תמונות בעמוד

of one is the triumph of the other, and the triumph of both is equally pointed out in the writings of Paul as a degeneracy, a misfortune, – yea, a sin to be wiped out only by the destruction of nations, or some terrible and unexpected catastrophe, and the obscuration of all that is glorious and proud among the works of men.

I make these, as I conceive, necessary digressions, because a discourse on Moses would be pointless without them; at best only a survey of that marvellous and favored legislator from the standpoint of secular history. I would not pull him down from the lofty pedestal whence he has given laws to all successive generations; a man, indeed, but shrouded in those awful mysteries which the great soul of Michael Angelo loved to ponder, and which gave to his creations the power of supernal majesty.

Thus did Moses, instructed by God, — for this is the great fact revealed in his testimony, - lead the inconstant Israelites through a forty years' pilgrimage, securing their veneration to the last. Thus did he keep them from the idolatries for which they hankered, and preserved among them allegiance to an invisible King. Thus did he impress his own mind and character upon them, and shape their institutions with matchless wisdom. Thus did he give them a system of laws moral, ceremonial, and civil — which kept them a powerful and peculiar people for more than a thousand years, and secured a prosperity which culminated in the glorious reigns of David and Solomon and a political power unsurpassed in Western Asia, to see which the Queen of Sheba came from the uttermost part of the earth, — nay, more, which first formulated for that little corner of the world principles and precepts concerning the relations of men to God and to one another which have been an inspiration to all mankind for thousands of years.

Thus did this good and great man fulfil his task and deliver his message, with no other drawbacks on his part than occasional bursts of anger at the unparalleled folly and wickedness of his people. What disinterestedness marks his whole career, from the time when he flies from Pharaoh to the appointment of his successor, relinquishing without regret the virtual government of Egypt, accepting cheerfully the austerities and privations of the land of Midian, never elevating his own family to power, never complaining in his herculean tasks! With what eloquence does he plead for his people when the anger of the Lord is kindled against them, ever regarding them as mere children who know no self-control! How patient he is in the performance of his duties, accepting counsel from Jethro and listening to the voice of Aaron! With what stern and awful majesty does he lay down the law! What inspiration gilds his features as he descends the Mount with the Tables in his hands! How terrible he is amid the thunders and lightnings of Sinai, at the rock of Horeb, at the dances around the golden calf, at the rebellion of Korab and Dathan, at the waters of Meribah, at the burning of Nadab and Abihu! How efficient he is in the administration of justice, in the assemblies of the people, in the great councils of rulers and princes, and in all the crises of the State; and yet how gentle, forgiving, tender, and accessible! How sad he is when the people weary of manna and seek flesh to eat! How nobly does he plead with the king of Edom for a passage through his territories ! How humbly does he call on God for help amid perplexing cares! Never was a man armed with such authority so patient and so self-distrustful. Never was so experienced and learned a man so little conscious of his greatness.

“ This was the bravest warrior

That ever buckled sword;
This the most gifted poet

That ever breathed a word:
And never earth's philosopher

Traced with his golden pen,
On the deathless page, truths half so sage
: As he wrote down for men.”

At length — at one hundred and twenty years of age, with undimined eye and unabated strength, after having done more for his nation and for posterity than any ruler or king in the world's history, and won a fame which shall last through all the generations of men, growing brighter and brighter as his vast labors and genius are appreciated — the time comes to lay down his burdens. So he assembles together the princes and elders of Israel, recapitulates his laws, enumerates the mercies of the God to whom he has ever been loyal, and gives his final instructions. He appoints Joshua as his successor, adds words of encouragement to the people, whom he so fervently loves, sings his final song, and ascends the mountain above the plains of Moab, from which he is permitted to see, but not to enter, the promised land; not pensive and sad like Godfrey, because he cannot enter Jerusalem, but full of joyous visions of the future glories of his nation, and breaking out in the language of exultation, “Who is like unto thee, O people saved by Jehovah, the shield of thy help and the sword of thy excellency !” So Moses, the like of whom no prophet has since arisen (except that later One whom he himself foretold), the greatest man in Jewish annals, passes away from mortal sight, and Jehovah buries him in a valley of the land of Moab, and no man knoweth his sepulchre until this day.

“That was the grandest funeral

That ever passed on earth,
But no one heard the tramping,

Or saw the train go forth,

None but the bald old eagle

On gray Beth peor's height, Which from his rocky eyrie

Looked on the wondrous sight.

“ And had he not high honor —

The hillside for his pall --
To lie in state, while angels wait

With stars for tapers tall;
And the dark rock-pines, like tossing plumes,

Over his bier to wave,
And God's own hand, in that lonely land,

To lay him in the grave ?

“O lonely tomb in Moab's land!

() dark Beth peor's hill ! Speak to these curious hearts of ours

And teach them to be still!
God hath his mysteries of grace,

Ways that we cannot tell;
He hides them deep, like the secret sleep

Of him he loved so well.”

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