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open the mouth of the beast to reprove his rider, (as he once did, and which there is no occasion to do a second time), yet he appoints the injured beast to plead his own cause another way, in being the instrument of punishment, and sometimes the executioner of death, without allowing a moment's leisure to make the short confeffion of Balaam, I
The inference is obvious,' that to lose life by the prancing or unruliness of a horse, excited thereto by barbarity, because he may have started or stumbled, is to die in an Act of SIN.
We are told by the prophet MICAH, that when Balaam, who
had finned, in thus passionately smiting the Ass, was afterwards consulted by Balak the King of Moab (at whose request he had undertaken this journey) how he might know the righteousness of the LORD ; that is, how he might recommend himself to, and best please Jehovah the God of Israel, whose power he was now sensible of, and whose favor he desired to obtain ; Balaam gives this instruçtion unto the King, -He bath dhewed thee, O Man, what is Good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. Micah vi. 8.
In this advice to the King, Balaam feems to allude to the three great duties of Justice,
Mercy, and Humility, against which he himself had so notoriously transgressed in smiting his Ass three times. To ftrike the beast, that never before fince the was his unto that day was wont to stumble or start *, because now she started for the first time, was INJUSTICE. To strike her a second time; and the third time to beat her with a Staff, and to wish for a sword in his hand to kill her, was Cruelty. And to suppose, because the Ass was his own, that he had an absolute and unaccountable power over her to use her as unjustly and as cruelly as he pleased, was taking too much upon human nature; it was contemptuously ill treating * Num. xxii. 30.
one of GOD's creatures, a useful and an innocent creature, and a beast whose fimplicity and natural stupidity, (peculiar to the Ass, that it may go through its drudgery with less reluctance), should have recommended her to her master's mercy and forbearance : it was overvaluing Himself; it was under-rating his Beast; and in short, it was Pride. Balaam therefore neither did Juftly, nor loved Mercy, nor walked Humbly. But no sooner was he brought to a sense of his crime, than he confeffed, I have sinned: and, as if that were
not enough, at the hazard and expence of all his hopes of preferment, he moreover preaches in the Court of Moab the great duties of Justice, Mercy,
and Humility. Hast thou finned then with Balaam ? with him confess that Thou hast finned. Perfect thy confession, and fulfil thy repentance, by taking every opportunity assiduously to inculcate into others these great and necefsary duties.
You will thereby give a more sure proof of thy repentance, and better please the Lord, than with thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil: for, the Lord defireth Mercy and not Sacrifice, and the Knowledge of GOD more than Burnt Offerings * If thou wert to give thy first born for thy transgression, or the fruit of thy body for the fire of thy soul t, it would avail thee nothing; it would be worse than
+ Micah vi. 7. R 3 nothing;
* Hofea vi. 6.