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of heaven in his clearness."* Like Paul, contemplation and discovery of perfection caught up into the third heaven, but incapa- that knows no limit, knows no end. ble to tell whether in the body or out of the From this higher elevation, Moses is inbody: caught up into paradise, and listening formed that he is to receive the same law in to the conversation of its blest inhabitants, a different form: "I will give thee tables of but what he heard were words unspeakable stone, and a law and commandments which “which it is not lawful for man to utter."). I have written: that thou mayest teach Was it needful to caution such men and such them."* As he arises towards heaven, the a people against idolatry? What similitude dispensation of which he was the minister be could they employ, who, though they enjoyed comes more and more plain and palpable. A the fullest and most satisfying demonstration matter of such deep importance must not be of Jehovah's presence, felt their understand- trusted to the vague and varying traditions ing confined, their imagination checked, their of fallible and changing men, but collected senses confounded. They are lost in a splen- into a record that can defy the lapse of time, dour which at once attracted and repelled; and preserve unchanging truth and dignity which was only the foundation and external amidst the revolutions of empire and the wreck vail where glory resided, the pavement not of nations. This was graciously intended to the ceiling, the habitation not the inhabitant; prevent the necessity of a frequent interposia splendour resembling the transparency of tion of Deity, which must at length have dithe gem, which seems to transmit the light, minished its impression by commonness and and the solidity of the gem, which no force familiarity. What God, therefore, at first, can penetrate.
with his creative finger, curiously engraved Is it too fanciful to suppose, that there is on the heart of man, he audibly pronounced singular beauty in the colour of the jewel amidst the awful glories of Sinai, and after. here specified by the sacred penman, who wards committed to writing on tables of stone was an eye-witness of this glorious appear for perpetual preservation. And happy it is for ance, and who attempts to convey an idea of man, that he has not been left, for moral and what he saw? “Paved work of a sapphire- religious instruction, to the traditions of men, stone,” the happy medium between the fair who are ever changing and inconsistent with and dazzling lustre of the diamond, and the themselves, or to the flimsy, imperfect, condim, familiar complexion of the emerald: not tradictory systems of philosophy and science, the fiery glare of the empyrean, nor the so- falsely so called; but that he is brought to ber verdure of the earth; but the pellucid the law and to the testimony, to Moses and azure of the crystal sky, which equally cor- the prophets, to the Saviour himself and his rects and tempers the dazzling power of the apostles, to a Bible and a Sabbath. Happy it noontide sun, and the oppressive gloom of the is that every one is furnished with one and midnight hour; which possesses light enough the same light to his feet, and lamp to his to discover the object without distressing the paths, and that all are taught of God from the organ, and shade sufficient to relieve without least to the greatest. But indeed the care of sinking into obscurity !
Providence, in preserving this precious reNot overwhelined, but cheered and eleva- cord, and transmitting it to us unaltered, unted by this moderated display of the divine impaired, is a perpetual miracle, a series of glory; having seen God and yet living; fecl revelations, which we are bound to acknowing his hand upon them yet uncrushed by its ledge with wonder, and to improve with graweight; the nobles of the children of Israel titude. conclude the service of this eventful day by In the next ascent into the mount, Moses the banquet of peace and love. They must is accompanied, a certain length at least, now return to secular employments, and de- and no doubt by divine appointment, by Joscend from the mountain ; but Moses has yet shua, his minister, on whom God began to put farther manifestations of the will of God to honour thus early, in order to exalt him in receive, and is commanded to ascend still the eyes of the people whom he was destined higher. “And the Lord said unto Moses, one day to command, and to prepare him beCome up to me into the mount, and be there: times for the wise and faithful discharge of and I wili give thee tables of stone, and a law, his high office, by communion with God. As and commandments which I have written: this absence of Moses, from the weighty duthat thou mayest teach them."I Be our at- ties of his charge, was to be of longer containments what they will, who is he that tinuance than usual, the management of civil * hath attained, or is already perfect ?" Our affairs, and the administration of justice were arrival at one eminence is only to see from committed in the mean time to Aaron and its summit another, and thence another still Hur, his companions and coadjutors on the cising above us: but in moral and intel- mount, when, by the lifting and holding up of lectual pursuits, this is a disappointment that his hands, Amalek was smitten before Israel. mortifies not, an exercise that fatigues not: Was ever spot of this earthly ball so highly the joy of heaven is to make progress in the honoured as that barren mountain in the midst Exod. xiv. 10. † 2 Cor. xii. 4. Exod. xxiv. 12
* Exod. xxiv. 12
of the desert? Persons, not places, possess every iota and tittle was of divine contrivance dignity. The presence of God confers great- and appointment, and undoubtedly had a ness and importance; He can receive none meaning and significancy which we cannot from created, much less from artificial pomp in every particular find out to perfection. The and magnificence. The great God dwell- pattern of it was showed unto Moses in the eth not in temples made with hands.” “The mount, and particular directions were given heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot for its construction; in these were employed contain him;" but " Thus saith the high and the forty days mentioned in the close of this lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose chapter; when the history suddenly breaks off name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy to exhibit a scene of a very different nature, place; with him also that is of a contrite and which, if God permit, will form the subject humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the hum- of the next Lecture; namely, the unprovoked ble, and to revive the heart of the contrite revolt of Israel to idolatry, the fabrication of ones.'
