"God spoke all these words." Exodus 20:1
Mount Sinai is not rightly seen until the Gospel-sun
shines brightly on it. The total aspect then is changed. Its terrors
disappear. The darkness melts into the light of life. The angry roar is
hushed in notes of peace. Reader! approach this scene with humble prayer. If
the Spirit guide your steps, it will open, as a gate, to Zion's blissful
Who brings the sons of Israel to Sinai's base? It is
the God of everlasting grace. His mercy looked on their enslaved estate. He
burst their bonds and crushed their cruel foes. He was feeding them morn
after morn with food from heaven. He was sending streams to supply their
thirst. And now, by beckoning cloud, He leads them to this spot. They may
advance, then, without fear. His counsels will bud forth in blessings. This
mount will be a platform to show Christ to souls. Grace must continue to be
When the host reached these heights, they are addressed
from heaven. Who is the speaker? The voice is that of JESUS. The
Spirit clears this fact. He tells us, that the Angel, the messenger of the
eternal Covenant, communed with Moses on the Mount. If Jesus speaks, the
accents will be tender love. It is so here. His prelude thus brings peace
into their hearts, 'You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I
bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.' This preface does
not look like a door to woe. It seems the first drops of a fresh shower of
goodness. An especial mandate is next heard. The Lord announces that new
revelations are at hand. Especial preparation, then, must now be made. The
people are sin-soiled. Their bodies know pollution's touch. Purifying rites,
therefore, must prepare them for God's approach.
Reader! you cannot learn too deeply, that we are all
infected and impure with sin, and all our righteous acts are but filthy
rags! Do you see self as one mire-heap of filth? Do you loathe human
merit as a plague-spot? Have you received the warning word, 'If I wash you
not, you have no part with Me?' Pause before Sinai, and weigh well your need
of cleansing before you can meet God.
The third day comes. The mount is fenced. Then clouds of
terror thicken. Dismay stalks forth in most appalling form. Each sight
amazes, and each sound affrights. Is thunder terrible?—peal upon peal cracks
in increasing roar. Are lightnings plumed with wings of swiftly-flying
awe?—a forked blaze pours its incessant darts. Is it a cheerless time when
light is absent?—night with its blackest pall mantles the heights. Do
stoutest hearts wax cold when clanging trumpets yell?—echo now maddens with
their din. Was Sodom's smoking plain a frightful destruction?—the range of
hills flares, as a murky furnace. Is it terrific to see cloud-capped summits
tottering to the fall?—the rocky mass now shivers as a wind-tossed reed.
But why do all terrors settle on the mount? The
answer is a page of solemn truth. The Spirit's mouth shall give it. 'The
Lord came from Sinai. From his right hand went a fiery law for them.' The
Lord wills now to manifest His Law. The hand which holds it shakes terror
over a transgressing world. We thus are led to ask the purpose of the Law.
Until the soul discerns the nature of this code, God is not truly known. His
Gospel is a sealed book. His holiness is an unsubstantial name.
The Law reveals Jehovah's majesty. It sets Him on the
throne of spotless purity. It unveils the stature of His boundless
righteousness. It crowns Him with the diadem, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of
Hosts.' It cries with trumpet-tongue that holiness is the pavement of
His heavens, the atmosphere of His kingdom, the portals of His palace, the
delight of His heart. It shows what God is, and what they must become who
would appear before Him. Where is the sinner who will now draw near
without some better righteousness than self can weave? Well might
Mount Sinai quake, when on its pedestal a Law like this is given.
But was the Law now first shown? Far otherwise. On
creation's morn it was inwrought in Adam's heart. The parent of our race set
his first steps on earth in the very likeness of the great Creator. The
Maker's hand could only plant a perfect plant. Man's new-born eye thus
looked unmoved on God. He trod this soil in happy innocence. His soul was
purity. His voice was perfect praise. Evil was a weed unplucked.
Transgression was a path untrod. Guilt was a torture yet unborn.
The law of love was in each fiber of his heart. Adam thus stood. The Law was
in him. He knew that to obey was life, to disobey was death.
But sinlessness soon withered in his hands. The tempter
came. The tempted yielded. The beauteous fabric of the Law was shivered. Its
promised life expired. Its dreadful curse became our heritage.
This Law, implanted in the heart of our first
parents, must now be heard again on Sinai. It is God's will to show it as a
written statute. Its voice, however, is the same. There is no change
in its exact requirements. Its measure seems to be more vividly displayed.
Its breadth and length are more distinctly marked. But its essence is all
one. Two tables now contain it. Ten separate edicts open out its claims. But
these brief words admit a summary more brief. The one sum of the
demand is simply this—pure love. Without it none can see God's
face. But why is it thus renewed? Is it God's will to cancel now the many
promises which cheered the elders of the house of faith? Shall the fair page
of hope, based on the blood of cleansing, be scattered to the winds? Shall
Adam's race again be sent to work for life? Must their own hands
erect a tower of safety from rubbish of earth's quarry? Away with such a
fearful thought! It would lead headlong to despair's foul depths. Can the
poor cripple run? Can the broken wing expand? Can the withered tree bear
fruit? Can the sentenced culprit burst his chains? Can the dead arise and
walk? Enfeebled nature might more easily do this, than man's lost strength
fulfill one mandate of the righteous Law. To send him to pluck innocence in
guilt's wild wilderness; to patch a righteousness with shreds and rags of
sin; to mount to heaven by a broken ladder's crumbling rounds; would be
to mock his ruin and deride his woe. The Law is not republished with designs
Look steadfastly at Sinai. Amid all the terrors, angels'
forms are seen. A mediator's hands receive the tables. These signs
establish that grace is there. Such is the truth. God states His
claims, that we, with open eye, may see our need. Our sense of ruin makes
the Gospel prized. To those who have no help in self, God's love appears
more lovely, His mercy more merciful, His pity more pitiful, His tenderness
more tender, His forbearance more forbearing, God more Godlike, Christ more
precious, His blood more cleansing, His righteousness more beauteous, His
cross more glorious, His pardons dearer, His salvation surer, His Gospel the
one home, His wounds the only refuge. Is it not grace to urge us onward
towards the cross? This work is never truly done, until the Law displays
God's holiness, sin's sinfulness, and hell gaping at our feet.
Satan is ever ready to persuade that a heavenly Father is
too gentle to cause woe. Sinai dashes this error to the ground. It shows
that God's whole nature abhors evil, and is pledged to execute just
wrath. The conscious sinner looks, then, for help. There is such help in
Christ, and Christ alone. Thus Sinai drives him to a Savior's arms. This
work is grace. Sinai shows sin to be exceeding sinful and exceeding strong.
In the world's school, and by deceiving lips, disguise is
spread around the monster's forms. It is but faintly blamed as nature's
blemish without power to hurt. But as light manifests a chamber's filth;
as heat revives the frozen viper; as the sun's rays draw out the offensive
vapor; as barriers cause the rushing stream to overflow; so the Law's
restraints make sin to show its hideousness and giant-size! A sinner
thus convinced of sin looks with horror on himself. Where shall he flee?
Jesus draws near. His blood obliterates. His grace makes free. Thus Sinai
magnifies a Savior's saving worth. This work is grace.
It is at Sinai that the Law makes bare its vengeful arm.
It must have sinless purity. But if offence occurs, there is no pity,
there is no escape. The curse points sternly towards perdition's lake. When
this is known, how precious are the sheltering arms of Jesus! Thus Sinai's
truth endears the Gospel-hope. This work is grace.
Reader! has Sinai proved this Gospel-blessing unto you?
If not, come now and have close dealings with it. It states its claim. You
show your moral principles, your upright life, your inoffensive walk. But
this is not one course of love. You startle. You are undone. The thunder
roars; the lightnings flash; the mountain quakes; hell is before you. But
stop. This is a warning to seek help in Jesus. You cry for mercy with
imploring tears. On bended knee, with broken heart, you plead for pardon.
How vain! The Law cannot relent. No agony of grief can move its iron breast.
The thunder roars; the lightnings flash; the mountain quakes; hell is before
you. But stop. This is a warning to seek help in Jesus.
You urge that your transgressions were but rare, your
penitence most deep, your reformation most sincere. If this were true, (but
true it is not), yet it cannot undo what has already been done; or cancel
what is past; or build again your fallen innocence. Oh, no! The curse must
have its course. The thunder roars; the lightnings flash; the mountain
quakes; hell is before you. But stop. This is a warning to seek help in
You perhaps think religion's holy rites most punctually
discharged. That hope, you think, will surely stand, which rests on the
baptismal font, the hallowed feast, the constant service, and a strict train
of unremitted forms. How good, how precious are all these, as signs
of inward life, and proofs of a devoted heart! But what is their
power to give unblemished righteousness? It this your best defense? The
thunder roars; the lightnings flash; the mountain quakes; hell is before
you. But stop. This is a warning to seek help in Jesus.
We here discern why multitudes seek peace in Rome, and
Rome's poor flimsy fabric of deceits: they never saw with open eye Mount
Sinai's terror. Its thunder never rolled through their awakened conscience.
They know nothing of the Law's pure code. Its curse has never struck them to
the ground. Their wound seems slight. A slight remedy will therefore cure.
Their need seems little. Human absolution, and human sprinklings, and human
prayers, will therefore make them safe. Oh! it will be dreadful to awake
from such a dream, when the great white throne is set, and God requires a
righteousness as vast as God.
Reader! if you have fled from Sinai to the cross, this
righteousness you have. Christ has fulfilled for you its utmost demand.
Christ has endured for you the total of its direst curse. The Law,
completely satisfied, claims heaven for you. Mount Sinai's steps exalt
you to the heights of glory. Its voice of thunder hymns you to salvation's