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No. As in the death of Moses, therefore, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy we behold the justice and severity of God, so victory ? Thanks be to God, who giveth us in its consequences, we behold his goodness the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” and loving kindness. The evil is slight and The saying that is written is come to pass, temporary; the good is unspeakably great, death is swallowed up of victory; mortality and' eternally permanent; exclusion from is swallowed up of life.” “ Life and immorCanaan is admission into the kingdom of tality are brought to light by the gospel.' heaven; “to be absent from the body is to be We “know whom we have believed :"i we present with the Lord.” Faith, indeed, believe in him who hath said, “I am the reredeems not from the power of the grave, surrection and the life; he that believeth in but it dissipates all the horror of the tomb: me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. transforms it into a resting-place for the And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, weary pilgrim; and converts the king of shall never die."* terrors into a minister of joy. “O death, i
* John xi. 25, 26.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt
thou be gathered unto thy people.-NUMBERS Xxxi. 1, 2.
The interest which every reader of taste | hausted as I am, is there no one respect in and sensibility takes in the life and actions which I can yet glorify God, or be useful to of Moses is never permitted to flag, much my fellow creatures ? And to the last, the less totally to sink and expire. His infant great Supporter of life, the Ruler of the cries, from the very first moment, awaken world, has some command to give, some our sympathy; and his departing words, at labour to be performed, some exercise of the the age of a hundred and twenty years, con- hand, the head, or the heart to enjoin, some tinue to excite our esteem and admiration. purpose of justice or of love to accomplish. Whether employed as a minister of ven Moses has received warning to depart, but geance or of mercy, he inspires affection or the hour of release is not yet come. And commands respect.
though his offence at the waters of Meribah The love of life is not only natural and in- must be punished with death, the tranquillity nocent, but important, and necessary. We of his mind is not thereby discomposed, nor are instructed to guard, to preserve, to pro- his intercourse with Heaven interrupted, por long it, at once by the constitution and frame his zeal in performing the duties of his staof our nature, and by manifold examples of tion abated. The God whom he had so long the highest authority. And while Providence and faithfully served, continues to converse permits the farther extension of it, the rea- with him as a man with his friend, commusons and end of that extension are obviously nicates to him his designs, and employs him manifest. Not a single hour is added to the in the execution. Our lives too are forfeited ; life of any one, merely to make up such a the sentence of death is upon us; under a quantity of time. No, every moment is des- respite of unknown, uncertain duration, our tined to its peculiar purpose, passes to ac- days are passing away. Improved ever so count, calls to its proper use and employment. well, they cannot indeed redeem from the To dream of premature retirement from the grave, nor alter the immutable decree; but exercise of our faculties and functions, of their improvement may alleviate the bittermere existence without employment, is an ness of death and pluck out the sting. The attempt to defeat the intention of the Creator inevitable course of nature, and the righteous in sending us into the world; is a degradation decisions of a holy law, destroy not the sacred and perversion of the powers of the human communications which subsist between a mind; is to be dead while we live. The merciful God and a gracious spirit. To reinquiry of a well regulated spirit
, to the last
, ceive a command from an offended father, is, “Lord, what wouldst thou have me do?" after judgment has been pronounced, parWhile any of my powers remain, however takes of the nature of a pardon; and it is no blunted, however impaired, to whom shall I slender consolation, even under the stroke of dedicate the poor remains ? Enfeebled, ex- justice, to reflect that paternal affection uus
pleased to regard and accept future obedience nument, how certainly, however slowly, and submission, if not as an atonement for eternal justice overtakes the sinner! offence, at least as a mark of contrition for The immense booty which this easy vichaving transgressed. As if, therefore, we tory transferred to the Israelites, is a farther 'could wipe out the memory of the past; as if demonstration of the feebleness and dissolupersevering labours of gratitude and love tion of their unwarlike enemy. They had could purchase our release; as if death were wealth without being rich, luxury without to be prevented, disarmed, or destroyed, enjoyment, policy without wisdom, kingly the efforts of the passing moment, let us power without government, and zeal for awake and arise to the knowledge, the study, religion without an object of worship. Conand the practice of our heavenly Father's quered the moment they are attacked, will.
