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sacrifice. In the interval, it was the intention of Balaam to practise some kinds of divinations or enchantments; thus strangely mingling the worship of the true God, and an appeal to his decision, with idle and superstitious ceremonies.
While preparing to commence them, or it may pe in their very midst, he was met by some manifestation of the divine presence; and immediately boasted of what he had been doing, in the way of offering up a costly sacrifice to the Lord. He perhaps intended by this, to urge with more hopes of success some plea in favor of Balak, and against the Israelitish hosts. But he was allowed no time for such requests. God directed him immediately to return to the king, and the words were given him which he was to speak. However disappointed and reluctant, he could not but obey., He felt the constraining mandate of Omnipotence resting upon him, and knew that resistance would be in vain.
Balak and the princes of Moab were standing by the altars in'anxious suspense, when they saw Balaam approaching. As he drew near to make known the result of his inquiry, what strange sounds burst upon their ear! What a conflict of emotions, what disappointed ambition, what mortified pride, must have agitated the breast of him who uttered them! What astonishment, what blasting of their hopes, what a fearful dread of the hosts that were encamped before them, must
they have felt who heard these portentous words.
Balak, the king of Moab, hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel. How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed ? or how shall I defy whom the Lord hath not defied ? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him : lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." (They shall be a peculiar, separate people.) “Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel. Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !"
Well might Balaam, for the moment consciencestruck, utter such a wish! Who does not long for peace
in death ? How do the wicked often tremble in view of that solemn event! Blessed only are the dead who die in the Lord.
My young friend, do you never make the wish of Balaam your own? Then live the life of the righteous, that you may die their death, Trust not to repentance on a death-bed. Of all hopes this is the most deceitful.
Balaam's prophecies. His character.
Balak was indignant at what Balaam had said, " What hast thou done unto me?" he exclaimed: "I took thee to curse mine enemies, and behold thou hast blessed them altogether.”
e Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth,” was the reply of Balaam. A noble answer, if he had but felt the true spirit of it in his heart. But see the base and mercenary motiveg which swayed him. At the request of the king, he went with him to another eminence, the top of Pisgah, whence only the most distant parts of the Israelitish camp were spread before him, the main body being concealed from his sight. Balak hoped, by this change of position to a spot where the imposing appearance of the combined hosts of his enemies would not dismay the heart of Balaam by their countless and formidable numbers, to induce him to change his purpose.
Seven altars were again erected; and similar sacrifices to the first being offered up, Balaam withdrew, as he said, to meet the Lord.
With his enchantments it was, that he still vainly hoped this
tine to ensure better success. Presumptuous man ! What a wonder that he did not sink beneath the stroke of divine vengeance on the spot! But God had his own purposes to answer in sparing the life of Balaam a little longer, and sent him back to the king, to pronounce a new blessing on the Israelites
"What hath the Lord spoken ?" was the anxious inquiry of Balak. He received the answer in a strain of inspired eloquence, which must have again overwhelmed him with disappointment and consternation. God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: bath he said, and shall he not do it ? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ? Behold, I have received commandment to bless : and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel.” (No idolatry or rebellion, or any conspicuous national sin, now appears among
them.) Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel : according to this time, it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, what hath God wrought !” (The present wonderful interposition of Jehovah in behalf of the Israelites, and his signal favors conferred upon them, are but the indications of the still greater things which he
is to do for them.) "Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion : he shall not lie down until he eat of the
prey, and drink the blood of the slain."
Balak, awe-struck, feared that the prophetic strain was not yet ended, and earnestly exclaimed ; "Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.” For could the voice of Balaam but cease to be entirely heard at the time, he would be satisfied.
• Told not I thee, saying, all that the Lord speaketh, that I must do ?" was the specious reply of Balaam, again endeavoring to exculpate himself from desiring to thwart the wishes of the king, by pleading the necessity that was laid upon him to follow the divine impulse.
When recovered a little from his alarm, the king of Moab returned again to his purpose ; nor was the infatuated Balaam to be deterred by all that had happened from complying with the request to go with Balak to Peor, another lofty summit of the mountains of Abarim. " Come," said he, "I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place ; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence."
It is difficult for us to form an adequate conception of the low and degrading views which these men must have had of the truth and dignity of Jehovah, to suppose that they could still prevail upon him, like a sinful mortal, to falsify his own word,