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The Gospel of the Pentateuch by Charles Kingsley

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others. That if fire came forth, it came forth from the Lord, and
burned where and what God chose, and nothing else. Yes. If you
will only understand, once and for all, that the history of the Jews
is the history of the Lord's turning a people from the cowardly,
slavish worship of sun and stars, of earthquakes and burning
mountains, and all the brute powers of nature which the heathen
worshipped, and teaching them to trust and obey him, the living God,
the Lord and Master of all, then the Old Testament will be clear to
you throughout; but if not, then not.

You cannot read your Bibles without seeing how that great lesson was
stamped into the very hearts of the Hebrew prophets; how they are
continually speaking of the fire and the earthquake, and yet
continually declaring that they too obey God and do God's will, and
that the man who fears God need not fear them--that God was their
hope and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore would
they not fear, though the earth was moved, and though the mountains
be carried into the midst of the sea.

And we, too, need the same lesson in these scientific days. We too
need to fix it in our hearts, that the powers of nature are the
powers of God; that he orders them by his providence to do what he
will, and when and where he will; that, as the Psalmist says, the
winds are his messengers and the flames of fire his ministers. And
this we shall learn from the Bible, and from no other book

God taught the Jews this, by a strange and miraculous education,
that they might teach it in their turn to all mankind. And they
have taught it. For the Bible bids us--as no other book does--not
to be afraid of the world on which we live; not to be afraid of
earthquake or tempest, or any of the powers of nature which seem to
us terrible and cruel, and destroying; for they are the powers of
the good and just and loving God. They obey our Father in heaven,
without whom not a sparrow falls to the ground, and our Lord Jesus
Christ, who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And
therefore we need not fear them, or look on them with any blind
superstition, as things too awful for us to search into. We may
search into their causes; find out, if we can, the laws which they
obey, because those laws are given them by God our Father; try, by
using those laws, to escape them, as we are learning now to escape
tempests; or to prevent them, as we are learning now to prevent
pestilences: and where we cannot do that, face them manfully,
saying, 'It is my Father's will. These terrible events must be
doing God's work. They may be punishing the guilty; they may be
taking the righteous away from the evil to come; they may be
teaching wise men lessons which will enable them years hence to save
lives without number; they may be preparing the face of the earth
for the use of generations yet unborn. Whatever they are doing they
are and must be doing good; for they are doing the will of the
living Father, who willeth that none should perish, and hateth
nothing that he hath made.'

This, my friends, is the lesson which the Bible teaches; and because
it teaches that lesson it is the Book of books, and the inspired
word or message, not of men concerning God, but of God himself,
concerning himself, his kingdom over this world and over all worlds,
and his good will to men.


NUMBERS xxiii. 19. God is not a man, that he should lie; neither
the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he
not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

If I was asked for any proof that the story of Balaam, as I find it
in the Bible, is a true story, I should lay my hand on this one
only--and that is, the deep knowledge of human nature which is shown
in it.

The character of Balaam is so perfectly natural, and yet of a kind
so very difficult to unravel and explain, that if the story was
invented by man, as poems or novels are, it must have been invented
very late indeed in the history of the Jews; at a time when they had
grown to be a far more civilised people, far more experienced in the
cunning tricks of the human heart than they were, as far as we can
see from the Bible, before the Babylonish captivity. But it was NOT
invented late; for no Jew in these later times would have thought of
making Balaam a heathen, to be a prophet of God, or a believer in
the true God at all. The later Jews took up the notion that God
spoke to and cared for the Jews only, and that all other nations
were accursed.

There is no reason, therefore, against simply believing the story as
it stands. It seems a very ancient story indeed, suiting exactly in
its smallest details the place where Moses, or whoever wrote the
Book of Numbers, has put it.

We, in these days, are accustomed to draw a sharp line between the
good and the bad, the converted and the unconverted, the children of
God and the children of this world, those who have God's Spirit and
those who have not, which we find nowhere in Scripture; and
therefore when we read of such a man as Balaam we cannot understand
him. He is a bad man, but yet he is a prophet. How can that be?
He knows the true God. More, he has the Spirit of God in him, and
thereby utters deep and wonderful prophecies; and yet he is a bad
man and a rogue. How can that be?

The puzzle, my friends, is one of our own making. If, instead of
taking up doctrines out of books, we will use our own eyes and ears
and common sense, and look honestly at this world as it is, and men
and women as they are, we shall find nothing unnatural or strange in
Balaam; we shall find him very like a good many people whom we know;
very like--nay, probably, too like--ourselves in some particulars.

Now bear in mind, first, that Balaam is no impostor or magician. He
is a wise man, and a prophet of God. God really speaks to him, and
really inspires him.

And bear in mind, too, that Balaam's inspiration did not merely open
his mouth to say wonderful words which he did not understand, but
opened his heart to say righteous and wise things which he did

'Remember,' says the prophet Micah, 'O my people, what Balak, king
of Moab, consulted, and what Balaam, the son of Beor, answered him
from Shittim unto Gilgal, that ye may know the righteousness of the
Lord. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before
the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with
calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of
rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my
firstborn for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of
my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, and what doth
the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and
to walk humbly with thy God.' Why, what deeper or wiser words are
there in the whole Old Testament? This man Balaam had seen down
into the deepest depths of all morality, unto the deepest depths of
all religion. The man who knew that, knew more than ninety-nine in
a hundred do even in a Christian country now, and more than nine
hundred and ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine in a
million knew in those days. Let no one, after that speech, doubt
that Balaam was indeed a prophet of the Lord; and yet he was a bad
man, and came deservedly to a bad end.

So much easier, my friends, is it to know what is right than to do
what is right.

What then was wrong in Balaam?

This, that he was double-minded. He wished to serve God. True.
But he wished to serve himself by serving God, as too many do in all

That was what was wrong with him--self-seeking; and the Bible story
brings out that self-seeking with a delicacy, a keenness, and a
perfect knowledge of human nature, which ought to teach us some of
the secrets of our own hearts. Watch how Balaam, as a matter of
course, inquires of the Lord whether he may go, and refuses,
seemingly at first honestly.

Then how the temptation grows on him; how, when he feels tempted, he
fights against it in fine-sounding professions, just because he
feels that he is going to yield to it. Then how he begins to tempt
God, by asking him again, in hopes that God may have changed his
mind. Then when he has his foolish wish granted he goes. Then when
the terrible warning comes to him that he is on the wrong road, that
God's wrath is gone out against him, and his angel ready to destroy
him, he is full still of hollow professions of obedience, instead of
casting himself utterly upon God's mercy, and confessing his sin,
and entreating pardon.

Then how, instead of being frightened at God's letting him have his
way, he is emboldened by it to tempt God more and more, and begins
offering bullocks and rams on altars, first in this place and then
in that, in hopes still that GOD may change his mind, and let him
curse Israel; in hopes that God may be like one of the idols of the
heathen, who could (so the heathen thought) be coaxed and flattered
round by sacrifices to do whatever their worshippers wished.

Then, when he finds that all is of no use; that he must not curse
Israel, and must not earn Balak's silver and gold, he is forced to
be an honest man in spite of himself; and therefore he makes the
best of his disappointment by taking mighty credit to himself for
being honest, while he wishes all the while he might have been
allowed to have been dishonest. Oh, if all this is not poor human
nature, drawn by the pen of a truly inspired writer, what is it?

Moreover, it is curious to watch how as Balaam is forced step by
step to be an honest man, so step by step he rises. A weight falls
off his mind and heart, and the Spirit of God comes upon him.

He feels for once that he must speak his mind, that he must obey
God. As he looks down from off the mountain top, and sees the vast
encampment of the Israelites spread over the vale below, for miles
and miles, as far as the eye can see, all ordered, disciplined,
arranged according to their tribes, the Spirit of God comes upon
him, and he gives way to it and speaks.