having no resource in public or private virThe service prescribed to Moses on this tue; men lost to a sense of what constitutes occasion was the execution of justice on a true female dignity, women precipitating nation of offenders. The nature of the of that corruption of which they were the misefence has been hinted at in a former Lec- rable victims—they hold up to mankind a ture; and we may form a judgment of its fearful but instructive example of the native, enormity, from the vengeance which pur- necessary, inevitable consequences of vice. sued it. The state of Midian, at the period Up to similar causes the downfall of still in question, exhibits the last stage of moral greater states may be traced ; and if sin be depravity—a corrupted people carrying on a the ruin of any kingdom, what individual temporary political design, by means the offender shall dare to flatter himself with most scandalous and dishonourable—the the hope of escaping the righteous judgment dearest and most delicate interests of human of God? nature vilely sacrificed to its worst and The severity with which judgment was most disgraceful propensities-husbands executed on the Midianites, helps farther to countenancing the prostitution of their wives, unfold their character. An effeminate, luxand parents that of their daughters, in order urious people, generally excites contempt at to gratify ambition, avarice, or revenge. A most; but here a holy and just indignation nation of such a character is necessarily is kindled. Heaven itself is up in arms hastening to utter destruction, without fire against a degenerate race; and Moses, the from heaven, or the sword of a foreign ene- meekest of men, accuses the exterminators my. But what vice was accelerating by its of the whole race of Midian of weak and own native energy, Providence hastens to excessive lenity. How is this to be accountan issue by a special interposition, and “the ed for? It will be found on inquiry, that in Lord makes himself known by the judgment a very dissolute state of society, vices of the which he executes."
most odious and atrocious kind are necessaThe force which it was thought proper to rily blended with others less offensive. The employ for the extermination of this de- love of pleasure is the predominant characbauched race, is indication sufficient how ter; but in order to feed and support that low its character was rated. Immersed in passion, arts the most criminal and detestsensuality, enervated by luxury, a handful able must be employed. Injustice, violence, of men was deemed enough to destroy them. perjury, and murder follow in the train of A thousand out of every tribe of Israel, twelve lust. The moral principle is destroyed : all thousand men in all, Moses considers as fully sense of shame is lost. The general depracompetent to the execution of this enter- vity keeps every individual transgressor in prize; and the event fully, justified the countenance. Appearances are no longer estimate he had made. It is likewise re- attended to or kept up. Men glory in their markable, that he neither commands in this shame. The very Offices of religion are expedition, in person, nor commits the con- perverted into instruments of debauchery. duct of it to Joshua, or any other of military Such, apparently, was the state of Midian at profession ; but to “ Phinehas, the son of the period under review; such was that of Eleazer the priest,” furnished " with the Israel during the government and priesthood holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow, of Eli; and such was that of the Assyrian in his hand.” We have here, therefore, the and Roman empires immediately previous to idea of a solemn public execution, rather their subversion. And in such a state, is it than of regular war. No resistance is made, any wonder to see heaven and earth comno blood but that of the criminals is shed; bined to root out and overthrow-a holy they dare not meet in the field those whom and righteous God employing the ministrain the secret chambers they could ensnare. tion of the gentlest of mankind to cut off the In vain their hoary adviser Balaam, urges name and memory of such a people from the them to feats of arms, and sets them an ex- earth? When punishment so signal is inflictample of courage ; supported by five kings ed, we may safely infer, that the guilt which end their armies, he falls together with provoked it from such hands was enormous. them, by the sword of Israel, an awful mo On reviewing the little army of Israel,
