« ÖncekiDevam »
those whose sins were utterly hateful to the holy and devoted men who pitied the sinners. They who make a mock at sin, and to whom we referred in the last Exposition, can never participate in feelings such as these; it is impossible. The heart that is hardened by habitual jesting upon such subjects, could no more utter such a prayer as that of Moses, or experience such a wish as that of St. Paul, or even sympathize in the tender and beautiful feeling which was the parent of these expressions, than the nether millstone could take the shape into which the plastic wax is so readily changed, or so start into apparent life at the bidding of the moulder. No; to enable us to pray,oreven to feel for sinners, we must have a deep and habitual consciousness of the extreme guilt, and depravity, and danger of sin; we must never, for a moment, permit ourselves to speak, or even to think of it, with levity; we must constantly view it as described in God's word,
“ the abominable thing that God hateth,” or we shall not only be rendered incapable of praying for others, but shortly, of avoiding sin ourselves. Of such unspeakable consequence is it, to cultivate a right state of mind, on this important subject.
But, behold the unerring justice of God. Moses prayed, that if the Almighty refused to pardon the people upon any other terms, he should blot him out of his book; whether as an expiatory sacrifice, to make that atonement for their sin which he had promised in the 30th verse, or, as a partaker of one universal punishment, is not mentioned, but probably, judging by the Almighty's reply, the former was intended, “And the Lord said unto Moses,
Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” Yes! Moses was, indeed, an eminent type of Christ; but there was but one being who could say, I will stand in the sinner's place; I will suffer in the sinner's stead. There was but one being of whom it could be predicted, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." This was far too high an honour to be vouchsafed to Moses; “No man may deliver his brother, or make atonement unto God for him, for it cost more to redeem their souls, so that he must let that alone for ever.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” is the sentence of unchangeable truth. One and only one way of escape has ever been provided, and all the boasted wisdom of man shall find no second. “I am the way, the truth, and the life," are the words of Christ himself; and by that way, and through that way alone must every generation of pardoned sinners, pass from the judgment of God's deserved justice, to "eternal life," which is the free gift of God through Jesus Christ."
CHAP. xxxiii. 1-6.
1. And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it;
2. And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite;
3. Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
4. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned; and no man did put on him his ornaments.
5. For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiff-necked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.
6. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.
The great and crying sin of the Israelites had been punished, at the command of Moses, but it appears not yet to have been forgiven by God. This chapter, therefore, opens with a solemn declaration of the Almighty, that he will no longer accompany their hosts in person, as he had hitherto done, but that he would send an angel before them; adding, “for thou art a stiff-necked people; lest I consume thee by the way.” This was a great and mournful change for the Israelites; it was no doubt much to have the promise of a guardian angel, and to hear the Lord declare that he would still perform what he had sworn unto their forefathers, and that they should inherit the land flowing with milk and honey; but how greatly was this blessing diminished by the distinct declaration of God, “I will not go up in the midst of thee.” It is pleasing to find that hardhearted though they were, this threatening of the Almighty deeply saddened them, for when they heard these evil tidings they mourned."
There can be no better and no stronger proof that spiritual life is not extinct within the soul, than the fact, that the hiding of God's countenance is a greater trial, and a more grievous burden to us, than any other punishment to which He subjects us. Whenever the fear of having offended God, the certainty of having deserved his displeasure, is that which after any dereliction from the path of duty, most oppresses the mind, and affects the heart, and grieves the conscience, there is reason to hope that the Spirit of God has not forsaken us, but is striving to bring us to repentance, and will not leave us, if we obey his summons, until He has led us in penitence and faith to the foot of the cross for pardon and forgiveness.
Now let us endeavour to try our own state in spiritual things by the example before us.
When we have committed, what we too well know to be an offence against God and man, what is the feeling that most pervades our breast? Is it the dread of being put to shame before the face of the world is it the painful consequences that may follow upon detection? or is it the feeling, "I have offended the Almighty;" “My sins have separated between me and my God,” and “have hid, as it were, his face from me." “I have disobeyed, and therefore alie. nated my best friend, and feel that I deserve any punishment that He can inflict. It is this that fills my heart with sorrow, and my eyes with tears, and compels me to say with David, “ Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." If these be our sincere and heart-felt regrets, may we cherish them until they have instrumentally wrought that, for which they have been vouchsafed us; for we cannot question but that these are distinct and scriptural evidences of that “godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of.”
CHAP. xxxiii. 7-11.
7. And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
8. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.
9. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.
10. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.
11. And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
While this was the state of feeling manifested by, at least, a large portion of the congregation of Israel, Moses “took the tabernacle and pitched it without the camp." The place here called the tabernacle,