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tion, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD :
the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him : 21 he [is] unclean. And it shall be a perpetual statute unto
them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall
wash his clothes ; and he that toucheth the water of separation 22 shall be unclean until the even. And whatsoever the unclean
[person] toucheth shall be unclean ; and the soul that toucheth [it] shall be unclean until even.
CHAP. XX. 1-13.
Next to the history of Jesus Christ, none is more pleasing or in.
structive than that of Moses, especially as it is related by himself. His modesty and humility are very remarkable ; passing over what happened in Pharaoh's court, all his learning and exploits ; he not only avoids claiming the honour of the miracles wrought for Israel, and the deliverances brought to them, but, with the greatest impartiality and integrity, plainly tells us his own faults. We have often read of God's displeasure against Israel, but here against Moses, their leader : a very awful and instructive story. I
THEN came the children of Israel, [even] the whole
congregation, into the desert of Zin, in the first month of the fortieth year after they were come out of Egypt, (as afpears by v. 28, compared with ch, xxxiii. 38.) and the people abode in Kadesh ; and Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of
Moses, died there, and was buried there. 2 And there was no water for the congregation ; the water
from the rock Horeb, ( Exodus xvii.) had ceased, and no wells could be found : and they gathered themselves together
against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And, instead of condoling with them on the loss of their sister,
the people chode with Moses, and spake, murmuring as their fathers had done, and using the same insolent language, saying,
Would God that we had died when our brethren Korah and 4 his company, died before the LORD! And why have ye
brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, 5 that we and our cattle should die there ? And wherefore have
ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place ? it [is] no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates ; neither [is] there any water to drink.
They represent Egypt as a good land, and this as an evil place, 6 though they were just on the borders of Canaan. And Moses
and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to seek the divine direction, and deprecate his anger, and they fell upon their 7 faces : and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them. And 8 the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take thy rod, with
which thou hast done so many wonders, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, that they may see it is a real miracle, and be affected with it, and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts
drink. Observe, he was only to speak to the rock, not to strike it. 9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he com
manded him, that is, out of the tabernacle, where it seems it was laid up for a memorial of the miracles that Moses wrought therewith ; as was also Aaron's upon the same account, ch. xvii. 10. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together
before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels, * must we fetch you water out of this rock ? Seeming to arrogate this work to themselves, as if it was done by their own power, and not glorifying God before Israel ; therefore, (1
Chron. xxvii. 14.) it is called rebellion against God's commands. 11 And Moses, in the height of his anger, lifted up his hand, and
with his rod he smote the rock twice, instead of speaking to it, as he was commanded : and the water came out abundant
ly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts (also.] 12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye
believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel; or rather, as I think it should be translated, Because ye were not faithful to me, to glorify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. Alas, whose heart is not affected with this ! We hoped to have seen Moses and Aaron lead Israel triumphantly into Canaan ; but their sun sets in a
cloud, the sentence was passed, and punctually fulfilled ; Aaron 13 died at the next remove, and Moses in a few months after. This
[is] the water of Meribah, that is, strife ; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them ; in Moses and Aaron, by punishing their rebellion, and thereby manifesting the glory of his holiness.
* This was the language of passionate resentment against the people, for God did not call them so, and Moses ought not to have done it; but, alas! this meekest of men was angry.
+ Thus God added a tremendous sanction to the law of Moses ; thus he impresses on all the people, and especially upon his ministers and priests, an awful sense of his majesty, and a holy tenderness of soul before him, that they may not arrogate any thing to them. selves, but glorify God before all the people. By this God might intend to confirm our faith in a future state of retribution, and intimate to us the imperfection of the Mosaic diso pensation, and lead on our thoughts to Christ, the great deliverer.
E have great reason to adore the divine patience, that
aggravated crimes than that of Moses. This good man displeased God, and lost all his most agreeable prospects as to this world at once. Behold the goodness, and at the same time, the severity of God! How often have we, in a worse manner and degree, rebelled against God, disobeyed his orders, trifled in his service, and not been sufficiently careful to sanctify him in our hearts ! This the best may say ; others of us perhaps have dishonoured our christian profession by wilful sin, yet God hath spared us. He hath not quite disappointed our hopes as to this world, though he might have done it. He still giveth us food and raiment, health and peace. He might have deprived us for ever of seeing the heavenly land ; might have sworn in his wrath, ye shall not
enter into my rest; and that, after our greatest hopes and expectations. We have reason to acknowledge, that it is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed ; because his compassions fail not.
