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" And it shall be,” speaking of the duty and for? And what nation is there so great, that office of the king who might hereafter be hath statutes and judgments so righteous, as chosen to reign over God's people of Israel, all this law which I set before you this day ?"* " when he sitteth upon the throne of his Thirdly-The laws prescribed were imkingdom, that he shall write him a copy of posed on them by a Being who had lavished this law in a book, out of that which is be- miracles of mercy and goodness upon them fore the priests the Levites. And it shall be and their fathers, and stood engaged to be a with him, and he shall read therein all the covenant God to their posterity, to the latest days of his life; that he may learn to fear the generations. “For ask now of the days that Lord his God, to keep all the words of this are past, which were before thee, since the law, and these statutes, to do them: that his day that God created man upon the earth, heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and and ask from the one side of heaven unto the that he turn not aside from the command other, whether there hath been any such ment, to the right hand or to the left: to the thing as this great thing is, or hath been end that he may prolong his days in his king- heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice dom; he, and his children in the midst of Is- of God speaking out of the midst of the fire,
as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God Some of the Rabbins accordingly pretend, assayed to go and take him a nation from the that Moses, with his own hand, transcribed midst of another nation, by temptations, by thirteen copies of the Deuteronomy, one for signs, and by wonders and by war, and by a each of the twelve tribes, and one to be laid mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and up till the time of electing a king should ar- by great terrors, according to all that the rive, to be given him to transcribe for his Lord your God did for you in Egypt before private and particular use.
your eyes ? Unto thee it was showed, that 4thly. Moses displays, with singular skill thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; and address, the motives suggested from their there is none else besides him. Out of heapeculiar circumstances, to make the law of ven he made thee to hear his voice, that he God the object of their veneration, and the might instruct thee: and upon earth he rule of their conduct; such as, first—These showed thee his great fire, and thou heardest laws all issue from the love of God as their his words out of the midst of the fire.”+ source, and converge towards it as their cen- In a word, the laws of God are in themselves tre. Their great aim and end is to engage just and reasonable, plain and intelligible; acus to love, with supreme affection, a God who commodated to the nature and faculties of man, is supremely amiable and excellent. “ And and carry their own wisdom and utility engranow, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God re- ven on their forehead." For this commandquire of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, ment which I command thee this day, it is not to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and hidden from thee, neither is it far oft. It is not to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who and with all thy soul, to keep the command- shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto ments of the Lord, and his statutes which I us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither command thee this day for thy good? Be- is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, hold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight But the word is very nigh unto thee, thy in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do seed after them, even you above all people, it."I as it is this day.”+
Moses, while he thus forcibly inculcates A second motive to obedience is, that the the motives of obedience, motives inspired observance of the laws has a native tendency and pressed by every tender, by every awful to procure and to preserve both public and consideration, finds himself under the unprivate felicity; to make them respectable pleasant necessity of venting his heart in the in the eyes of the nations, and thereby to keenest reproaches of that highly-favoured ensure their tranquillity. : Behold I have but rebellious nation, for their perverseness taught you,” says he, "statutes and judg- and ingratitude; he deplores in the bitterness ments, even as the Lord my God commanded of his soul, the instability and transitoriness me, that ye should do so, in the land whither of their good motions and purposes, their faye go to possess it. Keep therefore, and do tal proneness to revolt, the inconceivable rathem, for this is your wisdom and your un- pidity of their vibrations from virtue to sice. derstanding in the sight of the nations, which That exquisitely beautiful and pathetic song shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely with which he closes his tender expostula. this great nation is a wise and understanding tion, and which contains a striking abridge people. For what nation is there so great, ment of this whole address, consists in a great who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord measure of just and severe, yet affectionata our God is in all things that we call upon him upbraidings and remonstrances upon their
* Deut. xvii. 18-20. f Deut. 2. 124-15. * Deut. iv.5–8. Deut. iv. 9–36. Deut, axx, 11-14
past conduct. “They have corrupted them- , their power is gone, and there is none shut selves, their spot is not the spot of his chil-up, or left. And he shall say, Where are dren; they are a perverse and crooked gene- their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, ration. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O fool which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and ish people and unwise ? is not he thy Father drank the wine of their drink-offerings ? Let that hath bought thee? hath he not made them rise up, and help you, and be your prothee, and established thee?"*
tection. See now that I, even I am he, and Finally, this long, this instructive, this there is no God with me: I kill, and I make powerful farewell sermon of the man of God, alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there contains predictions clear, pointed, and strong, any that can deliver out of my hand. For I of the tearful judgments which should over- lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for take that sinful people, and involve them and ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and their posterity in utter destruction. Many mine hand take hold on judgment; I will learned men, and not without the greatest render vengeance to mine enemies, and will appearance of reason, have supposed that the reward them that hate me. I will make mine spirit of prophecy by the mouth of Moses has arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall foretold the final dissolution of the Jewish devour flesh; and that with the blood of the government, and their dispersed, reproach- slain, and of the captives from the beginning ful, despised state to this day, until the time of revenges upon the enemy.'
.** But the time of their restoration to the divine favour, and to favour revolted, returning Israel shall come their re-establishment under the bond of the at length; and together with them the time new and everlasting covenant, “a covenant to· irradiate and deliver "the nations which established on better promises, ordered in all were sitting in darkness, and in the region things and sure." This idea seems justified and shadow of death;" and the prophetic soul by the following and the similar prophetic of Moses hastens forward to conclude the sadenunciations. “Of the rock that begat thee cred song, with a grand chorus of harmonithou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God ous voices, the voices of the ransomed of the that formed thee. And when the Lord saw Lord from every nation, every kindred and it, he abhorred them, because of the provok- tribe, rejoicing together in one common saling of his sons, and of his daughters. And vation : "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his he said, I will hide my face from them, I will people: for he will avenge the blood of his see what their end shall be: for they are a servants, and will render vengeance to his very froward generation, children in whom adversaries, and will be merciful unto his is no faith. They have moved me to jea- land, to his people.”+ lousy with that which is not God; they have How powerfully must all this have been provoked me to anger with their vanities: impressed on the hearts of his audience by and I will move them to jealousy with those the sight of their venerable instructer, bendwhich are not a people; I will provoke them ing under the weight of “an hundred and to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is twenty years:" exhausted by labours performkindled in my anger, and shall burn unto the ed in the public service, no longer capable lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with of "going out and coming in;" excluded by her increase, and set on fire the foundations the inflexible decree of Heaven from any of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs up- part or lot in the land of promise; lying under on them, I will spend mine arrows upon the bitter sentence of ending death; his them. They shall be burned with hunger, power and glory departing, and passing beand devoured with burning heat, and with fore his eyes to the hand of another! Why bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth are not impressions of this sort more lasting, of beasts upon them, with the poison of ser- and more efficient? Shall “ the righteous pents of the dust. The sword without, and perish, and no man lay it to heart?" Is "the terror within shall destroy both the young merciful man taken away, and will none conman and the virgin, the suckling also, with sider?". “The righteous is taken away from the man of gray hairs. I said I would scat- the evil to come.” By his departure the ter them into corners, I would make the re-earth is impoverished, but heaven is enmembrance of them to cease from among riched. Remove the veil, and behold him joen.”+ “ Is not this laid up in store with me "entering into peace:" "they shall rest and sealed up among my treasures ? To me in their beds, each one walking in his upbelongeth vengeance, and recompence; their rightness." I hear a voice from heaven, foot shall slide in due time: for the day of saying, “Write, Blessed are the dead their calamity is at hand, and the things that which die in the Lord, from henceforth: yea, shall come upon them make haste. For the saith the Spirit, that they may rest from Lord shall judge his people and repent him- their labours; and their works do follow self for his servants; when he seeth that them."!
• Deut. xxxii. 5, 6. Dcut. xxxii. 18–2. * Deut. xxxij. 34-42. Deut. xxxii. 43. Rev. xiv. 13
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong, and of a good cou
rage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers 1 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.-DECTERONOMY Xxxi. 7, 8.
