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Deut. xxxii. 29.
O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would
consider their latter end.
THESE words are contained in that beautiful and affecting Song of Moses, addressed to the children of Israel, immediately before the solemn hour when he was to be gathered to his fathers, and to enjoy an undisturbed rest with the people of God.
Chosen by the Almighty to deliver the Israelites from the cruel bondage of Pharaoh, and to conduct them under the divine guidance through the perils of the wilderness to the confines of the promised land, their great law-giver had now executed the commission with which he had been entrusted, and was about to lay down his life at the express command of God.
Before, however, he resigns the great and important trust, which he had executed for the space of forty years, in his concluding address to the Israelites, he recalls to their minds the signal favour and protection, the many mercies and blessings, which the Almighty had extended to them his chosen people; -how he had separated them from all landshow he had exalted them as a nation, and had subdued their enemies around them-how he had fed them and sustained them amidst the dangers they had to encounter in the wilderness, and from the perils of famine and the sword. “He found him," says the inspired writer, “ in a desart land, and in the waste howling wilderness : he led him about, he instructed him; he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him.”
· Such was the providential care with which the Almighty had guarded his chosen race, and which their aged law-giver, now about to leave them, calls to their recollection.
Well, indeed, had it been for the Israelites, and . consolatory would it have been for Moses, could he, on the other hand, have borne witness to the gratitude of the people under his charge, for all the manifestations of the Divine favour which they had experienced.
But what a contrast to the conduct of the Almighty presents itself in the ungrateful return of this his chosen race! What base ingratitude for the repeated instances of the Divine favour and protection, does Moses testify of the children of Israel !
Instead of the signal manifestations of the mercy and loving-kindness of the Almighty leading them to gratitude and obedience, they became only the means of inducing them to rebel against his authority, and abuse his gifts. After recapitulating the many instances of the Divine favour and protection which they had experienced, he testifies—“ But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked; thou art waxen wat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness: then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation. They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed to devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not; to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten the God that formed thee.”
But it was not only to recall to their minds the ungrateful return which they had made for the many mercies and blessings vouchsafed to them, that Moses thus testifies against them. He pronounces, in the name of Jehovah, the dreadful punishment that awaited a continuance of their disobedience and ingratitude. He threatens them with the infliction of the severest chastisements for their repeated provocations of the Almighty, and enumerates the dire calamities which awaited them as a nation.
Speaking of their ingratitude and disobedience, he says, “ And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them; because of the provoking of his sons and of his
daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end shall be, for they are a froward generation, children in whom there is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy, with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities; and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; and shall consume the earth with her increase, and shall set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat and bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without and terror within shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also, with the man of grey hairs. For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.”
Such was the awful warning and threatening pronounced by the divine command against the Israelites for their repeated provocations of the Almighty, and their continued disobedience and ingratitude.
When, indeed, we consider the signal manifestations of the divine favour and protection extended to the children of Israel,—when we reflect how they had been chosen by the Almighty as a peculiar people, in what manner they had been preserved by