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wither because he is unable to comprehend | world, and a heart devoted to the love of God the cause, or will not employ the necessary anu mankind—basely received the wages of time and pains to understand it.
unrighteousness, accepted a bribe to pervert But what are the greatest and most shining justice, was accused and convicted of corrupabilities, destitute of a principle of conscience? tion in the execution of his high and importThey are but a mischievous weapon in the ant trust, acknowledged his own shame, and hands of a bad man. A judge, therefore, was deservedly driven, with disgrace to himought to be a man that fears God. A man, self, and with the indignation, shame, and not only restrained by respect to the world, pity of a mortified and astonished world, fronı or actuated by regard to reputation : these are an honourable ion which he filled so unfound feeble and inefficacious in the hour of worthily. temptation; these are fluctuating and un But alas, after all, when we read of the steady, as the opinions, passions, and interests appointment of judges and of generals and of men; but the fear of the Lord is a perpetual, of their requisite qualities, of what does it unchanging motive and restraint, the same remind us but that men are selfish, covetous, in darkness as in the light, the same in secret litigious, and violent: tenacious of their own as before the eyes of the whole world. and ready to encroach upon others? Where
This principle is closely connected with, fore is law? Wherefore are there tribunals? and indeed it naturally produces, a third They are for “the lawless and disobedient." quality, of primary importance in this charac- Make men just, gentle, kindly affectioned ; ter. A judge must be a man of truth. A make them Christians indeed, and then war sacred observer of truth in what he says him- is at an end; the courts are shut up; then self; a diligent promoter of truth, and an im- there would be no need of a judge, because partial avenger of falsehood and injustice in there would be no offender. others. Even a regard to some of the princi The advice which was wisely and kindly ples of religion, unconnected with the love given, is graciously and candidly received. of truth and justice, which are of the number A proud and self-sufficient spirit would have of those principles, might be apt to mislead rejected the council, however salutary, bea man.Compassion, for example, might cause tendered by a stranger. But true wisdispose a judge favour the poor man, dom only considers whether the hint be useful, though he has the worst cause. The all- practicable, and necessary, without regarding wise God, therefore, thought it necessary to from what quarter it comes. And such was throw in a special caution to this purpose, the wisdom of Moses, and he was prepared lest a principle, amiable and excellent in for converse with God, who had learned deitself, should be perverted into a source of ference and respect for the opinions of men. injustice, and has enjoined, by a positive and thus the very first rudiments of the Jewstatute,* that the cause, not the person or ish constitution, were suggested by the obcondition of the man, should be considered servation and experience of a stranger and a by him who sits in judgment.
Midianite. And the great Jehovah disdained Jethro finally lays it down as essential to not to permit his prophet to be taught and the character of a judge, that be be a man his people to be governed, by the wisdom who hates covelousness. In which there is and intelligence of a good man, though he a strong insinuation, that where the love of was not of the commonwealth of Israel. If money predominates, the exercise of all other men were capable of learning to be wise necessary and suitable qualities are likely to and good, He who is wisdom and goodness be obstructed or perverted; ability under itself would vouchsafe to teach them, not by such influence rendered only more dangerous precept only, but by example also. As Jethro and hurtful; the fear of God lulled asleep; suggested, so it was done. Moses was eased the heart hardened; the conscience, by the of a burthen intolerable, the course of justice strong opiate of gold, reduced to a state of was not stopped, God was glorified, and the insensibility, and truth and justice hood- world edified. winked on the tribunal.
You must have observed, that I have once The history of our own country affords a and again held out to your expectation a melancholy example of the truth of this ob- subject of discourse, from which I have once servation, in the conduct of that " greatest, and a second time shrunk back. It is still wisest, meanest of mankind,” Sir Francis before me, and I feel myself as reluctant as Bacon. Lord Verulam, and Lord High Chan- ever to proceed. Who is not ready to sink cellor of England, in the reign of James I. under the awful terrors of the dispensation of who with a soul that comprehended, filled, the law from Sinai? “Whois sufficient for such extended, enlarged the circle of science; a things ?" But I must venture to go on, and genius that penetrated through the whole endeavour to carry you with me to the foot of vast system of nature, an imagination that that tremendous mountain. And I flatter transcended the flaming boundaries of the myself you have not been altogether disap * "Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his
pointed or injured in being stopped a little in cause."-Exod. xxiii. 3.
