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that draws not some clients after him. It with inferiors, so shall we find cause to be; hath been ever a dangerous policy of Satan thankful that we are above any, rather than to assault the best; he knows that the mul- of envy that any is above us. titude, as we say of bees, will follow their Moses hath chid the sons of Levi for mumaster.
tinying against Aaron; and so much the Nothing can be more pleasing to the vul- more, because they were of his own tribe. gar sort, than to hear their governors taxed, Now he sends for the Reubenites, who and themselves flattered. “ All the congre- rose against himself. They come not, and gation is holy; every one of them; where their message is worse than their absence. fore lift ye up yourselves?” Every word is Moses is accused of injustice, cruelty, falsea falsehood. For Moses dejected himself: | hood, treachery, usurpation; and Egypt “Who am I?" God lifted him up over itself must be commended, rather than Israel: and so was Israel holy, as Moses | Moses shall want reproach. Innocency is was ambitious. What holiness was there no shelter from ill tongues ; malice never in so much infidelity, fear, idolatry, mutiny, regards how true any accusation is, but disobedience? What could make them how spiteful. unclean, if this were holiness? They had Now it was time for Moses to be angry. scarce wiped their mouths, or washed their They durst not have been thus bold if they hands, since their last obstinacy; and yet had not seen his mildness. Lenity is iil these pickthanks say, “ All Israel is holy." bestowed upon stubborn natures; it is an
I would never desire a better proof of a injurious senselessness, not to feel the false teacher than flattery. True meaning | wounds of our reputation. It well appears need not uphold itself by soothing. There he is angry, when he prays against them. is nothing easier than to persuade men well He was displeased before; but, when he of themselves: when a man's self-love meets was most bitter against them, he still prayed with another's flattery, it is a high praise that for them ; but now, he bends his very will not be believed. It was more out of prayers against them: “ Look not to their opposition than belief, that these men plead offering." There can be no greater revenge the holiness of Israel. Violent adversaries, than the imprecation of the righteous: there to uphold a side, will maintain those things can be no greater judgment, than God's they believe not.
rejection of their services. With us men, Moses argues not for himself, but appeals what more argues dislike of the person, to God; neither speaks for his own right, than the turning back of his present? What but his brother Aaron's. He knew that will God accept from us, if not prayers ? God's immediate service was worthy to be. The innocence of Moses calls for revenge more precious than his government; that on his adversaries. If he had wronged his princedom served but to the glory of them in his government, in vain should he his master. Good magistrates are more have looked to God's hand for right. Our tender over God's honour than their own; sins exclude us from God's protection ; and more sensible of the wrongs offered to whereas uprightness challenges, and finds religion, than to themselves.
| his patronage. An ass taken, had made It is safest to trust God with his own him incapable of favour. Corrupt govercauses. If Aaron had been chosen by Israel, nors lose the comfort of their own breast, Moses would have sheltered him under their and the tuition of God. authority. Now that God did immediately. The same tongue that prayed against the appoint him, his patronage is sought, whose conspirators, prays for the people. As the election was. We may easily fault in | lewd men think to carry it with number, the managing of divine affairs; and so our Korah had so far prevailed, that he had want of success cannot want sin: he knows drawn the multitude to his side. God, the how to use, how to bless his own means. avenger of treasons, would have consumed
As there was a difference betwixt the them all at once. Moses and Aaron pray people and Levites, so betwixt the Levites for these rebels. Although they were and priests. The God of order loves to worthy of death, and nothing but death have our degrees kept. While the Levites could stop their mouths, yet their merciful would be looking up to the priests, Moses | leaders will not buy their own peace with sends down their eyes to the people. The the loss of such enemies. Oh rare and ini. way not to repine at those above us, is to mitable mercy! The people rise up against look at those below us. There is no better their governors; their governors fall on remedy for ambition, than to cast up our their faces to God for the people : so far are former receipts, and to compare them with they from plotting revenge, that they will our deservings, and to confer our own estate not endure God should revenge for them.
