Acts 7:39
But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
St. Stephen's DefenceG. T. Sokes, D. D.Acts 7:1-53
Stephen's Address in the SanhedrimR.A. Redford Acts 7:1-53
Stephen's Answers to the Charge of Blasphemy Against GodG. V. Lechler, D. D.Acts 7:1-53
Stephen's DefenceDean Alford.Acts 7:1-53
Stephen's DefenceD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 7:1-53
Stephen's TestimonyW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 7:1-53
The Defence of StephenJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 7:1-53
The Earliest Appearance of God to AbrahamBp. Jacobsen.Acts 7:1-53
The High Priest and His QuestionBp. Jacobson.Acts 7:1-53
The Recital of a Nation's Spiritual PedigreeP.C. Barker Acts 7:1-53
Stephen's DefenseR. Tuck Acts 7:2-53
The Divine and the HumanW. Clarkson Acts 7:20-39
Beauty a Divine TalentDr. Wogan.Acts 7:20-43
Beauty, its CriterionLord Greville.Acts 7:20-43
Human Learning Recommended from the Example of MosesW. Berriman, D. D.Acts 7:20-43
Moses and ChristK. Gerok.Acts 7:20-43
Moses' BeautyActs 7:20-43
Moses' EducationF. W. Robertson, M. A.Acts 7:20-43
Moses, a Man of God and a Man of the PeopleK. Gerok.Acts 7:20-43
Moses, a Pattern of God's Chosen InstrumentsK. Gerok.Acts 7:20-43
Moses, a True ReformerK. Gerok.Acts 7:20-43
ProvidenceK. Gerok.Acts 7:20-43
The Training of MosesK. Gerok.Acts 7:20-43
Virtue Necessary to BeautyActs 7:20-43
Moses, and Israel's Bearing Towards Him: a Figure of ChristE. Johnson Acts 7:35-43
Making an IdolH. J. Bevis.Acts 7:39-45
The Fascination of EgyptCanon Liddon.Acts 7:39-45
The Folly of IdolatryW. Denton, M. A.Acts 7:39-45
The Sin of IsraelJ. W. Burn.Acts 7:39-45
The Tabernacle of WitnessW. Denton, M. A.Acts 7:39-45
The Witness in the WildernessE. Paxton Hood.Acts 7:39-45
Sin and RighteousnessW. Clarkson Acts 7:39-50
These verses suggest to us some thoughts on the nature and the award of sin and of righteousness.

I. THAT SIN LIES IN THE WRONG ACTION OF THE SOUL. (Vers. 39, 40.) Stephen says that the children of Israel "in their hearts turned back again into Egypt;" they were as guilty before God as if they had actually faced round and marched back into bondage. The sin was in the spirit of disloyalty and disobedience which dwelt within them. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:19). "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). It is the secret thought, the hidden motive, the cherished purpose, the lingering desire, the burning passion, that constitutes the essence of the evil in the sight of him who looketh on the heart, and not on the outward appearance. Beneath a fair exterior some men hide a false and guilty heart; beneath a broken and faulty behavior others have a soul that is struggling on and out - on to a better life, out of the entanglements of an evil but regretted and repudiated past.

II. THAT SIN'S WORST PENALTY IS PAID IN THE SPIRITUAL DETERIORATION IN WHICH IT ENDS. (Vers. 41-43.) For their rebelliousness the children of Israel were punished by being made to wander in the wilderness, instead of being at once admitted to their inheritance; also by being subjected to the rule of foolish and faulty kings like Saul, instead of wise and righteous prophets like Samuel; also by being sent away into captivity, even "beyond Babylon." But the worst effect of their sin was in their being led into darker and more aggravated evil. Their culpable impatience - "We wot not what is become of him" - led them to an act of positive idolatry: "Make us gods go before us;" and "they made a calf... and offered sacrifice unto the idol;" and this act of theirs led on, in course of time, to idolatrous actions more flagrant and. heinous still (ver. 42); and their wrong-doing culminated in the worship of Moloch, an iniquity of the very deepest dye. This is the course and penalty of sin. One wrong act leads to another and a worse; one sin to a number of transgressions; and these to a habit of iniquity; and this to a dark, baneful life and a hateful and odious character. By far the worst penalty which sin has to pay is the spiritual damage and deterioration to which it leads - the blinded eyes of the understanding, the weakened will, the enfeebled conscience, the masterful unbridled passions, the foul soul. Suffering of body, exile, loss of worldly prospects, the death of the body, - all these are nothing to this spiritual ruin.

III. THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS IS AN EARNEST ASPIRATION AND ENDEAVOUR AFTER GOD AND GOODNESS. (Vers. 44-46.) It does not consist in the possession of privilege; otherwise the fathers of the Jewish race - having "the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness" and afterwards in the land where the Gentiles were driven out before them (ver. 45), all things having been made "according to the fashion" which Moses had seen - would assuredly have been godly and holy men. True human righteousness is rather found in such Godward aspiration and endeavor as we find in David, the man "who found favor before God" (ver. 46). And how came he to enjoy this Divine regard? Not because he was faultless in behavior - we could wish he had been far less blameworthy in certain particulars than he was - but because he strove earnestly to worship and serve God, repenting bitterly when he sinned, struggling on again with contrite spirit, continually seeking to gain God's will from his Word, and honestly endeavoring, spite of inward imperfection and outward temptation, to do what he knew to be right. This is human goodness; not angelic purity, not flawless rectitude, but earnest seeking after the true and good, hating the evil into which it is betrayed, casting itself on Goal's mercy for the past, facing the future with devout resolve to put away the evil thing and walk in the paths of righteousness and integrity.

IV. THAT THE CONSOLATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS IN THE NEARNESS OF GOD TO OUR SPIRIT. (Vers. 47-50.) David was not permitted to "build an house for the Lord." It was a deep disappointment to him, but he had a very real consolation. God was near to him everywhere. Was he not, indeed, much nearer to the father who did not build the house, than to the son who did? David might have written (if he did not), "I am continually with thee" (Psalm 73:23). "The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (ver. 48), and though we do not build him costly and splendid sanctuaries, though we should be deprived of the opportunity of meeting him in his house at all, yet when we survey "all these things" his hand has made and is sustaining, we may feel that he is at our right hand, and that we stand "before the Lord." Nay, if we be "in Christ Jesus," we know that, though no magnificent temple can contain him, he dwells abidingly within our hearts, to sustain and to sanctify us. - C.

To whom our fathers would not obey.

1. Disobedience (ver. 39). There is hardly a phase of Jewish history in which this sin does not appear. It was manifested in the murmurings against Moses, in the wholesale transgression of the law, and in the rejection of the prophets. This is a crime which provokes universal reprobation as against parents; how sad that it should be so universally prevalent, and so loudly extenuated as against God.

2. Ingratitude. They were free, yet they hankered after the poor emoluments of their servitude. They preferred the succulent products of Egypt with slavery to the hard fare of the wilderness and liberty. Nay, even after their instalment in the land flowing with milk and honey, the fascinations of Egypt proved well nigh-irresistible. This was a poor return to God who, in response to their groanings (ver. 34), granted them the deliverance for which they cried. And are there no similar hankerings after, and even conformity to, the present evil world from which Christians have been redeemed?

3. Idolatry. This was the crowning sin and had its marked stages. They worshipped(1) "The works of their own hands" (ver. 41), an imitation of Apis, perhaps, a god of the land from which they came.(2) The works of God's hands (ver. 42), the gods of the surrounding nations, honouring the creature instead of the Creator.(3) Devils (ver. 43). When men renounce the living and true God there is no knowing whom they may be prepared to honour. There are the same stages in the idolatry of modern Christian lands. Men worship

(a)Their own fabrications — wealth, social position, fashion, pleasure, etc.

(b)God's creatures — natural beauty, others, themselves.

(c)Devils. There is not a vice before which some men are not prostrate.

II. ITS AGGRAVATIONS. Israel sinned in spite of —

1. The presence and imperial influence of Moses, their mighty leader and God's appointed vicegerent. And so men sin to-day notwithstanding the presence and authority of Christ whom Moses typified (ver. 37), and the influence, strivings, and convictions of the Holy Spirit.

2. The theocracy, "the church in the wilderness" (ver. 38), and its visible centre and symbol "the tabernacle of witness" (ver. 44). They were, however faithless, the people with whom God had entered into solemn covenant, and their periodical services in the tout of meeting were a virtual acknowledgment of the fact that the covenant was still binding. So men sin to-day, notwithstanding the existence, great services, and wide-reaching influence of the Church of Christ, whose origin, nature, history, and destiny are a standing witness for God and against sin, and in spite of churches, visible symbols of the invisible Church.

