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fenfe of death as a particular punishment. It disappointed a hope long and fondly indulged in, the hope of being himfelf, and of feeing Ifrael in poffeffion of the promised and expected inheritance. And, what was the bitterness of death to fuch a fpirit as his? Mofes died in the perfuafion, and a melancholy one it was, that the people on whom he had beftowed fo much labour, whom he had cherished with fuch tender affection, whom he was fo unremittingly anxious to conduct to wisdom, to virtue and to happinefs, would, after his death, fwerve from the right path, provoke God to become their enemy, and thereby bring down certain deftruction upon their own heads. "I know thy rebellion, and thy ftiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may fpeak thefe words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn afide from the way which I have commanded you: and evil will befal you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the fight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands."
It is pleasant to a dying father to entertain the fweet hope that the children of his care, of his love, will remember the leffons which he taught them, will follow out his views, will fupport the credit of his name, will inftruct and blefs the world by the example of their wifdom, their piety, their virtues, though he is not to be the happy fpectator of it: but ah! more cruel than the pangs of diffolving nature, the dreadful conviction of approaching folly and diforder: the fad profpect of difcord among brethren; of profligacy and licentioufnefs, no longer reftrained by parental gravity and authority: a fair inheritance, and an honourable name ready to be diffipated by profufion, to be covered
* Deut. xxxi. 27-29,
ered with fhame, to be disfigured by vice, to be forfeited by treafon. It is fweet to a dying paftor to contemplate the fuccefs of his miniftry, the extent of his ufefulnefs; to cheer his fainting heart with the thought of having been made the humble inftrument of bringing many fouls unto God, many fons unto glory: and with the well-grounded belief that his doctrine shall furvive him that though dead he fhall continue to fpeak and to inftruct. Sweet the profpect of that day, when he fhall present himself, and the joyful fruit of all his labours, to his Father and God, faying, " Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for figns, and for wonders in Ifrael; from the Lord of hofts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion."* It was this which caufed the great " Author and Finisher of our faith" himfelf to rejoice in fpirit, on the very eve of his departure out of the world. "Thofe that
thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is loft but the fon of perdition; that the fcripture might be fulfilled." But O how depreffing to reflect, "I have laboured in vain; I have fpent my ftrength for nought and in vain," to look back upon a miniftry, not the "favour of life unto life, but of death unto death," and to look forward to the dreadful progrefs of degeneracy and corruption, from evil to worfe, till " fir, being finifhed, bringeth forth death;" to look forward to the ftill more dreadful day of doom, and to the profpect of appearing as an accufer and a witnefs against the defpifers of that gofpel, which would have faved their fouls from death.
The faithful fervants of God are not all equally fuccefsful, and even a Mofes has the mortification of knowing affuredly that all his pains and anxieties fhould prove ineffectual. The tide of corruption fometimes rushes down fo impetuoufly, that no force can ftem it; and Providence is often pleafed to put honour upon the meaner and feebler inftrument, that the glory may redound, not "to him that willeth,
Ifai. viii. 18.
John xvii. 12.
Ifai. xlix. 4.
nor to him that runneth, but to God, who sheweth mercy." But every faithful minifter, like Mofes, has at least this confolation; "having kept nothing back, but declared the whole counsel of God, they have delivered their own fouls ;" they published the truth of God, "whether men would hear or whether they would forbear ;" and if they have not been fo happy as to persuade, they have at least put to filence wicked and unreasonable men; if they have not prevailed to render them holy, they have at least rendered them inexcufeable; if they have been unable to fubdue the pride of the creature, they have displayed the holiness and juftice of the Creator.
