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bring their cause before a human tribunal; or, if entered there, who would espouse and manage it for them? Hence, God opens the “Chancery Court of Heaven” to them, and himself offers to plead, judge, and avenge their cause.
The wo denounced against such oppressors is a fearful one. They shall be paid in kind. 66 Their wives shall be widows, and their children fatherless.” Such was the divine decree under the former dispensation.
We will not decide that it is just so now; but the widow and the fatherless have God for a father still. They are authorized to bring their wrongs directly before him. And, if he undertake for them, their oppressors have no power to thwart justice, or pervert law, by packing juries, or bribing judges. There is no bribing of the Lord of Hosts.
Pray, then, ye widows, and ye fatherless children ; pray! cry! and he that has said, " Remove not the old landmark, and enter not into the fields of the fatherless,” he “will plead your cause," (Prov. 23: 10, 11,) for he has so promised, and he is "mighty."
His truth forever stands secure,
And none shall find his promise vain.
well startle the oppressor of the widow and the fatherless. He may, perhaps, justify his exactions by legal technicalities; or he may imagine that the manner in which his ill-gotten wealth has been obtained is unknown; but there is a God who weighs all things in a righteous balance, and who sees through all disguises. And, therefore, what though the oppressor be rich and prosperous; what though his wife and children be encircling him in all the flush of health, and in all the enjoyments of life; could he look into some retired chamber, at no great distance from his palace, and could he there see the daughter of penury, or the orphan, whose property has been appropriated to build his marble inansion, or goes daily to furnish his table with
costly viands; could he see them bending before a just God, and pleading their cause with him ; bringing before him his own declaration, "I will surely hear thee," would not his “ countenance change?" would not the "joints of his loins be loosed, and his knees smite one against another ?"
Not for the riches of Cresus would I live in a habitation garnished with the products of ill-gotten wealth ; nor would I see wife and children robed in the silks of India, or sparkling in the gems of Golconda, if they must be the price of the tears of the widow and the orphan. Rather would I crave the poverty of Lazarus for myself and mine, than know that one prayer-only one, went up to heaven against me; an appeal of a widow, or a fatherless child.
PRAYER OF MOSES FOR ISRAEL.
And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-neckea
people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them : and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.-Ex. xxxii. 9—14.
In their journey towards Canaan, the Israelites, having reached the neighborhood of Mount Sinai, encamp by divine direction at its base. Here God proposes to enter into covenant with them, and to deliver to them his law. Preparations are made for the sublime and august ceremony.
The morning of the appointed day is ushered in with the visible descent of a dense, dark cloud, which rests on the summit
of Sinai, and from which issue thunderings and lightnings, spreading a solemn awe throughout all the camp of Israel.
In the midst of this terrific display of divine power, to which are added earthquake, fire, and the presence of the ministering angels, the covenant is proposed, and the law delivered. With one voice the people respond: “All the words, which the Lord hath said, we will do, and be obe
Following this “sight,” which was so “terrible,” that even Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake,” (Heb. 12; 21.) he receives the divine command to ascend the mount. 66 And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel." Towards this cloud of glory Moses proceeds—he enters it, and there, for nearly forty days and forty nights, divinely sustained, he holds communion with God, and receives instructions in regard to the Tabernacle; its construction and furniture; and in regard to the worship of God, its ministers and ceremonies.
While thus employed, and just as he was on the eve of returning, an event transpired in the camp of Israel, which, as an exhibition of depravity, had never been paralleled. Daily fed by manna from heaven; daily refreshed by water from the smitten rock; surrounded by miracles of might and benignity, wrought daily for their comfort and support; who could have anticipated that, in defiance of the command, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me; thou shalt make no graven image,” to which they had so lately and so solemnly promised obedience; they should so soon demand the fabrication of a molten image, “thus changing the glory of God into the likeness of an ox, that eateth
Yet such was the scene transpiring in the camp of Israel, when the interview between God and his servant Moses was about to terminate. Impatient at the delay of the latter, and
pretending that they knew not what had become of him, but in reality "disrelishing a purely spiritual worship," the Israelites prefer their request to Aaron, "to make them gods who should go before them," and even clamorously demand of him a compliance with their wishes. And to a demand, so unnatural and Heaven-daring, what does the associate of Moses reply? Does he remonstrate ? Filled with grief and dismay, does he chide? Does he denounce the judgment of Heaven upon them? Perhaps so, in the first instance, although the sacred narrative accords to him no such extenuating merit. But, if so, at length, he yields; the minister of religion becomes an accessory to gross and insulting idolatry; and he, who should have guarded the divine honor at the sacrifice of his life, himself fashions a molten calf, and superintends the sacrifice offered unto the dumb and senseless idol.
Thus, in the very sight of the most awful and sublime manifestations of the divine power and glory; Sinai's summit still invested with the symbols of the divine presence, and Moses still with God on the mount, this people, whom God had rescued from a bondage of centuries, and cruel as it had been long; whom he had conducted through the channels of the
sea; whom he had fed, and was still feeding with bread from heaven; whose thirst he was slaking with water, which rolled by their side as they journeyed; this people, thus rescued, fed, clothed, preserved by a constant miracle, are bowing down to a senseless idol! Who could have thought it?
God's eye is upon them, and it kindles with holy indignation. “Go, get thee down," says he to Moses, "for thy people which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” God speaks as if this people had forfeited all right longer to be considered his people, and as if he was about to cast them off. And why should he longer bear with them? Why not now, in view of this strange and wanton violation of their covenant, write upon them, "Lo-Ammi, Thou art not my people !"
Moses is ready to descend, to interpose and prevent, if possible, the continuance of this infatuated and monstrous idolatry; when God again addresses him. “This is a stiff-necked people; now, therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them; and I will make of thee a great nation."
Does God then forbid his servant to pray for them ? May he not intercede? Moses had attempted no mediation; had offered no supplication. But it is apparent that God feels that if he should cry, as he might cry, he would prevail. “The words which seem to forbid, are really intended,” says a commentator, “to encourage Moses in his suit. They are not, indeed, a positive command to him to pray in behalf of Israel; but they indicate what it was that would stay the divine hand; and were equivalent to saying, "If you intercede for them, my hands are tied, and I cannot execute the deserved vengeance.” Blessed power of prayer! “Able, after a sort,” as Trapp says, “to transfuse a palsy into the hand of Omnipotence."
But the proposal of God to Moses-will he surmount that? “I will make of thee a reat nation.” Oh! thou man of God, what a trial of thy spirit! What an appeal to the ambition, which
may be latent in thy heart! Thou offered the occupation of the high and exalted station of Abraham! Thou to become the father of the faithful! Canaan thine inheritance, and thine the blessings of that covenant, which in future years, will give through the line of thy posterity a Savior to the world!
Will Moses, in view of such personal interest; such promised honors; will he pray?
What a delightful exhibition does he give of the magnanimity and benevolence of his heart! Pray !—he not pray? See how he seizes the first favorable moment to throw himself, in all the ardor of earnest and importunate entreaty, into the breach. “ Why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people," &c.