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HISTORY OF MOSES.
LECTURE L X.
And it came to pass when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (with the two tables of testimony in Mo
ses's hand, when he came down from the mount) that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone, while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him.—Exodus xxxiv. 29, 30.
The sun, the great light of the natural with whom we frequently converse, and world, communicates to all bodies a portion whom we dearly love." He who walketh of his own splendour, and thereby confers up with wise men shall become wise; but the on them whatever lustre they possess. In companion of fools shall be destroyed.” At his absence, all things assume the same dis- the social friendly banquet, the eye sparkles mal sable hue. The verdure of the meadow; with delight, the heart expands, the brow is the varied glory of the garden; the bright- smoothed, the tongue is inspired by the law ness of the moon's resplendent orb; the of kindness; every look is the reception or sweet attractions of “the human face di- communication of pleasure. In the house of vine," pronounce in so many different forms mourning, we speedily feel ourselves in uniof expression, “The light of yonder celes- son with the afflicted; our eyes stand cortial globe has risen upon me: if I have any rected, our words are few, our heads droop. beauty or loveliness, with him it comes, and in the cell of melancholy, the blood runs cold, with him it departs." The whole order and the features relax, our powers of thought and system of nature is designed to be a constant reflection are suspended, with those of the witness to the God of grace" the true light moping wretches whose misery we deplore. which enlighteneth every man that cometh What wonder then if Moses, descending from into the world.” If there be in angels any the mount, after forty days' familiar interbeauty of holiness, any fervour of love, any course with “the Lord God, merciful and elevation of wisdom, any, excellency of gracious," had not the appearance of an ordistrength; if there be in man any bowels of nary man; that he had acquired a lustre not 'mercies, any kindness of affection, any gen- his own! “He was there with the Lord forty tleness of spirit, any endearment of charity, days and forty nights; he did neither eat any humbleness of mind, any meekness, pa- bread nor drink water." tience, long-suffering, it is a glory reflected What a sublime idea does this suggest of from “ the Father of lights.” It neither ex- communion with God! What created enjoyists nor can be seen, but as it is supplied and ment has not lost its relish in a much shorter discovered by the eternal Source of light and space! What powers of unassisted nature joy. Say to that tulip, at the gloomy solstice could have so long sustained the want of aliof the year, or at the dusky midnight hour, ment! No one thing in a more humiliating “ Array thyself in all those beautiful tints of manner teaches us our frailty and depend thine wherewith thou charmest the eye ofence, than the constant necessity of recurevery beholder;" it hears thee not, it exhi- ring to the grosser elements for support. bits no colour but one. But with the return of Man, the lord of this lower world, must, with the vernal breeze, and the genial influence the subject tribes, and in a much greater proof the sun, and the moment the dawning has portion than many of them, pass a very conarisen upon it, unbidden, unobserved, it puts siderable portion of his existence in a state of on its beautiful garments, and stands instant- unconsciousness and insensibility during the ly clothed in all the freshness of the spring hours of sleep: he must purchase with the Why is that face clouded with sorrow, why suspension of his reason, during a third part grovels that spirit in the dust, why lacks that of his being, the exercise of it during the heart the glow of benevolence, the meltings other two. The happiness of an immortal be of sympathy? The genial current of the soul ing is, oftener than once in a day, subjected. is frozen up, it is the dreary winter season of to a little bread that perisheth; the spirit, grace. The sun, the Sun of righteousness however willing, quickly feels the oppressive has withdrawn; but lo, after a little while, weight of a body frail and infirm." But bethe winter is past, cheerful spring returns, hold the triumph of the spirit over the flesh : the voice of joy and gladness is heard, “ Arise, or rather, the power and grace of God, which shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of vouchsafing in general to employ means, the Lord is risen upon thee."*
call upon us diligently to use them; but We naturally assume the tone of those which, sometimes neglecting these, and con
* Er. xxxiv. 28.
