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deep-seated, that if such a society was to be made, it would not hold together a month, without setting all the members. quarrelling together. I know not how it might be now—but let me tell you, brethren, there was a time when such a club was formed and when it was favoured by the approval of the Almighty God himself. There was a time in the history of the Jewish nation, when God, wearied out with their continual provocations, was purposing to withdraw from them his blessing, and to deprive them of the immediate revelations of his will. He had sent among them many prophets, "rising up early and sending them ;" and they had ill treated them, and refused to listen to their message: the last of these heavenly messengers, the prophet Malachi, was, at the time I speak of, just come among them and he denounced the approaching judgments which the Lord was preparing for his sinful people. "I will come near unto you to judgment," are the words of God by his prophet,* "and
* Malachi iii. 5.
I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his sight, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts." Such was the state of the Jews, at the time I speak of, as regarded their treatment of each other-religious principle had ceased to guide them they all sought their own, and oppressed, cheated, and injured each other. The prophet says further, they "called the proud happy," they that "worked wickedness" were "set up," yea,
they that tempted God" appeared to be exempted from all adversity, and to have everything their own way. We cannot wonder, then, that they also neglected their duty to God," that they "profaned the table of the Lord;" that they called his service "a weariness"
departed out of the way" themselves, and by their example, and their evil advice and conversation, "caused many to stumble at the law of the Lord." In this
sad state of things there was a body of religious and thoughtful men who sighed and groaned over the depravity of their countrymen, and looked with fear and apprehension upon their evil courses; knowing that, however the Lord might permit such things to be done in his sight for a time, he did not slumber, that he had not "forsaken the earth," but that a day of terrible vengeance and fiery judgment was at hand. They heard the prophet Malachi declaring,* “Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn like an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." With these awful denunciations sounding in their ears, the better part of the people met together and formed a bond of union with each other in the name of the Lord. We hear the description of it in the words of my "Then they that feared the Lord
*Malachi iv. 1.
spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name."
We have here, my brethren, a description of that species of club, which I could picture to myself as existing in every parish; and we see the blessing which attended it. Bear with me for a short time, while I endeavour to notice from the text two subjects of consideration.
I. The character and conduct of the sons mentioned. They "feared the Lord;" this was their character: they" spake often one to another"-this was their conduct.
II. The notice and approbation of the Lord which followed them." The Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his name.'
I. When Scripture speaks of men who "feared the Lord," it does not mean simply those who believe that God is, and
who have a secret dread of Him, which they endeavour to hide from themselves by driving away serious thoughts, and to conceal from the observance of others by a profane and irreligious carriage and conversation; but it signifies men who, knowing that they are in the hands of a holy and a just God, that there is no place which they can flee to where He cannot see them, and that the issues of life and death are in his hands, are not ashamed of fearing Him themselves, and are ready upon all occasions to confess and acknowledge their fear of Him before others.
Theirs is a preventing and saving fear. It stops them in the path of ungodliness-it arrests them when on the verge of placing themselves in the sight and hearing of that which is sinful. It warns them of the approach of temptation—it gives them early notice of the moment when they must turn away their eyes and stop their ears, lest they be partakers of other men's sins.
Theirs is an assisting fear. If they find