Page images
PDF
EPUB

Moses by entreaty obtains a short reprieve for the offenders; but a plain intimation is given that they should not pass wholly unpunifhed.

" In the day when I visit, I will visit their fin upon them.”* The meaning of this threatening is fully explained in the fequel. All that generation of men were blotted out of the book of the living; their carcases fell gradually in the wilderness; they were not permitted to see the good land promised to their fathers ; plague upon plague overtook them, till they were consumed for their idolatry; of the worshippers of the golden calf not one entered into Canaan.

God had hitherto condescended to conduct and defend Ifrael, in that wonderful symbol of his presence, the pillar of cloud and fire. Provoked by their rebellion, their Protector and Guide withdraws from them, and they are left to pursue their march, through paths of their own choosing. The adage says, “Whom God means to destroy, he first infatuates."

Had it run more simply, “ Whom God means to destroy, he firft forsakes, it had been juster and more confonant to the tenor of fcripture. When Jehovah has withdrawn as a friend, he is not far off as an enemy. But what must it have been to one who felt like Mofes, to be commanded to proceed to the conquest of Canaan, deftitute of the presence and support of God, the glory and the strength of Israel ? It was like sending a ship into a tempestuous ocean, without ballast, without a mast or fail, without a rudder or compass, to be driven at the mercy

of
every

blast; and laid under the ne. cefsity of sinking in the mighty deep. Mofes appre. hends the full extent of an attempt fo perilous, and deprecates it with all the energy. of supplication. He apprehends no ill, fave one, that of being deferted of God. He trembles at no foe, but their best friend estranged.

The wretched multitude now see their nakedness, and are ashamed. In vain do gold and jewels attempt

to

* Verse 34.

to hide the deformity of a foul that has lost its inno. cence. They were not more eager, the other day, to contribute their ornaments to the formation of an idol, than they are now to hide them out of sight, as the monuments of their dishonour. " What fruit have they now in those things whereof they are alhamed?” A face of mourning is seen over the whole camp, and every face is clothed with despair. Diş rection is given to remove the tabernacle without the camp. A few who had continued faithful, adhere to that divine instrument of protection, and follow it. The cloudy pillar, which, during the period of riot, sedition and revolt, had in wrath departed, returned to its destined residence, the tabernacle. In the eyes of astonished Ifrael, Moses enters undismayed into that manfion of divine glory, proceeds to meet God, as a man to meet his friend ; renews the conference in the plain, which had been broken off on the mount, The result is, God graciously relents, being mindful of his covenant, and again undertakes the safe conduct of his people, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee reft,'* and all again is peace.

And thus conclude the controverfies between disobedient and gainsaying children, and their tender-hearted, relenting Father, He is not to be “ overcome of evil, but overcomes evil with good.”'

But what is this I hear? Mofes soliciting for still farther manifestations of the divine perfections ? Who had seen, who had heard, who had felt and enjoyed so much of God as he? And yet still he is importunately entreating, “Lord, thew me thy glory.” Omy friends, how inany things of God do “ angels still defire to look into ?". There is 's a breadth, and length, and depth, and height, in the love of Christ, which paileth knowledge. The response of the oracle to this requeft, is not less extraordinary than the request itself.

6. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the

Lord

* Chap. xxxiii. 14.

Thew mercy,

Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will

:

And he said, Thou canst not see my face : for there shall no man fee me and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou fhalt stand upon a rock,

And'it shall come to país, while my glory pafseth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock ; and will cover thee with my hand, while I pass by. And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts : but my face shall not be seen.” *

This opens a field of meditation too ample to be now entered upon. Let it be reserved for the entire ground of another evening's excursion into the region of scripture : and let us contemplate with wonder the scene which has just passed before our eyes.

Does the whole story seem to any one incredi. ble? Let the horrid scene which this great metropolis exhibited not many years ago, t arife upon his recollection. Let him think on the frenzy, which, like a mighty torrent, carried every thing before it ; which fired the city, overawed the fenate, and threatened the diffolution of all regular government. Who can tell the dire effects which desperate enthusiasm, suddenly bursting out and exciting universal terror and consternation, may produce. Had we not seen it with our eyes, we could scarcely have believed, that consequences so momentous should have issued from a source so contemptible. The resolutions and operations of a lawless multitude are truly formidable, Unopposed, they rush on as an overflowing flood; resisted, they melt away; they are scattered like chaff driven by the wind.

-Observe, O man, how the most difficult lessons of religion, patience, and forbearance, and forgiveness, are taught thee by the example of the great Jehovah hiinfelf. Darelt thou to think of vengeance for a petty, a misconceived, and imaginary offence,

when Chap. xxxiii. 19--?}:

+ June, 1780,

when thou beholdest the most glorious of all beings, passing by, blotting out the most heinous, the most unprovoked insults, and when thou heareft him

proclaiming his name, “ The LORD, the LORD God, merciful, and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and tranfgression and fin?” “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is inine; I will repay, faith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”* “I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you : that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his fun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”+

.“ Follow on to know the Lord.” Expatiate in nature's ample field, and you will find profit and instru&ion blended with delight. Explore the wonders of eternal Providence, and you will see constant cause to rejoice in the thought that there is a GOD who judgeth and ruleth in the earth. Dive deeper and deeper into those mysteries of grace which angels desire to look into,” and break forth into songs of joy, that “GOD is love.”. “ This is life eternal, , that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast fent." | Now “ we know in part, and we prophesy in part

. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part fall be done away.”S

Nature now presents in every plant, in every pebble, mysteries that defy the researches of the wifest and most acute; then “ the way-faring man, though

a fool," * Rom. xii. 19, 20, 21.

+ Mat. v. 44, 4539 John xyii. 3. s 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10.

[ocr errors]

a fool,” shall comprehend systems the vastest, most complex, most abstruse. Providence now exhibits an apparent inconsistency and disorder, which confounds the reasoning pride of man; then, God will fully vindicate his ways to man, obviate every difficulty, resolve every doubt, remove every scruple. In scripture " are some things hard to be understood,” in our present state of ignorance and imperfection; then the veil shall be removed, and we shall see face to face,”-“then shall we know even as also we are known." Then the promised Spirit of wisdom and revelation shall “ teach us all things, and bring all things to our remembrance.Then shall he open” our " understanding,” that we may

c6 under stand the scriptures." “ Amen, even for comę Lord Jesus!"

[ocr errors]

History

« PreviousContinue »