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The books are opened, and judgment be In meditating on this subject, let us learn gins. It is spoken after the manner of men. to forbear from exercising this dread prerogaEarthly judges refer to statutes as the rule tive of the Eternal, let us refrain from judging. of their decisions; men are tried by the laws God has challenged this right with emphatie of their country, and because human facul- solemnity as his own : Judgment is mine, ties are limited and imperfect, the memory 1 will repay, saith the Lord." unretentive, the understanding liable to error, ment is committed unto the Son." - Therethe heart warped by partial affections, facts fore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever, must be preserved in written documents, to thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgprevent alteration or mistake, the law ex- est another thou condemnest thyself; for thou pressed in clear and distinct terms, and the that judgest doest the same things. But we cause, not the person, of the party, held up as are sure that the judgment of God is accordthe object of judgment. But what need of ing to truth, against them which commit such books or of records to assist the memory of things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that Him who is omniscience, to whom are known judgest them which do such things, and doest all his own works, and all the ways of men the same, that thou shalt escape the judg. from the foundation of the world; whose willi ment of God? Or despisest thou the riches is the law; and who knows no distinction of his goodness and forbearance, and longbut that between truth and falsehood, right suffering, not knowing that the goodness of and wrong? What need of external evidence, God leadeth thee to repentance ? But after of the testimony of others, when every man thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest carries the evidence in his own bosom, and up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, is acquitted or condemned of his own con- and revelation of the righteous judgment of science? What, О man, are the contents God; who will render to every man accordof these awful books? The words thou art ing to his deeds: to them who by patient connow speaking, the pursuits in which thou art tinuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and now engaged, the spirit by which thou art honour, and immortality ; eternal life : but now actuated. Thou art every day filling unto them that are contentious, and do not up the record, with thy hand enrolling thine obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness ; own honour or shame; and the unfolding of indignation and wrath : tribulation and anthat day shall reveal that only which thou guish upon every soul of man that doth evil

, thyself hast written. On thyself it rests, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. But whether the last solemn discovery is to cover glory, honour, and peace to every man that thee with everlasting contempt, or to crown worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to thee with joy unspeakable, and full of glory: the Gentile. For there is no respect of perwhether the opening of the book of life is to sons with God."* display thy name in golden characters to But while by every serious consideration angels and men, or the register of condem- thou art restrained, ignorant fallible creature, nation consign thee to everlasting punish- from judging another,—by every serious conment. The book that shall be opened is none sideration thou art encouraged, constrained other than the book of scripture, the infalli- to examine and to judge thyself. It may be the ble rule of faith and manners, and according means of preventing, of averting the righteous as thou art conformed unto, fallest short judgment of God. It will lead thee to the of, or exceedest that standard, so shall thy discovery of thy own weakness, and thereby doom be.

become a source of wisdom and strength. They were judged every man according It will unfold the deceitfulness of sin, and the to their works. In this mixed and imperfect treachery of thine own heart, and lead thee state, it frequently happens that the guilty in trembling hope to the blood of sprinkling, escape, and the innocent suffer." The fa- which taketh away the sin of the world. It thers eat sour grapes and the children's teeth will render thee compassionate and gentle are set on edge.” Princes play the madman, to the infirmities of others, because that thou and quarrel, and fight, and myriads of unof- also hast sinned. It will produce "godly fending wretches pay the forfeit of that folly. sorrow, which worketh repentance unto salBut before yonder tribunal every one appears vation, not to be repented of.” It will render to answer for himself; every one comes to the promises of “ mercy to pardon, and of reap the fruit of his own doings. Enter grace to help in every time of need," precious not into judgment with thy servant, O God, to thy soul. It will help to regulate thy path for in thy sight shall no Aesh living be justi- through life, and diminish the terrors of fied." “ If thou, Lord, shouldst mark ini- death quities, O Lord, who shall stand ?"

“ Have

Finally, habitual and rooted impressions mercy upon me, O God, according to thy of a judgment to come, will serve as a suploving-kindness, according unto the multi- port under the rash censures and the unjust tude of thy tender mercies blot out my trans- decisions of men. From the strife of tongues, gressions.” “Behold, O God, our Shield, from the hatred of a merciless world, you can and look upon the face of thine Anointed.”

* Rom. ii. 1-11.



retire to the silent feast of a conscience void | unto our God, which sitteth upon the throne, of offence; and with confidence appeal from and unto the Lamb." “ What are these which the angry tribunal of a creature like thyself

, are arrayed in white robes ? And whence to Him who knoweth thy heart, who seeth in came they ?" “ These are they which came secret, and will reward thee openly. “Bless out of great tribulation, and have washed ed are ye when men shall revile you, and their robes, and made them white in the blood persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, throne of God, and serve him day and night and be exceeding glad : for great is your re- in his temple: and he that sitieth on the ward in heaven." " Who shall lay any thing throne shall dwell among them. They shall to the charge of God's elect? It is God that hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neijustifieth : who is he that condemneth ?" Be- ther shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. hold that " great multitude which no man For the Lamb which is in the midst of the can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and throne shall feed them, and shall lead people, and tongues, standing before the them unto living fountains of waters; and throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with God shall wipe away all tears from their white robes, and palms in their hands, and eyes.** crying with a loud voice, saying, Salvation

* Rev. yii. 9-17.



And they journeyed from mount Hor, by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom : and the

soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water, and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery ser. pents among the people ; and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us, and Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.-NUMBERS xxi. 49.

The restlessness, peevishness, and discon- and thus the very misery we feel is a présentent, which men are continually expressing, timent of the felicity which we were created prove at once the degeneracy and corruption to enjoy. But alas! our dissatisfaction with of human nature, and furnish a strong pre- sublunary good things, "the things which sumption of the immortality of the soul. To are seen and temporal," is not the result of behold one generation after another, of mo- experience, nor the resignation of a mind ping, melancholy, sullen, surly beings, in the humbled to the will of God. No, it is the midst of an overflowing profusion of blessings, miserable effect and expression of insatiable charging God foolishly, tormenting them- desire, of unmortified pride, of disappointed selves unnecessarily, and disturbing others ambition. If we arrive at our object with maliciously, clearly demonstrates, that man is ease, its value is diminished by the facility of alienated from his Maker, at variance with acquisition ; if obstacles lie in the way, and himself, and unkindly disposed towards his possession be removed by distance of time brother: in other words, that he is a fallen, and space, we are quickly discouraged, and corrupted creature. To behold men, what- timidly give up the pursuit. When empty, ever they have attained, whatever they pos- there is no end of our complaints; when full, sess, forgetting the things which are behind, we loathe and reject the best things: if we and eagerly reaching forward to those which succeed, our prosperity destroys us with folly, are before, the eye never satisfied with see- insolence, and self-indulgence; if we fail, we ing, nor the ear with hearing, is a presump- are undone through shame, chagrin, and retion at least, if not a proof, that we are de- sentment; if we shun the rock of “vanity" signed of our Creator for something this world on the one side, we are sucked into the whirlhas not to bestow; that some principle in our pool of "vexation of spirit” upon the other. nature is superior to the gross and grovelling The history of Israel is, in truth, the hispursuits in which we are warmly engaged, tory of human nature. Did they discover a bat in which we find and we take no rest : stubbornness which no calamity could tame, 2 T


no kindness could mollify: a levity which no | seemed to be pressing them forwards to the steadiness of discipline could fix, a perfidious- possession of Canaan, not led of their heavenly ness which no plea can excuse, an ingratitude Guide directly forwards in the nearest tract, which no partiality can extenuate, a stupidi- but obliged to fetch a compass round the ty which no intelligence can account for, a whole land of Edom, the possession allotted timidity and a rashness which no reason can to, and already bestowed upon the posterity explain? Alas, we need not travel to the of Esau. But Israel, and in them mankind, deserts of Arabia, nor look back to the days was thereby instructed to revere the destinaof the golden calf, nor of the waters of Meri- tions of Providence, to respect the rights, probah, for the persons who discovered such a perty, and privileges of others: that reason spirit. We have but to look into our own and religion, as well as sympathy and huhearts, we have but to review our own lives, manity, oblige a man to submit to the inconin order to be satisfied, that such a spirit has veniency of a journey somewhat more tedious existed, that it is shamefully odious in itself, and fatiguing, instead of attempting to cut a highly offensive in the sight of God, and that nearer passage for himself

, through the bowels we have good reason to abhor ourselves, “and and blood of his brother. repent in dust and ashes."

