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sity, fall into the hands of a neglected, for- | God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and gotten, righteous, incensed God, when they the God of Jacob.” We speak of the dead, leave it.
under the idea that they were ; but God reThe appearance of Jehovah in the bush presents them as still existing, and his relawas not only preternatural, but emblemati- lion to them as unbroken, his care of them as cal; it not only sanctioned the commission uninterrupted.' The effect which this decla-, given to Moses by the seal of Deity, but ex- ration had upon Moses, is such as might have hibited a lively representation of the state of been expected; no more " turning aside to his church and people in Egypt; oppressed, see this great sight;" he hides his face, but not crushed, brought low, but not desert afraid to look upon God.” It is ignorance ed of Heaven, in the midst of fames, but not of God, not intimate communion, which enconsumed. And it is a striking emblem of courages forwardness and freedom. Angels, the church of God in the world, to the end who know him best, and love him most, are of time: “ troubled on every side, yet not most sensible of their distance, and are redistressed, perplexed, but not in despair, per- presented as “covering their faces with their secuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not wings,” when they approach their dread destroyed.”
Creator. The same voice which solicited intercourse - In the declaration which immediately folwith Moses, which tendered friendship, which lows, under a sanction so solemn and atiectencouraged hope, sets a fence about the divine ing, which shall we most admire, the mercy Majesty, it reminds him of his distance, of and goodness of God, or his perfect wisdom his impurity; it forbids rashness, presumption, and foreknowledge? Four hundred years familiarity. In veneration of the spot which have elapsed since this wretched state of his God had honoured with his special presence, posterity had been foretold and revealed to he is commanded to “ put off his shoes from Abraham. For wise and gracious purposes off his feet;" a mandate, which by an image it was appointed and brought to pass. But natural and obvious, enjoins the drawing near the days of darkness are now almost ended, to God in holy places and in sacred services, and the sun returns. Like rain from heaven with seriousness, attention, and reverence; to a dry and thirsty land, the promises of fadivested of that impurity which men necessa- vour and salvation fall upon a persecuted, rily contract by coming into frequent contact oppressed people; and “that Moses whom with the world. And surely, it is owing to they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler the want of a due sense of the inajesty of and judge ?" is after an interval of forty God upon our spirits, that his house is pro- years sent back to Egypt, on the kind, merfaned, and his service marred by levity, care- ciful errand of salvation to an oppressed and lessness, and inattention. Did we seriously persecuted people. consider that the place where we stand is Moses, however, it would appear, has not “ holy ground," that the word which we speak forgotten the surly reception which his welland hear is “not the word of men, but of the meant interposition had met with from his living God,” could one short hour's attend- brethren so long before; and presumes to ance betray us into slumber? Could the little urge it as a reason, why a person of more injealousies and strife of a base world intrude fluence and authority should be entrusted into a worshipping heart? Could the eye find with the commission. leisure to wander upon the dress and appear He considered not, that formerly he acted ance of another? Durst a scornful leer or from the impulse of his own mind; with insimpering countenance communicate from deed an upright and benevolent intention, one vain, silly, irreverent spirit to another but with a zeal rather too bold and impetuous; the private sneer and censure? Would there whereas now, he was following the direction be a contention for place and pre-eminence? of Providence, and was therefore certain of Now, surely, God is as really though less success. As there is a sinful pride which sensibly, in this place, as he was in the bush urges men to seek stations and employments, at Horeh: and though we see him not, his to which they have neither pretension, title, eyes are continually upon us, and he vill nor qualification; so there is a sinful humili. bring every thing into judgment. O Lord, ty, which shrinks from the call of God, which, open
thou our eyes, that we may behold Thee, in the guise of self-denial, contains the spirit and every other object shall instantly disap- of rebellion and disobedience; and which, pear.
under the affectation of undervaluing and The words which follow, if any thing can debasing our own persons and qualities, indiincrease their intrinsic force and importance, rectly charges God with foolishness in choosderive a peculiar energy and value to the ing an instrument so inapt and improper. Christian world, as the passage quoted by Such humility is of the very essence of pride, our blessed Lord, from an authority which and such, with regret we observe it, was they could not deny, to confute the Sadducees, the spirit by which Moses was on this occaon the subject of the immortality of the soul, sion actuated. The heavenly vision removes and the resurrection of the body. “I am the the objection at once, by assuring him of the
divine presence, blessing, and support: and Nothing can equal the simplicity, sublimity. refers him for the proof of it, to a train of and force of these remarkable words. Indeevents closely succeeding each other; and pendency of existence, eternity of duration, all issuing in the people's assembling to immutability of purpose, faithfulness and gether, in that very spot, to worship, after truth in keeping covenant and showing mertheir enfranchisement, all forming a chain of cy, are all conveyed in one little sentence, evidence, that the authority under which he "I AM THAT I Am.” Longinus, the celebrated acted was divine.
critic, has, with equal judgment and taste, Still doubting and irresolute, Moses ven- quoted a well known passage from the writtures to urge another difficulty, which he ex- ings of Moses, as an instance of the true presses in these terms; “ And Moses said sublime, viz. the first words pronounced by unto God, Behold, when I come unto the the Creator in the formation of the world, children of Israel, and shall say unto them, “ And God said, Let there be light, and there the God of your fathers hath sent me unto was light.” Why did not Longinus dip you: and they shall say unto me, what is his deeper into the works of this great historian; name? What shall I say unto them?". God why did he not enrich and embellish his own had already declared his name, and purpose, | beautiful little book, and farther approve his and given his charge, and yet Moses dares to exquisite taste, by inserting other passages make inquiry. How rare a thing it is, to see from the page of inspiration, particularly the a soul wholly resolved into the will of God! passage under review? · A passage which How seldom do we find a faith entirely dis-Jews, Heathens, and Christians, as one man, posed to be, to do, and to endure, neither have consented to admire. more nor less than what God is pleased to Under the sanction of this most awful appoint! But the incredulity and presump- name, God repeats his commission, repeats tion of Moses shall not render the design of his charge, repeats his promise of support, God of none effect. When men are contra- assistance, and success; success with the eldicted, or opposed, they fly out, and storm, ders of Israel; success with the people; and threaten. But the great God bears with success against Pharaoh. And yet, Moses our frowardness and folly, gives way to our " staggers at this promise," although it be scruples, and, yielding to our obstinacy, over the promise of the Eternal, “ through unbecomes evil with good. And we are almost lief." What have we most to wonder at here, tempted to rejoice that Moses stood out so the strange incredulity and perverseness of long, as it gave occasion to the most solemn the prophet, or the singular fidelity and exand satisfying proclamation of the name and actness of the historian, in recording his own nature of God, from his own mouth, and the errors? God had said, “they shall hearken most amiable and engaging picture of tender to thy voice:" yet Moses presumes, in the nercy and long-suffering that ever was ex- face of this express declaration, to gainsay hibited, " And God said unto Moses, I AM and draw back. -—“And Moses answered, and THAT I AM: And he said, Thus shalt thou said, But behold, they will not believe me; say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, sent me unto you.”
The LORD hath not appeared unto thee." What flimsy things are commissions issued Surely " the LORD is God, and not man, and under the handwriting and seals of kings, therefore the children of men are not concompared to this! a shred of parchment, a sumed.” A man of common spirit would here morsel of wax, an unme
meaning scrawl: a slen- have broken off the conference, and left the der, contracted, shortlived power, delegated timid, froward shepherd to his own folly, and from one worm to another. Where is now permitted him to remain destitute of the hothe signet of Ahasuerus, which pretended to nour which he obstinately persevered to decommunicate irreversible authority to the cline. But it pleased God to show us patience, writing whereto it was affixed? Where are at least in one instance, too powerful for unthe warrants under which the statesmen and belief: " for his ways are not like our ways, heroes of other times deliberated, fought, and nor his thoughts as our thoughts." conquered? With the princes who granted He who would cure infidelity in others, them they are gone to oblivion. They were must first be purged of the old leaven himwhat they were. They fulfilled their day, and self. To effect this in the heart of his servant then they fell asleep, and now are seen no Moses, God vouchsafes to perform miracle more! What avail the long list of empty upon miracle. He turns the rod which was titles, which potentates and princes, in the in the hand of Moses into a serpent; and pride of their hearts, affix to their perishing from a serpent to a rod again: in order to names? All, all shrink and fade, before that intimate to him and to the world that the tremendous Power, whose authority no most harmless things become noxious, and change of circumstances can affect, whose the most pernicious things innocent at his existence no succession of ages can impair; command. His hand is in a moment covered who, yesterday, to-day and for ever still pro- with leprosy, and in a moment restored—to claims of himself, “I AM."
