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serpents among them, of whose bite much people of Israel died. This calamity brought them to repentance. And the Lord commanded Moses to make a fiery serpent, that is, a figure of brass resembling a fiery serpent, and to set it upon a pole, so that all Israel might see it; at the same time graciously declaring that every one that was bitten, and looked upon it, should live. Moses did as he was commanded, and the people, when they looked upon the serpent of brass in penitence and faith, were restored to health.

Now in the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness upon a pole, that they who looked upon it might be healed, we have an emblem of Christ's being lifted up on Calvary upon a cross, that all, who should behold him in faith, might be saved. That we may not be thought to give this occurrence a signification according to our own fancy, or to suit the business of our argument, we produce the words of our Saviour, who himself recognizes and interprets the mystery in the wilderness. "As Moses," said he, "lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."*

*John, iii. 14, 15.


A very singular prophecy next occurs representing the future Shiloh under the symbols of a God and a King.

In our meditations upon the dealings of God with mankind, we cannot but have observed that, although he has generally selected the good to carry forward his designs and promote his glory, he has occasionally permitted evil men to become instruments in furthering the purposes of his providence. The prophecy, now to be brought under consideration, was uttered by Balaam, a native of Pethor in Mesopotamia, who was a true prophet, and might once have been a good man; but who, loving the wages of unrighteousness, turned from the service of the living God, and resorted to the practice of enchantment.

The occasion of the prediction was this. Balak, king of Moab, seeing all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and being sore afraid of the people because they were many, sent in concert with the Midianites to Balaam, and tempted him with gifts and promises to come and curse Israel. Balaam came at last, running greedily for reward; but when he opened his mouth to curse, he found himself controlled by


divine power, and was constrained to bless. could not go beyond the commandment of the Lord.

It was when he had ceased his divinations, and had at last surrendered himself, not willingly but by constraint, to the direction of God's Holy Spirit, that he broke out into that fine strain of prophecy, which neither the scholar nor the Christian can read without feelings of the highest admiration. Having predicted the prosperity of Israel in language the most beautiful and sublime, " he took up his parable and said, Balaam, the son of Beor, hath said; and the man whose eyes are open hath said; he hath said which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open; I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth."*


Balaam evidently spake as the Spirit gave him utterance; and he as evidently spake of

* Numbers, xxiv. 15–17.

some very extraordinary person that was to appear in the world. But the prediction of the coming of such a person was not a new thing; and as the prophecy just quoted agreed with the former promise and prophecy with regard to the people and land whence he was to arise, they had all a manifest direction towards the same individual object; they were as separate rays issuing from the same source, and converging to the same point.

The person of whom Balaam thus spake was clearly the Shiloh of Jacob. Him he said he saw in a vision, not as one existing at that time upon earth, or whose coming was nigh at hand; but as one who should not appear till ages and generations had passed away. He represented him as a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre out of Israel; and consequently as a very exalted and powerful person; for a star was the ancient emblem of a God, and a sceptre denoted a Prince or Ruler.

Now this prophecy was delivered upwards of 1450 years before Christ; the words therefore, "I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh," agree very well with the time of his appearing. He was a star and a sceptre, that is, a God and a King, a divine and human being, whose kingdom of glory was in the hea

vens, and whose kingdom of grace was to be established upon earth. He was the illuminating God that came out of Jacob, and shed his glorious light upon the world, that mankind might see their way to heaven. He was the great King of holiness and truth that arose out of Israel, and has ruled, is ruling, and will rule in the strength and majesty of God, "whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself," to the destruction of his enemies and the triumph of his saints.


In the repetition of the law Moses informed the Israelites that the Lord had thus spoken unto him, saying, "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him; and it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him."

By this prophecy the people were assured that, at some future period not expressed, a certain person would arise out of their nation,

* Philip. iii. 21.

+ Deut. xviii. 18, 19.

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