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© SERMON VII.

On the Duty of openly ranging ourselves on

the side of the Lord.

EXODUS, xxxii. 26.

Then -Moses stood in the Gate of the Camp, and

said: Who is on the Lord's Side ?

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A MONG the most evident tokens of the ** natural alienatior of the human heart from righteousness is the indispositions of men to render unto God the fame measure, which they render one to another. He, who in some few instances has found his friend deserving of confidence, is prone to confide in him afterwards, and perhaps even to credulity. He, who has witnessed examples of the power of a superior, usually ascribes to him still greater power. He, who has experi

enced enced eminent and unmerited acts of kindness, and returns not to his benefactor the tribute of gratitude and love; is stigmatised with universal censure. How different is our conduct towards Him, to whom we owe every thing! A fon honoureth his father, and a fervant his master. If then I be a Father; where is my honour ? And, if I be a master; where is my fear, saith the Lord of Hofts (a)? They who have received unremitting testimonies of the providential wisdom of God, refuse to entrust themselves to his guidance. They who are sufrounded by the wonders of his omnipotence, disregard his threatenings and his promises. They who are indebted to his spontaneous bounty for blessings incalculable in number and in amount, thank him not, nor obey him : and forfeit not the favourable estimation of the world.

In the unbelief, the contemptuous disregard, the base and rebellious ingratitude displayed by the children of Israel towards the Almighty Father of mercies who had rescued them from Egypt, we imagine that we behold this natural alienation of the heart from God ,exemplified to an extent never to be rivalled. Instance after instance we read with astonishment. We forget that, what

(a) Malachi, i. 6.
6 .

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foever

| foever things were written aforetime, were

written for our learning (b). We forget that all men are children of Adam ; that the Creator hath made all nations of one blood; that human nature is in all men the fame; that in every man in every age the heart is in its original propensities deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (c). When we contemplate the enormities of the chosen people ; we contemplate the course which we should ourselves have been no less disposed to pursue. The history of Israel is a mirror, which reflects our own likeness.

We learn, in the chapter froin which the text is taken, that when Mofes, who had been summoned to the top of Sinai that he might receive ordinances and dire&tions from God, had now continued during many days upon the mountain; the people of Israel became extremely impatient at his absence. They assembled tumultuously around Aaron, They affirmed that, as for Moses, they knew not what event had befallen him. And although they had so lately covenanted in the most solemn manner stedfastly to keep the ten commandments; yet in defiance of the second commandment they insisted that Aaron should mould for thein a graven

(0) Rom. xv. 4. ; {c) Jerem, xvii. 9.

image,

image, a visible, emblem and representation of the unseen God, to be carried at the head of the host. Aaron, fearing man more than the Lord, most wickedly gave way to their clamour and violence. He formed a golden calf, the image of an animal which he had been accustomed to see the object of worship in Egypt; built an altar before it ; and pro• claimed a feast in honour of Jehovah. Before that image the people bowed down in adoration ; to that image they offered facrifices; to that image they ascribed the glory of their deliverance from the land of bondage.

This blindand daring idolatry of the Israelites God revealed to his servant who stood before him. Moses, having prevailed with his heavenly master, by the kindest and most disinterested intercession, to forbear from destroying the rebellious nation instantly and utterly; haftened down from the mountain. Arriving at the gate of the camp, and beholding the people occupied in idolatrous fongs and dances and worship before the golden calf; he cried aloud, Who is on the Lord's fide ? Let him come unto me. All the sons of Levi obeyed his voice. They gathered themselves together unto him: they declared themselves on the side of the Lord; and professed their

readiness

readiness to execute the commands, of his chosen minister. They were called to a painful trial of obedience. They were required to take their swords in their hands; to pass through the camp of Israel from one side to the other ; and to say every person, whether neighbour, companion,' brother or son, whom they should find engaged in paying reverence to the idol. The children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

In applying to our edification the portion of scriptural history which you have heard; I shall, in the first place, endeavour to convince you that, as Moses called upon the faithful among the Israelites, so the gospel calls upon us, to stand forth on the side of the Lord. And I shall afterwards lay before you some observations respecting the faithful difcharge of this duty. Let us unite in earnestly beseeching the Giver of grace to open our minds, that they may understand and embrace the truth.

I. The people of Israel; the peculiar people of God; the people who had experienced such extraordinary mercies at his hand; the

people

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