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not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
In the thirteenth chapter, speaking of the beast, that rose out of the sea, he says, “ All, that dwell upon the earth, shall worship him ; whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world." And in the twentieth chapter, the apostle John says, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened : and another book was opened, which was the book of life : and the dead were judged out of those things, which were written in the books, according to their works.” In these passages God is represented as having written a book of life, in which he has inserted the names of all mankind, whom he has chosen, elected, or set apart for himself from the foundation of the world ; and whom he will finally ad
l mit into his kingdom of glory. To this book of life Moses might properly refer in the text.
And it plainly appears, that he did refer to this book, by the answer God gave to his request, in the words immediately following it. " And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” This was as much as to say, “Moses, I have indeed a book written as you suppose, which contains the names of those, whom I have chosen to life before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before me in love. Your name, therefore, I will not blot out of my book, but the names of those only, who have sinned and deserved to be blotted out.” No person, perhaps, would have thought, that Moses referred to any other book than the book of life, had it not been to avoid the lite
ral sense of his petition, which many are loth to believe and acknowledge. But it is safest and best to follow the general analogy of scripture, in explaining particular passages. And according to this rule of interpreting the text under consideration, we are warranted to say, that Moses meant to refer to the book of life. Let us now inquire,
II. What was the import of his request, when he said to God, “ Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin : and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Here are two things requested and both conditionally. Moses prays, if it were consistent with the will of God, that he would pardon the sin of his people in making the golden calf. " Now if thou wilt forgive their sin.” He prayed for the exercise of pardoning mercy towards the people conditionally, because God had intimated, as though he intended to destroy them, by saying, “Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them.” Moses had reason to fear, that God would, at all events, deny his pardoning mercy.
And therefore to render his intercession more forcible and prevalent and to express his most ardent desire for their forgiveness, he prays again conditionally.
“ And if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book, which thou hast written.” This was implicitly saying, “ O Lord, since thou hast proposed to spare me and destroy thy people. I pray
that thou wouldst rather blot me out of the book of life, and
them. If thy glory require, that either they or I must be destroyed, I pray thee spare them and destroy me.
Their salvation is unspeakably more important than mine ; and I am willing to give up my salvation, if it might be a means, or occasion of pre
penting their final ruin. This seems to be the true import of Moses' conditional request, which directly met God's proposal to him. And no doubt God made such a proposal to him, for the very purpose of draw- . ing out the ardent and benevolent feelings of the most benevolent heart, then in the world. God knew beforehand how Moses would feel and what he would say,
if he proposed to spare him, and destroy his whole nation. He meant to exhibit the most striking contrast possible between the benevolent spirit of Moses, and the selfish spirit of his ungrateful and rebellious people...And the sincere, though conditional prayer of Moses, under the existing circumstances, did set the superlative beauty and excellence of disinterested love, in the fairest and strongest light. As God expressed his peculiar love to Moses conditionally, so Moses expressed his love to God conditionally. But as God's love was as sincere, as if it had not been conditionally expressed ; so Moses' love was as sincere, as if it had been expressed unconditionally. Moses, therefore, expressed as true, real, sincere willingness to give up his eternal interests for the glory of God and the good of his nation, as if he had actually made the sacrifice, and God had actually destroyed him and saved his nation on his account. And such a willingness to give up all his own interests for the eternal happiness of his people, was the highest expression of pure, disinterested benevolence, that he, or any other man in his situation, could possi, bly feel and express. It now only remains to inquire,
III. Whether this petition of Moses, taken in the sense it has been explained, was a proper one.
It must be universally believed, that it was a proper pe tition taken in the sense Moses really meant; but
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 virtụally 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 acceptable in his sight.
2. It was perfectly agreeable to the dictates of rea son 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
1 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 forever.” 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,