MOSES’ ENCOURAGING ADDRESS TO ISRAEL
Deuteronomy 31:6. Be strong and of a good courage; fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
THE application of passages in the Old Testament to the Church at this time is thought by many to be an unwarrantable liberty, especially if those passages referred to any particular occasion, and still more if they primarily related to any particular individual. We are far from saying that great caution is not requisite on this head; but we feel no hesitation in affirming, that passages in the Old Testament, whether general or particular in their primary import, are applicable to the Church of God in all ages, as far as the situations and circumstances of the Church resemble that in former times: nay, we go further still, and affirm, that passages, which in their primary sense related only to temporal concerns, may fitly be applied at this time in a spiritual sense, as far as there exists a just analogy between the cases. We cannot have a stronger proof of this than in the words before us. They were first addressed by Moses generally to all Israel, when they were about to invade the land of Canaan. They were then addressed particularly to Joshua in the sight of all Israel [Note: ver. 8, 23.]: and they were afterwards again addressed to Joshua by God himself [Note: Joshua 1:5; Joshua 1:9.]. Now it might be asked, Have we any right to apply these words to the Church at this time? and may any individual in the Church consider them as addressed personally and particularly to himself? We answer, Yes; he may; and moreover may found upon them precisely the same conclusions as Israel of old did. For this we have the authority of an inspired Apostle; who, having quoted the words in reference to the whole Christian Church, adds, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper; and I will not fear what man shall do unto me [Note: Hebrews 13:5-6.].” Thus then are we warranted to address the words to you in relation to that warfare which you are to maintain against all the enemies of your salvation: and this we will proceed to do.
Brethren, we suppose you now in the state of Israel when addressed by Moses. And if, like Moses, we knew that the superintendence of your spiritual concerns was speedily to be devolved to another, and that this was the last time that we should ever address you, we could not do better than amplify and expand his ideas, contained in the words before us.
You, Brethren, are about to engage in a most arduous warfare—
[The enemies of Israel were numerous and very powerful: they were men of gigantic stature, and they “dwelt in cities walled up to heaven.” There were no less than “seven nations greater and mightier than Israel,” and all these were confederate together for the defence of Canaan. But these were weak, in comparison of the Christian’s enemies. You, Brethren, have to conflict with the world and all its vanities, the flesh and all its corruptions, the devil and all his wiles. There is not any thing you see around you, which is not armed for your destruction: nor is there any thing within you which does not watch for an opportunity to betray your soul, and to inflict on it the most deadly wounds. Yet these enemies, notwithstanding their number and power, are quite overlooked by St. Paul, and counted as nothing, in comparison of those mighty adversaries, the principalities and powers of hell [Note: Ephesians 6:12.]. Their inconceivable subtlety, their invisible combination, their pre-eminent strength, their inveterate malignity, together with the easiness of their access to us at all times, render them formidable beyond measure; insomuch that if you had not an Almighty Friend to espouse your cause, you might well sit down in despair.]
In the prospect of this contest you are apt to indulge desponding thoughts—
[Forty years before, the Israelites had refused to encounter their enemies, from an apprehension that they were invincible: and it is probable that they were not without their fears at this time. And what is it that at the present day deters multitudes from engaging in the spiritual warfare? is it not a fear that they shall not succeed? When we tell them that they must overcome the world, and mortify the flesh, and resist the devil, they reply, that these things are impossible; and that it is in vain to make such an impracticable attempt [Note: Jeremiah 18:12.]. Even those who have fought well on particular occasions, are apt to faint, when their trials press upon them with more than usual weight: David himself yielded to unbelieving fears [Note: Psalms 77:7-10.], and exclaimed in his haste, “All men are liars [Note: Psalms 116:11 with 73:13.].” Perhaps there is not one amongst us whose “hands have not sometimes hanged down, and his knees been weary, and his heart faint;” not one who has not needed, like St. Paul himself, some peculiar manifestations of God for his support [Note: Acts 23:11.].]
But there is no real cause for discouragement to any of you—
[It is alleged perhaps, that your enemies are mighty; but “your Redeemer also is mighty;” and “if he be for you, who can be against you?” If it be your own weakness that depresses you, only view it in a right light, and the most consolatory considerations will spring from it: for “when you are weak, then are you strong;” and the more sensible you are of your own insufficiency for any good thing, the more will God magnify his own power towards you, and “perfect his own strength in your weakness.” The peculiar appositeness of our text to all such cases is evident from the repeated application of it to persons under discouragement, and the blessed effects produced by it. We have already supposed the discouragement to arise from a view of duties impracticable, or of difficulties insurmountable: but, in the former case, David consoled Solomon [Note: 1 Chronicles 28:20.], and, in the latter case, Hezekiah comforted the Jews [Note: 2 Chronicles 32:6-8.], with the very address which we are now considering: a sure proof, that it contains a sufficient antidote against all disquieting fears, of whatever kind they be, and to whatever extent they may prevail.]
God promises to his people his presence and aid—
[If he refused to go forth with you, you might well say with Moses, “If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence [Note: Exodus 33:15.].” Even if he offered to send an angel with you, it would not be sufficient [Note: Exodus 33:2.]. But he has promised to be with you himself, and to exercise all his glorious perfections in your behalf. As in the days of Joshua he sent his Son to be “the Captain of the Lord’s host [Note: Joshua 5:13-14.],” so has he given him to be “a Leader and Commander unto” you [Note: Isaiah 55:4.]: by whom he says to you at this hour, “Lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” Having then his wisdom to guide you, his arm to strengthen you, his power to protect you, what ground can you have for discouragement? “If he be for you, who can be against you [Note: Romans 8:31.]?”]
Nor will he ever fail you or forsake you—
[There may be times and seasons when he may suffer you to be assaulted with more than usual violence; but he will never give you up into the hands of your enemy, or “suffer you to be tempted above your strength:” or if for gracious purposes he see fit to withdraw himself, it shall only be “for a little moment,” that he may afterwards the more visibly shew himself in your deliverance. Respecting this he engages in the strongest manner; and refers us to the rainbow in the heavens as an infallible pledge of his faithfulness and truth [Note: Isaiah 54:7-10.]. Created helps may fail us; but our God never will [Note: 2 Timothy 4:16-17.]; and you may “be confident that, having begun a good work in you, he will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ [Note: Philippians 1:6.].” The manner in which the Apostle quotes the words of our text, abundantly shews how assured he was that it should be fulfilled; for he uses no less than five negatives to express the idea with the utmost possible force, and then “boldly” draws the inference for us, that we have nothing to fear from our most inveterate enemies [Note: Hebrews 13:5-6.].]
Let these considerations then inspire you with confidence and joy—
[Hear the animated exhortation which God himself gives you by the Prophet Isaiah; “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness [Note: Isaiah 41:10.].” If you reply, that there are mountains of difficulty before you, and you but as a worm to contend with them; then says God, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob; behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth; thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff; thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel [Note: Isaiah 41:14-16.].” “Who then art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man that shall be as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker [Note: Isaiah 51:12; Isaiah 13.]?” All that you have to do is, to wait upon your God; and then, in spite of all your apprehensions of failure, or even of occasional defeats, you shall rise superior to your enemies, and be triumphant over them at last [Note: Isaiah 40:27-31.]. I say then to you in the words of our great Captain, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom [Note: Luke 12:32.].”]
Let the captives of Satan arise and assert their liberty—
[Behold the kingdom of heaven is before you, “that good land flowing with milk and honey:” and will ye be content that your great adversary shall rob you of it without a struggle? Know that there is armour provided for you: and that if you go forth against him clad with it, you cannot but conquer. O enlist under the banners of the Lord Jesus, and go forth in his strength! fight a good fight; quit yourselves like men; be strong; and be assured, “your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.”]
Let the timid take courage, and return to the charge—
[Think not of your own weakness, but of the Lord’s strength. Remember what he has done for his people in old time. Did not the walls of Jericho fall at the sound of rams’ horns? Was not Midian vanquished by a few lamps and broken pitchers? Did not Goliath fall by a sling and a stone? Ah! know that your enemies shall be like them, if only you will take courage. “Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you.” See what Joshua did to the five confederate kings [Note: Joshua 10:24-25.]: thus shall you also do in due season; for the true Joshua has promised that “he will bruise Satan under your feet shortly [Note: Romans 16:20.].”]