2. What need have all, even the best of men, to rule their own spirits, and to be very cautious and watchful! See, in this melancholy instance, how imperfect the graces of good men are, even those graces for which they are most remarkable, Of all sins, we should have thought Moses, who was the meekest man upon earth, would never have been guilty of passionate anger; nor that he would have spoken unadvisedly with his lips. That he, who had borne so long with Israel's provocations (which, to human conception, were almost sufficient to have wearied the divine patience) should at length act thus, was not to have been imagined. But, what is man! how frail ! how weak! who dares say that he is secure from danger, when he sees how Moses and Aaron sinned. Let us all keep a guard over our own spirits, and watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation. Let aged persons in particular, regard this caution. Perhaps frequent infirmities, and having borne long with the perverseness and wickedness of their generation, may incline them be peevish and fretful. But let them remember this is very wicked; it is dishonourable to God, and setting a bad example to the rising age. Titus is commanded by Paul to caution the aged to be sound in faith, in charity, and in patience. For orthodoxy or soundness in faith will advantage us nothing, if we are not sound in charity and patience. Let us all watch against a passionate temper, for it leads men to offend with their tongue, to speak what offends God, and injures man, and what they may afterward repent of. If we find our spirits begin to rise, let us set a watch before our mouth, and keep the door of our lips, else we may speak very unadvisedly. The language of VOL. II,
this sad story is, and Oh that we may attend to it! Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
3. We learn hence, not to depend on the success ofour schemes of usefulness or comfort, so far as earth is concerned in them. Perhaps there was nothing Moses depended on more, than that he should lead Israel into Canaan, and be happy with them there ; at least he hoped to see them comfortably settled. When God said, that of this generation only Joshua and Caleb should see Canaan, Moses and Aaron might justly think they were not included in the sentence, because they had not despised God's rest. Mose's had a cheerful prospect before him, and was greatly pleased 'with it; he had much ado to bear the disappointment, and prayed to God, earnestly and frequently, to remove the sentence. This was a very grievous case, and he needed great support from God to reconcile him to it; and God graciously told him that he would do better things for him. His days were past ; his purposes were broken off. We also have our schemes. In such a station we think we should be useful ; in such or such a relation we should find comfort for years to come. Every good man, while he has power to act, will contrive to act for God. But the best schemes are uncertain ; we cannot promise ourselves lasting happiness here below ; for, what is our life ? it is even a vapour. The profihets do not live for ever; they sometimes die, like Moses, when their eye is not dim. We may form schemes and purposes with regard to God, but he may say to us, though we are in the most pleasing circumstances, as he did to Moses and Aaron; Go up, and die. Let this teach us to cease from man, to cease from ourselves ; and always to say, If the Lord will, we will do this or that.
4. Let us rejoice in the security of our views of a better world, whatever disappointments we may 'meet with in this : this is the anchor of our souls. We mourn over Moses' disappointment ; that he only saw the good land, and did not possess it. But Moses and Aaron have not perished. God denied them the lesser favour, and granted them the greater. They possess the reward they had respect to; the better Canaan. They see God in brighter discoveries than ever Moses did on the holy mountain. They now rejoice in their disappointment, by which God was glorified, and the church edified. We are, through divine goodness, heirs with them of the same promises ; have clearer discoveries and better hopes, than Moses had. Let us, therefore, use all diligence to make our calling and election sure, knowing it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do, according to his good pleasure. Let us be steadfast and immoveable, always abiding and abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour in the Lord shall not be in vain. Then, whatever schemes for this world may be disappointed, our grand hope will not be in vain. Fear not; God will be our shield. In a word, amidst all the uncer
tinty of this world, amidst all the darkness that there sometimes is upon the dispensations of Providence, this is clear and certain, that verily there is a reward for the righteous : verily there is e. God that judgeth in the earth.
The Edomites refuse to let Israel pass through their country ;
messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel,* Thou knowest all the travail 15 that hath befallen us in this wilderness, and How our fathers
went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long 16 time ; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers : And
when we cried unto the Lord, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, ('who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Exodus jü, 2.) and hath brought us forth out of Egypt; God had in a most remarkable manner delivered his people, who were their brethren, and they could not but know it : upon this, therefore,
they ground their request : and, behold, we [are) in Kadesh, a 17 city in the uttermost of thy border ; Let us pass, I pray thee,
through thy country : we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink [of] the water of the wells, which are private property, without paying for it : we will go by the king's (high) way, we will not turn to the
right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders. 18 And Edom, being afraid of their injuring the country, or taking
fro88ession of it, said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, 19 lest I come out against thee with the sword. And the chil
dren of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way : and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for
it : I will only, without [doing] any thing (else,) go through 20 an my feet. And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And
Edom came out against him-with much people, and with a 21 strong hand. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border : wherefore Israel turned away from him.t
And the children of Israel, [even] the whole congregation, 23 journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor. And
the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the 34 coast of the land of Edom, saying, Aaron shall be gathered
. Both were descended from Isaac; Esau and Jacob were twins.
. Nevertheless, we are rold in Deut. ii. 28, 29, that they bought food of the Edomites while they continued in Kadesh, and while they passed the borders of their country, and God commanded the Israelites to hurt them, because they were brethren, and cautious then not to abhor an Edomite.