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prayers of Moses, nor the sacrifices of their hands, were efficient. In answer to their repentant entreaty, have sinned-pray unto the Lord for us !"—their intercessor was commanded to erect a serpent of brass, that those who were bitten might look on it with AN EYE OF FAITH and live!
CATHERINE. If this method of cure had been the invention of Moses, we should say that it savoured of the magic of the Egyptians.
Mrs. M. But we are happily saved from the irreverent suspicion, and sanctioned in our application of the figure, by the highest authority, even that of the antitype himself—“* And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up.”
The comparative ease and indolence in which the Israelites had passed so many years, was now to be relinquished for exertion and warfare. The princes, whose tèrritories lay on the east of Canaan, could not see, without inquietude, the approach of a numerous people, of whom they had heard wonderful things. Two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, came out with their armies and attacked them : they were completely vanquished, and their countries occupied by the victorious Israelites. Og is called the last of a race of giants, who, in earlier times, had inhabited the adjacent mountain. Such was his extraordinary size, that his bedstead of iron, nine cubits in length, and four cubits in breadth,t was laid up in the city of Rabbah as a curiosity. From him they captured “ threescore walled cities, besides unwalled
* John, iii.
+ Thirteen and a half feet in length, and six feet in breadth, English measure.--Burder.
towns a great many;" a circumstance which gives us some idea of the populousness and strength of the countries through which the Israelites had to pass.
From the defeat of the giant at a place called Edrei, the conquerors pursued their march and encamped in the plains of Moab. The Moabites were descended from Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and on that account were to be respected. But the prowess of Israel had spread univer sal terror, and the Moabites, disregarding the peaceable disposition manifested in their favour, determined to oppose their progress. Yet seeing that Sihon and Og had been as nothing in their hands, they did not dare to attack them openly. In conjunction, therefore, with the Midianites, they adopted the more efficient scheme, as they imagined, of destroying them by the mysterious influence of their incantations.
CHARLES. This was what the ancient heathens called devoting their enemies, before they went to battle,
Mrs. M. For that purpose they sent messengers, men of considerable rank in their states, with presents in their hands, to invite Balaam, a magician, or soothsayer, from Peor, a city of Mesopotamia, to come and curse the invaders. Though Balaam was a heathen, he had some knowledge of the true God, and affected to suspend his determination, until he should consult “ the Lord.” The next morning he informed the deputies that “the Lord" had refused to let him go with them; and with this answer they returned to Moab.
A second embassy of princes, yet more honourable than the first, was despatched to the soothsayer, to beseech him to come, promising him wealth and dignity if he would curse this people. Finally, his avarice prevailing over his scruples, he went. On the way, as he passed through a narrow road enclosed by walks on either side, the ass on which he rode, suddenly stood still.-Surprised and provoked, he urged her with blows to go on-but she persisted in refusing. At length she opened her mouth and spoke:
.“ Am not I thine ass, on which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day; was I ever wont to do so unto thee ?” At that moment the eyes of the prophet were opened, and he saw “the angel of the
" Lord” standing in the way." Wherefore,” demanded the celestial messenger, “ hast thou smitten thine ass these three times ?-Behold I went out to meet thee, because thy way is perverse before me.”-Balaam, confounded by this unexpected rebuke, acknowledged his guilt, and professed his readiness to return to his own city. But he was now permitted to proceed, and enjoined to say only that which should be revealed to him,
At the river Arnon, the border of Moab, they were welcomed by Balak, the king, who immediately conducted the prophet to an elevated situation, that he might behuld the multitudes of Israel. Uncertain what he might be compelled to say, yet desirous to obtain the promised rewards, he required altars to be built, and propitiatory sacrifices to be offered, which was done three several times, the kings and princes attending. Each time, instead of the curses required, Balaam pronounced only blessings; and Balak, at last, exasperated by repeated disappointment, returned hopeless to his capital.
CATHERINE. Did these heathens offer sacrifices to the true God?
Mrs. M. It is generally believed that Balaam worshipped the true God, but was the slave of avarice. The
king led him from place to place, putting confideuce in Balaam's God; saying—“Come, I pray thee, I will show thee another place : peradventure it will please 'the Lord,' that thou mayest curse me them from thence:"-and Balaam's answer discovered his own firmness." If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what he saith, that will I speak.” But, although their design was really to propitiate Jehovah, their worship was so mingled with their own superstitions, that it would not be accepted ; for, it is added, after they had built altars, and offered burnt-offerings three times—“ when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments ;" but proceeded to pronounee the sublime, prophecy, which you will find in the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of Numbers. It is a beautiful specimen of the eastern style of composition; full of lofty metaphors, and, perhaps, but indistinctly comprehended by the speaker.
Fanny. Do you suppose, mother, that Balaam did not understand what he himself delivered ?
Mrs. M. There is reason to believe that the prophecies delivered by the most pious men, were not always fully understood by themselves ; and it is not likely that an unrighteous prophet, but indifferently acquainted with the true God, would be more highly favoured.
FANNY. Why then should we put any faith in the prophecy of such a man a Balaam, a soothsayer, an enchanter?
Mrs. M. The people concerning whom the predictions were delivered, inight safely receive them, for Moses informed them “ the Spirit of God came upon him," and
we have the additional evidence of having seen them accomplished. Take, for instance, these words : From the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him ; lo the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among
the nations."-" Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel ?" “I shall see him, but not now I shall behold him, but not nigh:-there shall come a Star* out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall arise out of Israel.”_" And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable and said-Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be, that he perish for ever.
These particulars, with several others predicted by Balaam, are obviously fulfilled. The people of Israel have been, and still are, a very numerous nation--they dwell alone, that is, they are as completely distinct from all other people, at this day, as they were when they entered the land ot Capaan. Even under the monarchs by whom they were subdued in later times, they always maintained a subordinate government, by their own peculiar laws. They have never been “ reckoned among the nations.” Star has risen out of Jacob, and a sceptre from Israel.” And the Amalekites, although in the days of Moses they were the first of nations, have perished for ever-not a trace of them can be found on the face of the whole earth.
The Midianites invited the Israelites to assist at the festive rites of their impious religion :---they fell into the snare---they ate of their sacrifices, and did homage to
* A star, in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, denoted a deityin the prophetic writings, a star and a sceptre denoted a prince or raler.