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ites proved, when they had looked in faith to the serpent of brass ? Was it by their continuance in pain, in helplessness, in insufficiency, to perform every work and duty of life? Did they lie where their wounds had cast them down, and where the poison had drained their strength ? No; they arose from the ground; they proved that their cure was no delusion, by. returning to their duties, and resuming their march toward Canaan. Here, then, is the test of deliverance from the death of sin. Whom the blood of the cross justifieth, them the Spirit of God sanctifieth. They are translated from the bondage of corruption. A principle of spiritual health, a new life, energy, and vigour are infused into the soul. All sloth is shaken off; and the renewed man, rejoicing in his unwonted powers and desires, presses forward, with delighted alacrity, in the way of God's commandments. Would this deliverance encourage the Israelites to sloth or presumption ? Surely not. And shall he who feels himself redeemed to God by the death of his Son, continue in the practice of any sin, known or wilful. He cannot sin, because he is born of God “ The love of Christ constrains him ;” and he manifests the reality of the blessed change produced within him, “not in word and in tongue only, but in deed, and in truth.” If any man
be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, and all things are be
By their fruits ye shall know them.
(3.) We are remarkably instructed by this history, that the gospel of redemption could never have originated in human sagacity. “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” A plan like that for healing the bitten Israelites in the wilderness, would never have occurred to Moses, nor to any of the multitudes within the camp. There was no relation, no apparent connexion between the malady, and the cure—no adoption of natural means-no exhibition of human skill and science. A serpent was raised on a pole ; the sufferer must regard it in simple faith, as the means of his deliverance; and, looking thus upon it, live. Even so, Christ crucified, in every period of the church, has been, to the carnal, sensual Jew, a stumbling-block; and to the refined, philosophizing Greek, foolishness : while to them who humbly and simply believe, through the gift of faith, bestowed by the Holy Spirit, he is “ Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” How can these things be? is the scornful inquiry of the mere reasoner in religion, when the great mysteries of salvation by the cross, are proposed to his notice and ac
ceptance. Thus argued Naaman the leper, when the prophet bade him wash in Jordan seven times, and be clean. “ Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel ; may I not wash in them, and be clean ?" Had he thus continued to resist the direction of the man of God, he had returned to Syria a leper still, and had died in his pollution. Shall we reject the doctrine of the cross, deny the Lord who bought us, and oppose ourselves to the purposes of his love, because we cannot understand the whole process of the gospel redemption; and because the voice of God speaks concerning its mysteries, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter ?" Go ye, amidst your doubts and difficulties, to the giver of all wisdom, that ye may ascertain your need of mercy, and the power and willingness of the Son of God to save to the uttermost. Such a disclosure is the exclusive work of his Spirit. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father in heaven.” Rest not, until you can each say, in the fulness of the heart, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unta salvation to every one that believeth. And remember the mournful alternative, If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
(4.) It is an awful consideration, that even the doctrine of free salvation by the cross of Christ may be abused to the peril and ruin of the souls of men. The brazen serpent, the symbol of cure to so many Israelites, was preserved with pious care by the chosen heritage. But even the serpent became an occasion of sin in after days ; so that the holy zeal of Hezekiah, for the honour of his God, brake it in pieces, as an idol, which withdrew the hearts of his people from their allegiance to Jehovah. O beware, lest ye
imitate this sin, and pervert the grace of God, in his Son. Preserve, indeed, a memory of his love, filled with adoring gratitude. But reflect, how mournful is the spiritual state how dark the spiritual hope, how utterly vain the refuge of that man, who, professing a reverence for his Saviour, bows down in the idolatry of Antinomianism to the cross of Jesus, while he rebels against the law of God, which that very cross was intended to magnify. Avoid the delusion, escape the danger. Shall you sin because you are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid !
CONSIDERATIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF BALAAM.
NUMBERS XXIII. 10.
Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last
end be like his.
CONSISTENCY is the perfection of character. Like all other excellencies, however, it is no less rare than valuable. Contradictions between the conduct of men and the principles, by which it is obviously their interest to be governed, are so frequent, that although they may grieve, they cannot surprize an attentive observer. Of this kind was the policy of the Midianites, when the children of Israel encamped near them, on the plains of Moab. Like the chosen tribes, they were descended from Abraham. Moses had been hospitably received by Jethro their priest, whose flock he had kept forty years in the wilderness, and whose daughter he had married. Jethro him