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liberated from obedience to it: on the contrary, they engaged, that, whatever God should speak to them by the Mediator, they would listen to it readily, and obey it unreservedly. This was right; and God both approved of it in them, and will approve of it in every child of man.
We are afraid of perplexing the subject, if we dwell any longer on this branch of it; because it would divert your attention from the main body of the discourse: we will therefore content ourselves with citing one passage, wherein the whole is set forth in the precise point of view in which we have endeavoured to place it. We have shewn that the transactions at Mount Sinai were intended to shadow forth the nature of the two dispensations (that of the Law and that of the Gospel) in a contrasted view; that the terrific nature of the one made the Israelites desirous to obtain an interest in the other; and that the appointment of Moses to be their Mediator, and to communicate to them the further knowledge of his will with a view to their future obedience, was altogether illustrative of the Gospel; which, whilst it teaches us to flee to Christ from the curses of the broken law, requires us afterwards to obey that law: in a word, we have shewn, that though, as St. Paul expresses it, we are “ without law,” (considered as a covenant,) we are nevertheless “ not without law to God, but under the law to Christi:” and all this is set forth in the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the following words : “Ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words ; which voice they that heard, entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (for they could not endure that which was commanded : and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) but ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general Assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abelk.”
i 1 Cor. ix. 21.
I would only observe, in order to prevent any misconception of my meaning, that I do not suppose the Israelites to have had a distinct view of these things, such as we have at present; but that they spake like Caiaphas the high-priest, when he said, “It was expedient for one man to die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish":" they did not understand the full import of their own words; but God overruled their present feelings so that they spake what was proper to shadow forth the mysteries of his Gospel; and he then interpreted their words according to the full and comprehensive sense in which he intended they should be understood.
We could gladly have added somewhat more in confirmation of the sentiments which have been set before
you, and particularly as founded on the passage we are considering; but your time forbids it; and therefore we pass on to notice,
II. The dispositions which God approves.
These must be noticed with a direct reference to the sentiments already considered : for God, having said, “They have well said all that they have spoken,' adds, “O that there were such an heart in them !”
It is but too common for those desires which arise in the mind under some peculiarly alarming circumstances, to prove only transient, and to yield in a very little time to the rooted inclination of the heart. This, it is to be feared, was the case with Israel at that time : and God himself intimated, that the seed which thus hastily sprang up, would soon perish for want of a sufficient root. But the information which we derive from hence is wholly independent of them: k leb. xii. 18-24.
! John xi. 49–52.
whether they cultivated these dispositions or not, we see what dispositions God approves. It is his wish to find in all of us, A reverential fear of God-A love to Jesus as our Mediator—and An unfeigned delight in his commands.
First, he desires to find in us A reverential fear of God. That ease, that indifference, that security, which men in general indulge, is most displeasing to him. Behold, how he addresses men of this description by the Prophet Jeremiah : “ Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding ; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me ? saith the Lord : will
not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail ; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone: neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our Godm." Hear too what he says by the Prophet Zephaniah : “I will search Jerusalem with candles, and will punish the men that are settled on their lees".” It is thought by many, that, if they commit no flagrant enormity, they have no cause to fear : but even a heathen, when brought to a right mind, saw the folly and impiety of such a conceit, and issued a decree to all the subjects of his realm, that they should all “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, who is the living God, and steadfast for ever°.” Such a state of mind is dreaded, from an idea that it must of necessity be destructive of all happiness. This however is not true : on the contrary, the more of holy fear we have in our hearts, the happier we shall be. If indeed our fear be only of a slavish kind, it will make us unhappy; but, in proportion as it partakes of filial regard, and has respect to God as a Father, it will become a source of unspeakable peace and joy. The testimony of Solomon is, “ Happy is the man that
Zeph. i. 12.
o Dan. vi. 26.
m Jer. v. 21–24. VOL. II.
feareth alwayp.” Nor should we shun even the slavish fear, since it is generally the prelude to that which is truly filial; the spirit of bondage is intended to lead us to a spirit of adoption, whereby we may cry, Abba, Father? Another ground on which men endeavour to put away the fear of God is, that it argues weakness of understanding and meanness of spirit; but we are told on infallible authority, that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom : a good understanding have all they that do his commandments : his praise endureth for evert.” Permit me then to recommend to you this holy disposition. Learn to “fear that glorious and fearful name, The LORD thy God." Stand in awe of his Divine Majesty: and dread his displeasure more than death itself. Bethink yourselves, How you shall appear before him in the day of judgment. Settle it in your minds, whether you will think as lightly of him when you
standing at his tribunal, with all his terrible majesty displayed before your eyes, as you are wont to do now that he is hid from your sight. Examine carefully whether you are prepared to meet him, and to receive your final doom at his hands. I well know, , that such thoughts are not welcome to the carnal mind: but I know also that they are salutary, yea, and indispensably necessary too for every child of
I would therefore adopt the language of the angel, who flew in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, even to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people; and like him I would say with a loud voice, " Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come':” it is come already in the divine purpose; and it will speedily come to every individual amongst us, and will fix us in an eternity of bliss or woe.
The next disposition which God would have us cultivate, is, A love to Jesus as our Mediator. In proportion as we fear God, we shall love the Lord Jesus
P Prov. xxviii. 14. 9 Rom. viii. 15. Ps, cxi. 10. $ Deut. xxviii. 58. t Rev. xiv. 6, 7.
Christ, who has condescended to mediate between God and us. Were it only that he, like Moses, had revealed to us the will of God in a less terrific way, we ought to love him: but he has done infinitely more for us than Moses could possibly do; he has not only stood between God and us, but has placed himself in our stead, and borne the wrath of God for us. He has not only silenced the thunders of Mount Sinai, but “ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being himself made a curse for us u.” In a word, “ He has made reconciliation for us by the blood of his cross;" so that we may now come to God as our Father and our Friend; and may expect at his hands all the blessings of grace and glory.
and glory. “ Through him we have access to God,” even to his throne; and by faith in him we may even now receive the remission of our sins, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Shall we not then love him ? Shall we not honour him ? Shall we not employ him in his high office as our Advocate and Mediator ? Shall we not glory in him, and “ cleave unto him with full purpose of heart ?" It was said by the Prophet Isaiah, « Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." O that this prophecy may be fulfilled in us; and that there may henceforth “be in every individual amongst us such an heart!"
Lastly, God would behold in us An unfeigned delight in his commandments. This will be the fruit, and must be the evidence, of our love to Christ: “ If ye love me," says our Lord, keep my commandments':” and again, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me?” Indeed without this, all our sentiments or professions are of no avail : “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God."
u Gal. ii. 13. * Isai. xlv. 24, 25. y John xiv. 15. 2 John xiv. 21. a 1 Cor. vii. 19.