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determined them to investigate the affair with the utmost accuracy. They accordingly traced their goats, and were led by them through rugged and rocky places to a little vale, where, upon examination, they discovered a kind of cave out of which proceeded a very agreeable smell, resembling that which the goats conveyed on their fleeces, and had first suggested the inquiry. In the middle of the cave they found a tomb of stone, on which certain characters were engraven, which, being illiterate, they could not decypher, but they soon perceived that the sweet smell was communicated to their persons and garments. Upon this they went immediately to Mataxat, patriarch of the Maronites, who resided at the monastery of St. Mary, on Mount Lebanon, and related to him the particulars of their discovery. The fragrance that still adhered to their clothes confirming their testimony, he sent two of his monks with them; one of them, a man of profound erudition, named Aben-Useph, who found, in the place pointed out to them a monument inscribed with these words in Ilebrew, Moses The SERVANT OF THE LORD. The patriarch, transported with joy at a discovery so marvellous, besought Niorat, Pacha of Damascus, to constitute him sole guardian of the sepulchre. But the Greeks and Arminians, as well as the Franciscan friars, and after them the Jews, violently opposed it, and, unable to agree, tried by dint of interest at court, by presents to the Mufti and Grand Vizier, to appropriate each to themselves the superintendence of this tomb, which they equally believed to be that of Moses, and which the Jews, with peculiar earnestness, insisted must belong to them. They represented that, among all the possessions of the Grand Signior, none could be more valuable and illustrious than the property of three sepulchres so renowned as that of Mahomet at Mecca, of Jesus Christ at Jerusalem, and of Moses in mount Nebo. But the Jesuits had the address, by presents happily applied, to defeat the claims of all these pretenders, and to obtain an order for shutting up the sepulchre, and obstructing the road that led to it; nay, for prohibiting all access to it, under pain of death. They were, meanwhile, forming a design of secretly conveying off the body of Moses, which they flattered themselves would prove a considerable accession of respectability, and a new source of wealth to their order. Having, however, with much difficulty and danger, penetrated into the sepulchre, it was found entirely empty ; no body, no relics appeared."* These pleasing chimeras vanished almost as soon as formed; for a learned Rabbin proved that the person interred in this tomb, was not the ancient legislator of the Hebrews, but a modern Jew of the same name.
The sacred history says, that Moses died the fortieth year after the deliverance from Egypt, and the most part of the Jewish writers fix the day of his death to the seventh day of the last month of that year, or the month Adar; and our learned and pious countryman, archbishop Usher, calculates it to have happened on the first day of the same month.
There is a passage in the New Testament which refers to this event, and which has greatly exercised the labour and ingenuity of critics and commentators : it is in the general epistle of Jude, where that disciple, in reproving the rashness and licentiousness of certain herelics, “who despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities,” quotes an example of very high authority, as condemning the practice: “Yet," says he, “ Michael the archangel, when, contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”+
Now, as many questions almost as words have been started on this subject : what is an archangel ; and who is Michael ? How came the body of Moses to be a ground of controversy between him and the devil, what were they
* Hornius, Secul. xvii. Art. xxxii. p. 536
severally aiming at, and what was the issue of their quarrel ? What authority restrained Michael from preferring a railing accusation against him, how his conduct comes to be adduced as a pattern of self-government, and a reproof of the vices of the tongue ? And from what source did Jude derive his knowledge of this transaction ? The very mention of so many, some of them, on the first glance, unimportant questions, will, I doubt not, check curiosity altogether, instead of exciting it. It is evident, that the death and burial of Moses interested heaven and earth and hell; that many historical facts of great moment are purposely left unrecorded ; that many discoveries are reserved for that great and notable day of the Lord, when God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing whether it be good or evil; that it becomes not us to be wise above what is written, but to rest in hope, that “what we know not now, we shall know hereafter.” This much we know, that, about fifteen hundred years after, Moses appeared in glory (" whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth") to do homage to his Saviour on the mount of transfiguration, and to lay his glory at the feet of him in whose light he shone ; and we know as the hour is coming when all who are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."*
Such was the latter end of, “take him for all in all," the greatest mere man that ever existed. But I check myself. It is impossible to do any thing like justice to such a character in a few moments discourse : you will indulge me with another hearing on this subject : I mean, to preach a funeral sermon : the only one I ever undertook without pain, over a character and a memory to which no eloquence can rise, no detail do justice: in celebrating which, praise cannot degenerate into panegyric, nor the preacher be suspected of adulation.