The sight of that magnificent array wakens up in him the thought of
how divine is older, how strong is order, how order is the life and
root of a nation, and how much more, when that order is the order of

'How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!
As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's
side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as
cedar trees beside the waters. His king shall be higher than Agag,'
and all his wild Amalekite hordes. He will be a true nation,
civilized, ordered, loyal and united, for God is teaching him.

Who can resist such a nation as that? 'God has brought him out of
Egypt. He has the strength of an unicorn.' 'I shall see him,' he
says, 'but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall
come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel,
and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of
Sheth.' And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and
said, 'Amalek was the first of the nation; but his latter end shall
be that he perish for ever.' And he looked on the Kenites, and took
up his parable, and said, 'Strong is thy dwelling-place, and thou
puttest thy nest in a rock. Nevertheless, the Kenite shall be
wasted, till Asshur shall carry thee away captive.' 'Alas, who
shall live when God doeth this!'

And then, beyond all, after all the Canaanites and other Syrian
races have been destroyed, he sees, dimly and afar off, another
destruction still.

In his home in the far east the fame of the ships of Chittim has
reached him; the fame of the new people, the sea-roving heroes of
the Greeks, of whom old Homer sang; the handsomest, cunningest, most
daring of mankind, who are spreading their little trading colonies
along all the isles and shores, as we now are spreading ours over
the world. Those ships of Chittim, too, have a great and glorious
future before them. Some day or other they will come and afflict
Asshur, the great empire of the East, out of which Balaam probably
came; and afflict Eber too, the kingdom of the Jews, and they too
shall perish for ever.

Dimly he sees it, for it is very far away. But that it will come he
sees; and beyond that all is dark. He has said his say; he has
spoken the whole truth for once. Balak's house full of silver and
gold would not have bought him off and stopped his mouth when such
awful thoughts crowded on his mind. So he returns to his place--to
do what?

If he cannot earn Balak's gold by cursing Israel, he can do it by
giving him cunning and politic advice. He advises Balak to make
friends with the Israelites and mix them up with his people by
enticing them to the feasts of his idols, at which the women threw
themselves away in shameful profligacy, after the custom of the
heathens of these parts.

In the next chapter we read how Moses, and Phinehas, Aaron's
grandson, put down those filthy abominations with a high hand; and
how Balaam's detestable plot, instead of making peace, makes war;
and in chapter xxxi. you read the terrible destruction of the whole
nation of the Midianites, and among it this one short and terrible
hint: 'Balaam also, the son of Beor, they slew with the sword.'

But what may we learn from this ugly story?

Recollect what I said at first, that we should find Balaam too like
many people now-a-days; perhaps too like ourselves.

Too like indeed. For never were men more tempted to sin as Balaam
did than in these days, when religion is all the fashion, and pays a
man, and helps him on in life; when, indeed, a man cannot expect to
succeed without professing some sort of religion or other.

Thereby comes a terrible temptation to many men. I do not mean to
hypocrites, but to really well-meaning men. They like religion.
They wish to be good; they have the feeling of devotion. They pray,
they read their Bibles, they are attentive to services and to
sermons, and are more or less pious people. But soon--too soon--
they find that their piety is profitable. Their business increases.
Their credit increases. They are trusted and respected; their
advice is asked and taken. They gain power over their fellow-men.
What a fine thing it is, they think, to be pious!

Then creeps in the love of the world; the love of money, or power,
or admiration; and they begin to value religion because it helps
them to get on in the world. They begin more and more to love Piety
not for its own sake, but for the sake of what it brings; not
because it pleases God, but because it pleases the world; not
because it enables them to help their fellow-men, but because it
enables them to help themselves.

So they get double-minded, unstable, inconsistent, as St. James
says, in all their ways; trying to serve God and Mammon at once.
Trying to do good--as long as doing good does not hurt them in the
world's eyes; but longing oftener and oftener to do wrong, if only
God would not be angry. Then comes on Balaam's frame of mind, 'If
Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go
beyond the commandment of the Lord.'

Oh no. They would not do a wrong thing for the world--only they
must be quite sure first that it is wrong. Has God really forbidden
it? Why should they not take care of their interest? Why should
they not get on in the world? So they begin, like Balaam, to tempt
God, to see how far they can go; to see if God has forbidden this
and that mean, or cowardly, or covetous, or ambitious deed. So they
soon settle for themselves what God has forbidden and what he has
not; and their rule of life becomes this--that whatsoever is safe
and whatsoever is profitable is pretty sure to be right; and after
that no wonder if, like Balaam, they indulge themselves in every
sort of sin, provided only it is respectable, and does not hurt them
in the world's eyes.

And all the while they keep up their religion. Ay, they are often
more attentive than ever to religion, because their consciences
pinch them at times, and have to be silenced and drugged by
continual church-goings and chapel-goings, and readings and
prayings, in order that they may be able to say to themselves with
Balaam, 'Thus saith Balaam, he who heard the word of God, and had
the knowledge of the Most High.'

So they say to themselves, 'I must be right. How religious I am;
how fond of sermons, and of church services, and church
restorations, and missionary meetings, and charitable institutions,
and everything that is good and pious. I MUST be right with God.'
Deceiving their ownselves, and saying to themselves, 'I am rich and
increased with goods, I have need of nothing,' and not knowing that
they are wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked.

Would God that such people, of whom there are too many, would take
St. John's warning and buy of the Lord gold tried in the fire--the
true gold of honesty--that they may be truly rich, and anoint their
eyes with eye-salve that they may see themselves for once as they

But what does this story teach us concerning God? For remember, as
I tell you every Sunday, that each fresh story in the Pentateuch
reveals to us something fresh about the character of God. What does
Balaam's story reveal? Balaam himself tells us in the text, 'God is
not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should
repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it?'

Yes. Fancy not that any wishes or prayers of yours can persuade God
to alter his everlasting laws of right and wrong. If he has
commanded a thing, he has commanded it because it is according to
his everlasting laws, which cannot change, because they are made in
his eternal image and likeness. Therefore if God has commanded you
a thing, DO IT heartily, fully, without arguing or complaining. If
you begin arguing with God's law, excusing yourself from it,
inventing reasons why YOU need not obey it in this particular
instance, though every one else ought, then you will end, like
Balaam, in disobeying the law, and it will grind you to powder.

But if you obey God's law honestly, with a single eye and a whole
heart, you will find in it a blessing, and peace, and strength, and
everlasting life.


(Third Sunday after Easter.)

Deut. iv. 39, 40. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine
heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth
beneath: there is none else. Thou shall keep therefore his
statutes and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that
it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that
thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God
giveth thee, for ever.

Learned men have argued much of late as to who wrote the book of
Deuteronomy. After having read a good deal on the subject, I can
only say that I see no reason why we should not believe the ancient
account which the Jews give, that it was written, or at least spoken
by Moses.

No doubt there are difficulties in the book. If there had not been,
there would never have been any dispute about the matter; but the
plain, broad, common-sense case is this:

The book of Deuteronomy is made up of several great orations or
sermons, delivered, says the work itself, by Moses, to the whole
people of the Jews, before they left the wilderness and entered into
the land of Canaan; wherefore it is called Deuteronomy, or the
second law. In it some small matters of the law are altered, as was
to be expected, when the Jews were going to change their place and
their whole way of life. But the whole teaching and meaning of the
book is exactly that of Exodus and Leviticus. Moreover, it is, if
possible, the grandest and deepest book of the Old Testament. Its
depth and wisdom are unequalled. I hold it to be the sum and
substance of all political philosophy and morality of the true life
of a nation. The books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, grand as
they are, are, as it were, its children; growths out of the root
which Deuteronomy reveals.

Now if Moses did not write it, who did?

As for the style of it being different from that of Exodus and
Leviticus, the simple answer is, Why not? They are books of history
and of laws. This is a book of sermons or orations, spoken first,
and not written, which, of course, would be in a different style.
Besides, why should not Moses have spoken differently at the end of
forty years' such experience as never man had before or since?
Every one who thinks, writes, or speaks in public, knows how his
style alters, as fresh knowledge and experience come to him. Are
you to suppose that Moses gained nothing by HIS experience?

