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THE DANGER OF PRESUMPTUOUS SIN
Numbers 15:30-31. The soul that doeth aught presumptuously (whether he be born in the land or a stranger), the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off: his iniquity shall be upon him.
EVERY command of God is to be obeyed: and it is no excuse to say we were ignorant of the command. We know that there is a God to whom we are accountable: we know that he has given us a revelation of his will; and it is our duty to acquaint ourselves with all that he requires at our hands. Even in reference to human laws, it is no excuse to say that we were ignorant of them. We are supposed to be acquainted with them: and if we violate them in any respect, the penalty is from that moment incurred. A merciful judge may consider our ignorance as a reason for mitigating, or even for remitting, the penalty: but the law knows nothing of this: its enactments are valid; its sanctions attach on every one that transgresses them: and every one feels interested in upholding its authority. Thus it was under the Mosaic Law; even where the ordinances were so numerous, that they could scarcely be remembered by any, except those who were altogether devoted to the study of them. Yet, if any person transgressed through ignorance, he must, as soon as he was informed of his error, bring the appointed offering, in order to obtain forgiveness of his fault [Note: ver. 27, 28.]; and, if he refused to bring his offering, he must be cut off, as a presumptuous transgressor. For sins of presumption, of whatever kind they might be, there was no atonement whatever prescribed. It did not become God to spare one who could deliberately set himself against his authority: and therefore it was expressly commanded that the presumptuous sinner, whoever he might be, should be cut off. To illustrate this subject, I shall shew,
The danger of presumptuous sin under the Law—
Presumptuous sin is not to be understood of every sin that is committed wilfully; but of those sins which, as the marginal translation expresses it, are committed “with a high hand:” such, for instance, as that of Pharaoh, when he set himself directly against God, saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord; neither will I let Israel go.” It is such also as David characterizes under the following terms: “The tongue that speaketh proud things; namely, of those who have said, With our tongue will we prevail: our lips are our own: who is Lord over us [Note: Psalms 12:3-4.]?”
The person committing this sin was doomed to death. No sacrifice was appointed for him: whatever injunction it was that he thus determinately opposed, whether it belonged to the ceremonial or moral law, he must suffer death for his offence. It is probable that the sentence executed, by God’s own command, against the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath-day was intended to illustrate this. His offence might appear but slight; namely, gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day: but, as it was done in a known and avowed contempt of the divine will, he must be stoned to death [Note: ver. 32–36.].
Now, how can it be accounted for, that so severe a judgment should be executed for doing any thing presumptuously? It was considered as reproaching, and pouring contempt on, God himself;
As unreasonable in his commands—
[A man who sets himself avowedly against any command, does, in fact, complain of that command as unreasonable and unjust. A man, through infirmity, may fall short in his obedience, whilst he acknowledges that the law which he violates is holy and just and good; but if he set himself against the command itself, it must, of necessity, be from an idea that it imposes an unnecessary restraint, or, at all events, that it may well be dispensed with for his convenience.]
As weak in his threatenings—
[No one who could form the least idea what “a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God” would despise his threatenings. But there is a vague notion in the minds of men, that God will never execute them. Thus David describes these poor deluded men: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts: Thy ways are always grievous: thy judgments are far above, out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them [Note: Psalms 10:4-5.].” Would it be right for God to bear such an indignity as this?]
As altogether unworthy of any serious regard—
[Were the mind duly impressed with any of the perfections of the Deity, we could not possibly treat him with such contempt. His power and majesty would awe us into fear; his love and mercy would engage our admiration: and though we might still be far from that entire submission to his will which he requires, it would not be possible for us to set ourselves in array against him, and to “run upon the thick bosses of his buckler [Note: Job 15:25-26.].”
Conceive, then, of a creature thus rising against his Creator, and you will readily see why presumptuous sin should be thus severely punished.]
But let us proceed to mark,
The still greater danger of it under the Gospel—
True it is, that under the Gospel we have a sacrifice for presumptuous sins as well as others: but if the Gospel be the object of our contemptuous disregard, we cannot possibly be saved, but must perish under a most accumulated condemnation.
