says that the evils which follow the mistakes of our free agency are nothing butnatural consequences, following from the natural laws of the universe, whichare necessary and invariable; so that these experiences give no evidencewhatever of a moral providence over men. His fourth and chief ground is theold cavil, how God, if there were a God, could even permissively ordainnatural and moral evil in his kingdom.
I. The first class of assaults I propose to follow to a very short distance.
They could be all disposed of by pointing to the dense ignorance of theirauthors concerning the Bible, its real facts and its real doctrines. They are suchcriticisms as their authors would never have made had they read their Bibleswith attention and candor. They are all absolutely exploded by simpleexplanations which the teachers of the church have been accustomed forgenerations to give even to the children of their Bible classes. It would bewearisome and useless to go over all of this thoroughly-trodden ground. Oneor two points will serve for illustration. In general I would only remark, that itwould be well for the critics to get some little knowledge of the Christianliterature before exposing themselves in a way both ludicrous and pitiable, byattacking subjects about which they have been too proud to learn anything.For instance, we are hotly told by one that Joshua must have been a verywicked man, because he not only punished Achan capitally for disobeying apolice regulation, but murdered his wife and children along with him. But theold testament makes Joshua a very pious hero; wherefore it also is a verywicked and foolish book. The simple and sufficient reply is, that the executionof Achan’s family was none of Joshua’s doings. He had no more discretionabout it than about Noah’s flood. God was the agent, and Joshua his merelyinvoluntary instrument. So that the moral question in the given case resolvesitself into this: Has Almighty God a right to punish a contumacious andimmoral family of his creatures with death for a special wise end, death beingthe final just penalty of all sin? No anon, after provisionally admitting thecondition of this question, even for argument’s sake, is silly enough to assertthat, if there is such a God, such retribution from him would be necessarilyunjust. Or, do they reinforce their cavil by saying there is no evidence thatAchan’s wife and children were accomplices in his theft? The simple reply is,that undoubtedly God knew them to be a bad family, worthy on generalgrounds of his eternal displeasure. For the principle of imputation on whichthis case proceeds is that God righteously imputes part of the guilt of wickedparents to children, but only to wicked children.
So that we are certain thefamily also was vicious and disobedient. Had God punished them some yearsafter with death, or rheumatism, or cholera, nobody who admits that there is aGod, would have dreamed of impugning the justice of that providential