« 上一页继续 »
2. The lot is of use to determine questions among men.
Like the oath, it is a last resort. appeals to God for the sincerity of our declarations: the other for the direction of our choice. They are different forms of acknowledging his government, but the effect of both is the sameto put an end to controversy, by putting a limit to human research. Thus the scripture represents them
" An Oath,
"The LOT, For conformation, is Causeth contentions an end of all strife." to cease, and parteth Heb. vi. 16.
between the mighty." Prov. xviii. 18.
The parallel is exact, and leads to the second question,
When is the lot proper ?
In cases of importance; which cannot be decided by other means in the exercise of our reason; and for the prevention or termination of strife.
The case must be important; for appeals to the living God with thoughtless frequency, upon mere trifles, is an impiety which cannot be indulged with impunity, nor thought of without horror.
The case must not only be difficult, but such as our best discretion is unable to bring to a comfortable issue.
For if we appeal directly to the judgment of God in things which may be fairly and wisely settled without so appealing, we depreciate the value, by superseding the exercise of our rational faculties—we endeavor to disturb the order which God has established, subjecting the tribunal of human reason to the tribunal of his supremacy; inasmuch as we attempt to abolish the inferior tribunal by withdrawing causes which are of its proper jurisdiction ; and thus, impeaching his wisdom, not honoring his throne, we provoke him rather to inflict his curse than to command his blessing.
Cases in which the lot may lawfully be used, are such as these :
The division of property: when the portions of it are adjusted with impartiality and skill; and yet the claimants cannot agree upon the distribution. The appointment of men to a service of a peculiar interest or hazard; when more than the requisite number appear; and their respective qualifications or disqualifications are pretty equally balanced.
The selection of victims; when several, involved in the same crime, are under the same condemnation : but the government, leaning to mercy, and resolving to make an example, re
quires only a part to suffer, and does not name the individuals. The reader can easily add other illustrations.
I have only to answer the third question upon this head; viz.
How should the lot be conducted?
As it is an act of worship, the glorious majesty of Him with whom they have to do, should be present to the minds of the worshipers. Passion, levity, indiffernce, should be laid aside. The name of God should be invoked by prayer; and the lot cast as under his eye. When the issue is declared, the parties concerned should repress every feeling of resentment or dissatisfaction; and acquiesce with promptitude and reverence, as they undoubtedly would have done, had their Almighty Umpire rendered himself visible, and given sentence in their hearing.
There cannot be a happier elucidation of the right manner of applying the lot than the example of the apostles at the election of a colleague to fill the place of Judas. They knew that an apostle could be chosen only by the immediate act of their Master in heaven. They knew, however, that he must have certain qualifications which Peter mentioned. They looked round among their brethren, and found two thus qualified. They had gone as far as they could go in fixing upon the man by ascertained rules, and an insuperable difficulty presenting itself in the
circumstance of two answering the general description, while only one was wanted, they refer the decision to their ascended Lord. Having set the candidates before him, they prayed and said, Thou, Lord, (it was the Lord Jesus to whom they prayed,) Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots, and the lot fell upon
Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. The decision was received with profound submission, as the decision of the Lord Jesus himself. Not a soul disputed it; not a whisper was heard of discontent or doubt. Let Christians, in their use of the lot, go and do likewise.
In the preceding numbers we have established to the satisfaction, we hope, of the serious reader, these two propositions :
1. That the lot is a direct appeal to God as the Governor of the world, founded on the faith of a particular providence.
2. That when used on proper occasions, and in a proper manner, both of which have been explained, it is an act of high and acceptable worship
From this doctrine the conclusion is plain, that all unnecessary, light, careless, or customary uses of the lot; all uses of it, other than such as are holy, reverent, and warranted by the rules of the written word, are sinful, and to be avoided as profanations of the divine name.
For under the name of God is comprehended every thing by which he makes himself known. In the oath he is solemnly invoked as the Omniscient, whose "eyes are upon the truth.” In the lot a decision is put into his hands as the Sovereign Umpire between his creatures, who dispenses to them the most pure and perfect righteousness. In both, his dominion over us, his right to dispose of us and our affairs, and the account which we shall render to him, are fully acknowledged.