Moses knew well enough, that all those / way unto Israel, for their preservation ; Israelites must perish in the wilderness; the earth did cleave to give way to the conGod had vowed it, for their former insur-spirators in judgment; both sea and earth rection; yet how earnestly doth he sue to did shut their jaws again upon the adverGod, not to consume them at once! The saries of God. very respite of evils is a favour next to the There was more wonder in this latter. removal.
It was a marvel that the waters opened ; Korah kindled the fire ; the two hundred it was no wonder that they shut again ; for and fifty captains brought sticks to it; all the retiring and flowing was natural. It Israel warmed themselves by it; only the was no less marvel that the earth opened ; incendiaries perish. Now do the Israelites | but more marvel that it shut again; because owe their life to them whose death they it had no natural disposition to meet when intended. God and Moses knew to dis- it was divided. Now might Israel see tinguish betwixt the heads of the faction they had to do with a God that could reand the train : though neither be faultless, venge with ease. yet the one is plagued, the other forgiven. There were two sorts of traitors: the God's vengeance, when it is at the hottest, earth swallowed up the one, the fire the makes differences of men : “ Get you away other. All the elements agree to serve the from about the tabernacles of Korah,” vengeance of their Maker. Nadab and Ever before common judgment, there is a Abihu brought fit persons, but unfit fire, separation. In the universal judgment of to God; these Levites bring the right fire, all the earth, the Judge himself will sepa- but unwarranted persons, before him: fire rate; in these particular executions, we from God consumes both. It is a dangermust separate ourselves. The society of ous thing to usurp sacred functions. The wicked men, especially in their sins, is ministry will not grace the man ; the man mortally dangerous : while we will not be may disgrace the ministry. parted, how can we complain if we be The common people were not so fast enwrapped in their condemnation ? Our gathered to Korah's Aattering persuasion very company sins with them, why should before, as now they ran from the sight and we not smart with them also ?
fear of his judgment. I marvel not if they Moses had well hoped, that when these could not trust that earth whereon they rebels should see all the Israelites run from stood, while they knew their hearts had them as from monsters, and looking affright- been false. It is a madness to run away edly upon their tents, and should hear that from punishment, and not from sin. fearful proclamation of vengeance against them (howsoever they did before set a face on their conspiracy ; yet now) their hearts would have misgiven. But lo! these bold
BOOK VII. traitors stand impudently staring in the door of their tents, as if they would outface the CONTEMPLATION I.-AARON'S CENSER AND revenge of God; as if Moses had never
ROD. wrought a miracle before them; as if no one Israelite had ever bled for rebelling. When shall we see an end of these mur. Those that shall perish are blinded. Pride murings, and these judgments ? Because and infidelity obdures the heart, and makes these men rose up against Moses and Aaron, even cowards fearless.
therefore God consumed them; and because So soon as the innocent are severed, God consumed them, therefore the people the guilty perish; the earth cleaves and rise up against Moses and Aaron : and now, swallows up the rebels. This element was because the people thus murmur, God hath not used to such morsels. It devours the again begun to consume them. What a carcases of men ; but bodies informed with circle is here of sins and judgments! Wrath living souls, never before. To have seen is gone out from God: Moses is quickthem struck dead upon the earth had been sighted, and spies it at the setting out. By fearful ; but to see the earth at once their how much more faithful and familiar we executioner and grave, was more horrible. are with God, so much earlier do we disNeither the sea nor the earth are fit to give cern his judgments; as those which are passage; the sea is moist and flowing, and well acquainted with men know, by their will not be divided, for the continuity of it; looks and gestures, that which strangers the earth is dry and massy, and will neither understand but by their actions; as finer yield naturally, nor meet again when it hath tempers are more sensible of the changes yielded : yet the waters did cleave to give of the weather: hence the seers of God have ever, from their watchtower, descried | we come with supplications in our hands, the judgments of God afar off. If another we need not fear the strokes of God. We man had seen from Carmel a cloud of a have leave to resist the divine judgments handbreadth, he could not have told Ahab by our prayers, with favour and success. he should be wet. It is enough for God's So soon as the incense of Aaron ascended messengers, out of their acquaintance with up to God, he smelt a savour of rest; he their Master's proceedings, to foresee pu- | will rather spare the offenders, than strike nishment: no marvel if those see it not, their intercessor. How hardly can any which are wilfully sinful. We men reveal | people miscarry, that have faithful minisnot our secret purposes, either to enemies ters to sue for their safety! Nothing but or strangers : all their favour is to feel the the smoke of hearty prayers can cleanse plague, ere they can espy it.