Let the strong remember in whom their strength is—
[Let not any think themselves so strong, but that they still need, even as Joshua himself did, a word of exhortation and encouragement. Be not self-confident even for a moment, lest God leave you to yourselves, and you “be crushed before a moth.” Peter will remind you how weak you are, if not upheld by God; and what Satan can accomplish, if permitted to sift you as wheat. “Be not high-minded then, but fear:” yet fear not others, but yourselves only. Be weak in yourselves, and strong in the Lord; and then you may dismiss every other fear, and already begin the shout of victory.]
THE APPROACH OF DEATH
Deuteronomy 31:14. And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die.
“TO man there is an appointed time upon earth.” But the precise measure of our days is in mercy hid from us. On some occasions, however, God has been pleased to make it known, and to declare with precision the near approach of death, that so the persons whose fate was made known might employ their remaining hours in perfecting the work which he had given them to do.
The intimation here given to Moses, we shall consider,
I. As addressed to Moses in particular—
In this view, it comes with peculiar weight to those churches which have been long under the superintendence of an aged minister.
Moses had long watched over Israel—
[For the sake of Israel he had renounced all that the world could give him, and subjected himself to many trials, and exposed himself to many dangers: “He had refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” and abandoned all the pleasures and honours of a court; “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; and esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.” From a regard for them, he had braved all the wrath of Pharaoh in his most infuriated state; and had led them forth, unarmed and unprovided, in the hope of bringing them to a land flowing with milk and honey. As God’s appointed instrument, he had made known to them the Trill of God; and had shewn them, by a great variety of ordinances, the means which God had provided for their acceptance with him. He had for the space of forty years together fed them with bread from heaven and with water out of the stony rock. Times without number had he interceded for them, when if his hands had hanged down, and his heart had fainted, their ruin would inevitably have ensued. In a word, he had lived but for them. In all that space of time, not a day had occurred which he had not occupied in their service: and could he but see them happy, nothing that he could forego, nothing that he could do, nothing that he could suffer, was regarded by him as worthy of a thought; so entirely were his interests and happiness bound up in theirs.]
But now his care over them must cease—
[God had determined that he should not go over Jordan [Note: ver. 2.]. This was in part the punishment of his sin at Meribah, when, instead of sanctifying the Lord in the eyes of all Israel by a believing expectation of water from the rock in answer to his word, he struck the rock, yea, struck it twice, with an unhallowed irritation of mind [Note: See Numbers 20:7-12.]. But, in part, this exclusion was intended to shadow forth the nature of that dispensation; and to shew, that one violation of the law was sufficient to exclude a soul from Canaan; and that all who would obtain an entrance into the promised land, must turn from Moses to Joshua (the Lord Jesus Christ), who alone can save any child of man.
Moses was now a hundred and twenty years of age: but he was still, as far as natural strength was required, as competent as ever to watch over the people, and to discharge his duty to them. But his time was come; and he must transfer his office to another. Happily for him, and for all Israel, there was a Joshua ready to fill his place; and God had ordained him to occupy the vacant post, and to take on him the oversight of this bereaved people. And could we but see that the charge we vacate would be so supplied, verily, a summons into the eternal world would be a source of unqualified joy. The most painful thought in the separation of aged ministers from their people is, that they know not on whom the care of them shall devolve, whether on one who will watch for their souls, or on one, who, content with a mere routine of duties, will leave them to be scattered by every one that shall choose to invade the fold.
However this be, a time of separation must come: the pastor who has fed you more than forty years must be taken from you: and how soon, who can tell? It may be, yea, it is highly probable, that this year will be his last. Certain it is, that “ his days approach,” and very rapidly too, “when he must die;” and when the connexion that has subsisted between you and him must for ever cease. To God he must give account of his ministry among you; as must all of you, also, in due season, of the improvement made of it. And it is an awful thought, that your blood will be required at his hand, as will all his labours for your good be required at yours. The Lord grant, that when we shall meet around the judgment-seat of Christ, we may all “give up our account with joy, and not with grief!”]
But let us turn from the particular instance, and consider the intimation,
II. As applicable to every child of man
It is true respecting every child of man: for we no sooner begin to breathe than we begin to die: and the life, even of the longest liver, is “but as a span long.” “Our time passeth away like a shadow:” and death, to whomsoever it may come, involves in it,
1. A dissolution of all earthly ties—
[The husband and wife, how long soever they may have been bound together in love, and how averse soever they may be to separate, must be rent asunder; and, whilst one is taken to his long home, the other must be left to bewail his sad bereavement with unavailing sorrow. Perhaps there was a growing family, that needed their united care, and that must be deprived of innumerable blessings, which, according to the course of nature, they were entitled to expect. But the hand of death cannot be arrested by the cries of parental anxiety or of filial love: it seizes with irresistible force its destined objects; and transmits them to Him whose commission it has executed, and whose will it has fulfilled. Methinks it were well for those who stand in any one of these relations, to bear in mind how soon they may be bereaved, and how speedily what has been only committed to them as a loan, may be demanded at their hands.]
2. A termination of all earthly labours—
[We may have many plans, either in hand or in prospect; but death, the instant it arrives, puts an end to all — — — We may have even formed purposes in relation to our souls! we may have determined that we will, ere long, abandon some evil habits in which we have lived, or fulfil some duties which we have hitherto neglected. We may have thought, that to repent us of our sins, and to seek for mercy through Christ, and to give all diligence to the concerns of our souls, was the path which true wisdom dictated; and that we would speedily commence that salutary course. But death, having once received its commission to transmit us to the presence of our God, can take no cognizance of any good intentions: it executes its office without favour to any; and, in the instant that he inflicts the stroke, his victim, whoever he may be, falls; “his breath goeth forth, and he returneth to his earth; and in that very day all his thoughts perish [Note: Psalms 146:4.].”]
3. A fixing of our eternal doom—
[Whatever be the state of our souls in the instant of death, that it will continue to all eternity: “As the tree falleth, so it must lie.” If we have lived a life of penitence and faith, and devoted ourselves truly unto God, it is well: death will be to us only like “felling asleep” in the bosom of our Lord. But, if we have neglected these great concerns, or not so far prosecuted them as to have found favour with God, death will be to us only like the opening of our prison-doors, in order to the execution of eternal vengeance on our souls. Prepared or unprepared, we must go into the presence of our God, and receive at his hands our eternal doom. Oh, fearful thought! But so it must be; and, the instant that the soul is separated from the body, it will be transmitted either to the paradise of God, or to the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. The day of judgment will make no difference, except that the body will then be made to participate the portion of the soul: and the righteousness of God, in the sentence awarded, will be displayed to the admiration of the whole assembled universe.]
Let this subject be improved by us
1. For the humbling of our souls in reference to the past—
[We have known the uncertainty of life; and have seen, in the mortality of those around us, the approach of death: but how marvellous is it, that these sights should have produced such little effect upon our souls! Verily, if we did not know the insensibility of man under circumstances of such infinite moment, we should scarcely be able to credit what both our observation and experience so fully attest.]
2. For the quickening of our souls in reference to the future—
[That “the day of death approaches” we are sure: at what precise distance it is, we know not. But should not this thought stimulate us to improve our every remaining hour? Yes, verily: we should turn unto God without delay; and “apply our hearts to wisdom” with all diligence: and so “ watch for the coming of our Lord, that, at whatever hour it may be, we may be found ready.” “What I say therefore to one, I say unto all, Watch.”]
THE SONG OF MOSES A WITNESS AGAINST THE JEWS
Deuteronomy 31:19. Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.
IN order that Moses in his own person should exemplify the nature of that law which he had given, it was appointed of God that he should die for one offence, and not have the honour of leading the people of Israel into Canaan. The time of his departure was now nigh at hand; and God said to him, “Behold, thy days approach that thou must die.” Little remained for him to do. He had written the whole of his law, and had “delivered it unto the priests,” that they might “put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord their God.” But God would have a song composed, which should contain a brief summary of his dealings with his people, and which should be committed by them to memory, as “a witness for him against themselves.” This song we now propose to consider: and we shall open to you,
I. Its subject-matter—
As being an epitome of all their past history, and of God’s dispensations towards them to the end of time, its contents are various: they are,
[It records God’s sovereign mercy to that people in the original designation of the land of Canaan to them, even from the first distribution of mankind over the face of the earth. When the sons of Adam and of Noah multiplied in the earth, he so ordered and overruled their motions, that the descendants of wicked Canaan should occupy that land, and prepare it, as it were, for Israel; and that the Israelites should be just ready to possess it when the inhabitants should have filled up the measure of their iniquities, and become ripe for the execution of the curse of God upon them. It was in reference to the children of Israel that “the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance,” and set the bounds of each peculiar people [Note: Deuteronomy 32:8.].
