prefer the latter at all Events: Those Statesmen, who, to curry Favour with their Sovereigns, humour their Paffions at the Expence of every Thing that is virtuous and laudable, chrowing off all Humanity, and facrificing every Thing that lies in their Way thereto, would do well to remem. ber this.
As little will it avail us, to pretend we acted chus, in compliarce with any human Laws; and more especially, if such Laws have been obtained by corrupe and unjustifiable Practices, as has been the Case in former Times, and is now in many Placcs. For Instance, were Persecution to be here establish'd by Law, as it was formerly, it would little avail, either the judge or Jury, in the next World, when they had condemned an innocent Man, for worshipping God according to his owa Conscience, to alledge they did it according to Law.
When those wicked Princes of Babylon, who envied Daniel, on account of his Advancement over them, and enjoying the King's Favour, accused him of having violated the Royal Decree, they certainly spoke she Truth; and when, in Obedience thereto,
they had him cast into the Den of Lions, they undoubredly acted according to Law, and Daniel was actually a Transgreffor thereof ; notwithstanding which, they were, without Dispuie, geilty of wilful Murder ; and also of breaking the first Command. ment, in promoting the Promulgation of so impious a Decree : And, accordingly, they soon afterwards deservedly received the due Reward of Murderers ; failing into the same Snare which they had laid for the Innocent. But we do not only offend againit this Law, by paying greater Obedience to the Commands of any other, or to the Dictates of our own Passions, than to the Divine Mandates, but when we love, fear, or truf in, and rely on any osher Perfon, or Thing, more eban God.
There is yet another very gross Transgression of this Law, which, nevertheless, does not properly. come under any of these Heads ; this is the heinous Sin of Atheism, if indeed there is such a Thing as an actual Atheid in the World, whereof we are in fonte Doubt. The Atheist, indeed, cannot ftri&tly be füid to have any other Gods than the Lord of Heaven and Earth, because he pretends not to acknowledge any; and even denies the Existence of any such Being: But, though the First Commandment is so expressed in the Decalogue, it is more fully and clearly explained by Mofes, Deut. vi. 4, 5, Hear, o lj faci, the LORD our God is one LORD. And thou Iba't love the LORD thy God with all thine Heart, And with all t.by Soul, and with all thy Hight. Now it is very evident, the Atheist, who does not acknowledge any such Being, can never be said to love him, and consequently is a gross and heinous Transgrelfor of this Precept.
Having thus laid before our Reader's the full Exten: of this Commandment, proceed we, now, to give some Examples of the dreadful Consequences,
generally attending the Breach of it; and the happy Effects of a due Observance thereof. The first memorable Example we meet in History, of an heinous and hirdened Offender again this Law, is of Pharaoh, King of Egypt; who was also as remarkably and heavily punished, together with his whole Kingdom.
This impious and merciless Prince, having long harr. fled and opprefled the unhappy Ifraelites, al Manner of Ways, even to the forcing them to become the Murderers of their own Children, the Al.. mighty, who had seen their Misery, and heard their Cry, deputes his Servant Mofes, first to affemble them, and promise them Deliverance in his Name ; and inen to go id him, and demand their Enlargement. Accordingly Mofes, accompanied by his Brother Aaron, repairs to Pbarach, with this awful, but to him highly disagreeable Message; Thus faith the LORD God of Israel, Let my People go, that they may kold a Feast lo me in the Wilderness. But what Anfwer does this baughty, wicked, and blafphemous Prince' return, to ihe Injunction of the Almigbry? Who is the Lor:D, that I should obey his Voice, to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go. Poor, hardened, impious, and blasphe: mous Wretch! Too soon waft thou made to know, at thy Cost, who the LORD God of Israel was, against whom thou thus exaltedit thyself!
Not content with this imperious Denial, ho accuses dioses and Aaron of hindering the People from their Labour ; taxes them with Idleness, for desire ing to go to sacrifice to the LORD; and in order to increase their Hardships and Misery, commands bis Task-Masters, no longer to furnish them with the usual Allowance of Sıraw, and, nevertheless, to require of them the same Number of Bricks as they used to make when Straw was found them. As this was next to an Impossibility, it was no Wonder the People were not able to perform it ; notwithstand.
ing which, they were severely beaten for what was * nor their Fault ; wherefore it was very natural to lay
all the Fault upon Moses and Aaron, and to reproach them Tharply wich having increased their Misery, inftead of obt:ining any Ease for them,
In Efe, according to any Human Judgment, their Case was very hard ; and God put their faith and Obedience to a severe Trial, in ordering them to go again, and make the same Demand, when chey had found, thai, instead of prevailing for their Deliverance, they had only increased the Misery of their Countrymen: But the Ways of Cou are unicarchable, and his Commands to be obeyed, not disputed. Accordingly Mofes, at the Order of the Almighty, having again addressed himself to the Children of Israil, and repeared the Promise of Deliverance, in the Lord's Name, though they through Anguil of Spirit, and cruel Bondage, hearkened not unto him, he was again commanded to go to Pharaoh, and reiterate his Demand.
Now the Faith, even of Mofes himself, was but weak at this Time ; as well as it was, when the Lord first spoke unto him out of the Burning Bulh ; and when, notwithstanding two Miracles wrought to seassure him, he would have declined the Office of delivering his Brethren ; which shews bow frail, . and full of Unbelief, the best of Men naturally are. Accordingly, he pleads now again with the LORD to be excused; Behold, says he, the Children of Israel bave not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharoah bear me, who am of uncircumcised Lips? And he even repeats this Plea a second Time ; notwithstanding which, the LORD renews his Command, and Moses is forced to comply ; only the Almighty indeed in great Condescension to his Weakness, and to en
courage him the more, tells him, Set, I have made thee a GoD to Pharaoh ; and Aaron, tby Brother, mall be thy Prophet. To which he adds, Thou sbalt Speak all that I command thee; and Aaron, thy Bree ther, mall speak unto Pharaoh, thai he fend the Chile dren of Israel out of his Land.
Thus encouraged, the two Brothers venture again to address themselves to Pharaoh, and renew the Demand they had before made, in the LORD's Name ; backing it with the Miracle of changing Aaron's Rod into a Serpent, in his Presence, but all in vain. It seems, there were then divers Magicians and Sorcerers in Egypt, who could work frange Delusions with their Inchantments ; to them, there. fore, this haughty and impious Prince applied himself on this Occasion; and as they were able, by their diabolical Incantations, either really lo imitate this Miracle, or so to charm and delude the Sight, as to make the Beholders imagine they did fo, Pharaoh, no doubt, concluded, that what Mofes had done was no more than fome luch diabolical Trick as theirs : Nay, though by the Touch of the Rod of Aaron, the River was turned into Blood, so that all the Fish therein died, and it became loathsome to drink; and though, by stretching out the same Wonder-working Rod, over the Rivers, Streams, and Ponds, the whole Land was over run with Frogs, yet because the Magicians were able to imicate the fame, it had Jitile or no Eff:&t upon Pharaob; who, undoubtedly, did not diftiaguish between what was wrought by the Power of God, and what was effected by the IlTufions of the Devil.
But the Almighty foon made him and his Sorcerers also, fenfible of the wide Difference between them ; accordingly the very next Plague, wherewith he afo Aicted she Land, which was by smiting the Duft of the Earth, and transforming it into Ļice, and which cs