Moses died in the year of the world two thousand five hundred and fiftythree-before Christ one thousand four hundred and fifty-after the flood eight hundred and ninety-seven. The most ancient and authentic of historians, the most penetrating, dignified, and illuminated of prophets, the profoundest, sagest of legislators, the prince of orators and poets, the most excellent and amiable of men, the firmest and faithfullest of believers. “Whether we live, let us live unto the Lord,” that when we die we may “ die in the Lord;" that "living and dying we may be the Lord's."
* Joba v. 28, 29.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
DEUTERONOMY XXXIV. 10, 11, 12.
And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses whom the Lord knew face to face : in
all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.
There is in mankind a good-natured disposition to spare the dead. Without very high provocation indeed, who could think of disturbing the peace and silence of the grave, and of dragging again before the tribunal of man those who have already undergone the more awful judgement of a righteous God ?
But this generosity does not always proceed from pure benevolence. The dead no longer stand in our way; they are no longer our rivals in the pursuits of fame or of fortune. We can here earn the praise of magnanimity, without any danger of suffering in the interests of our reputation, our consequence, our self-love. From whatever source this lenity and forbearance proceed, we would not be thought altogether to condemn them; but good-nature in this, as in a few other cases, is apt sometimes to be carried too far. Through fear of being thought severe to those who have no power to defend themselves, extravagant and unmerited commendation has been often lavished on the worthless and the wicked. I will cheerfully engage not to violate the ashes of the dead by unjust censure, nor even by inerited invective; but I must not be forced, on the other hand to commemorate virtues that were never practis ed; to bring to light worth that never existed, except in the tropes of a funeral oration; to represent as right, what God, and truth, and reason pronounce to be wrong. My tongue shall be silent as the grave over the memory of the proudest, most selfish, hard-hearted, unkind, uncomplying wretch that ever lived: but I must not be called in to prostitute my conscience by celebrating his humility, generosity, compassion, or sweetness of temper. I would correct the common adage a little, and then give it all the currency in my power. Instead of rendering it, “ of the dead say that only which is good," I would translate it, “ of the dead say that only which is true.”
Indeed, the best thing that can befal most men, when they die, is to be forgotten as soon as possible. Few, very few characters are such as not to suffer by handling; and there is great danger of rousing and provoking slumbering resentments against our departed friends, by an officious zeal to trumpet their praise, and display their good qualities. The praise bestowed on the dead is generally contemptible adulation to the living ; adulation, vilely bestowing the rewards of piety and goodness on mere greatness or affluence, and thereby strengthening the hands of vice, by lulling the conscience to rest, and deceiving men into the belief, that a good name may be purchased without possessing a spark of virtue.
The liturgy of our established church, in how many other respects soever useful and excellent, is here faulty, and certainly does mischief. The funeral service, one of the noblest, because one of the most scriptural parts of it, with indiscriminating charity dispenses the kingdom of heaven to the evil and the good, to “ him that sweareth as to him who feareth an oath.” The wretch whose whole life has been a notorious violation of every law human and divine, who grew old in hatred and contempt of the gospel, falls asleep in the “ sure and certain hope of a resurrection to eternal life.” What is this but to encourage men to continue in sin, that grace may abound; to live profligates, and yet hope to die in peace ?
Happily, the character we are this evening to bring under your review will stand the test of the strictest examination, will shine with superiour lustre from being touched and retouched, will discover new excellencies on every investigation, will furnish to the humble, the penitent, and the believing, perpetual ground of instruction and consolation. After a course of more than fourscore Lectures on the life, character, and writings of Moses, it may perperhaps be thought superfluous, to employ the whole of another discourse in attempting to elucidate his character, to recommend his example, to embalm his memory. But it is this very circumstance which determined me to attempt a delineation of this wonderful man's portrait, to request that you would join me in meditating a few moments over one who has been honoured of God, to do more, in order to please and instruct mankind, than any mere man that ever existed. To say truth, I consider the person of Moses as a pledge of affection between you and myself. He brought us together at first, and he has kept us together a considerable part of these three years past; to part with him and his writings seems a kind of presentiment of our final dissolution likewise ; and, in losing him, I feel as if I were losing a thousand friends at a stroke. But let us speak and think of Moses not of ourselves.
