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tribes; but, engaged in the cause of God and truth, the myriads of offending Ifraelites fhrink from their attack, or fall down before them. Mark how dreadful is the brow of juftice roufed to vengeance. "Confecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord, even every man upon his fon, and upon his brother, that he may beftow upon you a bleffing this day."* What a night of horror and remorse must have fucceeded a day of impiety, madness and flaughter! What an awful tomorrow, the day of reckoning, to follow that dismal night!
But the cafe, though dangerous, is not defperate, while there is a Mofes to intercede. Has my offended Father fo much tenderness left, as to upbraid, to reprove, to chastife me? His difpleafure, though depreffing, is not intolerable; but filent anger, refentment that neglects, that fhuns, that leaves me to myfelf, is a burthen too heavy for me to bear. If God vouchfafe to speak to me, though in thunder; to anfwer me, though from the whirlwind; there is hope concerning me. But if he fay within himself, "Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone," then I am
indeed loft and undone.
The interceffion of Mofes, in behalf of the people, now affumes a tone peculiarly earnest and affecting. "And Mofes returned unto the Lord, and faid, Oh, this people have finned a great fin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their fin and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou haft written." It is hardly credible that, on this paffage, a fyftem of piety has been built fo refined as to iffue in abfurdity and contradiction. Mofes is here fuppofed, by interpreters of a certain complexion, to exprefs the utmost readiness to renounce his eternal falvation for what he apprehended to be the greater glory of God, and if it could be the condition of procuring falvation to Ifrael. Refignation to the divine will, according to them, is im
* Verse 29.
+ Verfes 31, 32.
perfect, till a man can cheerfully and deliberately prefer his own everlasting damnation to all the joys of heaven, if the higher interests of public good, and the glory of God can be thereby promoted. This, to fome vifionary minds, may have a fpecious appearance of a more fublime piety: but it is both unnatural and unfcriptural; and therefore is not piety at all. As it has fallen in my way, and as this text in Moses has been connected with a famous paffage in the New Teftament of fimilar import, I will take the liberty to fpeak at fome length, and with much plainnefs, upon the fubject; it being a principal object in the plan of these Lectures, to unfold and recommend the religion. of the Bible; that is, the religion of good fenfe, to the neglect of all human fyftems, and all useless fpeculations, which have not an obvious foundation in fcripture and reason, and which do not obviously tend to promote human virtue and happiness.
Now, we hesitate not a moment to affirm, that the doctrine attempted to be built on the united texts of Mofes and of Paul, has not the foundation of the prophet and of the apostle to rest upon; and that it is not calculated to ferve any one purpose of religion, wisdom or virtue. The paffage in the New Teftament alluded to, is that of the great apoftle of the Gentiles, and runs thus, "For I could wish that myfelf were accurfed from Chrift, for my brethren, my kinfmen according to the flefh."* It is too well known to need any proof, that there are in every language, and among all nations of the world, certain modes of expreffion in common ufe, which it were unfair to interpret according to the literal import of the words, and which accordingly, if tranflated into a foreign language, and applied to the modes of thought and expreffion ufed in a different age and country, might convey a meaning very different from the original one, perhaps diametrically oppofite to it. Is there a man in his fenfes, who will pretend to affert
fert that Mofes in the wilderness of Sinai, one thou-
* Verfe 32.
fhould I have flesh to give unto all this people? for
7. They both denote a perfon or thing devoted, separated by a vow or curfe, one excommunicated and feparated from fociety. And his meaning is this, "I moft folemnly proteft; God and my own confcience are my witneffes, that I fpeak the truth as it is in my heart; the infidelity of my countrymen after the flesh, is a matter of the deepest concern and regret to me; to fuch a degree, that if it could be the means of curing their prejudices, and bringing them to Chrift the Redeemer, I care not in what estimation I might be held in the church. Let me ceafe to be an apoftle, let me be as one cut off from the fociety of the faithful, for fome atrocious crime; let me be vile and contemptible in the eyes of the world; let but the Ifrael
*Numb. xi. 11-15.
of God be gathered to the Redeemer, and brought within the bond of the covenant of grace." Moreover, Paul does not directly form even this with; but conditionally, "I could wifh," were it lawful for me. to form fuch a wifh, and if the granting it could any way contribute to the accomplishment of a purpose fo defireable.
The fentiment, then, of thofe myftics, has no warrant either in the language or in the spirit of any of the persons whom God has proposed to us as patterns in fcripture.
Befides their being unfcriptural, what can be more extravagant and unnatural, than those ranting expreffions of one of that order?" Though I were fure of being condemned to hell, I would not cease from my penitential acts, and from depriving myself of all comforts for the love of God, If I am to be cast into hell, O my God ftay no longer, make hafte, and fince thou haft forfaken me, finish thy work, precipitate me into the bottomlefs pit." Catharine of Sienna thinks fit to express herself thus on the fame fubject: "Though it were poffible to feel all the torments of devils and damned fouls, yet fhould I never call them pains, fo much pleasure would the pure love of God make me to find therein." Thefe are evidently the idle fpeculations of perfons too much at their ease, whom one hour of exquifite torment would bring to their fenfes, and teach a founder divinity. What is the foundation of our love to God? His love to us; the good which he has done to us, and that which we ftill expect from him. I feel it impoffible for me to love one, whofe intereft or caprice require that I fhould be tormented everlastingly. I love the Lord because he hath delivered me from the curfe of the law; be cause he hath faved me from going down to the pit : because he hath raifed us up together, and made us fit together in heavenly places in Chrift Jefus."t
Mofes *Angèle de Foligni. Evêque de Meaux Inftruct. Paftor. Page 341. + Eph. ii. 6.