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Exodus xxxiv. 35. And the children of Israel saw the face of MoseSy that the shin of Moses's face shone : and Moses put the veil upon his face again until he went in to speak with him. I OBSERVED in the beginning of my last sermon that Moses was a man much honoured of God, and here is another very striking instance of it. Though he had not been permitted to see the face of God, for that glory he could not have endured, yet a glory is put upon his own face, which made him an object of wonder, and even of alarm, to his countrymen. After he had had that gracious manifestation which God was pleased to make to him while he was hidden in the cleft of
426 THE VEIL O THE the rock, he was taken ap again into the mount, and there remained with the Lord a second time as before. He again received the ten commandments, written once more with the finger of God on two tables of stone, in place of those which he had broken, with other laws of a judicial and ceremonial nature. When he came down from the mount with these in his hand, it was seen that a divine brightness shone upon his face, which made him appear to them something more than human. He himself was unconscious of it, but Aaron and all the people were struck with such an awe that they were afraid to come nigh him. He called them to him, and that thej might converse with him freely, he put a veil upon his face while he talked with them. And it appears that he constantly
wore the veil in all his intercourse with them, but put it off whenever he went to commune with God, and to receive instructions from him. There he would ever have it renewed and brightened again at the splendour from which it had been derived ; and doubtless on every return from such visits the Israelites
FACE OF MOSBS. 427 would evidently perceive that he had been with God. ow this would greatly tend to increase his authority among the people. There could not be a more striking attestation to the divine appointment which he had received, as their leader and law^giver, than this supernatural appearance. It invested him with a mark of honour such as no diadem on his brow, or crown on his head, could possibly have conferred ; and decisively marked him as one who was expressly sent of God. — A similar glory was exhibited upon another mount, many ages after, in one yet greater than Moses, even in that transfiguration of our blessed Lord, when in company with his three favoured disciples, he held converse with Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory. Then ^^ his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.'' But the divine Jesus put aside this splendour of his as soon as he descended, even as when he came down from heaven he laid aside the glory which he had with the Father before the worlds were, and appeared in fashion not only as a man, but even as a
428 THE VEIL O THE poor man and a servant. Yet were there several other glorious attestations to his divine mission as well as this, so that while St. John says of him, '^ The word was made flesh and dwelt among ns/' he adds, '' And
we heheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.'* The Spirit of God has directed the Apostle Paul to make a very peculiar use of this circumstance, as we shall find by turning to the third and fourth chapters of his second Epistle to the Corinthians. 1. In the first place we find that he uses it as a proof of the glory of the old dispensation, even while he is shewing the superior glory of the gospel. Thus he writes, ^^ If the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfasdy behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance ; which glory was to be done away : how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious ? For if the mimstradon of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in
FACE OF MOSES. 429 glory : for even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory which excelleth." How great are our privileges! Doubtless we should think ourselves highly favoured, if we had a minister of God's word, in whose very face we could see a miraculous and divine light shining continually to prove him a man of God ; but we have in fact a far greater privilege than that ; for we have the glorious gospel of the blessed God, constantly shedding forth its own divine light in the world, and irradiating men's minds with its spiritual brightness. Tl)e Law which was delivered by him whose face so shone, and by which it was itself made glorious, was but a temporary dispensation, and has been done away; but the gospel is the everlasting gospel, and will continue henceforward the instruction and salvation of all who believe it to the end of the world.
The Law, thus honoured, was the ministration of condemnation and death, because it denounced its curse upon every one who should transgress it even in one point; but the gospel is the ministration of righteousness by
430 THE VEIL O THE its revealing, and conveying to those who believe it, that rigfateonsness of Christ which justifies the sinner and becomes his title to everlasting life. What a blessing therdbre do we possess in the gospel ! and how ardently shonld we desire that it may be ministered to us by the Spirit, that being preached to us with the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, it may be received by ns not as the word of man, but as the word of God, and thereby prove the power of God to the salvation of our souls. 2. We find, in the second place, that the Apostle uses it to shew the comparative obscurity of that dispensation. He tells us that Moses ^' put a veil over his £ace, that the children of Israel could not stedfiistiy look to the end of that which is abolished ; but thenminds were blinded." This veil of Moses did indeed very emphatically intimate that indistinct view which the Israelites had of tihe nature and object of their law« Hiey saw not to the end of either its moral precepts, or its ceremonies. Of the foimer they saw not that they could not give Ufe, because they
FACE OF MOSES. 431 were weak through the flesh. They saw not that '' the law entered that sin might abound." They saw not that by the deeds of the law no flesh could be justified, but that on the contrary by the law was the knowledge of sin, and of their own condemnation.
