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These words the Lord spoke. That there may be no doubt about the authority of the law, and that it may not be depreciated by the people, Moses recalls to their memory that the presence of God, as He spoke it, was manifested by sure tokens; for this was the object of the fire, the clouds, and the darkness, whereby God’s voice was signalized, lest its source might be obscure. He adds, that it was “a great voice,” i.e., a voice which had, in an unwonted manner, penetrated far and wide. Nor are the witnesses few, whom he cites, but all that vast multitude, which for the most part would have been more disposed to PMI extinguish the glory of God, unless it had been there made known by manifest proofs. The sum is, that there is no question as to who was the Lawgiver, whose majesty was then proclaimed by tremendous prodigies, and presented before the eyes of an immense multitude. It will be more convenient to speak elsewhere of the two tables. When Moses states that God “added no more,” he signifies that a perfect rule of life is contained in the ten commandments, and that, when their instruction is fully received, the whole body of wisdom is attained to, so that the people need seek to know no more; when God, then, made an end of speaking, he Himself laid down the bounds of legitimate inquiry. 23. And it came to pass, when ye heard. Lest the Israelites should undervalue his teaching, because he had been put between them by God as their minister, Moses meets the objection, (by reminding them) that it was done at their petition and request. We know how proudly they were wont to reject him; as if they saw in him nothing but what was earthly and human; it was needful, then, that God Himself should speak to rescue His servant from the contempt of posterity. For the people themselves, being convicted of their foolish and preposterous request, could never afterwards have any pretext for rejecting Moses, as if he had not evidenced the truth of his calling. And here their astonishing perverseness betrayed itself, in not being ashamed to refuse credit to the holy Prophet, after he had been approved by so many miracles. Assuredly, if they had been just and honest judges, it would have been sufficiently notorious, and certain to them, that Moses did not speak of himself, or of his own impulse, but that he was the organ of the Spirit; yet the doctrine of God was scorned by these proud, and perverse, and fretful beings, because it was brought to them by the hands of a mortal man. They, therefore, by their importunate desires, draw down God from heaven, to speak Himself; but immediately terror seizes on their minds, so that they flee from His voice. Thus experience taught them that there was nothing better for them than to hear God speaking to them by the mouth of Moses; and they were instructed by the just reward of their temerity to choose and prefer that mode of teaching which they had spurned; for, if in future they refused to give credit to Moses, whom they had themselves chosen as their mediator with God, they brought themselves in guilty of gross and wicked contumacy; and this is what he now reproaches them with. It would have been worse than unseemly in them, when God had yielded to their prayers, to reject that blessing which they had besought of Him. On this account he reminds them, that, after they had been eye-witnesses of God’s fearful power, they had voluntarily asked that He should not speak to them any more; and, lest they should object that this was done only by a few, or inconsiderately, or in tumult, he expressly testifies that these requests were presented by the heads of their tribes, and their elders. 24. Behold, the Lord our God hath showed us. They are urged by their own confession no more to dare oppose themselves to the ministry of Moses. For, when they confess that they saw the glory and the greatness of God, they oblige themselves to the necessity of obedience, unless they choose avowedly to make war against God. At the end of the verse, where they say that “God doth talk with man,” etc., not only do they mean that there are men surviving on earth who have heard with their ears the voice of God come down from heaven, but they express their astonishment at what was scarcely to be believed. For, although it was sufficiently notorious to them that God had formerly spoken with their fathers; yet, because a long period had elapsed since these revelations had ceased, they are amazed as at a new thing. We see, too, a long time afterwards, that as often as God appeared to His servants, they were overwhelmed with the fear of death, and it was like a proverb with them, “We shall die, because we have seen God.” (Jud 13:22.) Good reason, then, is there why they should celebrate this extraordinary privilege, that they had not been swallowed up by the glory of God; SSCP for, if at the sight of Him the mountains melt, and all that is most durable is annihilated, and all that is strongest is broken to pieces, how should man stand than whom nothing is more frail or perishable? If by His secret will the troubled air causes not only animals but trees and rocks to tremble; how shall it be when God displays His might not in the elements alone, but when descending from heaven He speaks by the voice of His mouth? It is not unreasonable, then, that the Israelites should account it miraculous that they had heard God’s voice, and were not brought to annihilation. Herein they indirectly rebuke their own folly, because, by their inconsiderate desire, they would have drawn destruction upon themselves, if they had not been aided by God’s mercy. The two following verses appear to contradict each other; for, when they had experienced that those to whom God manifests Himself, are not always destroyed and perish, why do they say that they shall die if He continues to speak to them? They seem, indeed, in so saying to show some inconsistency; yet is there cause for them to fear for the future that danger from which they had escaped by the marvelous indulgence of God. It is, then, as if they had said, It is more than enough for us once to have provoked God against us; it is of His inestimable loving-kindness that He has thus far pardoned us; meanwhile, we must beware lest our perversity bring upon us heavier punishment, unless we speedily correct our folly. Hence may a useful admonition be drawn; for, although the voice of God has not sounded in our ears, yet the experience of His ancient people ought to be sufficient to persuade us assuredly that, when God sets teachers over us, He makes the best provision for our salvation; because, if He Himself should thunder from heaven, His majesty would be intolerable to us. And this should avail to repress their destructive itching, who desire God daily to descend from heaven, or at least to send His revelations by angels; and who thus despise the ministers of mortal race whom He employs. In a word, this history is an illustrious proof that God governs His Church by the external preaching of the word, because this is most expedient for us.

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