« AnteriorContinuar »
thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day FOR THY GOOD ?” “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgements, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep there re and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgements so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deut. x. 12, 13; iv. 5—8.) What a deep sense of the excellence of God's law doth David express in Psalms xix. and cxix. !
3. The manifold provisions made to keep the people in continual remembrance of this Covenant, and of the wonderful displays of God's perfections on their behalf. To this end were all the monuments of the wonders which He had wrought set up, and all the solemn feasts ordained : so that the people, from one generation to another, had yearly, monthly, and daily remembrancers of these things, to confirm their minds in the truth and certainty of them, and to excite suitable affections in their hearts. The Law was read in the ears of all the people every seventh year, and the fathers were commanded to teach it to their children, and to explain the reasons of its various ob
“When thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgements, which the LORD our God hath commanded you? Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us." (Deut. vi. 20—25.) And, as if all this were not enough, how many times, from age to age, did the Lord interpose in a miraculous manner on their behalfl and thus add new motives of love, adoration, and obedience, to all that had
before ! 4. Neither would it be allowable to pass over the encouraging invitations to repentance, and the gracious provision, made for them who had transgressed, in the rites and sacrifices of the Ceremonial Law. By means of these, the sinner might return to God with acceptance,-except, indeed, in cases of the most flagrant and wilful transgressions, for which no sacrifice was provided under the Mosaic dispensation. No one, therefore, could take exception against the Covenant, on the ground of the ignorance and infirmity of human nature; for the way of mercy was opened, to all who did not offend with a high hand and presumptuously. In the ordinances of the Tabernacle, indeed, the glories of a new and better Covenant were shadowed forth,—and, in an impressive manner, continually presented to the eyes of Israel.
Moses, therefore, could fitly appeal to the people. “ This commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest
go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it ? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, death and evil.-I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deut. xxx. 11-15; 19.) And the prophets use language equally remarkable. “ Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill : And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein : and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE MORE TO MY VINEYARD, THAT I HAVE NOT DONE IN IT? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ? -For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgement, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry!" (Is. v. 1—4;7.) “Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holipessunto the LORD, and the first-fruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD. Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain ?-For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils ; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.-0 generation, see ye the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel ? a land of darkness ? Wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire ? yet my people have forgotten me days without number 1” (Jer. ii. 2–5; 10–13; 31, 32.)
say, Who shall
Such wondering and indignant appeals did the inexcusable wickedness of Israel wring from the hearts of their own prophets ! and certainly not without cause : for it is evident, from what has been already said, that all their iniquities and miseries must be ascribed solely to the desperate corruption of their own hearts. Their guilt had no excuse or palliation,—but, on the contrary, manifold aggravations, -as being committed against such plain instructions and distinguished mercies. It is plain, therefore, from the whole history of their transgressions and rebellions, which terminated in God's annulling this Covenant, that man has naturally no delight in the commandments of God: to him they are a grief and burthen, though most excellent and lovely in themselves—such as it became the glorious God to give, and an intelligent creature to receive. Man, we perceive, even under the most favourable circumstances, prefers folly and vanity, sin and pollution, to the love and service of God: he chooses and pursues iniquity, in spite of every instruction, exhortation, warning, and entreaty. This is what the prophet Jeremiah testifies against your fathers, throughout whole chapters. And, to mention only one circumstance of peculiar wickedness and blindness in those who made the greatest pretences to religion,—we find, that the provision which God had graciously made for the pardon of transgression, was abused as a mere hypocritical cover for indulged sin! The people offered those sacrifices (which were appointed as a solemn and most humble acknowledgement of guilt) as a service of righteousness—a price of acceptance, while they presumptuously persevered in iniquity! This was to make the offered means of deliverance from the misery and loathsomeness of sin, a pretext for loving sin and wallowing in pollution : as if, with such bribes, they could blind the eyes of the Holy One of Israel! It is against such abominations as these, that Isaiah testifies the indignation of the Lord. 6 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices uuto me ? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts ; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.—Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth : they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea,
ye make many prayers, I will not hear : your hands are full of blood." (Is. i. 10, 11; 13—15.) “ Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt-offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded thein in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices : But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people : and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you." (Jer. vii. 21-23.)
And if these multiplied iniquities argue (as they surely do) deep depravity of heart, it must be admitted, that they also imply an awful blindness of mind. The understanding is darkened, and the eyes are closed, against the glory of God, the excellence of His service, the wisdom and righteousness of His commandments, the beauty of holiness, and all that belongs to the true blessedness of an immortal soul. The whole head is sick, as well as the whole heart faint ; (Is. i. 5;) and therefore, throughout the book of Proverbs, we find, that the wicked man is represented as a fool. What we have seen of the guilt and rebellions of Israel, in the foregoing glance at their history, affords a fearful illustration of the propriety of that expression. The circumstances taken in connexion, and duly considered, amount to a plain proof, that, if man be left to himself, with only an opportunity and possibility of destroying his own soul, he does, deliberately and uniformly, choose death rather than life ;-and no arguments or entreaties, of God or man, will avail to keep him from so doing. Thus we find, that God's chosen and peculiar people brought upon themselves all the curses which were written in the book of the Law.
Yet, with all these proofs of the deep depravity of mankind at large, and the aggravated wickedness of Israel in particular, the mercy of the Lord was not exhausted ! He was yet pleased to look down from the habitation of his holiness and glory upon the lost and helpless children