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symbol of the great object of their worship. If this were really the nature of the sin of the Israelites, and we see not how, consistently with any other interpretation, Aaron could have proclaimed a feast in honour of the molten calf, as a "feast to the Lord,” surely it throws a remarkable light upon the nature of the guilt of those Christians, and of that church, who amid the multitude of their images and pictures, the objects, most undeniably, of their open and daily worship, excuse themselves from the charge of idolatry, upon the plea that these are mere symbols; that the Saviour is acknowledged in the representation of him, and that Christ is worshipped in the adoration of the cross. Surely, there is reason to fear that that which was punished as idolatry in the Israelites, cannot, however refined or ameliorated, be innocent in the Christian, who, with his far more extended knowledge, and clearer perceptions of the nature and character of the Almighty, and of the way of access to Him, through the only "mediator, the man Christ Jesus," has infinitely less need of symbols, and types, and images, than those who were here the objects of the Almighty's just indignation.
7. And the Lord said unto Moses, Ga, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have wor. shipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people:
10. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wat hot aguinst them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nution.
11. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath waz hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with power, and with a mighty hand?
12. Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
13. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shull inherit it for
14. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Before Moses descended from the Mount, the Almighty apprized him of the guilt of his people, and of his intentions to consume them, promising Moses at the same time, that he would make of him “a great nation.” Moses, however, far from desiring any personal aggrandizement at so fearful a cost, most earnestly besought the Lord to turn from his fierce anger, and repent of this evil against his people, pleading all the gracious promises that had been made to their forefathers, and all the triumph that it would afford to the enemies of God. And we read, “ The Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” Behold, once more, the power of prayer! persevering, faithful, intercessory prayer, even for sinners engaged in their sins! How encouraging to the Christian husband, or parent, or friend, who sees those for whom he has a far tenderer concern than Moses could have had for Israel, "sitting down to
eat and to drink, and rising up only to play;" and who continually, though perhaps almost hopelessly, bears them upon his heart before a throne of grace.
The word of the Lord had almost gone forth against Israel for its utterextermination, yet the prayer of faith withheld it; the arm of the Lord was outstretched to destroy, yet the petitions of one holy man arrested it. Many of the Israelites, it is true, were cut off, probably all who repented not themselves of the evil, but how large a majority was spared! Let it, therefore, teach us to persevere in prayer, for the most hopeless and God-forgetting of those in whom we are interested, it shall not be in vain; many souls, far more than we can number, have, doubtless, been given to petitions such as these; probably, it will appear on the great day, that all have been benefited; but certainly, no prayer of faith, asking according to God's will, ever failed ultimately, through the merits of our Redeemer, of its great and rich reward.
EXODUS xxxii. 15—20.
15. And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides: on the one side and on the other were they written.
16. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
17. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the сатр. .
18. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mas. tery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
19. And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
20. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
It is not easy to imagine with what feelings of sorrow and indignation Moses, as he descended from the holy Mount, and from long and close communion with God, must have heard the ribald song and shouts of foolish and sinful merriment, that arose from the camp
of the idolaters. Did it ever happen to any amongst us, while returning from the house of God, upon the Christian's sabbath, our minds sobered and impressed, deeply and solemnly, with the services in which we had been engaged,—did it ever happen to us to meet some wretched object staggering home from the effects of the last night's debauch, clothed in rags and filthiness, and singing, it may be, the snatches of some obscene and wicked song? If so, how has our soul recoiled with horror at the sight and the sound; how doubly painful have they been to our feelings, from the harsh and grating contrast which they formed to all with which our heart was filled; and while we have probably offered a silent prayer for the guilty wretch who was thus forgetting God, we have been justly excited to indignation at such open contempt of the Being whom we serve, and from close communion with whom we were just returning. Then shall we readily enter into the feelings with which “ Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables of stone out of his hands," even though bearing the impress of Deity himself, and brake them into a thousand pieces, at the bottom of the Mount. We shall not readily join with those who consider this the act of an ungoverned zeal, but as the Almighty never reproached his servant for it, we will probably agree that if our hearts were more nearly united to our God, if his friends were really our friends, and his enemies our enemies, such an effect of the sight of desperate sin, and unbridled licentiousness, would be rather a proof of deep and heart-felt love for the being who was thus insulted, than any evidence of improper zeal, or natural passion.
The truth is, we are little calculated, generally, to form any
estimate of conduct such as this. The immense gulf between the coldness of our religious feelings and the warmth of those of the holy men of old, thoroughly incapacitates us, and instead of deserving the appellation of the friends of God, we scarcely aspire to any thing more than a general acquaintance with Him. An obvious and striking proof of this may be drawn from one of the most frequent and dangerous habits of the present day, namely, the talking lightly of those things that are most offensive to the Being whom we profess to love. There is a sort of conventional agreement, in what is termed good worldly society, to turn every thing into jest; nothing appears sufficiently serious to be above a joke. The consequence is, that the minds, especially of the