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L E C T U R E XV.
History of Balaam. 201 2 Pet. ii. 15, 16.--These are gone astray, following the
way of Balaam, the son of Bofor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness. But was rebuked for his iniquity : the dumb ass, Speaking with man's voice, forbad the madness of the prophet.
History of Balaam. 216 Numb. xxiii. 10.-Who can count the dust of Jacob, and
the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !
History of Balaam.
Rev. ii. 14. But I have a few things against thee, be
cause thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things facrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
2 TIMOTHY i. 8, 9, 10. · Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,
nor of me his prisoner : but be thou partaker of the af. flictions of the gospel, according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given ys in Christ Jesus be
fore the world began; but is now made manifest" by the · appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abol: ished death, and hath brought life and immortality to
light through the gospel.
EVERY dispensation of the Divine Providence seems to be the basis and the preparation of a farther display of wisdom and goodness. The last discovered purpose of the Eternal Mind, is the continuation, the extension and the improvement of that which immediately preceded it; and the glory hitherto displayed in the ways and works of God, however excellent, is hastening to lose itself in " a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” yet to be revealed. Periods of immeasurable, incomprehensible duration had flowed, before this fair and majestic frame of nature was Vol. IV.
called called into existence. For we read of a purpose of grace formed and given “ before the world began," and of “ a kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world ;” of an election made, and of “ eternal life promised, of God who cannot lie, before the foundation of the world.” Who can tell what systems have preceded that which now exists? We know from fcripture that one more glorious is to succeed it. “ According to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”* And who can tell what future systems may arise in endless progression ? As well might the fluttering insect, which was born in the morning and perishes at night, presume to dive into the ages beyond the flood, or with bold, adventurous wing attempt to foar into the heaven of heavens, and declare the wonders of the world of spirits.
But though fyftem may succeed fyftem, though dispensations change, one thing is immutable, “ the gracious purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." One great object was kept in view before the world began, is still kept in view through the whole extent of its duration, and is to be pursued through the endless ages of eternity. Do you need, christian, to be told what it is? The salvation of the world by Christ Jesus. It is a little thing to say, that Abraham saw his day afar off: that of him Moses wrote, Isaiah prophesied, David sung and Paul preached. “These things the angels defire to look into.” On this exalted theme the everlasting counsels of peace revolved ; to mature them, the powers of heaven and earth were fhaken ; and to bring them to their confummation, a new creation shall expand infinite space, and a succession of ages that are never, never to expire. Placed at whatever point in this immense sphere, our eyes are still attracted to the glorious Centre, from which all light and life
and * 2 Pet. iii. 13.
and joy issue, and in whose light every inferior orb revolves and shines.
The epistle of the great apostle of the Gentiles from which I have taken the subject of this Discourse, is addressed to Timothy, whom he styles his “ dearly beloved fon in the gospel," and who had been ordained first bishop of the church of the Ephesians. Paul himself was at that time a prisoner at Rome, and totally uncertain respecting the issue of a cause which affected his life, before the imperial court. What mercy, what justice was to be expected from such a prince as Nero-the monster who could fire his country, shed the blood of his virtuous preceptor, and destroy his own mother ? But we behold in the prisoner a fpirit much exalted above the fear of a tyrant, a mind prepared for the worst that could befal him, and expressing anxiety, not about personal safety, but about the success of the gospel, and the stedfastness of a beloved disciple. He folemnly charges that disciple not to suffer himself to be one moment shaken in the faith, by the perfecution to which the cause of Christ had exposed himself, or the ills which he might still be called to endure for the testimony of Jesus : and, to enforce his charge, he suggests a view of the gospel which eclipses all created glory, « ftills the enemy and the avenger," plucks from death his sting, and robs the grave of its boasted victory. He represents Timothy and himself as engaged in a cause, which the great God himself, before all' worlds, regarded as of superior importance, and made peculiarly his own; which “at sundry times and in divers manners” he disclosed, and which at length, “ by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, he made mani. fest" to all men. Paul glories in the idea of being a worker together with God in this generous defign; in his appointment to the office of a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles," in the great mystery of godliness ; in displaying and dispensing to a guilty, perishing world, the unsearchable B 2
things after object was till keptia
ration, and of eternit. : is? The
is a little
ire them. 2n; and
riches of Christ who had “ abolihed death, and brought life and immortality to light through the
In tracing the history of the patriarchs who live ed both before and since the flood, from Adam to Abraham, and from Abraham to Mofes, we have endeavoured to point out this unity of design, this steadiness of co-operation, this progress of discovery. By whatever name the typical person is designed, patriarch, prophet, high-prielt, under the Old Testament dispensation ; whatever be the designation of the ministring servant under the New, apostle, evangelist, pastor or elder, the office and the end of the institution is one and the same to declare the Son of God, the Saviour of men, “ for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Chrilt."*
Borne down the current of divine revelation, we have arrived with Israel at the mountain that burned with are, and at awful distance, with trembling eyes, beheld its summit involved in clouds, clothed in terror ; and with wonder and joy contemplated the cloud dispersing, the thunder ceasing, the terror done away, and Mount Sinai transformed into Mount Zion. Whatever farther progress we make, in whatever direction we proceed, we shall find this exceeding high inountain still in view, and, whether under the conduet of the leader and commander of Israel, or of the Champion of Christianity, we are equally led by “one” and the same “Spirit” in “one hope” to “one Lord, one faith, one God and Father of all, who is above ail, and through all, and in' all.": : We shall endeavour to connect our past and following Course of Ledures, by the view here presented to us by the apostle, of the plan of Providence in the redemption of the world ; and the execution of it," by
the * Eph. iv. 13.
+ Eph. iv. 5, 6.