Page images

scripture account is more sparing. Those who are never at a loss so long as fancy and invention can create, make him the son of Caleb, and the husband of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. It appears from the history, that he was the father of Uri; and the grandfather of Bezaleel, the famous artist, employed, by special endowment and appointment of Heaven, for the construction of the more curious and costly furniture of the tabernacle and sanctuary. But it is of more importance for us to know him, and for him to be reported, as a person of the first quality, and his quality supported by that which gives rank its highet lustre, genuine piety. Moses left him, in commission with Aaron, to judge the people, when a short while after this he went up alone into Mount Sinai to meet God. This is argument sufficient of his high. rank; and the assumption of him to assist his devotion in Mount Horeb, while Israel was engaged with Ama

. lek, is a proof equally clear and decisive of his extraordinary piety:

Behold then the man of God, supported and encouraged by two such companions, discovering all the honest anxiety of the patriot, together with all the confidence and fervour of the saint; with his eyes eagerly bent on the conflicting armies in the plain below; and his hands, with his heart, lifted up to God in the heavens, from whom his help came. It was clearly the intention of Providence, that the deliverance which should be wrought for Israel on this occasion, though not' wholly independent on the use of means, should evidently appear to flow chiefly and on ly from the interposition and grace of Heaven. “It came to pass when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, that Amalek prevailed.”

This is the first battle which Israel was called to fight; and it was designed to be a model of all that should follow; of assured success to them, and victo

ry over all their enemies, provided they constantly acknowledged God, with hands continually lifted up to heaven. And it had undoubtedly a farther view, namely, to represent in general, the powerful and certain effect of prayer to God, and of a sense of dependence upon him; to show that our strength is in exact proportion to the perception of our own weakness, and to our confidence in almighty grace. The lesson inculcated in this history is the same which Christ taught his disciples in the parable of the unjust judge and the importunate widow, “That men ought always to pray, and not to faint,” Luke xviii. 1. If importunity and the love of ease have power to constrain a man to do his duty, though he have no inclination to it, how much more certain the effect of earnestness and importunity with the Hearer of prayer, the Father of mercies; who is ever more ready to grant than man to ask? “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matt. vii. 11.

Have you considered then, my christian friend, what a powerful instrument is put into your hand, mighty as the rod of God in the hand of Moses, wherewith he did wonders? “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,” James v. 17, 18. Surely then the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," James v. 16. God has not given you assurance of success in your undertakings, but he has bestowed upon you the privilege, and promised you the spirit of prayer, by which


shall certainly obtain one of two things; either that blessing from above upon your honest endeavours, which maketh rich, which insures success, and makes it durable; or, that

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

resignation of spirit, and submission to the will of God, which subdue misfortune, and which turn calamity and disappointment themselves into advantage. God has not given thee, my friend, the promise of riches; but he has given thee, what is much better, the spirit of grace and supplication to form thy soul to contentment. You have no security against pain and sorrow; but you have that which produces patience and fortitude. You cannot promise yourself long life; but habitual intercourse with God by prayer overcomes the fear of death.

Glorious privilege! Whatever my situation in life be, here is something to improve it, if good; something to mend it, if evil. Here is the ornament and essence of prosperity, the cure and cordial of adversity. Here is the guardian and the guide of life; the sweetner and subduer of death. Prayer brings all the glorious perfections of Deity into our possession. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him,” James i. 5.

si When I am weak, then am I strong;” “ for I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Is the thorn not removed, the messenger of Satan not rebuked, though the Lord be thrice besought that they may depart? No matter. Is it not said, “ My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness? Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me, ” 2 Cor. xii. 9.

But where are the hands which never hang down? Those of Moses himself became heavy. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Fatal omen to Israel! Amalek instantly gains the ascendant. But happily, Moses was not alone in the mount:

" And they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other

lay CI alu


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun." • As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend;" and so devotion kindles and keeps alive devotion. Secret prayer, like the melody of one sweet-toned voice stealing upon the ear, gently wafts the soul to heaven: social worship, as a full chorus of harmonized sounds, pierces the sky, and raises a great multitude of kindred spirits to the bright regions of everlasting love, and places them together before the throne of God. How happy are Aaron and Hur, in lending this aid to the wearied hands of Moses, and to the declining interest of the Israel of God! How happy is Moses in being thus supported! But there is an Intercessor whose hands never hang down, whose fervour never cools, whose mediation never fails, whose attention is never relaxed. “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.” Him“ the Father heareth always:” “as a Prince he hath power and prevaileth.”

Let us now turn our eyes to the struggle in the valley below. There we meet the confused noise of the warrior, and garments rolled in blood:” the alternate shouts of acclamation and triumph, mingling with the piercing shrieks of the wounded, and the groans of the dying. Israel, now hurrying on to victory, and anon flying before the insulting foe. The event for a while is awfully in doubt; turning upon the strength and feebleness, not of thousands, but of one single arm; decided at length, not by the edge of the sword, but the elevation or depression of a rod; and that rod swayed, not by the skill and prowess of Joshua, but the firniness and devotion of Moses.

But now, doubt and anxiety are at an end. The hands of Moses are propped up, and Israel finally prevails. And what heart save that of an Amalekite but must rejoice in the issue? “The cunning is taken in his own craftiness.” A design of violence and blood falls VOL. II.

2 D



[ocr errors]

upon the head of him that contrived it. The righteous and innocent cause bears down pride and cruelty. We behold the destination of Heaven standing good, the birthright sold away, the blessing anticipated, the elder made subject to the younger. "God is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” Job ix. 4.

Israel has conquered. But it is impossible to mistake the means by which he has gotten the victory. “ The hand of the Lord, and his holy arm, they have gotten him the victory." The altar therefore, which was built to celebrate this signal success, shall by its name perpetuate the remembrance of God the deliverer, Jehovah-Nissi, “the Lord my banner," was inscribed upon it by the divine appointment; and a reason is assigned in the sixteenth verse. For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

These words, having been variously rendered, have given occasion to various opinions among interpreters. Some read the passage thus, “Because the hand of Amalek is against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. This reading resolves the guilt of Amalek, not into an insidious and cruel design against Israel, but into a rash and impious attempt to defeat the plan of Pro. vidence, which was to bring Israel into the quiet possession of Canaan, and to exalt that nation favoured of God but envied of man, to wealth, power and empire. God therefore was pleased to vindicate in person the cause which was his own, and to write disappointment and a curse upon every plan which Amalek could form, of greatness and prosperity. So “fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God,”' so dangerous to form a combination “ against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

« PreviousContinue »