show the power of God's holy law to fix guilt
upon the sinner, and of his grace to remove wilt send.” And now what heart does not it from the penitent. He is enjoined and au- tremble for fear, that the fire which had thorized to perform these signs before all spared the bush, should wax hot, to punish Israel, in order to produce that conviction in the madness of the prophet? What patience them, which they had first wrought upon his cán endure such a repetition of insult? The own mind. Should these still happen to fail, anger of the Lord was kindled against Mohe is permitted to go a step farther. Nature ses; and—and what? Q it becomes a flame shall submit to a thorough alteration, rather of love to melt his heart, and purify it of its than the seed of faithful Abraham continue dross. “The anger of the Lord was kindled slaves in Egypt, or perish through unbelief. against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Water shall become blood before their eyes, Levite thy brother? I know that he can rather than the blood of their innocent chil- speak well. And also behold, he cometh forth dren be poured out any more like water upon to meet thee; and when he seeth thee, he the ground.
will be glad in his heart.”. Providence had And now, surely, Moses is gained, and the all this while been preparing a concluding, work of God shall no longer stand still. Alas! a convincing proof of power, wisdom, and the sullen spirit is not yet subdued. Though goodness inconceivable. Lo, Aaron is already forced to retreat, he continues to fight as he far advanced on his way from Egypt, in quest retires. The slowness of Israel to believe, of his brother. was formerly the plea; now his own want That, after so long an interval, through a of talents is urged in excuse of his strange field of so many chances, he should at that backwardness and disobedience. That objec- very instant of time arrive-How is it to be tion too is immediately removed, by a pro- accounted for? On no other principle but mise of wisdom and eloquence suited to the this, the Lord is “wonderful in counsel and occasion. The language of the oracle, and excellent in working.” “He seeth the end the longsuffering of the speaker, are miracu- from the beginning.” He saith, “ My counsel lous and supernatural, as all the other cir- shall stand, and I will fulfil all my pleasure." cumstances of the case, “ And the LORD said “He doth according to his will in the armies unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the see-earth.” Let every knee bow, let every tongue ing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord ? confess, let every heart adore, and love, and Now, therefore go, and I will be with thy submit. mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say."** Moses is at length subdued, and we stand
“ Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, with astonishment and joy to contemplate O earth!” This, instead of producing humble the triumph of mercy over judgment. God submission and instantaneous compliance, grant we may improve the example of his without a reason and without a plea, meets divine patience as a pattern. with a direct refusal; “O my Lord, send I preserve us from presuming upon it, as an pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou encouragement to offend. And may God * Exod. iv. 11, 12.
bless what has been spoken. Amen.
God in mercy
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel; but they hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of
spirit, and for cruel bondage.—Exodus yi. 9.
Every nation has in its history events of is by no means favourable either to human peculiar importance, which latest posterity happiness or virtue. Hunger is necessary is disposed fondly to commemorate. But the to give a relish to food; the gloom of winter memory of remarkable deliverances is ne- is the happiest recommendation of the cheercessarily blended with the recollection of fulness and bloom of spring. We discover heavy distress or imminent danger, and the value of health by disease; and the bleswhether as men, or as citizens, we greatly sings of peace would be but half understood, rejoice, by that very joy we expressly declare were it not for the antecedent anxieties and that we, or our fathers, once had cause to calamities of war. Men therefore act foolmourn. Perpetual sunshine suits not the ishly as well as impiously when they charge state of the natural world; perpetual success the wise, righteous, and merciful Governor
of the world, with carelessness or unkind- , verseness and unbelief of Moses met with pity ness, because he admits into the systein of and forgiveness, and were cured by a series his works, or into his moral government of of miracles. The impiety and unbelief of the universe, what ignorance calls disorder, Pharaoh met with resentment and punishwhat presumption cries down as unnecessary, ment, and were even confirmed and strengthand pride condemns as unjust.
ened by a most awful series of miracles; not What so irregular at first sight, and al- for the sake of Moses and Pharaoh merely, ways so to the vulgar eye, as the face of the but to illustrate in the eyes of the whole starry heavens? A handful of little sparks, world the goodness and severity of God; the scattered at random in the air! But to the wisdom and safety of repentance and subattentive, inquiring, enlightened spirit, they mission on the one hand, the madness and present a vast combination of worlds, each in danger of impenitence on the other. Egypt its place, every one moving in its proper or was plagned, and Israel saved, that violence bit; the whole possessing every quality that and cruelty might be awakened to see the can at once excite astonishment and inspire naked sword of justice suspended by a single delight; greatness, order, beauty, harmony, hair over its guilty throat; and that misery utility! They present excellencies obvious and depression might find a refuge from to the slighest observation of the most shal- despair. low understanding; excellencies undiscover We have seen with what solemnity the able by the closest investigation of the most commission to Moses for the deliverance of penetrating genius. Now, clownish thought- Israel was granted, and the awful seal which lessness and stupidity is not more incom- was appended to it; even the great and fearpetent to judge of the order and frame of na- ful name, JEHOVAH, “ I AM THAT I Am.” We ture, than passion and prejudice, by which have seen the backwardness, irresolution, and all men are governed, are to determine upon timidity of the prophet, in undertaking an the wisdom and goodness of the ways of Pro- employment so flattering to ambition, so devidence. Every man would have every thing sirable to the spirit of patriotism, so elevating bend to his humour, conveniency, indolence, to a mind awake to the influence of religion. or interest. This would produce, were it We have seen the goodness and condescenpermitted, endless confusion and misery, did sion of God in deigning, by repeated exernot God overrule and employ the activity tions of power and mercy, to remove the and the indolence, the senseless caprices and scruples and level the objections of increthe jarring interests of men to execute his dulity and fear. And we have seen Aaron, purposes, and without their intention, nay, the brother of Moses, providentially conductin spite of their efforts, make them produc-ed to the spot, and at the moment, to estative of regularity, stability, and happiness. blish a belief in the divine power and ve
In contemplating, therefore, agents and racity, to confirm the wavering, trembling events, those of which we have heard and soul, and constituted to a share of the diliread, or those which we see and in which gence, difficulty, danger, and glory of the we are concerned, the only road to com- illustrious enterprize. posure and improvement is, to consider the Behold then iwo plain old men, one of whole as the work of a supreme, intelligent, eighty, and the other of eighty-three years almighty, invisible Agent, who is carrying old, setting out from the deserts of Arabia, on a plan which we comprehend not, or un-on an undertaking to human reason the most derstand only in part, and who, from all that wild and romantic that ever was attempted; we can know of him from nature, frorn expe- to persuade or to constrain one of the most rience, and from revelation, takes delight in powerful princes of the world to enfranchise, showing mercy and doing good, but who, in nay, to dismiss the tenth part of his most the exercise of even these gracious preroga- valuable and useful subjects! And how are tives, governs not himself by the partial they provided for this vast undertaking ? lights, hasty conceptions, and contracted views The pleas of reason, the powers of eloquence, of ignorant, erring men, but by his own all the calls of humanity, the claims of justice it comprehending intelligence, all-pervading is well known, make but a feeble impression benignity, all-subduing love.
