Page images

[54 true God, until that promise should bé accomplished.

A slight consideration of these se veral particulars will serve to convince us of their importance. With regard to the knowledge of God, the light of revelation which had des scénded by tradition to all the nations of the earth, had become obscure, and so far corrupted by human inventions as to be, to all moral purposes, nearly lost. A belief in the existence of some superior intelligencé was, indeed, preserved; but how little was known concerning the nature of the Supreme Being is evident from the nature of the worship instituted in his honour. Reason taught the human mind to embrace a belief in the creator, but low little did it teachi concerning bim ! Reason could not declare whether it was not pne God who made the sun, and an


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

lved; but

other who made the moon, and another who formed the earth. Nay, reason could not ascertain whether these useful orbs were not the Gods who made the world!

With regard to the moral qualities which are essential to the existence of society, reason had been taught by ex. perience to appreciate them with tole. rable accuracy; but it was no slight thing to have all that reason ascertained concerning them confirmed by express revelation. And as to the method appointed by God for the pardon of sin, and the justification of transgres. sors, it is evident that it could never have been discovered by other means than immediate communications from the Divine Being. Let us then with humility adore and reverence that goodness and mercy which, in compassion to our infirmities, vouchsafed, by the splendour of revelation, to lend


[ocr errors]

assistance to reason's feebler beanie Had not this revelation been given in splendour, it would have failed of producing its effect. But we shall in examining the circumstances be sensible that however aweful, however sublime or magnificent, neither the terrors nor the magnificence displayed, were more than was demand, ed by the occasion. ,

In the third month from the period of their departure from Egypt, God intimated to Moses what were the peculiar designs of his providence with regard to the people whom he had so miraculously delivered from a foreign yoke.

They (the Israelites) were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched their tents in the wilderness before the mount. “And Moses went up “ unto God (i. e. to worship God in prayer), and the Lord called unto

to him out of the mountain, saying, “ Thus shalt thou say to the house of “ Jacob, and tell the children of Is. "rael. Ye have seen what I did un" to the Egyptians, and how I bare " you on eagles' wings, and brought “you unto myself. Now therefore “ if ye will obey my voice indeed, "ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto “ me above all people, FOR ALL THE “ EARTH IS MINF, and ye shall be sunto me a kingdom of priests, and "an holy nation.”

Here we see that God leaves it to their free choice to refuse or to accept the terms proposed; and that this choice might be entirely uninfluenced, the proposal is made in the inost simple manner, unaccompanied by any of those circumstances which on. other occasions struck the senses and the imagination with the profoundest awę.

.." And

· « And Moses came, and called for " the elders of the people, and laid <- before their faces all these words « which the Lord commanded him ; " and all the people answered toge*t ther and said, All that the Lord hath fpoken, we will do.

After the people had thus solemnly and deliberately engaged themselves to serve the Lord, he whom they had thus engaged to serve vouchsafed to give such evidence of his power and of his presence, as should leave no doubts upon their mind. No sooner had Moses made to him a declaration of the solemn resolution entered into by the people, than this gracious message is returned : “Lo, I come to " thee in a thick cloud, that the peo* ple may hear when I speak with “thee, and believe thee for ever !" That there might be 'no possibility of mistake, the day and manner of this


« PreviousContinue »