Imatges de pÓgina
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his adverfaries, and will be merciful unto his land and to his people."*

Such is the structure, fuch the general outline of this inimitable piece of facred poefy. If what has been said shall induce any one to ftudy it more attentively, he will probably discover beauties which have escaped us; and the difcovery will bring its own reward. How many fathers, as they afterwards rehearfed the words of this fong in the ears of their children, and taught them the knowledge of it, would recollect with a mournful pleasure, that they faw and heard Mofes himself recite it aloud, on the very last day of his life; and glory in relating how near him they stood, and in defcribing to a new generation the form of his countenance, the deportment of his person, the tones of his voice!

That very day, the warrant of death arrives. The ministry of even a Mofes is accomplished, and Providence haftens to convince the world, that, depart who will, the work of Heaven never can ftand ftill. We have feen him hitherto engaged in active labours for Ifrael and for God. We fhall confider him yet once more, difmiffed from his fervice, and concluding a life of eminent usefulness, by a death of charity, benediction, prescience and refignation. May God imprefs on our minds a fenfe of our frailty, mortality and accountablenefs, that we may redeem the time, fulfil the duties of our day and the defign of our Creator, work out our falvation, and fo die in peace, die in hope, whenever it fhall please Him to call us away to the world of fpirits. Amen.

* Deut. xxxii. 43.

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And this is the bleffing wherewith Mofes the man of God bleffed the children of Ifrael before his death. SENECA, the celebrated Roman moralift, was preceptor to the Emperor Nero, and had early and studioufly trained him to virtue. But falling under the dif pleasure of that fanguinary tyrant, he was condemned to lose his life, by being blooded to death. The day of execution being arrived, he prepared to meet his fate with intrepidity, and to die as he had lived, in communicating useful knowledge. His pupils gathered round him, eager to mark his dying deportment, and provided with their writing tables, to record and preferve his last sayings. He was put into the warm bath, the arteries of his legs and arms were opened, and the purple fluid which fuftains life, gradually drained off, while his forrowing, admiring difciples caught the words as they fell from his parched lips.

But a greater than Seneca is here. We are this night gathered round a dying Mofes, to liften to the laft accents of that tongue which, one excepted, spake as never man fpake. We behold him neither impetuoufly rushing forwards into the mortal conflict, nor timidly fhrinking from it; but advancing with a fteady, majestic step, to meet the king of terrors. The interefts of the God of Ifrael, and of the Ifrael of VOL. V.

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God, had employed his thoughts all his life long; and, blended in one, they glow in and expand his heart to his latest moment. He was speedily to ceafe from every earthly care, to ceafe from ferving Ifrael any longer, to be occupied with God only; but even in death he is contriving the means of doing good to that dearly beloved, that fondly cherished people. As if his heart had relented at the harshness of fome of the expreffions which fidelity and a fenfe of duty had extorted from him; like one unwilling to part with them under any femblance of unkindness or difpleasure, he again affumes the tender father, tunes his tongue to the law of kindness, buries all refentment of the past, and every thing unpleasant, in the profpects of futuri ty, in the gentleness and benevolence of friends who were feparating to meet no more.

The foul that is at peace with God defires to be at peace with all men; and it is meet that dying breath be sweetened with mercy, forgivenefs and love. Slowly and folemnly as Mofes advanced to meet his latter end, would we accompany his fteps in his laft progress through the beloved tents of Ifrael, and in his afcent to the hill, from whence he never fhould return. With a heart like his, overflowing with charity to the whole church of God, and filled with fentiments of peculiar affection towards you, we behold the approach of that hour which is to difperfe us, perhaps too forever. With a bleffing on our lips, like him, and O that his God and ours may make it effectual, we are haftening to bid you farewel.

The words which I have read are the beginning of the 54th and laft parasha, or great fection of the law, into which the whole books of Mofes were fubdivided, for the conveniency of publickly reading them, in conjunction with the prophets, every fabbath day; a cuftom which prevailed in the Jewish church, down to the times of our Saviour and his apoftles, as we learn from feveral paffages of the gofpel hiftory. Thus Chrift himself, "when he came to Nazareth, where

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he had been brought up, as his cuftom was, went into the fynagogue, on the fabbath-day, and ftood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Efaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gofpel to the poor: he hath fent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of fight to the blind, to fet at liberty them that are bruifed: to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he clofed the book, and he gave it again to the minifter, and fat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the fynagogue were faftened on him. And he began to fay unto them, this day is this fcripture fulfilled in your ears."* Thus James, in determining the question in the fynod of Jerufalem, concerning the neceffity of circumcifion, fays, "Mofes of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the fynagogues every fabbath day." And Paul and Barnabas, when "they came to Antioch, in Pifidià, went into the fynagogue on the fabbath-day, and fat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the fynagogue fent unto them, faying, Ye men and brethren, ye have any word of exhortation for the people, fay on." ‡

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The first section begins with the opening of the book of Genefis, and goes up to the ninth verfe of the fixth chapter, and is called Bereshit, the first word in the Hebrew bible. The fecond begins at these words in the fixth chapter, "Thefe are the generations of Noah:" and is thence called Noah, and ends at the beginning of chapter twelfth, which fets out with the call of Abraham, and is therefore ftyled the fection Lec Leca, i. e. "Get thee out," and fo of the reft. To bring the whole fifty-four divifions within the compafs of the year, they joined two of the fhorteft into

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one reading. Thus the whole conftitution, both as to civil and facred things, was publickly rehearsed once every year; fo that it was impoffible for any decent Ifraelite to be grofsly ignorant of either the laws, the history, or the religion of his country.

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The first public lecture was on the fabbath that followed the feaft of tabernacles, and went on till the anniversary of that feast returned. I have mentioned thefe circumftances for feveral reasons. I am not ill pleased to have so refpectable an example for attempting a mode of inftruction, which reafon and experience convince us to be at once the most pleasant and the most useful. I honour human learning, I admire great talents, I am enchanted with eloquence'; but I am perfuaded, if faving knowledge be communicated, it is by the quick and powerful energy of God's word coming, not with the allurements of man's wisdom, "but in demonftration of the Spirit, and of power.' This leads us to express a wonder why the reading of the scriptures by large portions at a time is not univerfally practised in chriftian congregations. Surely there must be a better reafon for neglecting it, than that it is enjoined by the canons of the church, and is in general practice in the establishment. The last reafon I have at present to render for this digreffion, if it be thought one, is its affording me an opportunity of earnestly recommending to mafters and miftreffes of families, the regular and progreffive ufe of the fcriptures, within the precincts of their private households, for the inftruction of their children and fervants. I am well aware that from a diffidence and humility not too feverely to be blamed, fome younger heads of families are tempted to neglect family worfhip altogether, because some parts of it they cannot, dare not, undertake that for example, of addreffing God in prayer, as the mouth of their domeftic little church. Let them begin with reading aloud the word of God: for this furely they have courage fufficient. They will be brought to pray infenfibly, they will foon ceafe to be

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