on the hearts of kings, when their pride, amIf, in that portion of ancient history which bition, or interest oppose. For such a vast is now to come under our consideration, we multitude to slip away by stealth is impossiobserve Providence treating one nation with ble, and to think of forcing an escape from a uncommon severity and another with indul- power so greatly superior is rashness and gence altogether as singular, we are to re- ruin. When men engage in hazardous and gard the parties not as they are in themselves, difficolt expeditions, they levy armies, accuor in relation to each other, but in their re- mulate treasure, provide magazines, strengthlation to God and to mankind in general, as en themselves with alliances. But when an important link in the great chain of Pro- God addresses himself to action, we behold vidence, as serving and instructing the hu- no apparatus, no effort. Is an universe to man race to the end of the world. The per- start out of nothing? “God speaks, and it is
done.” Is a sun to arise, and light to shine ? | cumcised persons, that of being "cut off
“Let there be light.” Is a great from his people.” This punishment God nation to be subdued, and a little one asserted seems disposed to exact at the hand of Mo into liberty! Our eyes are directed, not to ses himself, who was indeed the guilty pera general at the head of a mighty host, but son, by attacking him either with a threatto a shepherd with his crook in his hand.' ening bodily distemper, by remorse of con
But the commands of Heaven break not in science for his criminal neglect, by the upon the sacred duties and the virtuous cha- appearance of an avenging angel, or some rities of private life. The charge given to other sensible token of displeasure. But the Moses was pressing, the object most import- difficulty is, Why the conduct of Moses in ant, and the authority under which it was this respect was never called in question issued, supreme; but yet he is permitted to before? Why he was not purged of this return for a little while, to attend to the calls guilt before he was honoured at all with the of nature, of gratitude, to the gentle claims divine commission ? Why the precept was of filial piety, of conjugal and paternal affec- enforced upon a journey, and at an inn, tion. He went back to his father-in-law to where the operation could be performed less acknowledge his protection, hospitality, and commodiously, and was accompanied with kindness to him when a stranger, to inform some degree of danger? What could Zippohim of the extraordinary commission he had rah mean when she reproached Moses as just received, and the necessity he was a bloody husband !". The passage is evithereby laid under of immediately entering dently enveloped in much obscurity; and upon the execution of it; to obtain his con- probably with design. Instead of curiously sent for this purpose, and to ask his paternal inquiring into its hidden meaning, an attempt benediction. Religion is in a happy state in vain and unprofitable, we may, by the blessthe soul of that man, who has learned to ing of God, learn from it more than one pracunite and reconcile the views and pursuits tiçal lesson, neither obscure nor unimportof the citizen with those of the private man; ant; and this, no doubt, the Spirit of God who pleads not the performance of one duty principally intended. The first is, that no as an excuse for the omission of another; circumstances of prudence or conveniency whose life exhibits every moral and divine can ever be with propriety urged as a disprinciple in action, every one in his season, pensation with a clearly commanded duty. every one in his place. How simple and af- Secondly, that as there may be a sinful unfectionate the dismission which honest Ra- dervaluing of the feelings, prejudices, and guel gave to Moses, compared to that of the inclinations of our near and dear relations, selfish, rapacious Laban to Jacob:*_"Go in so there may be å sinful tenderness for, and peace!" says Raguel; an adieu expressive at compliance with them, to the neglect of once of submission to the will of Providence, God's known and declared will, and at the and of affection to his son-in-law, mixed with risk of falling under his just censure. Thirdregret at the thought of parting with him. ly, that he who is to be the interpreter of
It pleased God again to confirm the con- the law to others, ought in all points to be fidence of Moses, by assuring him that all blameless, and in all things'conformed to the who had ever harboured a design against his law himself. To which we may add yet a life were now dead; and that nothing there fourth, not of less importance than any of fore remained but to address himself boldly these; namely, that when God has procured to his great work. Accompanied with his the proper respect to his revealed will, the wife and two sons, he leaves the land of Mi- controversy between him and the offender is dian, and proceeds towards Egypt.
at an end, the object of his government being On this journey, a very extraordinary in- not so much to avenge himself as to amend cident occurs: but the conciseness of the sa- the criminal. cred history leaves it involved in much dark This scene of domestic danger and disness and difficulty. God had blessed him tress is speedily followed by another of a with two sons in Midian, whom, in compli- pleasanter kind, namely, the interview beance with the commandment of God, and as tween the two brothers, in the wilderness; a son of Abraham, he ought to have circum- an interview attended with many circumcised on the eighth day from their birth. stances to render it mutually interesting and This, however, either for want of the proper satisfactory. It must have been highly graminister, from inattention, or out of impro- tifying to Moses, after living forty years per respect to the feelings or prejudices of among strangers, to meet his own brother, Zipporah his wife, or some other reason that to receive particular information concerning appears not, had been hitherto wholly ne- his family and nation, and to communicate to glected, and thereby his children, the young- a friendly ear the knowledge of his own sier at least, through his neglect, seems to tuation during so long an interval. What have incurred the dreadful penalty denounced must it have been on the other hand, to by the terms of the covenant against uncir- Aaron, to learn from the mouth of his broGen. xxxi. 26, &c.
ther the great designs of Providence respect