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ever attack ta eremy contrary to order, and were presently driven back. How does Moses act upon this occasion ? If we consider him not as a prophet under God's direction, but merely as a man, his behaviour is strange, and contrary to reason. He does not, after this check, make another trial with a larger and more select body of the people; but turns away from the desired land, of which he had been so long in search. And, though his army
very numerous, and he might by degrees have brought them to a knowledge of war, he does not make to any other part of Canaan, but turns back the contrary way, to Şin, which he stiles, that great and terrible wilderness, where the people had so long wandered. He then passes the most eastern point of the Red-sea near Ezion Gaber, and having gone round the land of 'Edom, he, after several painful journeyings, brings the people to the plains of Moab near Mount Nebo. But in these wanderings, the whole of which took up near forty years, he had lost his sister Mi
? Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red-sea, as the Lord spake unto me: and we compassed Mount Seir many days. Deut. ii. 1. and 8. See Numbers xxxiii. 35, 36.
riam, and had buried his brother Aaron in Mount Hor. And of all that numerous host which came out of Egypt, excepting two persons, he had seen every soul taken off. If we consider these operations as carried on at the direction of the Deity, we may perceive design, wisdom, and justice exemplified through the whole process. God would not suffer the land of promise to be occupied by a stubborn and rebellious people, whom neither benefits nor judgments could reclaim; a people who could never be brought to place any confidence in him, though he had shewn them that he was superior to all gods, and had saved them by wonderful ' deliverances. Besides in these mighty works there was a view to future times; for the Deity did not confine his purposes to the immediate generation. Hence the mode of acting, of which it pleased God to make
* The apostle speaking of these judgments says, Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are
1 Corinth. x. 11. The great crime of the Israelites was a desire to return to the land of bondage ; and their preferring slavery to freedom : and in consequence of it giving up all hopes and all wishes in respect to the land of promise. Hence their carcases fell by the way; and they never arrived at the place of rest.
use, was in every respect agreeable to his wisdom and providence. But, if we do not allow this interposition of the Deity, but suppose
that Moses proceeded upon his own authority, as a mere man, his behaviour, as I have repeatedly said, is unaccountable, and contrary to experience and reason. He acted continually in opposition to his own peace and happiness, and to the happiness and peace of those whom he conducted.
Moses, after he had seen the numerous bands which he had led out from Egypt die before him, at last closed the list by departing himself upon Mount Nebo. He was just come within sight of the promised land after forty years, a point at which he might have arrived in a far less number of days. But Moses certainly was a mere agent, and acted in subservience to a superior power.
The Procedure afterwards.
Upon the death of Moses, the command was given to Jesus, called Joshua the son of Nun, and by him the great work was completed of leading the people, after a painful pilgrimage, to a place of rest. Under his conduct, after passing the river Jordan they entered the land of promise. But it was to be won before they could possess it. Of the occurrences which ensued, I shall take no notice, except only two circumstances, which were among the first that happened. And these I shall just mention, to shew that no person, left to himself
, could have acted as Joshua did. He was arrived in an enemy's country, and it was necessary for him to keep the people upon their guard, as they had powerful nations to encounter. What then was his first action when he came among them ? He made the whole army undergo an operation, which rendered every person in it incapable of acting. The people of the next hamlet might have cut them to pieces. The history tells us that it was by divine appointment, and so it must necessarily have been. The God, who insisted upon this instance of obedience and faith, would certainly preserve them for the confidence and duty which they shewed. But this was not in the power of their leader; the same conduct in him would have been madness. The last thing which I
i Joshua v. 3.
* See Genesis xxxiv. 25.
purposed to mention is, the behaviour of the people before the city of Aï.. This place could muster not much above six thousand men; against whom were to be opposed all the myriads of Israel. But an advanced body was defeated, and thirty-six of the Israelites $lain ; upon which it is said, Joshua vii. 5; 6. The hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the even-tide; he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. But wherefore was s all this humiliation shewn? and why this general consternation at so inconsiderable a loss? This was the people, who were led on with a prospect of gaining the land of the Hivites and Amorites, and other powerful nations, who were to be opposed to the sons of Anak, men of great stature and prowess, and who had cities walled to heaven. that they faint at the first check. How could any leader, with such people, and in such circumstances, entertain the least views of conquest? There were certainly none entertained by their leader either from himself or from his people. All his confidence was in the God of his fathers; and the whole history