the air from the plagues of God. Moses, though he were great with God, If Aaron's sacrifice were thus accepted, yet he takes not upon him this reconcilia-how much more shall the High-Priest of tion: he may advise Aaron what to do; the New Testament, by interposing him. himself undertakes not to act it. It is the self to the wrath of his Father, deliver the work of the priesthood to make an atone-offenders from death? The plague was ment for the people: Aaron was first his entered upon all the sons of men. O brother's tongue to Pharaoh, now is he the Saviour, thou stoodest betwixt the living people's tongue to God: he only must offer and the dead, that all which believe in up the incense of the public prayers to God. thee should not perish! Aaron offered and Who would not think it a small thing to was not stricken; but thou, O Redeemer! hold a censer in his hand ? yet, if any wouldst offer and be struck, that by thy other had done it, he had fallen with the stripes we might be healed! So stoodest dead, and not stood betwixt the living and thou betwixt the dead and living, that thou the dead; instead of the smoke ascending, wert both alive and dead; and all this, the fire had descended upon him: and shall that we, when we were dead, might live there be less use, or less regard of the evan- for ever. gelical ministry, than the legal? When the Nothing more troubled Israel, than a world hath poured out all its contempt, we fear lest the two brethren should cunningly are they that must reconcile men to God, engross the government to themselves. If and without us they perish.
they had done so, what wise men would I know not whether more to marvel at have envied them an office so little worth, the courage or mercy of Aaron: his mercy, so dearly purchased? But because this that he would save so rebellious a people; conceit was ever apt to stir them to rehis courage, that he would save them with bellion, and to hinder the benefit of this so great a danger to himself. For, as one holy sovereignty; therefore God hath enthat would part a fray, he thrusts himself deavoured nothing more, than to let them under the strokes of God, and puts it to see that these officers whom they so much the choice of the revenger, whether he envied, were of his own proper institution. will smite him, or forbear the rest; he | They had scarce shut their eyes since they stands boldly betwixt the living and the saw the confusion of those two hundred dead, as one that will either die with them, and fifty usurping sacrificers; and Aaron's or have them live with him: the sight of effectual intercession for staying the plague fourteen hundred carcases dismayed him of Israel. not: he that before feared the threats of In the one, the execution of God's venthe people, now fears not the strokes of geance upon the competitors of Aaron, for God. It is not for God's ministers to stand his sake; in the other, the forbearance of upon their own perils in the common causes vengeance upon the people for Aaron's of the church: their prayers must oppose mediation, might have challenged their vothe judgments of the Almighty; when the luntary acknowledgment of his just calling fire of God's anger is kindled, their censers from God. If there had been in them must smoke with fire from the altar. Every either awe or thankfulness, they could not Christian must pray the removal of ven- have doubted of his lawful supremacy. geance; how much more they whom God | How could they choose but argue thus? hath appointed to mediate for his people: Why would God so fearfully have deevery man's mouth is his own; but they stroyed the rivals that durst contest with are mouths to all.
