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History of Moses.


EXODUS XIX. 16-22..

And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; fo that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Mofes brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a fmoke, because the Lord defcended upon it in fire: and the fmoke thereof afcended as the fmoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet founded long, and waxed louder and louder, Mofes fpake, and God anfwered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Mofes up to the top of the mount, and Mofes went up. And the Lord said unto Mofes, Go down, charge the people, left they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perifh. And let the priests alfo, which come near to the Lord, fanctify themfelves, left the Lord break forth upon them.

IN man, as he came perfect from the hands of his Creator, the immortal principle, the "breath of life," "the living foul" exercised its just dominion over the earthly and fenfual part of his nature. In man, degraded by fin, we behold the groffer domineering over the purer, the heavenly fubjected to the terreftri


al, the foul a flave to the fenfes. When our nature through grace fhall be reftored, the foul fhall refume its empire; the body itself shall become spiritual, shall hake off the power of gravitation, and "afcend to meet the Lord in the air," being "fafhioned like unto Chrift's glorious body."

The difpenfations of Heaven are fuited to the condition of man. "God knows our frame, and remembereth that we are duft." He makes fenfe his road to the mind; he feizes the confcience, and melts the heart, by fpeaking to the eyes and the ears. And when we confider how easily, and through how many different channels he can force his way to the inmoft receffes of the man, who but muft fhudder at the thought of meeting the Father of fpirits, ourselves difembodied fpirits; at the thought of dropping the clay tabernacle in its native duft, and of becoming all eye to fee God as he is, all ear to hear his voice, all foul to perceive and comprehend him! If God, encouraging and amiable in purifying and directing fire, in the cloudy pillar, and in harmlefs, unconfuming fire in the bush at Horeb, be awful; if dreadful at Sinai, coming in flafhing, dazzling, threatening fire to promulgate his law; what muft he be " coming in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Chrift?" If the found of that trumpet, which proclaimed the approach of God to Ifrael, was ready to kill the living with fear, what must be the trumpet which fhall awake the dead? Whatever majefty and folemnity may appear in the giving of the law, every one fhall in a little while behold it infinitely exceeded in the confummation of the gofpel.

God has hitherto declared his divine perfections by the effects which they produced. The plagues of Egypt awfully manifefted his power and juftice. The daily fhowers of manna, and water following them from the rock, befpeak his power and goodness. But he now opens his mouth, to proclaim in the ears of VOL. III.



men, his name, his nature and his will. Let us, with Ifrael, at a trembling distance contemplate this great fight, and liften with reverence to the Almighty uttering his voice.

The posterity of Abraham, according to the promife is now become a great nation. But what are multitudes without government, and what government is a bleffing without law? Happiness confifts not in having fuch and fuch poffeffions, but in being fitted to enjoy what we have. The constitution of other states is the work of time, is the refult of experience, arrives at maturity by degrees. Laws and restrictions, encouragements and restraints are fuggefted by events.. when the great Jehovah condefcends to become a legiflator, the utmost extent of poffibility lying open to his view, provifion is made from the beginning for every cafe that can happen. The rule of his government is laid down at once; and the civil and religious conftitution of that nation over which he chofe to prefide, is established by a wifdom which cannot err.


It was not unpleasant, as we were contemplating the scene exhibited in the preceding chapter, to lif ten to a wife and good man giving advice with refpect to the administration of public juftice. But we now tread upon holy ground; and we liften, not to a man like ourselves, but to the only wife God. The whole taken together unfolds an unparalleled display of mercy and majefty, of goodness and grandeur.

Forty-feven days have now elapfed, fince that night much to be remembered," when the destroying angel walked through the midft of Egypt, and flew all the firft born. And how many fingular and interesting events have taken place in that fhort period? The Red Sea has been divided; the bitter waters of Marah sweetened; bread from heaven rained down; a living stream extracted from the flinty rock in Horeb; Amalek discomfited! Whether of the two fhall we most admire, the greatnefs of the works which God performs, or the facility with which he brings


them to pass? What a high value are we taught to put upon time, when we fee to what valuable purposes, through the bleffing and affiftance of Heaven, a little time may be made fubfervient.

Three days more are employed in making folemn preparation for this celeftial vifitation; fo that the law was delivered exactly on the fiftieth day after the celebration of the feaft of paffover: and in commempration of it, the Jewish feaft of Pentecoft was ever after obferved and rendered illuftrious in the annals of the chriftian church, by a new difpenfation, not of terror, but of grace; the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apoftles of our Lord, in the miraculous gift of tongues. Even the minute circumftances of times. and places, may have a fignificancy and an importance of which we have at prefent no apprehenfion. And I am fully perfuaded, when God fhall be pleased to vouchfafe us clearer light, and fresh discoveries of his will, numberlefs inftances of coincidence and refemblance between the legal and evangelical difpenfations fhall rufh upon us, of which we can now form no conception. Why God has appointed the feventh day to be the weekly fabbath; why the law was proclaimed from Mount Sinai juft after feven times feven days had elapfed from the going out of Egypt; why, in the poffeffion of Canaan, the land was to be permitted to reft every seventh year; why the general release, or year of jubilee, was to be statedly observed, after a constant revolution of seven times seven years; and why the Holy Ghoft was given "when the day of Pentecoft was fully come," or after feven times feven days from the day that "Chrift our paffover was facrificed for us?" Thefe are questions which we pretend not to refolve. But certain it is these things have a meaning: "I know it not now, but I fhall know it hereafter."

Sinai, the fcene of this fplendid exhibition, is the highest eminence of a vaft ridge of mountains, which run from eaft to weft through Arabia Petræa, as you

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from the north-eaft coaft of the Red Sea to Paleftine. The adjoining eminence is called Horeb, and is rendered illuftrious by the miracle of the water iffuing from the rock. And from their propinquity, and their forming part of the fame chain of mountains, they are often put the one for the other; and the adjacent defert country is called, indifferently, the wildernefs of Horeb, or the wilderness of Sinai.

Mofes was first called up into the mount alone, and thence fent back to the people with repeated meffages full of tendernefs and love. Preparation was made for the tremendous appearance of the glory of the Lord, by the most gracious and reiterated afsurances of favour and protection. This is the endearing language which the great God condefcends to employ on the occafion; "Ye have feen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto myfelf. Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye fhall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye fhall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou fhalt fpeak unto the children of Ifrael." The beautiful image of the eagle, and her young ones, is happy beyond expreffion, and evidently proceeds from Him from whofe view no part of the world of nature lies concealed. The natural history of that king of the feathered race, were this the time and the place to introduce it, would be the best commentary on the paffage. But we may at least stop to illuftrate, by comparing it with the fame image, delineated by the fame masterly hand, with still greater ftrength of colouring, and greater force and variety of expreffion. "For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a defert land, and in the wafte howling wilderness; he led him about, he inftructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle ftirreth up her neft, uttereth over her young, spreadeth


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