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immediate direction of God, composed a song, * in which are at large described the many benefits and favours of God to his people, their ingratitude to, and forgeifulness of him; the punishments by which he corrected them, with threatenings of greater judgments if they persisted to provoke him by a repetition of their follies. This song Moses recited to the people, and gave order that they should learn it, and repeat it frequently; that when for their transgressing the Law, many calamities and troubles should befäl them, this song might be a witness for God against them.
The time was just now approaching, and the people ready to pass over Jordan ; but the Lord having before told Moses, that he should not conduct the people into the promised land, because of his error at the waters of Meribah, he bid him now get him up into the mountain Abarim unto the mount Nebo in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and take a view of the land of Canaan, and then die there on that Mount, as his brother Aaron had died on Mount Hor.
Moses had before endeavoured to deprecate one part of his sentence, his not being permitted to enter into the promised land, but in vain ; he therefore now humbly submits to the pleasure of God, and takes a solemn farewell of the people in a prophetic blessing, which he pronounced upon each tribe, as Jacob had done just before his death. And having before, by God's command, appointe: Joshua to be his successor, to conduct the people to the promised land, laying his hands upon him in such a solemn and pub. lic inanner, as gave all the people to understand, that after his death Joshua was to be their leader, Moses went up to the top of Pisgah over against Jericho, from whence, as the Lord had promised, he could take a full view of the countries round about.
Though his end was just approaching, and he an hundred and twenty years old, yet he was in such good health and full strength, that neither was his eye dim, nor his
Song. Ibid. ch. xxxii.
natural force abated ;* therefore, while these lasted, he with pleasure surveys the beauteous prospect. He views the delightful town and plains of Jericho; sees Lebanon's fair cliffs and lofty cedars, and then resigns his soul into the hands of angels, who waited to convey him to a happier Canaan than what he had just before surveyed.
The Lord, who knew the wanton inclination of the Israelites to idolatry, lest they should pay any superstitious adoration to his remains after death, paid the funeral ho. nours to this great prophet himself, and in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-Peor, buried him so secretly, that no man ever knew where his sepulchre was. And though he had no public monument or tomb-stone erected, yet this stands as an honourable epitaph on him recorded in holy Scripture, Deut. xxxiv. 10, 11, 12
What prophet by the sacred breath inspird,
Thus died that illustrious prophet Moses; whose death, when the children of Israel understood, they lamented with great solemnity, weeping and mourning for him in the plains of Moab thirty days.
Thus far the sacred history was of Moses' inditing, which contains the five first books of the Bible, and is thence called the Pentateuch. All antiquity, both sacred
'Abated. The extraordinary activity and zeal of Moses cannot be too much admired. Those lively and pious exhortations which abound in the book of Deu. teronomy were delivered during the last month of his life. What a bright example does this afford, especially to the ministers of the Gospel, to be unweared in their exertions for the glory of God, even after they have received intimations that the time of their departure is at hand.
and profane, acknowledge Moses to have been the legis. lator of the Jews ; and that whole nation has always carefully preserved his books, as containing their law.
When the tribes were divided into two kingdoms, both of them preserved the same respect for those books, as being written by him. The Samaritans, who came after. wards, received them from the Israelite priests; the Jews carried them to Babylon, when they were led captives thither ; they brought them back, and afterwards revised and corrected them. Profane authors have spoken of them, as written by Moses. In short, it is as certain, that they were written by Moses, as those which are ascribed to Herodotus, Thucydides, and Cæsar, appertain to those whose names they bear. It is possible there may been some slight additions and alterations made in them; but the bulk of the history and the laws could not be altered.
As to the truth of the history we have several proofs. 1. It is the most ancient in the world; for whether Moses was contemporary with Inachus the first king of Argos, who lived six hundred years before the war of Troy; or whether he did not live till the time of Cecrops, king of Athens, who reigned three hundred years before that war, it is certain he is much more ancient than Homer, Hesiod, or any profane writer. 2. Moses is the only person that has given a plain and historical account of the origin of the world, and who has continued that history uniformly, and without any interruption to his own time. All that others have written of the first ages is, as they own themselves, mere ignorance, darkness, and fable. 3. Moses wrote at a time, when he could be sure of the truth of what he wrote, and when it might have been easy to have convicted him of falsehood, had he delivered any fables. 4. We have nothing in ancient history, nor in fable, to prove that the world is older than Moses represents it. 5. His history agrees with the profane historians of seve. ral nations. We there find the original of several nations, and their ancient names which many of them have still preserved. But if religion did not convince us, that the books of Moses were written by divine inspiration, yet
reason ought to persuade us that his history is true, and the only one wherein we can learn when the world began, and how long it has lasted. As for the last chapter of Deuteronomy, it was undoubtedly written by Joshua, as a preparation to his history, and could not be supposed to be written by Moses, as giving an account of his own death.
The five books of Moses contain the history of the Jewish people and their immediate ancestors from Adam, for the space of 2553 years. The style of his writings, and the matters of which they treat, are equally singular, interesting, and admirable; and in one particular he differs from every other legislator; for while others are contented with the honour of giving laws, Moses delivers the reasons on which those laws are founded, and derives them immediately from the Almighty. Nor, amidst the blaze of his sublime descriptions, and his ardent zeal for the honour of God, has he forgotten to record his own failings and imperfections, with a degree of humility as rare as it is honourable. His writings, and the concurrent testimonies of all ages, deservedly place him as the first of Prophets, Historians, Lawgivers, and Poets : and though much of what he wrote was wrapt up in the obscurity of types and shadows, yet it was intended to lead the people of God to the knowledge of the Redeemer. Hence our Lord says to the Jews, “ Had ye believed Moses, ye “ would have believed me, for he wrote of me.”
No prophet, beside Moses, had the honour of saying, “ The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet “ from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me ; “ unto him shall ye hearken.” This has been fully accomplished in Jesus of Nazareth, to whom therefore we ought to give ear. And we ought to remember the declaration of the New Testament, that “ if he that despised Moses' law died without mercy, of how much worse punishment shall he be thought worthy, who shall refuse to hear Him that speaketh from heaven ?”
BOOK THE THIRD
PON the death of Moses, Joshua, by the commandof
God, undertakes the charge of the children of Israel. He had been prime minister to Moses for the greatest part of those forty years, in which the Israelites had wandered in the Wilderness; had seen the wonderful works God wrought by Moses; understood well the nature and disposition of the people; was one of the twelve spies who were sent to search the promised land, and one of the two who gave a just report of it, in opposition to the other ten who gave an evil and false account of it. For these and other qualifications, he was formally installed into his office with very solemn ceremonies; Moses having, by God's command, presented him before Eleazer the priest, laid his hand upon him, and imparted to him some* of the honour that was upon himself, in the sight of the whole congregation.
Being now ready to enter and take possession of the promised land, God, for the greater encouragement of Joshua, confirmed and enlarged his former commission, by giving him a more immediate and express command, as he had before done to his servant Moses, to conduct
Some, &c. See Numb. xxvii. 20.