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as condemning all Protestants, or a member of the Church of England might use it as falsely as condemning all Dissenters. A Roman Catholic might say that our King Edward VI. did exactly what Jeroboam did; that he would not let his people go up to Rome to worship, as they had been used to do, but set up another worship of his own in England, like the high places at Bethel and at Dan. And a Churchman might in the same way argue, that the Dissenters were like Jeroboam; that they, too, had separated from the worship of their fathers, and had made places of worship for themselves. And so both would be ready to speak the language of the prophet of Judah, and think it right to hold no intercourse with Protestants in the one case, with Dissenters in the other, according to the command given to the prophet. They would say also, that those who argued in favour of toleration, that they who spoke at all in defence of Protestants or of Dissenters, were false servants of God, like the old prophet of Bethel, trying to make that appear innocent, or at most a light fault, which in God's judgment was a great one. Many, I dare say, would shrink from the practical conclusion of this sort of reasoning, who yet, far from seeing its fallacy, might themselves, in other matters, be tempted to apply the Scriptures just in the same way. But here again, the spirit of the story is our wholesome food, the letter is poison. It was one of the very main points

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prayer and

of the Jewish worship, that it should be performed
in one place only; in that place which the Lord
should choose to set His name there. The sacri-
fices were to be offered in one place, and by the
one high priest of the nation; other sacrifices offered
by other priests were all forbidden. But forasmuch
as our worship is now changed, in that
sacrifice are dissevered, and prayer is our only
earthly worship; therefore whilst our sacrifice is
still as of old offered in one place only, in the pre-
sence of God, by our own High Priest who is
passed into the heavens, and as all other sacrifices
for sin, which we should strive vainly to offer would
be as abhorred as the golden calves of Bethel and
of Dan, so of that other part of worship, prayer
and praise, it is expressly said that it may be
offered lawfully alike in every place;—not in the
mountain of Gerizim only, nor in Jerusalem, shall
they worship the Father, who worship Him in
spirit and in truth:—whenever and wherever two
or three are gathered together in Christ's name,
there is He in the midst of them.

We cannot, then, apply the story to ourselves according to its literal meaning, and it would be nothing but mischievous to do so; yet its spirit affords us here, too, a most valuable lesson. We know full well what is a going away from God's true worship, and setting up for ourselves our idols at Bethel and at Dan. There are enough who do

so,-men who do not cast off the Christian name altogether; it was still the God of Israel whom Jeroboam professed to worship,—but who take such a view of Christ's service as best suits their inclinations, forming their judgments and often regulating their practice by another standard. Now when God's prophets speak to such persons of God's holiness, of His righteous law, and of the entire service which He claims, when they tell them of the danger of their state, and that they are not living a life of Christian faith, are there none who, like the old prophet of Bethel, endeavour to lessen the effect of this language by tempting those who speak it to too free compliances with evil, or with doubtful things themselves, that so their lives and actions may seem to disclaim the strictness of their preaching, and they may appear not really to believe the judgment which they feel bound publicly and officially to threaten ? Surely the true lesson taught us by the story of the disobedient prophet is, that our actions should go along with our words; that the evil which in our speaking or writing or teaching we condemn, we should show that we renounce wholly in our conduct, not stopping to parley with it, not going a certain way along with it, but utterly shunning it and abhorring it. Nor is this lesson only of use to those who are as the prophets of the Christian Israel, who are bound to speak openly to their brethren the words of God's commandments. Parents, masters of families, all who are ever called upon to exercise authority or influence over the conduct of others, it is for them to see that they hold no intercourse themselves with the evil which they condemn ; that they should appear plainly to speak to others not because it is decent or proper so to speak, but because they believe it to be true, and their hearts as well as their understandings go along with the truth in all its fulness. In our dealings with our children, how often does it happen that our reproofs are given by fits and starts, or because we think it proper to reprove; but our behaviour immediately afterwards, and generally when we seem acting most naturally, seems to show that we cannot really think evil so dangerous, or God so greatly to be feared. And if this be so, we shall neither profit our children nor save our own souls. We shall not profit them, because they look to actions more than to words. And if we tell them of God and Christ on a Sunday, and of heaven and hell and eternal glory, and all the week seem to care for none of these things ourselves, will our children think that we are in earnest ? Will not the familiar turning in to eat and to drink in the country on which God's judgment had been denounced, outweigh all the effect of our words in denouncing it ? And we shall not save our own souls, even though we delivered our message to others ever so faithfully, even though our advice to our children were all that the wisest and holiest man alive could say to them. For God's first command to every man is, that he serve God with all his heart himself, not that he call on others to do so; and he who does not so serve Him may counsel others with effect, but will surely be himself a castaway.

Yet there is one thing more to be gathered from the words in which the old prophet lamented the death of his disobedient brother. He said, “The saying which he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel shall surely come to pass. The man himself lay torn and dead before him ; he had acted as though he did not believe his own word, and therefore he had perished. But the word was true notwithstanding, and would come to pass not the less for the unworthiness of him who delivered it. So it is when God's message is delivered to us now by those whose lives deny it. On their head is the sin of their own unbelief and disobedience; but on ours will be our own sin ‘no less, if we refuse to listen to their word. For what they said against the altar in Bethel, against those idols of our own hearts which we make each man for himself to worship, shall surely come to pass. The altar shall be burnt together with those who worship on it ; earth, and they that are of the earth only, and love the earth and bow down before it, shall all be destroyed to

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