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they might be clean and neat in appearing before God; and as a significant emblem of the internal holiness of heart which it was their duty to posThey were to abstain, too, from every
kind of impurity, and, as we have reason to believe, to occupy a portion of their time in devout meditation and prayer.
This sanctifying themselves was for an occasion of deep and solemn interest. On the third day, so Moses was told, Jehovah would come down, in the sight of all the people, upon Mount Sinai, with the visible and striking manifestations of his
presence. " And thou shalt set bounds," was the divine injunction, "unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever shall touch the mount shall surely be put to death. There shall not a hand touch it; but he shall surely be stoned ; or shot through, whether it be beast or man, it shall not live :--when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount."
What separation from the world, its business, its cares, and all its concerns ;—what purity of heart, what devout and holy affections, become us, when we approach God in our more peculiarly religious duties, and desire to enjoy his spiritual presence, and hold communion with him!
Do you thus sanctify yourself, my young friend, when you draw near to God in prayer, or engage
in his worship, private, social, or public ? If you were about to be introduced into the presence of some great and exalted earthly personage, how anxious you would be to have your dress, and deportment, and conversation befitting the august occasion. You would spare no pains to have them what they should be.
You would feel that your very character for elevated taste, and dignified propriety of manners, was at stake. The anticipated interview would occupy a great deal of your time and care in the way of preparation.
Jehovah is the King of kings, and Lord of lords; the Supreme Majesty of heaven and earth. His dominion is universal and everlasting. His greatness is unsearchable. His power is infinite. His truth is immutable. His justice is inflexible, and terrible to the impenitent. He is perfect in holiness. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity. He searches the heart, and is acquainted with all our ways.
How do you come before such a great and glo rious Being ?- Whut is your preparation of heart for it? What are your feelings in his presence ?
CHAPTER X X XIII.
The Israelites at the foot of Sinai. God descends.
Moses and Aaron go up the mountain. The ten commandments.
The Israelites had completed the required preparations, and rose, on the third day, anxious to know what the strange scenes were to be, which they would witness. An intense and solemn curiosity prevailed among them. For Jehovah himself wus to come down upon Sinai, and they were to hear his voice.
The sight ;-would they be able to endure it? The voice ;-how would it fall upon the ear; in reproof and denunciation, or in encouragement and love !
Before them stood the sacred mountain in its lonely and majestic grandeur. A profound silence reigned over it ; while, from its lofty summit, the pillar of a cloud, changing from that of fire, shed down its heavenly effulgence, and showed that the night had departed.
The bounds round the mountain had been set. Their import was fearful. Death was denounced against any living being that should pass them. The sound of an unearthly trumpet, loud and long, and then melting away in silence, would tell the people when they might dare even to approach these bounds.
The suspense was deep and breathless. Every eye, directed to Sinai, was eager to catch the first symbols of the descending Deity.— They are beginning to appear. A thick, dark cloud settles over the mountain. Streams of lightning issue from it, in quick succession, flashing wild and fearful. Terrific thunders roll and echo on every side. The voice of the trumpet is heard exceeding loud. Its summons is awful. It calls the people before their God. They tremble with consternation as they hear it. It dies away, and gives a short respite to their fears.
Moses now leads them forth from their encampment, and they assemble near the foot of the moun. tain. The approach of Jehovah is at hand. He comes down in flames of fire; with thousands and tens of thousands of angels to attend him. All Sinai blazes up to heaven; and the dense, dark clouds of smoke ascend as the smoke of a furnace. The mountain quakes to its centre.
The trumpetvoice is again heard. It sounds long, and waxes louder and louder. It is the voice of God. The Israelites shudder and tremble. So terrible is the scene, that even Moses cannot control himself. He exclaims," I exceedingly fear and quake."
An encouraging voice calms his terrors. Не hears it from the top of the mount, from the presence of Jehovah. It calls him thither, and he goes up. "Go down," said the Lord, "charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth
them.” " And Moses said unto the Lord, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai,” (they will not be so presumptuous as to do it,) " for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou and Aaron with thee; but let not the priests and the people break through, to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth
them.” Moses obeys. He makes known the Divine injunction to the people, and re-ascends the mountain with Aaron.
It is the fiftieth day since the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. Preserved by the goodness of God, they are assembled before him. They have witnessed the awful tokens of his presence, and heard his voice. Such stupendous miracles are necessary to rouse their sluggish attention, and to establish for ever in their belief the divine mission of their leader. How can they, and their descendants, ever forget, or doubt, the reality of the scenes at Sinai, and of the presence there of Jehovah !