« ForrigeFortsæt »
see the antediluvian patriarchs living to one thousand years, the eye of Moses, at one hundred and twenty, not dim, nor his natural force abated, and “
Christ, the first fruits,” bursting asunder the bars of the grave; have we not so many concurring presumptions and proofs of immortality and the resurrection? And what must be the angelic beauty, the celestial vigour, the undecaying lustre and glory of bodies “ fashioned like to Christ's glorious body," when we see the face of Moses shine, that it could not be steadfastly looked at, and preserving to life's extremity the morning dew of youth? The hoņour put on Moses was rare and singular, but the glory to be revealed is a blessedness of which all the redeemed of the Lord shall partake.
When the summons arrived for Aaron to prepare for death, Moses, his brother, and Eleazar, his son and successor, were commanded to ascend the mountain with him, and to assist in the solemnities of the awful change: but Moses advances alone to meet death, to meet his God. The holy vestments, with the office to which they appertained, descended from father to son, and were at length done away altogether and lost; but the moral and spiritual parts of the dispensation never waxed old, could not see corruption, but like God, their author, were unchangeable; and like Moses, by whom they were delivered to the world, unenfeebled by length of time, continued till Christ, the restorer of all things, interwove them with the tissue of the gospel, and conferred immortality upon them.
We must now look back to the sentence of death pronounced against Moses, and to the crime which provoked the irreversible doom: “ And the Lord spake unto Moses that self-same day, saying, Get. thee up into this mountain, Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: and die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gath
ered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people: because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land before thee, but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel,” Deut. xxxii. 48—52. Here many things concur to surprise and instruct us.
The offence of Moses seems a venial one; he erred merely through hastiness of spirit; and had he not good cause to be angry? He was not often so overtaken, he quickly repented, and recovered tranquillity and self-government again. He repeatedly attempted to soften justice by submission and entreaty; he asked for nothing unreasonable or absurd: he wished merely to be a witness of the divine bounty, truth and faithfulness; infinitely greater offenders had at his entreaty been forgiven and restored. But justice relented not, Moses for one offence must die; the grace which he often obtained for others is to himself denied. Let the wretch loaded with a thousand crimes black as hell, and malignant as the spirit that reigns in the children of disobedience, think of this and tremble. That “ fool makes a mock of sin." “ Father, forgive him, he knows not what he does.” One transgression excluded Moses from Canaan; and with so many imperfections on his head, loaded with so many crimes of a nature so vile and atrocious, can he think of entering into the kingdom of heaven? When we see such inflexible and unrelenting severity pursuing the dearest and most distinguished of God's children, who shall dare to think or to call any sin a little one? Who shall presume on mercy, who shall dream of washing away his guilt by the tears of penitence, who shall harden himself against God and hope to prosper? The great crime in the sight of God is, giving that glory to another which belongeth to him. For this Moses
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, but 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. viii. 3. We flee to thee, blessed Jesus, to cover us in the day of wrath; thy blood cleanseth 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 punįshment of sin; like all the chastenings of fatherly wisdom, like all the punishments 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 hitherto enjoyed; it placed him among the spirits of just men made perfect. Moses died in the sight of the promised land, was permitted to measure it with his eye, and the way,
to judge of its fertility from specimens of its produce: and all that the labours and light of those who are fellow-workers with Moses can do, is to repeat the promise, to point with the finger and to say, “ This is
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 written, 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 solitarily and solemnly advancing to encounter the last enemy: 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 ready to cry out, “Would to God I could die for thee.” 'Every step he advances plants a dagger i the 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 another 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