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History of Mofes.
DEUTERONOMY xxxiv. 1-6.
And Mofes went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pifgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord fhewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manaffeh, and all the land of Judah unto the utmost fea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm-trees, unto ZoAnd the Lord faid unto him, This is the land which Ifware unto Abraham, unto Ifaac, and unto Jacob, faying, I will give it unto thy feed: I have caufed thee to fee it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Mofes the fervant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-Peor: but no man knoweth of his fepulchre unto this day.
WHEN ftrangers accidentally meet to perform together the fame voyage or journey, they are apt, at first, to regard each other with looks of caution and diftruft; they converse fparingly, and with referve; they conceal their views and purposes in their own breasts; they attempt to dive into the characters and defigns of their fellow-travellers. By degrees this fufpicious
fufpicious cautioufnefs wears off; it becomes their mutual defire and endeavour to pleafe and oblige, they feel themselves united by a common intereft, their communications become frequent and free, they dif cover all that is in their hearts, they take a kind concern in each other's future fortunes, they exchange tokens of affection, they devife the means of coming together again, and part at length with regret. We feem, my brethren, to have been travelling through a vaft country; we feem to have been converfing with men of a different age and region; we have contemplated many a fair profpect, we have marked many fucceffive changes, and, at the end of another ftage or two, we must feparate, and bid each other farewe!. Like men acquainted and friendly, who know each other's meaning, and wish each other's happiness, we look back to our common pilgrimage with fome degree of fatisfaction, and forward, I truft, with fome degree of defire to meet together again. The mutu al token which, in the mean time, we fhall carry with us to ftir up our minds by way of remembrance, is one that touches the heart by more than one spring, the memory of a dear and eftimable common friend, who has contributed much to our pleasure and improvement, who was lovely and pleafant in life, and in death fills the foul with admiration and regret; but whom we have the felicity of confidering as having only preceded us a little in a journey, on which we too have already entered, and the end of which will bring us to the fame home with him.
The pen has now dropt from the hand of Mofes, and filent is his tongue; and another, not himself, must tell us what he is, and how he died. Every fcene in the life of this illuftrious man is fingular, and inftructive as fingular; and his latter end is not the leaft interesting and useful. He had now completed his one hundred and twentieth year, without having become fubject to the ufual infirmities of that advanced age. It is one thing to live long, and another to
be old. We frequently fee old age commenced by many woful fymptoms, long before the man has begun
to live at all: and we fometimes fee the wisdom and piety of grey hairs giving luftre to the bloom of youth, and tempering the vivacity of the morning of life. We wish to live long, but we weakly affociate what never met, except in Mofes and a favoured few like him, perfect foundnefs of faculties and the capacity of enjoying life, united to length of days and richness of experience. We wish to live long, but fail to reflect on dimness of eyes, decay of memory, wafting of ftrength, lofs of appetite, the neglect or unkindness of friends, and the other concomitants of that forlorn period. We wish to live long, but if the days come we find them evil; when thefe wifhed-for years draw nigh we are constrained to acknowledge "we have no pleasure in them." The few, the very few exceptions the hiftory of mankind furnishes, from the general rule, ferve only the more grievously to confirm it. Happy would it be for old men, however, happy for themfelves, and moft happy for others, though they cannot retain at pleasure the clear-fightednefs and vigour of Mofes, did they cultivate as they ought, and acquire as they might, fomething of his meeknefs and gentleness and condefcenfion; they would not have. fuch frequent reafon to complain of the petulance, felf-fufficiency and prefumption of young men, if they themfelves would learn to be lefs peevish, and obftinate, and overbearing. For, bad as the world is, age will obtain respect, unless it take pains to provoke infult and difrefpect.
The death of Mofes, then, was not in the ordinary courfs of nature, it was not preceded by its ufual harbingers, it was not occafioned by a failure of the radical moisture, by the stroke of violence, or the malignity of disease, but by a fimple act of the will of God. Wherefore, then, "fhould it be thought a thing incredible that God fhould raise the dead?" When we fee the antediluvian patriarchs living to one thousand
thoufand years, the eye of Mofes, at one hundred and twenty, not dim, nor his natural force abated, and "Christ, the first fruits," bursting afunder the bars of the grave; have we not fo many concurring prefumptions and proofs of immortality and the refurrection. And what must be the angelic beauty, the celestial vigour, the undecaying luftre and glory of bodies "fashioned like to Chrift's glorious body," when we fee the face of Mofes fhine, that it could not be stedfaftly looked at, and preferving to life's extremity the morning dew of youth? The honour put on Mofes was rare and fingular, but the glory to be revealed is a bleffednefs of which all the redeemed of the Lord fhall partake.
When the fummons arrived for Aaron to prepare for death, Mofes, his brother, and Eleazer, his fon and fucceffor, were commanded to afcend the mountain with him, and to affift in the folemnities of the awful change: but Mofes advances alone to meet death, to meet his God. The holy vestments, with the office to which they appertained, defcended from father to fon, and were at length done away altogether and loft; but the moral and spiritual parts of the difpenfation never waxed old, could not fee corruption, but like God, their author, were unchangeable; and like Mofes, 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 tiffue of the gofpel, and conferred immortality upon
-We must now look back to the sentence of death pronounced against Mofes, and to the crime which provoked the irreversible doom: "And the Lord fpake unto Mofes that felf-fame day, faying, 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 Ifrael for a poffeffion, and die in the mount whither thou goeft up; VOL. V.
and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brothet died in Mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people becaufe ye trefpaffed against me among the children of Ifrael at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye fanctified me not in the midst of the children of Ifrael. Yet thou shalt fee the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Ifrael." Here many things concur to furprise and inftruct us. The offence of Mofes feems a venial one; he erred merely through haftinefs of fpirit; and had he not good caufe to be angry? He was not often fo overtaken, he quickly repented, and recovered tranquillity and felfgovernment again. He repeatedly attempted to foften juftice by fubmiffion and entreaty; he asked for nothing unreafonable or abfurd: he wifhed merely to be a witnefs of the divine bounty, truth and faithfulnefs; infinitely greater offenders had at his entreaty been forgiven and restored. But justice relented not, Mofes for one offence muft die; the grace which he often obtained for others is to himfelf 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 fin." "Father, forgive him, he knows not what he does." One tranfgreffion excluded Mofes from Canaan; and with so many imperfections on his head, loaded with fo many crimes of a nature fo vile and atrocious, can he think of entering into the kingdom of heaven? When we fee fuch inflexible and unrelenting feverity pursuing the dearest and most distinguished of God's children, who fhall dare to think or to call any fin a little one? Who fhall prefume on mercy, who fhall dream of wafhing away his guilt by the tears of penitence, who fhall harden himfelf againft God and hope to profper ? The great crime in the fight of God is, giving that glory to another which belongeth to him.
*Deut. xxxii. 48—52.