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giving that one people had been chosen to receive à mercy which had been denied to others, may have often tried to assure himself that the continuance of the race was a witness that promises given to one generation will be fulfilled to another. But how often will the thought have intruded itself to damp all his expectations; To whom were the promises made? Can they have been intended for the wretched godless people I see about me who bear the name of Israelites ?
Is there any sign that they are inheriting blessings the nature of which they do not understand ? Must there not be an election within the election ? And is it not a great question—a question of deepest doubt and anxiety--whether I belong to that election, and therefore whether I have any warrant for rejoicing in this feast at all ? But how will it have been with him who counted it his chief blessedness to see God asserting his order through Egyptians and Israelites, and in despite of the unbelief and rebellion of both ? Will it have been a great effort of analogical reasoning with him to conclude, that He who is and was and is to come would go on asserting His order till He had put down every enemy of it, till He had completely made manifest His own character and purpose? As he asked himself what were the enemies of God's order, what powers had striven to set it aside, would not the history of Israelites and Egyptians give the answer ; “The worship of visible things, Sensuality, Self-will, Selfishness ?' Would he not think that it was God's intention to wage perpetual war with these till he
had proved whether they or He were mightier ? Must he not have seen again that there were actual physical curses lying side by side with these, which were interfering likewise with the order of human society, and therefore with the constitution of God? Would not Death, the breaker-up of family and national fellowship, present itself to him as the great intruder into Creation, which must be crushed before it could vindicate its true and original meaning ? Would he not thus be drawn on to understand—his own personal experience and miseries at once presenting the riddle and make him welcome the solution—that the God, the living God, of whose Kingdom from age to age the Passover bore testimony, would not cease his work in the world till all those evils which belong to man as man, to Egyptians and Israelites equally, had been overcome by a victory and deliverance as signal and as actual as that which took place when the oppressed people came out of the house of bondage, and when their persecutors sank to be seen no more for ever? And if he tried to think of the method of such a deliverance, though his thoughts may often have been baffled, yet some great hints which could not be mistaken will have discovered themselves to his faith and his reason, as he contemplated the troubles of man and the design of God by the light which God himself had thrown upon them. God must be the deliverer, in the least case as in the greatest. Man must be the instrument of deliverance. It must be a deliverance wrought by the first-born of many brethren for his brethren; by a
High Priest as the representative of a Society. It must be a deliverance wrought by one participating in the evils of those whose chains he broke. It must come through a sacrifice. That sacrifice must be a voluntary one. It could, in no sense, be a sacrifice to overcome or defeat the will of the Creator. It must be a perfect surrender to His Will, one which should manifest it fully, and in perfect absolute reconciliation with the Will of Man.
Thus I conceive, brethren, did God educate his Jewish servants in no forced or unnatural way, but by a most regular and gradual discipline, to feel that an Easter Day must lie beneath a Paschal feast, and that men of all kindreds and tribes might be called to celebrate a complete conquest and a universal Redemption. And if it has been given to us, brethren, to possess that which they anticipated, the enjoyment of our possession must depend wholly upon the spirit in which we have claimed it. If we have kept a Passover for purselves, merely seeking in it some pledge or means of our security, if we have thought of it as a sentence of exclusion upon other men—we shall have gone empty away; the good which we have sought we shall have missed; we shall not have really partaken of the Paschal Lamb, because we shall not have eaten it with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. But if we have desired to give God thanks for His great glory; if, leaving questions about ourselves or other men to Him who alone can take care of us or them, we have blessed Him that He has put down his enemies, Sin, Death, Hell, shewing that when they were mightiest He was mightier ; that He has perfectly manifested His Love in His perfect Image, shewing that in Him there is Light and no darkness at all ; that He has established a complete reconciliation with His creatures; then He will have been indeed with us, teaching us to hold our peace, and to see the salvation which He has won for us, enabling us to receive every Easter, though it should come to us amidst ever so many personal or general sorrows, as the sure pledge to each man and to the whole earth of Resurrection and Life.
THE REBELLION OF KORAH.
Lessons for the day, Numbers XVI. and XXII.
Preached at Lincoln's Inn, on the First Sunday after Easter, April 27, 1851.
NUMBERS XVI. 3. And they gathered themselves together against
Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them : wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord.
S the story of Balaam, which we have begun
this afternoon, is continued in the lessons for next Sunday, I propose to reserve the whole of it for that day. The chapter we read this morning, which records the insurrection of Korah and his company, and their punishment, will furnish ample material for the present sermon.
It has furnished the materials for many sermons, and for at least as many arguments against the Jewish economy and the books which make it known to us.
Divines have taken Korah's offence as the type of all intrusions on the part of ordinary people into the office of the priesthood; they have uttered mysterious hints as to the probability that