Is it not a presumption and a presentiment | Christ,” but is willing to continue in the of immortality, that men naturally feel, design, fleshi,” for the glory of God, and the good of and act as if they were immortal? In life men; who neither quits his station and duty we are in the midst of death ; but it is equal- in life in sullen discontent, nor cleaves to the ly true, that in the very jaws of death, we enjoyments of this world, as one who has no live; and fondly dream of living longer. Let hope beyond the grave, the fatal moment come when it will, it comes But the cup of death, to the best of men, to break into some scheme we hoped to exe-contains many bitter ingredients. Even to cute, to interrupt some work we had begun, Moses it was far from being unmixed. To to disappoint some purpose we had adopted the natural horror of dying was superadded The warnings of dissolution which are sent the sense of divine displeasure; a sense of to others, we seem to understand and feel death as a particular punishment. It disapbetter than those which are addressed to pointed a hope long and fondly indulged in, ourselves. One man is under sentence of the hope of being himself
, and of seeing Israel condemnation, another labours under an in- in possession of the promised and expected curable diseasc; one is daily exposing his inheritance. And, what was the bitterness life to jeopardy in the high places of the field, of death to such a spirit as his ? Moses died another putting the knife of intemperance to in the persuasion, and a melancholy one it his throat every hour: this man has comple- was, that the people on whom he had beted his seventieth year, and his neighbour stowed so much labour, whom he had cherishhas lived to see his children's children of the ed with such tender affection, whom he was third and fourth generation.
so unremittingly anxious to conduct to wisThese are all symptoms equally mortal, dom, to virtue, and to happiness, would, after but none takes the alarm to himself: every his death, swerve from the right path, proone is concerned for his neighbour's case, voke God to become their enemy, and thereand flatters himself his own is not quite so by bring down certain destruction upon their desperate. The wretch condemned to death, own heads. “ I know thy rebellion, and thy soothes his soul to rest with the hope of a stiffneck: behold, while † am yet alive with pardon, and laments the certain doom of his you this day, ye have been rebellious against consumptive acquaintance: the declining the Lord; and how much more after my man, with his foot in the grave, pities and death? Gather unto me all the elders of prays for the unhappy creature who must your tribes, and your officers, that I may suffer on Wednesday se'nnight. The soldier speak these words in their ears, and call braves the death that is before his eyes in a heaven and earth to record against them. thousand dreadful forms, in the presumption For I know that after my death ye will utterof victory; and the voluptuary thanks his ly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from kinder stars that he is likely to sleep in a the way which I have commanded you: and sound skin. The man of seventy reckons evil will befall you in the latter days; because upon fourscore; and ten years in prospect ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to are a kind of eternity; and the grandsire provoke him to anger through the work of amuses himself with the hope of seeing his your hands."** grandchildren settled in the world. Thus It is pleasant to a dying father to entertain the pleasing illusion goes on : and men are the sweet hope that the children of his care, dead, indeed, before they had any apprehen- of his love, will remember the lessons which sion of dying
he taught them, will follow out his views, The thoughtless and impious insensibility will support the credit of his name, will inwith which many advance to their latter end, struct and bless the world by the example of is not more mournful and distressing, than their wisdom, their piety, their virtues, though the steadiness and composure of piety and he is not to be the happy spectator of it: but habitual preparation are pleasing and instruc- ah! more cruel than the pangs of dissolving tive. Blessed is the state of that man to nature, the dreadful conviction of approach whom life is not a burden, nor death a terror, ing folly and disorder: the sad prospect if who has “ a desire to depart and to be with
* Deut. xxxi. 27-29. 2 Y
among brethren; of profligacy and creature, they have displayed the holinese licentiousness, no longer restrained by pa- and justice of the Creator. rental gravity and authority: a fair inherit We find Moses taking refuge in this, ance, and an honourable name ready to be when the dearer, sweeter hope was at an dissipated by profusion, to be covered with end—the hope of being the favoured, ho shame, to be disfigured by vice, to be forfeit- noured minister of life and salvation. “ I ang ed by treason. It is sweet to a dying pastor fast approaching to the end of my career; ! to contemplate the success of his ministry, have already passed the limits which God the extent of his usefulness; to cheer his has prescribed to the life of man. Six score fainting heart with the thought of having of years are fled away and gone, and these been made the humble instrument of bring- hairs, whitened by time, labour, and affliction, ing many souls unto God, many sons unto feelingly inform me that my last moment is glory: and with the well-grounded belief at hand, that no more time remains but what that his doctrine shall survive him: that is barely sufficient to give you a few parting though dead he shall continue to speak and i admonitions, to breathe over you the blessing to instruct. Sweet the prospect of that day of a dying friend, and to bid you a long farewhen he shall present himself, and the joy- well. After a laborious, anxious, and painful fruit of all his labours, to his Father and ful ministry of more than forty years ; after God, saying, “ Behold, I and the children being honoured of God to perform before whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs, your eyes, and those of your fathers, a series and for wonders in Israel ; from the Lord of of miracles, which shall be the astonishment hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion."'* It and instruction of the whole world till time was this which caused the great “Author expire, I was looking for the compensation and Finisher of our faith” himself to rejoice of all my troubles, the reward of all my in spirit, on the very eve of his departure out. labours, the accomplishment of all my wishes, of the world. “Those that thou gavest me in your sincere return to God, in your gratiI have kept, and none of them is lost but the tude to your friend and deliverer, in your son of perdition, that the scripture might be fidelity and obedience to God, and in the fulfilled.”+ But ( how depressing to reflect, prosperity and happiness which must infal" I have laboured in vain; I have spent my libly have flowed trom them. The paternal strength for nought and in vain ;"j to look solicitude I have felt, that ardent love which back upon a ministry, not the " savour of life emboldened me, at the hazard of my own unto life, but of death unto death,” and to life, to stand in the breach' between you look forward to the dreadful progress of and a holy and jealous God, to turn away degeneracy and corruption, from evil to his wrath, lest he should destroy you;' that worse, till * sin, being finished, bringeth forth fervour of zeal which hurried me on to wish death;" to look forward to the still more myself blotted out of God's book, if the deardreadful day of doom and to the prospect of er name of Israel might be permitted to conappearing as an accuser and a witness against tinue written in it; all my discourses, all the despisers of that gospel, which would my emotions, all my efforts; my active days, have saved their souls from death.
my sleepless nights; these unceasing sighs The faithful servants of God are not all which I still breathe to Heaven in your beequally successful, and even a Moses has the half, these last tears which a dying old man mortification of knowing assuredly that all sheds over a people still and ever dear to him, his pains and anxieties should prove ineffec- and from whom to be torn asunder is the tual. The tide of corruption sometimes death of deaths; these are the faithful and rushes down so impetuously, that no force undoubted proofs of my affection for you, of can stern it; and Providence is often pleased my una bated, inextinguishable zeal for your to put honour upon the meaner and feebler salvation. But alas, howerer earnestly I instrument, that the glory may redound not may desire it, I dare not, cannot hope! I " to him that willeth, nor to him that runneth, foresee your perfidiousness and rebellion ; I but to Gol, who showeth mercy.". But know your perverseness and ingratitude. every faithful minister, like Moses, has at While I am yet alive with you this day, ye least this consolation : “having kept nothing have been rebellious against the Lord; and back, but declared the whole counsel of God, how much more after my death?* What they have delivered their own souls;" they then is left me, but the mingled and strongly published the truth of God, " whether men allayed satisfaction of reflecting that I am would hear or whether they would forbear;" innocent of your blood, that your salvation is and if they have not been so happy as to in your own hands, that if you perish your persuade, they have at least put to silence blood must be upon your own heads." wicked and unreasonable men; if they have “Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, not prevailed to render them holy, they have and your officers that I may speak these at least rendered them inexcusable; if they words in their ears, and call heaven and have been unable to subdue the pride of the earth to record against them.”+ “I call • Isa. viii. 18. † John xvii. 12 1 Isa. xlix. 4.
Deut. XXX. 27.
Deut. xxxi. 28.
• Arise ye
heaven and earth to record this day against , more than human appears.
“ And the Lord you, that I have set before you life and death, said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach blessing and cursing : therefore choose life, that thou must die: call Joshua, and present that both thou and thy seed may live."* yourselves in the tabernacle of the congre
Having in terms such as these poured out gation, that I may give him a charge. And the anguish of an overflowing heart, Moses Moses and Joshua went, and presented themaddresses himself to his last earthly employ- selves in the tabernacle of the congregation. ment. The last exercise of his authority is And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in to lay down all authority. The concluding a pillar of a cloud, and the pillar of a cloud act of his administration, is to transfer the slood over the door of the tabernacle.'* What right of administratior, to another; and the solemn moments to the whole congregation, legislator, leader, and commander expires, those which Moses and Joshua passed bewhile the man yet lives. Imagination can fore the Lord, remote from the public eye! hardly paint a more affecting scene. Hear How solemn to the parties themselves the trumpet sounding the proclamation of a What is a charge from the mouth of a dying solemn assembly, an holy convocation. Be- man, though that man be a Moses, compared hold the thousands of Israel flocking to- to a charge from the mouth of Jehovah himgether to the door of the tabernacle of the self, by whom spirits are weighed, and to congregation; every eye straining to catch whom all the dread importance of eternity a departing glance of him whom they were stands continually revealed ? And this God, to behold no more; every ear cagerly at- O my friends, is daily sounding a charge in tentive to drink in the last accents of that every ear, “Occupy till I come. voice which the hand of death was about and depart, for this is not your rest.” “ Be to silence for ever. Behold the venerable sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the sage, in all the composure of unaffected devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking piety, in all the dignity of wisdom, in all the whom he may devour.” “ See that
walk respectability of age, in all the simplicity of circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, a child, in all the serenity of a celestial redeeming the time, because the days are spirit, in all the solemnity of death, advancing evil.”. to his well-known station, presenting to the This secret conference being ended, they people him whom they were henceforward return to the people, and Moses publicly to acknowledge and obey as the ruler ap- delivers to the Levites, which bare the ark pointed over them by Heaven. His eyes of the covenant of the Lord, a copy of the beam complacency, his tongue drops manna, law which he had transcribed with his own as he conveys to his noble successor the hand, to be laid up in the side of the ark, as plenitude of his power, the residue of his a standing witness for God against a sinful honour, a double portion of his spirit. Be- people ; and the business of this interesting hold he lifts up his hands and lays them upon and eventful day concludes with a public the head of Joshua, with a thousand tender recital from the lips of Moses of that tender wishes that his burden might sit light upon and pathetic song, which we have in the him, that he might escape the pains he him thirty-second chapter. This sacred song self had endured, and attain the felicity which every Israelite was to commit to memory, to was denied to him; with a thousand pater- repeat frequently, and to teach it every man nal exhortations to follow Providence, and to his son. It was composed expressly by fear nothing; to lov Israel, to seek their the command of God, and under his immegood always: with a thousand fervent pray- diate inspiration. “Now therefore write ye ers for his prosperity and success. I see this song for you, and teach it the children Joshua with modest reluctance shrinking of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this back from a charge so weighty : desirous of song may be a witness for me against the being still a subject and a servant: accepting children of Israel. Moses therefore wrote with regret honours of which Moses must this song the same day, and taught it the be stripped; ready to cry out, as his master children of Israel: And Moses spake in the was taken away from him, “My father, my ears of all the congregation of Israel the father, the chariot of Israel, and the horse- words of this song until they were ended.”+ men thereof."| I see on every countenance And a most wonderful composition it is, a mixture of sorrow and resignation, of hope whether considered as the production of a clouded with remorse and concern; they lively, lofty, correct imagination ; abounding could now die for him, whose life they had with the boldest images, and conveying the embittered by unkindness, levity, and ingra- noblest sentiments; adding all the graces of titude; they reproach themselves and one poetry to all the force of truth ; as conveying another, as having occasioned the death of the most useful and necessary moral and rethe wisest and best of men; they cannot bear ligious instruction, in a channel the most to think of surviving him. But a voice more pleasing and attractive; as the address of a awful than that of man is heard : a glory dying man, a dying father, a dying minister,
† 2 Kings ii. 12.
* Deut. xxxi. 14, 15. | Deut. xxxi. 19–22—30.
. Deut. xxx. 19.