Aaron, if he would have allowed him any Had Aaron thrust in himself with empty equal? Wherefore serve those plates of hands, I doubt whether he had prevailed; the altar, which we see made of those now his censer was his protection. When usurped censers, but to warn all posterity
of such presumption! Why should God | others, who separated us? We are all crab. cease striking, while Aaron interposed be- stocks in this orchard of God; he may graff twixt the living and the dead, if he were what fruit he pleases upon us; only the but as one of us? Which of us, if we had grace, and effectual calling of God, makes stood in the plague, had not added to the the difference. heap ? Incredulous minds will not be per These twelve heads of Israel would suaded with any evidence. These two never have written their names in their brothers had lived asunder forty years : rods, but in hope they might be chosen to God makes them both meet in one office this dignity. What an honour was this of delivering Israel. One half of the mi- priesthood, whereof all the princes of Israel racles were wrough by Aaron; he struck are ambitious! If they had not thought it with the rod, while it wrought those plagues a high preferment, they had never so much on Egypt. The Israelites heard God call envied the office of Aaron. What shall him up by name to Mount Sinai; they saw we think of this change? Is the evangelical him anointed from God, and (lest they ministration of less worth than the Levitishould think this a set match betwixt the cal? While the testament is better, is the brethren) they saw the earth opening, the service worse? How is it, that the great fire issuing from God upon their emulous think themselves too good for this employopposites: they saw his smoke, a sufficient ment? How is it, that under the gospel, antidote for the plague of God; and yet | men are disparaged with that, which hostill Aaron's calling is questioned.
noured them under the law; that their amNothing is more natural to every man bition and our scorn meet in one subject? than unbelief: but the earth never yielded These twelve rods are not laid up in the a people so strongly incredulous as these; several cabinets of their owners, but are and, after so many thousand generations, brought forth and laid before the Lord. It their children do inherit their obstinacy: is fit God should make choice of his own still do they oppose the true High-Priest, attendants. Even we men hold it injurious the anointed of God. Sixteen hundred to have servants obtruded upon us by years' desolation hath not drawn from themothers. Never shall that man have comto confess him whom God hath chosen. fort in his ministry, whom God hath not
How desirous was God to give satis chosen. The great commander of the faction even to the obstinate! There is no world hath set every man in his station : thing more material, than that men should to one he hath said, Stand thou in this be assured their spiritual guides have their tower and watch; to another, Make thou commission and calling from God; the good these trenches; to a third, Dig thou want whereof is a prejudice to our suc in this mine. He that gives, and knows cess. It should not be so: but the corrup our abilities, can best set us on work. tion of men will not receive good, but from This rod was the pastoral staff of Aaron, due messengers.
the great shepherd of Israel. God testifies Before, God wrought miracles in the rod his approbation of his charge, by the fruit. of Moses; now, in the rod of Aaron. As | That a rod cut off from the tree should Pharaoh might see himself in Moses' rod, blossom, it was strange ; but, that in one which, of a rod of defence and protection, night it should bear buds, blossoms, fruit, was turned into a venomous serpent, so and that both ripe and hard, it was bighly Israel might see themselves in the rod of miraculous. The same power that revives Aaron. Every tribe, and every Israelite, the dead plants of winter in the spring, was, of himself, as a serestick, without life, doth it here, without earth, without time, without sap; and if any one of them had | without sun, that Israel might see and power to live and flourish, he must ac- grant it was no reason his choice should be knowledge it from the immediate power limited, whose power is unlimited. and gift of God.