* Isaiah lx. I.
veying immediate supplies and support, lead | assembly and church of the first-born written us at once to Him who worketh all things af- in heaven," is not composed of men that ter the counsel of his own will."
never “left their first estate," but of “just Moses descends, not with impaired, but men made perfect;” not of creatures like with recruited strength; strength, which, to Adam, in a state of innocence, but of creathe end of life, never more abated: not with tures redeemed by the blood of the Son of a sunk, darkened, extinguished eye: but an God; "justified by the redemption that is in eye, which, having seen God, never after- Christ Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of wards became dim: not with a visage pale the living God.” Let us not, then, regret the and emaciated from a fast of forty days; but loss of an earthly paradise, nor the destruction with a countenance that dazzled the eyes of of the image of a changeable, though perfect every beholder. What a glorious creature creature, while, through grace, we may reis the friend of God; “ Lo, O Lord, they that gain the paradise of God, and be fashioned are far from thee shall perish, but it is good in body and in spirit like unto our glorious for me to draw nigh unto God.” When Mo- Redeemer. ses descended before, he was clothed in just Moses has acquired a glory on the mount resentment and displeasure; he came a mi- which he is not conscious of. * He wist not nister of vengeance, and all Israel trembled that the skin of his face shone, while he as he frowned; he now returns with the talked with him."* The choicest of God's covenant renewed, the tables of the law res- gifts, and humility is one of the most pretored, a messenger of peace, and yet the lus- cious, come not with observation, announce tre of his appearance is intolerable. What not their approach, are not first visible to the must the great JEHOVAH be in his own possessor. But it is impossible to converse glory, when reflected, imparted glory-glory much with God, without appearing more communicated to a creature, thus intimidates glorious in the eyes of men.
Has a man and astonishes! How dreadful the glory of been in the mount with God? He needeth wrath and fiery indignation, when the glory not to sound a trumpet before him, to proof infinite goodness we are not able stead- claim from whence he has come; he has but fastly to behold!
to show himself, and the evidence of it will Moses descended the first time, with the appear. The man has been in the mount tables in their original state, altogether of with God. What are the signs of it? Is he God; and in his haste he effaced and des- ostentatious, self-sufficient. Is he eager to troyed them: but we read of no attempt to talk of his attainments, to exhibit the shining collect the scattered fragments, and to re- of his face, to abash and confound a less unite them. Superstition might have made favoured brother? He is not like Moses, he an improper use of what could not be dis- has not been with the God of Moses, his pretinctly read, and of consequence, but partial- tensions are vain. That man has been in the ly understood ; and true piety will seek some mount with God. How does it appear? Is surer rule of faith and conduct, some more he gloomy and sullen, harsh and uncharitable? powerful assistant in devotion, than the scat- Is his tongue filled with anathemas ? Flashes tered shivers of even a sapphire from the his eye destruction on mankind ? He is a liar throne of God. It has been wofully demon- and an impostor, believe him not; he is not strated to be an easy matter to mar the work come down from the God of the law, from of God. Adam defaced the divine image in the God of the gospel, from the relenting his own person, by one wilful transgression. Father of Israel, from the compassionate Moses cancelled the hand writing of or- Father of the human race: No, he has been dinances in one rash moment: and every conversing with, he has ascended from the thoughtless transgressor is pulling down, in malignant enemy of God and man: by his his own person, à fabric of God's rearing spirit you may know who he is. But all the powers of nature united, are in Pretenders are at as much pains to display capable of rebuilding that temple, of renew- the lustre of their outside, as Moses was to ing that writing, of restoring that image. conceal his. By this then you shall try and He who in the beginning "commanded light know yourselves, and form your judgment of to shine out of darkness," alone can relumine others. Does a man issue forth from his the extinguished life of God in the soul. closet, return from the temple, retire from The hand which at first created man out of the Lord's table, with his temper sweetened, "dust of the ground," alone can form of the his heart enlarged, with the law of kinddead in trespasses and sins, “a new creature ness on his tongue, with the tear of compasin Christ Jesus unto good works.” And what sion, or the lustre of benevolence in his eye? was afterwards laid up in the holy place, and Is he, like Moses, more attentive to the conpreserved while the tabernacle remained ? dition, necessities, and instruction of others, Not that which came pure and perfect from than earnest to blaze abroad his own excelthe hands of the Creator, but that which God, lencies, in order to obtain reputation for by an act of grace and the intervention of a himself? How gloriously does such an one Mediator, recovered. Thus the general
* Exodus xxxiv. 22.
