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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 redeenied 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 de. parted 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 si. milar 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 agents 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 me. diator, and intercede for them with their offended Sovereign. "We have sinned,” they exclaimed, " for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee: pray unto the Lord, that he take away the 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
in a conspicuous place. He then assured the people, on the promise of God himself, that whoever after being bitten would look on this brazen serpent, should not die. A mere look,-a single ex. pression of faith in this appointed means of deliverance, and of implicit dependance on the mercy of God to afford it, would be sufficient,--and the bite of the venomous reptile should prove harmless.
And so it was; he who looked was rescued, while the scoffing, the unbelieving, the doubting, and even the hesitating, who would not turn the eye of the mind, (of which the outward eye is only the organ,) to the symbol of safety, perished. God chose his own way of affording relief; and a most striking one it was, to teach that obstinate and selfwilled people, that nothing short of a voluntary and prompt compliance with his requirements, could save them from the punishment due to their sins.
By the cross of Christ, he would teach us the same truth, and
open for us a way of escape from the wruth to come. It may appear to us a strange and mysterious way. We may bewilder ourselves with attempting to find out the reasons of it,_all the reasons, or enough of them fully to satisfy us,and not find them. What then? So might the Israelites have done, and probably many of them did, with regard to the brazen serpent,-maintaining that they could see no possible connection between the means used, and the end to be attained.