תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

progenitors, and with the dreadful crime of murder : thou hast hated thy brother for his loyalty, which is murder conceived in the heart. Thou art charged with adultery, and with theft; with speaking falsely of thy neighbour, and coveting his property after thou hadst wasted thine own. What sayest thou to these indictments ? Art thou guilty, or not?

Ahimaaz. Pray what did the poor soul say? I have such a feeling for him, that I long to hear of his deliverance, for I fancy myself at the very bar. Did he plead · Not guilty?'

Cushi. No he could not do that, for the Judge himself was a swift witness against him, as it is written, “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, the adulterers, and the false swearers," Mal. iii. 5. Besides, Conscience, who was clerk of the crown, had framed and recorded many indictments against him; for he had been privately arraigned and found guilty several times before; therefore to plead innocent would have been giving the lie both to God and conscience; and who against these can be heard ?

He neither pleaded guilty nor innocent; he held his hands before his face to hide his fallen countenance, and trembled at every joint; for he had not (to his knowledge) one friend in all the court. The indictment was read, wherein he was charged with private conspiracy and rebellion : this he could not deny, for the accuser who stood at his right hand was the very enemy that drew him into that conspiracy, as it is recorded: “That they may recover themselves out of the sșare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will,” 2 Tim. ii. 26.

[ocr errors]

Ahimaáz. Why surely the cursed wretch did not drag the poor soul into' rebellion, and then turn king's evidence, did he?

Cushi. He is one that can turn any way but the right. He will swear and lie too for nothing. Howbeit the King stands not in need of his evidence, nor does he get his own neck out of the halter by all his turning. The rebellion that the prisoner was charged with was, that he had not only opposed the universal monarch himself, but that he had endeavoured to put the loyalists to shame, expose their obedience to contempt, and persecute them for their close attachment to the crown and dignity of their rightful sovereign. His treason consisted in speaking evil of the King; yea, he had even gone so far in his desperate 'rebellion as to give him the lie to his face: for "he that believeth not God hath made him a liar," 1 John v. 10.

When the poor prisoner " looked up and saw Moses his accuser before him just under the judgment seat, and Justice with his drawn sword close-by him, Satan standing at his right hand, and Death at his left, his spirit would have failed from before his Judge, and the soul that God had made, (Isaiah lvii. 16) had he not been upheld by a divine power; for he knew that, as soon as Moses had finished his accusation, the sentence must be passed; Justice would order the executioner to cut him down, and deliver the rebel-to the tormentor, and then wo to him for ever! What to do he knew not; plead' innocent he dared not; he was drove to his wits' end; his hair stood erect upon his head; and his heart was so pregnant with grief and horror, that he feared it would burst in his body. The burden of his sin, and the fear of death,

Cover

whelmed him; for he knew that in the sight of his Judge “no flesh living could ever be justified.”

Moses began his accusation thus: Thou hast been a stubborn and stiff-necked rebel ever since I knew thee. I had set before thee life and death, and told thee to choose life that it might be well with thee, and that thou mightest prolong thy days; but thou hast been one void of counsel, a perverse one, in whom is no faith. I told thee that thou shouldest find no rest for the soles of thy feet; that thy life should hang in doubt before thee, and that thou shouldest have no assurance of thy life; that the heavens should be iron over thy head, and the earth brass beneath thy feet; that" in the morning thou shouldst say, Would God it were night; and at night, Would God it were morning,” Deut.xxviii. 67. All these things thou knowest stand on record in my law. But thou hast cast all my words behind thy back, therefore thou must now expect the consequences: “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them," Deut. xxvii. 26. Dost thou think that the law shall be made void for thee? Shall an eternal act be repealed to screen a rebel? Shall a divine sentence be revoked? Shall divine truth stand in derision, or be exposed to scorn and contempt, or charged with falsehood, to save an enemy? And shall Immutability itself appear to change and waver, that a traitor may stand in judgment? Nay, divịne veracity hath affirmed that “ it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fail,” Luke xvi. 17.

Now Justice began to vindicate truth and law; I have said that “the soul that sinneth shall die,” Exod. xviii. 4. “My sword shall be bathed in heaven, and

come down on Idumea, the people of my curse, to judgment,” Isa. xxxiv. 5. “ Cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with hypocrites," Matt. xxiv. 51. “ Cut it down [I say], why cumbereth it the ground?” Luke xiii. 7. Now his right-hand accuser laid about him, as if he had almost “swallowed him up alive as the grave; and whole, as they that go down to the pit,” Prov. i. 12. To be short, the poor prisoner could not persuade himself but that the execution was actually begun, and that he was really sinking into hell itself.

Ahimaaz. I never heard of so dreadful a trial in my life before; do relate his deliverante, for really I feel as if I was under the sentence myself. I cannot help weeping over him; I find my very soul drawn out in love and pity towards him. I have such a love to him, and such a sense of his sufferings, that I could give all that I have in the world to have a sight of him.

Cushi. While Moses was thus accusing, Justice threatening, and Prodigalis sinking as he thought into the belly of hell, he lifted up his right hand, and gave such a smite upon ‘his breast, as if he would have beaten the breath out of his body, and cried out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” This was done with such fervour, and such a strong voice, that it silenced every one in the court except the devil, whose cursed breath is never spent. As for Moses he had no more to say; for he knew that God “would be gracious to whom he would be gracious, and shew mercy to whom he would shew mercy,” Exod. xxxiii. 19.

Moses never accuses any man that pleads or calls for mercy; nor did Justice proceed against this petition of Prodigalis; for justice is in perfect harmony with mercy; they have met together and kissed each other long ago, Psalm lxxxv. 10. Nor is justice against the poor sinner that pleads for mercy in mercy's channel; far from it; for he says to such, I am “faithful and just to forgive sins, and to cleanse from all unrighteousness," 1 John i. 9.

Moses insisted on perfect obedience, and he accused for disobedience, John v. 45. Justice called for death on the transgressor, while Death stood ready to execute the sentence, and Satan to torment the accused.

The prisoner, having recovered himself a little, repeated his old petition (being determined to discharge the arrow that would fly) “God be merciful to me a sinner!" As soon as he had ended this lamentable cry, there came a person to him of singular beauty, “ fairer (by far) than any of the children of men,” Psalm xlv. 2; saying, “ Where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” John viii. 10. The prisoner could not speak, for “his words were swallowed up,” Job vi. 3. He still stuck to his text, and a third time repeated the old cry, louder if possible than ever, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” The glorious person looked very hard, both at Moses and Justice: “And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him (the prisoner) he said, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment,” Zech. iii. 4. And true enough he did; for he took him and washed him in the midst of the court, saying, “ For I

« הקודםהמשך »