Hence they totally mistook the trae end and intention of the moral law, which they erroneously thought was unto life, but which was, in reality, unto death. — They had the same erroneous view of the ceremonial law ; for they thought that the sacrifices of the various animals which were prescribed were in themselves true and sufficient atonements. They did not see that it was '^ not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins," nor that such gifts and sacrifices '' could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the ccmscience." They did not see that the law had, in these things, only ^' a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things," and that they owed aU their value and efficacy to some other pure and perfect sacrifice of which they were the appointed forerunners imd types.
432 THE VEIL O THE In short, they did not see that hoth with respect to the commandments and the ordi* nances, Christ was '' the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." But there is no such veil in the dispensation of the gospel. There the true lig^ht, which lighteth every man that is bom into the world, now shineth. The Apostle says, " We use gpreat plainness of speech, and not as Moses, who put a veil over his face ;" that is, the preachers of the gospel speak clearly, fully, and confidently ; in their dispensation there is nothing hidden under types and shadows, nothing to be cleared up and perfected by some other dispensation which has yet to come. We may all look at the glory of God revealed in the gospel, even as Moses himself did, when he went to commune ^ith God, for then he took the veil from his face. So, the Apostle says, " We all, with open face,'' or more literally according to the original greek, with unveiled face, '^ behold as in a glass the
glory of the Lord." The Apostle again, in the sixth verse of the fourth chapter of this second epistle to the Corinthians, alludes to
« FACE OF MOSES. 433 the veil on the face of Moses. He says, " God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness^ hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jestis Christ^ He means that there is no obscurity in the gospel of Christ, which prevents our coming to the full knowledge of the glory of God through him. In his person who is the image of the invisible God, in his miracles which were the works of God, in his preaching which was the truth of God, in his death upon the cross and resurrection from the grave, we see, without a veil, the glory of God's mercy and grace towards this ruined world. Oh ! how should all the ministers of this gospel endeavour to preach it with such plainness that it may be understood by all; and oh! how should all who hear it desire to be made wise unto salvation by means of it, praying for the divine illumination of the Holy Spirit, by whom it is ministered. 3. In the third place we find the Apostle using it to shew the blindness under which the Jews of his own time were labouring, a VOL. II. u
434 THE VEIL O THE# blindness which yet remains even unto the present day, but concerning which there is nevertheless a promise, that it shall be taken away. He says, '^ For unto this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done
away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. evertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away."' This misapprehension of the meaning of their own inspired books was the great cause of the rejection given by the Jews to the divine Jesus. *^ He came unto his own, but his own received him not.'' '^ The light shone in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not" They could read in those writings nothing of a lowly and suffering Messiah, nothing of a spiritual King, and of a kingdom not of this world. Hence their cry, " ot this man, but Barabbas; away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him." The veil still remains : after the lapse of eighteen hundred years the veil still remains, even unto this day. The Jews still are
FACE OF MOSES. 435 conversant with the reading of the Old Testament ; Moses still is read among them, and it is still with the same blindness of mind that they study these ancient writings. They still have eyes which cannot see, and ears which cannot hear. And in this respect they are truly objects of Christian compassion and help. And oh ! that their minds may be unveiled, and that they may know that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the prophet like unto Moses, the Shiloh, the Messiah, promised to then- nation, and for whom they have looked so long in vain. And truly it is promised that the veil shall be taken away. This the Apostle declares, " nevertheless when it," (that is the heart) " slxall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away." The prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the ew, again and again give us the same assurance. The Apostle Paul tells us, that '^ blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel
shall be saved." We are assured that a day will come in which the Jews shall look upon Jesus with the same eyes as we do, and u2
436 THE VEIL O THE acknowledge him as indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world, and become with us one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ the righteous. Such a promise being given^ we should pray for the accomplishment of it, and render every possible assistance to those who are labouring for the conversion of the Jews to the Christian faith. 4. In the fourth place the Apostle uses the veil of Moses to shew the blindness which is by nature upon the human mind in general, and the change which takes place in the views and characters of those who are enlightened by the influence of the Spirit of God. He says, " If our gospel be hid," or again more literally according to the original Greek if our gospel be veiled, "it is hid" (or veiled) " to them that are lost ; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out
