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He is a man like thyself, a criminal as thou art; for him also Christ died, and for his admission, as for thine, the door of mercy stands open, the city of refuge strengthens its walls, expands its gates. I conclude with suggesting a few hints, which will serve to evince the glorious superiority of the object prefigured, over the figure; of “the very image of the things,” above “the shadow of good things to come.” The institution under review was a provision for one particular species of offence and distress, and for a case which could occur but in rarer instances. Indeed the whole history of Israel furnishes not a single one. But the provisions of the “better covenant —established upon better promises,” extend to every species, and to every instance of guilt and misery. They are made not only for the heedless and the unfortunate, the weak and the helpless, but for the stouthearted and presumptuous, for deliberate offenders and backsliding children, for the very chief of sinners. Whatever, O man, be thy peculiar “weight, and the sin that doth more easily beset thee;” whatever “the plague of thine heart,” or the error of thy life, behold “help laid for thee on One mighty to save.” “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Hear, and accept his kind invitation, “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth,” “Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.” The cities of Israel served as a temporary reprieve from a sentence of death, which, though the hand of the “avenger” was restrained, the hand of nature was speedily to execute. The manslayer *::: be overtaken by it, in the very city of his refuge. But the believer’s security under the gospel never fails, never terminates. He is “passed from death unto life;” he “shall never perish.” “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” “Who shall lay any thing to the change of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that dieth, yea rather that is risen again.” “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand: my Father which gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” Under the law, the death of the high-priest, the final era of release to the manslayer, was an event entirely casual, often distant, always uncertain. Under the gospel, that death, which is the sinner's deliverance, the soul’s ransom, is an event for ever present, perpetually producing its effect. Chirst, “by one offering, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”
“We ought, therefore, to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we let them slip.” For if the intentional murderer was to be dragged from God's altar, to suffer the punishment of his crime; and if the manslayer, who despised and neglected his refuge, fell a just sacrifice to the resentment of “the avenger of blood,” and to his own presumption and neglect of the merciful ordinance of God; “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” “ He that despised Moses’ law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” “For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb. x. 28, 29. 26, 27. 31. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” Isai. lv. 6, 7. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor. vi. 2. “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel,” Jer, iii. , 22, 23. .
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them.—DEUT. i. 3.
“Where is that thrift, that avarice of time,
BEHOLD this honourable thrift, this glorious avarice, exemplified in that most amiable and excellent of mankind, Moses, the man of God, who has condescended to be so long our instructor and our guide. He is now in the last month of his earthly existence; he is “ready to be offered up; the time of his departure is at hand;” and an illustrious instance his last days exhibits of how much may be done in a little time. Within the compass of that month, that little month, all the words of this book were spoken in the ears of all Israel, and were committed to writing. The decree, the irreversible decree had gone forth, he knew that he must die; he therefore sets himself to redeem the time, and seeing his days are now few, not one of them shall be spent in vain.
The tide which carried him along to the world of spirits, is hastening to finish our course, to add us to the number of those who were, but are no more. Another month, a little month, must close our review of the life and writings of Moses. A still shorter pe. riod may close our worldly career; and when we part, it is to meet no more, till “the dead, small and great, stand before God.” Let us then seize the moments as they fly, and redeem our time. Let us drink into the spirit of Moses, and learn of him how to live, and how to die.
We see here a man living cheerfully, living usefully to the last. Two different and indeed opposite feelings are apt to betray men into the same practical error, that of misspending their time, and neglecting their opportunities—the confidence of living long on the one hand—the near prospect of death on the other. What we imagine it is in our power to do when we please, we are in great danger of never doing at all; and we may feel the remorse of occasion for ever lost, ere we are well awake from the dream of a season continually at our disposal; and it is but too common, when thus overtaken, disconcerted and confused, to give up our work in despair. Having much to do, and the time being short, we sit down, and lament our folly, and do nothing. Presumption betrays us to-day, diffidence and despondency destroy us tomorrow.
But in the last weeks of Moses’ life we discover nothing of the indecent hurry of a man conscious of neglect, and eager to repair it. He neither runs nor loiters; but he walks with the steadiness and dignity of one whose strength is as his day; who has a labour prescribed, and ability to perform it. In his youth we have a patern of generosity, and public spirit, and eourage, and greatness of mind; in his manhood, of wisdom, of diligence, of perseverance, of fidelity; and