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him in the face. Is he encouraging them in their progress towards the promised land? he sighs to think that he himself shall never enter it. At one time he flatters himself with the hope that justice might perhaps relent, and presumes to expostulate and entreat, in terms earnest and pathetic, such as these; "O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what god is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee let me go over and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon," Deut. iii. 24, 25.
At another time, he seems quietly to give up the cause as lost, and patiently prepares to meet his fate, and meekly resigns himself to the will of the Most High, which he was unable to alter. In a word, we see him at once the man and the believer, and a pattern well worthy of imitation in both respects.
It is impossible to observe the conflict of Moses' soul, when this cup of trembling was put into his hands, without thinking of the bitter agony in the garden, of the travail of the Redeemer's soul, of that passionate address, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me"....of "sweat like great drops of blood falling down to the ground," Luke xxii. 42...44, of the triumph of resignation, "nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done"....of " humiliation to death, the death of the cross." Thus it "behoved him to fulfil all righteousness.' Thus he taught men to obey the law of God, to use all lawful endeavors to preserve life; and thus he inculcated submission to that sovereign will which it is unprofitable and impious to resist.
"Get thee up," said God to Moses, "into this Mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel," Lev. xvii. 12, 13, and this is all that the law can do for the guilty; it conducts to an adjoining eminence, it spreads a distant prospect of Canaan, it can display its beauty and fer
mand a solemn and public declaration of his choice, and that the object of it should, before the eyes of the people, be set apart by the imposition of the hands of Moses to the office assigned him.
Forms are necessary, because men are not spiritual; forms are interposed, that the understanding, the heart and the conscience may be approached through the channels of sense. And of all forms, recommended by divine authority, and its own significant simplicity, that of the laying on of hands is one of the most ancient, most frequently in use, and most striking. By this solemn rite, the devoted victim was set apart for death, and the guilt of the offerer transfered, as it were, and laid upon the head of the oblation: and thus were the minister of the sanctuary, the general, the statesman, dedicated to the duties of their respective stations thus new and extraordinary powers were confered upon Joshua: thus Jesus took leave of his disciples, and left a blessing behind him, more precious than the mantle of Elijah. "He led them out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them," Luke xxiv. 50.
By laying on of the apostles' hands, miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost were communicated; and by laying on of the hands of the presbytery, Timothy was solemnly set apart for exercising the office of a bishop; and thus a great part of the christian world continues to instal its ministers in the pastoral office.
Moses was farther commanded "to cause Joshua to stand before Eleazar the priest," who was prob to offer up sacrifice in behalf of the commander elect, and by this additional solemnity to impress both upon his own mind and upon those of the spectators, the weight and importance of the sacred charge committed unto him. It is added, verse 20th, "And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient."
This is interpreted by some commentators, of those
rays of glory, which are supposed to have surrounded the head of Moses, ever since his descent from God in the mount, and which so dazzled the eyes of the beholder, that in speaking to the people he was under the necessity of putting a veil over his face. By the imposition of his hands upon the head of Joshua, according to the commandment, this external, sensible honor is understood to have been communicated from the one to the other, and that, in consequence of it, Joshua henceforth wore a visible token of the choice of Heaven.
Conjecture and fancy blend too much in this exposition, to procure for it a very high degree of respect. Juster and more sober criticism explain the passage as implying, that Moses should immediately associate Joshua with himself in the executive powers of government, devolve upon him a share both of the respect and the care which pertained to the supreme command; that he might enjoy the satisfaction, while he yet lived, and which he so much desired, of beholding a wise and good man conducting the Israelitish affairs, in church and state, with discretion, and carrying on the plan of Providence to its consummation.
There is another article in the injunction laid upon Moses, respecting the appointment of his successor, which has greatly exercised and puzzled the critics. "And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him, after the judgment of Urim, before the Lord; at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation," Numb. xxvii. 21.
The difficulty is, what was the Urim, and the judgment of Urim, of which Eleazar was to ask counsel in behalf of Joshua, and wherein Moses differed from Joshua as to this? Urim is, in general, in scripture, found in connexion with Thummim. The words im. port light and perfection; and they appear to have
been some part or appendage of the breast-plate, that essential article of the high-priest's dress. They were not, it is alledged, the production of human skill, like the other particulars of the sacred clothing, for there is no account of their fabrication by the hands of man; but when the breast-plate was finished, Moses, we are told, "put into it the Urim and the Thummim,” whatever they were, immediately from God.
The method of consultation has also furnished ample matter of dispute. The most approved tradition is this, for scripture gives but few, and those very general hints, upon the subject, the person who desired to consult the oracle (and none but public persons, and on great public occasions, were admitted to that privilege) intimated his intention to the high-priest; who, at the hour of incense, arrayed in his pontifical vestments, entered the holy place, accompanied at a little distance by the magistrate or general, who made the inquiry. The high priest placed himself with his fice towards the entrance of the most holy place. The veil which separated the holy place from the holy of holies, was drawn up for the occasion, so that he stood directly fronting the ark of the covenant, overshadowed by the cherubim, where the Schechinah, or visible glory, resided. The inquirer then standing behind, pronounced the question, or consultation, in a few plain words; such for example as these, "Shall I go up against the Philistines, or shall I not go up?" This question was again repeated solemnly and distinctly by the high-priest before the Lord: and on looking downwards upon the Urim in the breast-plate, the answer of God was seen in characters of reflected light, from the excellent glory, and which the highpriest audibly repeated in the ears of the party con"Go;" or, cerned. "Thou shalt not go.'
When the oracle refused to give any response, as in the case of Saul, it was considered as a mark of bigh displeasure. God would not answer that wicked prince
by the judgment of Urim," but because he had wilfully forsaken God, an offended God, in just displeasure, gave him up to ask counsel of hell, and to follow it to his own destruction. "We have also," christians, "a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed; as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts," 2 Pet. i. 19.
Joshua being referred to this mode of consultation, compared with the history of Moses, points out, the difference between these two leaders of Israel. "There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face," Deut. xxxiv. 10.
God manifested himself immediately unto Moses; conversed with him as a man with his friend. Joshua was kept at a greater distance, and enjoyed communion with God through the intervention of appointed means. Just as before Moses was admitted to the very summit of the mount, received within the veil of thick darkness, which at once concealed and revealed the divine glory; while Joshua was confined to a lower region, kept in the place and on the duty of a servant. But we must conclude.
The whole scene that has now passed in review, speaks directly to the heart and conscience. It presents a striking and instructive instance of the goodness and severity of God. The faults and infirmities of his dearest children he neither overlooks, nor forgets to punish. For one offence, and seemingly a slight one, Moses is excluded from Canaan. No humiliation, penitence or entreaty can, of themselves, remove the guilt nor prevent chastisement of sin. The neglect or insult offered by a child, a brother, a friend, strikes deeper than the most violent cutrage from a stranger, or an avowed enemy. The transgression of Moses at the waters of strife was thus aggra vated, and he must die for it. O my God, enter not. into judgment with me, whose crimes are heightened