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MOSES' meaning, while praying for Ifrael, is obvious; but the petition offered up for himself is not equally fo-blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book.
FOUR different conftructions have been put on this prayer-Some confider Mofes as imprecating damnation on himself, for the good of his people-Some as praying for annihilation, that they might find mercy-Some as asking of God that he might die with them, if they should die in the wilderness-Others, that his name might be blotted out of the page of hiftory, and his memory perish, should Ifrael be destroyed and not reach the promised land.
"BLOT me" (faith Mr. Cruden) "out of the book of life-out of the catalogue, or number of thofe that shall be faved-wherein Mofes does not express what he thought might be done, but rather wifheth, if it were poffible, that God would accept of him as a facrifice in their ftead, and by his def
truction and annihilation, prevent fo great a mif
chief to them."*
DOCT. S. CLARK expreffeth his fenfe of the paffage to nearly the fame effect.
DID Mofes then afk to be made an expiatory facrifice! Or conceive his utter ruin could atone for the fin of Ifrael! Or did he folemnly afk of God what he knew to be fo unreasonable that it could not be granted!
THERE is no hint in the account given of this affair, that Moses entertained a thought of being accepted in Ifrael's ftead. He did not afk to suf
* Vid. Concordance, under BLOT.
fer, that they might efcape-he prayed to be blotted out of God's book, if his people could not be forgiven-If thou wilt, forgive their fin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy baok which thou haft writ
MR. POOL confiders Mofes as praying to be annihilated that Ifrael might be pardoned! "Blot me out of the book of life-out of the catalogue, or number of those that shall be saved. I fuppofe Mofes doth not wish his eternal damnation, because that ftate would imply both wickedness in himself and difhonor to God; but his annihilation, or utter lofs of this life, and that to come, and all the happiness of both of them. Nor doth Mofes fimply defire this, but only comparatively expreffeth his fingular zeal for God's glory, and charity to his people; fuggefting that the very thoughts of the deftruction of God's people, and the reproach and blafphemy which would be caft upon God by means thereof, were fo intolerable to him, that he rather wished, if it were poffible, that God would accept him as a facrifice in their ftead, and by his utter deftruction prevent fo great a mischief."*
COULD the learned and judicious Mr. Pool feriously believe that inspired Moses prayed for anni. hilation! Or confider him as entertaining a fufpicion that a foul could cease to exift! Or could he conceive him as deliberately afking of God to make him an expiatory facrifice! Or harboring a thought that the fin of his people might be atoned by his being blotted out from among God's works!
*Vid. Pool in locum.
MR. HENRY confiders Mofes as praying to die with Ifrael, if they muft die in the wilderness-“If they must be cut off, let me be cut off with them
let not the land of promife be mine by furvivorship. God had told Mofes, that if he would not interpofe, he would make him a great nation-No faid Mofes, I am fo far from defiring to see my name and family, built on the ruins of Ifrael, that I choose rather to die with them."*
IF fuch is the spirit of this prayer, Mofes does not appear refigned to the divine order, but rath. er peevish and fretful at the disappointment of his hope, which he had till then entertained. He had expected to lead Ifrael to the land of promife; if not indulged, feems not to have cared what became of himself or his family; and is thought here to addrefs his maker, offering diftinguishing favors to him, as Daniel did Belfhazzar-" thy gifts be to thyfelf, and give thy rewards to another-I defire none of them for myself or mine-If Ifrael die in the wilderness, let me die with them"-From angry Jonah fuch a reply to the kind offers of a gracious God might not furprize us; but it was not to have been expected from the meekeft of mankind.
DOCT. HUNTER, in his biographical lectures, explodes the idea of Mofes' afking to be damned for the falvation of Ifrael, and fhews the abfurdity of that conftruction of the text, but underftands him as praying to die himself, before fentence fhould be executed on his people, if they were not par
* Vid. Henry in loe.
doned. And in the declaration, whofoever hath finned against me, him will I blot out of my book, he dif covers an intimation, that that offending people should die fhort of the promised land! A difcovery without a clew. This fin of Ifrael was pardoned. Sentence of death in the wilderness was occafioned by a subsequent act of rebellion, as will be shewn in the fequel.*
MR. FIRMIN confiders Mofes as here praying to be blotted out of the page of history, if Ifrael were not pardoned; fo that no record of his name, or the part which he had acted in the ftation af. figned him, fhould be handed down to posterity. An expofition differing from the plain language of facred hiftory-Blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book, which thou haft written. The page of history is written by man.
SUCH are the constructions which have been put on this fcripture. The confiderations which have been suggested, oblige us to reject them all, as founded in mistake. Our fenfe of the paffage, and the reasons, which in our apprehension, support it, will be the subject of another discourse.
*Vid. Hunter's Left. Vol. iv. Lect. iv.
EXODUS Xxxii. 31, 32.
And Moses returned unto the Lord and said, Oh! this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast
IN the preceding difcourfe we endeavored to show that the idea of being willing to be damned for the glory of God is not found in the text-that the fentiment is erroneous and abfurd-then adduced the conftructions which have been put on the text by fundry expofitors, and offered reafons which oblige us to reject them as mifconftructions.
Ir remains, to give our fenfe of the paffage-the grounds on which it refls-and fome reflections by way of improvement.
As to our fenfe of the paffage-We conceive these puzzling words of Mofes to be no other than a prayer for himself-that his fins which might ftand charged against him in the book of God, might be blotted out, however God might deal with Ifrael.