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Thus the rebels reasoned. And how did Moses answer them ? He said a little, but he did not say much. The matter was one which could not well be settled by argument, and arguments are not convincing, except when men are able and disposed to understand. Moses, therefore, did not argue with them at any great length. Argument, in fact, was useless. It was a question of fact rather than of argument. Did God decree that Aaron and his sons should be the priests, and that other persons should not discharge the functions of the priesthood ? That was the disputed question. Moses affirmed solemnly that God had su appointed it. Korah and his company
so denied that so it was. Nor did they only deny; they were confident. The rebels were quite sure that they were right. There was no wavering in their con. duct, no fear, no irresolution. They were quite prepared to try the matter at issue, before the ark of the covenant and in the holy tabernacle of God. And Moses was no less anxious that the matter should be settled thus. Aaron had a commission from God. The others had not. And without a commission a man was not a priest. Moses thought this and knew that he could prove it. He therefore told Korah and his company to bring the censers in which they claimed to offer incense, before the ark of God upon the day which followed, that God might settle the controversy for them, and that all disputes might end. “ This do, take you censers, Korah and his company, and put fire therein, and put incense in them before the Lord to-morrow, and it shall he that the man whom the Lord shall chouse he shall he holy.”
It was thus that Moses dealt with those who rebelled against the ordinance of God. Had the character
and authority of the priesthood been longer settled, and more thoroughly established, another course of action might perhaps have met the difficulty which thus arose, and a milder discipline might possibly have been sufficient for the end and purpose which he had in view. But here, at the outset of the new Church, the position of the priesthood was assailed, and the authority of God and the Civil Magistrate was openly and profanely assaulted. A state of things like this could only be dealt with in a summary and severe manner. And, therefore,-you know the issue,-on the morrow the earth opened to receive the leaders of the rebellion, and fire went out from God to burn those wicked and presumptuous persons, who dared to offer incense in hands which had not been hallowed by Divine appointment, or consecrated for the work of intercession between man and God. Nor was this all. Disease broke out among the people who sympathized in the rebellious outbreak, and fourteen thousand persons died of sickness, before Aaron stcod between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed.
These are the more striking features in this memorable act of judgment, when God directly interpoşed with proofs of the Divine displeasure; showing terribly His anger upon those who disputed when they ought to have obeyed Him, and destroying those who trusted to their own opinion, as the rule of propriety in sacred matters, rather than to the mind of Him why orders everything pertaining to His own kingdom by just though hidden and mysterious laws. Korah and his friends had reasoned out the matter, and had come to conclusions which perfectly satisfied themselves. Their arguments, as they thought, were sound, and they were quite persuaded that their acts were right. But they were wrong. And, in fact, the question was one which faith and not argument was to settle. They would have been kept from error, if, instead of disputing, they had believed and obeyed.
Now, my brethren, I am quite aware than when we turn from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram to our own selves, and ask, 'as we should ask about every scripture, what is all this to us? a great difficulty meets me. As long as we are talking about Moses and Aaron, and the doings of the Jewish people, every man will go along with me, and every one will say at once, ‘No doubt, these Jews were very wicked people, and they were always doing wrong. Their history is a series of sins and rebellions, and they were justly punished by a righteous God. But when a minister of God, in the discharge of the duties of his office, turns round and says, "True,
• my brethren; but I do not wish to talk about the sins of the Jewish people, except in so far as they help us to understand the sins of Christian people, and I do wish to tell
that men may now be guilty of sins like these of Korah, so that Korah has a great deal to teach us;' I say when a minister of God speaks thus, as he is bound to speak, he is apt to be told,— Oh, the Jews were very different from us. The Jews were under the law; we are under the gospel. The Jews were ignorant; we enlightened. The Jews were under bondage, and we are free. There is a strong disposition in the present day to disparage the Old Testament, and to say, whenever a stiff doctrine or uncomfortable truth is found within it, “Ah, that does not apply to us.
That is Judaism, not Christianity. Every thing was then starched and narrow, but every thing is free now.' I may, therefore, just as well state before going further, that St. Jude expressly tells us that Korah’s sin is one of which Christians can be guilty; and I may
add that “ the Old Testament is not contrary to the New, for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ.” And, moreover, I may go on to say, in terms of the seventh article, which I have just quoted, that, though the law of Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, is not now binding, "yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called moral.” The moral law is as much binding now as ever it was, and Korah, Dathan, and Abiram broke the moral law. With these remarks, by way of introduction, I now proceed to say:
I. That we are here taught to respect authority. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were punished because they broke the fifth commandment, which is the fundamental precept in the second table of the law. Any Englishman who ever learnt his Catechismand in speaking of the Catechism, I must be allowed to say that if Englishmen have any good in them they owe that good to their Catechism, above every thing else which they are made to learn,-every man who knows his Catechism, is well aware that when we are taught to honour our father and mother we are taught a good deal more than this. We have several fathers. As members of a family we have parents, and it is the first of all duties to honour, obey, love, and cherish them. As members of the State we have another father, the king and all who represent him,-gov
ernors, judges, magistrates, all that body of persons which administer the affairs of State, and execute the laws. These also we are bound to honour. As members of the Church, we have other fathers, “spiritual pastors and masters.” Them, too, we must reverence. And in every relation of life we have our superiors, or, as the Catechism calls them, in language which sounds somewhat homely in days like these, “our betters;" people, that is, who are greater,
” higher, nobler, wiser, more honourable, in short, better than ourselves. Now, whatever the relation may be, in whatever sense men may be called fathers to us, this old commandment, as old and as venerable as Moses, distinctly teaches that we must honour them. It is our business to look up, being very small creatures; and to be reverent, having many over us who are very much wiser and better than ourselves; and to be submissive, bearing even with the faults of others, because well knowing that we have a very large number of faults ourselves.
This is the fifth commandment. But Korah, Dathan, and Abiram did not keep it. Though it was not long since they had heard this fifth commandment, and heard it too in thunder; nor only heard it but seen it, seen it in the lightning, and seen it written with God's finger upon a stone table,-notwithstanding all this,—they broke the law of God. They did not honour Moses, their father in the government, nor Aaron, their father in the Church. They were not lowly and reverent to their “ betters.” They honoured neither Church nor State. They were rebels against the State and schismatics from the Church. They tried to pull down the altar, and they tried to pull down the throne. •Down with them,' down with