your progress. With recruited strength and
spirits, we shall attempt to advance on our That regard to public utility, exalts anıl way. But we shall first from this eminence improves private friendship. survey the ground over which we have tra That to promote the glory of God, his own velled. Eminence did I say? No. Let us virtue, and the good of his fellow creatures, join the innocent, cheerful society in the tent is the great and constant aim of every good of Moses, and learn to cultivate the endear- man. ing charities of private life; and having That as none are too wise to learn, it is a considered it well, let us retire, making such proof of affection to communicate useful reflections as these
hints; and a high proof of wisdom to take That it is not fortitude, but folly, unneces- and use them, from whatever quarter they sarily to expose ourselves, or those whom come. There is one Being only who is not we love, to hardships and danger. " If any to be instructed. “ How unsearchable are provide not for his own, and specially for his judgments, and his ways past finding those of his own house, he hath denied out; for who hath known the mind of the the faith, and is worse than an infidel."* Lord ? or who hath been his counsellor."* It is our care, not our labour and reflection, And finally that, though we cannot sucwhich we are encouraged to cast upon God. cessfully imitate eminent men in every par
That it argues a deficiency in some moral ticular of conduct, or in the display of taprinciple or another, when persons whom lents which may be denied to ourselves, we nature, and the obligations of society have are not thereby precluded from the exercise united, discover an inclination to live asun- of the inferior talents which we possess, and der. Wisdom or necessity may impose a tem- from a virtuous emulation where it is possiporary separation: but well-disposed minds ble for us to succeed. Let me strive to be a ever look to, and eagerly lay hold of the Moses in some things, though I be conscious means and the season of restoration and I must fall inconceivably behind him in most. anion.
Amen. • 1 Tim. v. &
• Rom. xi. 32. 34.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
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. And Moses brought forth the pecple out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount, and Moses went up. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord io gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify them. belves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.-Exodus xix. 16–22.
In man, as he came perfect from the hands | He makes sense his road to the mind : he of his Creator, the immortal principle, the seizes the conscience, and melts the heart, *breath of life,” “the living soul" exercised by speaking to the eyes and the ears. And its just dominion over the earthly and sen- when we consider how easily, and through Bual part of his nature. In man, degraded how many different channels he can force by sin, we behold the grosser domineering his way to the inmost recesses of the man, over the purer, the heavenly subjected to the who but must shudder at the thought of terrestrial, the soul a slave to the senses. meeting the Father of spirits, ourselves disWhen our nature through grace shall be re- embodied spirits; at the thought of dropping stored, the soul shall resume its empire; the the clay tabernacle in its native dust, and of borly itself shall become spiritual, shall shake becoming all eye to see God as he is, all ear off the power of gravitation, and “ ascend to to hear his voice, all soul to perceive and meet the Lord in the air,” being " fashioned comprehend him! If God, encouraging and like unto Christ's glorious body.