It is impossible to think of Moses without first thinking of “his Father and our Father, of his God and our God.” To be a chosen instrument in the hand of Heaven to carry on the plans of Povidence, to promote the wisdom and happiness of mankind, is man's highest glory : as it is his truest felicity to do this voluntarily and from the heart, as an obedient, zealous, and cheerful fellow-worker with God. Now, Moses possessed this distinction and felicity in a very eminent degree. God raised up Pharaoh “in very deed for this cause, to shew in him his power, that his great name might be declared throughout all the earth ;” and Pharaoh, unhappily for himself, accomplished the designs of Heaven, by his pride, obstinacy and rebellion. God called .“ Cyrus bis anointed, by name, and surnamed hiin who had not known him for Jacob his servant's sake, and Israel his elect." Nebuchadnezzar he employed as the rod of his anger to chastise a disobedient and gainsaying people and then broke it in pieces and dashed it to the ground. These, and many others, stand upon record, as executing the will of the Eternal without their own consciousness or intention, nay, totally against it; but Moses had the rare felicity of engaging in one of the most generous purposes which can animate a human breast, knowing it to be, at the same time, the leading, commanding purpose of God himself. Every step he moved was supported by the enlivening reflection, that every step he moved was executing the decrees of the Almighty, and promoting the relief and salvation of his wretched countrymen. How delightful the progress, when duty and inclination go hand in hand!
The circumstances in which God raised up Moses mark him peculiarly as his own. Every thing concurred to prove, that here “ the arm of the Lord was revealed.” Another king had arisen, “who knew not Joseph," the hope of Israel seemed to be perishing; Egypt was alarmed with expectation, or rather apprehension, of the appearance of this wonderful child; Ísrael was awakened to expectation, but abandoned it in despair. To reach the life of one, ten thousand innocents perish by the sword. But, as if in defiance of the precautions of human wisdom, Moses is born in the very rage of that persecution which threatened his life. The daughter of Pharaoh becomes his protector, and Egyptian Magi vie with each other in rearing that genius, whose ascendant threatened the downfall of their country; and Moses is become great, before the world apprehends that it is he by whose hand God would deliver his people from bondage.
This brings us forward to the period when his personal character began plainly to unfold itself; and it discovers to us a mind superiour to every mean, every selfish gratification. Men love to adopt the cause that prevails; and the cause of Israel was at that time low indeed. At a certain period of life passion bears unlimited sway. At forty, the calls of ambition and pride are loudest; and they who are themselves at ease are little disposed to embark in the miseries of others. But in Moses behold a man, not sunk into poverty violently obtruded upon him, but poverty deliberately chosen ; a man of forty relinquishing, without reluctance or regret, the pleasures, riches and honours of a court, and exchanging them for the labour and oppression of an Israelitish slave, and glorifying in the reproachful name of Hebrew, much more than in that of “the son of Pharaoh's daughter.” Behold the manly indignation of a noble spirit hastening to avenge wretchedness and depression of insolence and cruelty, and in the punishment of one oppressor exhibiting an anticipated view of that great deliverance which, in process of time, God was by him to work in behalf of a whole people.
The same spirit which beheld Egyptian oppression with just resentment, beheld discord among brethren with godly sorrow and regret. He boldly exposed his life to repel the one; in the spirit of meekness he tried to heal the other : and he very early experienced the ungracious, and ungrateful, and discouraging requital of services the most kindly intended; the sad presage of that life of mortification unparallelled, and most unmerited, which he was afterwards called to endure. The insolent retort of an unkind brother awakened prudence, and put him for a season to flight; for valour, as the case then stood, valour against such fearful odds, could not have deserved the name of courage, but of rashness.
Providence still directs his path, and conducts him at once to usefulness and happiness. It seems as if the all-wise Jehovah meant to display in Moses an example of the great and of the petty virtues, the virtues of the man, of the citizen, and of the believer united ; and in none of his future exploits, perhaps, is he more amiable more estimable than in protecting the virgin daughters of Jethro from the violence of their rough and surly neighbours. Here we behold again on what delicate hinges the great God turns round the affairs of men. This piece of natural, honest, commendable gallantry, introduces Moses to the acquaintance of a prince, lays the foundation of an important alliance for life, and influences all his future fortunes, and feelings, as a man.
Hence we are conducted to the delicious, the calm, the contemplative period of our hero's mortal existence. We behold a simple shepherd tending a flock not his own, but enjoying tranquillity and contentment; secluded from the society of men, but blessed with the visions of the Alinighty ; losing himself in sweet oblivion of a busy, bustling world, awake only to the innocent joys of domestic life, and the sublimer pleasures of religion. It was in all