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as a man, with his friend! I saw him in flaming yet unconsuming fire, I heard his voice from the midst of the burning bush, my feet stood upon holy ground. And thou, sacred summit of Sinai, where the Most High imparted to me the counsels of his will; supernaturally sustained the feeble, mortal frame; irradiated my soul with the communications of his love, and my countenance with beams of light; how can I forget thee; and the forty hallowed days passed with thee, in converse more sublime than ever before fell to the lot of humanity! To thee, sacred structure, reared according to the pattern showed me in the mount, to thee I look in rapturous recollection! Thou wert my refuge in the hour of danger. In thee assurances of divine favour and support, compensated, extinguished the unkindness of man. How often hast thou been to me a heaven upon earth!"
-But a retrospective view of life must have presented to Moses many objects painful and humiliating; and bitter recollections must have mingled themselves with the sweet. The repeated defections of a stiffnecked and gainsaying people, whom no kindness could melt, no threatenings deter, no promise animate, no calamity subdue: a people who had requited the care of Heaven with reiterated, unprovoked rebellions; and his own labours of love, with hatred, insult and ingratitude. Painful it must have been to think, that he had survived a whole people, endeared to him by every strong, by every tender tie: that he had been gradually dying for forty years together, in a condemned, devoted race, which melted away before his eyes in the wilderness: that with his own hand he had stripped Aaron his brother of his pontifical garments, and closed his eyes. Painful to reflect on his own errors and imperfectionshis criminal neglect of God's covenant, which had nearly cost him his life; his sinful delay and reluctance to accept the divine commission appointing him the deliverer of Israel; the hastiness of his spirit in defacing the
work of God, by dashing the tables of the law to the ground, and breaking them in pieces; the impatience of his temper, the unadvisedness of his lips, the unguardedness of his conduct, at the waters of strife, which drew down displeasure on his head, and irreversibly doomed it to death. This uneasy retrospect would naturally lead to prospects as uneasy and distressing. The time of his departure is at hand; the body must speedily be dissolved, and the dust return to the earth as it was. Against his admission Canaan is fenced as with a wall of fire, and a distant glimpse must supply the room of possession, and another must finish his work. Besides the natural horror of death, there was mingled in that bitter cup a particular sense of personal offence and fatherly displeasure as inflicting it. Israel too, he foresaw, would after his decease revolt more and more, and call down the judgments of Heaven, and forfeit the promised inheritance-and this was to him the bitterness of death.
But by what brighter prospects was this gloom relieved, and the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death illuminated! He saw the promise of God hastening to its accomplishment. The "land flowing with milk and honey" was fully in view. The time, the set time was now come; and what powers of nature could prevent the purpose of Heaven from taking effect? O Lord, thou art faithful and true; Do now as thou hast said. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. My master is dismissing me from painful service; I shall rest from my labours; I shall receive the crown. I am passing from the imperfect, interrupted communion of an earthly sanctuary, to the pure, exalted, uninterrupted, everlasting communications of the heavenly state. I shall see God as he is. I shall be changed into the same image. I shall be ever with the Lord.
I shall shine in his likeness. I shall be added, united to the assembly of the faithful; to the venerable men of whom I wrote, to Abel the first martyr to the truth, to Enoch, who walked with God, to Noah, the preacher of righteousness, to Abraham, who believed, and was called the friend of God, to Joseph, whose bones are now at length to rest in the land of promise, to Aaron, my brother, by nature, by affection, in offence, in hope. With the natural eye I behold the fertile plains of an earthly Canaan: but by the eye of faith I descry another country, that is an heavenly; watered with the pure river of the water of life, where grow the trees of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations: where there is no more death. My brethren, I die, but God will surely visit you. There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet, from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory. In Abraham's seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Mortality is swallowed up of life; O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory."
-"Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace."
And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel. And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan. The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said.-DEUT. XXXI. 1-3.
THE last words and the last actions of eminent men are remembered, repeated, recorded with a mournful pleasure. We listen with peculiar attention to those lips, which are to speak to us no more: and the man, and the words, which we neglected, while there was a prospect of their continuing longer with us, we prize, we cleave to, and wish to retain, when they are about to be taken away from us. Indeed we discover the value of nothing, till we are threatened with, or feel the want of it; and we awake to a sense of the happiness which we have possessed, by the bitter reflection that it is gone from us for ever.
Farewell addresses serve to rouse both the speaker and the hearers. He is led to weigh well those words which he is to have no future opportunity of altering
or amending. His eyes, his voice, his turn of thought, his expression, all will be influenced by the solemnity of his situation; and what he feels, he will certainly communicate to others. Wherefore is not every address considered in this light: as a last, farewell, dying speech? It may be so in truth; and if it were known to be so, would our attention be so distracted, our spirit so careless; would our language be thus cold, our zeal thus languid? Attend, my dear friends, and fellow mortals. This is, beyond all controversy, to some of us the last opportunity of the kind. The sound of this voice shall never again meet all those ears in one place. It may be for ever silenced; each of them may be for ever closed; and the ordinary tide of human affairs must certainly scatter, this night, persons who are never more to re-assemble, till that day when the whole human race shall be gathered together in one great multitude.
We are come hither to ponder thy dying words, O Moses, and to gird up our loins, and follow thee.
This whole book may be considered as a series of powerful, pathetic and tender addresses, delivered at different times, within the compass of the last month of his life, by Moses to Israel, in the near and certain prospect of dissolution. Art has attempted to divide it into so many several distinct heads, or branches, forming together a complete body of instruction, wonderfully adapted to the occasion, and powerfully enforced upon the minds of the hearers by the death of their teacher, which immediately followed.
The first great branch, is a succinct and animated historical detail of the conduct of the divine Providence towards them and their fathers, during the last forty years, commencing with their departure out of Horeb, and containing an account of their successive movements and encampings. A recapitulation of the recent events of their own lives, and of what had befallen their immediate predecessors, was obviously