Page images

the east side of Araba, called Wady Mousa. Here are the remains of an ancient city, supposed to be Petra, the capital of Arabia Petræa. The western side of the valley is closed by a lofty mountain, on the summit of which is shown, what is called the tomb of Aaron. It is a small white modern Arab building, crowned by a cupola, and visible at a great distance; the mountain towering above all the rest in its neighborhood, and forming one of the marks by which the Bedouin regulates his wanderings in the desert.

The spot is thus described by an American traveller who lately visited it, the author of "Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petræa, and the Holy Land:" "If I had never stood on the top of mount Sinai, I should say that nothing could exceed the desolation of the view from the summit of mount Hor, its most striking objects being the dreary and rugged mountains of Seir, bare and naked of trees and verdure, and heaving their lofty summits to the skies, as if in a vain and fruitless ef fort to excel the mighty pile, on the top of which The buildthe high-priest of Israel was buried." ing is about thirty feet square, containing a single chamber." In this chamber are some steps leading to an apartment below; at the other end of which is "an iron grating, opening in the middle; and behind the grating a tomb cut in the naked rock, guarded and reverenced as the tomb of Aaron."

Aaron was ready to die. He obeyed the summons with a mind stayed upon God, and undoubtedly left the world, expecting, through the divine mercy, to enter the mansions of the blessed. My young friend, are you ready to die? Ask yourself the question with all that solemnity which its importance demands. For it is a serious thing to die. Then your time for repentance closes, and Christ no more offers to become your Saviour, and the Holy Spirit ceases to strive with your spirit to lead you to God.

It is a serious thing to die. Then you must appear before God, to give him an account of all that you have done, and especially of the manner in which you have treated his offers of mercy through Christ. It is a serious thing to die. Then you must have your condition fixed for eternity, either among the redeemed in heaven, or the lost in the world of despair. Are you prepared to die?



Fiery serpents sent.

The brazen serpent; a type of

Soon after the season of mourning for their departed high-priest had ended the Israelites were


attacked by king Arad, the Canaanite, who succeeded in taking some of them prisoners. They seem, on this occasion, to have earnestly implored the divine assistance. They vowed, that if God would interpose in their behalf, they would utterly destroy that people. He heard their supplications. They repelled their enemies; and in the time of Joshua, some years afterwards, the Lord delivered up these Canaanites, and in obedience to his directions, the fearful vow was carried into execution.

We must never forget that in this and other similar instances of the extermination of the heathen by the Israelites, they acted in conformity with the express commands of God, as the executioners of his justice, and not that they might, in doing it, indulge any feelings of personal vengeance. These nations, by their long course of abominable wickedness, deserved the punishment which the Almighty, in his holy indignation, inflicted upon them. He might have cut them off by famine or pestilence, or overwhelmed them in sudden destruction by earthquakes. But, for wise reasons which we may not be able to discern, he saw fit to employ human igents as the instruments of his justice. If those who were less guilty than others, and the children and infants, were involved in the general ruin, this was only what happens in many cases where a wide-spread disease, or the bursting forth of a volcano, or the raging of a hurricane, accomplishes an

equally terrible and universal destruction. In whatever shape the punishment comes, we may be assured that the Judge of all the earth will do right. While a whole population may suffer death, even in its most awful forms, (and all must die in some way or other,) in the retributions of eternity every thing will be adjusted, and the final account of each individual settled in conformity with the most exact justice.

But to return to the narrative. The Israelites now left mount Hor, and directing their course towards the Red Sea, rested again at several stations which they had visited in their former wanderings. Having arrived on the borders of the sea, and passing by Elath and Ezion-gaber, they turned to the left and crossed the ridge of mountains to the eastward of the latter place. On this part of their route, they became greatly discouraged by the difficulties which they had to encounter, and the length of the circuitous way that they were taking to reach the promised land.

They broke out again into sinful murmurings both against God, and against Moses. "Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water, and our soul loatheth this light bread"-the manna with which we have so long been supplied as our daily food.

A new chastisement awaited their discontent


and want of confidence in God. He sent fiery serpents among them; so called, either on account of their bright, flaming color, or from the burning heat and pain occasioned by their bite. They appeared in great numbers in all parts of the camp; and many died in consequence of being bitten by them, so fatal was the venom, and sudden in its effects. Every one was exposed to the danger, which was continually increasing. There was no way of escape, for in fleeing from one serpent, they had to meet the appalling attack of another. The panic became universal. The shrieks of fear were mingled with the groans of the dying; and all began to regard their doom, though protracted a little, as inevitable.

In the extremity of their sufferings, they fled to Moses, that he might once more become their mediator, and intercede for them with their offended Sovereign. "We have sinned," they exclaimed, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against the thee: pray unto the Lord, that he take away serpents from us.”

Moses prayed; and his intercessions prevailed, so far as to have a way of deliverance provided for such as would show their confidence in God by resorting to it. In conformity with the divine direction, a brazen serpent was made, resembling in appearance those which were such a terror to the Israelites and it was elevated by Moses on a pole


« PreviousContinue »