« السابقةمتابعة »
a ground of controversy between him and the devil, what were they 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 judg ment, 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 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," John v. 28, 29.
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 of 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 fifty-three....before Christ one thousand four hundred and fifty....after the flood eight hun dred 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 faithfulest 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."
HISTORY OF MOSES.
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....DEUT. xxxiv. 10...12.
THE HERE 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 judgment 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 selflove. 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 er to defend themselves, extravagant and
have no pow.
anmerrited 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 merited invective; but I must not be forced, on the other hand, to commemorate virtues that were never practised; 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 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. L 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 faul ty, 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 profigates, 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 superior 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 perhaps 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 honored 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