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of grace have upon us. "To day if ye will hear God's voice harden not your hearts. Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of falvation. Boaft not thyself of to morrow; for thou knoweft not what a day may bring forth. Beware left you* deftroy a foul for which Christ died; and left you have occafion at laft to take up that lamentation-" The harveft is past, the fummer is ended and we are not faved."
*Romans xiv. 15.
Balak's inquiries relative to the service of God, and Balaam's answer, briefly considered.
MICAH vi. 6, 7, 8.
Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first born for my transgression; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
As mankind are endowed with reason, and profefs to be governed by it, their revolts from God are practical criminations of him: Therefore his expoftulations with his people of old, when they forfook him and followed other gods-" What in. iquity have your fathers found in me? O my people what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? Teftify against me."*
* Jeremiah ii. 5. Micah vi. 3.
ISRAEL as a people were going away from God, and he condefcended to reafon with them, and fhow them their ingratitude and baseness. To this end, he reminded them of his past care of them and kindness to them, as a nation, from the time of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt-" I brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee from the houfe of fervants"-After juft glancing at that deliverance, he paffes over the wonders wrought for them at the red fea, and in the wilderness, and their numerous rebellions, while he was leading them as a flock, and supplying their wants by a feries of miraclee, and enlarges on an event which took place on the borders of Canaan, the attempts made by Balak, the king of Moab, to prevail with him to leave his people and go over to him, and help him against them, and his faithfulness to Ifrael on that occafion-"O my people, remember now what Balak, king of Moab confulted, and what Balaam, the fon of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal; that ye may know the righteoufnefs of the Lord."* BALAK'S confultations, or inquiries, are contained in the two laft verfes of our text: Balaam's anfwer in the third. In Balak's inquiries we fee the ideas which he entertained of God, and of the fervice which he fuppofed would be acceptable to him, and engage him to forfake his people, and de. liver him from his fears on their account. Balaam's anfwer corrects Balak's mistakes, and difcovers furprizingly juft apprehenfions of the true
*Numbers xxii. &c.
God, and true religion, though depravity prevailed and caused him to counteract his convictions, by advising Balak to measures directly opposed to his fenfe of duty.
To open and explain this subject is the design of the following difcourfe.
Ir may be proper to premise that Ifrael did not make war either on Moab or Ammon.. Thofe nations were defcended from Lot, and Mofes was forbidden to moleft them in poffeffion of the lands which God had given them. Moab might have had peace, and the friendship of Ifrael, but refused it, and joined the confederacy against them. When the tribes of Ifrael reached the borders of Moab, which lay in their way to Canaan, Balak and his people were intimidated by their numbers, and by their martial appearance. They did not therefore, fue for peace, but resolved to neglect no measures to fubdue and conquer them.
Ir was an ancient custom among the heathen, at their entrance on a war, to devote the enemy to deftruction, and folicit their gods to forfake them. Balak thought this a matter of importance before he entered into a war with Ifrael. This ceremony was commonly performed by the priefts, or minifters of religion. How this had been in Moab we are not informed; but on occafion before us, the affrighted fovereign of that people, sent to fome distance for Balaam, a famous foothfayer, or diviner, of whose prevalence with the powers above he had a high opinion, to be the agent in this bufinefs.
BALAAM was really a remarkable perfon; few more fo occur in hiftory. Few others had more knowledge of the true God, or jufter ideas of the service which he requires of mankind. But his character will be developed in the fequel,
THIS renowned foothfayer refused at first to liften to the invitation of the king of Moab, affigning a fufficient reason for his refufal-" The Lord refuseth to give me leave"-but when a fecond embassy arrived, more numerous and more honorable, and with the proffer of great honors and rewards, his ambition and covetousness were inflamed, and he refolved from that moment to fecure them. The firft feems to have been only a common embaffy, and to have carried only the usual rewards of divination. We know what fol. lowed. Balaam finned in asking a fecond time for liberty to go and curfe Ifrael, when God had once refufed him, and told him that they were bleffed. He asked, however, and was in judgment permitted to go, but only to act agreeably to divine direction which fhould be given on the fpot; but he went, determined to fecure the wages of unrighteousness. Seeing his defign, God met him in the way, and by a ftrange and miraculous communication and warning, made him afraid to curfe his people, and even compelled him to bless them altogether. But to come to our fubject,
I. WE are to confider Balak's inquiries.Wherewith fhall I come before the Lord ?
BALAK had fo deep a sense of the danger which threatened him, that he was ready to bring the most