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"Because ye believed mc not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." Our heavenly Father is no respecter of persons. Neither the rank of the brethren, their prophetic, nor their priestly office, could shield them from wrath. The very privileges they enjoyed rather exposed them to a greater measure of divine indignation, by being misapplied and abused. Moses might, indeed, conduct the hosts of Israel to the very confines of the promised land. He might ascend Mount Nebo, and cast his eye over the glories of Canaan: but he must die, short of its possession, in the wilderness, and be gathered to his fathers, on this side Jordan. That he felt the punishment, as an awful visitation, and mourned over it as a manifestation of that anger which he had provoked, and as the disappointment of his best earthly hopes, we are assured from the earnestness with which he intreated to have the sentence
repealed. "O Lord God I pray thee let
me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan; that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." But the Lord was wroth, and would not hear him. "Let it suffice thee, speak no more unto me of this matter." Eleven months after this period, he died, and was buried in the land of Moab. Aaron had still a more brief probation. The very next march conducted the Israelites to Mount Hor, where Moses stripped Aaron of the priestly garments, transferred the office of the priesthood to Eleazar, and then witnessed the death of his brother and fellow-servant in the camp of God. In the last hour of life, how greatly must the remembrance of his transgression have weighed upon the mind of Aaron, and placed a dark cloud between his soul and the comfort of God's presence within it! He who would die, with all his covenant evidences in their brightness and integrity, must walk by faith, like Enoch, and find it Christ to live, like Paul. Sin assuredly draws a separation between the heart, and its peace, hope, joy, trust, assurance in the Saviour. Would ye, then, my brethren, fear no evil, when you tread the dark valley of the shadow of death? Would ye possess the rod, and staff, and arm, and love of omnipotence to comfort you? Hold you fast by God; and avoid all the occasions of sin. Fear ye especially, lest a promise being made you of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. "How loudly does this history testify, that you have to do with a righteous and holy God, who will not endure sin, even in the most distinguished of his ser
vants. Though he should forgive, yet will he not wholly spare. He may so pardon the iniquity, as not to inflict eternal punishment upon the offender, and yet he may severely visit his transgression. He acts thus, in order to prevent any abuse of his grace; to vindicate the holiness of his nature, and his law; to excite watchfulness and prayer among his servants; and to warn the impenitent, that so iniquity may not be their ruin."l Flee, then, from sin, as from a serpent. Consider, that one offence —one apparently slight offence, though it excluded not Moses and Aaron from the rest of the land of promise in heaven, condemned them to die in the wilderness, and deprived them of blessings, to which they had looked forward through forty years of toil, and pain, and wandering. Commit your way to God, that ye may avoid such a visitation; and, remembering, that sin walks hand in hand with sorrow, beseech him whose grace is Almighty, to take you into his keeping: and join the fervour of the Psalmist's prayer, Hold thou up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not: hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.
1 Bradley's Sermons, Vol. I. p. 196.
Among the many inferences which crowd upon my mind in reviewing this history, I will only beseech you to consider the unspeakable value of Jesus Christ, as the Saviour of sinners. If ever man among the members of the ancient church walked humbly and zealously with God, that man was surely Moses. Yet so severely did the very law, of which he was the mediator judge of all transgression—so unequivocally did it denounce the sentence of death against every iniquity, that because, under strong provocation, he spake unadvisedly with his lips, he was utterly excluded from the earthly Canaan. The law makes no allowance for infirmity, or ignorance; for omissions of duty, or partial performance. It declares, that the wages of sin is death. It erects a standard of obedience, which man, in his fallen, guilty nature, can never reach: and, by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified. Nay, Aaron himself, who though not the mediator, was the high priest of the law, was condemned to pay, with his life, the penalty of its violation. Zeal for its honour, regularity in its ordinances, punctilious regard to its sacrifices, failed to justify him for one violation. Aaron himself must prove, that he who offendeth in one point is guilty of all. Who, then, may hope to establish a claim of legal righteousness in the sight of a just and holy God, when Moses and Aaron die beneath the sentence of the law, for an apparently slight transgression. The condemnation of the law is pointed against every child of Adam. What then must we do to be saved? O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and goodness of God! A Saviour is sent, who fulfilled the requirement, and underwent the dreadful penalty of the law, by the death of the cross. There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Will ye attempt to establish a justification of your own? While the law denounces the vengeance of an angry God, while his love has opened in Christ Jesus a fountain for sin, and for uncleanness, in the laver of his blood—while the voice of judgment thunders upon Sinai; and the voice of mercy speaks from Calvary, in accents transcending the sweetness of the harps of heaven, will ye reject the salvation of him who loves you, and offers to wash you from your sins, in his own blood f Wi ye not rather renounce the desperate expectation of entering heaven by that stern law which condemned Moses and Aaron, its minister and priest? Will ye not count all things but loss,