The consciousness of having acted well, in We have pursued the history of Aaron and taking this circuitous march round the land of Balaam in a continued series, that we of Edom, and that they thus acted by the might prosecute the remainder of the history command of God, ought to have reconciled of Moses, without any farther interruption : the minds of these Israelites to the little inwe therefore omitted in its proper place that conveniences of the way; but their historian portion of it, which is partly recorded in the and leader, with his usual fidelity, informs us, verses I have read: but it is of infinitely too that "the soul of the people was much disgreat importance to be passed over wholly in couraged because of the way.” silence, and therefore we look back, and Men frequently do their duty with so ill a bring it into view, as an useful subject of grace, that it becomes as offensive as downmeditation this evening.

right disobedience; the manner of compliMoses had lately descended from mount ance has the air of a refusal. God loves Hor, whither he had been summoned to per- cheerfulness in every thing; a cheerful, libeform the last offices of humanity to Aaron, his ral giver; a cheerful, thankful receiver; a brother: with mixed emotions, no doubt, cheerful, active doer; a cheerful, patient sufwhich alternately marked the man and the ferer. And what an alleviating considerabeliever : mourning and mortified, yet pa- tion is it, under the pressure of whatever catient, composed, and resigned to the will of lamity! “ This burden is imposed on me by Heaven. In executing sentence of death the hand of my heavenly Father; this is a upon his brother, he heard the voice of God sore evil, but God can turn it into good." again pronouncing his own doom; a doom in "This affliction is not joyous, but grievous; which, with the ordinary feelings of humani- nevertheless, afterwards it shall yield the ty, he acquiesces with reluctance, but must peaceable fruits of righteousness." When however acquiesce. But though death was we are out of humour at one thing we before his eyes, and could be at no great dis- are dissatisfied with every person, and every tance, it abates nothing of his ardour for the thing; a harsh spirit and a hasty tongue glory God, and the good of Israel ; it spare neither God nor man. “The people : breaks in upon no duty of his station, it dis- spoke against God, and against Moses. turbs not the benevolence, gentleness, and Wherefore have ye brought us up out of serenity of his temper: he lives, acts, in- Egypt to die in the wilderness ? for there is structs to the very last; and exhibits an in- no bread, neither is there any water; and our structive example of that happy firmness and soul loatheth this light bread.” equanimity of soul, removed alike from stoic Objects viewed through the medium of pasal indifference, and contempt of death, and sion, like those strange, uncouth appearances fond, infirm, unreasonable attachment to life. which are seen in glasses of a certain conWe find him accordingly, in his 120th year, struction, have little or no resemblanee to and the last of his life, not only engaged in what they are in nature and truth. They employments suitable to age, those of delibe- are distorted and disfigured; magnified to rating, advising, and instructing ; but exert- such a degree as to become hideous, or dimi ing all the activity and vigour of youth, in nished so as to become imperceptible; and planning and executing sundry military en- according to the fit of the moment, men turn terprises.

the one end or the other of the perspective to We should be surprised, did we not know the eye, and what they contemplate is acthe cause of it, to find Israel in the fortieth cordingly removed to a great distanee, and year from their deliverance out of Egypt, just reduced to nothing, or brought nigh, enlarged, where we saw them the first month, by the and brightened up. Employing this false way of the Red Sea, journeying from mount kind of optics, Israel now considers Egypt Hor; and even then, though every thing and all its hardships with desire and regret,

and looks forward to Canaan with coldness, in punishing is correction and amendment, and distrust. The miraculous stream that not ruin; returning mercy therefore meets followed them from the rock is no water at the first symptoms of repentance, and a reell, and manna, angel's food, is accounted inedy is pointed out the moment that misery light bread. We are too little aware of the is felt; which sweetly discloses to us the sinfulness and folly of discontent, and there- meltings of fatherly affection, outrunning and fore indulge in it without fear or reserve. We preventing filial wretchedness. do not reflect that it is to arraign at once the But what strange method of cure have we wisdom and goodness of God: to rob him of here? The poison of a serpent counteracted, the right of judgment, and madly to increase and its malignity destroyed, not by an exterthe evil which was too heavy before. nal application, not by the virtue of an anti