the golden calf, and the hasty descent of The curiosity of travellers has been excited Moses, to stem that dreadful torrent of guilt to visit this scene of wonders. But is there and wrath which had begun to flow. not an intentional obscurity spread over the In the ratification of the covenant between description, to baffle idle curiosity, and to call God and Israel, we see the stress that was us to the spirit and intention of the dispen- laid upon blood. The blood of the innocent sation, not the external apparatus of it? victim must be poured out, and the altar must Wherever there is this book; wherever there be sprinkled with blood. The elders of the is a principle of conscience; wherever there people must be purified with blood. Withis common reason and understanding, there out the shedding of blood there is no remisis the law, there iş Sinai, there is God. It sion, no friendship, no peace, no access : life is not to make a pilgrimage to the holy se must be paid to redeem life. Blood in the pulchre, to stand on Calvary, to drive infidels sacrifice is the one thing needful, the one by force of arms out of Jewry, that constitute thing significant: blood in religious offices the faith and piety of the gospel; but to know is all in all. Blood applied to any other pur. Christ Jesus, and him crucified, in “ the pose, is contaminating, unhallowed, unwholepower of his resurrection and the fellowship some for food, polluting not purifying to the of his sufferings, being made conformable un- flesh, is a source of corruption and death, not to his death."
of health and life. The idea of blood, in one The appearance of God's presence and view or the other, runs through the whole providence vary their aspect, according to history of redemption. It occurs not more the distance at which they are contemplated, frequently in the Old Testament than in the and the medium through which we view them. New. One great sacrifice has indeed put What to the nobles in the mount appeared an end for ever to the future effusion of blood; “as it were a paved work of a sapphire-stone, but it is still symbolically held out as the me and as it were the body of heaven in his dium of reconciliation and access to God. clearness," I to the multitude in the plain" We have redemption through his blood, the wore a more threatening and terrible appear- forgiveness of sins according to the riches of ance. • The sight of the glory of the Lord his grace.
.98* We are redeemed, “not with was like devouring fire, on the top of the corruptible things, as silver and gold, but mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel."* with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb Fire at once consumes and refines, leaves to without blemish and without spot.”+ “We the pure gold all its solidity and value, and draw nigh to God through the blood of his lays hold only of the dross. Moses undis- Son.". When we approach to ratify every mayed, because following the command of one his personal covenant with God at the God, advances into the midst of consuming communion table, we commemorate the fire; and so far is nature from being over- death of Christ in the symbols of his body powered and destroyed by this keen, pierc- broken, and his blood shed. “ This is the
ing element, that it is rather cherished and blood of the covenant," said Moses, “ which - strengthened by it. Flame supplies the place the Lord hath made with you,” and “ This
of food; instead of perishing in a moment, at is the New Testament in my blood," saith the end of forty days, without any other means Christ, “shed for the remission of sins." of subsistence, we see the prophet descend When we look toward eternal rest, the holy in additional glory and renovated vigour; for city, the Jerusalem that is above, the new all creatures are, and do that which their and living way which leads thither, which Creator wills.
conducts into the holiest of all, is through The next seven chapters contain a minute the rent veil of the Redeemer's flesh." His description of that sacred structure and its blood be upon us and on our children,” ex service, which God intended should be “the claimed the Jews, while they were cruci. shadow of good things to come;" of which fying the Lord of glory. Dreadful impreca Isai. Ivii. 15.
| Phil. iii. 10.
