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pened, he returns words to the beast, full numbers ! as if the Almighty would have of anger, void of admiration. Whether his power either divided or limited! Here his trade of sorcering had so inured him to is nothing but a glorious and magnificent receive voices from his familiars in shape of pretence of devotion. It hath been ever beasts, that even this seemed not strange seen, that the false worshippers of God to him ; or whether his rage and covetous- have made more pompons shows, and fairer ness had so transported him, that he had flourishes of their piety and religion, than no leisure to observe the unnatural un- the true. usualness of the event. Some men make Now, when Balaani sees his seven bul. nothing of those things, which overcome locks and seven rams smoking upon nis others with horror and astonishment. seven altars, he goes up higher into the
I hear the angel of God taking notice of mount, as some counterfeit Moses, to re. the cruelty of Balaam to his beast; hisceive the answer of God. But will God first words, to the unmerciful prophet, are meet with a sorcerer ? will he make a proin expostulation of his wrong. We little phet of a magician? O man! who shall think it, but God shall call us to an ac- prescribe God what instruments to use ? count for the unkind and cruel usages of He knows how to employ, not only saints his poor mute creatures. He hath made us and angels, but wicked men, beasts, devils, lords, not tyrants ; owners, not tormen to his own glory. He that put words into tors; he that hath given us leave to kill the mouth of the ass, put words into the them for our use, hath not given us leave mouth of Balaam : the words do but pass to abuse them at our pleasure: they are so from him ; they are not polluted, because our drudges, that they are our fellows by they are not his : as the trunk, through creation. It was a sign the magician would which a man speaks, is not more eloquent easily wish to strike Israel with a curse, for the speech that is uttered through it. when he wished a sword to strike his harm What a notable proclamation had the less beast. It is ill falling into those hands, infidels wanted of God's favour to his whom beasts find unmerciful.
people, if Balaam's tongue had not been Notwithstanding these rubs, Balaam goes used! How many shall once say, “ Lord, on, and is not afraid to ride on that beast, we have prophesied in thy name," that whose voice he had heard. And now shall hear, “ Verily, I know you not !". posts are sped to Balak, with the news of What madness is this in Balaam? He so welcome a guest; he that sent princes that found himself constant in soliciting, to fetch him, comes himself on the way to thinks to find God not constant in deny. meet him. Although he can say, “ Am ing; and, as if that infinite Deity were not not I able to promote thee?" yet he gives the same everywhere, hopes to change this high respect to him as his better, from success with places. Neither is that bold whom he expected the promotion of him. forehead ashamed to importune God again, self and his people. O the honour that hath in that wherein his own mouth had testified been formerly done by heathens, to them an assurance of denial. The reward was that have borne but the face of prophets! | in one of his eyes; the revenging angel in I shame and grieve to compare the times the other: I know not whether (for the and men. Only, O God, be thou merciful time) he more loved the bribe, or feared to the contempt of thy servants !
the angel. And, while he is in this dis.. As if nothing needed but the presence traction, bis tongue blesses against his of Balaam, the superstitious king, out of heart, and his heart curses against his the joy of this hope, feasts his gods, his tongue. It angers him that he dare not prophet, his princes; and, on the morrow, speak what he would ; and now, at last, carries him up to the high places of his rather than lose his hopes, he resolves to idols. Who can doubt whether Balaamspeak worse than curses. The fear of were a false prophet, that sees him sacri- | God's judgment, in a worldly heart, is at ficing in the mount of Baal? Had he been length overcome with love of gain. from the true God, he would rather have said, “ Pull me down these altars of Baal, than build me here seven others." The CONTEMPLATION IV, OF PHINEAS. very place convinces him of falsehood and idolatry. And why seven altars? what Balaam pretended a haste homeward, needs all this pomp? When the true God but he lingered so long, that he left his never required but one at once, as himself bones in Midian. How justly did he perish is one, why doth the false prophet call for with the sword of Israel, whose tongue had do less than seven ? As if God stood upon insensibly slain so many thousands of them.