In general, the righteous Governor of the dote possessed of certain natural qualities, but world permits this evil affection to punish it- by a blessing annexed to the use of an instruself; and can there be a greater punishment, ment in itself inadequate, and an action of than to leave a sullen, dissatisfied wretch to the patient himself, flowing from his own will, devour his own spleen? But in the instance and called forth by the appointment and combefore us, he was provoked to superadd to mand of God. The author of that excellent this mental plague, a grievous external chas- book, entitled the Wisdom of Solomon, has a tisement. " And the Lord sent fiery ser. beautiful reference to this story, when he pents among the people, and they bit the says, people, and much people of Israel died.” "For when the horrible fierceness of wild These might be the natural production of the beasts came upon these, and they perished wilderness, but providentially armed for the with the stings of crooked serpents, thy wrath occasion with a greater malignancy of poi- endured not for ever. But they were trouson, or produced in greater abundance, or bled for a small season, that they might be roused to a higher degree of ferocity. For admonished, having a sign of salvation, to put what are the instruments which God employs them in remembrance of the commandment to avenge himself of his enemies? He needs of thy law. For he that turned towards it, not to create a new thing in the earth; the was not saved by the thing that he saw, but simplest creature can do it. Nature, animate by thee, that art the Saviour of all. And in and inanimate, is ready to take up his quar- this thou madest thine enemies confess, that rel; the frost or the fire, continued a little it is thou who deliverest from all evil."* longer, or rendered a little more intense, will But the grand commentary on the history soon subdue the proudest of his adversa- of the fiery serpents is furnished by Christ ries. It is not the least of the miracles of himself, in his conversation with Nicodemus, divine mercy, that Israel had been preserved the Jewish ruler. “ As Moses lifted up the so long from the fury of those noxious insects serpent in the wilderness, even so must the with which the desert swarmed, as Moses Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever bejustly remarks in recapitulating the history lieveth in him should not perish, but have of God's goodness to that people during a for-eternal life.”+ ty years' pilgrimage. “Lest thine heart be From this it is evident that many particulifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, lars in the Jewish history and political eco

which brought thee forth out of the land of nomy, had an interest and importance which · Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led extended far beyond the present moment, or

thee through that great and terrible wilder- the sensible and obvious appearance of things. ness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scor- And in this particular instance our blessed pions, and drought, where there was no wa- Lord has furnished us with an instructive ter; who brought thee forth water out of the example, which ought to serve as a rule, rock of Aint."*

for the application and use of figurative, The rage of these dreadful creatures, which allegorical, and typical subjects. Here he had been during so long a period by a super- enters into no detail ; pursues no parallel or natural power suppressed, now freed from contrast through a multiplicity of particulars; that curb, becomes a party too strong for a furnishes no wings to the imagination; but mighty host, flushed with recent victory. fixing on one great, general view of the subWhile therefore we adore and admire the ject, renders it thereby more powerful and goodness which multiplies the necessary and impressive. He was conversing with a ruler useful part of the vegetable and animal tribes of the Jews; was explaining to him the nawith such astonishing liberality, and limits ture and end of his own mission; was deducthose which are noxious with such consuming the nature and tendency of the gospel mate wisdom and irresistible power, let us dispensation from the established rites of the tremble to think how easily he can remove Mosaic, and the received facts of the Jewish the barrier which restrains the wrath of the history, with which Nicodemus was perfectcreature, and arm a fly with force sufficient ly well acquainted. In this case he refers for our destruction. But the intention of God to a noted event, and appeals from it to one * Deut. viii. 14, 15.

* Wisdom, ch. xvi.

† John iii. 14, 15.

which was shortly to take place, betwixt ishness: but unto them which are called, which a striking line of resemblance should both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of be apparent–The elevation of the brazen God, and the wisdom of God."* serpent in the wilderness, for the healing of The virtue flowed from the divine appointthe Israelites who were perishing by the en- ment, operating together with the believing vemoned stings of the fiery serpents—and act ofthe patient. To the sufferer who averts the elevation of the Son of Man upon the his face, or wilfully and contemptuously shuts cross, the propitiation for the sins of the his eyes, that banner is displayed in vain; no world; that when this last display of the di- virtue issues from it, he perishes in his unbevine justice and mercy should be exhibited, lief. To the despiser, the impenitent, the Nicodemus, and every intelligent and honest careless, Christ has died in vain. In the exdisciple of Moses might be satisfied that tension of all God's acts of grace to men, to “God had at sundry times and in divers man- produce the full effect, there must of necesners,” presented as in a glass to the fathers, sity be an unity of design and exertion bethe method of redemption by Jesus Christ. tween the giver and the receiver, between

All the application, then, which the words him who acts and him who is acted upon. of the Saviour himself warrant us to make of Man's body is “ dust of the ground," mere this passage to him, is reduced to a few obvi- matter, separated from the spirit

, incapable ous and striking particulars. “Fools," such as of motion or direction. Even that active, the Israelites in the desert, and transgressors penetrating organ, the eye, is but a little of the divine law in general, “because of lump of pellucid clay, till the vital principle

, their transgression, and because of their ini- the breath of God, kindle its fires, and direct quities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth its rays. It is this vital principle which, proall manner of meat; and they draw near un- ceeding from God, exists in him, and posto the gates of death. Then they cry unto sesses the power of rising and returning to the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them him. The believing Israelite hears, in dying out of their distresses. He sent his word agonies, the proclamation of deliverance lifts and healed them, and delivered them from up his drooping head, looks, and is healed; their destructions."*

his will meets the will of God, and the cure The root of the evil, the cause of the plague, is already performed. The perishing sinner is to be found in human perversity and diso-hears the voice of the Son of God and lives. bedience. The faithful and obedient sleep Lifted up upon the cross he utters his voice

, safe and secure in the lion's den ; to the “ Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends proud and rebellious the innoxious worm is of the earth; for I am God, and there is none converted into a fiery serpent, full of deadly else."t One of his fellow-sufferers hardens poison. The remedy for this sore evil is to his heart and reviles him, turns from the Sebe traced up to the divine compassion, power, viour with disdain, and dies impenitent—the and goodness.

other hears with rapture the joyful sound, The means of cure are not such as human clings to the hope of salvation, prays in faith, wisdom would have devised, or the reason of and passes with him into paradise. man approved; they are the sovereign ap But the circumstance on which Christ pointment of Heaven. The effect is preter-chiefly rests, is Moses “ lifting up the sernatural, yet real: and reason rejoices in what pent in the wilderness.” Moses probably had it could not have discovered. The sight of not a clear apprehension of the extensive a lifeless serpent of metal, working as an meaning and import of the act he was perantidote to the mortal poison of one alive; forming, any more than the dying men who incredible, absurd ! Such was the doctrine were the subjects of the cure. They looked of the cross in the eyes of prejudice, and phi- no farther than the present moment, and for losophy, “and science, falsely so called." relief from a malady which affected the body. " For the preaching of the cross is to them But, like the high priest in later times, they that perish, foolishness; but unto us which were prophesying, without being conscious are saved, it is the power of God. For it is of it. He was erecting, and the congregation written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, in the wilderness contemplating and will bring to nothing the understanding pated representation of the great medium of of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is salvation, which God had appointed from the the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? foundation of the world ; and had, in a variety hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this of other predictions, circumstantially declared world? For after that in the wisdom of God, and described, at different periods to mankind. the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased These predictions were slumbering, God by the foolishness of preaching to save ticed, neglected, misunderstood, even by the them that believe. For the Jews require a wise and prudent, in the sacred volume, a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. But dead letter, till Christ, their quickening spirit, we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews, a gave them life and motion, and a meaning stumbling block; and unto the Greeks, fool which they had not before.

an antici


* Psalm cvii. 17-20.

* 1 Cor. i. 18-24.

| Isa. xlv. 22

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