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fore stood single; he had not a person to as sist him, unless the great God of all, by whose command he in reality acted, and by whom the law was enforced.
An Attempt to get to the Land of Promise.
After the space of three months the children of Israel moved from Horeb, in their way to the promised land. And, before they thought proper to invade it, they sent persons secretly to take a view of it, and to discover the strength of the cities, and the disposition of the natives, and likewise the nature of the soil. This inquiry, according to human prudence, should have been made before they set out from Egypt. If we do not allow the divine interposition, nothing can be more strange than the blindness of the leader, and the credulity of the people. They had with much labour traversed two deserts, and come to the wilderness of Paran, to take possession of a country of which they had no intelligence, and to drive out nations with whom they were totally unacquainted. What king, going
Luke xiv. 31.
to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able to meet him? However, spies are at last sent, and after forty days return. Concerning the fertility of the land they brought a good report; but the inhabitants they described as a formidable race, and their cities as uncommonly strong. The people upon this gave themselves up to despair, and very justly, if they had no arm to trust to but that of Moses. For the spies told them very truly--- The peo-. ple be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover, we saw the children of Anak there. All the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come out of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. Numbers, chap. xiii. ver. 28, 32, 33. The people in consequence of this refused to invade the land, for they were totally unacquainted with the art of war, and the enemy seemed too strongly fenced, and in all respects too powerful. Their refusal therefore was well founded, if they had no trust but in their leader. A party of them did how' Numbers xiii. 28, 32, 33.}
ever attack the enemy contrary to order, and were presently driven back. How does Moses act upon this occasion? If we consider him not as a prophet under God's direction, but merely as a man, his behaviour is strange, and contrary to reason. He does not, after this check, make another trial with a larger and more select body of the people; but turns away from the desired land, of which he had been so long in search. And, though his army is very numerous, and he might by degrees have brought them to a knowledge of war, he does not make to any other part of Canaan, but turns back the contrary way, to Sin, which he stiles, that great and terrible wilderness, where the people had so long wandered. He then passes the most eastern point of the Red-sea near Ezion Gaber, and having gone round the land of Edom, he, after several painful journeyings, brings the people to the plains of Moab near Mount Nebo. But in these wanderings, the whole of which took up near forty years, he had lost his sister Mi
▾ Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red-sea, as the Lord spake unto me: and we compassed Mount Seir many days. Deut. ii. 1. and 8. See Numbers xxxiii. 35, 36.
riam, and had buried his brother Aaron in Mount Hor. And of all that numerous host which came out of Egypt, excepting two per sons, he had seen every soul taken off. If we consider these operations as carried on at the direction of the Deity, we may perceive design, wisdom, and justice exemplified through the whole process. God would not suffer the land of promise to be occupied by a stubborn and rebellious people, whom neither benefits nor judgments could reclaim; a people who could never be brought to place any confidence in him, though he had shewn them that he was superior to all gods, and had saved them by wonderful deliverances. Besides in these mighty works there was a view to future times; for the Deity did not confine his purposes to the immediate generation. Hence the mode of acting, of which it pleased God to make
The apostle speaking of these judgments says, Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are writ ten for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1 Corinth. x. 11. The great crime of the Israelites was a desire to return to the land of bondage; and their preferring slavery to freedom and in consequence of it giving up all hopes and all wishes in respect to the land of promise. Hence their carcases fell by the way; and they never arrived at the place of rest.
use, was in every respect agreeable to his wisdom and providence. But, if we do not allow this interposition of the Deity, but suppose that Moses proceeded upon his own authority, as a mere man, his behaviour, as I have repeatedly said, is unaccountable, and contrary to experience and reason. He acted continually in opposition to his own peace and happiness, and to the happiness and peace of those whom he conducted.
Moses, after he had seen the numerous bands which he had led out from Egypt die before him, at last closed the list by departing himself upon Mount Nebo. He was just come within sight of the promised land after forty years, a point at which he might have arrived in a far less number of days. But Moses certainly was a mere agent, and acted in subservience to a superior power.
The Procedure afterwards.
Upon the death of Moses, the command was given to Jesus, called Joshua the son of Nun, and by him the great work was completed of leading the people, after a painful