MOSES. BY THE REV. ISAAC WILLIAMS, B.

D,

umbers xii. 3. " ow the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." SircH is the judgment of God respecting Moses, yet men might have thought otherwise, for Moses was by nature ardent and impetuous. Thus God said to St. Paul, " My strength is made perfect in weakness ;" and St. Paul testifies of himself, '' when I am weak then am I strong*." So was it with many of the Saints of God '. St. Peter, for instance, was called the Bock, from his firm faith in the Qodhead of Christ ; but this had ta be perfected in weakness : it was from want of firmness that St. Peter sank in the deep waters, till supported by Christ's hand; from want of firmness he thrice denied, till supported by Christ's look ; from want of firmness he erred when rebuked by St. Paul. Thus was it that where most weak there » 2 Cor. xii. 10. 2 See ** On the Study of the Grospels," part vil sects, v. vi. vii.

86 MOSES. was he by God's help made most strong. As in a besieged town all pains are taken to fortify the weak places until those weak places become its chief strength ; so the Spirit of God in the soul of man builds up and establishes where nature was failing, where Satan in consequence was directing his chief assaults. Por when good men prayed against their

besetting infirmities, the power of God therein was given them. Hence, where that which was human failed, it is supplied by that which is Divine; and the power is seen to be of God. Thus at length wherein the soul has been most humbled it shall be most exalted ; that man may be nothing, and Christ may be All and in All. Thus Moses appears to have been naturally of a temper hasty and vehement ; as we first read of him in slaying the Egyptian, in defending the daughters of Jethro from the shepherds. There sounds something of impatience in his complaint at the first, '* Lord, wherefore hast Thou so evil entreated this people? Why is it that Thou hast sent me'?" And " he went out from Pharaoh," we are told, " in a great anger*." Again, when on coming down from the Mount he beheld the idolatry of the Israelites, it is said, "Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the two tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the Mount*." And on the rebellion of Dathan and Abiram, " Moses was very wroth, and said unto the Lord, Bespect not Thou their offering '." And the sin recorded of him was when, "being provoked in spirit, he spake unadvisedly with his lips." « Exod. V. 22. * Exod. xi. 9. * Exod. xxxii. 19. • umb. xvi. 15.

MOSES. 87 It is then out of such a temper when controlled by the fear of God, and moulded by His grace, that the meekest of men is formed ; and all the trials he had to undergo through a long life were to form in him this meekness. Thus when reared in the palace of Pharaoh, what a trial to his spirit and temper must it

have been to witness the sufferings his brethren had to undergo ; then for forty years had he to learn patience in exile and the desert ; and yet more when commissioned of G-od he stood before Pharaoh, while he relented so often and again hardened his heart ; but beyond all what greater trial of temper did any one ever undergo than that of bearing with the children of Israel so long in the wilderness P How often does God Himself speak as unable to bear any longer with ,them. Such then was the man whom God chose ; and such his probation like that of gold in the fire, till at length he came forth as a vessel perfected and made meet for his Master's use. "With regard to his slaying the Egyptian, Holy Scripture does not express approbation of that deed, but St. Stephen says that it was intended as a sign to the Israelites "that God by his hand would deliver them^." "As some weeds," says St. Augustine, ^^ indicate a soil rich and good for cultivation, so his zeal on that occasion seemed to point out one meet to be a great Deliverer *." Thus God chooses evils of nature to be by His grace converted into good. On the stock of the wild olive is grafted the fruitful Branch. Thus from the Jewish persecutor of His Church He brought forth the great Apostle of the Gentiles; from St. Peter, who drew his sword and ' Acta vii. 26. » Vol. viu. 621 ; vol. iii. 668.

