Page images
PDF
EPUB

died without remedy, from the consequence of this he could not escape, though he sought it carefully, and with tears.

The character of Moses comes near to perfection, þut it is not faultless; he too, with the guiltiest, stands in need of pardon and atonement; and when “righteousness is laid to the line and judgment to the plummet,” his life must pay the forfeit. Moses therefore could not be a saviour to others; had his conduct been perfectly pure, it had been still but the righteousness of a man, it could but have delivered his own soul, it could have merited nothing at the hands of a holy God. In order to constitute a saviour for the guilty, to un. spotted purity of moral character must be superadded divinity of nature, to give efficacy and virtue to suffer. ing, and value to the shedding of blood. Thus the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; and “ what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” Rom. viij. 3. We flee to thee, blessed Jesus, to cover us in the day of wrath; thy blood cleanşeth from all sin; by the deeds of the law we cannot be justified, we look for redemption from the curse, through thy meritorious death and righteousness, for the forgiveness of all our sins, according to the riches of thy grace.

But though death was to Moses a mark of the divine displeasure, and the punishment of sin; like all the chastenings of fatherly wisdom, like all the punish: ments of Heaven, it was in the issue, and upon the whole, a real benefit, it was unspeakably great gain; it relieved him of a burthen sometimes ready to prove intolerable, it introduced him to communion with God more intimate and endearing than ever he had hitherta enjoyed; it placed him among the spirits of just men made perfect. Moses died in the sight of the promis: .ed land, was permitted to measure it with his eye, and to judge of its fertility from specimens of its prodnce: and all that the labours and light of those who are fetlow-workers with Moses can do, is to repeat the promise, to point with the finger and to say, “ This is the way, walk ye in it.” It belongs to another power to subdue corruption, to divide Jordan, to level the walls of proud Jericho.

We know the offence, we have heard the doom, the reprieve is expired, the warrant of death is signed, the day of execution is come.

But the bitterness of death is over already, the sting of death is plucked out, and even the word that condemns and kills the body, is a word of love. A worldly mind cannot discern the, reason why the cross is the way, why death is in the cup, why the entrance into the kingdom of God is through the thorny road of much tribulation, but the child of God, the disciple of Jesus, has ceased from himself and from his own will and understanding: “He knows whom he has believed," and who has. said, “ As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:'?' he sees death in the list of his privileges' and possessions, and is assured that all shall work together for his good.

Moses has fulfilled like a hireling his day, has writteni, has spoken, has judged, has prayed, has blessed; the business of life is ended; he has glorified God' on earth, it only remains that he glorify him, by submission to his sovereign will, in dying. Behold him then sôlitarily and solemnly advancing to encounter the last enerny: he has passed through the plain, and again he begins to climb up into the mount to meet God. The eyes of all Israel are rivetted to his footsteps. Who is not reatly to cry out, “Would to God I could die for there.” 'Every step he advances plants a dagger in threr heart. The distance begins to render vision indistinct, his person is diminished to a speck, they fondly imagine they see him still, the eyes strain for another and triother glimpse, they are suffused with tears, they can behold him no more. But he still beholds their goodly tents, he sees all Israel collected into one point of view ; Jehovah dwelling in the midst of his people, the tabernacle with the pillar of cloud resting upon it: his affection with his sight is concentered on the happy spot, his whole soul goes out in one general departing blessing. As he ascends, the prospect expands and brightens to his ravished eye. He can trace Jordan from its source, till it falls into the sea; he wanders with delight from hill to hill, from plain to plain. He sees on this side mount Lebanon losing its lofty head in the clouds; on that, the ocean and the sky meeting together to terminate his view. Beneath his feet, as it were, the city of palm-trees, and the happy fields which the posterity of Joseph were destined to inhabit. The land which Abraham had measured with his foot in the length and the breadth of it; in which Isaac and Jacob had sojourned as strangers; which God had fenced, and cultivated, and planted, and enriched by the hand of the Canaanite for his beloved people; which the sun irradiated with milder beams, the dew of heaven refreshed with sweeter moisture, and the early and the latter rain fattened in more copious show

“ And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither,” Deut. xxxiv. 4.

But what is the glory of this world? It passeth away. What is the felicity of man, who must die, and of the son of man, who is a worm? It cometh quickly to a period. The eye which age had not made dim, must nevertheless be closed in death at length; the strength which a hundred and twenty years had not been able to impair, is in a moment by one touch of the finger of God dissolved; the heart which God and Israel had so long divided, is now wholly occupied with God. In the midst of a vision so divine Moses

ers.

gently falls asleep: and he who fals asleep in the bosom of a father, needs be under 10 anxiety about his awakening “ So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, accorling to the word of the Lord,” Deut. xxxiv. 5. Moses died with Canaan full in view, enjoying every thingbut possession; and the utmost that his dispensatior can do, is to ascertain the existence of the heavaly country; to de. scribe its boundaries, nature and ituation; to conduct to its limits, and to put us under the conduct of the great Captain of salvation.

When we see the prophet of he law so far from having power to introduce others into their promised rest, that h: himself could not ener in because of unbelief; we are admonished to cout the protection and assistance of a more potent arm to cleave to Him, who, by dying, has overcome deah, and him who has the power of death; “ who openeth and no man shutteth, and siutteth and no man openeth."

But Oh what a blessed transition from the fairest earthly propect that eye ever beheld, to the enjoyment of a faire inheritance, eternal in the heavens; from the tents f Jacob, to the encampment of angels under Michael heir prince; from a glory confined and transitory, ti glory unbounded, unchangeable; from the symbol i the divine presence, in a pillar of fire and cloud, 1 his real presence, where there is “fulness of joy,

and where “ there are pleasures for evermore,"Psalm xvi. 11, to see him as he is, and to be transfoned into the same image from glory to glory. BeholAbraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, rushing from their rones to welcome to the realms of light the shephd of Israel, who had led the chosen seed from streng to strength, from triumph to triumph, while the vce of the Eternal himself proclaims, “ Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of

thy Ird.”

B we must descend from this exceeding high

mountain, and inquie after the breathless clay of the servant of the Lord. It is precious in the sight of God; not a particle of it hall be lost in the grave, and it shall be raised up at the last day. In every other instance he leaves the dead to bury their dead; but he charges himself with the body of Moses, performs himself the rites of squlture, conveys it by the ministration of angels, fron the top of Nebo to a tomb of his own providing, “in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-poe: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day' Deut. xxxiv. 6.

The reason commonly assigned for concealing the place where Moses was interred, was to prevent a superstitious use of his tomb and relics, which a people so prone to idolatry night readily have adopted, and with as good a colour of reason at least as the votaries of

any hero, prince of saint that ever was deified, could ever alledge for their conduct. The scripture saith expressly, that, at the tme this conclusion oi the book of Deuteronomy was written, whether by Joshua, his immediate successor, by Samuel, three hudred and fifty years afterwards, or by Ezra, after the dssolution of the monarchy, and the Babylonish captiity, that then the place of Moses' burial was unknown to any man, and had been so from the beginning; and yet such is the wickedness of imposture on the one hand, and the fondness of credulity on the other, that so late as the year of our Lord 1655, a pretended discovery of the spot was made, and attempted to be imposed upon the world.

The outlines of the story are as follows: “Certain shepherds who were feeding their goats on the mountains of Nebo and Abarim, observed that some of their charge were in use to disappear, and were absen for several days together; and that upon their return to the flock, their hair was perfumed with something that smelled extremely sweet. This excited their curiosty, and determined them to investigate the affair with the

« PreviousContinue »