« הקודםהמשך »
never have been given : some event might have intervened, or some impulse might have been given to the minds of the messengers, which would have prevented their making such request; or, at all events, the prophet would have had God's full permission for the journey. But it does not appear
that he waited for the call. He seems to have run before he was sent, in the way which he was so anxious to pursue; and thus he fell at once into the commission of evil. When the heart is engaged in any work, how easily the inclination shows itself! How early in the morning was Balaam on his journey to Moab! How ill could he endure to be checked in his career! He greedily after error.” (Jude 11.)
And here, again, we may learn a lesson with respect to Christian obedience. Suspect the integrity of your hearts in God's service, if
you find yourselves considering how near you may go towards the confines of sin without becoming guilty of transgression ; if
find yourselves indulging, with alacrity and relish, in every questionable habit, every dangerous pleasure, every doubtful degree of enjoyment, which conscience can possibly be made to sanction or excuse. The true spirit of obedience does not ask, How far may I go in what looks very much like sin, without really being sinful ? How little may I do in
the way of God's commandments, and yet be accepted and approved ? Show me the exact boundary between good and evil, so that I approach near without overstepping it. No. Such a posture of soul is at once a token of doubtful sincerity, and a condition of danger. If you are willing to approach to error, or vanity, or sin, as near as you can with a safe conscience, there is reason to fear that you will soon be carried to much greater lengths; and that you may at last be left, without hope of return, in the regions of darkness, misery, and death.
4. Lastly: another sad mark of the real ungodliness of Balaam's character was his want of sympathy and love towards God's chosen people, who were living, at that moment, under divine favour and protection.
His heart was so exercised with covetous practices, that it had no room for godly and brotherly love. He had none of that real devotedness of spirit towards the God of Abraham which would have taught him to look on the Israelites as brethren, and to wish them good luck in the name of the Lord. He rather hoped to predict mischief concerning them, and to secure the reward of divination. And in this respect, therefore, his professed obedience to the Most High displays itself as fatally defective.
By our reference to this portion of Balaam's conduct we may again be reminded of a great and important test of real love to God. We know," says St. John, “ that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” (1 John iii. 14.) And again : “ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God ; and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.” (1 John v. 1.)
1.) What then, let us consider, is our own temper and feeling in this respect ? Have we a real and unfeigned esteem for the spirit of holiness wherever it appears, in any, even the meanest, of God's servants and children? Or are we prepared rather to despise them, and to cast out their names as evil? Certain it is that, if you entertain malice or contempt towards Israel, you
have no real love to Israel's God.
One great lesson may be learnt from a general review of Balaam's character and conduct. And it is this:-Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. Such seems to have been the vain attempt of the deluded prophet. He sought at once to obey the Most High and to please the king of Moab, although the counsels of the latter were at war with the purpose of Jehovah.
of Jehovah. But this could not be. And, in the end, Balaam found that he had both offended the Almighty, and lost the favour of Ba
lak. God, who regards covetousness as idolatry, saw that “ he loved the wages of unrighteous
And Balak said, “ Flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee to great honour; but, lo, the Lord hath kept thee back from honour."
Warned by this example, let us take heed to ourselves, that we serve God in uprightness and integrity of heart, submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.” Let us remember that, in order to this godliness of heart and life, we must be united by a true faith to the Lord Jesus Christ as our spiritual head, and must be continually supplied by the Holy Spirit with light and power,—with love, fear, and a sound mind, —with hope, and the whole armour of God. 66 As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,” said our blessed Lord, “except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches : he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John xv. 4, 5.)
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY AND ITS EFFECTS.
2 CORINTHIANS ï. 15, 16.
We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in
them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are the savour of death unto death: and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
It was the custom, in ancient times, for conquerors to celebrate their victories by a triumphal procession and public rejoicings. On these occasions, it is said, their attendants scattered perfumes in the air, and thus an agreeable fragrance was mingled with the sounds of music and congratulation. Of the captives, who were led in procession behind the conqueror's chariot, some were to be restored to liberty as soon as the ceremony was ended, and others were to be put to