As for a few texts in it being like Isaiah or Jeremiah, they are
likely enough to be so; for if (as I believe) Deuteronomy was
written long before those books, what more likely than that Isaiah
and Jeremiah should have studied it, and taken some of its words to
themselves when they were preaching to the Jews just what
Deuteronomy preaches?

As for any one else having written it in Moses' name, hundreds of
years after his death, I cannot believe it. If there had been in
Israel a prophet great and wise enough to write Deuteronomy, we must
have heard more about him, for he must have been famous at the time
when he did live; while, if he were great enough to write
Deuteronomy, he would have surely written in his own name, as Isaiah
and all the other prophets wrote, instead of writing under a feigned
name, and putting words into Moses' mouth which he did not speak,
and laws he did not give. Good men are not in the habit of telling
lies: much less prophets of God. Men do not begin to play cowardly
tricks of that kind till after they have lost faith in the LIVING
God, and got to believe that God was with their forefathers, but is
not with them. A Jew of the time of the Apocrypha, or of the time
of our Lord, might have done such a thing, because he had lost faith
in the living God; but then his work would have been of a very
different kind from this noble and heart-stirring book. For the
pith and marrow, the essence and life of Deuteronomy is, that it is
full of faith in the living God; and for that very reason I am going
to speak to you to-day.

For the rest, whether Moses wrote the book down, and put it together
in the shape in which we now have it, we shall never be able to
tell. The several orations may have been put together into one
book. Alterations may have crept in by the carelessness of copiers;
sentences may have been added to it by later prophets--as, of
course, the grand account of Moses' death, which probably was at
first the beginning of the book of Joshua. And beyond that we need
know nothing--even if we need know that.

There the book is; and people, if they be wise, will, instead of
trying to pick it to pieces, read and study it in fear and
trembling, that the curses pronounced in it may NOT come, and the
blessings pronounced in it may come upon this English land.

Now these Jews were to worship and obey Jehovah, the one true God,
and him only. And why?

Why, indeed? You MUST understand why, or you will never understand
this book of Deuteronomy or any part of the Old Testament, and if
you do not, then you will understand very little, if anything, of
the New.

You must understand that this was not to be a mere matter of
RELIGION with the old Jews, this trusting and obeying the true God.
Indeed, the word religion, so far as I know, is never mentioned once
in the Old Testament at all. By religion we now mean some plan of
believing and obeying God, which will save our souls after we die.
But Moses said nothing to the Jews about that. He never even
anywhere told them that they would live again after this life. We
do not know the reason of that. But we may suppose that he knew
best. And as we believe that God sent him, we must believe that God
knew best also; and that he thought it good for these Jews not to be
told too much about the next life; perhaps for fear that they should
forget that God was the living God; the God of now, as well as of
hereafter; the God of this life, as well as of the life to come. My
friends, I sometimes think we need putting in mind of that in these
days as much as those old Jews did.

However that may be, what Moses promised these Jews, if they trusted
in the living God, was that they should be a great nation, they and
their children after them; that they should drive out the Canaanites
before them; that they should conquer their enemies, and that a
thousand should flee before one of them; that they should be blessed
in their crops, their orchards, their gardens; that they should have
none of the evil diseases of Egypt; that there should be none barren
among them, or among their cattle. In a word, that they should be
thoroughly and always a strong, happy, prosperous people.

This is what God promised them by Moses, and nothing else; and
therefore this is what we must think about, and see whether it has
anything to do with us, when we read the book of Deuteronomy, and
nothing else.

On the other hand, God warned them by the mouth of Moses that if
they forgot the Lord God, and went and worshipped the things round
them, men or beasts, or sun and moon and stars, then poverty,
misery, and ruin of every kind would surely fall upon them.

And that this last was no empty threat is proved by the plain facts
of their sacred history. For they DID forget God, and worshipped
Baalim, the sun, moon, and stars; and ruin of every kind DID come
upon them, till they were carried away captive to Babylon. And this
we must think of when we read the book of Deuteronomy, and nothing
else. If they wished to prosper, they were to know and consider in
their hearts that Jehovah was God, and there was none else. Yes--
this was the continual thought which a true Jew was to have. The
thought of a God who was HIS God; the God of his fathers before him,
and the God of his children after him; the God of the whole nation
of the Jews, throughout all their generations.

But not their God only. No. The God of the Gentiles also, of all
the nations upon the earth. He was to believe that his God alone,
of all the gods of the nations, was the true and only God, who had
made all nations, and appointed them their times and the bounds of
their habitations.

We cannot understand now, in these happier days, all that that
meant; all the strength and comfort, all the godly fear, the feeling
of solemn responsibility which that thought ought to have given, and
did give to the Jews--that they were the people of Jehovah, the one
true God.

For you must remember that all the nations round them then, and all
the great heathen nations afterwards, were, as far as we know, the
people of some god or other. Religion and politics were with them
one and the same thing. They had some god, or gods, whom they
looked to as the head or king of their nation, who had a special
favour to them, and would bless and prosper them according as they
showed him special reverence, and after that god the whole nation
was often named.

The Ammonites' god was Ammon, the hidden god, the lord of their
sheep and cattle. The Zidonians had Ashtoreth, the moon. The
Phoenicians worshipped Moloch, the fire. Many of the Canaanites
worshipped Baal, the lord, or Baalim, the lords--the sun, moon, and
stars. The Philistines afterwards (for we read nothing of
Philistines in Moses' time) worshipped Dagon, the fish-god, and so
forth. The Egyptians had gods without number--gods invented out of
beasts, and birds, and the fruits of the earth, and the season, and
the weather, and the sun and moon and stars. Each class and trade,
from the highest to the lowest, and each city and town throughout
the land seems to have had its special god, who was worshipped
there, and expected to take care of that particular class of men or
that particular place.

What a thought it must have been for the Jews--all these people have
their gods, but they are all wrong. We have the RIGHT God; the only
true God. They are the people of this god, or of that; we are the
people of the one true God. They look to many gods; we look to the
one God, who made all things, and beside whom there is none else.
They look to one god to bless them in one thing, and another in
another; one to send them sunshine, one to send them fruitful
seasons, one to prosper their crops, another their flocks and herds,
and so forth. We look to one God to do all these things for us,
because he is Lord of all at once, and has made all.

Therefore we need not fear the gods of the heathen, or cry to any of
them, even in our utmost distress; for we belong to him who is
before all gods, the God of gods, of whom it is written, 'Worship
him, all ye gods;' and 'It is the Lord who made the heaven and the
earth, the sea and all that therein is. Him only shalt thou
worship, and him only shalt thou serve.' If we obey him, and keep
his commandments; if we trust in him, utterly, through good fortune
and through bad--then we must prosper in peace and war, we and our
children after us; because our prosperity is grounded on the real
truth, and that of the heathen on a lie; and all that the heathen
expect their false gods to do for them, one here and another there,
all that, the one real God will do for us, himself alone.

Do you not see what a power and courage that thought must have given
to the Jews? Do you not see how worshipping God, and loving God,
and serving God, must have been a very different, a much deeper, and
a truly holier matter to them than the miserable selfish thing which
is miscalled religion by too many people now-a-days, by which a man
hopes to creep out of this world into heaven all by himself, without
any real care or love for his fellow-creatures, or those he leaves
behind him?

No. An old Jew's faith in God, and obedience to God, was part of
his family life, part of his politics, part of his patriotism. If
he obeyed God, and clave earnestly to God, then a blessing would
come on him in the field and in the house, on his crops and on his
cattle, going out and coming in; and on his children and his
children's children to a thousand generations. He would be helping,
if he obeyed and trusted God, to advance his country's prosperity;
to insure her success in war and peace, to raise the name and fame
of the Jewish people among all the nations round, that all might
say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and an understanding

Thus the duty he owed to God was not merely a duty which he owed his
own conscience or his own soul; it was a duty which he owed to his
family, to his kindred, to his country. It was not merely an
opinion that there was one God and not two; it was a belief that the
one and only true God was protecting him, teaching him, inspiring
him and all his nation. That the true God would teach their hands
to war and their fingers to fight. That the true God would cause
their folds to be full of sheep. That their valleys should stand
rich with corn, that they should laugh and sing. That the true God
would enable them to sit every man under his own vine and his own
fig-tree, and eat the labour of his hands, he and his children after
him to perpetual generations.

