« AnteriorContinuar »
pure primeval innocence, the glories of paradise, the unlimited bounty of indulgent Heaven. It was then and there, that good Spirit put the pen into his hand, to trace that sacred record, which has descended to us for our delight and instruction, and which thall remain, till time expire, the wonder, the monitor, the guide of mankind unto all manner of truth. :
What a happy period for the human race ! how happy for himself. Were the will of man to prevail, who would exchange such a retirement as this, for the noise and glare which captivates fools? But men, fuch as Moses, are not made for themselves alone; and ill would he have improved the blessings of soli, tude, had he not learned in it, cheerfully to sacrifice his own humour and his own ease to the work and glo. Iy of God. .
The time to favour Israel was now come, and Mo. fes must think of privacy and self-enjoyment no longer. By a vision, such as might appal the boldeft, and en. courage the most fearful, he is remanded to Egypt with a commislion, under the seal of Heaven, to haughty Pharaoh, and he fears no more the wrath of a king. .
But we have insensibly deviated into the history of Mofes, instead of delineating his character. Are they not, however, one and the same thing? To know what he was, we have but to consider what he faid, and how he acted. But how is it possible to comprise, within the bounds of one discourse, a detail of forty active, busy years, from the day that God appeared to him in a flame of fire in the bush, to the day of his afcending to the top of Mount Nebo to die? 'In general, they contain a display of almost every human shining virtue, brought forward to the eye, and impressed on the heart, by their most lovely foil, moda efty, meekness and humility. What magnanimity! unitet to what coolness and self-government! what firmn fs and intrepidity! what patience and gentle. ness! what consummate wisdom ! what amiable fim
plicity! plicity! in youth, in maturity, in old age'; in public and in private life; in every relation and condition, who is like him, who deserves to be compared with him? In forming an idea of human excellence, Moses presents himself immediately to my view ; it is no longer an idea, it is a delightful reality.
The more attentive part of my hearers will observe that, to complete the proposed plan of this discourse, there is still wanting the general leading idea of all these discourses, the resemblance between the type and the person typified--the analogy of Moses and Chrift, This I refer to another Lecture; and beg leave to subjoin, as a proper sequel to this, the following elogium of Mofes, translated from the works of an eloquent critic of his writings.*
ELOGIUM OF Moses.
“ This most extraordinary personage was presented to the world in very singular circumstances. He appeared at a period of peculiar affliction to his kindred and nation ; and Divine Providence seems to have raised him up expressly for the purpose of exemplify, ing virtues, which distress and perfecution alone are calculated to place in the fairest point of light. By a feries of miraculous events he escaped, in infancy, the fatal effects of a sanguinary decree, which doomed to death all the male children of the Hebrews, from the womb. And, what highly merits consideration, and serves strikingly to display the influence which Sove, reign Wisdom exercises over all the affairs of men, he owed his preservation, in a great measure, to persons whose interest it was to have destroyed him. These very persons allisted in forming that superior genius, and in cultivating those wonderful talents, which, in time, qualified him to be the deliverer of a nation which it was their intention utterly to extirpate. L 2
“ Scarcely * Discours Hist. Critiques, &c. sur les Evenemens memorables du vieux Testamept. par JAQUES SAURIN, Tome I. Discours LXX.
6 Scarcely arrived at that stage of life when men begin to form plans for the remainder of their existence, he feels himself called to determine between two objects, so incompatible in their nature, that the maturest judgment can with difficulty hold the balance even ; religion and worldly interest. Under the necessity of making a choice so difficult, he rises above his age, above his passions, nay, in some sense, above humanity, and nobly sacrifices every worldly prospect to religion. He resolves to partake in the miseries of an oppressed people, in order to secure an interest in the favour of that God who is continually watching over his children, even when he seems to have abandoned them to their perfecutors; he values nothing in comparison with that favour; he prizes it infinitely more than that of a great king, nay, more than the prospect itself of being heir to a throne and kingdom; and, according to the expression of St. Paul, Ef. teemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treafures of Egypi."'*
« Not satisfied with being a spectator and a partak. er of the misery of his wretched brethren, he resolves to meet the torrent; and, of a witness, haftens to become the avenger of the tyranny under which they groaned. Obferving one of the merciless tools of oppresfion abusing an Israelite, he braves the rigour of all the laws of Egypt, kills the oppressor, delivers the sufferer, and, as we have said in another place, performs an anticipated act of the deliverer of his coun.
