« VorigeDoorgaan »
him. He collected a considerable number of people in the vicinity to attend on his ministry. Some it is probable, were captivated by the novelty of his ceremonies—some might be pleased with the idea of having a priest so near them—some perhaps admired his great sanctity and indifference to the world; for he had only his victuals and clothes, and ten shekels by the year; and Micah paid him all this—And he might also have some popular talents: He seems to have had a strong and vehement utterance, and a peculiar tone of voice. For the Danites heard and recognised him as they passed along in the street. It is said, “They knew his voice."
These adventurers, having searched the land whither they were sent, returned with a favourable account, which encouraged the tribe to begin a plantation there. For this purpose, there were raised six hundred men in arms, who, conducted by the five spies, marched through the village, where Micah lived; and, being informed of the silver images, and other religious utensils in his house, they concerted a scheme to rob it. The armed men, drawn up at the gate, sent in the five spies, who, being considered as friends, were received without suspicion. They immediately took the images, ephod and teraphim, and carried them out to their brethren at the gate. The priest, surprised at the freedom of his old friends, began to expostu. late. But they soon satisfied him. “Hold thy peace;” say they, “lay thy hand on thy mouth; go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man ; or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and family in Israel ?”—“And the priest's heart was glad : He took the ephod, teraphim and images, and went away in the midst of the people.”
This is that priest, for whose sake, Micah knew, the Lord would do him good !
When the Young man was wandering about for a subsistence, he thought a little would suffice him. His food and raiment, with a few shekels for con. tingencies, he esteemed a decent provision; and at first "he was content." But when he found that he grew more important, he began to aspire after greater things. To be a priest in a small village, on a moderate maintenance, and for this to be de, pendent on a single man, was now too humiliating. As soon as he heard the proposal of an advantageous translation, “ his heart was glad.” He accepted. the offer without hesitation ; and into his own hallowed hands he received the sacred images, which had been violently taken out of Micah's chapel, and kare them triumphantly away in the midst of the armed ruffians.
These Danites soon built a city on their new plantation ; here they set up their stolen images; this Levite became their priest, and his sons succeeded him.
In vain Micah collected his neighbours, and pursues the robbers. In vain he exclaims, “ Ye have taken away my gods and the priest ; and, What have I more ?" They answered, “Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life.”—" When he saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to liis house.” And glad he was to es. cape so.
What thinks Micah now of his vagrant priest ?As heavenly and disinterested as he was, he could leave his small charge for a more lucrative settlement,
Perhaps he thought, that his abilities were here too much confined, and that his labours would be more useful in a larger sphere. But could he, on this principle, be justificd in joining to rob his patron's chapel.
Though he professed to enjoy a heavenly intercourse, and to receive divine responses, yet, in this case, he never asked counsel of God or man. The call was clear there was no room to deliberate-a richer living presented itself, and his former contract was at end.
Micah must, by this time be ashamed of his rash confidence in a stranger.
Leaving him now to his own reflections, we will animadvert, a moment, on these Danites.
Being about to form a new settlement, they determined to have some kind of religious worship among them. Whether it was rational, or idolatrous -instituted by God, or invented by man, they were not solicitous; but some form or other they would have.
They seem to have been but an ignorant collection. They probably had neglected the stated worship of God in Shiloh, and hence were more easily seduced to idolatry. None are so liable to error and delusion, as they who despise the orders of God's house. Among these you will always see impostors the most busy and the most successful. They seldom practise their arts on those, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. That christians may hold fast their profession without wavering, the Apostle advises, that they forsake not the assembling of themselves together.
These Danites, in their zeal for religion, robbed Micah's chapel, and seduced his chaplain ; and, when he complained of the wrong, they threatened his life. Did they think, that God was pleased on: ly with external forms—that he had no regard to justice, truth and mercy ?-We condemn their conduct. But is there nothing like it to be seen among christians ?---If we tear in pieces one church
in order to build up another-if we cause divisions and separations in one religious society in order to collect out of it another of our own complexion and denomination, when, at the same time, we profess substantially to agree in doctrine and practice with the society, which we thus disturb; we act precisely in the spirit of these Danites, who robbed Micah's chapel, that they might furnish their own ; stole his image, that they might worship it themselves, and enticed away his priest, that they might enjoy his ministrations.
Religion is a matter of most serious importance, and we are to act in it with engagedness and zeal. But it is a reasonable, selfconsistent service, and our zeal must be honest and peaceable. We may no moré lie to make Gad's truth and glory abound, than to make our own wealth and honour abound, He hates robbery, as much for an offering on his altar, as for an offering at the shrine of ambition and avarice. If fraud and artifice, duplicity and injus. tice are criminal in their nature, we cannot change their nature by applying them to a godly design.
The substance of religion consists in righteous. ness, mercy, truth and the love of God. To promote these, is the proper use of all instituted forms of worship. If we maintain our favorite forms at the expense of real virtues, we invert the order of things; our devotion becomes superstition, and our religious worship resembles the idolatry of the Danites.
We see, in the case before us, the importance of a strict adherence to the order of God's house, When once we depart from this, we know not how far we shall run, nor how many we shall draw along
Let us only consider, how idolatry began and spread in the land of Israel. It was first suggested
by a woman to her son. He set it up in his own house, and withdrew from the tabernacle of God, After a while he called in a straggling Levite and consecrated him for a priest. By the influence of this unprincipled Levite the families in the vicinity were corrupted. By and by the man carried his idols and superstition ito tlie tribe of Dan. There they continued for a number of years, even all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh. After idol. atry seemed to be suppressed, there was still in this tribe, an inclination to favour it. When Jeroboam set up his golden calves, he placed one in Dan, as the tribe which would most readily receive it. Dan, in allusion to the old serpent, who brought sin into the world, is called “a serpent in the way, and an adder in the path, which biteth the horse's heels, so that his rider falleth backward." This revolt proved the ruin of the nation. No warnings of the prophets, or judgments of heaven would reclaim thein, until they were given up to a captivity of seventy years,
As the tribe of Dan had the principal influence in the introduction and support of idolatry in the earthly Canaan, so when the hundred and forty and four thousand were sealed out of the tribes of Is. rael, as licirs of the heavenly Canaan, this tribe was utterly excluded.
Who would have expected such lasting and extensive mischief from an error, which began in a private family, and was suggested by an obscure woman ?
Important is the Apostle's caution to the Hebrew's “Look diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defied."
Never let us venture to violate the plain institutions of God, nor to substitute in their place the inventions of men. We are only then to hope for his blessing, when we sock it in the way of his ap.