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I was in distress." If so, the words of Moses refer to the troubles of Gad, prophesied of by his dying father, and the history of the deliverance and enlargement of that tribe, from the hands of their enemies, Jeptha the Gileadite. We read of Gadites in David's time, who were "6 mighty men of valor," whose faces were like the "faces of lions" and were "as swift as the roes upon the mountains." Hence he is said "to dwell as a lion, and to tear the arm with the crown of the head;" the emblems of sovereignty and strength, intimating that none should be so high or powerful, but the might of Gad should bring him down. The blessing in the 21st verse plainly refers to the provision already made for this tribe in conjunction with Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh, in the kingdoms of Og and Sibon. "And he provided the first part for himself, because there in a portion of the law-giver was he seated and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel," Deut. xxxiii. 21.
The younger children of a numerous family, are to a stranger so many uninteresting, insignificant names; they have a mere family likeness, they speedily become undistinguishable, we mistake the one for the other. It is not so with the parents; they have distinguishing marks for each, they have a particular affection for every one; they have something to say to, to say of, every one. Thus Dan and Naphtali and Asher are to us so many words without a meaning; but in the eyes of Moses all have a special importance, each particular blessing has a special meaning, and the last is not the least in his affection. But as strangers we pass by the rest, and distinct ideas of only two or three of Judah and Levi, and Benjamin and Joseph, cleave to our memory; these we would know among ten thousand, these we can never forget.
We must now suppose Moses to have finished his round, to have returned to his place; and closing the
solemn scene with taking a general survey of the whole, he rises from the goodly tents of Israel, to the contemplation and acknowledgment of Israel's God, and he finally desists from speaking and acting, in rapturous admiration of Him in whom he lived; moved and breathed; he begins heaven on earth, by pouring out his soul in the bosom of the God of heaven and earth. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine, also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and thou shalt tread upon their high places," Deut. xxxiii, 26...29.
....Moses pronounced a blessing which he could not bestow, which has long ago spent itself, the effects of which are no longer visible. Christ led out his disciples as far as to Bethany: "and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them," Luke xxiv. 50. He pronounced a blessing in his power to confer, which has not spent its force, which reaches into eternity: "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world," Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us". "All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth." What are the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them? What is now
the land which once flowed with milk and honey? Where are now "the ten thousands of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh?" The blessing even of Joseph has failed, and the beauty of Mount Ephraim is no more. But we receive from our greater prophet "a kingdom which cannot be moved; an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away." His benediction embraces a globe; extends from generation to generation; unites his second to his first coming; expands a new creation, new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness;" exalts guilty, fallen men to the dignity of the sons of God. Let him bless me, and I shall be blessed. Lord, lift thou upon me the light of thy countenance, and I shall be saved; breathe upon me, and I shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
....The blessing of Moses implied succession and change, contention and triumph; exhibited the "confused noise of the warrior, and garments rolled in blood," the exaltation of one on the depression of another the blessing of Christ presents stability and permanency, harmony, and peace, equality and acquiescence; exhibits only the noble contention of generous and affectionate spirits, the triumphs of benevolence; the spirit of adoption bursting from every lip, Abba Father; the spirit of brotherly love glowing in every bosom, tuning the tongue to the law of kindness, beaming from the eye in looks of tenderness. A greater than Moses is with us: we "are not under the law, but under grace."
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm-trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shall not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-Peor : but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.... DEUT. XXXIV. 1...6.
WHEN strangers accidently meet to perform to
same voyage or journey, they are apt, at first, to regard each other with looks of caution and distrust; they converse sparingly, and with reserve; they conceal their views and purposes in their own breasts; they attempt to dive into the characters and designs of their fellow-travellers. By degrees this suspicious cautiousness wears off; it becomes their
mutual desire and endeavor to please and oblige, they feel themselves united by a common interest, their communications become frequent and free, they discover all that is in their hearts, they take a kind concern in each other's future fortunes, they exchange tokens of affection, they devise the means of coming together again, and part at length with regret. We seem, my brethren, to have been travelling through a vast country; we seem to have been conversing with men of a different age and religion; we have contemplated many a fair prospect, we have marked many successive changes, and, at the end of another stage or two, we must separate, and bid each other farewell. Like men acquainted and friendly, who know each other's meaning, and wish each other's happiness, we look back to our common pilgrimage with some degree of satisfaction, and forward, I trust, with some degree of desire to meet together again. The mutual token which, in the mean time, we shall carry with us to stir up our minds by way of remembrance, is one that touches the heart by more than one spring, the memory of a dear and estimable common friend, who has contributed much to our pleasure and improvement, who was lovely and pleasant in life, and in death fills the soul with admiration and regret; but whom we have the felicity of considering as having only preceded us a little in a journey, on which we too have already entered, and the end of which will bring us to the same home with him.
The pen has now dropt from the hand of Moses, and silent is his tongue; and another, not himself, must tell us what he is, and how he died. Every scene in the life of this illustrious man is singular, and as instructive as singular; and his latter end is not the least interesting and useful. He had now completed his one hundred and twentieth year, without having become subject to the usual infirmities of that advanced age. It is one thing to live long, and another to be