« AnteriorContinuar »
affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hid | every name: that at the name of Jesus every his face from him, but when he cried unto knee should bow, of things in heaven, and him he heard."'* " In all their affliction he things in earth, and things under the earth : was afflicted, and the angel of his presence and that every tongue should confess that saved them; in his love and in his pity he Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the redeemed them, and he bare them, and car- Father.” But the time would fail to point ried them all the days of old.”+ Did Moses, out every mark of resemblance. Christ dethrough the vale of obscurity, arrive at the rives no glory from similitude to Moses, but summit of glory? Of Christ it is said, as all the glory of Moses flows from his typifyfollowing up the scene of his humiliation, ing Christ the Lord, in whom “all the pro“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted mises are yea and amen,” and who “is the him, and given him a name which is above end of the law for righteousness to every one * Psalm xxii. 24.
Isaiah Ixiii. 9. that believeth."
HISTORY OF MOSES.
LECTURE XXX IX.
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The
God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, 1 AM THAT I'AM: And he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, 1 AM hath sent me unto you.—Exodus iii. 13, 14.
The objects presented to us in the com- | approach; but whose fervent heat arrests merce of the world have a relative greatness, our speed, and remands us to our proper disbut those with which we converse in soli- tance. tude and retirement possess a real grandeur That great man had now passed the seand magnificence. À vast city, a numerous cond great period of his life in the humble and well disciplined army, a proud navy, a station of a shepherd, and the shepherd too splendid court, and the like, dazzle the eyes of another man's flock. He had quitted the of a stranger, and produce a transient won- enchanted regions of high life, not only withder and delight. But a little acquaintance out regret, but with joy; not impelled by dissolves the charm; the dimensions of crea- spleen, not soured by disappointment; but ted greatness speedily contract, the glory filled with a noble disdain for empty honours, departs, and what once filled us with astonish- with generous sympathy towards his afflicted ment is regarded with calm indifference, per- brethren, animated by exalted piety, which haps with disgust. The eye, almost with a settled on an invisible God, and inspired with single glance, reaches the end of human per- a soul which looked at pomp with contempt, fection, and instantly turns from what it has and on obscurity with acquiescence and deseen, in search of something yet undiscover- sire. It was in this calm retreat that he cul. ed, striving to find in novelty and variety a tivated those qualities which proved more compensation for the poverty, littleness, no- favourable to the designs of Providence than thingness of the creature. But when we all the learning which he had acquired in withdraw froin the haunts of men, and either Egypt. retire within ourselves or send our thoughts At the age of eighty the race of glory is abroad to contemplate God and his works, at an end with most 'men: nay, the drama we meet a height and a depth which the line of life concludes with the generality long of finite understanding cannot fathom; we before that period arrivés. But the fame, expatiate in a region which still discloses activity, and usefulness of Moses commenced new scenes of wonder; we feel ourselves at not till then; for as it is never too early, so once invited and checked, attracted, and re- it is never too late to serve God and to do pelled; we behold much that we can com- good to men; and true wisdom consists in prehend and explain, but much more that waiting for and following the call of Heaven, passeth knowledge; we find ourselves, like not in anticipating and out running it. AbraMoses at the bush, upon “ holy ground,” and ham was turned out a wanderer and an exile the same wonderful sight is exhibited to our at seventy-five. And Moses at fourscore was view—“ JEHOVAH!" IN A FLAME OF FIRE! sent upon an enterprise, which it required whose light irradiates and encourages our I much courage to undertake, much vigour to
conduct and support, and a great length of to his still greater astonishment, the bush time to execute. But before the divine man- becomes vocal as well as brilliant, and he date, every mountain of difficulty sinks, hears his own name distinctly and repeatedly "every valley is exalted, the crooked be called, out of the midst of the flame. Cucomes straight, and the rough places plain." riosity and wonder are now checked by a Abraham, at the head of a handful of ser- more powerful principle than either. Tervants, subdues five victorious kings, with ror thrills in every vein, and arrests his their armies: Sarah, at ninety, bears a son; trembling steps. How dreadful must the and Moses, at eighty, with a simple rod in visitations of God's anger be to his enemies, his hand, advances to succour Israel, and to it to his best beloved children, the intimacrush the power of Egypt.