amiable in purifying and directing fire, in The dispensations of Heaven are suited to the cloudy pillar, and in harmless, unconthe condition of man. “God knows our suming fire in the bush at Horeb, be awful, frame, and remembereth that we are dust." if dreadful at Sinai, coming in flashing, daz
zling, threatening fire to promulgate his law; | shall we most admire, the greatness of the what must he be “ coming in flaming fire to works which God performs, or the facility take vengeance on them that know not God, with which he brings them to pass ? What and that obey not the gospel of our Lord | a high value are we taught to put upon time, Jesus Christ ?" If the sound of that trumpet, when we see to what valuable purposes, which proclaimed the approach of God to through the blessing and assistance of HeaIsrael, was ready to kill the living with fear, ven, a little time may be made subservient. what must be the trumpet which shall awake Three days more are employed in making the dead ? Whatever majesty and solemnity solemn preparation for this celestial visitamay appear in the giving of the law, every tion; so that the law was delivered exactly one shall in a little while behold it infinitely on the fiftieth day after the celebration of the exceeded in the consummation of the gospel. feast of passover: and in commemoration of
God has hitherto declared his divine per- it, the Jewish feast of Pentecost was ever fections by the effects which they produced. after observed and rendered illustrious in the The plagues of Egypt awfully manifested annals of the Christian church, by a new dishis power and justice. The daily showers pensation, not of terror but of grace; the of manna, and water following them from the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles rock, bespeak his power and goodness. But of our Lord, in the miraculous gift of tongues. he now opens his mouth, to proclaim in the Even the minute circumstances of times and ears of men, his name, his nature, and his places, may have a significancy and an imwill. Let us, with Israel, at a trembling portance of which we have at present no apdistance contemplate this great sight, and prehension. And I am fully persuaded, when listen with reverence to the Almighty utter- God shall be pleased to couchsafe us clearer ing his voice.
light, and fresh discoveries of his will, numThe posterity of Abraham, according to berless instances of coincidence and resemthe promise, is now become a great nation. blance between the legal and evangelical But what are multitudes without govern- dispensations shall rush upon us, of which ment, and what government is a blessing we can now form no conception. Why God without law ? Happiness consists not in has appointed the seventh day to be the having such and such possessions, but in be- weekly sabbath ; why the law was proclaiming fitted to enjoy what we have. The con- ed from Mount Sinai just after seven times stitution of other states is the work of time, seven days had elapsed from the going out of is the result of experience, arrives at matu- Egypt; why, in the possession of Canaan, rity by degrees. Laws and restrictions, en- the land was to be permitted to rest every couragements and restraints are suggested seventh year; why the general release, or by events. But when the great Jehovah year of jubilee, was to be statedly observed, condescends to become a legislator, the ut- after a constant revolution of seven times most extent of possibility lying open to his seven years; and why the Holy Ghost was view, provision is made from the beginning given “ when the day of Pentecost was fully for every case that can happen. The rule come," or after seven times seven days from of his government is laid down at once; and the day that " Christ our passover was sathe civil and religious constitution of that crificed for us?" These are questions which nation over which he chose to preside, is we pretend not to resolve. But certain it is established by a wisdom which cannot err. these things have a meaning : " I know it
It was not unpleasant, as we were con- not now, but I shall know it hereafter." templating the scene exhibited in the prece Sinai, the scene of this splendid exhibition, ding chapter, to listen to a wise and good is the highest eminence of a vast ridge of man giving advice with respect to the admi- mountains, which run from east to west nistration of public justice. But we now through Arabia Petrea, as you go from the tread upon holy ground; and we listen not north-east_coast of the Red Sea to Pato a man like ourselves, but to the only wise lestine. The adjoining eminence is called God. The whole taken together unfolds an Horeb, and is rendered illustrious by the miunparalleled display of mercy and majesty, racle of the water issuing from the rock. of goodness and grandeur.
And from their propinquity, and their formForty-seven days have now elapsed, since ing part of the same chain of mountains, they that “night much to be remembered," when are often put the one for the other; and the the destroying angel walked through the adjacent desert country is called, indifferentmidst of Egypt, and slew all the first-born. ly, the wilderness of Horeb, or the wilderAnd how many singular and interesting ness of Sinai. events have taken place in that short period ? Moses was first called up into the mount The Red Sea has been divided; the bitter alone, and thence sent back to the people waters of Marah sweetened ; bread from with repeated messages full of tenderness heaven rained down; a living stream ex- and love. Preparation was made for the tracted from the Ainty rock of Horeb; Ama- tremendous appearance of the glory of the lek discomfited ! Whether of the two Lord, by the most gracious and reiterated as2 G
surances of favour and protection. This is solemn ratification of a covenant, performed the endearing language which the great God according to rites of God's own appointing ; condescends to employ on the occasion; “ Ye so the political existence and importance of have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, that nation were directed to take their rise in and how I bear you on eagle's wings, and the culiing or dividing a covenant, with simibrought you unto myself. Now therefore, if lar solemnities. And this was the tenor, these ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my were the conditions of it. On the part of covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure Israel, in one word, obedience to the voice unto me above all people; for all the earth of God; submission in all things to the will is mine. And ye shall be unto me a king of their best friend, and kindest benefactor, dom of priests, and an holy nation. These who could have nothing in view but their are the words which thou shalt speak unto happiness. On the part of God, the promise the children of Israel.” The beautiful image of a profusion of blessings temporal, spiritual, of the eagle, and her young ones, is happy and everlasting; a rank among the nations, beyond expression, and evidently proceeds which should render them the envy and wonfrom Him from whose view no part of the der of the world; an establishment, which world of nature lies concealed. The natural length of time should not impair; a succeshistory of that king of the feathered race, sion of prophets, of priests, and of princes, were this the time and the place to introduce which was to issue in the eternal priesthood it, would be the best commentary on the pas- and unlimited sovereignty of one, whose sage. But we may at least stop to illustrate, government was to be an universal and everby comparing it with the same image, de- lasting blessing to them and to mankind. lineated by the sagle masterly hand, with " Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me still greater strength of colouring, and greater above all people : for all the earth is mine." force and variety of expression. “ For the Segulah, a peculiar treasure,” something Lord's portion is his people ; Jacob is the lot exceedingly prized and sedulously preserved, of his inheritance. He found him in a desert a gem of peculiar lustre and value, which an land, and in the waste howling wilderness; affluent and powerful prince culls out from he led him about, he instructed him, he kept among many, takes under his own particuhim as the apple of his eye. As an eagle lar charge, and will not entrust to the care stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her of another. young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh Moses takes up this striking idea again in them, beareth them on her wings; so the that beautiful song of praise, in which, at the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no close of life, he recapitulates the wonderful strange God with him. He made him ride ways of Providence to that chosen family: on the high places of the earth, that he might " The Lord's portion is his people : Jacob is eat the increase of the fields; and he made the lot of his inheritance." The promise him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil which follows in the sixth verse, is wonderout of the finty rock."* The sagacity and fully calculated to inspire ideas of dignity vigilance of the eagle in providing the means and importance: “Ye shall be unto me a of support and safety for her callow brood, kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." her strength and fierceness in defending They had just left a country where the them, her tender sympathy with their weak- priesthood was held in high estimation; ness, her anxiety to hasten on their maturity where the persons of those who bore that and capacity to provide for themselves, the sacred character were inviolable, and their pains which she takes to instruct them to property exempted from the imposts which fly,--as they are all fully justified by facts, were laid upon that of other subjecta. But so they are conveyed to us in language the the peculiar respect paid to this order of men, most simple, plain, and elegant; and raise us and the immunities which they enjoyed, to the contemplation of an object, of all others served only to expose more glaringly the the sublimest, sweetest, most interesting, contrast, the degradation, and distress of the and most composing to the soul. They re- great body of the people. Whereas here was present to us, the all-comprehending view of a whole nation destined of Heaven to equal eternal Providence, the never-sleeping eye honours ; not a king and subjects, but a comof the Watchman of Israel, the unassailable monwealth of kings; not one ministering at protection of the heavenly Guardian, the the altar in the name of thousands, one adinore than maternal care, diligence, and zeal mitted within the veil, and myriads removed which Jehovah continually exercises over to a humbling, mortifying distance: but a them that are his. Happy is that people kingdom of priests, a holy nation, majesty that is in such a case; yea,“ happy is that and sanctity in one. people whose God is the Lord.”+
These are the words which Moses is comAs the friendship between God and Abra- manded to rehearse in the ears of all the ham, the father and founder of that great people. Having descended from the mount, nation, commenced and was confirmed in the he collects them accordingly by their elders
* Deut. xxxii. 9, &e. | Psalm cxliv. 13.
* Deut. xxxii. 9.
the men first in age, first in wisdom, first in their thoughts. When God came to give dignity and authority; and delivers to them the law, he came after solemn warning, he the high message which he had in charge. gave evident signs of his approach, he deImpressed at once with the power and grace clared to a moment when he was to be heard of their heavenly King, they as one man re- and seen in his majesty. But, when he shall ply, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will come to execute the law, we are informed do.” Which answer Moses again reports to that he shall take the world by surprise, that his dread Employer. Thus, in the very pre- men may be always ready. * Behold I will paratives for the publication of the law, the come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not mediation of the gospel was clearly taught know what hour I will come upon thee."* and inculcated; and thus throughout we per- "Watch therefore: for ye know not what ceive that guilty creatures can have no safe hour your Lord doth come.”+ “Be ye also nor comfortable access to a holy God, but by ready: for in such an hour as ye think not, means of " a days-man to lay his hands upon the Son of Man cometh.”I. both;” and thus, the very minister of a fiery When but a friend or neighbour is expectlaw exhibited a type of that great High ed to visit us, decency requires that our perPriest, at once "merciful and faithful;" sons, our houses, our entertainment, be ren“ faithful in the things pertaining to God;" dered as inoffensive and as acceptable as we “merciful, to make reconciliation for the sins can make them. The anxiety which men of the people."
feel, and the pains which they take to reMoses is upon this informed, that God in- ceive and entertain their superiors, is too tended on the third day from that time to well known to need any remark. It is only manifest himself to all the people as the when the King of kings, and the Lord of Leader and Ruler of that vast army, and as lords announces his approach, that men are the Employer and Patron of Moses his pro- incurious, unceremonious, careless, and inphet, in a manner that should leave no room different. to doubt in whose name he spake, and by The great Jehovah was to manifest him what authority he acted: “ And the Lord self first to the eye. “ Be ready against the said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a third day; for the third day the Lord will thick cloud, that the people may hear when come down, in the sight of all the people, I speak with thee, and believe thee forever. upon Mount Sinai.” All is hitherto attracAnd Moses told the words of the people unto tive and encouraging. The face of God is the Lord.” “I come to thee in a thick clothed with smiles. He comes “to dwell cloud.” God already resided among Israel, with men upon earth.” But the grace and and presided over them in a pillar of fire and condescension of God, while they invite to a cloud. But whatever be the medium of the communications of friendship, forbid the communication between the Deity and his boldness and freedom of familiarity. While creatures, it is capable of being increased he makes himself known as a Father, a Proand improved beyond imagination. There tector, a Guide, he permits us not to forget is a darkness grosser, and a cloud thicker, that he is at the same time " a great God, and more awfully impregnated than any of and a great King." Therefore a strict inwhich we have had experience. There is a junction is given in the twelfth and thirvoice louder, and a glory brighter than any teenth verses, “ And thou shalt set bounds which we have heard or seen. Who can unto the people round about, saying, Take declare, who can conceive the utmost extent heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into of the power of the Almighty? There is a the mount, or touch the border of it: whososplendour infinitely superior to that of “the ever toucheth the mount shall surely be put sun shining in his strength.” There may be to death. There shall not a hand touch it, an angel excelling in might: “Gabriel, who but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; stands in the presence of God.” Know we whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: ever so much, there is a field of discovery when the trumpet soundeth long, ye shall before us infinite as the immensity of Je- come up to the mount.” This last expres HOVAN, to employ a duration of inquiry end- sion, "When the trumpet soundeth long, ye iess as his eternity.
shall come up to the mount,” is evidently a A command is now issued to the people to caution and a threatening, not an invitation, employ themselves that day and the next in and seems to import, “ Let him who dares, solemn preparation for this august visit. presume to approach nearer; let him come They are directed, as an external mark of up into the mount, if he will." At the sound respect to the most holy God, as a token of obe- of that tremendous trumpet, they were ready dience, and as an indication of inward purity, to sink into the earth with terror, instead of to wash their clothes, to abstain from what- desiring or attempting a nearer intercourse ever might defile the body or the mind, and with the great and terrible God, who hatha even to deny themselves such innocent and put all nature into consternation. lawful gratifications as might have a ten As they were commanded, so they did. dency to disturb their attention and distract
| Matt. quir. 42
* Rev. iii. 3.