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DEUTERONOMY iv. 11, 12.
And ye came near, and stood under the mountain;
and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven with darkness, clouds and thick darkness. And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire.
AMIDST blessings and deliverances, in judga
ments and in mercy, have we hitherto seen the triumph of the church of God, and the destruction of its enemies. Through every generation has it proved true, that faithful is He that has promised; and through every generation will it remain true, that the righteous ness which is of Christ will make foolish the wisdom of this world, and afford us knowledge
and consolation, when the vanity of human science shall appear, and the help of man be fruitless. During a series of ages commencing with the original promise made to Adam, and marked by special acts of grace and favour, a worship and religion, founded upon the expectation of a Redeemer, and typical of the nature and glory of his kingdom, has been uniformly continued and protected from the fall to the flood, from Noah to the call of Abraham, from him to his descendants, and to the appointed close of their afflictions in Egypt, are periods to which no human record pretends to reach, but to which the scriptures of God bear ample and accurate testimony. By these, the design and scheme of Providence is developed; the trials and rewards of expecting and patient faith, before the law was given, are detailed; the promulgation of that sacred institute, with the concomitant sanctions and miracles that confirmed it, together with the prophecies which testify its purpose, and the glory that should follow, are all revealed; and all coincide to form one great preparative to that most merciful and glorious event, wherein the seed of the woman
was to bruise the serpent's head, and all the families of the earth to be blessed.
We now proceed to the history of a people, which, though expressly written (as we are told) for our example, and the only one upon earth in which we are peculiarly interested, is too often set aside for pages, which, however al. luring by their strains of poetry or eloquence, substitute only the virtues and policies of nations which knew not God, nor looked for his salvation ;-pages, which, for the righteousness of God, present us with the splendid vanities of man; for his plain testimony set before us, the philosophy of the disputant, and for his sanctification, the wisdom of this world; a wisdom, of the melancholy effects of which the present state of Christianity bears witness, and which; in nations who have cultivated that alone, the Almighty hand, bringing to nothing the understanding of the prudent, has rendered foolishness indeed.
In this book of Deuteronomy (so called from being a republication or repetition of the former law) Moses, as a last testimony of affection for those whom he had so long governed and in
structed, recapitulates the marvellous instances of an interfering Providence, and the miraculous train of events which had accompanied their rescue from Egyptian bondage, and supported and directed them for a series of years in a barren and pathless wilderness. He reminds them of their mutinous upbraidings and consequent punishments, of their repentance and forgivenesses. He exhorts them to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments of the Lord their God, and to walk in his ways; that He might be unto them a God, and keep unto them the covenant and the mercy, which He had sworn unto their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But if they failed in the observance of them, and to fear and worship that great and glorious name the Lord their God, that instead of being multiplied and blessed, they should be left few in number, they should be scattered among all people, and should perish from off the good land, which the Lord was to give them for an inheritance.
The Jewish law-giver had now nearly compleated the purport of his office, and the end of his appointed days; he was arrived on the banks of the river Jordan, which it had been ordained he should not pass; and of those who had departed with him from Egypt, the greatest part had been cut off for their rebellion from the land of promise, and had fallen in the wilderness. To their surviving posterity, therefore, the relation of these events would carry with it all the interest of domestic narrative; and the rising generation, whose instruction he seems to have chiefly in view, from having thus made known to them the origin of their fathers' misfortunes, might be taught to acquaint themselves early with their Creator, to remember that God was their rock, and the High God their Redeemer. That they might acknowledge the merited chastisement of those who had so signally paid the penalty of disobedience, Moses, in the words before us, carries them back to the promulgation of the law on mount Sinai; to the manifestation of God's will before the whole assembled host of Israel; to the covenant then ratified between them and their Creator; to the proclamation of mercy, which rested upon their covenanted obedience, I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.