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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Because Phinehas was not a magistrate


When Israel joined himself unto Baal-Peor, the Lord said unto Moses, 'Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.' And Moses said unto the judges, 'Slay every one his men that were joined unto Ball-Peor.' And when Zimri brought the Midianitish Cozbi in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle; and when Phineas saw it, he rose up,----and took the javelin in his hand, and he went after the men of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through,----So the plague was stayed,----And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 'Phineas hath turned away my wrath from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them,----I give unto him my covenant of peace,----because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.' Numb. xxv. 3.-13. This action is here much commended, and recorded to his commendation, Psal. cvi. 30, 31. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment, and so the plague was stayed; and that was counted to him for righteousness, unto all generations; that is,----Into justice of the deed before men, who otherwise might have put a bad construction upon it, as rash, out of season, committed against a magistrate by a private person, too cruel by cutting them off from repentance; but God esteemed it as extraordinary just. Pool's Synops. Critic. in Locum. It
is certain, this action was some way extraordinary; because Phinehas was not a magistrate, nor one of the judges whom Moses commanded to slay every one his men, ver. 5. Otherwise, if this had been only an ordinary execution of the judgment by the authority of Moses, Phinehas' action would not have been taken so much notice of, nor so signally rewarded; but here it is noted as a singular act of zeal, which it could not have been, if it was only an ordinary execution of the magistrate's command: yet, though this action was signally heroical, proceeding from a principle of pure zeal for God, and prompted by a powerful motion of the Spirit of God to that extraordinary execution of judgment: it is notwithstanding imitable in the like circumstances. For, the matter is ordinary, being neither preternatural, nor supernatural, but just and necessary. The end was ordinary, to turn away the wrath of God, which all were obliged to endeavour. The principle was ordinary, (though at the time he had an extraordinary measure of it) being zealous for the Lord, as all were obliged to be. The rule was ordinary, to wit, the command of slaying every man that was joined to Baal Peor, ver. 5. only this was extraordinary, that the zeal of God called him to his heroical action, though he was not a magistrate, in this extraordinary exigent, to avert the wrath of God; which was neither by Moses's command, nor by the judges obedience, turned away only by Phinehas' act of another nature, and his zeal appearing therein, and prompting him thereto, the Lord was appeased, and the plague slayed. In which fervour of zeal, transporting him to the omission of the ordinary solemnities of judgment, the Spirit of the Lord places the righteousness

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