. Eph. i. 7. 1 Peter i. 18, 19.
O Lord, require not our blood of our own sweet smelling savour, acceptable unto God; hand, nor of every man at the hand of his that “ being justified by faith, we may have brother. O Lord, let this mar's blood be peace with God, through our Lord Jesus upon us and upon our children, not as an op- Christ. By whom also we may have access pressive load, as it was on those who with by faith into this grace wherein we stand, wicked hands impiously shed it, but as an and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." alonement for our sins, as a sacrifice of a Amen. Amen.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down of the mount, the people gathered
themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods which shall go before us ; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden ear-rings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving-tool, atier be had made it a molten calf and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.-Exodus Xxxii.
The real instances of human folly and to induce them to eat the dead bodies of their extravagance far exceed the conceptions of parents, as the Indians did ? Being answered the most lively imagination. All history, that it was impossible for them ever to abandon and every day's experience, justify the mor- themselves to so great inhumanity, the king, tifying account which the prophet gives of in the presence of the same Greeks, demandour corrupted nature—“The heart is de- ed of some Indians what consideration would ceitful above all things, and desperately wick- prevail with them to burn the dead bodies of ed: who can know it ?"* The partiality of their parents as the Greeks did? The In· self-love, and the charity of a kind disposition, dians expressing the utmost horror, entreated would at times lead us to form a more fa- the king to impose upon them any hardship vourable judgment both of ourselves and rather than that. Among the Hottentots, of others, than we deserve. The form of sin, the aged, so long as they are able to do any seen in its nakedness, is so hideous, that we work, are treated with great tenderness and shrink from it with horror: but use familiar- humanity ; but when they can no longer izes the spectre; and we are insensibly led crawl about, they are thrust out of the society, to bear, to be, and to do that which once we and put in a solitary hut, there to die of hunabhorred. Could a prophet have foretold one ger or age, or to be devoured of wild beasts. half of the irregularities, the excesses, the If you expostulate with them upon the saenormities of our lives, we should have vageness of this custom, they are astonishe deemed the prediction á falsehood and an ed you should reckon it inhuman : “ Is it insult; and, with the resentment of conscious not much greater cruelty," they ask, to virtue, we should have been ready to exclaim suffer persons to linger and languish out a in the words of Hazael, “ Is thy servant a dog, miserable old age, and not put an end to their that he should do this great thing ?" Yet wretchedness, by putting an end to their alas ! the event has wofully verified the cruel days ?" imputation; and exhibited the man fallen Idolatry is one of those practices, to our from his excellency, become the very mon- apprehension, so foolish and unreasonable, ster he justly detested ; the man sunk into an that we wonder how it ever obtained footing object of pity, of scorn, or of detestation to in the world; and with difficulty are we himself and mankind.
brought to believe the avidity with which Many practices appear to us absurd and whole nations have given into it. The par. unnatural, merely because we are not accus- ticular circumstances of the Israelites in the tomed to them. "Herodotus relates, that Da- wilderness, render their proneness to idol rius, king of Persia, having assembled the worship peculiarly monstrous and unaccount Greeks who were under his command, de-able. The chain of miracles which accom manded of them what bribe they would take panied their deliverance from Egypt; that * Jer. xvii. I.
constant symbol of the divine presence which
attended them, the pillar of fire and cloud; for the public good, is to be the leader, the the daily miraculous supply of bread from abettor, and an example, in practising the heaven; the recent anathema pronounced abominations of that country from which against the worship of images from the dread- they had been so happily delivered. fül glory of Mount Sinai; the scrupulous “And when the people saw that Moses de. care employed, if we may use the expression, layed to come down out of the mount, the to exhibit no manner of similitude of the people gathered themselves together unto Deity in Horeb, to prevent the possibility of Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods a pretence to use, themselves, or to trans- which shall go before us: for as, for this mit to posterity, any sensible representation Moses, the man that brought us up out of the of the invisible God; all these, superadded land of Egypt, we wot not what is become to the plainest dictates of common sense and of him."* There is a sottishness, a madness, reason, clothe with a blackness and maligni- as well as a wickedness in certain vices, ty not to be expressed, the strange conduct which, at first sight, we should deem inconsiswhich is the subject of this chapter. tent with each other. The irrationality of the
Moses foreseeing the length of his absence brute, the frenzy of the lunatic, and the main the mount, had wisely delegated his power lignity of the demon, here discover themto Aaron and Hur, that the operations of selves at once; and leave us perplexed government and the administration of jus- which we are most to wonder at and deplore. tice might suffer no interruption. God, the What shall we say of the stupidity which great God, was now vouchsafing to employ talked of making gods, and of following himself in prescribing a mode, and a minis- that as a guide which itself could not move, try of worship for his Israel, which should but as it was carried? With what notes of possess all the pomp and splendour display- indignation shall we mark our abhorrence ed by the nations in the service of their false of that base ingratitude which could speak gods, together with a sacredness and dignity contemptuously of such a benefactor as Mopeculiar to itself. He was preparing to gra- ses; "'This Moses, the man that brought us tify their very senses by external show, as up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not their souls by heavenly wisdom. He was plan- what has become of him ?”+ With what ning a tabernacle, establishing a priesthood, holy resentment must we execrate the spirit and appointing festivals and sacrifices, whose that could deal thus perfidiously, presumpmagnificence should leave them nothing to tuously with God ? regret in the glory which they had seen in After we have vented our anger and asEgypt; and at that very time, they are employ- tonishment upon the conduct of these vile ing themselves in devising and executing a Israelites, let us pause and examine ourplan of religious service, equally disrespectful selves. Asserted by a strong hand and a to God and dishonourable to themselves. stretched-out arm into the glorious liberty of
Their guilt begins in sinful impatience the sons of God, have we never reverted in and presumption. In matters both of life thought, in desire, in practice, into that very and of religion men greatly err, when they thraldom of sin from which the Son of God take upon them to carve for themselves. came to set us free? Lying under the “ Vain men would be wise, though man be weight of benefits much more precious, and born like a wild ass's colt."* The transi- bound by engagements equally solemn and tion is so sudden that it seems incredible. explicit, have we never swerved from the Not many days are past since they had given path of duty, never lost sight of our vows, the most solemn, expliçit, and unreserved never failed in our obedience? With so consent to the whole of the divine law. “All much clearer and fuller discoveries of the that the Lord hath said will we do, and be being, nature, and will of the one living and obedient.”[ The treaty had been but just true God, have we feared and loved him, ratified by a covenant, a sacrifice, and a feast, and only him; have we never bowed the with a solemnity not easily to be forgotten. knee to mammon, never worshipped in the The noise of the mighty thunderings has house of Rimmon, never kissed the image of scarcely ceased; the ineffable glory of the Baal ? Alas, alas! we hate and condemn God of Israel is yet present to their eyes; some sins merely because they are not our they have not well recovered from the ter- own, while we stand chargeable in the sight ror inspired by that voice which made hea- of God and man, with equal or greater ofven and earth to tremble. Yet even thus fences of a different kind; so blinded as not circumstanced, as one man they fly to the ap- to perceive, so self-deluded as not to feel pointment, not of a new leader and command-their
enormity. er, though that had been ingratitude with Is it not amazing to observe on the part out a parallel, but with an impiety the most of Aaron no reluctance against this horrid shocking and confounding, to the creation of proposal; to hear from his lips no remona new god. And the very first exercise of strance? Is it thus he discharges his sacred the power which was committed unto Aaron trust? Is this the man whom Jehovah was, * Job ii. 12 Exod. xxiv. 7.