We find Mofes taking refuge in this, when the dearer, fweeter hope was at an end-the hope of being the favoured, honoured minifter of life and falvation. "I am faft approaching to the end of my career; I have already paffed the limits which God has prefcribed to the life of man. Six score of years are fled away and gone, and thefe hairs, whitened by time, la bour and affliction, feelingly inform me that my last moment is at hand, that no more time remains but what is barely fufficient to give you a few parting admonitions, to breathe over you the bleffing of a dying friend, and to bid you a long farewel. After a laborious, anxious and painful miniftry of more than forty years; after being honoured of God to perform be fore your eyes, and thofe of your fathers, a feries of miracles, which fhall be the aftonishment and inftruction of the whole world till time expire, I was looking for the compenfation of all my troubles, the reward of all my labours, the accomplishment of all my wifhes, in your fincere return to God, in your gratitude to your friend and deliverer, in your fidelity and obedience to God, and in the profperity and happiness which muft infallibly have flowed from them. The paternal folicitude I have felt, that ardent love which emboldened me, at the hazard of my own life," ta ftand in the breach" "between you and a holy and jealous
jealous God, to turn away his wrath, left he fhould deftroy you;" that fervour of zeal which hurried me on to with myself blotted out of God's book, if the dearer name of Ifrael might be permitted to continue written in it; all my difcourfes, all my emotions, all my efforts; my active days, my fleepless nights; thefe unceafing fighs which I ftill breathe to Heaven in your behalf, thefe laft tears which a dying old man sheds over a people ftill and ever dear to him, and from whom to be torn afunder is the death of deaths; these are the faithful and undoubted proofs of my affection for you, of my unabated, inextinguishable zeal for your falvation. But, alas, however earnestly I may defire it, I dare not, cannot hope! I foresee your perfidioufnefs and rebellion; I know your perverfenefs and ingratitude. "While I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death?" What then is left me, but the mingled and strongly allayed fatisfaction of reflecting that I am innocent of your blood, that your falvation is in your own hands, that if you perifh, your blood must be up, on your own heads." "Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them." "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have fet before you life and death, bleffing and curfing : therefore choose life, that both thou and thy feed may live."t
Having in terms fuch as these poured out the anguifh of an overflowing heart, Mofes addresses himself to his laft earthly employment. The laft exercise of his authority is to lay down all authority. The concluding act of his adminiftration, is to transfer the right of administration to another; and the legiflator, leader and commander expires, while the man yet lives.
*Deut. xxxi. 27. + Deut. xxxi. 28,
lives. Imagination can hardly paint a more affecting fcene. Hear the trumpet founding the proclamation of a folemn affembly, an holy convocation. Behold the thoufands of Ifrael flocking together to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; every eye ftraining to catch a departing glance of him whom they were to behold no more; every ear eagerly attentive to drink in the laft accents of that voice which the hand of death was about to filence forever. Behold the venerable fage, in all the compofure of unaffected piety, in all the dignity of wifdom, in all the refpectability of age, in all the fimplicity of a child, in all the ferenity of a celeftial fpirit, in all the folemnity of death, advancing to his well-known ftation, prefenting to the people him whom they were henceforward to acknowledge and obey as the ruler appointed over them by Heaven. His eyes beam complacency, his tongue drops manna, as he conveys to his noble fucceffor the plenitude of his power, the refidue of his honour, a double portion of his fpirit. Behold he lifts up his hands and lays them upon the head of Jofhua, with a thoufand tender wishes that his burden might fit light upon him, that he might efcape the pains he himself had endured, and attain the felicity which was denied to him: with a thoufand paternal exhortations to follow Providence, and fear nothing; to love Ifrael, to feek their good always: with a thoufand fervent prayers for his profperity and fuccefs. I fee Jofhua with modeft reluctance fhrinking back from a charge fo weighty: defirous of being ftill a fubject and a fervant: accepting with regret honours of which Mofes must be stripped; ready to cry out, as his master was taken away from him, "My father, my father, the chariot of Ifrael, and the horfemen thereor!" I fee on every countenance a mixture of forrow and refignation, of hope clouded with remorfe and concern; they could now die for him, whofe life they had embittered by unkindnefs, levity and ingratitude;
* 2 Kings ii. 12.