« PreviousContinue »
We find, succeeding these solemn exhortations, a series of statutes and ordinances, most of them a recapitulation of what had before been promulgated, respecting the domestic, social, civil, military, and religious institutions of the Israelites, and the manner in which they should treat the inhabitants of Canaan ; to rehearse which would be to repeat almost verbatim the portions of Scripture that record them. They are contained in the Book of Deuteronomy, from the twelfth to the twenty-sixth chapters inclusive; to which the reader is referred, with the advice before given, of making these, and the other parts of the saine subject, matter of careful study and investigation.
We must not fail to notice, however, one very remarkable passage in the eighteenth chapter, in which Moses utters a prediction concerning the Saviour of mankind. When at Horeb, the Israel. ites having entreated that they might not again hear the voice of Jehovah, nor see the great fire, lest they should die, the Lord thus spake unto Moses: “I will raise them up à prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
What prophet, after Moses, ever has appeared
among the Jews, to answer to this description, except the Lord Jesus Christ ? This has been abun. dantly shown by the most able expositors of Scripture, and, is, indeed, put beyond all doubt by the express declarations of Peter and Stephen, in the third and seventh chapters of the Acts of the Apostles; and our Saviour himself, it would seem, confirms this testimony when he says to the Jews, in asserting his claims to their reverence and belief; "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father : there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.'
Having rehearsed, in the presence of the assembly, the various statutes and ordinances which God had commanded him to do, Moses reminded the people of the solemn covenant into which they had entered. It was made between them and Jehovah; they promised fidelity and obedience, and, in this case, God pledging himself to regard them as his peculiar people, and to distinguish them, by his blessings, above all the nations of the earth. What an honor to enter into such a covenant! What exalted privileges it confers! What affecting obligations rest upon the Israelites, to preserve it inviolate !
Certain religious ceremonies, after they had entered the promised land, were to be performed by the Israelites, to impress still more deeply upon
their memories, and their hearts, the divine injunctions. They were commanded by Moses, to set up in mount Ebal stones of a great size, and so prepared that on them could be written the words of the law-which he had announced to them. On the same spot they were to erect an altar to the Lord their God, and on it offer up their burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and have a season of religious festivity and rejoicing, in grateful remembrance of the blessings which had been bestowed upon them.
Mount Ebal was near Shechem, and over against mount Gerizim, from which it is separated by a valley of about two hundred paces in width. These mountains are seven or eight hundred feet high, and the sides of both are barren and dreary. Here, in addition to the setting up of the stones, and the other religious ceremonies which have been mentioned, one more transaction of deep and imposing solemnity was to take place.
Moses commanded the Israelites when they had performed those ceremonies, to separate themselves into two grand divisions; six of the tribes standing on mount Gerizim, and six on mount Ebal. The former were to utter blessings on the people, in case of obedience, and the latter, curses, should they prove disobedient. A portion of the Levices, also, were to pronounce the curses of God against
certain peculiar offences; the people acknowledg ing themselves justly liable to these denunciations, should they prove guilty, by a responding Amen.
Still further, as if he could not do enough to lead such a perverse and fickle nation to feel their ob. ligations, and the power of the motives to obe. dience, Moses proceeded, himself to pronounce a series of blessings upon them, of the most distinguished kind, if they would hearken diligently unto the Lord their God and obey his commandments.
These he followed with a corresponding succes sion of curses, severe, desolating, and terrific; which might well fill them with horror at the very idea of provoking such manifestations of the divine vengeance by their transgressions. Alas! they did thus provoke them; and the exact infliction of the evils contained in these denunciations, has formed one of the most striking fulfillments of the sacred prophecies.
When will the tender mercies of the Lord, on the one hand, and his awful terrors, on the other, affect the heart of man, and bring him to obey his Maker ? How self-willed, how selfish, how sensual is that heart; how opposed naturally to the divine requirements; how prone to set them all at defiance!
Truth, motives, blessings, curses, make no efficacious impression on thut heart, without the accompanying influences of the Spirit of Grace. The Israelites of old often grieved that Spirit ; and God abandoned them to their own wicked
and to the judgments denounced against transgression. ·
And how, my young friend, do the promises and threatenings of God affect your heart? Do they produce corresponding emotions of gratitude, and of a salutary fear ? Look at them in their true and momentous import. Implore the influences of the Holy Spirit, that you may feel, and yield to, their sanctions.
The ratifying of the covenant. Moses encourages Joshua,
and delivers to the priests and elders copies of the law. Divine communications to Moses.
" Ye stand this day," said Moses," all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood, unto the drawer of thy water : that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy