Verse 52. "Thou shalt see the land before thee" - See Numbers xxvii. 12, &c.
How glorious to depart out of this life with God in his heart and heaven in his eye! his work, his great, unparalleled usefulness, ending only with his life. The serious reader will surely join in the following pious ejaculation of the late Rev. Charles Wesley, one of the best Christian poets of the last century:- "O that without a lingering groan I may the welcome word receive; My body with my charge lay down, And cease at once to work and live!" IT would require a dissertation expressly formed for the purpose to point out the general merit and extraordinary beauties of this very sublime ode.
To enter into such particulars can scarcely comport with the nature of the present work. Drs. Lowth, Kennicott, and Durell, have done much in this way; and to their respective works the critical reader is referred. A very considerable extract from what they have written on this chapter may be found in Dr. Dodd's notes. In writing this ode the design of Moses was, 1. To set forth the Majesty of God; to give that generation and all successive ones a proper view of the glorious perfections of the object of their worship. He therefore shows that from his holiness and purity he must be displeased with sin; from his justice and righteousness he must punish it; and from the goodness and infinite benevolence of his nature he is ever disposed to help the weak, instruct the ignorant, and show mercy to the wretched, sinful sons and daughters of men. 2. To show the duty and interest of his people. To have such a Being for their friend is to have all possible happiness, both spiritual and temporal, secured; to have him for their enemy is to be exposed to inevitable destruction and ruin. 3. To warn them against irreligion and apostasy; to show the possibility of departing from God, and the miseries that would overwhelm them and their posterity should they be found walking in opposition to the laws of their Creator. 4. To give a proper and impressive view of the providence of God, by referring to the history of his gracious dealings with them and their ancestors; the minute attention he paid to all their wants, the wonderful manner in which he led, fed, clothed, protected, and saved them, in all their travels and in all perils. 5. To leave on record an everlasting testimony against them, should they ever cast off his fear and pollute his worship, which should serve at once as a warning to the world, and a vindication of his justice, when the judgments he had threatened were found to be poured out upon them; for he who loved them so long and so intensely could not become their enemy but in consequence of the greatest and most unprincipled provocations. 6. To show the shocking and unprecedented ingratitude which induced a people so highly favoured, and so wondrously protected and loved, to sin against their God; and how reasonable and just it was, for the vindication of his holiness, that God should pour out upon them such judgments as he had never inflicted on any other people, and so mark their disobedience and ingratitude with fresh marks of his displeasure, that the punishment should bear some proportion to the guilt, and that their preservation as a distinct people might afford a feeling proof both of the providence and justice of God. 7.
To show the glory of the latter days in the re-election of the long reprobated Jewish nation, and the final diffusion of his grace and goodness over the earth by means of the Gospel of Christ.
And all this is done with such strength and elegance of diction, with such appropriate, energetic, and impressive figures and metaphors, and in such a powerful torrent of that soul-penetrating, pure poetic spirit that comes glowing from the bosom of God, that the reader is alternately elated or depressed, filled with compunction or confidence, with despair or hope, according to the quick transitions of the inimitable writer to the different topics which form the subject of this incomparable and wondrously varied ode. May that Spirit by which it was dictated give it its fullest, most durable, and most effectual impression upon the mind of every reader!