« AnteriorContinuar »
pretend to imitate what never was seen, what cannot be seen, was at once ridiculous folly, and daring, impious presumption. He solemnly enjoins, that the tenderest and most respectable ties of nature be disregarded in the case of those who should dare to set the example of violating the divine will in this respect; that the most intimate friends and nearest relations should become strange and hateful, if they presumed, by precept or by practice, to countenance this transgression. His own emphatic language will best express his meaning, and shew with what oppressive weight the subject lay upon his heart. “ If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, (which thou hast not known, thou nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the peuple which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth) thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him. But thou shalt surely kill him ; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is, among you,” Deut. xiii. 6...11. And again, “ If there be found among you within any of thy gates which the I.ord thy God giveth thee, man or woman that haili wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, and hath gone and serve ed other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have Rot commanded ; and it be told thee, and thou hast
to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes which I command thee this day for thy good ? Behold, the heaven, and the hcaven of heavens, is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers 10 love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day," Deut. x. 12...15.
A second motive to obedience is, that the observance of the laws has a native tendency to procure and to preserve both public and private felicity; to make them respectable in the eyes of the nations, and thereby to ensure their tranquillity. “Behold I have taught you," say's he, “ statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so, in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore, and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for ? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous, as all this law which I set before you this day,” Deut. iv. 5..,8.
Thirdly.... The laws prescribed were imposed on them by a being who had lavished miracles of mercy and goodness upon them and their fathers, and stood engaged to be a covenant God to their posterity, to the latest generations. “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou bast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes ? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else besides bim. Out of beaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he mnight instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire, and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire,” Deut. iv. 32...36.
In a word, the laws of God are in themselves just and reasonable, plain and intelligible; accommodated to the nature and faculties of man, and carry their own wisdom and utility engraven on their forehead. " For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it,” Deut. xxx. 11...14.
Moses, wbile he thus foreibly inculcates the motives of obedience, motives inspired and pressed by every tender, by every awful consideration, finds himself under the unpleasant necessity of venting his heart in the keenest reproaches of that bighly favored but rebellious nation, for their perverseness and ingratitude; he deplores in the bitterness of his soul, the instability and transitoriness of their good motions and purposes, their fatal proneness to revolt, the inconceivable rapidity of their vibrations from virtue to vice. That exo quisitely beautiful and pathetic song with which he closes his tender expostulation, and which contains a striking abridgment of this whole address, consists ir a great measure of jusi and severe, yet affectionate upbraidings and remonstrances upon their past conduct. • They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children ; they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy Father that bath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee," Deut. xxxii. 5, 6.
Finally, this Jong, this instructive, this powerful farewell sermon of the man of God, contains predictions clear, pointed and strong, of the fearful judgments which should overtake that sinful people, and involve them and their posterity in utter destruction. Many learned men, and not without the greatest appearance of reason, have supposed that the spirit of prophecy by the mouth of Moses has foretold the final dissolution of the Jewish government, and their dispersed, reproachful, despised state to this day, until the time of their restoration to the divine favor, and their re-establishment under the bond of the new and everlasting covenant, “a covenant established on better promises, ordered in all things and sure.” This idea seems justified by the following and similar prophetic denunciations. “ Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed ihce. And when the Lord saw it, be abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of bis daughters. And he said, 'I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in wbom is no faith. They have inoved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities : and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people. I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a tire is kindled in my anger, and shall buru unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap
mischiefs upon them, I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burned with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also, with the man of grey hairs. I said I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men,” Deut. xxxij. 18...26. “Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures ? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time : for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants; when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drink the wine of their drinkofferings ? Let them rise up, and help you, and be your protection. See now that I, even i am he, and ihere is no God with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain, and of the captives from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy,” Deut. xxxii. 54...42 But the time to favor revolted, returning Israel, shall come at length; and together with them the time to irradiate and deliver “ the nations which were sitting in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death ;” and the prophetic soul of Moses hastens forward to conclude the sacred song, with a grand chorus of harmo