FACE OF MOSES. 437 of darkness^ hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." We learn here the sad condition of all unregenerate and unhelieving persons ; the gospel is veiled to them ; the God of this world hath
blinded their minds. But, in the case of those who are saved, God hath shined in their hearts to give them a full and clear knowledge of the glory of God ; they see it in the unveiled face of Jesus Christ, without any intervening obscuration of their vision ; they understand the truth, and receive in simple faith and obedience every part of that glorious gospel of Christ, from the sight and reception of which the devil blinds the minds of those who believe not. Such is the change of view produced in those who are privileged and enabled by the Spirit of God to look in the face of Jesus Christ. — Moreover another change, equally important and equally happy, takes place in their characters. For the Apostle also writes, " We all with open, (that is with unveiled) face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed
438 THE VEIL O THE into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." He intimates that as Moses, by taking off the veil when he went in to speak with the Lord, renewed the divine brightness of his face, so we, beholding the glory of the Lord in that clear glass of the gospel, and without any veil upon our own face to obscure our view, obtain some of its brightness oiu*selves, become partakers of the divine nature, and are changed into the same image. Every view which we are thus enabled to take of God is assimilating, and although no apparent difference may be visible on any part of our bodies, yet the graces of our souls will be brightened thereby, and we shall gain more and more of the likeness of God in righteousness and true hoKness. From this we may see how much tl^ old Testament and the new serve mutually to explain and illustrate each other. Very often what is obscure in the former becomes luminous in the latter, and again several passages in the ew Testament itself present many
otherwise unperceived beauties, and give many otherwise unfelt vivid impressions.
FACE OF MOSES. 439 when they are compaxed with some kindred passages in the old. It is of great importance to our rightly understanding and suitably feeling the beauties and force of the scriptures that we have a competent acquaintance with the whole word of God. The study of every part of it will amply repay us by increasing the stores of our spiritual knowledge. We shall gain a more enlarged and comprehensive view of the dispensations of God, while we shall at the same time perceive that he has been the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and that all his dealings with the world, and the revelations which at different times he has made to his servants have been all of a similar tendency, and had one great object in view. All lead to and centre in the great salvation of the eternal Son ; all testify of Christ, and with a veil, or without a veil, display his atonement, righteousness, and grace. But since we are blessed with the possession of the gospel, let us take care that we receive it into our hearts with full faith and love. Alas there are some to whom it still
440 THE VEIL O THE wears a veil, and others, who will not come to its light, lest their deeds should he reproved. But let it not he so with anj of us. Let OS yalae the gospel as the pow^* of Crod and the wisdom of (rod. It is die perfection of all his former preyioos revelationSy for which they were preparatory, and in which they are now absorbed. Its tmdis are so glorious that they may well occnpy
the attention of men of the most cs^acioos minds and richest endowments and acquirements, while it is given to the poor also with such plainness that the way-faxing man, though a fool, cannot err therein, and with such clearness that even he who runs may read it. But we must r^nember that aldiough there be no veil upon the gospel, diere is yet a veil of natural ignorance upon our minds, so that ^' the carnal mind discerns not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them;" and there is still also the god of this world, labouring by every possible deceit and delusion to keep up this blindness. We need therefore the Spirit, the divinely
FACE OF MOSES. 441 illuminating Spirit of God, that we may be enabled to discern the glory of Christ in the dignity of his person, and the richness of his grace. We must earnestly pray that he may take away the veil from our understandings, remove all the natural unwillingness and opposition of our hearts, and infuse into us that knowledge and love by which we may both intelligently and gladly receive the truth as it is in Jesus. Moreover let us earnestly desire that the transforming influence of the gospel may abundantly appear in us, and make it evident to ourselves and to all men that we are renewed in the spirit of our minds. As with open face we behold the glory of the Lord, may we be changed into the same image, that our souls may be glorious in holiness, and that our light may shine before men. Oh ! that by the reflection of his rays in us others may be led to imagine how great must be the glory of that sun of righteousness which shines in the gospel, and so may be induced to come themselves to the brightness of his rising.
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