As it is usually said of the devil, that he | but these. As it is the use of God to fetch goes away in a stench, so may it be truly glory to himself out of the worst actions of said of this prophet of his, according to Satan, so it is the guise of that evil one, the fashion of all hypocrites, his words through the just permission of the Al. were good; his actions abominable: he mighty, to raise advantage to himself from would not curse, but he would advise, and the fairest pieces of the workmanship of his counsel is worse than a curse ; for his God. No one means hath so much encurse had hurt none but himself; his coun. | riched hell as beautiful faces. sel cost the blood of twenty-four thousand | All idols are abominable ; but this of Israelites. He that had heard God speak | Baal-peor was, besides the superstition of by Balaam, would not look for the devil in it, beastly: neither did Baal ever put on a the same mouth: and if God himself had form of so much shame as this. Yet very not witnessed against him, who could be. Israelites are drawn to adore it. When lieve that the same tongue, which uttered | lust hath blinded the eyes, it carries a man so divine prophecies, should utter such | whither it lists; even beyond all differences villanous and cursed advice ? Hypocrisy of sin. A man besotted with filthy desires, gains this of men, that it may do evil un- is fit for any villany. suspected : but now, he that heard what | Sin is no less crafty than Satan himself: he spake in Balak's ear, hath bewrayed give him but room in the eye, and he will and condemned his counsel and himself. I soon be possessed of body and soul. These
This policy was fetched from the bottom Israelites first saw the faces of these Mo. of hell. It is not for lack of desire that I abites and Midianites; then they grew to curse not Israel; thou dost not more wish | like their presence; from thence to take their destruction, than I do thy wealth and pleasure in their feasts ; from their boards honour ; but so long as they hold firm they are drawn to their beds, from their with God, there is no sorcery against beds to their idols; and now they are Jacob : withdraw God from them, and they joined to Baal-peor, and separated from shall fall alone, and curse themselves; God. Bodily fornication is the way to draw them into sin, and thou shalt with spiritual. If we have made idols of flesh, draw God from them. There is no sin it is just to be given up to idols of wood more plausible than wantonness. One for and stones. If we have not grace to renication shall draw in another, and both sist the beginnings of sin, where shall we shall fetch the anger of God after them : / stay? If our foot slip into the mouth of send your fairest women into their tents; hell, it is a miracle to stop ere we come to their sight shall draw them to lust, their the bottom. lust to folly, their folly to idolatry; and | Well might God be angry to see his now God shall curse them for thee un- people go a-whoring in this double forniasked. Where Balaam did speak well, cation; neither doth he smother his wrathi, there was never any prophet spake more but himself strikes with his plague, and bids divinely; where he spake ill, there was Moses strike with the sword. He strikes never any devil spake more desperately. | the body, and bids Moses strike the head. Il counsel seldom succeedeth not: good | It had been as easy for him to plague seed falls often out of the way, and roots the rulers, as the vulgar; and one would not; but the tares never light amiss. This think these should be more properly reproject of the wicked magician was too served for his immediate hand; but these prosperous. The daughters of Moab come he leaves to the sword of human authority, into the tents of Israel, and have capti that he might win awe to his own ordi. vated those whom the Amorites and the nances. As the sins of great men are Amalekites could not resist Our first exemplary, so are their punishments. No. mother Eve bequeathed this dowry to her thing procures so much credit to governdaughters, that they should be our helpers ment, as strict and impartial executions of to sin: the weaker sex is the stronger in great and noble offenders. Those whom this conquest. Had the Moabites sent their sins have embased, deserve no fatheir subtilest counsellors to persuade the vour in the punishment. As God knows Israelites to their idol sacrifices, they had no honour, no royalty in matter of sin, no been repelled with scorn ; but now the more may his deputies. Contrarily, con. beauty of their women is over-eloquent nivance at the outrages of the mighty cuts and successful. That which in the first the sinews of a state; neither doth any thing world betrayed the sons of God, hath now make good laws more contemptible, than ensnared God's people. It had been happy the making difference of offenders ; that for Israel, if Balaam had used any charms small sacrileges should be punished, when
great ones ride in triumph. If good or- | all for peace and mercy; it is for me to dinations turn once to spider's webs, which sacrifice, and pray for the sin of the people, are broken through by the bigger flies, no not to sacrifice any of the people for their hand will fear to sweep them down. sin. My duty calls me to appease the