after the victory, a fact turns up unequalled In the faint resistance made by the Midiin the history of mankind—not so much as anites to a force so small, we behold the naone of the twelve thousand has fallen in tive tendency of vice to enfeeble and enerbattle: and that in attacking and destroying vate. Sunk in effeminacy and sloth, they a nation so populous as to contain thirty-two are overcome as soon as attacked. Strong thousand females of a particular description.* in cunning, they are destitute of true wisThe hand of God was clearly visible in this, dom, and defective in valour. The foe that and thankfully acknowledged. The super- assaults, that conquers them, is within. “The fluous ornaments which lately published the wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the shame of Midian, now proclaim the piety and righteous is bold as a lion." Addictedness gratitude of Israel; and become part of the to the pleasures of sense gradually, though sacred treasury of the tabernacle. Every insensibly, encroaches on all the nobler princreature of God is good in itself, and intend- ciples of our nature, undermines and subed to do good. Use the world so as not to verts them. Every spring of the soul is reabuse it, and the Creator is glorified. laxed through disuse; the bodily powers Every day added to our life is as much a become languid, and the sluggish giant bemiracle of mercy, as the preservation of comes an easy prey to the active and vigorous every individual of the twelve thousand in child. Exercise your faculties, and they will the day of battle. Let our gratitude declare increase and improve : neglect them, and itself in an habitual devotedness of heart and they will quickly fall into utter decay. Fear* life, to the God of our life, and the length of God, maintain "a conscience void of ofour days; let us present our bodies a living fence,” and bid defiance to what earth and sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which hell can do against you. is our reasonable service: and be trans In the freewill offering of these grateful formed by the renewing of our mind, that Israelites for protection and deliverance in we may prove what is that good, and ac- the day of battle, behold a laudable example ceptable, and perfect will of God.”+ of attention to the ways of Providence, and
In the punishment inflicted on Midian, of thankful acknowledgment of them. Let we behold a righteous God prosecuting an friends, after the days of separation are at an injury done to Israel as an insult offered to end, after the hour of danger is past, reckon himself
. And indeed every offence against their numbers. Do they remain entire, not society is a direct attack of the divine one missing, is no allay mingled with the joy authority, which 'has fenced the person, the of re-union? It was the hand of God that fame, and the virtue of our neighbour on every supported; he “ gave his angels charge conside, against all the assaults, whether of cerning you." "He covered you with his violence or deceit. The character and con- feathers; his truth was your shield and buckduct, in connexion with the untimely end of ler; no evil befel you, no plague came nigh the arch seducer Balaam, are an awful and your dwelling.” “Give unto the Lord the instructive instance of the justice of God in glory due unto his name; offer unto him making signal guilt its own avenger, and thanksgiving, honour him with your subfurnish a striking illustration of the obser- stance;" present “ the calves of your lips," vations made by the psalmist and his wise the devotedness of your hearts, the obedience
“ Behold he travaileth with iniquity, of your lives. and hath conceived mischief, and brought Does the punishment of this people ap forth falsehood. He made a pit, and digged pear to any rigorous and excessive ? Let it, and is fallen into the ditch which he them consider that they are very incompemade. His mischief shall return upon his tent judges of God's moral government; that own head, and his violent dealing shall come they see but a few scattered fragments of the down upon his own pate. I will praise the vast scheme of Providence; that creatures Lord according to his righteousness; and themselves, ignorant, weak, and criminal, will sing praise to the name of the Lord most must be much disqualified to "hold the bahigh."1 * The heathen are sunk down in lance and the rod;" that every transgression the pit that they made, in the net which of the divine law merits death; that "fools" they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord only - make a mock at sin." Let the whole is known by the judgment which he exe-earth tremble before Him "who will by no cuteth : the wicked is snared in the work of means clear the guilty:" who has denounce! his own hands."'S “For the ways of man“ indignation and wrath, tribulation and anare before the eyes of the Lord, and he pon- guish against every soulofinan that doth evil,** dereth all his goings. His own iniquities while to the humble and contrite in heart, shall take the wicked himself, and he shall he proclaims his name, “ The Lord, the Lord be holden with the cords of his sins. He God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and shall die without instruction: and in the abundant in goodness and truth; keeping greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, trans * Num. xxxi. 35. Rom. xii. 1, 2. i Ps. vii. 14-17.
gression, and sin :"* « visiting the iniquity of § Psalm ix, 15, 16.
* Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7.
1 Prov. v. 21-23.
the fathers upon the children, unto the third soul is absorbed. He walks already on air, and fourth generation of them who hate and beholds the world under his feet; but him; but showing mercy to thousands of forgets not that he is yet in it, and that in them that love him and keep his command- every state, and at every period of existence, ments."
a rational being may promote, and ought to In the leader and commander of Israel be- be studying how he may best promote the hold, once more, a man exalted far above all honour of his Creator, by administering justemporary, all selfish concerns; occupied only tice, or extending mercy to his fellow creawith the interests of tru and justice, the tures.—Consider his well; and, in your duties of his station, the prosperity of his sphere, with the means and ability you enjoy, charge, the glory of Him who had conferred go and do likewise—and God grant us all it upon him. In this last object his whole wisdom to know and do what is well plea* Exodus xx. 5, 6.
sing in his sight.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye
be come over Jordan, into the land of Canaan, then ye shall appoint you cities, to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities which ye shall give, six cities shall ye have for refuge. "Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them; that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.-NUMBERS Xxxv. 9-15.
Human laws are generally the result of ex But the constitution of the commonwealth perience, not the provision of foresight. Oc- of Israel possesses distinctive features. It casion dictates the encouragement to be was formed by Divine Wisdom long before given, the restraint to be imposed, the punish- it had a local residence wherein to act. The ment to be inflicted. The multiplication of laws by which Canaan was to be governed, new and extraordinary cases, must of course
were enacted in the wilderness. Prescience swell the statute book; through change of made provision for cases which could not as circumstances some institutes must sink in- yet have arisen. Republican equality was to disuse and oblivion, and others rise into blended with absolute, unlimited theocracy; existence and force. Hence the variety, the a liberty and a sovereignty established in opposition, the contradiction of different codes perfect harmony, and yet both to their utmost of law, not only in different countries, but in extent. The Levitical part of the constituthe same country at different periods. tion was adapted to this state of things. The
There are, at the same time, certain gene- priesthood, in respect of property and possesral and fixed principles of law applicable to sion, was reduced below the level of their every state of society; which founded in brethren; while by their office and employeternal, unchangeable truth and justice, are ments, the homage paid and the provision in perpetual force and of universal obligation. made for them, they were raised above their Divested of every thing arbitrary, local, and fellows. They were appointed to minister temporary, they address themselves to the at the altar of God; and it was his will, and understanding and conscience of every man, it was reasonable, that they should live by it. and irresistibly carry conviction with them. One of the last public services in which The genius, character, and progress of any Moses was employed, is the settlement of people, a sagacious observer will be able to this branch of the political economy-the trace, with tolerable accuracy, in their legis establishment of religion, without which no lation, in their institutions, political and re- state can long exist; and the appointment of ligious; for those of a moral tendency never a moderate, but certain and steady provision vary. It is easy to discern in the spirit of for its ministers. the laws, what is the spirit of the nation; to Forty and eight cities, in all, with their discern whether liberty or despotism, mode- suburbs, and an extent of territory around tation or tyranny is predominant
every one, not exceeding two thousand cu