Because a contempt of the Gospel is in itself more heinous than a contempt of the Law—
[The Law contained innumerable ordinances, the reason of which, few, if any, could comprehend: and St. Paul, in comparison of the Gospel, calls them “weak and beggarly elements.” But the Gospel is the most perfect display of God’s wisdom and goodness that ever he revealed to mortal man. It exhibits the works and offices of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with the gracious influences of the Spirit: and, if they be despised by us, there can be no hope. For thus saith the Lord: “He that despised Moses’ Law, died without mercy, under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace [Note: Hebrews 10:28-29.]?”]
Because a contempt of the Gospel is, in fact, a rejection of the only means whereby sin can be forgiven—
[Whither shall a man flee, who rejects the Saviour? “What other sacrifice for sin” will he ever find, or what other “way to the Father?” Well does the Apostle say, “If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries [Note: Hebrews 10:26-27.].” Eli’s reproof to his sons puts this matter in the clearest light: “If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, in despising his sacrifices, who shall entreat for him [Note: 1 Samuel 2:25.]?”]
Be thankful, then, that ye live under the Gospel—
[To you “all manner of sin and blasphemy may be forgiven.” How presumptuous soever your past iniquities may have been, they may all be “blotted out as a morning cloud,” and “cast into the very depths of the sea.” This could not be so confidently spoken under the Law of Moses: but to you I declare it with confidence, that “the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse from all sin [Note: 1 John 1:7.];” and that “all who will believe in him shall be justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the Law of Moses [Note: Acts 13:39.].”]
Be earnest in prayer with God, that, whatever means he may find it expedient to use, he would keep you from presumptuous sin—
[This was David’s course: “Keep thy servant from presumptuous sins: let them not have dominion over me: so shall I be upright, and innocent from the great offence [Note: Psalms 19:13.].” Be assured you need to use this prayer, and will need it to your dying hour. David’s attainments were great: yet he felt the need of crying continually, “Hold thou me up, that my footsteps slip not.” So do ye continually: and you may then hope that God will “keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy [Note: Jude, ver. 24, 25.].”]
THE SABBATH-BREAKER STONED
Numbers 15:32-36. And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath-day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation: and they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.
IN great communities, instances of flagrant transgression will occur; nor can any mercies or judgments from God prevent them. Nothing but divine grace can keep individuals in the path of duty. The presumption of those, who, in opposition to the divine command, had gone up to the hill-top to engage the Canaanites, had been severely punished: and though God had since given instructions respecting the particular offerings which should at a future period be presented for sins of ignorance, he had expressly declared, that presumptuous sins should be punished with death; and that no offering whatever should be accepted for them [Note: ver. 30, 31.]. Yet, behold, scarcely had this declaration been given, before a man was found profaning the Sabbath-day: for which offence he was made a signal monument of divine vengeance.
His crime and punishment, which are specified in the text, lead us to notice the guilt and danger of profaning the Sabbath. Let us consider,
According to the estimate of mankind in general, the profanation of the Sabbath is but a slight offence: but, in fact, it is a very heinous sin. It is,
An unreasonable sin—
[Consider who it is that requires the observation of the Sabbath. It is that God who made us, and endowed us with all our faculties, and upholds us every moment, maintaining our souls in life, and providing every thing for our support and comfort. And is this the Being to whom we grudge that small portion of time which he requires? But further, this gracious God has so loved us as to give his only-begotten Son to die for us — — — and shall we think it hard to consecrate one day in the week to him?
Consider next, what portion of our time it is that he requires. If it had pleased him, he might have given us one day for our bodily concerns, and reserved six for himself: and whatever difficulties such an arrangement had occasioned, it would have been our duty cheerfully to obey his will. But the reverse of this is the proportion that he requires: “Six days,” says he, “shalt thou labour; and the seventh day shalt thou keep holy.” What base ingratitude then is it to grudge him such a portion of our time as this!