3. The "lively oracles" which protested against iniquity in all its forms, and were meant to creates encourage, and guide in the life of righteousness. These oracles have since been multiplied and are now completed. They contain all that is needful to give and sustain life, and have the promise of both the life that now is and that which is to come. Yet men sin and doom themselves to death.

4. The most palpable manifestations of God's severity and goodness. Surely one would have thought that the plagues and the overthrow of Pharaoh were sufficient to deter from crime, and that their own precious deliverance and support would have encouraged obedience. Those who so argue forget that all history teems with the same manifestations, and yet men sin.


1. Their sins. Their idolatry was at once their crime and their punishment (ver. 42), and as their crimes increased so they held them in the iron chain of sinful habit which grew in strength and intolerableness as the years passed by. "Be sure your sin will find you out," in the misery of a God-forsaken and degraded manhood.

2. The wilderness wandering. Those who murmur against God's dealings with them, and despise the grace which mitigates and blesses the rigour of those dealings, shall be condemned to endure them without alleviation. The Christian's way may be hard — but so is "the way of transgressors." The difference consists in God's presence with the one and His absence from the other. Surely this is enough to make the former a way of pleasantness and a path of peace.

3. The Babylonish Captivity (ver. 43). When the nation cast God off, God cast it off. Eventually Israel showed its preference for the great world powers to Himself, and He handed them over to one of them. A respite came which was unimproved, and the destruction of Jerusalem sealed the fate of Judaism. Of what sinner is that the type as indicated by our Lord? (Matthew 24.-25.).

(J. W. Burn.)

Throughout his speech Stephen treats the early history of Israel, as the French say, "allusively," — he talks about the past while he is thinking of the present. Here he implies that the Jews who rejected our Saviour were turning away from the true meaning of God's revelation to Moses into a time of comparative darkness — a mental and a moral Egypt from which they had been in a fair way altogether to escape. Let us consider —


1. This appears even before the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea. It was the fascination at once of terror and of admiration. As they passed out from the fertile lands into the desert, their thoughts reverted to the vast burial-ground above Memphis, along the ridge of the desert. "Is it," they cried, "because there were no graves in Egypt that thou hast taken us away to die in the wilderness?... It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians." "It was well with us," they cried at Taberah, "in Egypt." "Would to God," they exclaimed at the report of the spies, "that we had died in the land of Egypt," etc. This fascination appears later on. It is seen in Solomon's marriage; in the welcome which Jeroboam seeks of the Egyptian court: in the tendency, rebuked by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, to "trust in the shadow of Egypt." Egypt became the home of a large colony of Greek-speaking Hebrews, and the descendants of the patriarchs counted for more in Alexandria of the Ptolemys than in Rameses of the Pharaohs.

2. This fascination is the more remarkable because the treatment which Israel experienced was frequently cruel, always unscrupulous. The patriarchs, indeed, had been welcomed by the usurping "Shepherd Kings," who welcomed all Asiatics as strengthening their position in a country which they ruled with difficulty. Of these, the Pharaoh Apepi, the friend of Joseph, was the last. He had scarcely passed away when the subject-rulers of Thebes, after a great struggle, expelled the Shepherd Kings. In the eyes of these new rulers the Israelites were not guests who had been invited to become subjects: they were the foreign dependents of a detested and expelled dynasty. Not one, but a long line of kings, "knew not Joseph." The eighteenth dynasty, including that greatest of Egyptian conquerors, Thothmes III., whose obelisk now stands on the Thames Embankment, reigned for two hundred years, and passed away, before the great heat of the oppression began with the third king of the nineteenth dynasty, Rameses

II. And as Egypt endeavoured to crush the children of the patriarchs, so in a later day Egypt shattered the work of David and Solomon. It was at the Egyptian court that Jeroboam matured his schemes. It was the Egyptian Shishak who plundered Jerusalem and then engraved the story of his triumph on the walls of Karnak, where, in confirmation of the Bible narrative, it may be seen and read at this very day. Not to mention the invasion of Judah by Zerah, who was defeated by Asa, it may here suffice to recall the defeat and death of Josiah at the hands of Pharaoh Necho. Certainly, for reasons of her own, which were apparent enough two generations later, Egypt was prepared to assist Hezekiah against Sennacherib; but, on the whole, her treatment of the chosen people was anything but friendly. Yet; for all that, again and again during the long course of their history, Israel's heart "turned back again into Egypt."