88 MOSES. deprecated the Cross, the patient Martyr and Confessor ; from St. John, who would bring down avenging fire from Heaven, the great Teacher of Divine love. But mark in Moses the working of this temper, and how it became subdued by Divine grace ; for instance,

when he came down from the Mount Moses was very wroth, so that Aaron said to him, " Let not the anger of my lord wax hot ;" but on this very occasion what a wonderful instance have we of Divine gentleness : we read that on the morrow "Moses said unto the people, Te have sinned a great sin : and now I will go up unto the Lord ; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin. . . . Tet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin — ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of Thy book '." His anger had been a righteous indignation, a holy jealousy for God'^s honour; but what meekness did it work in him! Oh, that men who are naturally of a temper soon moved to anger would do like this! how would the mercies of God flow in upon the soul, and their peace abound like a river ! In like manner in the other instance we referred to where his anger is spoken of, he appears in meekness to be immediately after deprecating the just wrath of God. " Take a censer," said Moses to Aaron, " and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them : for there is wrath gone out from the Lord^" Indeed it might be said that it was owing to the exceeding meekness of Moses interceding for them, that God so long spared them throughout their many provocations and rebellions. 9 Exod. xxxii. 31^ 32. ^ umb. xvi. 46.

MOSES. 89 On these occasions, and doubtless others of the same kind, this natural zeal in the disposition of Moses was not disapproved of God, but sanctified and perfected, bringing forth the heavenly temper of Divine charity ; but the one sin of Moses for which he was

visited of God, and not allowed to enter the land of promise was that on which this hastiness, as it were, impaired his firm faith in God, when he smote the Bock twice. True meekness is shown not in acquiescing at the sight of sins that are against God, but in taking meekly offences against oneself ; and the case in which the statement of the Text is made, that Moses was the meekest of all men, is when Aaron and Miriam murmur against Moses himself, it is then that God interferes to take up the cause of Moses; and Moses intercedes for Miriam, and she at his intercession is restored '. It is on account of this meekness that, as there stated, he is admitted into such familiar intercourse with God. " My servant Moses is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches." And indeed on that occasion when he sinned at the Bock there was a jealousy for God's honour, and impatience at the murmuring of the people, when the faith of Moses gave way and was overclouded. It was on their account ; when that sin is spoken of, it is said more than once " the Lord was angry with me for your sokes ^ " They angered Him at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes'." And here we must observe that this judgment of « See also umb. xi. 29. » Ps. cvl 32; Deut. i. 37; "i. 26.

90 HOSES. God on that sia did not imply that He had blotted Moses out of His book of life, or the number of the Saints, or otherwise than forgive his sin. For He continued still to talk with him, and advise with him

of the governing of His people, and spake to Joshua that he should be faithful to Him as His servant Moses. That was not the true Canaan from which he was shut out, but onljr the figure and shadow ; and that he was allowed to see ; a vision well worthy of all his labours, for the more excellent things signified by it. And that sin and its punishment was itself hallowed in a Divine mystery, and signification of Christ's future kingdom. That Eock was Christ ; and the rod spoke of His Cross ; and the failing of Moses of the Apostles failing in that trial ; even those with whom Q-od had conversed face to face, and spoken with as to friends, " even apparently " and openly, and not in proverbs. As Moses wavered at the smiting of the Eock, so Apostles doubted at the Cross, when the Eock was smitten, and found in it ^^a stone of stumbling and rock of offence," as St. Peter thrice denied, and had before deprecated that Cross ; and the disciples going to Emmaus said, as having lost hope, " We trusted that it should have been He Who should have redeemed Israel." But at the Eesurrection they saw the land of promise, and doubt died. And at the Ascension when they went up the Mount of Olives, they saw as it were still more the promised land, though they entered not in, till death had closed their eyes. And from the Mount of the Transfiguration also they had a view of that promised land of the Eesurrection, and of the glory that shall be revealed. And Moses was there as one who shall with them enter into that better land hereafter, though he entered not into that

MOSES. 91 Canaan which was but the figure of the true. Ho saw and he bare witness, and he led Israel thither, but he entered not in ; and this too in figure, as setting forth that it is not for the Law to enter in, but the grace which follows, and is prefigured in Joshua*.

" For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." And again, " The Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did *." And indeed the imperfection of the Law was shown in the Lawgiver himself. For that Israel might not glory in man, but look forward to Him that was to come, God has been pleased that one so exalted, and brought so near to Himself as Moses was, should be thus reproved in death, as falling short of the glory of Grod. Such then was Moses ®, of whom it is said that he was '' a merciful man, which found favour in the sight of all flesh, beloved of God and men, whose memorial is blessed'." Great in wisdom, for "mysteries are revealed unto the meek ;" and wise in greatness, for the meek are upholden of God. We think of Moses in connexion with the Holy Mount as one above the world ; the Mount Sinai where he was alone with God ; the Mount Horeb with the smitten Eock; the mountain * St. Aug. vui. 470. » Heb. vii. 19. * The character of Moses is thus beautifully given by St. Augustine : ** Hunc Moysen, humilem in recusando tam magnum ministerium, subditum in suscipiendo, iidelem in servando, strenuum in exsequendo ; in regendo populo vigilantera, in corrigendo vehementem, in amando ardentem, in sustinendo patientem ; qui pro eis quibus prsefuit, Deo se interposuit consulenti, opposuit irascenti ; hunc talem ac tantum virum . . . et amamus^ et admiramur, et quantum possumus imitamur." (Con. Fans. xxii. Tol. Tiii. 621.) ' EccluB. xly. 1.

92 MOSES. top where he interceded against Amalek ; the Mount

Fisgah where he saw the promised Canaan, and was buried of God ; the Mount Sion which he beheld in the distance as the place of the Law ; and the Mount Tabor where he was again seen with Christ. ow this may serve by way of similitude to express Moses as compared with other men ; he is on the top of the mountain with God ; he walks on high with God ; he is not as other men, but raised far above, conversing with Grod, illumined by God's Presence ; his ways are on the high mountain, and his feet clad with the Gospel ; his stature ts seen on the sky glowing in the golden light of the evening sun, and appearing to us below as one greater than man ; yet though so eminent and exalted of God, he was not high-minded, but meek, meekest of men. And thus with regard to the character given of Moses, it is peculiar in this from that of all men ; that it is the one character which our Blessed Savioiu* has expressly taken to Himself, as peculiarly His own ; for he says,- " Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart." Abraham was faithful ; Joseph was chaste ; Job was patient ; Solomon was wise ; Daniel a man of love; but none of these characters has our Lord singled out for especial mention as His own, but that of Moses, which is meekness, and with the promise that they who of Him learn this meekness shall find rest. ow Moses took them not into that rest, which was signified by the Sabbath, and by the Canaan, which was held out to them of God. He entered not in himself; but in not entering in he was made partaker of that rest of which Canaan itself was but the figure ; for on account of his meekness he found rest in God. Thus by being shut out he was in the secret mercies of

MOSES. 93 God more truly admitted into that rest ; — like St. Peter,

thrice allowed to express his love, because of his threefold denial, and gifted thereby with his shepherd's staff, and his Master's Cross ' ; — in judgment he found mercy, and in death, life ; lost the earthly that he might enter into the heavenly Canaan; for he was worthy of a better rest. But in considering the history of Moses our attention is most drawn to our Lord's own words, " Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me : for he wrote of Me'." Moses wrote of Christ, spoke of Christ, represented Christ, and that in ways many and manifold. His history is indeed all of Christ ; it is all the Gospel under a veil ; by One and the same Spirit ; of One and the same Christ ; by One and the same Father that revealeth from above to the secret heart. And thus when God first appeared unto Moses, and called him, it was with the ame of the Everlasting God, ** I AM." As not to the Jews only, but to us of all time does He speak through Moses. And on the same occasion not only does He. proclaim Himself by the name of the Everlasting God, but also by a name by which He is to be known for ever, as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as putting on our nature and coming to dwell among us. And then in that Burning Bush from which He spake, the fire was of Heaven, of the Everlasting Light, but the Bush, which it consumed not, was of earth ; the Godhead and the Manhood, compassed about with thorns of suffering flesh. And then through Moses in the fires of Mount Sinai He gives forth the Law, which by another and better Pentecost is to be written on the heart in grace » St. John xxi. 18. « St. John v. 46.

