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cheerful or happy frame of mind. His heart is torn with anguish, and his tumultuous feelings resemble a raging
Grief, compassion, fear, anger, and displeasure are heaving his bosom in wild confusion ; no clear rainbow can be discerned above; and the star of peace, overcast by dark clouds, has entirely disappeared Most lamentable things had just taken place; the Lord himself had informed the prophet of them while on the mountain : “Go get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have orrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them.” Thus the Lord spoke unto Moses out of the darkness of the mountain. What a thunder-bolt was this to the heart of the faithful prophet! He felt as though these
! words had levelled him with the dust at his feet. Burning wrath seized him at first ;-but mercy passion soon regained the pre-eminence. For Israel's sake he threw himself into the gap, and cried out, “Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand ? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the
mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.” Thus said Moses; and lo, continues the history, "the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." As soon as the great lawgiver became certain that Israel was not to be destroyed, he descended from Mount Sinai, with the tables of the law in his hands, in order to convince himself with his own eyes of the terrible sin of his people. But when he approached the camp, and heard from a distance the disgusting shouts and revelry, and the noise of the dancing round the golden calf, it seemed as though he now comprehended all for the first time. His anger waxed hot, and in his zeal he hurled from him the tables of the law, so that they broke into a thousand pieces. Then, full of holy indignation, he rushed into the midst of the insane multitude—took the calf-ground it to powder-and summoning the sons of Levi around him with the cry,“ Who is on the Lord's side ? Let him come unto me !" commanded them to gird on their swords, fall without mercy on the madmen, and slay them. Three thousand men fell on that day by the avenging swords of the sons of Levi, a sacrifice to their own guilt, and a bloody monument of the justice and fiery indignation of Jehovah. Then said Moses unto the people, “Ye have sinned a great
sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.” He now reascended the mountain, and once more addressing the Lord, uttered here the well-known and ever-memorable words, “ Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." Alas ! this ardent prayer was answered with a poor consolation. The Lord said unto Moses, “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which Į have spoken unto thee. Behold, mine angel shall go before thee; nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” Moses had not expected this answer:—the punishment had only been deferred, and not remitted; and an angel had been promised to guide them instead of Jehovah himself. This was again repeated to him shortly after, and in a manner still more explicit. The Lord said unto Moses, (who now stood for the children of Israel,) “I will send an angel before thee ... for I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people; lest I consume thee in the way.”
These things had just happened to Moses at the moment when our history commences. Can you wonder now that we should find his mind in a state which more resembles a stormy night upon a raging sea than the calm serenity of a mild spring morning ? No, he is not yet composed; his soul is still disquieted within him; and although he once more addresses God in prayer, it seems as if he never before had stood in the presence of Jehovah in a state of such oppression and
anguish. “ See !" he cries in the bitterness of his heart, “ thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people ; and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me!” As he begins to pray, let us remark what a change rapidly comes over him. A dark thunder-cloud threatens us with destruction—when suddenly a mighty storm arises to drive it away; and it seems as though we never behold the heaven above us shine upon our heads more beautifully or more benignantly than at this moment. That which took place in the soul of Moses was exactly similar. A miraculous star rose up during the night which oppressed his heart; a star whose splendour chased the darkness away. A thousand recollections sprang up out of the tempestuous waves of his spirit, in whose soft harmony the discord of his soul died away and was no longer heard. Like David afterwards, who thought during the night upon the music of his harp, he now called to mind by-gone songs of joy. The most beautiful and the most happy moments of his life arrayed themselves in fresh colours before the eyes of his soul. He remembered in what a near relation he stood to his God, and his God to him; and along with this remembrance there arose up within him a
ght, a freedom, and a joy, against which no sorrow and no grief could have power.
Jehovah had formerly said to him, "I know thee by game !" And as the olive branch had been carried by he dove to Noah, so these words at a happy hour were porne to Moses on the wings of memory. Well did he know all that they comprehended-a salutation of love out of the mouth of God--the affection of a father's
heart. It was as much as to say, “Thou art one chosen out of a thousand, protected by my power and cherished by my grace." Yet it said much more than this, for God's words always contain worlds of signification. They resemble the deep and inscrutable heaven of night, which the farther it extends, is the more richly strewed with stars; and the deeper the gaze penetrates, the longer is the eye fixed in astonishment. On another occasion, Jehovah had said to Moses, " Thou hast also found grace in my sight!” And was not this expression like a heavenly archive to the prophet, filled with the most blessed documents? In it there lay the handwriting of God, corroborating his right of citizenship in heaven-an assurance of eternal life, which no gold could purchase-a record of the pardon of his sins, before which all accusers must become dumb-a bond of peace and a passport on the road to his Father's house, against which no hindrance could avail. But who is able to express all that lay contained in it! The two sentences, “I know thee by name,” and “ Thou hast also found grace in my sight,” were as if God had bequeathed to him the whole tenderness of his heart. They arose in the midst of the darkness of his soul, like two angels of peace with balm-branches in their hands; upon which all sorrow and grief disappeared, and the dark oppression which had weighed down his bosom gave place to the most childlike confidence and the most joyful hope.
How happy should we be, my brethren, if at any time of our life's pilgrimage such sentences of God should be addressed to us! It might happen that