The manner also in which he had brought them to it is particularly specified. He had brought them through a waste howling wilderness, where he had preserved them by an uninterrupted series of miracles, and had instructed them in the knowledge of his will, and had kept them as the apple of his eye, and had made them the objects of his tenderest solicitude, like the eagle fostering, instructing, and protecting her helpless offspring [Note: Deuteronomy 32:10-12.].
The richness of the provision which he had made for them is also described in animated and appropriate terms. The fertility of the land, the stores administered even by its barren rocks, the countless multitudes of its flocks and herds, together with the abundance of its produce in corn and wine, all are set forth, in order that the nation even to their latest posterity might know how to appreciate the goodness of God to them, and be suitably impressed with a sense of their unbounded obligations [Note: Deuteronomy 32:13-14.].]
[God had before declared what the ultimate fate of that nation would be: but here he states it in a compendious way. He foretells both their sins, and their punishment. Notwithstanding all that he had done for them, they would soon forget him, and would stupidly worship the idols of the heathen, which had not been able to protect their own votaries. Thus would they entirely cast off their allegiance to him, and provoke him to execute upon them his heaviest judgments [Note: Deuteronomy 32:15-20; Deuteronomy 32:22-25.]. Even for their past abominations he would have cast them off, if he had not been apprehensive that their enemies would have exulted, and taken occasion from it to harden themselves in their atheistical impiety. But by effecting his purposes in the first instance, and delaying his judgments to a future and distant period, he should cut off all occasion for such vain triumphs, and should display at once his mercy and forbearance, his power and justice, his holiness and truth [Note: Deuteronomy 32:26-27.].
The terms in which his judgments are predicted necessarily carry our minds forward to the times of the present dispersion.
Awful as was their punishment in Babylon, it fell short of these menaces, which were only to receive their full accomplishment, when they should have filled up the measure of their iniquities in the murder of their Messiah. This is evident from that part of the song which is,]
[Fixed as was God’s determination to inflict “vengeance” upon them “in due time,” he revealed also his determination not to cast them off for ever, but in their lowest extremity to remember and restore them [Note: Deuteronomy 32:36.].He would indeed banish them from that good land, and admit the Gentiles into fellowship with him as his peculiar people in their stead: but, whilst he calls on “the Gentiles to rejoice” on this account, he calls on the Jews also to participate their joy: for though they should be long oppressed by cruel enemies, God would appear again for them, “avenging the blood of his servants, and rendering vengeance to his adversaries,” and would again “be merciful unto his land, and to his once most highly-favoured people” [Note: Deuteronomy 32:43 with Romans 15:10.].
These promises shall in due time be fulfilled: and we trust that the time for their accomplishment is not now far distant. “The root of Jesse now stands for an ensign to the nations;” and whilst “the Gentiles are seeking to it,” we hope that God will speedily set it up also as an ensign to the Jews, and “assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” [Note: Isaiah 11:10-12; Isaiah 11:15-16.].]]
These things were comprehended in “a song, which was to be taught the children of Israel.” We proceed to consider,
II. Its peculiar use—
It was “to be a witness for God against the children of Israel,” and was for this end to be transmitted to their latest posterity. It was intended in this view,
1. To justify God—
[When God should have inflicted all these judgments upon his people, they might be ready to reflect on him as variable in his purposes, and cruel in his dispensations. But he here tells them beforehand what he would do, and for what reason he would do it The change that was to take place, would not be in him, but in them. The very change of his dispensations would prove to them the unchangeableness of his nature. It was for the wickedness of the Canaanites that he was about to cast them out: and for the same reason he would cast out the Israelites also, when they should have provoked him to anger, by sinning in a far more grievous manner, against clearer light and knowledge, and against infinitely greater obligations than they. Of this he forewarned them; and the fault, as well as misery, would be all their own. “ His work is perfect: all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is he [Note: Deuteronomy 32:4.].”]
2. To humble them—
[The Jews were at all times a stiff-necked people, “a perverse and crooked generation.” The best period of their history was from the death of Moses to the death of Joshua: yet God testified respecting them even then, that they manifested all those evil dispositions, which in process of time would be matured, and grow up into an abundant harvest: “I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware [Note: ver. 21.]!” Hence every Jew must see, that as his forefathers were not put into possession of that land for their righteousness, so he, and all his whole nation, are banished from it for their iniquities. And oh, how humiliating the comparison between their present, and their former, state! once the glory of the whole world, and now “an astonishment, and a proverb, and a by-word in every nation where they dwell.” They need only repeat this song, and they have enough to shew them how low they are fallen, and enough to humble them in dust and ashes.]
3. To prepare them for his promised blessings—
[The promise of a future restoration would of itself be sufficient to stimulate their desires after it. But it is worthy of observation, that the very judgments which God here denounces against them are as strongly expressive of his gracious intentions towards them, and as encouraging to their minds, as the promise itself: “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 them which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation [Note: Deuteronomy 32:21 with Romans 10:19.].” Thus whilst he transferred the blessings of salvation to the Gentiles, he did it no less for the good of his own rebellious and apostate people the Jews, than for the Gentiles themselves; hoping thereby to stir them up to seek a participation of those privileges, which, when exclusively enjoyed by them, they had despised [Note: Romans 11:11-14.]. This idea, the moment it shall enter into their minds, will afford them rich encouragement: and we are persuaded, that, if the Christian world evinced a just sense of the mercies they enjoy, and walked worthy of them, the Jews would soon be stirred up to seek those blessings, in the contempt of which they are hardened by Christians themselves.]
Let us learn then from hence,
1. To cultivate a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures ourselves—
[To us also are they a witness, as they were to the Jews of old, and are at this day: only they testify for God and against us in a thousand-fold greater degree. Hear what our blessed Lord himself affirms: “Search the Scriptures; for they are they which testify of me” O what mysteries of love and mercy do the New-Testament Scriptures attest! the incarnation, the life, the death, the resurrection, the ascension of Jesus Christ; his supremacy over all things in heaven and earth; together with all the wonders of redeeming love; how loudly do they testify for Christ; and how awfully will they testify against us, if we neglect them! If God commanded that the Jews, “men, women and children, and the strangers within their gates, should at stated times be gathered together, to hear the law, and learn to fear the Lord and to do his commandments,” and that every individual among them in all successive ages should learn this song; much more ought we to assemble ourselves together for public instruction, and to commit to memory select portions of Scripture, and to teach them diligently to our children, in order to obtain for ourselves, and to transmit to others, the knowledge of God’s will as it is revealed to us in the Gospel [Note: ver. 12, 13.]! We call upon all of you then to study the Holy Scriptures in private; to teach them to your children and servants; to be useful, where you can, in reading them to your poorer neighbours, who through ignorance are unable to read them for themselves, or through sickness are incapacitated from attending the public ordinances. To be active also in the conducting of Sunday schools is a service most beneficial to man, and most acceptable to God.]
2. To impart the knowledge of them to the Jewish nation—
[They, alas! have almost universally forgotten this song: but we have it in our hands, and profess to reverence it as the word of God. Ought we not then to concur with God in that which was his special design in transmitting it to us? Ought we not to use it as the means of conviction to the Jews; and as the means of consolation to them also? Ought we not to seek that they may be partakers of our joy, and be again engrafted on their own olive-tree? Yet, strange as it may appear, not only have mere nominal Christians neglected them, but even the godly themselves have for the most part overlooked them, as much as if they were in no danger, or as if their conversion were an hopeless attempt. But we need not occupy your time in proving the danger of their state: for if they were not perishing, why did Christ and his Apostles make such efforts to save them? Nor need we labour to prove their conversion practicable, when God has declared it to be certain. Let then our bowels of compassion yearn over them: let us grieve to see them perishing in the midst of mercy: let us unite our endeavours to draw their attention to the Holy Scriptures, and to the Messiah, whom they have so long continued to reject. Let us constrain them to see what blessings they despise; what holiness and happiness we ourselves have derived from the Lord Jesus, and what they lose by not believing in him. In this way let us endeavour to provoke them to jealousy. Then may we hope to see the veil taken from their hearts, and to have them associated with us in adoring the once crucified Jesus, and in singing to all eternity “the song of Moses and the Lamb.”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 31". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany