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ever before the place of the testimony and went not out, day nor night; of the laver of brass; and the candlestick of seven branches; and farther to accompany the historian into the holy of holies, through the veil which was seven-fold; and there, in the place of thick darkness, where God was veiled from mortal eye, to behold the ark and mercy seat; where stood on the latter the two golden cherubim, with faces bending downward, as desiring to look into the mysteries of God incarnate; and with expanded wings overshadowing the sacred spot-and where were deposited, within the former, the rod of Aaron which budded; the pot of manna; and the two tables of stone on which the finger of God had written the ten commandments. On this subject I might enlarge; but must dismiss it with this remark: that the whole of the ceremonial service addressed itself powerfully to the senses. Man was not yet prepared for that fuller display of God which was, in after ages, to be vouchsafed unto him. But now, God is to be approached spiritually, with "incense and a pure offering." He is a Spirit, and requires of them who worship him to do it " in spirit and in truth."
Before the Israelites arrived at Sinai, two events occurred. The first was a battle with the Amalekites, in which Israel prevailed, under the conduct of Joshua, (who is now first mentioned, and who already showed himself a soldier of promise,) but chiefly through the intercession of Moses. The other event was the arrival at the camp of Jethro the father-in-law of Moses, with his wife and children. By this person Moses was advised to alter his mode of trying cases, by appointing arbitrators from among the people, who should decide in all ordinary cases; and that he himself should only take cognizance of more difficult matters, or such as
should be brought, by appeal, before him. After this arrangement, Jethro parted with Moses; but afterward, on more mature reflection, returned to him again.
The murmuring of the people for want of water, and the gracious supply vouchsafed unto them; Israel's sin and punishment, in the matter of the golden calf; the iniquity of Nadab and Abihu; the sedition of Miriam and Aaron; the continued discontent of the people; the rebellion of Korah, and the jealousy against Aaron; the provocation with which the meek Moses provoked the Lord at the waters of Meribah, and for which he was punished by being prevented from entering into Canaan; the account of the fiery serpents; and of Balak and Balaam; must all be passed over without comment. Their meaning, and the lessons they are calculated to teach, are equally obvious.
In the third month from the time of Israel's leaving Egypt they arrived at Sinai, in the wilderness. Moses ascended the mountain, and received a command that the people should spend three days in preparation for the awful appearance of God on the mount. We can easily picture to ourselves, in a measure, the feelings of awe and solemnity which these preparations would inspire; more especially when the whole mount was fenced around, and with which they would wait the dawning of the third morn. That morning was ushered in by thunder and lightning, and the voice of the trumpet, exceeding loud. Local situation has great influence upon us. One remarks, that we feel ourselves more lonely in a desert, though in the company of hundreds, than in a cultivated country, though alone. A retired place tends to awaken awful emotions. How solemn must this storm have been, in such a place! How terrible the scene, when, on lifting up
their eyes, the people saw that "Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire." The voice of the Eternal was heard, pronouncing in order the ten commandments, in so awful a manner as to strike terror into the mind of every Israelite. They removed to a distance, stood afar off, and said to Moses, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die."
We are led, naturally, to consider those commands which God proclaimed; but, without entering into a minute or separate consideration of them, shall only remark upon two things: 1. The view which the law gives us of God. It describes him, in the unity of his nature, and the purity and goodness of his character. These are conceptions of God which fallen man never could have made without a revelation from heaven. If we look into the opinions entertained of God by the ancient heathen, we find, beyond all doubt, that they believed in a multitude of deities. Among the Greeks and Romans a belief existed that there was one Supreme Being; but the inferior ones were independent, though not so powerful. Now the light of this dispensation exhibited him as the one Jehovah, besides whom there is no other; who is not the likeness of any thing our eye can behold; and is, therefore, not to be worshipped under any similitude. His name is, "I AM THAT I AM." Modern heathen have the same gross conceptions of a number of gods; and, but for the light of the Bible, we had worshipped Thor and Woden still. Again, it describes God as a being of purity; an attribute which neither Greek nor Roman, neither ancient or modern heathen, ever dreamed of ascribing to God. But, above all, the Bible repre sents Jehovah, as a being of infinite goodness; rejoic
ing in the happiness of the creatures he has made, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin; and from the very principle of goodness, hating iniquity in the heart and in the life. 2. Its suitableness to man. The whole law was comprehended in loving God supremely, and our neighbour as ourselves. Love was described as the root of all duty. Now in this particular a mighty difference existed between the highest lessons of heathen morality and those contained in the Pentateuch. A sense of honour, the pride of independence, the love of our country, were severally proposed as the most powerful regulators of conduct. It has been said that Socrates recommended even the forgiveness of injuries; but an able critic remarks, that the passage referred to contains only a very refined instance of malice.. 66 Do not," says the philosopher, "resent an injury, if offered to you, for the punishing of the guilty is for their reformation. If you procure your enemy's punishment, you are doing him a service. Let him then alone, to persevere in his iniquity."
Had we time, patience, and ability to enter into a minute examination of all those regulations and directions, ceremonial as well as moral, which the heavendirected Moses communicated to Israel; and could we accurately discriminate the state and circumstances of the children of Abraham at that time and place, perceiving also, clearly, the difference between their state and ours, we should be compelled to acknowledge that the most inconsiderable of them were important; and admirably adapted to the case of the individuals immediately concerned. The value and importance of many of them we do perceive; such, for instance, as the appointment of the cities of refuge; the law in cases of meditated and unintentional murder; the humanity
enjoined toward the stranger, the orphan, the widow, and the fatherless; the year of release and grand jubilee; the duty toward inferiors; with many others. But we must close our remarks upon the sacred life of Moses, and the contents of the Pentateuch, with two observations.
The first regards the writings of Moses. These are historical, theological, and poetical. His historical writings have been, wherever known, subjects of favourite perusal; and will continue to be so to the end of time. Their least beauty is their style, in which there is a due mixture of all that is simple and all that is sublime. But the matter, `which was furnished to his hand, was of no common kind; and he wrote under a divine influence. The portion of national history which his writings embrace was one peculiarlyrugged and difficult; yet he has managed it with the greatest felicity and success. But it is a multitudinous subject, and can hardly ever be rendered so attractive as the consideration of individual character, as delineated in his affecting portraits. From a want of attentive consideration, his theological writings appear prolix; but when the abilities of the ablest men have been employed in unfolding and illustrating them, we find that the supposed absence of interest and beauty is to be attributed, not to the subject, but to our perception. The fault is not in the object, but in the distorted view taken of it by us. His poetical writings consist of his three lyric poems :-Psalm xc; Exodus XV; and Deuteronomy xxxii; and probably the book of Job; to the unrivalled excellence of which the most intelligent minds have borne ample testimony.
Our next, and concluding observation, regards his death. He lived a hundred and twenty years, and, at