* Exod. xxxij. 1.
in the meanwhile, designing to advance, and sooner or later come to entangle the feet of promoting to the dignity of the priesthood ? those who use them. Mark, how one rapaMany things have been alleged in extenua- cious domineering passion swallows up many tion of his fault, though nothing can amount others. “Can a maid forget her ornaments, to a full vindication of his conduct. The or a bride her attire?" And yet behold the conciseness of the sacred history, it has been daughters of Israel cheerfully sacrificing the said, may have suppressed some of the more darling embellishments of their persons to a favourable circumstances, and exhibited only mistaken principle of religion! If there be a general view of the subject. Some of the a passion more violent than another, it is the Rabbins* pretend that his colleague in office, love of gold in the heart of a Hebrew; but Hur, had lately been massacred in a popular we see one more violent than even that, the commotion for daring to resist the prevailing delirium of idolatrous superstition. frenzy; and that Aaroncomplied, through It is dangerous to have the patterns of evil fear of similar treatment, after having thus before our eyes. We soon learn to bear with deprecated the divine displeasure; " O Lord, what we see frequently; we are insensibly I look up to thee, who knowest the hearts of led to approve what we have learned to sufmen, and who dwellest in the heavens: fer without being shocked; and what we Thou art witness that I act thus contrary to heartily approve we are not far from adoptmy own will. Lay it not to my charge. ing. Ísrael has sustained greater injuries
Others explain away great part of the cri- in Egypt than we are at first aware of, and minality, both of Aaron and of the people, by they have been more deeply hurt in their alleging that all they demanded, and all he minds than in their persons. The stripes of gave them, was an external object, where an Egyptian taskmaster are healed by the they might deposit the homage which they lenient hand of time: but the wounds inflictwished to render to the Supreme God; and ed by the impure rites of Egyptian idols, are thus they interpret the request of the peo- still festering at the heart, and threaten ple, “ Make us a sensible object of divine death. worship, which may always be before our Aaron is too eager and intent upon his eyes, and supply the place of God, when we shameful work, to escape the suspicion of shall be told of all the wonders he wrought being hearty in it. "And he received them for us in Egypt.”+ And a learned prelate at their hand, and fashioned it with a gravingof our own country labours to prove, that tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and Aaron presented only a hieroglyphic of the they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which strength and power of the Deity, and he brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."* produces a few passages from ancient authors All that industry, all that art could do, is emto prove, that the ox was an emblem of royal ployed to confer lustre and value on this and sovereign authority, and the horns, in worthless object; and yet he would have it particular, a common and well known em- believed, when he is called to account, that blem of strength.
the form and fashion of the idol was the A fourth excuse has been pleaded in be- effect of accident, not of design: "I cast it half of Aaron, founded on the letter of the into the fire, and there came out this calf." sacred text. He feigned readiness to com- What a pitiful figure does ingenious, indusply, according to these apologists,& in hope trious wickedness make, when it stands exthat the demand of the golden ornaments for posed, convicted, self-condemned ! But the the fabrication of the idol, acting upon their framing and erecting of this idol is not the love of finery, or of wealth, might bring them whole extent of Aaron's criminality. I am to a stand, and break their resolution. But still more shocked at beholding an attempt why set up an elaborate defence for a man to blend with its profane worship, the sacred who stands condemned by his own brother, day, the sacred ceremonies and services of who had the best means of information; and the true God." And when Aaron saw it, he for one who himself had nothing, or worse built an altar before it; and Aaron made than nothing, to produce in his own behalf, proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast when charged by Moses with his fault? to the Lord."| What concord hath Christ
These spoils of the Egyptians had not been with Belial ? An attempt to form such an obtained in the most honourable manner. union as this, is more grossly insulting than Israel “ borrowed and paid not again;" and even avowed neglect or opposition. It it proves a dreadful snare to them. If they freezes the blood to observe a repetition of had not carried off the gold, they might per- the same august ceremonies which were haps have kept clear of the gods of Egypt. lately employed in the mount, for confirming But ill-gotten wealth never was and never the grand alliance between the great Jehocan be a blessing; and unwarrantable devices vah and his people, in the settling of this * In Schemoth Rabba, Sect. xlj. fol. 156.
strange league between Israel and a bauble R. Jinda, in Lib. Cozri. Part 1. Sect. xcvii. fol. 47. of their own invention. They rose up 1 l'atrick, Bishop of Ely, on Exod. xxxij. 4, p. 6.35.
Algist. Tom. IV. Quæst. xli. in Exo-l. page 118: and * Exod. xxxii. 4. + Exod. xxxii. 24. Theodoret, Tom. 1. in Exod. Quæst. lxvi. page 3.
| Exod. xxxii. 5