This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
BY REV. C. SIMEO, M.A.
umb, xxxii. 6, 7. And Moses said unto the children of Gad,
and to the children of Reuhen, Shall your brethren go to
war, and shall ye sit here P And ivhenfore discourage ye
the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the
land luhich the Lord hath given themP
ACTIOS are good or evil according to the
motives from which they proceed : but, as these are
known only to God, it must often happen that our
conduct is either viewed in too favourable a light, or
subjected to unmerited censure. Our inability to
dive into the hearts of men should certainly incline
us at all times to lean rather to the side of charity,
L 2 and
148 UMBERS, XXXII. 6, 7. \^130.
and to hope and believe all things of a favourable
nature, as far as circumstances will admit. This
consideration however is not to operate so far as to
blind our eyes to what is manifesly evil, or to keep
us from reproving those who act amiss. Magistrates
in particular must proceed with firmness in sup-
pressing wickedness of every kind, and by timely
interference must stop the contagion of bad example.
Thus did Moses, when the Reubenites and Gadites
presented a request to him, which he deemed injuri-
ous to all the other tribes. They asked to have the
land on the east side of Jordan for their portion, in-
stead of any part of the land of Canaan : and Moses,
conceiving their request to proceed from improper
and unjustifiable motives, expostulated with them,
and reproved them with great severity. Let us
I. The grounds of his jealousy —
There was ample reason for the fears he enter-
tained respecting them —
[Their request seemed to be dictated by selfishness, U'orldli-'
ness, and imhelief. As soon as Sihon king of the Amorites, and
Og the king of Bashan were subdued, and their fertile territories
were seized, these two tribes requested to have the exclusive pos-
session of their land, under a pretence that it was pre-eminently
suited to them, on account of the number of their flocks and
herds. As for their brethren belonging to the other ten tribe»,
let them go and fight their way among the Canaanites, and get
possession of whatever they could : but the land which was
already subdued, and which was of the richest quality, they desired
to have allotted to themselves without any further trouble.
This land was not within the precincts of Canaan : moreover,
it would be far removed from the ordinances of religion and from
the house of God: but they did not seem to regard either of
these considerations in comparison of an ample, easy, and imme-
The inhabitants of the promised land were exceeding numerous
and warlike ; and could never be dispossessed without many san-
guinary contests. Perhaps, after all, the victory over them
might be dearly pnrchased, or possibly might never be attained :
hence also might arise the willingness of the suitors to forego
their share in what was uncertain, if they might be permitted to
possess what was already gained.
Such was the construction which Moses put upon the conduct
130.] MOSES REPROVES THE REUBEITES. 149
of these two tribes, and such was the ground of those reproofs
which he administered.]
And is there not ground for similar fears whenever
a similar conduct obtains ?
[If a Minister at this day see his hearers selfish, mindful of
their own comforts, but inattentive to the wants and miseries of
others, has he not reason to fear concerning them ? When it is
eminently characteristic of the true Christian to " mind, not his
own things, but the things of others %" and there is a manifest
failure in this respect amongst his people, ought he not to be
'' jealous over them with a godly jealousy," and to warn them of
Again, if he observe any professors of religion to have become
worldly ; if he find them so intent on their present interests,
as to be comparatively indifferent about the ordinances of reli-
gion, and the ultimate possession of the heavenly land ; if he see
them studious of their present ease, and averse to spiritual con-
flicts, must he not of necessity " stand in doubt of" such persons?
Does not love itself require him to " change his voice towards
them, and to adopt the language of admonition and reproof ?
Once more, if he see them yielding to unbelief, and resting
satisfied with a present portion, through desponding apprehen-
sions respecting the attainment of a better inheritance, does it
become him to be silent ? Ought he not to exert himself in every
way to repress such a spirit, and to stimulate his people to a more
becoming conduct ? Must he wait for open and notorious trans-
gressions before he opens his lips in expostulations and reproofs ?
o surely : the example of Moses in the text, and of St. Paul
on various occasions'', shews, what are the emotions which every
such instance should produce, and what methods every faithful
Minister should adopt to counteract such evils.]
Whilst we justify Moses on reviewing the grounds
of his jealousy, we shall find reason to congratulate
II. The effects of it—
From himself it produced a faithful remonstrance —
[It is but too common to express our fears and jealousies
to others, and to conceal them from the person who is the sub-
ject of them. But Moses abhorred any such concealment : he
felt the importance of suggesting all his fears to those who were
most interested in being made acquainted with them ; and he
accordingly addressed himself to the people themselves.
He set before them the pernicious tendency of their example,
which was calculated to discourage all the children of Israel : he
sdfio reminded them of the similar conduct of their fathers, which
» PhiL ii, 4. *" 2 Cor. xi. 2. Gal. iv. Ip, 20.
150 UMBERS, XXXII. 6, 7- [130.
had involved them all in one common ruin ; and assured them,
that they would bring a similar destruction on the present gene-
ration, \i they persisted in such unreasonable desires ^
Thus he acted like a true friend, and a faithful servant of the
Lord. It was thus that St. Paul also acted towards Peter, when
by a temporizing and timid jiolicy he was endangering the liberty
of the Christian Church : and thus also are we to act, agreeably
to that precept, " Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour,
and shalt not suffer sin upon him''."]
