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rapture the joyful found, clings to the hope of falvation, prays in faith, and paffes with him into paradife.
But the circumftance on which Chrift chiefly rests, is Mofes "lifting up the ferpent in the wilderness." Mofes probably had not a clear apprehension of the extenfive meaning and import of the act he was performing, any more than the dying men who were the fubjects of the cure. They looked no farther than the prefent moment, and for relief from a malady which affected the body. But, like the high-prieft in later times, they were prophefying, without being confcious of it. He was erecting, and the congregation in the wilderness contemplating an anticipated representation of the great medium of falvation, which God had appointed from the foundation of the world; and had, in a variety of other predictions, circumftantially declared and described at different periods to mankind. Thefe predictions were flumbering unnoticed, neglected, misunderstood, even by the wife and prudent, in the facred volume a dead letter, till Chrift, their quickening fpirit, gave them life and motion, and a meaning which they had not before.
In the fcene that paffed in the wildernefs we belfold the fhadow of good things to come, a prefiguration of the death which Chrift fhould die. He is here "evidently fet forth crucified before us," according to his own words, defcriptive of "the decease which he fhould accomplish at Jerufalem." "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”*
This fame idea, we have juft obferved, had been fuggefted by the evangelical prophet Ifaiah, and a fimilar expreffion is put into the Saviour's mouth by that harbinger of the Prince of Peace. "Look unto me and be ye faved, all the ends of the earth; for I ain God, and there is none elfe."
And in another place, fpeaking of gofpel times, "At that day fhall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes fhall have refped to the Holy One of Ifrael."t
+ Ifai, xvii. 7.
John xii. 32.
Thus was Mofes, by what he did, and Haiah, by what he wrote, pointing out to the world one and the fame great object, Chrift Jefus, "the end of the law for righteoufnefs;" the fubftance of the types; the accomplishment of prophecy and promife; the bruifer of the ferpent's head; the refforer of defaced, defiled, degraded humanity. And thus we are taught to regard with peculiar refpect, an event which Providence has, in fo many different ways, rendered illuftriously confpicuous; the death of Christ, on the accurfed tree.
We shall have exhibited to you all that Mofes and the prophets, all that the hiftorian and the evangelist have fuggefted, on the fubject of the brazen ferpent, when we have led your attention to the impious and idolatrous ufe made of it in after times. That this illuftrious inftrument of Ifrael's deliverance in the wilderness, should be carefully preferved, as a monument of the divine power and goodness, and by length of time acquire venerability and refpect among the other valuable memorials of antiquity, is not to be wondered at. But every thing may be perverted; and a corrupt difpofition has ever manifested itself in man, to exalt into the place of God, fomething that is not God. Accordingly we find, about eight centuries from its original fabrication, even in the days of Hezekiah, the brazen ferpent exalted to divine honours, and a befotted people rendering that homage to the mean, which was due only to the hand which employed it. The zeal of that pious prince, therefore, is worthy of commendation, who, in reforming, the abuses of religion, which prevailed at the time that he mounted the throne of Judah, abolished this among the reft. Regardless of the purpofe for which it was at firft framed; of the venerable hand which formed and reared it, and of the lapfe of fo many years which had ftamped refpect upon it," he brake in pieces the brazen ferpent which Mofes had made; for unto thofe days the children of Ifrael did burn incenfe to it, and
he called it Nehushtan,"* by way of contempt-a piece of brass.
On this part of the hiftory of Mofes, pagan antiquity has founded the fabulous hiftory of Efculapius, the pretended god of medicine, whofe fymbol was a ferpent twisted round a rod. The learned have, through a variety of particulars, traced the derivation of the fable from the fact; but to repeat them, would rather minister to curiofity than to inftruction and improvement. We difmifs the fubject, then, with this general remark, that in more refpects than is commonly apprehended, and than it has had the candour to acknowledge, is pagan literature indebted to the facred volume; that the wisdom of Egypt, of Babylon, of Greece and of Rome is traceable up to this fource; that Mofes is, of course, to be confidered as the father of profane, as of facred learning, from whom all fubfequent hiftorians, legiflators, orators and poets have derived the lights which directed them in their several purfuits; that to the pure fource of all wifdom, the revelation from heaven, in a word, the world is indebted for the first principles of science, morality and religion; which appear to the attentive and difcerning eye through the mist in which credulous ignorance or bold fiction have involved them.
Let us hence be encouraged to revere the fcriptures, to fearch and compare them; to derive our opinions of religious fubjects from that facred fource, instead of forcing the truth of God into an awkward fupporter of our preconceived opinions. Above all, let it be our concern to regulate our conduct by the laws which fcripture has laid down, and to comfort our hearts by the hope it infpires, and the prospects which it has unfolded. Amen.
* 2 Kings xviii. 4.
NUMBERS XXvii. 12, 13, 14.
And the Lord faid unto Mofes, Get thee up into this Mount Abarim, and fee the land which I have given unto the children of Ifrael. And when thou haft feen it, thou alfo fhalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. For ye rebelled against my commandment in the defert of Zin, in the ftrife of the congregation, to fanctify me at the water before their eyes. That is the water of Meribah in Kadesh, in the wildernefs of Zin.
THERE is fomething peculiarly interesting in hearing a plain, honeft, intelligent man, without vanity, or felf-fufficiency, or affected humility, talking of himfelf; going into the detail of his own history, with the fame fidelity and fimplicity as if it were the hiftory of a stranger; unfolding his heart without referve, difclofing his faults and infirmities without palliation, recording his wife and virtuous actions without oftentation; and relating events, with all their little circumstances, according to the feelings which they excited at the moment.
It is pleasant to fee an old man, with his faculties unimpaired, his fpirits cheerful, his temper fweet, his confcience clear, his profpects bright; enjoying life
without fearing death; blending the modefty and benevolence of youth with the wifdom and dignity of age. There is a double fatisfaction in hearing fuch a one defcribe perfons whom he knew, fcenes in which he acted, expeditions which he conducted, fchemes which he planned and executed.
And fuch an one was Mofes, who having, by divine infpiration, made the ages and generations before the flood to pafs in review, and unfolded the hiftory of redemption, in its connexion with the fyftem of nature and the ways of Providence, during a period of two thousand five hundred years; having admitted us to his familiarity and friendly inftruction during an eventful life of one hundred and twenty years, is now, with the fame calmnefs and ease, admitting us to contemplate his behaviour in the immediate profpect, and up to the very hour of his death.
The idolatrous defection of Ifrael in the plains of Moab, had been vifited with a plague which fwept away twenty-four thoufand of them. Immediately on the ftaying of that terrible calamity, Mofes is commanded, with the affistance of Eleazer the high priest, to take the number of the people, from twenty years old and upwards, and to compare the mufter roll of the day, with that taken in the wilderness of Sinai, thirty-eight years before. This being done with all poffible accuracy, two moft fingular facts turn up, each fingular confidered feparately and by itself, and both most fingular, taken in their connexion one with another. In a multitude fo great, and at the diftance of thirty-eight years, the whole difference is no more than one thoufand eight hundred and twenty men: for, at the former period, the number of men of a military age was fix hundred and three thoufand five hundred and fifty; and at the latter, fix hundred and one thousand feven hundred and thirty. But though the ftrength of the hoft was nearly the fame, the individuals whereof it was compofed were totally changed; two names alone of fo many myriads ftood upon