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For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” Heb. ii. 1, 2, 3.
IV. Let us look forward to “that great and notable day of the Lord,” when the law which was deliv. ered audibly from Sinai, which Moses with a rash, inconsiderate hand could break in pieces, but was unable to repair, shall be restored in all its purity and perfection; shall be engraved on every heart, and become legible to every eye: when the hidden glory of the legal dispensation shall be unvailed, and the greater glory of the Gospel displayed: when the divine image shall be again impressed on the soul of man, in all its beauty and exactness-and, we ourselves, degraded and lost as we are, shall“ be raised together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”-and “beholding with open face as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear, what we shall be: but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the ta
bernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. -EXODUS Xxxiii. 8--11.
GUILT is the parent of fear and suspicion; conscious innocence and integrity inspire confidence and tranquillity: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion,” Prov. xxviii. 1. 6 Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees of the garden,” Gen. ïïi. 8. Moses ascends undaunted to meet the Lord, into the midst of tempest and fire. Behold the height of heaven, how great it is! What so distant as the Creator and a fallen creature! But lo, the distance is done away; and what is so intimately near as a God reconciled, and a fallen creature restored! Jehovah descending in mercy and grace; the soul arising, upborne on the wings of faith and love, must meet and unite, whether on the mount or in the tabernacle; in the temple or the closet. “The secret
of the Lord is with them that fear him: and he will show them his covenant," Psal. xxv. 14. We have heard of Abraham, who was called the friend of God; and we behold a communication of the same distinguished honour, to that illustrious son of Abraham who has instructed and blessed mankind by transmitting. the history of this sacred friendship to the latest generations of the world. We see it still expressed in the same manner; on the part of Moses by humble submission, holy zeal and importunity, and child-like freedom and confidence; on the part of God, by the most unreserved communication of his intentions, the most endearing expressions of affection and good will.
The history delivered in the preceding chapter of this book exhibited the blessed communion on the mount, suddenly interrupted, by the dreadful scene of madness and rebellion in the plain beneath. Behold all Israel eating and drinking, dancing and playing, before a dumb idol, the similitude of a brute beast. Behold “a covenant with hell” ratified by the same dread solemnities which had been so recently employed, to join a great nation in alliance with the God of hea
The law which the plastic hand of Omnipotence had impressed on the soal of man in its very con. stitution; the law which he lately had condescended distinctly to pronounce in the trembling ears of all Israel; that law he had still farther condescended, with exquisite art and skill, by his own finger, to engrave on two tablets of stone, for perpetual preservation. Moses descending in haste, with this precious record in his band, perceives at a distance the disorder which raged in the camp, and in a transport of indig. nation, dashes the tablets an the ground, and breaks them in pieces. The motive was good and commend. able, but the action was rash and presumptuous. We find, however, no expression of anger against that rashness; the frailty is lost and overlooked in appro
bation of the principle which led to it. But had not Moses punishment sufficient for his hasty conduct, in the irreparable loss occasioned by it, to himself and to the world? There was no occasion to chide him; his own conscience must have smitten him sufficiently, .as often as he reflected on what, in the moment of impatience, he had done.
Without inflicting a positive chastisement, a righ. teous God can easily reprove men by making them to feel the native consequences of their own folly, and of all the infirmities to which our nature is subject, anger most certainly and most severely punishes itself.
The man who is thus animated with zeal for the glory of God, has forgotten what fear is. Aaron, under the influence of the fear of man, yielded to the popu. lar frenzy, and fabricated the golden calf; Moses, in. spired with the fear of God, defies and despises the multitude, consumes their idol in the fire, and grinds it to powder. This is that Moses of whom they talked so contemptuously a little while ago. What, not one of the thousands of Israel who worshipped the image of the beast bold enough to protect his Dagon? No: abashed they stand, and feel “how awful goodness is, and see virtue in her own shape how lovely.”
A most remarkable circumstance is added to the history of the destruction of the idol, which has greatly exercised the ingenuity, learning and imagination of critics and commentators. Moses took the dust into which he had pounded the calf, and “ strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it," Verse 20. This seems nothing more than an expres. sion of sovereign contempt, poured upon a most worthless object: and a practical demonstration of the absurdity of idolatry. And it may, perhaps not unwarrantably, be employed as a reproof of the inordinate love of money, that root of all evil. Gold as an instrument of commerce, as the means of procuring the things that are needful for the body, as a natural produc
tion possessed of very singular qualities, may be lawfully sought after and innocently used; but erected into a deity, valued on its own account, swallowing up every other object, engrossing the whole heart, becomes un. profitable and pernicious, as incapable of gratifying the real appetites of a rational being, as gold in its simple state is incapable of satisfying hunger, or, mingled with water, of allaying thirst.
An imagination perpetually on the stretch to disco. ver evangelical ideas in every iota of the sacred history, has perceived the method of gospel salvation, in this passage of Moses; as if the prophet intended to signify that the Messiah, typified by the water which issued from the rock in Horeb, could alone purify from the guilt of idolatry, and from all other sin.
Moses having executed just vengeance on the idol itself, turns in holy indignation to his weak and guilty brother, who had so readily fallen into and abetted so gross a deviation from all duty and decency. “And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?” Verse 21. An anticipated instance of obedience to the apostolic injunction, “ Thou shalt not suffer sin upon tly brother, but in any ways reprove him.” Justice on the tribunal, knows not a brother in court, but examines the cause. Justice, with the pen of the his. torian in his hand, knows not blood in recording facts, but declares the truth. Justice, as the minister of God, must stifle the calls of natural affection, and condemn the guilty. And here again Moses becomes a pattern to all judges and magistrates, to every minister of religion, and every relater of events. His own fault, and those of his nearest relations, are told with the same artless simplicity, as their good qualities and praise-worthy actions. Praise and censure are distributed, with the same candour and impartiality, to his own family and to strangers. Aaron, formerly an object of condemnation, now