This was the message and teaching which God gave these Jews. It is
very different from what many people now-a-days would have given
them, if they had had the ordering of the matter, and the making of
those slaves into a free nation. But perhaps there is one proof
that God DID give it them, and that the Bible speaks truth, when it
says that not man, but God gave them their law.

No doubt man would have done it differently. But God's ways are not
as man's ways, nor God's thoughts as man's thoughts.

And God's ways have proved themselves to be the right ways. His
purpose has come to pass. This little nation of the Jews,
inhabiting a country not as large as Wales, without sea-port towns
and commerce, without colonies or conquests--and at last, for its
own sins, conquered itself, and scattered abroad over the whole
civilized world--has taught the whole civilized world, has converted
the whole civilized world, has influenced all the good and all the
wise unto this day so enormously, that the world has actually gone
beyond them, and become Christian by fully understanding their
teaching and their Bible, while they have remained mere Jews by not
fully understanding it. Truly, if that is not a proof that God
revealed something to the Jews which they never found out for
themselves, which was too great for them to understand, which was
God's boundless message and not any narrow message of man's
invention--if that does not prove it, I say--I know not what proof
men would have.

But now I have told you that God bade these Jews to look for
blessings in THIS life, and blessings on their whole nation, and on
their children after them, if they obeyed and served him. Does God
NOT bid us to look for any such blessings? The Jews were to be
blessed in THIS world. Are we only to be blessed in the next?

To that the Seventh Article of our Church gives a plain and positive
answer. For it says that those are not to be heard who pretend that
the old Fathers, i.e. Moses and the Prophets, looked only for
transitory promises--i.e. for promises which would pass away. No.
They looked for eternal promises which could not pass away, because
they were according to the eternal laws of God, which stand good
both for this world and for all worlds for this life and for the
life everlasting.

Yes, my friends, settle in your hearts that the book of Deuteronomy
is meant for you, and for all the nations upon earth, as much as for
the old Jews. That its promises and warnings are to you and to your
children as surely as they were to the old Jews. Ay, that they are
meant for every nation that is, or ever was, or ever will be upon
earth. If you would prosper on the earth, fear God and keep his
commandments; and know and consider it in your heart that the Lord
Jesus Christ he is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath:
there is none else. He it is who gives grace and honour. He it is
who delivers us out of the hands of our enemies. He it is who
blesses the fruit of the womb, and the fruit of the flock, and the
fruit of the garden and the field. He is the living God, in whom
this world, as well as the world to come, lives and moves and has
its being; and only by obeying his laws can man prosper, he and his
children after him, upon this earth of God.


(Fifth Sunday after Easter.)

Deut. viii. 11-18. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in
not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes,
which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten and art
full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy
herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is
multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart
be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee
forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led
thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery
serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who
brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; who fed thee in
the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might
humble thee and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy
latter end: and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of
mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shall remember the
Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth,
that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers,
as it is this day.

I told you before that the book of Deuteronomy was the foundation of
all sound politics--as one would expect it to be, if its author were
Moses, the greatest lawgiver whom the world ever saw. But here, in
this lesson, is a proof of the truth of what I said. For here, in
the text, is Moses' answer to the first great question in politics,
What makes a nation prosperous?

To that wise men have always answered, as Moses answered, 'Good
government; government according to the laws of God.' That alone
makes a nation prosperous.

But the multitude--who are not wise men, nor likely to be for some
time to come--give a different answer. They say, 'What makes a
nation prosperous is its wealth. If Britain be only RICH, then she
must be safe and right.'

To which Moses, being a wise lawgiver, and having, moreover, in him
the Spirit of the Lord who knoweth what is in man, makes a
reasonable, liberal, humane answer.

Moses does not deny that wealth is a good thing. He does not bid
them not try to be rich. He takes for granted that they will grow
rich; that the national fruit of their good government will be that
they will increase in cattle and in crops and in money, and in all
which makes an agricultural people rich.

He takes for granted, I say, that these Jews will grow very rich;
but he warns them that their riches, like all other earthly things,
may be a curse or a blessing to them. Nay, that they are not good
in themselves, but mere tools which may be used for good or for
evil. He warns them of a very great danger that riches will bring
on them. And herein he shows his knowledge of the human heart; for
it is a certain fact that whenever any nation has prospered, and
their flocks and herds, and silver and gold, all that they had, have
multiplied, then they have, as Moses warned the Jews, forgotten the
Lord their God, and said, 'My power and the might of my hand hath
gotten me this wealth.'

And it is true, also, that whenever any nation has begun to say
that, they have fallen into confusion and misery, and sometimes into
utter ruin, till they repented, and turned and remembered the Lord
their God, and found out that the strength of a nation did not
consist in riches, but in VIRTUE. For it is he that giveth the
power to get wealth. He gives it in two ways: First, God gives the
raw material; secondly, he gives the wit to use it.

You will all agree that God gives the first; that he gives the soil,
the timber, the fisheries, the coal, the iron.

Do you believe it? I hope and trust that you do. But I fear that
now-a-days many do not; for they boast of the resources of Britain
as if we ourselves had made Britain, and not Almighty God; as if we
had put the coal and the iron into the rocks, and not Almighty God
ages before we were born.

And if they will not say that openly, at least they will say, 'But
the coal, and iron, and all other raw material would have been
useless, if it had not been for the genius and energy of the British

Of course not. But who gave them that genius and energy? Who gave
them the wit to find the coal and iron?

God; and God gave it to us when we needed it, and not before.

Think of this, I beseech you; for it is true, and wonderful, and a
thing of which I may say, 'Come, and I will reason with you of the
righteous acts of the Lord.'

Men say, 'As long as England is ahead of the world in coal and iron
she may defy the world.' I do not believe it; for if she became a
wicked nation all the coal and iron in the universe would not keep
her from being ruined.

But even if it were true, which it is not, that the strength of
Britain lies in coal and iron, and not in British hearts, what right
have we to boast of coal and iron?

Did our forefathers know of them when they came into this land? Did
they come after coal and iron?

Not they. They came here to settle as small yeomen; to till
miserable little patches of corn, of which we should be now ashamed,
and to feed cattle on the moors, and swine in the forests--and that
was all they looked to. Then they found that there was iron,
principally down south, in Sussex and Surrey; and they worked it,
clumsily enough, with charcoal; and for more than twelve hundred
years they were here in England, with no notion of the boundless
wealth in iron and coal lying together in the same rocks which God
had provided for them; or if they did guess at it, they could not
use it, because they could not work deep mines, being unable to pump
out the water; for God had not opened their eyes and shown them how
to do it.

But just when it was wanted, God did show them. About the middle of
the last century the iron in the Weald was all but worked out; the
charcoal wood was getting scarcer and scarcer, and there was every
chance that England, instead of being ahead of all nations in iron,
would have fallen behind other nations; and then where should we
have been now?

But, just about one hundred years ago, it pleased God to open the
eyes of certain men, and they invented steam-engines. Then they
could pump the mines, then they could discover and use the vast
riches of our coal-mines. Then, too, sprung up a thousand useful
arts and manufactures; while the land, not being wanted for charcoal
and firewood, as of old, could be cleared of wood, and thousands of
acres set free to grow corn. Population, which had been all but
standing still, without increasing, has now more than doubled, and
wealth inestimable has come to this generation, of which our
forefathers never dreamed.

Now what have we to boast of in that? What, save to confess
ourselves a very stupid race, who for twelve hundred years could not
discover, or at least use the boundless wealth which God had given
us, because we had not wit enough to invent so simple a thing as a

All we should do, instead of boasting, is to bless God that he
revealed to us just what we needed, and at the very time at which we
needed it, and confess that it is HE that giveth us power to get
wealth. It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.