“ Prudence constrains him to withdraw from the danger which threatened the stranger who dared to shed the blood of an Egyptian. He retires into the land of Midian, and there experiences repeated proofs of the care of that miraculous Providence which accompanied him through the whole course of a long life. Cut off from every opportunity of displaying the qualities of the hero, he exhibits those of the
philosopher. * Heb. xi. 26.
philosopher. He employs the calmness of that retreat in contemplating the divine perfections; or rather, in this delicious retirement it was, that he enjoyed the intimate communications of the Almighty, who inipired him, and appointed him to the high deftination of laying the first foundations of revealed religion, which was to supply the defects of that of nature, already clouded and disfigured by the preju. dices and the passions of mankind. He composed the book of Genesis ; and thereby furnished the world with irresistible arms to combat idolatry. He attacks the two inolt extravagant errors into which the human race had fallen, the plurality of gods, and that which admits imperfection in the Deity. To the one, and the other, he opposes the doctrine of the unity of an all-perfect Being.
“ That God, whose existence and attributes he thus published, was pleased to manifest himself to him in Mount Horeb, in a manner altogether fingular and miraculous. He confers on this chosen servant, the glorious but formidable commission, to take the field against Pharaoh, to stem the current of oppression, to attempt to mollify the tyrant; and, if persuasion failed, to employ force, to support arguments by prodigies, to exact from all Egypt the expiation of those barbarities which she had dared to exercise upon a people distinguished as the object of his tenderest love, and of his most illustrious miracles.
“ This appointment Moses presumes to decline; but from a spirit of humility rather than of disobedi. ence. He could not conceive it possible that, at the age of fourscore, and labouring under a defect of speech, he could be the person qualified to address a mighty prince, and overturn a whole kingdom. The appointment is a second time pressed upon him ; a second time he refuses it. At length, however, his reluctance is overcome; and filled with that Spirit which animated him to the conflict, he enters on the career of glory which was presented to him, and his first victory is a victory over himself. He tears him. felf from the delights of the land of Midian; he quits the house of a father-in-law, by whom he was most tenderly beloved, to encounter a host of enemies and executioners.
"He arrives in Egypt. He presents himself before Pharaoh : he entreats; he threatens; he draws down upon the Egyptians plagues the most tremendous. He departs from that kingdom, at the head of a people which had endured in it cruelties the most unexampled. The tyrant pursues him, gains ground, presles hard upon him. Behold him encompassed on every side, by a vast and invincible army, by a ridge of inaccessible mountains, and by the waters of the Red Sea. He rebukes the roaring billows; they instantly become obedient to the man whom the Deity has made, (if the expression be lawful) the depositary of his power. The waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left,* as the sacred historian expresses himself. Mofes advances into the wilderness, and, by a continuation of miraculous interposition, he beholds those very waters which had' divided, to favour the passage of Israel, closing again, and swal
.6 Delivered, in appearance, from his most formidable enemies, he soon finds he has to maintain a lasting conflict with foes still more formidable, the very peo. ple whom he conducted. He discovers in these degenerate fons of Israel, every mean and grovelling sen. timent which a servile state has a tendency to inspire; all the absurdity of weak and capricious minds; all the cowardice, persidy, and ingratitude of corrupted hearts. With such a race Mofes found himself under the necessity of living in a waste and parched desert, and of struggling there with all the horrors of hunger and thirst, and a total want of every necessary. Exposed to all the insults of an enraged, ungovernable multitude, he is at the same time constrained to act
. . as * Exod. xiv. 29.