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in a very dissolute state of society, vices of the most odious and atrocious kind are necessarily blended with others less offensive. The love of pleasure is the predominant character; but in order to feed and support that passion, arts the most criminal and detestable must be employed. Injustice, violence, perjury and murder follow in the train of lust. The moral principle is destroyed: all sense of shame is lost. The general depravity keeps every individual transgressor in countenance. Appearances are no longer attended to or kept up. Men glory in their shame. The very offices of religion are perverted into instruments of debauchery. Such, apparently, was the state of Midian at the period under review; such was that of Israel during the government and priesthood of Eli; and such was that of the Assyrian and Roman empires immediately previous to their subversion. And in such a state, is it any wonder to see heaven and earth combined to root out and overthrow....a holy and righteous God employing the ministration of the gentlest of mankind to cut off the name and memory of such a people from the earth? When punishment so signal is inflicted, we may safely infer, that the guilt which provoked it from such hands was enormous.
On reviewing the little army of Israel, after the victory, a fact turns up unequalled in the history of mankind....not so much as one of the twelve thousand has fallen in battle: and that in attacking and destroying a nation so populous as to contain " thirty-two thousand females of a particular description," Numb. xxxi. 35. The hand of God was clearly visible in this, and thankfully acknowledged. The superfluous ornaments which lately published the shame of Midian, now proclaim the piety and gratitude of Israel; and become part of the sacred treasury of the tabernacle. Every creature of God is good in itself, and intended to do good. Use the world so as not to abuse it, and the Creator is glorified. Every day added to our life is as much a miracle of mercy, as the preservation of every individual of the twelve thousand in the day of battle. Let our gratitude declare itself in an habitual devotedncss of heart and life, to the God of our life, and the length of our days; let us present our "bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service: and be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God," Rom. xii. 1, 2.
In the punishment inflicted on Midian, we behold a righteous God prosecuting an injury done to Israel, as an insult offered to himself. And indeed every offence against society is a direct attack of the divine authority, which has fenced the person, the fame and the virtue of our neighbor on every side, a gainst all the assaults, whether of violence or deceit. The character and conduct, in connexion with the untimely end of the arch seducer Balaam, are an awful and instructive instance of the justice of God in making signal guilt its own avenger, and furnish a striking illustration of the observations made by the psalmist and his wise son; "Behold he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate. I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness ; and will sing praise to the name of the . Lord most high," Psal. vii. 14...17- "The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made, in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executcth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands," Psal. ix. 16, 16*. "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction: and in the greatness of his folly we shall go astray," Prov. v. 21...23.
....In the faint resistance made by the Midianites to a force so small, we behold the native tendency of vice to enfeeble and enervate. Sunk in effeminacy and sloth, they are overcome as soon as attacked. Strong in cunning, they are destitute of true wisdom, and defective in valor. The foe that assaults, that conquers them, is within. ** The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous is bold as a lion." Addictedness to the pleasures of sense gradually, though insensibly, encroaches on all the nobler principles of our nature, undermines and subverts them. Every spring of the soul is relaxed through disuse; the bodily powers become languid, and the sluggish giant becomes an easy prey to the active and vigorous child. Exercise your faculties, and they will increase and improve; negleet them, and they will quickly fall into utter decay. Fear God, maintain "a conscience void of offence," and bid defiance to what earth and hell can do against you.
....In the five-will offering of these grateful Israelites for protection and deliverance in the day of battle, behold a laudable example of attention to the ways of Providence, and of thankful acknowledgment of them. Let friends, after the days of separation are at an end, after the hour of danger is past, reckon their numbers. Do they remain entire, not one missing, is no allay mingled with the joy of re-union.? It was the hand of God that supported; he "gave his angels charge concerning you." "He covered you with his feathers; his truth was your shield and buckler; no evil befel you, no plague came nigh your dwelling." "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; offer unto him thanksgiving, honor him with your substance present "the calves of your lips," the devotedness of of your hearts, the obedience of your lives.
....Does the punishment of tins people appear to any rigorous and excessive? Let them consider that they are very incompetent judges 0f God's moral government; that they see but a few scattered fragments of the vast scheme of Providence; that creatures themselves ignorant, weak and criminal, must be much disqualified to "hold the balance and the rod;" that every transgression of the divine law merits death; that " fools" only " make a mock at sin." Let the whole earth tremble before Him " who will by no means clear the guilty :" who has denounced "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish against every soul of man that doeth evil," while to the humble and contrite in heart, he proclaims his name, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin," Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7, "visiting the iniquity of the lathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them who hate him; but shewing mercy to thousands of them that love him and keep his commandments," Exod. xx. 5, 6.
....In the leader and commander of Israel behold, once more, a man exalted far above all temporary, all selfish concern; occupied only with the interests of truth and justice, the duties of his station, the prosperity of his charge, the glory of Him who had conferred it upon him. In this last object his whole soul is absorbed. He walks already on air, and beholds the world under his feet; but forgets not that he is yet in it, and that in every state, and at every period of existence, a rational being may promote, and ought to be studying how he may best promote, the honor of his Creator, by administering justice, or extending mercy to his fellow-creatures.' Consider him well; and, in your sphere, with tlie means and ability you enjoy, go and do likewise....and God giant us all wisdom to know and do what is well-pleasing in his sight.
H ISTORT OF MOSES.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan, into the land of Canaan, then ye shall appoint you cities, to be cities of refuge for you > that the slayer may fee thither which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger : that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities tvhich ye shall give, six cities shall ye have for refuge. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among than; that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither....num. Xxxv. 9"-15.
HUMAN laws ale generally the result of experience, not the provision of foresight. Occasion dictates the encouragement to be given, the restraint to be imposed, the punishment to be inflicted. The multiplication of new and extraordinary cases, must of course swell the statute book; through change of circumstances some institutes must sink into disuse and oblivion, and others rise into existence and force. Hence the variety, the opposition, the contradiction of VOL. ill. M