04 HOSES. and love. The veil is taken away from the face of

Moses, and we see in him the meekness of Christ, like that glory from Him which made his face to shine. Moses had said unto them, "A Prophet shall your Lord God raise up unto you, like unto me." Like unto Moses, not only in that Moses bears in many ways the image and figure of the Word made Flesh, but also in this character of meekness. Thus the Law itself comes to us clothed as it were in " the meekness and gentleness of Christ " our Lawgiver ; and the Spirit Himself, who writes that Law on the heart, " intercedeth for us with groanings that cannot be uttered ;" and He that gives us the command, gives us also the Spirit of prayer, by which that life-giving command may be obeyed. Let us consider this a little more particularly. Take the four first of the ten commandments given by Moses on Mount Sinai. These four speak to us of the love of God, and contain within them all the parts and duties of this love. These commandments, we are told by Moses, are to be written on all that we say, and do, and think ; they are to be inscribed on all that we possess, or seek, or know ; they are to possess ourselves. But now our Blessed Saviour, in His unspeakable meekness, as the Son of Man giving us to partake of His grace, has converted as it were those commandments into a daily prayer. For when in the Lord's Prayer we pray to God as " Our Father," what is this but owning the one and only God, and "none other " but Him, as our God and Father, and seeking from Him in meekness all that this the first commandment would require ? And when we add to this, " Which art in Heaven," we set aside all idols, and turn to God Who is a Spirit, and must be " worshipped in spirit and in

HOSES. 95

trutl," through Him Who is the only Mediator between God and man. We do what we can to engraft on our hearts through the meekness of prayer the second commandment. And when we next pray, " Hallowed be Thy name," we seek His all-powerftil aid to fulfil in all its duties the third commandment of " ot taking Good's name in vain." We reverence thereby that Holy ame by which we are called, the Anointed One, Whose ame is upon us, in Whose anointing we partake ; we " sanctify the Lord God in the heart." And when we add, " Thy kingdom come," Y^e remember in prayer that sabbath of rest which God has promised, we hold in solemn remembrance that kingdom which is a perpetual sabbath, and the coming in of the day of God. Thus it is that the commandments written on tables of stone are impressed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit in prayer, through the meekness of Christ. Thus hath He turned the fires of Mount Sinai into the tender light of Mount Sion. Thus the commandments, which could not give rest, in the ew Man become the yoke of Christ, and through meekness bring to Him Who is our Eest. Thus then it is that the character of the Lawgiver Himself represents in figure the Mediator of the new covenant, Him on Whose countenance we may look and be transformed into the same image of meekness, through the Spirit of Him Who speaketh to the heart in prayer. Thus God Who gave out the Law amidst the terrors of Mount Sinai, proclaimed at the same time His name as '' the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-sufiering, and abundant in goodness';" and as a pledge of His goodness promised ^ Exod. xxxiv. 6,

96 MOSES. another Lawgiver, Who should speak as Gted, yet

should be compassed about with brotherly sympathies; " a prophet from among your brethren," one Who is meek beyond the sons of men, and Whose yoke through that meekness is made easy and His burden light. Eor He Who is the Lawgiver is Himself the Comforter ; He is Himself our Law, and He Himself is Love, and through meekness we partake of Him. He that is most meek prays most ; for the life of the meek is of itself a continual prayer ; and he that prays most enters most into that '* rest which remaineth for the people of God." Let no one then say, " I am by nature passionate," for so was Moses, the meekest of men ; but let him learn to say rather, " It is God that girdeth me with strength of war, and maketh my way perfect." " Thou hast given me the defence of Thy salvation; Thy right hand also shall hold me up, and Thy loving correction shall make me great'." 2 Ps. xviii. 32. 35.

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