Page images

inspiration, that God had not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither had he seen frerverseness in Israel ; when it appears from the preceding part of the history, that the Israel. ites were remarkable for their rebellious disposition. The meaning appears to be, that, as a nation, they had not arrived at such a degree of wickedness, as to..provoke God to curse them, or give thein up as a prey to their enemies ; on the contrary, the Lord God Himself vouchsafede to dwell among them as their King, and did not approve of enchantments and divinations being employed against them.

The subsequent part of the prophecy foretold the future conquests of the Israelites. The king of Moab, fearful that he should hear a prediction against his own nation in particular, interrupted the prophet, and for a time relinquished his desire of having them accursed.

What Balaam foretold, respecting the worldly prosperity of the Israelites, was remarkably fulfilled, as we shall read in the future part of the history ; from whence we may infer, that the death of the righteous among them was attended with comfortable hopes respecting futurity ; for the prophet, who spake by Divine inspiration, seems to have envied them for the latter, rather than for the former blessing.

How dreadful must be the death-bed of a man who has lived in a constant course of wickedness ! • * Imagination cannot furnish ideas strong enough to describe the misery of a sinner, who is expiring with all his senses about him : looking back on his past life with unavailing remorse; looking forward to eternity with the expectation of intolerable torments. How different is the condition of him, who, in his last hours, has the approbation of his own concience, and the inward consolations of the Holy Spirit ! He regards death as the * Sce Bishop Sherlock's Sermon on this text.


gate of life ; he waits with patience and tranquillity for that summons, which, he trusts and believes, will call him to perpetual joys, will introduce him to the presence of his God and Saviour, and restore him to the society of those dear relatives, who are either gone before to their heavenly rest, or, who, after their pilgrimage on earth is finished, will join him in the blest abodes."

From this slight view of the different conditions of the wicked and the righteous at the hour of death, an hour which will come to all, who would not join in Balaam's wish, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like his ? If such is really our ardent desire, let us endeavour to live the life of the righteous; and what that is, the Scriptures will fully inform us.





From Numb. Chap. xxiii. xxiv. AND Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place : peradventure it will please God, that thou mayest curse me them from thence.

And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looked towards Jeshimon.

And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven áltars, and prepare me here seven bullocks, and seven rams.

And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bul. lock and a ram on every altar.

And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to VOL. II.



[ocr errors]

bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face towards the wilder. ness.

And Balaam lift up his eyes, and he saw Israel abid. ing in his tents according to their tribes, and the Spirit of God came upon him.

And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:

How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel !

As the vallies are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.

He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.

God brought him forth out of Egypt, he hath as it were the strength of an'unicorn ; he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with arrows.

He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion : who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.

And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together : and Balak said unto Ba. Jaań, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.

Therefore now flee thou, to thy place : I thought to promote thee unto great honour, but lo, the Lord hath kept thee back from honour.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,

If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak.

And now, behold, I go unto my people : come therefore, and I will advertise thee, what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.

And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open, hath said :

He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty falling into a trance, but having his eyes open :

I fshall see him but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir' also shall be a. possession for his enemies, and Israel shall do valiantlyer Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.

And when he looked on Amalek, he took up parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations, but; his latter end shall be, that he perish for ever,

And he looked on the Kenites; and took up his pa.. rable, and said, Strong is thy dwelling place, and thou. puttest thy nest in a rock,

Nevertheles, the Kenite shall be wasted until Ashur shall carry thee away captiye. this

And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when Gon doth this !, :

And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and bjaioqueib T 2



shall afflict Ashur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever. · And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to liis place; and Balak also went his



[ocr errors]

The king of Moab must have had a very malignant mind to persist, as he did, in wishing to bring the curse of God on a people, who had not discovered the least intention of annoying him or his subjects; and it was very treacherous in Balaam' to concur with this distrustful monarch, in his cruel design against those, who were entitled to the peculiar love and kindness of their own Prophet.

Balaam, having practised every art he could think of, to render the LORD propitious to his wishes, resolved, as it seems, to seek for no further inspiration from God, but to speak his own words, if not obliged to do other) wise, however, the SPIRIT OF THE LORD came uponhim uninvoked, and he was again impelled to bless Israel, which he did in still more exalted language than before.

The general purport of his prediction was,' that the Israelites should be a very powerful and flourishing people. Balak had already heard much more than he wished to hear, but he did not yet know all the LORD meant to inform him of. It certainly was a very proper punishment both to the king and the prophet, for the first to be told, and the latter to relate, what the people they had conspired together to curse would do to the Moabites, and other neighbouring nations. The confederates were now effectually divided, for the malice of one party was defeated, and the covetousness of the other


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »