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by Robert Hawker
THERE is the same cause, in perusing this fifth and last Book of the writings of Moses, to remind the Reader of what, in every one of the former, he hath been very earnestly desired not to lose sight of, that Moses wrote of Christ. And, indeed, if while going through the preceding writings of this inspired penman, the Reader hath not discovered Jesus in every page, there is but the more reason to implore grace, and the teachings of the Holy Ghost, in his attention to this concluding book of Moses, that he may now discover that it is He, of whom Moses and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth. May that Almighty Instructor, whose office alone it is to take of the things of Jesus, and shew them unto his people, be the Teacher both of him that writes and him that reads.
The Book of Deuteronomy, which signifies the second law, is probably which Moses had in commisssion to deliver to Israel. It is not, however, so properly a second law, as a rehearsal of the former. And the reason for this repetition is abundantly evident. All that generation was dead before whom Moses had rehearsed it on their coming out of Egypt. And as very many of the precepts had a peculiar reference to the conduct of the people after their arrival to the promised land, it became highly proper that the laws should be rehearsed in the ears of the generation which had sprung up in the place of their fathers, and before whom they had not as yet been delivered.
As the Book of Deuteronomy contains what one of the prophets calls the great things of God's law, it should be recollected by the Reader, that it doth not contain much of history. Indeed the whole date of it, from beginning to end, comprizes a period only of two months. One month previous to the death of Moses, and one after. See Joshua 4:19 , compared with Deuteronomy 1:3
The vast importance of this sacred book of God may be best implied from the singularity of the precept for attention to it, with which it was accompanied. It was to be read publicly every seventh year by the priest before all the people, at the feast of Tabernacles, see chap Deuteronomy 31:10 . The king himself, when the people were settled in Canaan, and the Lord had appointed a king over them, was to write a copy of it with his own hand, and read it all the days of his life. See Chap. Deuteronomy 17:18-19 . And as a more public memorial of it, to which the people might refer, great stones were to be made smooth with plaister, and the law engraven upon them. See Chap. Deuteronomy 27:2-3 . All which imply the high esteem in which this sacred book was held. I only detain the Reader after this account just to add, that the honour and respect paid by our adorable Redeemer to this part of the divine word, is not inconsiderable; for all the answers with which he thought proper to repel the attacks of the devil, in the season of his temptations, were gathered from this book. Sweet testimony of its value, endeared as it is by so precious an example!
the Fifth Week after Easter