But consider further, for whose sake it is that he requires it. He wants it not for himself: he is not benefited by it: he enjoined the observance of the Sabbath purely for our sakes: he knew that without some appointment for periodical returns of sacred rest, we should soon become so immersed in worldly cares, as utterly to forget our eternal interests; and therefore he fixed such a portion of our time as to his unerring wisdom appeared best, in order that we might be compelled to seek our own truest happiness. This is what he himself tells us; “The Sabbath was made for man [Note: Mark 2:27.].” Shall we then, for whose benefit that day was set apart, refuse to consecrate it to the Lord, according to his appointment?
Let but these considerations be weighed, and it will appear a most unreasonable thing to trespass upon that time for temporal pursuits, which God has so mercifully set apart for the concerns of our souls.]
A presumptuous sin—
[It is particularly in this view that the context leads us to consider it. God had enjoined the observance of the Sabbath in an audible voice from Mount Sinai [Note: Exodus 20:8-11.]; and had afterwards repeatedly commanded that every person who should profane that day by any kind of earthly employment, even the baking of his food, or the lighting of a fire, should be cut off from among his people [Note: Exodus 31:14-15; Exodus 35:2-3. See also Exodus 16:23; Exodus 16:29.]. Now it was in direct opposition to all these commands that the man of whom we are speaking presumed to gather sticks. He might be ready to excuse himself perhaps by saying, that this was but a small breach of the Sabbath, and the sticks were necessary for his comfort: but these were no excuses: his conduct was a decided act of rebellion against God; and it is manifest that both Moses and God himself regarded it in that light: it was therefore a presumptuous sin, and consequently, as the Scripture expresses it, “a reproaching of God himself” as a hard master that was unfit to be obeyed [Note: ver. 30, 31.].
Such is every violation of the Sabbath amongst us. It is clear we are not ignorant of his commands respecting that holy day; and what we do, we do in direct opposition to his will: we “reproach him” for exacting of us what he had no right to demand, and we are under no obligation to grant. Let the profaners of the Sabbath regard their conduct in this view, and they will need nothing further to convince them of their guilt.]
Having noticed the guilt of profaning the Sabbath, let us consider,
[Wherein can this be painted more strongly than in the text? The very sight of this sinful act created instant and universal alarm: and, as Moses did not know in what way it was to be punished, he sought instructions from God himself. Behold now the answer of Almighty God; of him, whose wisdom is unerring, whose justice is most pure, whose mercy is infinite: his answer is, “The man shall surely be put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones that he die:” and let this be done “without the camp,” that he may be marked as an accursed sinner, that is separated from me, and shall have no part with my people.
Had the offender been cautioned respecting the consequences of such an act, it is probable that he would have laughed at the idea, or, as the Scripture expresses it, would have “puffed at it.” So it is with men at this day: they will not be convinced that there is any danger in what they are pleased to call light sins: but there is a day coming when they will find to their cost, that no sin is light, and least of all is presumptuous sin to be so accounted.
If any thing more were needful to evince the danger of violating the Sabbath, we might mention, that this sin is particularly specified, as a very principal occasion of bringing down all those judgments, with which the Jews were visited at the time of their captivity in Babylon. Nehemiah, after the return of the Jews from Babylon, found, that the Sabbath was still shamefully profaned amongst them. To remedy this evil, he exerted all his authority, and expostulated with them in the most energetic manner: “Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath-day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us and upon our city? Yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath [Note: Nehemiah 13:17-18.].”
Surely then, if such was the issue to the individual that led the way, and such the consequence to the whole nation, when it had followed the example, it will be madness in us to make light of this offence. We may, it is true, escape the judgments of God in this world; (though it is surprising how often they overtake the profaners of the Sabbath;) but we shall certainly not escape them in the world to come.]
