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many doubt whether it was proper taken in the sense just given to it. They seem to think, that it could not be proper for Moses, or for any other man, under any situation whatever, to be willing and even to pray that God would blot out his name from the the book of life and devote him to endless misery, either to save a nation, or even the whole universe. They insist that self-preservation is the first law of nature ; and that no considerations ought to make any person willing to give up all his interests forever, to prevent the misery, or promote the happiness of others. It is, therefore, a very serious and important inquiry, whether it could have been proper for Moses, for any reason whatever, to pray
God to blot out his name from the book of life...But, perhaps, this petition in the most literal, obvious, and important sense, will appear to have been altogether proper and becoming Moses, if we impartially consider the following things. And,
1. It appears to have been perfectly agreeable to God. He did not rebuke him for a rash request ; but on the other hand, plainly intimated that he was highly pleased with his noble, disinterested desire. Instead of saying, I will blot out thy name from the book of life, in answer to your rash and sinful request, he says, “whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” This was virtually saying, that he would not blot out Moses from the book of life, for he had not sinned in making the graven image, nor in requesting to be destroyed in the room of those, who had deserved to be blotted out of the book of life. If God had not approved of his petition, he would undoubtedly have reproved him for it; because it was either a very good, or a very bad petition, which ought to be highly approved, or highly condemned. But no person in the world can discover any evil in such a pure, noble, benevolent desire. And since God did not condemn it, we may safely conclude, that it was highly accepta: ble in his sight.
2. It was perfectly agreeable to the dictates of reason and conscience, that Moses should have been willing to give up all his own personal interests, to promote the glory of God and the future and eternal good of his nation. He supposed the glory of God was greatly concerned to preserve his people from deserved destruction; and he plead this as the most powerful argument to move God to forgive and spare them. “And Moses besought the Lord his God and said, O Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand ? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom thou swearest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and all the land I have spoken of, will I give to your seed, and they shall inherit it for
Moses viewed the glory of God and the lasting good of Israel, as lying at stake ; and rather than these great interests should be given up, by the ruin of the chosen people of God, he chose that his name and interests should be lost forever. And could he hesitate as a conscientious and pious man, when God proposed the alternative, to give up his own interests,
to preserve the lasting interests of a whole nation, and promote his own glory through the earth ; could he, I say, hesitate what to do ? Supposing, when God proposed to destroy Israel and make of him a great nation, he had said, I pray thee do as thou hast proposed, make of me a great nation, and blot out Israel from the book of life ; would such a request have appeared amiable, or virtuous, or agreeable to the pious character of Moses ?
Or would it have appeared agreeable to the dictates of any other man's reason and conscience ? But was there not something extremely noble, virtuous and honorable in the reply Moses made to God's proposal ? “ Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin: and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book thou hast written."
3. The petition of Moses was agreeable to the very law of love. God requires all men to love him with all the heart ; and their neighbors as themselves. That is, he requires all men to love him supremely and to love all their fellow creatures in proportion to their worth and importance in the scale of being. This law required Moses to feel and speak as he did, in the situation God had placed him and in the view of the proposal he had made to him. God conditionally proposed to destroy his nation and spare him. In this view of his own and of his people's situation, the law of love required him, conditionally, to desire, that God would spare his people and destroy him ; because the glory of God and the good of his people were unspeakably more valuable, than all his own personal good. Had he, therefore, preferred his own personal good to the glory of God and the good of his people, he would not have loved God supremely, nor his people accord
ing to their worth and importance, which would have been a violation of the law of love. For in that case he would have loved himself more than the glory of God and the good of his people to all eternity. The inference is irresistible, that he ought to have desired God to glorify himself, and to promote the everlasting good of his people, though at the expense of all his own interest forever.
4. The request of Moses was perfectly agreeable to the spirit, which Christ uniformly expressed through the whole course of his life on earth. He always gave up a less good of his own, for a greater good of others. He endured all the labors, pains, and reproaches of life, obeying his Father's will, and doing good to men. At length he came to the trying hour, when he must either give up his own life, or the life of the world and the glory of God. At that time he made a conditional request to his Father and repeated it three times, saying “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me : nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”... If one or the other must be given up, either his Father's glory and the salvation of sinners, or his own life, he desired to give up his own life ; and did actually give
Now the prayer of Moses expressed the same spirit, that the prayer of Christ expressed. If Christ's prayer was proper conditionally, then the prayer of Moses was conditionally proper. They neither of them desired to suffer, simply considered; but both were willing to suffer for the glory of God and the salvation of sinners. There is, therefore, precisely the same reason to suppose, that the prayer of Moses was proper, as to suppose the prayer of Christ was proper. God placed them both in a trying situation, in which they were oblig
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