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young, become so early habituated to hear all actions, however contrary to God's will and God's word, treated lightly or jocosely, that they are led to think the line between vice and virtue almost imperceptible; and that deeds, which their elders consider fit to furnish materials only for a laugh, can never excite the serious displeasure either of God or man. Now conduct such as this, is absolutely incompatible with any thing like a deep and reverential love to God. We could not do it, with regard to any thing that was really painful and offensive to those we love on earth, it is impossible we should deal thus with that which excites the highest indignation in Him whom we adore and love in heaven. For let us contrast this method of treating sin with that of Moses; let us mark his just abhorrence, his deep and heart-felt sadness, his holy anger, even his fiery indignation that overpowered every thought and feeling of his mind, and then let us ask ourselves, as in the sight of that God who sees the heart, which of these two states of mind is most consonant to the Christian character and likely to be the best evidence of a holy, grateful love to our divine Master.
The word of God has pronounced, “ Fools make a mock at sin,” and no doubt, as that word is unerring, fools will always continue to do so; but let us be careful that we do not, through carelessness, or thoughtlessness, add wise men to their number; we mean such as the scripture terms wise, those who know God and desire to serve Him.
If we are sensible of this guilty tendency, and many even of the people of God are by nature prone to it, let us make it a subject of constant, fervent prayer, and lay a double restraint upon our lips, and beseech God to “ keep the door of our mouth.
Whenever, then, we think of sin, and are disposed to treat it as a jest, we should remember it was no jest, when it ruined a world within the gates of paradise; it was no jest when it drew “great drops of blood” in the garden of Gethsemane from Him who was then bearing the sins of his lost and fallen creatures; it was no jest when it nailed the Son of God to the accursed tree; and we may be assured it shall be no jest when sin, unrepented of and unpardoned, shall call down upon the head of its wretched perpetrators the sentence of a sin-abhorring Saviour,“ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."*
CHAP. xxxii. 21-35.
21. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon
them? 22. And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wat hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.
23. For they said unto me, 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.
24, And I said unto them, Whosoeder hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cust it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
* Mat. xxv. 41.
25. And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies,)
26. Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unlo me. And all the sons of Ledi gathered themselves together unto him.
27. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
28. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and theré fell of the people that day about three thousand
29. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.
We witnessed in the last portion of scripture, the proof of the just and deep abhorrence which Moses felt at the sins of the people; we have here an account of their summary and deserved punishment. Aaron had allowed the Israelites to strip off their ornaments and upper garments, probably that they might the more easily join in the dance, when they rose up to play;" and this at once made those who had taken the chief part in the idolatrous festival, sufficiently conspicuous. Moses, therefore, standing in the gate of the camp, perhaps to prevent any from leaving it, cried aloud, “Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me.” It is gratifying to find that “all the sons of Levi,!' all who had been consecrated to the especial service of God, appear to have kept themselves from a participation in the idol worship; for we read, in reply to the invitation of their leader, that “ all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.' Then he commanded them to inflict instantaneous and terrible judgment upon the offenders, telling them to take their swords, and to pass through the camp, and to slay every man whom they met in the streets, sparing neither brother, companion, nor neighbour. “And there fell of the people that day, about three thousand men.” We may hope that this number which bears a very small proportion to the six hundred thousand men of whom the camp was composed, was at any rate the majority of those who still persevered in their sin, and that the great body of the people had retired into their tents in penitence, before this order was given.*
30. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go-hp unto the Lord; peradventure 1 shall make an atonement for your sin.
31. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold;
32. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin;—and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
33. And the Lord said unto Moses, iWhosoever hath sinned against me, himn will I blot out of my books
34. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I hade spoken unto thee; behold, mine Angel shall go before thee; nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
35. And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
How pleasant is it thus to turn to what we cannot but feel to be the more attractive, though perhaps in the sight of God, not at all the more holy or consistent part of Moses' conduct. On the day following, * If this Exposition should be considered too long, it may
be divided here.
his heart, evidently deeply touched by the sufferings which he had himself been compelled, by a sense of duty, to inflict upon his people, Moses called the congregation together, and after convincing them of the guilt of their previous conduct, proceeded most earnestly to intreat the Almighty to pardon them. There is something peculiarly striking and affecting in this prayer of the prophet, “Oh! this people have sinned a great sin;" he does not attempt to extenuate their guilt in order to conciliate God's favour; no, his language rather reminds us of that of David in after days, “Pardon my sin, for it is great.” So necessary is it, before we seek for forgiveness, that our hearts should be deeply impressed with the full sense of the heinousness of our offences. Moses continues, “ They have made them gods of gold; yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” So perfectly compatible is the deepest abhorrence of sin, with the most tender and affectionate love for the sinner, and the most earnest desire, and even the most costly sacrifice, for the salvation of his soul. How similar is the language of Moses on this occasion, to that of a holy apostle in a later age, when mourning over the infidelity of the self-same people, he exclaimed, " I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.” What striking expressions are these of the strongest, the most powerful and self-denying love for the persons of