Page images

At length, in all its pomp and importance, the third day arrives. Every creature, every element feels and gives witness to the appearance of its God. Heaven and earth, angels and men, the water and the land, air and fire, announce the prefence of their great Creator and Ruler. I tremble as I read. What must it have been to fee and hear?" And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders, and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon thẻ mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; fo that all the people that was in the camp trembled." Lo, the hoarfe thunder is loft in the louder found of the trumpet; and that awful found, in its turn finks into filence, before the all-penetrating, all-commanding accents of the voice of God himfelf. The thick darkness of a cloud, impregnated with the terrors of divine juftice, threatens one moment to extinguish forever hope and joy; and that darkness the next moment is difpelled by the more terrible flashes of celeftial fire. How poor the ftate of an earthly prince compared to this! "God maketh his angels fpirits, his minifters a flame of fire." What heart is not melted in the midst of this wild uproar? There is not an object of aftonishment which we are acquainted with, but what enters into this defcription. Thunder, lightning, blackness of darkness, tempeft, earthquake, the trumpet of God; and all these are but the coverings of terror, the harbingers of majesty and might. Behold, God is in the thunder, in the lightning, in the tempeft, in the earthquake! they are mere inftruments to do his pleasure.


But we are directed to one object perfectly placid and compofed in the midst of tumult and confusion: " even when the voice of the trumpet founded long and waxed exceeding loud," Mofes poffeffed his foul in patience. "Mofes fpake, and God anfwered him by a voice." It is guilt that gives force to fire, that lends fury to the ftormy wind, that shakes the earth by firft fhaking the foul. Faith in God controls the elements,

èlements, and foothes the foul to reft in communion with God, as the child falls afleep in the fond maternal bofom.

Mofes comes up at the command of Him who is King and Lord of nature, and therefore he has nothing to fear. The three children fall down bound in the midst of the burning fiery furnace, but the flames have no power to kindle upon them; they confume only the cords with which they are bound; they themfelves walk at liberty through the midst of the fire; they reft as on a bed of rofes, for behold another is in company with them, and "the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." Daniel fleeps fecure in the den among lions, more compofedly than Darius in his palace, furrounded by his officers and guards; he fleeps calmly, as a father in the midst of his children. He who fears God has nothing else to fear.

But what new doctrine is to be ufhered in under all this formidable apparatus? What law, unknown, unheard of before, is to be introduced and enforced by ceremonies fo dreadfully auguft and folemn? Just that which was from the beginning, that which the finger of God more filently and curiously interwovė with the very texture and frame of the human foul. The voice of God fays, from the heights of Sinai, none other things than those which confcience speaks to every man, from the deep receffes of his own breaft, It is this that gives weight to both the law and the gospel. They have their counterpart in the nature and condition of man. They are of God, who knows what is in man and what is good for


But can He whofe " prefence fills heaven and earth," change his place? Can God be faid to afcend, or defcend? The devout eye fees him in every creature, in every place, in every event. The pious foul feels and acknowledges him inceffantly. But to roufe ftupidity, to reprove carelefsnefs, to convince infidelity, God muft affume ftate, clothe himfelf with thunder,


involve the top of Sinai in clouds, and fhake its foundation. As in the compofure of Mofes we behold the confidence of divine friendship, and the fecurity arising from union with God, fo in the caution which is given in the twenty-first verse, "Go down, charge the people, left they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perifh," we fee the danger of unlicensed curiofity, of prefumptuous boldnefs. Fire and darknefs equally repel and intimidate, equally compofe and encourage. All the dealings of God with man, are "line upon line, and precept upon precept."

The fimilitude of the legal and evangelical difpenfations, and their difference, would neceffarily occupy a much larger portion of your time and attention than now remains. It were better, therefore, to bring them together in one difcourfe calculated for the purpofe.

I conclude the prefent Lecture with fimply reading two or three fhort paffages of fcripture, clofely connected with and ferving to illuftrate our fubject; written at two very different periods, and in two very different states of the church. The first is in the hiftory of Elijah, the great reftorer of the law, near fix hundred years afterward. "And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb, the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave and lodged there. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him; and he faid unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hofts: for the children of Ifrael have forfaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and flain thy prophets with the fword; and I, even I only am left; and they feek my life, to take it away. And he faid, Go forth, and ftand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold the Lord paffed by, and a great and ftrong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was


not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire and after the fire, a ftill small voice. And it was fo, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and ftood in the entering in of the cave: and behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he faid, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hofts: because the children of Ifrael have forfaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and flain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only am left, and they seek my life, to take it away."* The fecond is the winding up of that wonderful comparison and contraft of the law and the gofpel, which conftitute the great body of the epiftle to the Hebrews, and which the apostle fums up in these remarkable words, fixty-four years after the advent of Jefus Chrift. "For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempeft, and the found of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word fhould not be spoken to them any more. For they could not endure that which

was commanded. And if fo much as a beaft touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart. And fo terrible was the fight, that Moses faid, I exceedingly fear and quake. But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerufalem, and to an innumerable company of angels: to the general affembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the fpirits of juft men made perfect. And to Jefus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of fprinkling, that fpeaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refufe not him that fpeaketh for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more fhall not we

* 1 Kings, xix. 3, &c.


efcape if we turn away from him that fpeaketh from heaven whofe voice then fhook the earth: but now he hath promised, faying, Yet once more I fhake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, fignifieth the removing of thofe things that are fhaken, as of things that are made, that thofe things which cannot be fhaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may ferve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a confuming fire."*

* Heb. xii. 18,



« PreviousContinue »