1. The productiveness of Egypt due to the Nile, which washes down a rich soil from the highlands of Abyssinia. and this may illustrate the cry of the Israelites at Taberah (Numbers 11:5, 6). True they were on their way to a land flowing with milk and honest; a land where every man should sit "under his vine and fig tree," etc.; but for all that, the land of the Nile had, in their eyes, no rival. The flesh-pots of Egypt were, beyond all doubt, one cause of its attractiveness for the Hebrews.

2. The character of Egyptian civilisation. In Egypt human life was embellished with beauty and comfort such as would naturally impress a comparatively rude people like the Hebrews. When they became settled, and built cities and the Temple, everything was on a smaller and less splendid scale than they had left behind. Our grandest .cathedrals are dwarfed by the Hall of Columns in the temple at Karnak, and we have never even attempted to rival such structures as the pyramids. Many centuries before the exodus, kings, like Amenemha III., of the twelfth dynasty, established a complete system of dykes, canals, lakes, and reservoirs by which .the inundations of the Nile were regulated; or excavated vast artificial lakes like Moeris in Fayum to receive the overflowing waters, and so to secure a supply during the dry season for a vast extent of adjacent country. Egypt, too, long before Israel's sojourn there, had its literature and seats of learning; and On, or Heliopolis, the great temple of the setting sun, before which, originally, our obelisk on the Embankment stood, and where the 'patriarch Joseph married his wife Asenath, was also an university where Moses learned, as in a later age Plato and Eudoxus learned, all the wisdom of the Egyptians. It is impossible to do more than touch the fringe of this vast subject. When an Indian chief was asked why he did not join in the mutiny, he said, "I have stood on London Bridge." And if an ancient Israelite could say, "I have stood on the ridge of the Libyan Desert, and have looked down on Memphis or on Thebes," it might explain the feeling with which the member of the less civilised race would have regarded that vast and elaborate civilisation.

3. Its antiquity. A veneration for antiquity is a natural and legitimate sentiment, and not to feel it is to lack some of the finer elements of a well.balanced mind. This veneration is felt not only by scholars, or poets, or historians, but by men of a very utilitarian turn of mind. Look at the Americans who come to visit us in increasing numbers every summer. What is it in England, or in Europe, that interests them most? Not our manufactures, shipping, or public works. In these they are always our rivals, and sometimes our superiors. That which attracts them is a possession which a people cannot buy with money, or compass by industry, since it is the gift of time. In their eyes, our older literature, our ancient towns, our castles, our parish churches, our cathedrals, have a charm which they sometimes lack in the eyes of Englishmen. It might almost seem that to know the value of an ancient past it were necessary to have no share in it. Israel, we may think, was sufficiently ancient, but as compared with Egypt, Israel was but of yesterday. Homer knew of no city in the world so great as the Egyptian Thebes with its hundred gates. Yet, when Homer wrote, Thebes had been declining for at least three centuries. And Thebes was modern when compared with Memphis, whoso pyramids were ancient structures in the time of Abraham, and inasmuch as such work implies a long course of preceding labour and training, there arises a vista of a yet higher antiquity, the limits of which it is impossible to conjecture.

4. Its religion. This had in it, like all pagan systems, some element of truth, and a large element of falsehood. The worship to which St. Paul refers when writing to the Romans, of "birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things," and which we still see in our museums, and on the walls of ruined temples, to us unintelligible and hideous, were but developments of a religious idea, which at first recognised the Deity everywhere in nature, and then identified Him with nature. In ancient Egypt a process went forward which may be observed in certain regions of modern thought: Theism sank to Pantheism, and Pantheism sank more and more nearly to the level of Fetichism. The Egyptians were always a naturally religious people. No people of the ancient world were so possessed with the idea of man's immortality. Their splendid tombs and pyramids were a perpetual profession of faith in a future after death. Israel felt the influence of this religion. We cannot mistake the influence of Egyptian models on the form of the temple, or the ark, or other details of the Levitical system. Here inspiration has selected what was good in heathendom, just as the first chapter of St. John's Gospel consecrates certain fragments of the language of the Platonic philosophy. Taken as a whole, the religion of Egypt was, with its many, and some of them debasing, errors, the religion of a great, serious people without a revelation; and as such it contributed one powerful element to the fascination which Egypt exerted over the mind of Israel. On two great occasions that power was apparent, with fatal effect. The first was when Aaron, in the absence of Moses on Mount Sinai, made a golden calf out of the earrings of the people. The second was when Jeroboam erected the two calves at Bethel and Dan, both doubtless suggested by the Egyptian worship of the sacred bulls, Apis and Mnevis. The influence of Egypt upon Israel might be traced in later ages, especially in Alexandria. Conclusion: Egypt as presented in Scripture is not mainly an historical study. When St. Stephen spoke, the Egypt of the Pharaohs had long forfeited independent existence. The Caesars who ruled it had but subjected its earlier conquerors. But the Egypt of spiritual experience which attracts souls by its manifold seductions to return to some mental or moral bondage — this Egypt always remains. The Psalmist couples Rahab with Babylon, and John with Sodom, as the mystic name of the great city of the ungodly world-power, "where also," he adds, "our Lord was crucified." Egypt is a standing type of this world-power, ever hostile to God; and from which, in all ages, elect souls must make their escape towards a land of promise, only, it may be, to reach that land after long wanderings in some intellectual or moral desert. Often to such will the past which they have renounced seem to them to be transfigured and idealised by memory. Often will they have misgivings whether the "better part" of Mary was not, for them at least, a Quixotic enterprise. Often will they be tempted, like Israel of old, in their hearts if not more decidedly still, "to turn back into Egypt"; for the Egypt from which the Israel of God escapes is, like its prototype, undeniably attractive. Perhaps it satisfies man's lower appetites; perhaps it addresses itself to his sense of beauty and refinement; and it has been in possession, more or less, ever since human society has existed at all. It even has a religion of its own, cleverly lowered down and adapted to the varied instincts of human nature. Referring to some who, under his own eyes, yielded to its seductive power, St. Peter speaks with peculiar plainness (2 Peter 2:20-22). How are we to escape its subtle power save by loyal devotion to Him who spoke to Israel by Moses, and who died for us upon the Cross? Surely no baits to the senses can compete with the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. Surely the richest embellishments of man's outward life must pale before Him who is the uncreated Beauty. The most remote antiquity is but a second of time when it is measured against the High and the Eternal. The most reassuring religion will fail us if it will not stand the judgment of that day, when "the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence." Let us learn to guard the issues of our hearts, convinced that He only has a right to our affections who has said not less solemnly of the redeemed in our age than of the Redeemer in another, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son."

(Canon Liddon.)

And they made a calf in those days
And who would ever have supposed it I when we remember how God had poured contempt on idols and idolaters; how they had been delivered, and how the visible symbol of the Divine presence was with them.

I. THE PECULIARITIES OF THIS SIN. Men abuse everything, even the divinest things. Idolatry is the corruption of religion — the substitution of the material for the spiritual, of the lie for the truth. It had irresistible attractions for the multitude; it appealed to their senses and was a system of solemn and splendid licentiousness. The Hebrews had become tainted with it in Egypt, and manifested a proneness to it on many occasions. This golden calf was the Apis of the mythology of Egypt, who was a representative god, not worshipped on its own account, but as a symbol of the chief and supreme divinity. This throws light on the conduct of the Israelites. Moses was the mediator of that economy. He had gone up to commune with God; but forty days and nights had passed away. The people were becoming uneasy and unbelieving; they felt that they were alone in the wilderness. They wanted some symbol of God; they would not have wanted this if they had had Moses; but having lost him, they made a calf. They did not renounce God — they introduced the unhallowed ideas and practices of Egyptian idolatry into the worship of Jehovah. Thus "they changed their glory" — that is, the invisible God — "into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass." The result was most debasing — "They sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." They practised their lascivious rites at the very base of Sinai. The idolater will be like his god, he can never rise beyond his standard of perfection, and when men become worshippers of an animal, they become animal themselves. Idolatry is the substitution of the human for the Divine — the symbol for the reality. There may be no image, and yet idolatry. In after times men trusted in the temple, and not in God. Men now may trust in churches; in the forms of religion, and not in God or the gospel. Men may put baptism in the place of regeneration, and the Lord's Supper in the place of salvation by Christ, and thus overlook all the great verities and realities of a spiritual religion.

II. THE PALLIATIVES OF SIN. Aaron professed simply to have cast the gold into the fire, and the unexpected result was this calf. Men have always excuses or subterfuges. They charge their sins on the devil, or hereditary taint, or constitutional peculiarity, or the force of circumstances. We admit all this; but you can defy all in God's name and strength. There had been preparation and design, and great care in fashioning the mould for the idol. So it is, by a long, painful process, we form habits; but these determine character. Your character has been fashioned and graven by a sharp instrument, and all your feelings, thoughts, and deeds, like fused metal, are poured into this mould, and come out bearing its form. Many a worldly man has said, "I never thought I should be what I am."

III. THE PARTNERSHIP IN SIN. It was Aaron's making, but their instigation. They made the calf that Aaron made. When legislators, to gratify the people, enact laws that are opposed to the will of God — when a teacher of truth comes down from his high position and panders to the tastes and prejudices of his hearers — when fathers and mothers listen to the caprice and self-will of their children — in all these instances there is partnership. It is a fearful thing this. You may have moulded some character. Other men's sins may be yours. You originated them — helped them to the birth. When they were born, they grew into fearful forms without you. They are yours, however, you are partakers of other men's sins.

IV. THE REPRODUCTIVENESS OF SIN. Ages have rolled by. The people have entered the goodly land. There has been the reign of David, the golden age of Solomon. Once more the cry of the wilderness is heard, the echoes of which have slept for centuries — "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." There had been the division of the kingdom, and it was a master-stroke of policy on the part of Jeroboam to prevent the ten tribes going up to Jerusalem to worship. He felt that unity of worship would lead to unity of feeling. The people, however, must have a religion, and so he falls back on the calf worship. The people are taught that that worship cannot be wrong which had been devised and framed by the high priest in the wilderness. And so the sin lives again, and is reproduced. Sin is like some fearful taint which has been latent for generations, but suddenly manifests itself with new power. Conclusion: We are leaving far behind the forms of an old idolatry; getting beyond the worship of the laws and powers of nature, but the creature worship lives, and comes between Christianity and the world.

1. Men may make an idol of self. There is no form of idolatry more debasing and deadly.

2. Men may make an idol of their physical nature. How much time do many of you spend in dressing up life as if it were a god. And there are others who say, "What shall we eat, and what shall we drink," as well as "wherewithal shall we be clothed." All their attention is concentrated on the physical. I have read of vines in Italy that cling to some strong tree and clasp it for support, but they suppress all its manifestations of life by the growth of their own. So the very strength and wondrous energy of our spiritual natures may give intense power to physical sins.

3. What is the idol men worship in this country? Is it not a golden one? "Keep yourselves from idols."

(H. J. Bevis.)

"My father," said a convert to a missionary in India, "was an officiating priest of a heathen temple, and was considered in those days a superior English scholar, and, by teaching the English language to wealthy natives; realised a large fortune. At a very early period, when a mere boy, I was employed by my father to light the lamps in the pagoda, and attend to the various things connected with the idols. I hardly remember the time when my mind was not exercised on the folly of idolatry. These things, I thought, were made by the hand of man, can move only by man, and, whether treated well or ill, are unconscious of either. Why all this cleaning, anointing, illuminating etc.? One evening these considerations so powerfully wrought on my youthful mind that, instead of placing the idols according to custom, I threw them from their pedestals and left them with their faces in the dust. My father, on witnessing what I had done, chastised me so severely as to leave me almost dead. I reasoned with him that, if they could not get up out of the dust, they were not able to do what I could, and that, instead of being worshipped as gods, they deserved to lie in the dust where I had thrown them. He was implacable, and vowed to disinherit me, and, as the first step to it, sent me away from his house. He repented on his death-bed, and left me all his wealth." Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch. — Moloch, the king of gods, from Malek, king, or from "Melkarth" at Tyre, "the god of the city," and Saturn, or the Sun, are the same as Baal, or Baal Samen, "the Lord of heaven," in Phoenicia. In 1 Kings 11:5-7, the name occurs under the forms of Moloch and Milcom, and is there spoken of as the abomination of the Ammorites. The worship of the deity was, as the names by which the idol was known in various countries will show, widely diffused. It was, in its origin at least, a kind of Sub,an worship, and hence the seven cavities in the image, and the seven chapels of its temple, in reference to the seven planets of the ancient cosmogony. That Baal and Moloch are one is evident not only from the characteristics of the god and his worship, but from Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35. He was a god of terror and destruction: the god of consuming fire, the burning sun, the god who smites the land with unfruitful-ness and pestilence, dries up the springs, and begets poisonous winds. See with reference to these characteristics 1 Kings 18.; where even his prophets are representing as in vain invoking him when the land was suffering from drought, and note the answer of Jehovah to Elijah in vers. 44, 45. The most acceptable sacrifice to this god was little children. The idol had a bull's head, and his arms were outstretched. On these arms when glowing hot the victims were laid by their parents, and when, writhing from the heat of the metal, they rolled off, they fell into the flames below. Drums drown the cries of the children, and hence the place of sacrifice was called Zophet — a drum. Besides children animals Were offered, sheep, lambs, bulls, and even horses.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

It was so called —

1. Because of the ark which contained the tables of the law which were a perpetual witness between God and the people. A witness against them if they disobeyed, a witness for them if they obeyed — a standing evidence that they were entitled to its promises.

2. Because when Moses, or the high priest afterwards, would know the will of God, and went into the tabernacle, they there obtained an answer in their perplexity, and thus received perpetual witness of His truth who revealed Himself in the tabernacle: a witness that all who desired an answer to prayer should seek God in His house, and a pledge that there they should receive His guidance.

3. The tabernacle was in itself, as it stood before the eyes of the people, a witness to all His mercies whose tabernacle it was, a witness that He had delivered His people, and commanded them to serve Him.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

I. OUR FATHERS HAD THE TABERNACLE. They had it moving as well as resting. I know not what ancient story or wondrous myth can approach in majesty the record of that long, tedious, and sacred march, imagination quite fails in the attempt adequately to realise either the moving or the resting. There are those who believe that those mystic inscriptions on the red rocks of Sinai date from that very time. Who will dare to say that it is not so — the whole story heaves with miracle. There was the mysterious shrine; it was, as the word literally translated means, a house of skins; but within were the palpitations of ineffable splendour, heraldries which accumulated in wealth as the pilgrims advanced on their journey. The tabernacle rested, surrounded by the tents of the tribes, and the pillar of cloud rested over the shrine. Probably many of the journeyings were accomplished during the night. Then, in the advance of the tabernacle, moved first the tents of Ephraim and Manasseh, with the sacred sarcophagus, enshrining the bones of the great Patriarch Joseph, strange and weird monument of his faith in the ultimate destiny of the exiled nation; and then as the strange caravan began to move, would rise the cry, "Thou that dwellest between the cherubim shine forth," and the pillar of the white cloud became a fixed red flame, a fire shooting forth a guiding light. So onward they passed until the Jordan was passed, then the tabernacle of testimony rested on the heights of Shiloh.

II. BUT IT WAS ALL A PARABLE — a Divine shadow of that great invisible and spiritual society, the yet more mysterious Ecclesia, "the Church throughout all ages," on its mighty march through Time, with all its attendant omens and prodigies — for such is the Church everywhere a witness in the wilderness; such are all its varieties of ordinance. "Ye are My witnesses, saith God, that I am the Lord." It is the perpetual remonstrance against the sufficiency of the seen and temporal; it is a perpetual witness for the unseen and the eternal; it is a perpetual testimony for the existence of a spiritual perpetuity and continuity; it is a mysterious procession; infinite aspirations are infused into the soul of man. A transcendent idea; it is embodied and takes its shape ix what is called the Church. The tabernacle of testimony is the story of the Church and the soul — a witness for faith. The invincible assurance that all contradictions have interpretations, and that in all disappointments there lies latent a Divine satisfaction waiting to be born. Thus it is that we do not make our faith — our faith makes us, not we it. "By their fruits you know them." A world with no tabernacle of Divine testimony has a philosophy which only sees the worst, which goes on declaring its dreary monologue that this is the worst of all possible worlds, that sleep is better than waking; and death is better than sleep; a creed full of negatives, whose disciples carry a perpetual note of interrogation on their features, and who write and read books to propose the question, "Is life worth living?" — in the presence of such thoughts, the sky shuts down upon us, there is no motive in life — as Emerson well says, "this low and hopeless spirit puts out the eyes, and such scepticism is slow suicide."

(E. Paxton Hood.)

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