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which it holds up as examples in their relations to God, were not founded upon truth. God is for ever the same, and in our relations to God we, too, are the same as we ever have been. It is earth and our earthly relations which change; and as our outward practice has to do with these, so our actions must be often very different from those praised in the Old Testament ; while that principle from which such actions sprung, and which made them praiseworthy, is still good and most important for us, and still must bring forth its practical fruit, although that fruit will be no longer the same as it was in times past. This applies particularly to religious zeal,-a feeling which is brought forward strongly in the Old Testament, as one most needful to be enforced, and most acceptable to God. And it is surely no less needed now, and no less acceptable : God being still, as in old times, hidden from our sight, and we being continually tempted to neglect Him by our own evil nature, and by the very circumstances of our condition on earth; it is quite as much required as ever that our zeal towards Him should be enkindled; it is quite as just that they who are zealous in His service should be regarded as the objects of His love.

If I might be allowed the comparison, many of the lessons of the Old Testament, and the story of Phinehas in particular, resemble, so far as we are concerned now, our Lord's parable of the unjust

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steward. There are some who have found that parable difficult, some who have misinterpreted it, and others who from horror of its misinterpretation would, perhaps, have been glad to neglect it altogether. Yet that parable contains a lesson which we greatly need; and though we may make it minister unto sin by misunderstanding it, yet we may not, therefore, pass it by as useless There, as in the story of Phinehas, a principle most valuable is combined with a particular illustration of it, which in the one case, is always to be condemned ; in the other is deserving of condemnation now. The forethought of the dishonest steward extorted something like respect from his master, even though shown in acts of dishonesty. The zeal of Phinehas is held up to our admiration, although the manner in which he showed it would be as sinful for us to imitate as the steward's dishonesty. But transplant, so to speak, this forethought, and this zeal to the soil and climate of Christianity, and they lose immediately all the bad qualities, all the harshnesses which in their wild and imperfect state still clung to them. Christian forethought unites the innocence of the dove with the serpent's wisdom ; Christian zeal can be no longer shown in acts of violence; its acts are as blameless and loving as its spirit is fervent and self-denying

We need not, then, shrink from such parts of the Old Testament as the lesson of this evening's

service. We may shrink, indeed, from the form in which that lesson is conveyed; as we may from the details of the steward's dishonesty: historically speaking, I quite allow that the event recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter of Numbers, is altogether extremely painful. But then, that which forms its substance, taken as history, is just its mere perishable form, when it is taken as Scripture. The wilderness of Arabia, the foreign manners and language, the licentiousness, the bloody punishment, all that is national and individual, Midian, Israel, Phinehas the priest of the seed of Israel,—we may drop all these from our consideration. There still remains the true and eternal Scriptural lesson. Temptation assailing God's people, and God's people yielding to it; evil example spreading fearlessly, God's servant not only escaping the contagion himself, but coming forward boldly and unhesitatingly to stop it in others; and God's blessing pronounced upon him, because he had stayed his brethren from their sin. What is there here that does not apply to us? and how many are there amongst the great multitude of the lessons of Scripture which we can consider in our own particular case more needful?

The lesson turns particularly on this point, not merely on the keeping of ourselves pure from following evil, but on the making efforts to put it down in others. The one is innocence, but the other alone is deserving of the name of zeal. And innocence is a great deal more common than zeal. There are a great many persons who stand aloof from evil, whom none accuse of taking pleasure in it, nor yet of joining it; but neither do they take any active part against it. They say, it is not my business to meddle with the conduct of others; they must themselves look to that. This they say, because they have no zeal ; because they are not interested either for God's glory or the salvation of their brethren ; because they forget their vows in baptism, when they were pledged not only to be Christ's faithful servants, but His soldiers also ; to fight manfully under His banner against sin, the world, and the devil; to do their best to spread their Master's kingdom, and not merely to offer Him the worship of their own hearts, caring little if He receives the worship of none besides. Zeal would look upon life differently; it would not rest contented with worshipping alone and in secret ; it would desire to see the society in which it is placed worshipping God with one accord ; that His name might be glorified, and that His salvation might be enjoyed by all.

And what is true in large societies of men, holds good also in smaller ones. The zeal which leads the missionary to go to the ends of the earth to convert a people sitting in darkness, may be exerted no less usefully, and no less acceptably within the

very camp of the people of God, within that immediate neighbourhood in which we are each placed to live. Zeal may work its proper work without crossing the ocean ; without passing the boundaries of our own town or parish ; without, as in our case, going beyond our own walls. Here is the

Here is the camp of God's professed servants, in which temptation is busy, and many are yielding to it. Shall we then be content merely with not being of those who yield to it? Shall we stand aloof, passing by as it were on the other side, while our aid is loudly called for? I am sure that some deceive themselves in this ; that the very spirit which they most need is that of zeal; that they are standing almost neutral in the great contest around them, content if they can be but themselves in safety. But this is not the part of Christians; we are members one of another; we make up together Christ's body, we are pledged to one another as well as to Him in our solemn communion. Surely there is utterly a fault in that person who thinks that the conduct of his brethren does not concern him ; that all that can be expected of him is to keep himself from evil; that to struggle against it belongs to others.

It does certainly belong to others also, but not to others only. It is not my work only, nor your work only, but it is our work; not that we have all the same part of the work to do, or the same proportion of it; but we are all concerned in it; and all are

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