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afhamed of that which is their highest honour and most glorious privilege. We now return.
The idea I have formed to myself of " this bleffing, wherewith Mofes the man of God bleffed the children of Ifrael before his death,"* how juftly I prefume not to fay, is this: Mofes, having received his final fummons to prepare for death, feels himself prompted at once by affection and the spirit of prophecy, to take a particular leave of every tribe, to bestow a feveral benediction on every one by name, and to prepare them one by one for the conqueft of their inheritance, by giving them prophetically a general notion of their future condition, as conftituent parts of the commonwealth of Ifrael, and of the particular lot to be affigned to each, with its correfponding advantages and purfuits. For this purpose I suppose him making a folemn progrefs through the whole hoft, going, from tribe to tribe, from tent to tent, and pouring out his foul, as a dying parent, in bleffings upon his offspring, according to their different characters and conditions. O how unlike thefe vifits of selfishness, pride, ambition and ftrife, which the candidates for fame, place and power, are from time to time, making through a corrupted land! Let us attend his progrefs, and mark what he fays.
We find Mofes ftill beginning, proceeding, concluding with God. He fets out on this laft awful circuit, with a mind full of the glorious majesty of the great Jehovah. He calls to his own remembrance, and impreffes the image of it on the fouls of the whole people, that great and dreadful day "when the Lord came from Sinai, and rofe up from Seir unto them; he fhined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of faints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them." The particular mention of Seir and Paran in this exordium, has given birth to a poor conceit in the Jerufalem Targum, to this purpofe, "that God first offered his law, and the protec
tion which it afforded, to the Idumeans, the inhabitants of Mount Seir, and the pofterity of Efau, but that they rejected it, because it contained this precept, "Thou shalt not kill." That afterwards it was tendered to the Ishmaelites, or inhabitants of Mount Paran, who rejected it, because it faid, "Thou shalt not steal.” That then it was proposed to the pofterity of Jacob, who immediately replied, "All that the Lord hath commanded will we do, and be obedient." Without having recourse to a conftruction fo-unfupported, forced and unnatural, the words of Mofes, at the first glance, convey to us an image inconceivably grand and fublime, but at the fame time fimple, natural and obvious. Ifrael was encamped in the plains of Moab, with Jordan and the fertile fields of Canaan directly in view the prospect on the south terminated by the lofty mountains of Teman or Seir; and on the north by Mount Paran, while Sinai raised its awful head, and buried it in the clouds of heaven from behind. Mofes accordingly reprefents, in the bold imagery of oriental poetry, the glory of the Lord arifing like the fun in the east, from behind the top of Sinai, and inftantly darting his light from hill to hill, and increafing in luftre till the whole expanfe of heaven is filled with it. The prophet Habakkuk has evidently caught the fame celeftial fire, is filled with the fame animating object, when he exclaims, "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praife. And his brightnefs was as the light, he had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the peftilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He flood and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove afunder the nations, and the everlafting mountains were fcattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlafting."
*Habak. iii. 3-6;
But what are mountains and hills, and their inhabitants? Mofes reprefents the great God as arifing in unclouded majefty amidst ten thousand of his holy ones. "Angels, his minifters, that excel in ftrength," the least of whom "could wield thefe elements." His red right hand is extended, prefenting to the aftonished beholder a law, a fiery law, a fire that purifies, a fire that confumes. But the terror of this dreadful appearance is inftantly loft, in a display of the grace and mercy which prompted this fplendid vifit. "Yea, he loved the people; all his faints are in thy hand and they fat down at thy feet; every one fhall receive of thy words."* Here we behold the legiflator loft in the friend, and, instead of distractedly, defpairingly calling upon "the mountains to fall upon us, and the hills to cover us," we fit down in tranquillity at the feet of our gracious teacher, and every one for himself liftens to the language of love.
Mofes first approaches the tents of the tribe of Reuben, and having introduced himself by these folemn, ftriking words, he proceeds to his particular falutation of that tribe. "Let Reuben live, and not die ; and let not his men be few." Concerning the head of that tribe, his dying father had prophetically denounced, "Unftable as water, thou shalt not excel;" but the blefling of Mofes feems to wipe the blot out of the fcutcheon, and Reuben feems restored to his rank in Ifrael again. Reuben alone of the fons of Jacob pitied Jofeph in his diftrefs, and contrived the means of reftoring him to his father again. This redeems him and his family from infamy and deftruction, and we are difpofed to drown the memory of his lewdnefs, in refpect for his tenderness and humanity.
Who ftands next on the roll of Jacob's fons? To whom is the fecond falutation due? Simeon. But ah! we fee the curfe of a dying father upon him ;,
* Deut. xxxiii. 3.
+ Deut. xxxiii. 6.
we fee Mofes paffing by his door without bidding him God fpeed; we fee the blood of the Shechemites, the innocent, credulous Shechemites, lying with an oppreffive weight upon his feed; we fee a tribe of fifty-nine thoufand three hundred in the wilderness of Sinai, melted down and reduced to twenty-two thoufand two hundred in the plains of Moab; we fee no judge or magiftrate in future times fpringing from his loins; we fee him "divided in Jacob, and fcattered in Ifrael," and in all this we fee the vengeance of a righteous God purfuing a cool and deliberate murderer to utter ruin, and we think of the more dreadful weight of that blood which a hard-hearted race imprecated upon themfelves and their children; and which the fhame and fufferings of one thoufand eight hundred years have not yer expiated. What muft the fons of Simeon have felt when their dying leader paffed them by, without vouchfafing them a word; to find themselves alone unbleffed of all the children of their father's houfe! Speak to me, O merciful Father, in whatever language thou wilt: chide, upbraid, chaftife me; but O pafs me not by in filent neglect: cease not to reprove me: fay not, "Let him alone.'
The dying prophet paffes next to the standard of the tribe of Judah. Judah, deftined to empire, increafe and ftrength, Judah the father of many princes. The root and offspring of David. "And this is the bleffing of Judah: and he faid, Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah; and bring him unto his people: let his hands be fufficient for him, and be thou an help to himfrom his enemies."* Thefe words of Mofes fend us again to the dying bed of Jacob, and we find both patriarchs holding the fame idea concerning this prerogative tribe, ftrength invincible, triumph over every foe, fupreme authority; and we find ourselves led ftill farther back, to Leah, his mother, in child-birth, beftowing on this her fourth fon a name expreffive of her perfonal exultation and triumph; "Judah, praise
Deut. xxxiii. 7.
the Lord," and thence to the infinitely glorious defign of Providence, which has swallowed up the tranfient, private feeling of the individual, in the great and comprehenfive view of general compaffion and favour, and the fource of univerfal gratitude and praife; and, borne on the wings of infpiration, we rife, with the beloved difciple in vifion, to contemplate the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, prevailing to open the fealed book, in the right hand of him that fits on the throne, and loofing the seven seals thereof. "And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beafts, and in the midft of the elders, ftood a Lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns, and feven eyes, which are the feven fpirits of God, fent forth into all the earth." "And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that fat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beafts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of faints. And they fung a new fong, faying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the feals thereof: for thou waft flain, and haft redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and haft made us unto our God, kings and priests: and we fhall reign on the earth."
Thus we behold all that is great and magnificent among men, bringing its glory and honour and laying it at the feet of Jefus ; and all that is paft and prefent loft in the immenfity and importance of that which is to
He now approaches the priestly tribe of Levi, his kinfmen and friends according to the flefh, and copioufly bestows his valedictory benediction upon them, in these remarkable words, "Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Maffah, and with whom thou didst strive at
*Rev. v. 7-10.