tions of his goodness, clothed in any thing The solemnity with which the commission like sensible glory, be so awful and overwas given, suited the dignity and importance whelming? When I meet thee, O my God, of the undertaking. The whole was of God, stripped of this veil of flesh, may I find thee and he does every thing in a manner worthy a pure, a genial, and a lambent flame of loving of himself. While Moses was employed in kindness, not a consuming fire of wrath and the innocent cares and labours of his lowly vengeance ! station; and faithful attention to the duties Moses instantly comprehends that the Lord of our several stations is the best preparation was there ; or, if he could for a moment have for the visits of the Almighty; a very un-doubted who it was that talked with him, in usual and unaccountable appearance pre- a moment his doubt must have been removed sented itself to his eyes. A bush wholly by the continuation of the voice of Him who involved in flames, yet continuing unchanged, spake. We find here, as in many other places undiminished, unconsumed by the fire. Whe- of the Old Testament, the same person who ther nature preserves her steady tenor, or is styled in the course of the narration, the suffers an alteration or suspension of the “ Angel of the Lord," styling himself JEHOlaws by which she is usually governed, the van and God; exercising divine prerogafinger of God is equally visible in both; for, tives, manifesting divine perfections, and what power, save that which is divine, could claiming the homage which is due to Deity have established, and can maintain the order alone. The person, therefore, thus described, and harmony of the universe ? And what can be none other than the uncreated “ Anpower short of Omnipotence can break in gel of the covenant," who " at sundry times, upon that order; can make the sun to stand and in divers manners,” in maturing the still, or its shadow return back to the meri- work of redemption, assumed a sensible apdian after it had declined; can leave to fire pearance; and at length, in the fulness of its illuminating, but withdraw its devouring time, united his divine nature to ours and quality; and render artificial fire, such as dwelt among men, and made them to behold that of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, harmless his glory, as the glory of the only begotten to the three children of the captivity, but of the Father, full of grace and truth. fatal to ministers of the king of Babylon ? Every thing here is singular, and every Were our hearts right with God, miraculous thing instructive. The first interview beinterpositions would be unnecessary; every tween God and Moses inspires terror; but creature, every event should promote our the spirit of bondage gradually dies away, acquaintance with our Maker. And such is and refines into the spirit of adoption and the condescension of the Most High, that he love. Acquaintance begets confidence, “pervouchsafes to cure our ignorance, inatten- fect love casteth out fear;" and the man who tion, or unbelief, by making the mighty sa- spake to God with trembling in Horeb, by and crifice of that stated course of things, which by becomes strengthened to endure his prehis wisdom settled at first, and which his sence forty days and nights together, in Sinai. power continues to support. Rather than “Enduring, as seeing Him who is invisible," man shall remain unchanged, unredeemed, he “despised the wrath of an earthly king." the great system of nature shall undergo When he comes to the knowledge of that alteration ; fire shall cease to burn, the Nile same God, by the seeing of the eye and the shall run blood instead of water, the sun for- hearing of the ear, he "exceedingly fears get to shine for three days together; the and quakes; abhors himself and lies low in eternal, uncreated Word shall become flesh, dust and ashes.” But, following on to know and the fountain of life to all, shall expire in the Lord, he comes at length to converse with death.
Him, as a man with his friend. Acquaint It required not the sagacity of a Moses to thyself then with Him, and be at peace, discover, that there was something extraor- thereby good shall come unto thee.” Miseradinary here. But mistaking it at first for ble beyond expression, beyond thought are merely an unusual natural appearance, whose they, whose acquaintance with God has to canse, by a closer investigation, he might be begin at death; who, having lived without a able to discover, he is preparing by nearer gracious, merciful, long-suffering God in the observation to satisfy his curiosity; when lo! world, find they must, by a dreadful neces
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- tion to them as unbroken, his care of them as cal; it not only sanctioned the commission uninterrupted. The effect which this declagiveri 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 flames, 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 affectencouraged 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 majesty 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 cornmission. 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 Horeb: and though we see him not, his to which they have neither pretension, title, eyes are continually upon us, and he will nor qualification; so there is a sinful humilibring 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 mercy 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 unmeaning 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—19 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 can endure such a repetition of insult? The own mind. Should these still happen to fail, anger of the Lord was kindled against Mo "he is permitted to go a step farther. Nature ses; and—and what? O 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. God in mercy 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.
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 vi. 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