Look again at another case, even more extraordinary, which has
happened during our own times--indeed within the last ten years--the
discovery of gold in Australia.

There had been rumours and whispers of gold for years before; and
yet no one looked for gold, cared for it, hardly believed in it.
God had dulled their understanding and blinded their eyes for some
good purpose of his own. That is what the Bible would have said of
such a matter, and that is what we should say.

And at last some man finds lying out upon the downs a huge lump of
gold--by accident (as men call it; by the special providence of God,
as they ought to call it); and at that every one starts up and
awakes, and begins looking for gold. And now that their eyes are
opened, behold! the gold is everywhere. Not merely in lonely
forests and unexplored mountains, but on farms where the sheep have
been pastured for years past; ay, even Melbourne streets were full
of gold, under the feet of the passengers and the wheels of the
carriages; there had the gold been all along, but men could not see
it till God opened their eyes. Verily, verily, God is great, and
man is small. I do not say that this was a miracle in the common
meaning of the word; but I do say that this was a striking instance
of that everlasting and special providence of the living God, who
ordereth all things in heaven and earth, from the rise of a nation
to the fall of a sparrow; and does so, not by breaking his own laws,
but by making his laws work exactly as he will, when he will, and
where he will; and I say that it is a fresh proof of the great
saying, that no man can see a thing unless God shows it to him. For
it is the Lord who gives us power to get wealth. It is he that hath
made us, and not we ourselves; and in him we live and move, and have
our being.

This, then, was what Moses commanded--to remember that they owed all
to God. What they had, they had of God's free gift. What they
were, they were by God's free grace. Therefore they were not to
boast of themselves, their numbers, their wealth, their armies,
their fair and fertile land. They were to make their boast of God,
and of God's goodness.

He that gloried was to glory in the Lord, and confess that a Syrian
ready to perish was their father Jacob, when the Lord had mercy on
him, and made him the head of a great tribe, and the father of a
great nation; that not themselves, but God had brought them out of
Egypt with signs and wonders; that they got not the land in
possession by their own bow, neither was it their own sword that
helped them, but that God had driven out before them nations greater
and mightier than they.

This they were to remember, because it was true. And this we are to
remember, because it is more or less true of us. God has put us
where we are. God has made of us a great nation; God has discovered
to us the immense riches of this land. It is he that hath made us,
and not we ourselves.

But more. You will see that Moses warns them that if they forget
God, the Lord who brought them out of the land of Egypt, they would
go after other gods.

He cannot part the two things. If they forget that God brought them
out of Egypt, they will turn to idolatry, and so end in ruin.

Now why was this?

Why should not the Jews have gone on worshipping one God, even if
they had forgotten that he brought them out of the land of Egypt?

Some people now-a-days think that they would, and that they might
have very well been what is called Monotheists, without believing
all the story of the signs and wonders in Egypt, and the passage of
the Red Sea, and the giving of the law to Moses.

Such men may be very learned; but there is one thing of which they
know very little, and that is, human nature. Moses knew human
nature; and he knew that if men forgot that God was the living God,
the acting God, who had helped them once, and was helping them
always, and only believed about there being one God far away in
heaven, and not two, that THAT sort of dead faith in a dead God
would never keep them from idols. They would want gods who WOULD
help them, who WOULD hear their prayers, to whom they could feel
gratitude and trust; and they would invent them for themselves, and
begin to worship things in the heavens above, and the earth beneath,
because they had forgotten their true friend and helper, the living

And so shall we. If we forget that God is the living God, who
brought our forefathers into this land; who has revealed to us the
wealth of it step by step, as we needed it; who is helping and
blessing us now, every day and all the year round--then we shall
begin worshipping other gods.

I do not mean that we shall worship idols, though I do not see why
our children's children should not do so a few hundred years hence
if we teach them to forget the living God. There are too many
Christians at this day who worship saints, and idols of wood and
stone; and so may our descendants do--or do even worse.

But we ourselves shall begin--indeed we are doing it too much
already--worshipping the so-called laws of nature, instead of God
who made the laws, and so honouring the creature above the creator;
or else we shall worship the pomps and vanities of this world, pride
and power, money and pleasure, and say in our hearts, 'These are our
only gods which can help us--these must we obey.' Which if we do,
this land of England will come to ruin and shame, as surely as did
the land of Israel in old time.

If we do not believe in the living God, we shall believe in
something worse than even a dead god.

For in a dead god--a god who does nothing, but lets mankind and the
world go their own way--no man nor nation ever will care to believe.

And now, nay dear friends, remember that a nation is, after all,
only the people in that nation: you, and I, and our neighbours, and
our neighbours' neighbours, and so forth; and that therefore, in as
far as we are wrong, we do our worst to make the British nation
wrong. If we give way to ungodly pride and self-sufficiency, then
we are injuring ourselves; and not only that, but injuring our
neighbours and our children after us, as far as we can. And
therefore our duty is, if we wish well to our nation, not to judge
our neighbour, nor our neighbour's neighbour, but to judge

If we go on trusting in ourselves rather than God; if we keep within
us the hard self-sufficient spirit, and boast to ourselves (though
we may be ashamed to boast to our neighbours), 'My power and the
strength of my hands have got me this and that;' and in fact live
under the notion, which too many have, that we could do very well
without God's help if God would let us alone--then we are heaping up
ruin and shame for ourselves and for our children after us. Ruin
and shame, I say. We are apt to forget how easy and common it is
for God to turn the wisdom of men into folly; to frustrate the
tokens of the liars, and make the prophets mad. How men blow great
bubbles, and God bursts them with the slightest touch. How, when
all seems well, and men cry peace and safety, sudden destruction
comes upon them unawares. How, when men say, 'Soul, take thine
ease, eat, drink, and be merry; thou hast much goods laid up for
many years,' God answers, 'Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be
required of thee.'

My friends, we see God doing thus in these very days by great
nations, by great branches of industry. Look at the American war,
look at the Manchester cotton famine, and see how God can confound
the strong and cunning, and blind their eyes to the ruin which is
coming till it is come in all its might. And then think, If it be
so easy for him to confound such as them, is it less easy for him to
confound you and me, if we begin to fancy that we can do without
him, and ask, 'Doth God perceive it? Or is there knowledge in the
Most High? We are they that ought to speak. Who is Lord over us?'

Yes, in this sense God is indeed a jealous God, who will not give
his honour to another. And a blessed thing for men it is that God
IS a jealous God, that he WILL punish us for trusting in anything
but him--will punish us for trusting in ourselves, or in our wisdom,
or in wealth, or in science, or in armies and navies, or in
constitutions and laws; in anything, in short, save the living God.

For if he left us alone to go our own way without trusting or
fearing him, we should surely go down and down (as the Chinese seem
to have gone down), generation after generation, till we became only
a mere cunning and spiteful sort of animals, hateful and hating one
another. But when we are chastened for our folly, we are chastened
by him that we may be partakers of his holiness; that we may be his
children, looking up to him as our father, from whom comes every
good and perfect gift; the Father of Lights, with whom is no
variableness or shadow of turning; and who therefore will and can
give us, his children, light, more and more to understand those his
invariable and eternal laws, by which he has made earth and heaven;
who has given us his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and will with him
likewise freely give us all things.


(Fifth Sunday after Easter.)

DEUT. xi. 11, 12. The land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land
of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven. A
land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy
God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year, even unto
the end of the year.

I told you, when I spoke of the earthquakes of the Holy Land, that
it seems as if God had meant specially to train that strange people
the Jews, by putting them into a country where they MUST trust him,
or become cowards and helpless; that so they might learn not to fear
the powers of Nature which the heathen worshipped, but to fear him
the living God.