Fruitfulness is the best argument of the Before God's calling, all men are alike: calling of God: not only all the plants of every name is alike written in their rod ; his setting, but the very boughs cut off there is no difference in the letters, in the from the body of them, will flourish. And wood; neither the characters of Aaron are that there may not want a succession of fairer, nor the staff more precious. It is | increase, here are fruit, blossoms, buds; the choice of God that makes the distinc- both proof and hope, inseparably mixed. tion; so it is in our calling of Christianity:1 It could not but be a great comfort unto all are equally devoid of possibility of grace; | Aaron, to see his rod thus miraculously all equally lifeless; by nature, we are all | flourishing; to see this wonderful testimony sons of wrath. If we be now better than of God's favour and election: sure, he could not but think, who am I, O God, I been threatened or punished ; yet now they that thou shouldst thus choose me out of fall to it afresh. As a testy man finds all the tribes of Israel? My weakness occasion to chaff at every trifle; so this hath been more worthy of thy rod of cor-discontented people either find, or make all rection, than my rod hath been worthy of things troublesome. One while they have these blossoms. How hast thou magnified no water, then bitter; one while no God, me in the sight of all thy people! How | then one too many; one while no bread, able art thou to uphold my imbecility with then bread enough, but too light; one while the rod of thy support! How able to de- they will not abide their governors, then fend me with the rod of thy power, who they cannot abide their loss. Aaron and hast thus brought fruit out of the sapless Miriam were never so grudged alive, as rod of my profession! That servant of they are bewailed dead. Before, they God is worthy to faint, that holds it not a wanted onions, garlic, flesh-pots ; now, sufficient encouragement to see the evident they want figs, vines, pomegranates, corn. proofs of his master's favour.
And as crabbed children that cry for every . Commonly, those fruits which are soon thing they can think of, are whipped by ripe, soon wither ; but these almonds of their wise mother, so God justly serves Aaron's rod are not more early than last- these fond Israelites. ing; the same hand which brought them It was first their way that makes them out before their time, preserved them be- repine: they were fain to go round about yond their time; and, for perpetual me- | Idumea; the journey was long and troublemory, both rod and fruit must be kept in some. They had sent entreaties to Edom for the ark of God. The tables of Moses, licence of passage the nearest way, reasonthe rod of Aaron, the manna of God, are ably submissly : it was churlishly denied monuments fit for so holy a shrine. The them. Esau lives still in his posterity, Jacob doctrine, sacraments, and government of in Israel. The combat, which they began in God's people, are precious to him, and must | Rebecca's belly, is not yet ended. Amalek, be so to men. All times shall see and won which was one limb of Esau, follows them der how his ancient church was fed, taught, at the heels. The Edomite, which was ruled. Moses' rod did great miracles, yet another, meets them in the face. So long I find it not in the ark. The rod of Aaron as there is a world, there will be opposition hath this privilege, because it carried the to the chosen of God. They may come miracle still in itself; whereas the won at their peril; the way had been nearer, ders of that other rod were passed. Those but bloody; they dare not go it, and yet monuments would God have continued in complain of length. his church, which carry in them the most If they were afraid to purchase their rest. manifest evidences of that which they im- ing-place with war, how much less would port.
they their passage? What should God do The same God, which by many transient with impatient men? They will not go the demonstrations had approved the calling of nearest way, and yet complain to go about. Aaron to Israel, will now have a permanent | He that will pass to the promised land, must memorial of their conviction; that, when neither stand upon length of way, nor diffi. soever they should see this relic they culty. Every way hath its inconveniences: should be ashamed of their presumption the nearest hath more danger, the farthest and infidelity. The name of Aaron was hath more pain: either, or both, must be not more plainly written in that rod, than overcome, if ever we will enter the rest of the sin of Israel was in the fruit of it: and God. how much Israel finds their rebellion beaten Aaron and Miriam were now past the with this rod, appears in their present re-danger of their mutinies; for want of an. lenting and complaint : “ Behold, we are other match, they join God with Moses, dead, we perish.” God knows how to pull in their murmurings: though they had not down the biggest stomach, and can extort mentioned him, they could not sever him glory to his own name, from the most in their insurrection; for, in the causes of obstinate gainsayers.
his own servants, he challenges even when he is not challenged. What will become
of thee, O Israel, when thou makest thy CONTEMPLATION 11. —OF THE BBAZEN Maker thine enemy! Impatience is the
cousin to frenzy: this causes men not to
take care upon whom they run, so they SEVEN times already hath Israel mutinied may breathe out some revenge. How oft against Moses, and seven times hath either have we heard men, that have been dis