bits, in all directions, were to be set apart for strument of a man's death, were superaddthe tribe of Levi, and distributed by lot. As ed alarming apprehensions and painful rethe lot was specially ordered by Divine Provi- straints. dence, the dispersion of this tribe over the The first regulation limited the number of whole land, there is good reason to believe, these cities to six, for the whole commoliGod in wisdom overruled favourably to the wealth of Israel. Hence, an escape to a exercise of their sacred function. Óf their place of refuge must, in many instances, other privileges and immunities, we are not have been effected through much danger, now led to treat. The words we have read exertion, and labour; and the unhappy fugi. limit our attention to an institution, in many tive must frequently have felt all the bitterrespects singular, and unexampled in the ness of death in his solicitude to flee from it. history of mankind—the appointment of six Thus, while the finger of mercy pointed to of the Levitical cities as places of refuge for the strong hold of safety, the voice of justice the unintentional, and therefore less criminal exclaimed, “Flee for thy life, look not be manslayer. Respecting this institution, and hind thee, lest thou perish; behold the avenits reason and design, the following particu- ger of blood is at thy heels." lars recommend themselves to our notice. But that the danger, and the anxiety re
The provision here made refers to a case sulting from it, might be diminished as far of singular importance to society; on which as the limited number of the cities would adindeed the very being of society depends mit, it was determined by the lot that these the security of human life against violence. should be dispersed at the most commodious To take away the life of another is the most distances, over the country; and it was ex. atrocious offence which man can commit pressly provided that three of them should against man. The laws of every well-regu- be on each side the Jordan, in order to facili. lated community have accordingly marked tate and secure escape at the seasons when it as the object of just vengeance, saying, in that river overflowed its banks, and rendered the language of the supreme Legislator, a passage tedious, dificult, or impracticable. “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall In the same view, it has been affirmed, and his blood be shed.” But into the commission seems probable, that the roads which led to of this offence, as of every other, circum- these cities were formed and maintained at stances of aggravation or alleviation may the public expense, and that their breadth enter; and every wise legislator will take was very considerable : that every obstructhese into consideration; adapting the degree tion was removed out of the way, bridges of punishment to the degree of criminality, were thrown over interposing streams, and distinguishing the action, as connected with, when roads happened to cross or separate, or separated from the intention. To the an index, inscribed with the word Refuge wilful and deliberate murderer no place was pointed out the right course. And thus an to serve as a sanctuary; to him the altar it- institution humane in its design, was renderself was to afford no protection. But a man ed more so, by the manner in which it was may deprive his neighbour of life without observed. incurring the guilt of murder; and it must But again—the city was, in the first inbe imputed to him as a calamity, not a crime. stance, to serve only as a temporary refuge, To meet such a case, the provision in ques- and afforded shelter only till inquiry was tion was made; and a refuge was provided made into the fact, and judgment was solemnfor both the citizen and the stranger who ly given between the manslayer and the might“ unawares,” without malice or inten- avenger of blood, upon evidence adduced. tion, occasion the death of another.
If criminal intention was proved, there was This refuge, however, was not wholly un- no remedy, blood demanded blood, the prisonrestricted, but subject to a variety of regula- er must be delivered np to the bands of justions, all calculated powerfully to impress on tice. If otherwise, public protection was the minds of the people, an awful sense of granted, and he was restored to his refuge. the value put on the life of man by the great The ordinance having it in view not to preLegislator: and to serve as a caution not vent and suppress the truth, but to bring it only against deliberate violence, but even openly and fully to light. against carelessness and inattention, where The innocence of the prosecuted party the life of another was concerned. Blood having been made clearly to appear, he was lies heavily, as it ought, on the head of him restored indeed to his refuge, but it became, who sheddeth it, however innocently; and at the same time, his prison. Exiled from the consciousness of it will ever be felt as a his native possession, and from all that rensevere punishment by a sensible heart, though dered it dear; doomed to live among strinle no judge arise to avenge it. But punishment gers, to subsist on their bounty, perhaps to to a certain degree was inflicted on the man- feel their unkindness or neglect, he must slayer, by the very statute which appointed drag out a comfortless existence, to an unthe refuge; and to the uneasy reflections known, uncertain period : or stir abroudl unarising from having been the unwilling in- der constant apprehension and hazard of his