shine in the eyes of men: but that is nothing, gressor to “ hide himself from the presence how gloriously does he shine in the eyes of of the Lord God.” It is conscience that God! And that is true only which God sees makes cowards of all men; it is conscience to be such.
that converts the rustling of a leaf, the shak“ The face of Moses shone and they were ing of a bulrush, into a spectre from the grave, afraid to come nigh him."* Of what import- or a flaming minister from heaven to execute ance is it to inquire, at what particular mo- vengeance. Under the lawful terrors of ment, and through what particular medium, divine glory, they had lately entreated, say. this singular appearance was produced ? Is it ing, " Let Moses speak to us, and we will not sufficient for me, that I see the fruit hear:" but now, even the look of Moses, hastening to its maturity, though the com- though he say nothing, is too much for a mencement and progress of vegetation escape guilty people to bear. Alas, how little do me? I look up and behold the face of the men reflect, when engaged in criminal pursun," and draw comfort from his beams, suits, that the pleasures of sin in which they though the discriminating instant of darkness riot, are one day to become hideous ghosts to and the dawning was too fine for my percep- disturb their repose, to scare the imagination, tion. Let me be able to say, with the man to harrow up the soul, to accuse them at restored to sight, “ One thing I know, that the tribunal of God, to be their tormentors whereas I was blind, now I see,"t and I shall for ever. leave to others a minute inquiry into the Moses, conscious of good-will at all, exultprocess of the cure. Show me a man shining ing in the thought of having procured pardon in the beauty of holiness; a man really and reconciliation for them, but unconscious changed in heart and in life, and I will not of the change which had passed upon his own trouble him to tell me, what perhaps he does person, observes with concern and surprise not know, and therefore cannot declare, at that every one avoided him. , At length be what place, by means of what preacher, or discovers the brightness of his own counteby what dispensation of Providence, the im- nance reflected from their guilty blushing portant change passed upon him.
foreheads; and by words of kindness enA truly good man is among the first to courages them to return, whom the terror of discover, to acknowledge, and to correct his his looks had dismayed and put to flight. own errors and imperfections; but humility We then find him, with the condescension of spreads the veil which conceals his good true goodness, accommodating himself to the qualities first over his own eyes, and he is circumstances of the people whom he was among the last to discern the splendour which appointed to instruct. Intercourse with heaconfounds others. What a powerful charm ven has raised him to a higher pitch of exis there in undissembled goodness, when the altation; guilt and fear have degraded them: wicked themselves are constrained to vene- but love levels the mountains, and fills up rate and to approve it, even while it condemns the vallies of separation. The interposition them.
of a veil reduces him to their standard, because Besides the instance in the text, scripture the confidence of innocence raised them not has furnished us with at least another, and a to his. The law of God must be taught to most illustrious one, in the history of Stephen, the people, though the teacher is become the first martyr to Christianity, after its divine more glorious. This is a plain and striking Author. An enraged multitude, blood-thirsty lesson to all who undertake to instruct others. accusers, and a partial tribunal feel them. It is a wretched ambition merely to shine. selves awed into a temporary reverence; The great aim of a teacher should be to their fury stands suspended while they behold communicate knowledge; and he shows himhim. "All that sat in the council, looking self to be possessed of most, who knows best stead fastly on him, saw his face as it had how to convey it to others. He is the truly been the face of an angel.”I But there is a rich man, who, by the proper use of his greater than even this upon record. The wealth, assists in making many rich; not he band which broke into the garden, with their who possesses a vast hoard which he knows officers, under the commission of the chief not how to enjoy; nor he who makes an priests, and headed by the traitor, to appre- ostentatious display of riches, merely to hend Jesus of Nazareth, were so struck with insult his poorer neighbour. And he who an inexpressible something in his presence speaks three words in a known language, to and address, “ that they went backward and the edification of the hearer, has more real fell to the ground."
learning than the babbler of ten thousand, in But what made Israel to shrink from the a language which no one understands. presence of their gracious leader, intercessor, “ Till he had done speaking,” then, "Ma and friend? What could render the pre- ses put a veil on his face;" sence of his affectionate brother formidable to sound of his voice might be heard, while the Aaron? That which drove the first trans- terrifying lustre of his face was obscured.