Let me then propose this subject to you as an occasion,
For deep humiliation—
[We are apt to think highly of our nation in comparison of the Jewish people: but, if we compare ourselves with them at the period when the events mentioned in our text occurred, we shall see no great reason to boast. Among the Jews there was found but one person in the whole nation that dared to profane the Sabbath: amongst us there is scarcely one in a hundred that does not profane it. Amongst them it was profaned only by gathering a few sticks: amongst us, in every way that can be conceived: it is a day of business or of pleasure to all ranks and orders of men [Note: Shops open, &c. &c.] — — — Amongst them, this solitary instance created universal indignation: the spectators instantly communicated the matter to the magistrates, and the magistrates instantly set themselves to stop the evil. But amongst us, with the exception of a few who sigh and mourn in secret, scarcely any regard the evil as of any consequence: the very name of an informer is deemed odious, so that no one chooses to incur the obloquy attached to it; and, if any were zealous and courageous enough to inform, there are but few magistrates who would not shrink back from the task of exercising the power with which they are armed. Such is the state of this nation; such the state of almost every town and village in it Who then does not see that this national evil calls for national humiliation?
But let us bring home the matter personally to ourselves. How many Sabbaths have we enjoyed, and yet how few have we kept in the way that God has required! A person that has attained to seventy years of age, has had no less than ten years of Sabbaths. What a time is this for securing the interests of the soul! And what a load of guilt has been contracted in all that time, merely from the one single offence of profaning the Sabbath-day! Brethren, we need indeed to lie low before God in dust and ashes. We have need to be thankful too that God’s wrath has not broken forth against us, and cut us off in the midst of our transgressions. Let us know how to estimate the forbearance we have experienced; and let “the goodness of our God lead us to repentance.”]
For holy vigilance—
[The ceremonial part of the Sabbath is done away; so that there certainly is a greater latitude allowed to us than was given to the Jews. We acknowledge also that works of necessity and of mercy supersede even those duties which are yet in force on that day. Our Lord himself has taught us to interpret in this view those memorable words of the prophet, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” But the moral part is as strongly in force as ever. To have the mind exercised on spiritual subjects, and occupied in advancing the interests of our souls, is our bounden duty. It was the work of the Sabbath even in Paradise; and therefore must continue to be our duty still. If it existed two thousand years before the ceremonial law was given, it can never be vacated by the abrogation of that law. Would we know distinctly the duties of the Sabbath, the prophet Isaiah has, negatively at least, informed us: “Thou shalt call the Sabbath a Delight: thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words [Note: Isaiah 58:13-14.].” We are to lay aside all the cares and pleasures of the world, and to seek all our happiness in God, and in his immediate service. Even common conversation should as much as possible be put aside, that the mind may be wholly occupied in the service of our God. Now this requires much care and vigilance. The more decent amongst us are ready to think, that, if they attend the house of God once or twice, they have done all that is required of them: from a regard to the prejudices of mankind they abstain from some particular amusements; but they are not at all solicitous to make a due improvement of their time. But this by no means comes up to the injunctions of the prophet; nor will it ever be regarded by God as a just observation of the Sabbath. The instructing of our families, the teaching of poor children, the visiting of the sick, and many other exercises of benevolence, may find place on this day: but in a peculiar manner we are called to secret meditation and prayer: we should study the Holy Scriptures, and examine our own hearts, and endeavour to keep ourselves in readiness to give up our account to God. Let the consideration of the guilt which we contract by spending our Sabbaths in another way, put us upon this: and let every Sabbath that shall be continued to us be so improved, that it may advance our spiritual state, and help forward our preparation for our eternal rest.]
THE USE AND INTENT OF FRINGES ON THEIR GARMENTS
Numbers 15:37-41. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments, throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart, and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.