From them it called forth a satisfactory explana-
[They did not, on the one hand, either acknowledge, or
deny, the fault imputed to them j nor on the other hand, did
they take the slightest offence at it. But for the satisfaction of
Moses they voluntarily engaged to accompany their brethren in
arms, and even to go before them to the battle ; and to continue
with them till the whole land should be subdued, and every tribe
should be in possession of its destined inheritance. This was
fair and e(juitable : and Moses readily acquiesced in the proposal.
He warned them however, that, if they should ever recede from
their purpose, and violate their engagement, " their sin should
surely find them out," and be visited upon them.
Thus were matters settled to the satisfaction of all parties : the
jealousy of Moses evinced his concern for their welfare; and, if it
did not give birth to the proposal which was made, it certainly
confirmed the people in their determination to execute it with
boldness and fidelity. A similar instance of jealousy towards
these very tribes occurred, when they were returning to their
families after the conquest of Canaan". On that occasion indeed
they were evidently blameless, notwithstanding the appearances
were, as in tlie present case, very much against them. But the
issue in Ijoth was happy : and we learn from both to admonish
with candour, and to receive admonitions with humble grati-
tude ; being more intent on satisfying the minds of those who
are offended, than on lowering our accusers by any recrimina-
This subject will naturally furnish us with some
important iiints : —
1. Maintain on all occasions a jealousy over your-
[The heart is justly said to be " deceitful above all things:"
and " Satan can easily transform himself into an angel of light."
Even the Apostles themselves on some occasions " knew not
what spirit they were of:" they supposed themselves actuated
by pure and holy zeal, when they were influenced by nothing
' vcr. G— 15. '! Lev. xix. j;. ' Josh. xxii. 11—33.
130.] MOSES REPROVES THE KEUBEITES. 151
but pride and revenge. It is highly probable that these two
tribes took credit to themselves for far more disinterestedness
than they possessed ; and that Moses saw more of their real dis-
position, than they themselves were aware of. This appears from
the solemn charge which Moses gave them, even after he had
acceded to their proposal. And we are sure that this is frequently
the case amongst ourselves : under the idea of a prudential
regard for our families and our property, we are very apt to in-
dulge a worldly and selfish spirit j and to be unconscious of evils
which are but too visible to others. Let us remember this : we
see it in otliers ; let us guard against it in ourselves — — — . ]
1. Be ready to assign the reasons of your conduct
to others —
[It may easily happen that our conduct may appear to
others in a more unfavourable light than it ought ; and if they
knew our real views, they would form a different judgment re-
specting it. ow then we should not be angry with them be-
cause they express their doubts respecting any particular action ;
but should be ready to satisfy their minds, precisely as we would,
if they inquired into the grounds of our faith^. The Apostle
Peter, when called to an account by all the other Apostles for
•*^ going to uncircumcised Gentiles and eating with them," thought
it no degradation to assign his reasons to them, but was glad of
an Opportunity of removing their misapprehensions s. Though
they seemed to have been somewhat hasty in condemning him,
he was not angry with them : he knew the purity of their mo-
tives, and felt a pleasure in declaring to them the designs of God
towards the Gentile world. Happy would it be for us, if there were
in all of us such a mind as this. But, alas ! the quick sensibility
which is manifested by us when any fault is pointed out ) our
extreme backwardness to acknowledge it, and our proneness to
condenm our monitors rather than ourselves ; render the duty of
admonishing one another extremely difficult. Let us however
cultivate a better spirit, and " esteem it a kindness, if the
righteous smite and reprove us :" let us receive their admonitions
" as an excellent oil, which shall not break our head ''," but
rather heal the wounds which our own misconduct may have
3. Endeavour so to walk, that your actions may
carry their own evidence along with them —
[In some circumstances our actions must of necessity be
open to misconstruction. St. Paul in circumcising Timothy and
not Titus, and in " becoming all things to all men," must appear
to many to be guilty of inconsistency. But his general spirit
would bear such ample testimony to the integrity of his mind,
that all candid persons must at least withhold their censures, even
'" 1 Pet. iii. 15, " Actsxi. 2—4. " Ps. cxii, 5.
152 UMBERS, XXXV. 24 — Q8. [131.
when thev could not discern the exact propriety of his conduct.
Where there was real danger of his laying a stumbling-block
before others, he invariably le?ined to the safer side, and would
deny himself in things that were most innocent, rather than by in-
dulgence ensnare the consciences of others'. Thus should we
endeavour to act. We should " abstain from all appearance of
evil." We should be careful that our " good may not be evil
spoken of''." In a word, we should " be circumspect in all things ;"
and " so make our light to shine before men, that all who
behold it may be constrained to glorify our Father which is in
' 1 Cor. viii. 13. '' Rom. xiv. 1 6,
1. MY TOPICAL IDEX OF 38 THOUSAD SERMOS
2. 68 FREE BOOKS
3. ALL WRITIGS
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.