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cannot recollect many, who have died before their time, by following some ungoverned appetite; and come to the same end, by the same means, as they who were buried at Kibroth Hattaavah? If they live long to enjoy that for which they thought it wrorth their while to murmur against and despise the ways of God, they suffer miserably in another respect: as it is said in the Psalm, he gave them their desire, and sent leanness withal into their soul*: so that while their bodies were thriving their souls were starving. If it were possible to see the souls of some such people, they would look worse than skin and bone; wasting and perishing for lack of that grace by which the inner man is renewed. He then who wishes to find death, misery, and the displeasure of God, which is worst of all, let him turn back from his Christian profession, and demand satisfaction for all his lusts.. But let him who wishes to find Canaan at last, be content to find a wilderness in the way to it. and there take with thankfulness what God has appointed for him.
* Psalm cvi. 15.
HISTORICAL FIGURES OF THE SCRIPTURES CONTINUED.
AN the precedipg Lecture, we have seen how the dangers of the Christian warfare are set before us, in the history of the Militant State of the Jewish Church in its translation from Egypt to Canaan. St. Paul hath expressly taught us, to consider that history as prophetical of our own situation as Christians; and hath shewed how it is to be applied as an admonition or warning to us, that we may not fall'after the same example of unbelief. We have seen how the people who had been baptized under Moses, and had passed through the Red Sea, afterwards preferred the slavery of Egypt to the serVol. iv. L vice vice of God in the wilderness ; becoming weary of his ways, and despising the better for love of the worse.
But we followed them only on a part of their
journey. Other circumstances are yet behind, from which the like instruction is to be gathered: and in treating of them, I shall observe the
'Sameorder as the Apostle hath done in the 10th chapter of his first Ep. to the Cor. where he warns us not to be idolaters, as were some of them ,• as it is written, the people sat down to cat and to drink, androse up to play. This refers us to the occasion of their making a golden calf, and worshipping it with the riotous mirth of idolaters; which shewed that they had forsaken the true object of their worship, and had forgotten the design of their redemption from the bondage of Egypt. While Moses was inconference with God upon the mount, their folly had taken up an opinion, that he would not return to them -y and consequently," that they might fall into licentiousness, wirhout the fear of being called to an account: so they danced before a golden calf, and gave themselves up to eating and drinking and playing, as if they had totally forgotten the design of their journey through the wilderness. Are these the people whom God, with so mighty a hand, had lately rescued from the tyranny of Pharaoh? Are these the people who had seen the waters of the sea divided, to save them and destroy their enemies? who had followed a cloud, which led them by day, and gave light to them' by night? and had they so soon forgotten all these wonders, and fallen into the senseless mirth of idolatry? Strange it is! but such was the fact. And now let us observe the consequence. Moses, whom they had forgotten, descends from the mount when they little expected him; he surprises them in the midst of their sin, and sends the Levites, armed, as his ministers, to execute vengeance; who smote with the sword from one side of the camp to the other, and there fell some thousands of the people. Our Saviour, in one of his discourses, hath applied this history as an admonition to those careless sinners, who live in pleasure, and are unmindful of Him who will shortly return to be their Judge: But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, my Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin ta smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in sunder, and appoint him his portion with the unheL 2 lievers.
lievers*. This brings the history home to'ourselves. As Moses for a time left the people in the wilderness, so hath our Leader left us, and he ,is now up with God in the holy mount. In this interval, there are Christians (so called) who . wot not what is become of him, and make a profane use of his absence; setting up this world, in some form or other, as their idol, and devoting themselves to the worship of it. "Whatever the object may be, which any man has substituted in' the place of God, that object is to him what the calf was to the Hebrews. How many are there who spend their lives in the dance of pleasure, as if they had been sent hither for no other purpose! others devote themselves to honours and preferments; arid, to accomplish their designs, affect popularity, and worship the beasts of the people. Wealth is the object ef others; and theirs is a calf of gold. The covetous serve mammon the God of riches; and the sin of covetousness is expressly called by the name of Idolatry^. Are these the people of God? Are these they, who were baptised into
* Luke xii- 44. f The learned Mr. Parlhurst, in his Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, gives very good reasons why we ought rather here to understand the sin of unlawful lusts, as in that other expression, ivboit God is their bclfy. See under the word vUor^i.x,