A VERY principal distinction between the Christian and Jewish codes is this; that our laws are given in broad, general, comprehensive principles; whereas theirs descended to the most minute particulars, even such as we should have been ready to conceive unworthy the notice of the Divine Lawgiver. There was scarcely any occupation in life, respecting which there was not some precise limit fixed, some positive precept enjoined. If they ploughed, they must not plough with an ox and an ass. If they sowed their ground, they must not sow divers kinds of seeds. If they reaped, they must not reap the corners of their field. If they carried their corn, they must not go back for a sheaf that they had left behind. If they threshed it, they must not muzzle the ox that trod it out. If they killed their meat, they must pour the blood upon the ground. If they dressed it, they must not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk. If they ate it, they must not eat the fat. If they planted a tree, they must not eat of the fruit for four years. If they built a house, they must make battlements to its roof. So, if they made a garment, they must put upon it a fringe with a ribband of blue. This last ordinance, it may be thought, like all the other ceremonies, being abrogated, is quite uninteresting to us. But, if we consider it attentively, we shall find it by no means uninstructive. It shews us,
The end which we ought to aim at—
That, for which the use of the fringe was appointed to the Jews, is equally necessary for us; namely, to preserve continually upon our minds a sense of,
Our duty to God—
[We are told to “walk in the fear of the Lord all the day long.” For this purpose we should have the commandments of God ever, as it were, before our eyes. It is not unuseful to have habitually some short portion of the word of God, some one precept or promise, for our meditation through the day, especially at those intervals when the mind has nothing particular to engage its attention. The expediency of such an habit appears from the text itself: for, if we have nothing good at hand for our meditations, “the eye and the heart” will furnish evil enough. In our unconverted state we uniformly, as God himself expresses it, “go a whoring after these:” our affections are estranged from God, and our thoughts from time to time fix on some vanity which our eyes have seen, or on some evil which our own wicked heart has suggested. How desirable were it, instead of having our minds thus occupied, to have them filled with heavenly contemplations; to be searching out our duty; to be examining our own hearts in relation to it; and to be inquiring continually wherein we can make our profiting to appear!]
Our obligations to him—
[How strong and energetic are the expressions in our text respecting this! “I am your God: I have redeemed you in order that I might be so to the utmost possible extent: and I consider all that I am, and all that I have, as yours.” If these mercies, as far as they were vouchsafed to the Jews, deserved to be had in continual remembrance, how much greater cause have we to remember them; we, who have been redeemed, not from Egypt, but from hell itself; and not by power only, but by price, even by the precious blood of God’s only-begotten Son; and who have such an interest in God, that he not merely dwells amongst us, but in us, being one with us, as he is one with Christ himself [Note: John 15:5; Joh 17:21-23 and 1 Corinthians 6:17.]! Methinks, instead of finding it difficult to turn our minds to this subject, it may well appear strange that we can for a moment fix them upon any thing else. Were we day and night to “meditate on the loving-kindness of our God, our souls would be filled as with marrow and fatness, and our mouth would praise him with joyful lips [Note: Psalms 63:3-6.].”]
The ordinance before us goes further still, and prescribes,
The means by which we are to obtain it—
True it is that no distinctions in dress are prescribed to us: the ordinance in this respect is annulled. But, as a means to an end, the appointment of the fringe may teach us,
To make a spiritual improvement of sensible objects—
[This was the direct intent of the fringes on their garments: they were as monitors, to remind the people of their duty and obligations. And why may not we receive similar admonitions from every thing around us? Has not our blessed Lord set us the example? For instance, What part of husbandry is there which he has not made a source of spiritual instruction? the ploughing, the sowing, the weeding, the growth, the reaping, the carrying, the winnowing, the destruction of the chaff, and the treasuring up of the wheat, are all improved by him in this view. There are some things also which he has expressly ordained to be used for this end. What is the water in baptism, but to remind us of “the answer of a good conscience towards God [Note: 1 Peter 3:21.]?” What are the bread and wine in the Lord’s supper, but to be signs to us of his body broken, and his blood shed, for the sins of the whole world? We acknowledge that those things only which he has appointed to be signs, are of necessity to be used as such; but we are at liberty to use every thing in that view; and so far from its being superstitious to do so, it is highly reasonable and proper to do it: it then only becomes superstitious, when it is rested in as an end, or used as a mean for an end which it has no proper tendency to effect. Some have been offended with the use of the cross in baptism: and if it were intended as any kind of charm, they might well be offended with it: but it is, as the Liturgy expresses it, “a token that hereafter the child shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified:” and, if it serve to impress the minds of the sponsors in that light, it is well: if it do not, the fault is not in it, but in them. The same may we say in reference to the names, the titles, and the habits that are in use amongst us. Our Christian name, as it is called, should never be mentioned without bringing to our remembrance him, “whose we are, and whom we are bound to serve.” The titles which are given to men, either on account of their rank in society, or of their consecration to the sacred office of the ministry, may well be improved for that end for which they were originally given; not merely to shew to others what respect was due to the individuals, but to shew to the individuals themselves what might justly be expected of them, and what their rank and office required: the one should maintain his honour unsullied; the other should be so heavenly in his deportment as to constrain all to revere him. In this view, the use of the surplice was doubtless well intended; and happy would it be if all who wear it were reminded, as often as they put it on, how pure and spotless they ought to be, both in their hearts and lives. The very sight of a lofty church should remind us, that we are temples of the living God; whilst the spire pointing upwards, may well direct us to lift up our hearts to God.