But this was not merely an incidental cir-
* Erod. xxxiv. 38.
so that the
• Exodus xxxiv. 30.
cumstance, arising out of the occasion, and operation and effects to a particular district; done away with it; but was designed, in nothing but the religious usages and cereprovidence, to be a symbolical representation monies practised by a particular people, that of the whole Mosaic dispensation : which man looks with a bandage upon his eyes, was nothing else but the gospel under a veil. understands not what he reads, and thereThat this is not a fanciful conjecture, we fore cannot profit. appeal to the great apostle of the Gentiles, There is a gracious intimation in the paswho has removed the veil, and discovered sage we have just now quoted, that a period the hidden glory which lies under it, and is approaching when Israel too shall turn thus writes, “ Not that we," meaning the unto the Lord; when the veil shall be taken apostles of the Lord Jesus under the New away, and Moses, in whom they trusted, Testament, “ not that we are sufficient of shall be seen without a covering; and " if ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves: the casting away of them be the reconciling but our sufficiency is of God. Who also of the world, what shall the receiving of hath made us able ministers of the New them be but life from the dead ?!* Testament, not of the letter, but of the What glorious views of God, of his prospirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit vidence, of his grace, does the gospel disgiveth life. But if the ministration of death, close! The gentile nations behold their written and engraven in stones, was glorious, admission into the family of God, and their so that the children of Israel could not stead- privileges, his children, in the promises fastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory which were made to Abraham and his seed. of his countenance, which glory was to be And the Jews will in time discover the indone away, how shall not the ministration tention and design of their political and reof the spirit be rather glorious ? For if the ligious establishment, in the nature, duration, ministration of condemnation be glory, much and extent of the Redeemer's kingdom: more doth the ministration of righteousness when “ Israel also shall be saved :" as it is exceed in glory. For even that which was written, “There shall come out of Sion the made glorious, had no glory in this respect, Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness by reason of the glory that excelleth. *For from Jacob.”+ if that which is done away was glorious, Human frailty rendered the interposition much more that which remaineth is glorious. of a veil necessary between Moses and the Seeing then that we have such hope, we people; because " they could not look steaduse great plainness of speech. And not as fastly to the end of that which is abolished;" Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the but when Moses went into the tabernacle, to children of Israel could not steadfastly look to converse with God, a veil to cover his face the end of that which is abolished. But being unnecessary, it was laid aside. their minds were blinded; for until this day It is natural to hold out our most favourremaineth the same veil untaken away, in able appearance to men, to catch at their the reading of the Old Testament; which good opinion, to secure their approbation ; veil is done away in Christ. But even unto but we see in Moses a mind intent only upon this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon usefulness. He joyfully gives up a little their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall fame, for the sake of doing much good. If turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken the church of God be enlightened, what is it away.
to him that he himself is a little obscured? From the days of Moses down to those of His lustre is to illuminate Israel. Vain glory Paul, and by Paul himself, in the days of his always defeats the purpose which it had ignorance, Moses was heard and read with formed; humility as certainly gains the the veil over his face; was understood in the point at which it aimed not. Who does not letter, not in the spirit; and even after the esteem Moses, modestly shrouded in a veil, veil was done away in Christ, who is “the infinitely more than all the loquacious boastend of the law for righteousness;" after the ers and exhibiters of themselves that ever types were explained, the predictions ac- existed ? Moses, in talking with the people, complished, and the great prophet of the employed a veil, not as a mask to insinuate Jews had brought all his glory, and laid at a false idea of what he was not, but to conthe feet of the great Apostle and High Priest ceal the real excellency which he had ; unof our profession, still the people who had like the hypocrisy and disguise of the world ; the best means of information, who had the and, to use disguise with God he knew would power of comparing spiritual things with be impious, profane, and unavailing. We spiritual, read them, and continue to read find him changing his appearence, as the them to this day, under the power of passion occasion required. This was not, in him, and prejudice. And he who sees in Moses, versatility and address, a cunning accomand the other writings of the Old Testa- modation to circumstances for selfish ends; ment, nothing but the histories of certain but the compliance of wisdom and necessity, events long since past, and confinel in their in order to be more extensively useful. Thus *2 Cor. iii. 5-16.
Rom. xi. 26.
* Rom. xi. 15.
Paul " became all things to all men, that he glory of his person was a rare and singular might gain some.” And, for the same rea- attainment; but that of his spirit may be imison, a greater than Moses, a greater than tated and attained by all. His piety, resigPaul disdained not the festivity of a mar- nation, and obedience; his meekness, genriage solemnity; refused not the invitation tleness, and compassion, present amiable of one ruler, nor rejected the visit of an- patterns, ånd they are the ornaments suited other; abhorred not to eat with publicans and to your present state. It is given but to a sinners, if by any means the ignorant might favoured few to exhibit heroic virtue, to perbe instructed, the proud and selfish checked form splendid actions, to acquire extensive and reproved, the modest encouraged, and reputation; but none is excluded from the the mourner comforted.
honour of simple, modest worth, of habitual At the first descent of Moses from the beneficence, of honest fame. And those are mount, we see the glory of a man zealous the most valuable and solid acquisitions, for God: at his second, the glory of a man which " are in the sight of God of great owned and honoured of God; "the skin of price.". his face shining.” But at his appearance many Steady and persevering intercourse with days afterwards on Tabor, we behold a saint, Heaven will infallibly transform the whole from the world of bliss, altogether glorious. man into the image of God. The very exteSuch is the blessed effect of being with God rior will be meliorated and improved, and the and “ seeing him as he is,” not for forty days world itself will “ take knowledge" of the only, but during a series of ages. And disciple who has been with Jesus.” The what must it then be, to " be ever with the exercises of the closet will be seen and felt Lord," to glorify God, and to be glorified of | in the serenity of the countenance, the kindhim“ in body and spirit which are the ness of the eye, the melody of the voice, the Lord's?" And why was Moses again ex- affability and graciousness of the whole dehibited on the mount of transfiguration ? portment. “ Let your light so shine before Wherefore again displayed in glory? Again men, that they may see your good works, to put a veil upon his face, to empty himself, and glorify your Father which is in heaand to deposit his glory at the feet of Him | ven.' in whose light and likeness he shone-To The time is at hand when the glory which talk with Jesus “concerning the decease he irradiated the face of Moses shall be impartshould accomplish at Jerusalem.”
ed to the whole company of the redeemed; The Jewish Rabbins pretend to account when the name of God and the Lamb shall for the unabated vigour, the unfading lustre shine in every forehead. Behold, and won of the latter years of the life of Moses, from der, behold, and rejoice in the hope of the these very circumstances. The eye, say glory of God, “A woman clothed with the they, which had endured the sight of God, sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon could not become dim: the natural strength her head a crown of twelve stars."t “ They which supported a fast of forty days, could that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of not sink under any future decay.
the firmament, and they that turn many to Christian, consider Moses, the man of God, righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." invested with lustre which dazzled the eye “ The Lord God is a sun and shield: the of every beholder, and which length of time Lord will give grace and glory: no good could not impair; and reflect, what a height thing will he withhold from them that walk of glory communion with God can raise a uprightly."8 fallen creature; and aspire after a participa
| Rev. xii. I. tion of that grace which adorned him. The i Dan. xii. 3.
Ś Psalm lxxxiv. 11.
* Matt. v. 16.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. And
Moses did look upon all the work, and behold they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even had they done it: And Moses blessed them.--Exodus xxxix. 42, 43. If reason were to maintain its full domi- | natural impulse of a gfatefuland'affectionate nion in man, were the senses perpetually heart. The vast universe would become one under the control of the mind, a motive to re- great temple; every pebble, every plant, ligion would be continually supplied from the I every star would be a witness for God; and