In this chapter is another instance of the same. They were to be an
agricultural people. Their very worship was (if you can understand
such a thing now-a-days) to be agricultural. Pentecost was a feast
of the first-fruits of the harvest. The Feast of Tabernacles was a
great national harvest home. The Passover itself, though not at
first an agricultural festival, became one by the waving of the
Paschal sheaf, which gave permission to the people to begin their
spring-harvest--so thoroughly were they to be an agricultural and
cattle-feeding people. They were going into a good land, a land of
milk and honey and oil olive; a land of vines and figs and
pomegranates; a rich land; but a most uncertain land--a land which
might yield a splendid crop one year, and be almost barren the next.

It was not as the land of Egypt--a land which was, humanly speaking,
sure to be fertile, because always supplied with water, brought out
of the Nile by dykes and channels which spread in a network over
every field, and where--as I believe is done now--the labourer
turned the water from one land to the other simply by moving the
earth with his foot.

It was a mountain land, a land of hills and valleys, and drank water
of the rain of heaven; a land of fountains of water, which required
to be fed continually by the rain. In that hot climate it depended
entirely on God's providence from week to week whether a crop could

Therefore it was a land which the Lord cared for--a land which
needed his special help, and it had it. 'The eyes of the Lord God
were always upon it, from the beginning of the year unto the end of
the year.'

Beautiful, simple, noble, true words--deeper than all the learned
words, however true they may be (and true they are, and to be
listened to with respect), which men talk about the laws of Nature
and of weather. Who would change them for all the scientific
phrases in the world? The eyes of the Lord were upon the land. It
needed his care; and therefore his care it had.

Therefore the Jew was to understand from his first entry into the
land, that his prosperity depended utterly on God. The laws of
weather, by which the rain comes up off the sea, were unknown to
him. They are all but unknown to us now. But they were known to
God. Not a drop could fall without his providence and will; and
therefore they were utterly in his power.

'And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my
commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your
God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the
first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn,
and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields
for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. Take heed to
yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside and
serve other gods, and worship them; and then the Lord's wrath be
kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no
rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish
quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you.'

Now the Bible story is, that this warning came true. More than once
we read of drought--long, and severe, and ruinous. In one famous
case, there was no rain for three years; and Ahab has to go out to
search through the land for a scrap of pasture. 'Peradventure we
shall find grass enough to save the horses and mules alive.'

And most distinctly does the Bible say that these droughts came at
times when the Jews had fallen into idolatry, and profligacy
therewith. That is the Scripture account. And if you believe in
the living God, whose providence ordereth all things in heaven and
earth, that account will seem reasonable and credible to you.

What special means God used to bring about these great droughts we
cannot know, any more than we can know why a storm or a shower
should come one week and not another. And we need not know. God
made the world, and God governs the world, and that is enough for

Be that as it may, Moses goes down to the very root and ground and
true cause of the riches of the land, and of the rainfall, and of
the prosperity of the Jews, and of the prosperity of any living
nation on earth, when he says, 'Therefore shall ye lay up these my
words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon
your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.'

'Ye shall lay up these my words in your heart and your soul, and
teach them your children when thou sittest in thine house and when
thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down and when thou risest
up.' That is, thou shalt believe continually in a living God--a God
who is working everywhere at every moment, about thy path and about
thy bed, and spying out all thy ways; and not only about thee, but
about all that thou seest. From him comes alike rain and sunshine;
from him comes the life of man; from him comes all which makes it
possible for man to live upon the earth.

And it is a plain fact that the Jews for a long time did believe
this--at least the prophets, psalmists and good men among them--to
the most intense degree; to a degree in which perhaps no nation has
believed it since. With them God is everything, and man nothing.
Man finds out nothing: God reveals it to him. Man's intellect does
nothing: the Spirit of God gives him understanding to do it--even,
says Isaiah, understanding to plough, and to sow, and to reap his
crops in due season. It is the Spirit of God, according to the
prophets and psalmists, which makes the difference between a man and
a beast. But upon the beasts too, and the green things of the
earth, and on all nature, the Spirit of God works. He is the Lord
and giver of life. Take only those four Psalms, the 8th, 18th,
29th, 104th, and learn from them what the old Jews thought of this
wonderful world in which we live.

'These all wait upon thee'--all living things by land and sea--'that
thou mayest give them meat in due season. When thou givest it them
they gather it. When thou openest thy hand they are filled with
good. When thou hidest thy face they are troubled. When thou
takest away their breath they die, and are turned again to their
dust. When thou lettest thy breath go forth they shall be made, and
thou shalt renew the face of the earth.'

So again, in the world of man, God is the living Judge, the living
overlooker, rewarder, punisher of every man, not only in the life to
come, but in this life. His providence is a special providence.
But not such a poor special providence as men are too apt to dream
of now-a-days, which interferes only now and then on some great
occasion, or on behalf of some very favoured persons, but a special
providence looking after every special act of man, and of the whole
universe, from the fall of a sparrow to the fall of an empire.

And it is this intense faith in the living God, which can only come
by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, which proves the old
Testament to be truly inspired. This it is which makes it different
from all books in the world. This it is, I hold, which marks the
canon of Scripture. For in the Apocrypha--true, noble, and good as
most of it is--you do not find the same intense faith in the living
God, or anything to be compared therewith; and that for the simple
reason that the Jews, at the time the Apocrypha was written, were
losing that faith very fast. They felt themselves that there was an
immense difference between anything that they could write and what
the old psalmists and prophets had written. They felt that they
could not write Scripture. All they could do was to write
commentaries about it, and to carry out in their own fashion Moses'
command, 'Thou shalt bind my words for a sign upon your hands, and
they shall be as frontlets between your eyes, and thou shalt write
them upon the doorposts of thine house.' They were right in that;
but as they lost faith in the living God, they began to observe the
command in the letter, and neglect it in the spirit.

You know--some of you, at least--how these words were misused
afterwards; how the scribes and the Pharisees, in their zeal to
carry out the letter of the law, went about with texts of Scripture
on their foreheads, and wrists, and the hems of their robes,
enlarging their phylacteries, as our Lord said of them. But all the
time they did not understand the texts, or love them, or get any
good from them; but only made them excuses for hating and scoffing
at the rest of the world. They had them written only on their
foreheads, not on their hearts--an outside and not an inside
religion. They had lost all faith in the living God. God had
spoken, of course, to their forefathers; but they could not believe
that he was speaking to them--not even when he spoke by his only
begotten Son, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of
his person. God, so they held, had finished his teaching when
Malachi uttered his last prophecy. And now it was for them to
teach, and expound the law at secondhand. There could be no more
prophets, no more revelation; and when one came and spoke with
authority, at first hand, out of the depth of his own heart, he was
to be persecuted, stoned, crucified. No. They had the key of
knowledge; and no man could enter in, unless they chose to open the
door. Nothing new could be true. John the Baptist came neither
eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He hath a devil.' The Son of
Man came eating and drinking, and they said, 'Behold a gluttonous
man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.' And
meanwhile the poor, the ignorant, those whose hearts were really in
earnest, were looking out for a prophet and a deliverer--often going
after false prophets, with Theudas and Barcochab, into the
wilderness; but going, too, to be baptized with the baptism of John,
and crowding in thousands to hear our Lord preach to them of the
living God of whom Moses had preached of old; while the scribes and
Pharisees sat at home, wrapped up in their narrow, shallow book-
divinity, and said, 'This people, who knoweth not the law, is
accursed.' Nothing new could be true. It must be put down,
persecuted down, lest the Romans should come and take away their
place and nation.

But they did not succeed. Our Lord and his truth, whom they
crucified and buried, rose again the third day and conquered; and
the Romans came after all, and took away their place and nation.
And so they failed, as all will fail, who will not believe in the
living God.

My friends, all these things were written for our example. As it
was then, so may it be again.

There may come a time in this land when people shall profess to
worship the word of God; and yet, like those old scribes, make it of
none effect by their own commandments and traditions. When they
shall command men, like the scribes, to honour every word and letter
of the Bible, and yet forbid them to take the Bible simply and
literally as it stands, but only their interpretation of the Bible;
when they shall say, with the scribes, 'Nothing new can be true.
God taught the Apostles, and therefore he is not teaching us. God
worked miracles of old; but whosoever thinks that God is working
miracles now is a Pantheist and a blasphemer. God taught men of old
the thing which they knew not; but whosoever dares to say that he
does so now is bringing heresy and false doctrine, and undermining
the Christian faith by science falsely so called.'

