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istration of death was committed to flying serpents, from whose attacks there ^vas no escape, whom no swiftness could avoid, no defence exclude. When once they had found their victim, and inflicted their wound, the whole head became sick, and the whole heart faint : from the sole of the foot even unto the head, there was no soundness, but wounds, and bruises, andputrifying sores. Life was corrupted at the fountain: the blood ran polluted from the heart, and spread its defilement over the whole frame, until the sufferer sank beneath his malady; and much people of Israel died.
Behold then, the similitude of that serpent who aimed at the life of man, from the beginning, and whose venom has slain, even to the second and everlasting death, so many thousands of our race. Sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, Jhr that all have sinned. The justice of an offended God has permitted Satan and his ministers of ruin to go abroad among mankind. The fiery serpents are allowed to put forth their malignity; and to exert their efforts to destroy us for ever. The poison attacks the heart, corrupts it wholly, makes it "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." If the dreadful disease, with which sin would destroy the life of our souls be permitted to continue its ravage, and no other remedy be provided, than that which we are able to furnish and apply for ourselves, we must die beyond the reach of hope. The winged serpents could not more triumphantly choose their point of attack among the wretched Israelites, than Satan, with all his. temptations can find entrance into our minds and affections, to cherish the malignity of the besetting sin, until we feel it burning with some foretaste of the fire that never shall be quenched. The sting of death is sin. The very words of Jesus Christ, in which he declares himself the only, but almighty remedy for this disease, prove, that man, in his fallen guilty state, is in perishing circumstances; and, if the remedy be not discovered and applied, must die, and die for ever. O, what a dreary scene of woe and mourning must have been witnessed among the tribes and habitations of Israel, while the serpents were inflicting wounds as incurable, as. they were irresistible by human agency! Immeasurably more awful is the view taken by a believer in revelation of the scene around him, in which the serpent stings, the venom ferments in the soul; and, if the one only remedy be rejected, the sufferers cannot be saved. Lust when it is conceived bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. One difference indeed remains. The Israelite knew that he was bitten. The consuming fever within him bore its dreadful testimony to his danger, and made him flee to every remedy which medicine might possibly furnish, and skill suggest. He alas, whose soul has been bitten by the serpent, and within whom the poison of unpardoned and unmortified sin is doing its sad office, feels not the sting or the smart; but sleeps and slumbers on, in mournful insensibility of his peril. Thus as men are said to be fanned, and cooled, and kept in undisturbed repose, by that bird of prey, which, all the time, feeds upon their blood. Because we hear not the cry of an individual starting up from his destructive rest, and crying, "What must I do to be saved?" is it any proof that the work of death is not going forward in his soul? Far otherwise. It was no proof, that Jonah was an obedient prophet, a righteous servant of God, when he went down into the sides of the ship, and lay, and was fast asleep. It was no proof, that all was well with David, when his conscience slept in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. It was no proof, that God had not departed from Sampson, when his hair was shorn and his strength taken away, as he slumbered in the lap of Dalilah. Such states of insensibility rather furnish, mournful evidence that men are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; and, though far departed from God, from hope, from mercy, are yet crying, "Peace, peace," regardless of their distance and insensible of their danger. Never will those persons be in the way of recovery, until the convincing spirit of God shall shake off the stupor into which they are cast, and cry to one, "What meanest thou, O sleeper, arise, call upon thy God;" to another, "Thou art the man;" to a third, "The Philistines are upon thee"—and to every one of the secure and thoughtless slumberers, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Such was, in its measure and degree, the salutary alarm of these wretched Israelites. Their enemies were resistless, themselves subdued and helpless. The deaths of Kibroth-Hattaavah were repeated, and the graves of lust were again opened to receive them. No help, no hope, appeared among them. They fled therefore, to their only refuge. "They came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee: pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us; and Moses prayed for the people." Never yet did the prayer of such a mediation ascend to God, unheard and unaccepted. "The Lord will judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeththat their power is gone." "Israel cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands asunder." There was a balm in Gilead; there was a great physician there. One was among them who could heal the wound of his people, and restore those on whom the hand of death was already laid. "He was very gracious unto them, at the voice of their cry, when he heard it, he answered them," and wrought an astonishing deliverance in their behalf.
II. The Remedy which we have now to examine, was no less effectual in its operation, and significant in its character, than the malady which it was intended to remove.
The Lord made a full provision for the need of Israel. "He said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon apple: and it cams to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived." Surely this is a wonderful transaction. Surely this is a mode of repairing the mischief, so mysterious, that the mind is thrown back upon itself, and baffled in every attempt to fathom or explain the difficulty. A serpent of brass to heal the wound which the rankling