Page images

a great measure of just and severe, yet affectionate upbraidings and remonstrances upon their past conduct. “ They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy Father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?” Deut. xxxii. 5, 6.

Finally, this long, this instructive, this powerful farewell sermon of the man of God, contains predictions clear, pointed and strong, of the fearful judgments which should overtake that sinful people, and involve them and their posterity in utter destruction. Many learned men, and not without the greatest appearance of reason, have supposed that the spirit of prophecy by the mouth of Moses has foretold the final dissolution of the Jewish government, and their dispersed, reproachful, despised state to this day, until the time of their restoration to the divine favour, and their re-establishment under the bond of the new and everlasting covenant, “a covenant established on better promises, ordered in all things and sure.” This idea seems justified by the following and similar prophetic denunciations. “Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy zvith those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kind. led in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap

mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burned with hunger, and de voured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also, with the man of grey hairs. I said I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men,” Deut. xxxii. 18—26. “ Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants: when he seeth that their



and there is none shut up, or left. And he shall

And he shall say, Where are their gods, *their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drinkofferings? Let them rise up, and help you, and be your protection. See now that I, even I am he, and there is no God with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say,

1 live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain, and of the captives from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy,” Deut. xxxii. 34–42. the time to favour revolted, returning Israel, shall come at length; and together with them the time to irradiate and deliver “ the nations which were sitting in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death;” and the prophetic soul of Moses hastens forward to conclude the sacred song, with a grand chorus of harmo.


nious voices, the voices of the ransomed of the Lord from every nation, every kindred and tribe, rejoicing together in one coinman salvation: “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people,” Deut. xxxii. 43.

How powerfully must all this have been impressed on the hearts of his audience by the sight of their ve. nerable instructor, bending under the weight of “an hundred and twenty years:” exhausted by labours performed in the public service, no longer capable of “going out and coming in;" excluded by the inflexible decree of Heaven from any part or lot in the land of promise; lying under the bitter sentence of impending death; his power and glory departing, and passing before his eyes to the hand of another! Why are not impressions of this sort more lasting, and more efficient? Shall “ the righteous perish, and no man lay it to heart?'" Is“ the merciful man taken away, and will none consider?” “The righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” By his departure the earth is impoverished, but heaven is enriched. Remove the veil, and behold him “entering into peace:” “ they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” I hear a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them," Rev. xiv. 13.



And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in

the sight of all Israel, Be strong, and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee, he will be with thee; he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.Deut. xxxi. 7, 8.

IS it not a presumption and a presentiment of immortality, that men naturally feel, design and act as if they were immortal? In life we are in the midst of death; but it is equally true, that in the very jaws of death, we live; and fondly dream of living longer. Let the fatal moment come when it will, it comes to break into some scheme we hoped to execute, to interrupt some work we had begun, to disappoint some purpose we had adopted. The warnings of dissolution which are sent to others, we seem to understand and feel better than those which are addressed to our selves. One man is under sentence of condemnation, another labours under an incurable disease; one is daily exposing his life to jeopardy in the high places of the field, another putting the knife of intemperance to his

[ocr errors]

throat every hour: this man has completed his seventieth year, and his neighbour has lived to see his children's children of the third and fourth generation.

These are all symptoms equally mortal, but none takes the alarm to himself: every one is concerned for his neighbour's case, and flatters himself his own is not quite so desperate. The wretch condemned to death, soothes his soul to rest with the hope of a pardon, and laments the certain doom of his consumptive acquaintance: the declining man, with his foot in the grave, pities and prays for the unhappy creature who must suffer on Wednesday se'nnight. The soldier braves the death that is before his eyes in a thousand dreadful forms, in the presumption of victory; and the voluptuary thanks his kinder stars that he is likely to sleep in a sound skin. The man of seventy reckons upon fourscore; and ten years in prospect are a kind of eternity; and the grandsire amuses himself with the hope of seeing his grandchildren settled in the world. Thus the pleasing illusion goes on: and men are dead, indeed, before they had any apprehension of dying.

The thoughtless and impious insensibility with which many advance to their latter end, is not more mournful and distressing, than the steadiness and composure of piety and habitual preparation are pleasing and instructive. Blessed is the state of that man to whom life is not a burden, nor death a terror, who has

a desire to depart and to be with Christ,” but is wil. ling “to continue in the flesh,” for the glory of God, and the good of men; who neither quits his station and duty in life in sullen discontent, nor cleaves to the enjoyments of this world, as one who has no hope beyond the grave.

But the cup of death, to the best of men, contains many bitter ingredients. Even to Moses it was far from being unmixed. To the natural horror of dying was superadded the sense of divine displeasure; a sense of death as a particular punishment. It disap

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »