Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

our souls die not in the wilderness the second death. Keep us stedfast in our obedience to the holy laws of the Church, that we murmur not against the rulers of Thy people, as Miriam murmured; nor believe the reports of those who speak evil of the good land of promise to which Thou hast called us. Make us of one heart and one mind in our faith towards Thee, and in our worship of Thy holy name. Save us from the desire of the bondage, and the slavery of the world; and from going back in our hearts to Egypt: but restrain our steps from wandering, and our feet from falling. May we love the place where Thine honour dwelleth, and rejoice in the companionship of Thy people, and the beauty of holiness. Fill our souls with love to Christ in heaven, and love of peace among His Church and people upon earth. Let us never be proud nor high minded, exalting ourselves above our brethren, but fear, lest we fall into the condemnation of the wicked one. When the cares of the world, the love of riches, and the pleasures of society, would banish the holy thoughts of the sacrifices we offer Thee, O let Thy Holy Spirit drive away their remembrance and their influence from the soul. May the promises of Thy truth be as the honey and the honeycomb to our taste. So may we press forward to the prize of our high calling, loving the discipline of the soul which binds our hearts to Thee, and conquering alike the devices and the desires of the flesh and spirit. So may we arrive at "the fulness of the stature of the perfect man" in Christ; ever ready to put off this tabernacle for the spiritual body and the mansions prepared for us in heaven. So may we be the instruments of Thy glory, and the conquerors of sin and death. Be with us, Holy Father, in all the places and stations to which Thy Providence shall guide us in this wilderness of life; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in Thee, we may know, and study, and perform Thy will, and honour and glorify Thy holy name. And because, as Miriam died in the wilderness, we also love our friends who die in Thy faith and fear, give us grace, we beseech Thee, so to follow their good example, that with them we may become partakers of Thy heavenly kingdom. Make us also, we no less beseech Thee, jealous and watchful over our own hearts to the very end of our pilgrimage. May the remembrance of the sentence of banishment of Thy servant Moses from Canaan, render us careful and guarded against all forgetfulness of Thee. Let no sudden doubts oppress us, no difficulties nor reasonings of the infidel or of the scorner shake our faith and hope in Thee. Let no painful and distressing waverings arising from the contentions and divisions. of the members of the Universal Church remove from us the belief of Thy Word, the conviction of the certainty of Thy threatenings and Thy promises, and the perseverance in the profession of the Christian hope in Christ, which can alone give strength in life, and comfort in the hour of death. Hear us, we beseech Thee; and in His holy name, and in His words, we sum up all our imperfect petitions, calling upon Thee as

Our Father, &c.

The grace of our Lord, &c.

NOTE.

NOTE, On the mystical interpretation of the wanderings and stations of the Israelites in the wilderness. Numb, xxxiii,

Papists, Protestants, Fathers, I have said, interpret these wanderings and stations as typical of the journeys of the soul of the Christian to heaven. That the Papists so interpret them, see the Notes in the Jesuit

Cornelius à Lapide's Commentary, and the references at the end of Numbers xxxiii. That the Protestants did so, see the work entitled "The Way to the Sabbath of Rest," &c. &c. "The Journeys of the Children of Israel," &c., by Mr. Thomas Bromley. 8vo. Leeds, 1744. The second edition of this book, which has been translated into several lan

[blocks in formation]

XX. 29. XXXIII. 41. XXI. 4-9.
XXXIII. 44. XXI. 11. XXXIII. 45.

XXI. 12-18.

43. XXI. 10.
XXI. 21-32. 33, TO THE END. XXXIII. 46, 47. XXI. 18-20.

TITLE. As the events of uninspired history present to the patriot the secret of political happiness, so do the events of inspired history present to the Christian the secret of religious happiness. Aaron is permitted to see the earnest of the conquest of Canaan. He resigns his office, and dies. After his death the brazen serpent is made, and set up for the gaze of the people. This event represents the lifting up of a better Sacrifice than the Aaronic, and a greater High Priest than Aaron. Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, the king of Bashan, are conquered, and the people proceed to their fortieth encampment in the wilderness.

INTRODUCTION.-Uninspired history may be defined, that record of human facts and actions which enables the citizen, the politician, and the patriot, to deduce those inferences which shall be useful to their improvement in the arts, the government, and the general happiness in the present life. Inspired history is that record of Divine as well as human actions, which enables all men to improve in the knowledge which, partially relating to the present life, refers chiefly to the future existence. As, therefore, in the study of uninspired history new inferences are continually deduced for the welfare of common life; so much more may we believe that new inferences will be continually deduced from the Old and New Testaments relating to the future life. And the fulness of the Holy Scripture, as connected with the continued development of the power of the immortal mind, has excited, in every age, the wonder and the admiration of the rational and believing inquirer. We considered, in the Introduction to the last Section, the manner in which the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness, from Egypt to Canaan, has ever been regarded as the mystical representation of the progress of believers through the wilderness of life to the heavenly Canaan. The present Section, which brings us down to the last encampment but one in the wilderness, may be regarded as the continuation of that progress; and it is undoubtedly a more interesting Section, when thus con

sidered, than any that have preceded it. We left the people at their thirtythird encampment, when, after nearly forty years of wandering, they had again returned to Kadesh-barnea. This was near upon the southern border of the Land of Promise. There Miriam died, possibly within sight of the southern border of Canaan, and able to say, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." If we inspect the map of the wanderings of the people, we shall see that mount Hor, where Aaron died, is further south from the border of the Holy Land than Kadesh.-The Section begins with relating that Arad the Canaanite, who dwelt in the south of Canaan, attacked the people, who repelled him. It is more probable that this assault took place when the people were near to Arad, at Kadesh, than when they were at a greater distance, at mount Hor; and we may believe, therefore, that, as Aaron died at mount Hor, he witnessed that defeat of the Canaanites which was the earnest of the fulfilment of the promise, that the whole nation should thereafter be utterly destroyed. So it is that the Christian receives at present the earnest within himself of the final conquest of all the spiritual enemies against whom he is required to contend. The next encampment of the people was at mount Hor. There Aaron was commanded to ascend the mountain with Eleazar his son, and Moses his brother, in the sight of the assembled people. The glorious garments of his high priesthood were to be taken from him, and put upon Eleazar; as the pledge of the continued succession of the high priesthood in the family of Aaron till the better High Priest should come. There he was to die on the mount. And there can be no doubt that, after he had seen the defeat of the Canaanites, and the proofs of the final accomplishment of all the promises of God, his language was similar to that of one of the later members of the Church of God, "I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand '." As God is unchangeable in His love, the happiness of the soul of the believer at death is the same, though the knowledge of each individual may differ according to the extent of the gradually imparted Revelation. From mount Hor the people proceeded to Zalmonah, that is, to "the place of the image," or "the little image." This name was probably given to the station at which they now arrived, because it was at this place that, being ordered to turn away from the direct road to Canaan, and being commanded to proceed in the precisely opposite direction, round the territory of Edom, they were much discouraged (Numb. xxi. 4): they once more murmured against Moses, and once more, in their hearts, turned again towards Egypt. To punish them for their folly, and to convince them that all such conduct proceeded from the originator of the evil which banished our first parents from a better inheritance than even the Canaan that was before them, the people were plagued with fiery serpents, sent among them by the Divine anger. When no remedy appeared for the pain and death they occasioned, Moses, at the prayer of the bitten and dying people, is commanded to place a brazen image of the serpent that bit them upon a pole of wood; and every bitten, agonized, and dying Israelite, who turned his eyes upon that image, was immediately healed of his wound. The action is declared by our Lord', to

[blocks in formation]

be the representation of His own being lifted up upon the Cross. As the dying children of Israel were healed of the bite of a visible serpent by the faith which obeyed the direction that they should look upon the image of the serpent which Moses elevated in the wilderness; so the greater Lawgiver than Moses, the Son of man, gives life to those who are dying of the wound inflicted by "the old serpent." Whether the people of Israel in the wilderness imagined that any deeper spiritual meaning was to be inferred from their miraculous healing, we know not. This we know, that as the fruits of the tree are in the blossoms and the buds, so are the eternal truths of the Gospel in the germ, and buds, and blossoms of the earlier Law.-From Zalmonah the people proceeded to Punon, the place of "confession" or "acknowledgment" of the mercies of God. From Punon they advanced to their thirty-seventh encampment at Oboth, the place of "the impostors," the pretenders to inspiration, the open enemies of Moses: as the Christian, who has been delivered from the power of evil, and made confession of his faith, travels on his way to Canaan among the infidel impostors, who pretend to be the guides of mankind, while they are the avowed enemies of the only truth of God. It is impossible that these numerous coincidences can be either imaginary or accidental.-From Oboth they proceeded to Ije-abarim, or Iim, the meaning of which may be "the perversions of the way;" that is, no obstacles could now impede their progress, or hinder their way. From Iim they proceeded to Dibon-gad, "the place of the subdued, or overcome temptation." Here we meet with one of the most difficult portions of the Sacred Narrative. From this place, the exact site of which is uncertain, they proceeded to the valley of Zared, and from thence to the other side of the river Arnon, that is, they had now marched round the territory of Edom, and had arrived at the eastern side of the Holy Land, near the spot at which they were to pass over Jordan. Here the inspired author of the book of Numbers pauses in his narrative, to quote a sentence from a book which is lost, called the Book of the Wars of the Lord, which seems to have been a narrative of all the wanderings of the Israelites; for the sentence refers to what God did from the beginning of the wanderings of the people, at the Red Sea, to the end of their wanderings, at the brook of Arnon. There they came to a well of water which had been promised them, and which, if we interpret the words rightly, was dug by the elders of the people, with their staves, at the command of Moses (Numb. xxi. 12-18). At this place they sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, to ask permission to go through his territory. This was not only refused, but the king left his country to attack the people, who defeated and slew him, and took possession of his country, and of Heshbon, the capital of the land, which had formerly belonged to Moab, but had been taken from the Moabites by the Amorites. The city, at a subsequent period, was claimed from Israel (Judges xi. 24). The poets, however, who had celebrated the victory of Israel over the Amorites, commemorated the capture of Heshbon as of an Amorite city, and the conquest of the whole country as the conquest of the territory of Sihon and their testimony was preserved as the permanent record of the national triumph. After this victory, the people are said to have dwelt in the land of the Amorites ;

that is, the territory of the Amorites was considered a part of the possession of the Tribes. Advancing, however, farther north, they conquered the king of Bashan. They there encamped in a place called Almon-diblathaim, or "contempt of those evils" which bring disgrace upon the Israelite. From thence they pitched in the mountains of Abarim, and encamped for a short time at places whose names may be interpreted “the descending gift of God” (Mattanah), “the possession of God" (Nahaliel), "the hills," or "high places," where God was worshipped (Bamoth); all the names being expressive of the happiness and privileges of the believer; till they at length rested, at the end of their fortieth journey, near the place where Moses died, and which looked equally toward the promised land on the one side, and toward the wilderness on the other. There, as we shall presently see, Balaam was called upon to curse them, and there Moses blessed them. They were nearly at the end of their long wanderings; and, if we may believe, as we are justified in believing, the interpretations of the names of the places in which they encamped, we shall not hesitate to say, that they were at the termination of their career in the wilderness such as we shall wish to be at the end of our own way through the wilderness. Every step of their way is an increase of their spiritual privileges, and spiritual happiness. They rest at the station where they look back upon the wilderness, and forward toward Canaan. Jordan, as the river of death, is before them; but they know that the Hand which led them through the Red Sea will safely lead them through a lesser evil than many of the dangers they had escaped. They remember all the way which the Lord their God had led them; and they rejoice in the victories of the past, the hope of the present, and the certainty of the fulfilment of the promise, the Holy Land of their fathers, for the future.

BEFORE CHRIST 1452.

• ch. 21. 1, &c.

b ch. 33. 40. See Judg. 1.

16.

NUMBERS XXXIII. 40.

Defeat of Arad the Canaanite.

BEFORE CHRIST

of the 40 And a king Arad the Canaan, heard Canaanite, which dwelt in coming of the children of 1452. the south in the land of Israel.

с

NUMBERS XXI. 1-3.

e

1 And whenking Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that ch. 13. 21. Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. destroyed them and their

hand, then I will utterly • Lev. 27. 28. destroy their cities.

d Gen. 28. 20. Judg. 11. 30.

3 And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly

2 d And Israel vowed a cities: and he called the vow unto the LORD, and name of the place || Hor- That is, said, If thou wilt indeed mah. deliver this people into my

Utter destruction.

« ForrigeFortsæt »