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fear, the gradual approach of this all-important, this eventful day.
At length, in all its pomp and importance, the third day arrives. Every creature, every element feels and gives witness to the appearance of its God. Heaven and earth, angels and men, the water and the land, air and fire, announce the presence of their great Creator and Ruler. I tremble as I read. What must it have been to see and hear? “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders, and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” Lo, the hoarse thunder is lost in the louder sound of the trumpet; and that awful sound, in its turn sinks into silence, before the all-penetrating, all-commanding accents of the voice of God himself. The thick darkness of a cloud, impregnated with the terrors of divine justice, threatens one moment to extinguish for ever hope and joy; and that darkness the next moment is dispelled by the more terrible Aashes of celestial fire. How poor the state of an earthly prince compared to this!“ God maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flame of fire.” What heart is not melted
" in the midst of this wild uproar? There is not an object of astonishment which we are acquainted with, but what enters into this description. Thunder, lightning, blackness of darkness, tempest, earthquake, the trumpet of God; and all these are but the coverings of terror, the harbingers of majesty and might. Behold, God is in the thunder, in the lightning, in the tempest, in the earthquake! they are mere instruments to do his pleasure.
But we are directed to one object perfectly placid and composed in the midst of tumult and confusion: “ even when the voice of the trumpet sounded long and waxed exceeding loud,” Moses possessed his soul in patience. . " Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.” It is guilt that gives force to fire, that
lends fury to the stormy wind, that shakes the eartlı by first shaking the soul. Faith in God controls the elements, and soothes the soul to rest in communion with God, as the child falls asleep in the fond maternal bosom.
Moses comes up at the command of Him who is King and Lord of nature, and therefore he has nothing to fear. The three children fall down bound in the midst of the burning fiery furnace, but the flames have no power to kindle upon them; they consume only the cords with which they are bound; they themselves walk at liberty through the midst of the fire: they rest as on a bed of roses, for behold another is in company with them, and “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel sleeps secure in the den among lions, more composedly than Darius in his palace, surrounded by his officers and guards; he sleeps calmly, as a father in the midst of his children. He who fears God has nothing else to fear.
But what new doctrine is to be ushered in under all this formidable aparatus? What law, unknown, unheard of before, is to be introduced and enforced by ceremonies so dreadfully august and solemn? Just that which was from the beginning, that which the finger of God more silently and curiously interwove with the very texture and frame of the human soul. The voice of God says, from the heights of Sirai, none other things than those which conscience speaks to every man, from the deep recesses of his own breast. It is this that gives weight to both the law and the gospel. They have their counterpart in the nature and condition of man. They are of God, who knows what is in man and what is good for man.
But can He whose presence fills heaven and earth,” change his place? Can God be said to ascend, or' descend? The devout eye sees him in every creature, in every place, in every event. The pious soul feels , and acknowledges him incessantly, But to rouse stu
pidity, to reprove carelessness, to convince infidelity, · God must assume state, clothe himself with thunder,
involve the top of Sinia in clouds, and shake its foundation. As in the composure of Moses we behold the confidence of divine friendship, and the security arising from union with God, so in the caution which is given in the twenty-first verse, “Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish,” we see the danger of unlicensed curiosity, of presumptuous boldness. Fire and darkness equally repel and intimidate, equally compose and encourage. All the dealings of God with man, are “ line upon line, and precept upon precept."
” The similitude of the legal and evangelical dispensations, and their difference, would necessarily occupy a much larger portion of your time and attention than
It were better, therefore, to bring them together in one discourse calculated for the purpose.
I conclude the present Lecture with simply reading two or three short passages of scripture, closely connected with and serving to illustrate our subject; written at two very different periods, and in two very different states of the church. The first is in the history of Elijah, the great restorer of the law, near six hundred years afterward. “ And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb, the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him; and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire, a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only am left; and they seek my life, to take it away,!! 1 Kings, xix. 8, &c. The second is the winding up of that wonderful comparison and contrast of the law and the gospel, which constitute the great body of the epistle to the Hebrews, and which the apostle sums up in these remarkable words, sixty-four years after the advent of Jesus Christ. “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: for they could not endure that which was commanded. And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart. And so terrible was the sight that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake. But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire,” Heb. xiv. 18, &c.