And all because they have lost all faith in the living God--the
ever-working, ever-teaching, ever-inspiring, ever-governing God whom
our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to men; in whom the Apostles, and the
Fathers, and the great middle-age Schoolmen, and the Reformers
believed, and therefore learned more and more, and taught men more
and more concerning God and the dealings of God, as time went on.

And then, when they see ignorant people running after quacks and
impostors, spirit-rappers and table-turners, St. Simonians and
Mormons, and false prophets of every kind, they will have nothing to
say but 'This people which knoweth not the law is accursed.' While
when they see anything like new truth, or new teaching from God
appear, instead of welcoming the light, and going to meet the light,
and accepting the light, they will say, 'What shall we do? For all
men will believe on him, and then the powers of this world will come
and take away our station and our order?' As if Christ could not
take better care of his Church for which he died than they can in
his stead! And so they will persecute God's servants, in the name
of God, and call upon the law to put down by force the men whom they
cannot put down by reason.

From ever falling into that state of stupid lip-belief, and outward
religion, and loss of faith in the living God: Good Lord, deliver

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy;
from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness: Good Lord,
deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart
and contempt of thy word and commandment: Good Lord, deliver us.

For if people ever fall into that frame of mind (as did the scribes
and Pharisees), and the good Lord do not deliver them from it, it
will surely happen to them as it is written in the Bible.

The powers of this world will come and take away their place, and
their power, and their station: but meanwhile the truth which they
think that they have stifled will rise again, for Christ, who is the
truth, will raise it again; and it shall conquer and leaven the
hearts of men till all be leavened; and while the scribes and
Pharisees shall be cast into the outer darkness of discontented and
hopeless bigotry, the kingdoms of the world, which they fancied were
the devil's dominion, shall become the kingdoms of God and of his
Christ, and be adopted into that holy and ever-growing Church, of
which it is written, that the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it, for in it is the Spirit of God to lead it into all

To which blessed end may God bring us, and our children after us.


(First Sunday after Trinity.)

DEUT. xxxiv. 5, 6. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in
the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried
him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no
man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

Some might regret that the last three chapters of Deuteronomy are
not read among our Sunday lessons. There was not, however, room for
them; and I do not doubt that those who chose our lessons knew
better than I what chapters they ought to choose. We may, however,
read them for ourselves, not only in the daily lessons, but as often
as we choose. And well worth reading they are.

For I know of no stronger proof of the truth of the book of
Deuteronomy, and of the whole Pentateuch, than its ending so
differently from what we should have expected, or indeed wished. If
things went in this world, as they do in novels and fables,
according to man's notion of what is right and good, then Moses and
his history would have had a very different ending.

And if the story of Moses had been of man's invention, we should
have heard--I think, from what we know of the fables, 'myths' as
they call them now, which nations have invented about themselves,
and their own early history, we may guess fairly what we should have
heard--how Moses brought the Jews into the land of Canaan, and
established his laws, and reigned over them, and died in honour and
great glory--if he died at all, and was not taken up into the skies,
and changed into a star, or into a god; and how he was buried with
great pomp; and how his sepulchre did remain among the Jews until
that day; and probably how men worshipped at it, and miracles were
worked at it, and so forth.

Also, we should have heard how, as soon as the Israelites came into
the land of Canaan, they began forthwith to serve the Lord with all
their heart and soul, as they never did afterwards, and to keep
Moses' law, while it was yet fresh in their minds, more exactly than
ever they did afterwards; and in short, we should have had one of
those stories of a 'golden age,' a 'good old time,' a pattern-time
of early purity and devotion, of which nations and Churches, of all
tongues and all creeds, have been so ready to dream in their own
case; and which they have used, not altogether ill, to rebuke vice
in their own day, by saying, 'Look how perfect your forefathers
were. Look how you, their unworthy children, have fallen from their
faith and their virtue.'

This, I think, is what we should have been told if the Pentateuch
had been the invention of man. This is exactly what we are NOT
told; but, on the contrary, the very opposite.

What we are told is disappointing, sad, gloomy, full of dark fears
and warnings about what the Jews will be and what they will have to
endure. But it is far more true to human nature, and to the facts
which we see in the world about us, than any story of a good old
time would have been.

They are still wandering in the land of Moab, when the time draws
near when Moses must die. He is a hundred and twenty years old, but
hale and vigorous still. His eye is not dim, nor his natural force
abated. But the Lord has told him that his death is near. He gives
the command of the army of Israel to Joshua the son of Nun, and then
he speaks his last words.

Songs they are, dark and rugged, like all the higher Hebrew poetry;
but, like it, full of the very Spirit of God--the Spirit of wisdom
and understanding, the Spirit of faith and of the fear of the Lord.

There are three of these songs which seem to belong to those last
days of his.

The Prayer of Moses the man of God--which is our 90th Psalm, our
burial Psalm. We all know the sadness of that Psalm; its weariness,
as of one who had laboured long, and would fain be at rest; its
confession of man's frailty--fading away suddenly like the grass;
its confession of God's strength, God from everlasting, before the
mountains were brought forth; its eternal gospel of hope and
comfort, that the strength of God takes pity on the weakness of man,
'Lord, thou hast been our refuge, from one generation to another.'

Then comes the Song of the Rock--the song of which (it seems) the
Lord said to him, 'Write this song, and teach it the children of
Israel, that it may be a witness for me against them.'

And so Moses writes; and seemingly before all the congregation of
Israel, according to the custom of those times, he chants his death-
song, the Song of the Rock. It is such a song as we should expect
from him. God is the Rock. He was thinking, it may be, of the
everlasting rocks of Sinai, where God had appeared to him of old.
But God is the true, everlasting Rock, on which all things rest; the
Eternal, the Self-existent, the I Am, whom he was sent to preach to
men. But he is a good and righteous God likewise. His work is
perfect. 'A God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is

In him Moses can trust, but not in the children of Israel; they are
a perverse and crooked generation, who have waxen fat and kicked.
God has done all for them, but they will not obey him. Even in the
wilderness they have worshipped strange gods, and sacrificed to
devils, not to God; and so they will do after Moses is gone; and
then on them will come all the curses of which he has so often
warned them. 'The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy
both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of
gray hairs. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that
they would consider their latter end! How should one chase a
thousand; and two put ten thousand to flight?' What a people they
might be, and what a future there is before them, if they would but
be true to God! But they will not. And so Moses' death-song, like
his life's wish, ends in disappointment and sadness, and dread of
the evils which are coming upon his beloved countrymen.

Lastly, he blesses them, tribe by tribe, in strange and grand words,
such as dying men utter, who, looking earnestly across the dark
river of death, see further than they ever saw amid the cares and
temptations of life. And he blesses them. He will say nothing of
them but good. He will speak not of what they will be, but of what
they ought to be and can be. But not in their own strength--only in
the strength of God. Man is to be nothing to the last; and God is
all in all.

'There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the
heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal
God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

'Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by
the Lord, the shield of thy help and who is the sword of thy
excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and
thou shalt tread upon their high places.'

Those are the last words of Moses. Then he goes up into the
mountain top, never to return; and the children of Israel are left
alone with God and their own souls, to obey and prosper, or disobey
and die.

The time of their schooling is past, and their schoolmaster is gone
for ever. They are no more to be under a human tutor. They are
come to man's estate and man's responsibility, and they are to work
out their own fortunes by their own deeds, like every other soul of

For Moses himself must not enter into the promised land. In spite
of all his faith, his courage, his endurance, his patriotism, he has
sinned against God, and he must be punished; and punished, too, in
kind--in the very thing which he will feel most deeply, in being
shut out from the very happiness on which he has set his heart all

He who has brought the Jews to the edge of the promised land must
not have the honour and glory of taking them into it. He must have
no honour and glory. That must be God's alone. Man must be
nothing, and God all in all. Moses must die in faith, not having
received the promises, as many another saint of God has died.

And why? To teach him and the Jews and us that man IS nothing, and
God is all in all.

Moses had given way to the very temptation which would beset such a
man. He had spoken unadvisedly with his lips, and said, 'Hear now,
ye rebels, or ye fools, must WE bring you water out of this rock?'
WE, and not God. He had claimed for himself the power and glory of
working miracles. The miracles, he thought for a moment, were his,
and not God's. And it may be that this was not the only time that
he had so sinned. He may naturally have thought that he had some
special power and influence with God. But be that as it may, the
Jews were trained to believe that the miracles were God's, God's
immediate work, and not performed by the wisdom or sanctity or
supernatural power of any saint or prophet whatsoever. Let the Jews
once learn to give the honour and glory to Moses, and not to God,
and the whole of their strange education went for nothing. Instead
of worshipping God they would begin to worship saints. Instead of
trusting in God, they would begin to trust in men; whether on earth
or in heaven matters not. If Moses was to have the honour and
glory, the Jews would surely grow into a superstitious, saint-
worshipping, miracle-mongering people, and come to ruin and slavery
thereby. They were to fear God and nought else. To trust in God
and nought else.

So Moses must vanish out of their sight, sadly and mysteriously.
All they know of him is, that he is punished for a sin which he
committed long ago, as you and I may be. All they know of his death
and burial is, that his body was not left foully to the birds of the
air and the beasts of the field; for the Lord buried him. They know
not how, and did not need to know. And we need not know. Enough
for them and for us to know that no dishonour was done to the grand
old man; that as he died far away on the lonely mountain top without
a child to close his eyes, his last look fixed upon the good land
and large which lay spread out below, of entering which he had been
dreaming for forty--it may be for more than forty--years. Enough
for us to know that the kindly earth received his body again into
her bosom, and that the true Moses--the immortal spirit of the man--
returned to God who created him, and inspired him, and sustained him
to be perhaps the greatest man--save One who was more than man--who
ever trod this earth.

So our human feelings, like those of the Jews, are satisfied. But
Moses is not to be worshipped by them or by us; no splendid temple
is to rise over his bones; no lamps are to burn, or priest to chant
round his shrine; no miracles are to be worked by his relics; no man
is to invoke his patronage and intercession in their prayers. The
people whom he has brought out of Egypt are to be free--free from
the slavery of the body, free from the more degrading slavery of the

And so they go on over Jordan to fulfil their strange destiny, to
fight their way into the promised land, to root out the Canaanite
tribes, whose iniquity was full, whose sins had made them a nuisance
not to be suffered on the earth of God. But do they go to establish
a golden age; to become a perfect people?

Nothing less. To become, according to the book of Judges, just what
Moses foretold--an ignorant, selfish, often profligate and
disorderly people, doing each what is right in his own eyes, falling
continually into idolatry, civil war, and slavery to the heathens
round about. Nothing more shows the truth of this history than its
humility, its continual confession of sin, its readiness to confess
the ugly truth that the Jews are a foolish, ignorant, unmanageable,
lawless, sensual race, stiffnecked and rebellious, always resisting
the Holy Spirit. The immense difference between the Old Testament
history and that of all other nations is, that it is a history not
of their virtues, but of their sins; and a history, on the other
hand, of God's punishments and mercies. God in the Old Testament is
all, and the Jews are nothing; and one may say that it differs from
all other histories in this, that it is not a history of the Jews
themselves at all, but a history of God's dealings with them.

If any man chooses to explain that, by saying that the story was all
invented by priests and prophets afterwards, to rebuke the people
for falling into idolatry, he must have his fancy. Thought is free-
-for the present, at least--though it is written that for every idle
word that men speak, they shall give account at the day of judgment.
But one question I must ask, and I am sure that British common sense
and British honesty will ask it too: If these prophets were really
good men, fearing God, and wishing to make their countrymen fear him
likewise, would it not have been a rather strange way of showing
that they feared God to tell their countrymen a set of fables and
lies? Good men are not in the habit of telling lies now, and never
have been; for no lie is of the truth, or can possibly help the
truth in any way; and all liars have their portion in the lake which
burneth with fire and brimstone. And that such men as the prophets
of whom we read in the Old Testament did not know that, and
therefore invented this history, or invented anything else, is a
thing incredible and absurd.

Here we have the Old Testament, an infinitely good book, giving us
infinitely good advice and good news, and news too concerning God--
God's laws, God's providence, God's dealings, such as we get nowhere
else. And shall we believe that this infinitely good book is
founded upon falsehood? or that the good men who wrote it could
fancy it necessary to stoop to falsehood, and take the devil's tools
wherewith to do God's work? That they may have been imperfectly
informed on some points there is no doubt; for the Bible tells us
that they were men of like passions with ourselves, and they may not
always have been true to the Spirit of God who was teaching them,
even as we are not, though he teaches us. They only knew in part
and prophesied in part; and now that which is perfect is come, that
which is in part is done away; the mystery of Christ was not
revealed to them as it has been to us by the holy apostles and
prophets of the new dispensation, of which St. Paul says, comparing
it with the knowledge which the old Jews had when the gospel came,
That the glory of the law had no glory, by reason of the more
excellent glory of the gospel. They may, I say, have made slight
errors in unimportant matters, though it is far more probable that
those errors have crept into the text, as the Scriptures were copied
again and again through many centuries by different scribes, of
whose perfect good sense and honesty we cannot be certain. But who
that really values his Bible cares for them any more than he cares
for the spots on the sun which he can find through a telescope? The
sun still shines, and gives light to the whole earth, and the Bible
still shines, and gives light to every soul of man who will read it
in reverence and faith. But that the prophets ever invented, or
ever dared to tamper with truth, is a thing not to be believed of
men whose writings are plainly, by their own meaning and end,
inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.

One more reason--and a reason which to me is unanswerable--for
believing, like our forefathers, that the Old Testament is true.
The Old Testament, as well as the New, tells us of the 'noble acts'
of the Lord--of certain gracious and merciful and just things which
the Lord did to the children of Israel. But if that be not true,
what follows? That God has not done the noble acts which men
thought he had, and therefore that God is not as noble as men
thought he was; that men have actually fancied for themselves a
better God than the God who exists already.


Absurd, truly; and if you choose to call it by a harder name still,
you have a right to do so.

Do not you think that God must be better, not worse; more generous,
not less; more condescending, not less; more just, not less; more
helpful, not less, than man can fancy or describe? Are not the
riches of Christ unsearchable, and the mercies of the Lord
boundless? Is he not able and willing to do exceeding abundantly
beyond all that we can ask or think? Did not even St. Paul say that
he only knew in part and prophesied in part? And must it not be
true of the whole Bible what the beloved apostle St. John says of
his own Gospel, 'And there are many other things which Jesus did,
the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even
the world itself could not contain the books that should be

Bear that in mind, remembering always that the God of the Old
Testament is the God of the New likewise; and whenever you read,
either in the Old or New Testament, of the noble acts of the Lord,
say boldly, as millions of hearts have said already, when the good
news of the Bible came to them, 'This is so beautiful that it must
be true. The Spirit of God in the Bible, and the judgment of the
Church in all ages, bears witness with my spirit that this is true.
So ought God to have done, and therefore surely so hath God done.
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do RIGHT?'


{0a} Evidences, Part III. Cap. iii.

{0b} Lectures on the Jewish Church, Lect. xviii. p. 401.

{7} I must say that all attempts to put a later date on these books
seems to me to fail simply from want of evidence. I must say, also,
that all attempts to distinguish between 'Jehovistic' and
'Elohistic' documents (with the exception, perhaps, of the first
chapter of Genesis) seem to me to fail likewise; and that the theory
of an Elohistic and a Jehovistic sect has received its reductionem
ad absurdum in a certain recent criticism of the Psalms.

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