God was angry; Moses and all good Is anger of God what I may, not to revenge raelites grieved:, the heads hanged up, the the sins of men ; to pray for their con people plagned. Yet behold, one of the version, not to work the confusion of any princes of Israel fears not to brave God and sinner. And who are these? Is not the his ministers, in that sin which he sees so one a great prince in Israel, the other a grievously revenged in others. I can never princess of Midian ? Can the death of two wonder enough at the impudence of this so famous persons go unrevenged? Or, if Israelite. Here is fornication, an odious it be safe and fit, why doth my uncle Moses crime, and that of an Israelite, whose name rather shed his own tears than their blood? challenges holiness; yea, of a prince of Is- I will mourn with the rest; let them re. rael, whose practice is a rule to inferiors; venge, whom it concerneth. But the zeal and that with a woman of Midian, with of God hath barred out all weak deliberawhom even a chaste contract had been tions; and he holds it now both his duty unlawful; and that with contempt of all and his glory, to be an executioner of so government; and that in the face of Mo- shameless a pair of offenders. ses, and all Israel; and that in a time of God loves this heat of zeal in all the mourning and judgment for that same carriages of his servants: and if it tranoffence. Those that have once passed the sport us too far, he pardoneth the errors bounds of modesty, soon grow shameless in of our fervency, rather than the indiffertheir sins. While sin hides itself in cor- ences of lukewarmness. As these two ners, there is yet hope; for where there is were more beasts than any that ever he shame, there is a possibility of grace: but sacrificed, so the shedding of their blood when once it dare look upon the sun, and was the acceptablest sacrifice that ever he send challenges to authority, the case is offered unto God: for both all Israel is desperate, and ripe for judgment. This | freed from the plague, and all his posterity great Simeonite thought he might sin by have the priesthood entailed to them, so privilege: he goes, as if he said, Who dares long as the Jews were a people. Next to control me? His nobility hath raised himn our prayers, there is no better sacrifice than above the reach of correction. Commonly the blood of malefactors; not as it is theirs, the sins of the mighty are not without but as it is shed by authority. Governors presumption, and therefore their vengeance are faulty of those sins they punish not. is no less than their security: and their There can be no better sight in any state punishment is so much greater, as their than to see a malefactor at the gallows. It conceit of impunity is greater. All Israel is not enough for us to stand gazing upon saw this bold lewdness of Zimri, but their the wickedness of the times, yea although hearts and eyes were so full of grief, that with tears, unless we endeavour to redress they had not room enough for indigna- it ; especially public persons carry not their tion. Phineas looked on with the rest, javelin in their hand for nought. but with other affections. When he saw Every one is ready to ask Phineas for this defiance bidden to God, and this in his commission: and those that are willing sultation upon the sorrow of his people to salve up the act, plead extraordinary in(that while they were wringing their hands, stinct from God, who, no doubt, would not a proud miscreant durst outface their hu- have accepted that which himself wrought miliation with his wicked dalliance), his not. But what need I run so far for this heart boils with a desire of a holy revenge ; warrant, when I hear God say to Moses, and now that hand, which was used to a “ Hang up all the heads of Israel;" and censer and sacrificing knife, takes up his Moses say to the under-rulers, “ Every one javelin, and, with one stroke, joins these slay his men that are joined to Baal-peor?" two bodies in their death, which were Every Israelite is now mare a magistrate joined in their sin, and, in the very fla- for this execution ; and why not Phineas grance of their lust, makes a new way for amongst the rest ? Doth his priesthood their souls to their own place. O noble exempt him from the blood of sinners ? and heroical courage of Phineas ! which, How then doth Samuel hew Agag in as it was rewarded of God, so is worthy pieces? Even those may make a carcase, to be admired of men. He doth not stand which may not touch it. And if Levi got casting of scruples : Who am I to do this? the priesthood by shedding the blood or The son of the high priest. My place is l idolaters, why may it not stand with that
priesthood to spill the blood of a fornicator | man seems to die casually, another by unand idolater? Ordinary justice will bear expected violence: both fall by destiny out Phineas in this act. It is not for and all is set down to us by an eternal do every man to challenge this office, which cree. He that brought us into the world, this double proclamation allowed to Phi- will carry us out according to his own purneas. All that private persons can do, is poses. either to lift up their hands to heaven for Moses must ascend up the hill to die. redress of sin; or to lift up their hands | He received his charge for Israel upon the against the sin, not against the person. hill of Sinai; and now he delivers up his « Who made thee a judge ?" is a lawful charge on the hill of Nebo: his brother question, if it meet with a person unwar. Aaron died on one hill, he on another. ranted.
As Christ was transfigured on a hill, so Now the sin is punished, the plague was this excellent type of his : neither ceaseth. The revenge of God sets out doubt I, but that these hills were types ever after the sin; but if the revenge of to them of that heaven whither they were men (which commonly comes later) can aspiring. It is the goodness of our God, overtake it, God gives over the chase. that he will not have his children die any How oft hath the indiction of a less punish- where, but where they may see the land ment avoided a greater! There are none of promise before them: neither can they so good friends to the state, as courageous depart without much comfort, to have seen and impartial ministers of justice: these it: contrarily, a wicked man that looks are the reconcilers of God and the people, down, and sees hell before him, how can more than the prayers of them that sit still he choose but find more horror in the end and do nothing.
of death, than in the way!
How familiarly doth Moses hear of his
end! It is no more betwixt God and CONTEMPLATION V. -THE DEATH OF MOSES. Moses, but Go up and die. If he had in
vited him to a meal, it could not have been AFTER many painful and perilous enter- in a more sociable compellation : no otherprises, now is Moses drawing to his rest. ways than he said to his other prophet, He hath brought his Israelites from Egypt, Up and eat. It is neither harsh, nor news through the sea and wilderness, within the to God's children, to hear or think of their sight of their promised land: and now him. | departure: to them, death hath lost his self must take possession of that land where horror through acquaintance. Those faces of Canaan was but a type. When we have which at first sight seemed ill-favoured, by done what we came for, it is time for us oft viewing grow out of dislike : they have to be gone. This earth is only made for so oft thought and resolved of the necesaction, not for fruition. The services of sity, and of the issue of their dissolution, God's children should be ill rewarded, if that they cannot hold it either strange or they must stay here always. Let no man unwelcome. He that hath had such enthink much, that those are fetched away tire conversation with God, cannot fear to which are faithful to God; they should go to him. Those that know him not, or not change, if it were not to their prefer. | know that he will not know them, no marment. It is our folly that we would have , vel if they tremble. good men live for ever, and account it a This is no small favour, that God warns hard measure that they were. He that Moses of his end. He that had so oft lends them to the world, owes them a bet-made Moses of his counsel what he meant ter turn than this earth can pay them. It to do with Israel, would not now do aught were injurious to wish, that goodness should with himself without his knowledge. Exhinder any man from glory. So is the pectation of any main event is a great death of God's saints precious, that it is advantage to a wise heart. If the fiery certain.
chariot had fetched away Elias unlooked Moses must go up to mount Nebo and for, we should have doubted of the favour die. The time, the place, and every cir- of his transportation : it is a token of judgcumstance of his dissolution, is determined. ment, to come as a thief in the night. God
That one dies in the field, another in his forewarns one by sickness, another by age, bed, another in the water, one in a foreign another by his secret instincts, to prepare nation, another in his own, is fore-decreed for their end. If our hearts be not now in in heaven. And though we hear it not a readiness, we are worthy to be surprised. vocally, yet God hath called every man by But what is this I hear? displeasure his name, and saith, Die thou there. One mixed with love, and that to so faithful a servant as Moses. He must but see the God. It is a dangerous thing in divine land of promise ; he shall not tread upon matters to go beyond our warrant. Those it; because he once, long ago, sinned in sins, which seem trivial to men, are heinous distrusting. Death, though it were to him in the account of God. Any thing that an entrance into glory, yet shall be also a savours of infidelity, displeases him more chastisement of his infidelity. How many than some other crimes of morality. Yet noble proofs had Moses given of his courage the moving of the rod was but a diverse and strength of faith! how many gracious thing from the moving of the tongue : it services had he done to his master! yet, was not contrary; he did not forbid the for one act of distrust, he must be gathered one, but he commanded the other: this to his fathers. All our obediences cannot was but across the stream, not against it. bear out one sin against God. How vainly Where shall they appear, whose whole shall we hope to make amends to God for courses are quite contrary to the command. our former trespasses, by our better beha- | ments of God? viour, when Moses hath this one sin laid Upon the act done, God passed the senin his dish, after so many and worthy testence of restraining Moses, with the rest, timonies of his fidelity! When we have from the promised land: now he performs forgotten our sins, yet God remembers | it. Since that time, Moses had many them, and although not in anger, yet he favours from God; all which could not calls for our arrearages. Alas! what shall reverse this decreed castigation. That become of them with whom God hath ten everlasting rule is grounded upon the very thousand greater quarrels, that, amongst essence of God: I am Jehovah; I change many millions of sins, have scattered some not. Our purposes are as ourselves, fickle few acts of formal services! If Moses must and uncertain ; his are certain and immudie the first death for one fault, how shall table. Some things which he reveals, he they escape the second for sinning always! | alters ; nothing that he hath decreed. BeEven where God loves, he will not wink sides the soul of Moses, to the glory whereof at sin; and if he do not punish, yet he will God principally intended this change, I find chastise. How much less can it stand with him careful of two things; his successor, that eternal justice, to let wilful sinners es- | | and his body. Moses moves for the one; cape judgment !
the other God doth unasked. He that It might have been just with God to was so tender over the welfare of Israel, have reserved the cause to himself; and, in his life, would not slacken his care in in a generality, to have told Moses, that death. He takes no thought for himself, his sin must shorten his journey; but it for he knew how gainful an exchange he is more of mercy than justice, that his must make. All his care is for his charge. children shall know why they smart ; that Some envious natures desire to be missed God may, at once, both justify himself and when they must go, and wish that the humble them for their particular offences. weakness, or want of a successor, may be
Those to whom he means vengeance, have the foil of their memory and honour. Monot the sight of their sins, till they be past ses is in a contrary disposition; it sufficeth repentance. Complain not that God up- | him not to find contentment in his own braids thee with thy old sins, whosoever happiness, unless he may have an assurance thou art : but know it is an argument of that Israel shall prosper after him. Carnal love; whereas concealment is a fearful minds are all for themselves, and make use sign of a secret dislike from God.
of government only for their own advan. But what was that noted sin which de- tages. But good hearts look ever to the serves this late exprobration, and shall carry future good of the Church, above their so sharp a chastisement ? Israel murmured own, against their own. Moses did well, for water ; God bids Moses take the rod to show his good affection to his people ; in his hand, and speak to the rock to give but, in his silence, God would have prowater: Moses, instead of speaking, and vided for his own. He that called him striking the rock with his voice, strikes it from the sheep of Jethro, will not want a with his rod. Here was his sin; an over- governor for his chosen to succeed him : reaching of his commission, a fearfulness | God hath fitted him whom he will choose. and distrust of the effect. The rod, he Who can be more meet than he, whos: knew, was approved for miracles : he knew name, whose experience, whose graces might not how powerful his voice might be ; supply, yea, revive Moses to the people ? therefore he did not speak, but strike, and He that searched the land before, was ise struck twice for failing; and now, after fittest to guide Israel into it. He, that these many years, he is stricken for it of was endued with the spirit of God, was the