Henry MelvillÕs sermon “The Death of Moses” concludes with the resounding morals of MosesÕ death or, simply, the lessons one can take from the prophetÕs passing.

must be placed if our last hours are to be those of love and peace. We must die on the summit of Pisgah: we must die with our eye upon Bethlehem, upon Gethsemane, upon Calvary. It was not, as we have ventured to suppose, the gloriousness of the Canaanitish landscape, which satisfied the dying leader, and nerved him for departure. It was rather this view of the Being by whom that landscape would be trodden, and who would sanctify its scenes by His tears and His blood. And, in like manner, when a Christian comes to die, it is not so much by views of the majestic spreadings of the paradise of God, of the rollings of the crystal river, and of the sparklings of the golden streets, that he must look to be comforted: his eye, with that of Moses, must be upon the manger, the garden, and the cross; and thus, fixing his every hope on his Forerunner, he may be confident that an entrance shall be ministered unto him abundantly, into the kingdom "prepared from the foundation of the world." "Get thee up into this mountain, and die there." O that we may all be living in such a state of preparedness for death, that, when summoned to depart, we may ascend the summit, whence faith looks forth on all that Jesus hath suffered and done, and, exclaiming," we are waited for thy salvation, 0 Lord," lie down with Moses on Pisgah, to awake with Moses in paradise. [“The Death of Moses”]

Moses, in dying, turns his eyes to Canaan Š to Bethlehem and Gethsemane; the prophet, however, rejoices in these glorious landscapes rather than lamenting his inability to access them. Melvill emphasizes to his listeners that the prospect of JesusÕ presence in Canaan comforted the dying prophet: “It was rather this view of the Being by whom that landscape would be trodden, and who would sanctify its scenes by His tears and His blood.” Moses realizes that Christ embodies the Savior of man, the only figure who can effectively atone for manÕs sins. Using MosesÕ death as an example, Melvill urges a Christian, when he “comes to die,” to focus less on the material niceties of a physical paradise Š “the rollings of the crystal river, and the sparklings of the golden streets” Š and more on an emotional connectedness with Christ and the prospect of spiritual paradise Š Heaven. Spiritual paradise, thus, trumps physical paradise. Evangelical Anglicans, like Henry Melvill, stressed an individual believerÕs personal relationship to Christ; in order to be adequately prepared for death, a Christian must be willing to embrace unequivocal spirituality and a communion with Christ.

Questions

Use the following passage for questions 1 and 2:

When a Christian comes to die, it is not so much by views of the majestic spreadings of the paradise of God, of the rollings of the crystal river, and of the sparklings of the golden streets, that he must look to be comforted: his eye, with that of Moses, must be upon the manger, the garden, and the cross; and thus, fixing his every hope on his Forerunner, he may be confident that an entrance shall be ministered unto him abundantly, into the kingdom Ōprepared from the foundation of the world.

1. Explain the significance of the word “Forerunner” (note, too, the capitalization of that word) in the passage. How does this term relate to our previous discourse on Moses as the type of Christ?

2. What does Melvill intend by dictating that “the kingdom” of Heaven was “‘prepared from the foundation of the world’”? What should one consider “the foundation of the world” to be? (Note that the text originates from Matthew 25:34)

3. Melvill seems to indicate that Moses knew Jesus would come to Canaan and achieve what Moses could not. Does the acknowledgement of his failure to atone for manÕs sins humanize the prophet? or does this shortcoming serve simply to lessen MosesÕ accomplishments when compared with those of Christ?

4. Melvill tells his listeners that they, like Moses, “must die on the summit of Pisgah.” Explain the effect Melvill desired this figurative statement would have on his audience.


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Last modified 2 February 2011