Let us not be misunderstood. We contend not for any of these things as necessary; but we learn from our text that they may be rendered subservient to a blessed end, and that it is our privilege to make every thing around us a step towards heaven.]
To get the law itself written in our hearts—
[Whilst the fringes had in themselves a practical use, they were also emblematical of benefits which were to be more fully bestowed under the Christian dispensation. As a sign they are abolished: but the thing signified remains in undiminished force. What the thing signified was, we are at no loss to determine: it was, that the law, of which a visible memorial was to be worn by the Jews, was to be inscribed in lively characters on our hearts. To this effect Moses speaks repeatedly, when giving directions respecting those other memorials of the law, which were to be worn on the forehead, and on the neck, and arms: “These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes [Note: Deuteronomy 6:6-9.].” And again, “Ye shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul [Note: Deuteronomy 11:18-20. See also Proverbs 3:3.].” Hence the real design of God even as it respected them, and much more as it respects us, is evident. Moreover, God has promised this very thing to us, as the distinguishing blessing of the new covenant: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts [Note: Jer 31:33 with Hebrews 8:10.].”
Now this is the true way to attain that constant sense of our duty and obligations to God, which have been before mentioned. For, if his law be written on our hearts, we shall find the same disposition to meditate upon it, as a covetous man does to meditate upon his gains, and an ambitious man on his distinctions. It is true, the heart has more to struggle with in the one case than the other; but, in proportion as divine grace prevails, holy exercises will be easy and delightful.]
To exhibit that law in our lives—
[The fringe was a distinction which shewed to every one of what religion they were. Thus there is a singularity which we also are to maintain: we are to be “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” If others will not walk with us in the narrow path of holiness, it is not our fault that we are singular, but theirs: we are no more blameable for differing from them, than Noah, Lot, Daniel, or Elijah, were for differing from the people amongst whom they lived. As to singularity in dress, it is rather to be avoided than desired. Our distinctions must be found only in the conformity of our lives to the word of God. Whilst the world are clad in gay attire, let us “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and be “clothed with humility:” yea, let us “put off the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.” This is the way to honour God; and the more we strive to adorn our holy profession, the more peace and happiness we shall enjoy in it. In a word, holiness is our fringe: let us wear it: let us not be ashamed of it, but rather endeavour to “make our light to shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven.” Of course, I must not be understood to recommend any thing like ostentation: that is hateful both to God and man: but a bold, open, manly confession of Christ crucified is the indispensable duty of all who are called by his name: and “if we deny him, he will assuredly deny us.” I say then again, let us wear the fringe, and not indulge a wish to hide it. But let us be careful that “the ribband be of blue:” it must not be of any fading colour: our piety must be uniform in all places, and unchanging under all circumstances. We must be the same in the world as in the house of God. We must be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;” and then we are assured, that “our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Numbers 15". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter