Page images
PDF
EPUB

in drops, became an object of desire and a ground of contention. The daughters of Jethro, sensible of their inferiority in point of strength, endeavour to supply it bu diligence and address. They arrive at the well before their rival shepherds, and are preparing with all possible dispatch 10 water their flocks, when behold they are overtaken by these brutals, who rudely drive them and their focks away, and cruelly atienipt to convert the fruits of their labour to their own use. Moses, possessing at once sensibility, courage and force, takes part with the injured, and affords them effectual support against their oppressors. an helpless, timid female, assaulted and insulted, is an object of peculiar concern to a brave and generous spirit; and for this reason, courage and intrepidity are qualities in men, held in great and just estimation by the female sex.

If the heroic behaviour of Moses merit approbation and respect, the modest reserve of the virgin daughters of Raguel is equally amiable and praise-worthy. It does not appear that they solicited protection, but modestly received it: they look their thanks rather than utter them; and they deem it more suitable to their sex and character to appear ungrateful to a generous stranger, than to offend him by forwardness and indelicacy. They hasten home to their father, who, surprised at the earliness of their return, inquires into the cause of it. Happy. I doubt not, to celebrate the praises of a man whose appearance and behaviour must have made a deep impression upon them, they relate the adventure of the morning; and Raguel, struck with the magnanimity, gallantry and spirit of this stranger's conduct, eagerly inquires after him, sends to find him out, invites him to his house and table, and endeavours to express that gratitude, which the young women could not, by every effort of kindness and hospitality.

Minds so well assorted as those of Moses and Jethro, and attracted to each other by mutual acts of benefi. cence, would easily assimilate and unite in friendship,

And the pleasing recollection of protection given and received, the natural sensibility of a female mind to personal accomplishments, but more especially to generosity and courage, on the one hand; and the irresistible charins of feminine beauty and modesty to a manly heart, on the other, would speedily and insensibly, betwen Moses, and some one of the priest of Midian's fair daughters, ripen into love. What follows, therefore, is all in the course of honest nature, which never swerves from her purpose, never fails to accomplish her end. But it was Providence that furnished the field and the instruments with which nature should work. That Providence which saved him forty years before from perishing in the Nile; that Providence which delivered him so lately from the hands of an incensed king; the same Providence now, by a concourse of circumstances equally beyond the reach of human power or foresight, fixes the bounds of his habitation, forms for him the most important connexion of human life; and for another space of forty years makes him forget the tumultuous pleasures of a court, in the more calm and rational delights of disinterested friendship, virtuous affection, and heavenly contemplation.

It was in this delicious retreat, that the man of God is supposed to have composed, by divine inspiration, and to have committed to writing, that most ancient, most elegant, and most instructive

of all books; which contains the history of the world, from the creation down to his own times: a period which no other writer has presumed to touch upon; holy ground which none but the foot of God himself has dared to tread. Here also, and at this time, as it is conjectured by interpreters, he wrote that beautifully poetical, moral, and historical work, the book of Job: which, for sublimity of thought, force of expression, justness of sentiment, strength of reasoning, and variety of matter, holds a distinguished place in the sacred code. If from the schools of the Magi he drew such stores of wisdom

and eloquence, high must our ideas rise of those noble seminaries of learning. But Moses derived his wonderful accomplishments from a much higher source, even from the everlasting Spring of all knowledge, even from him who made the heavens and the earth, and caused the light to arise; even from Him who can make the desert of Horeb a school of WISDOM, and the simple to be wiser than all his teachers. Here, also, he has the felicity of becoming a father; and, even in Midian, God builds up one of the families of Israel.

And now at last the time to favour that despised, oppressed nation was come. Egypt had changed its sovereign in the mean time, but the seed of Jacob had felt no mitigation of their distress. Every change which they have undergone is only from evil to worse. Moses was now arrived at his eightieth year, but remained in the full vigour of his bodily strength, and of his mental powers,

Erring, reasoning, cavilling man will be asking, Why was the employment of Moses in so important a service so long delayed? Wherefore bury such talents for such a space of time in the inglorious life of an obscure shepherd? Wherefore call a man at so late a period of life, in the evening of his day, in the decline of his faculties, to a service that required all the fervour, intrepidity, and exertion of youth? To all which we answer in the words of our Saviour on a well-known occasion, “ It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.” Man is perpetually in a hurry, and often hastens forward without making progress; but " he that believeth shall not make haste.” God, the father of believers, advances to his end, not in a vehement and hurried step, but in a solemn, steady, majestic pace;

his

progress, which we may in our folly account slow, in the issue proves to have been the most expeditious; and the course which human ignorance may condemn as irregular and circuitous, will be found in the end the shortest and the surest.

The course of the history ther has brought us to that important, eventful hour, when the shepherd of Midian, trained up in retirement and contemplation, and converse with God, was to shake off his disguise, and stand confessed the minister of the most high God, the king in Jeshurn, the scourge of Egypt, the deliverer of Israel. As the commission which was given him to execute, and the station assigned to him, were altogether singular and uncommon, we are rot to be surprised if the seal and signature affixed to that commission, and the powers bestowed for the faithful and effectual execution of it, should likewise be out of the usual course of things, and should announce the power and authority of Him, who granted it. But as this merits a principal place in the course of these exercises, we shall not compress it into the conclusion of a Lecture; hoping, through the heip of God, to resume and continue the subject next Lord's day

Such was Moses, the Jewish legislator, and hero, during the two first great periods of his life. But a greater than Moses is here, even He, “ the latchet of whose shoes Moses is unworthy to stoop down and to unloose;" to whom Moses and Elias, on the mount of transfiguration, brought all their glory and honour and laid them at his feet!

Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;” and Jesus disdained not to be called “the son of the carpenter.” Supreme, all divine though He was, yet he declined not the society of the poorest, meanest, most afflicted of mankind!

Was the humiliation of Moses cheerful and volun: tary, not forcibly obtruded upon him, but sought out and submitted to? Christ, though “in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” Was sympathy a leading feature in the character of Moses? Jesus “hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,

neither hath he hid his face from him, but when he cried unto him he heard,” Psalm xxii. 24.

66 In all their affliction he was 'afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them, in his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old,” Isaiah lxiii 9. Did Moses, through the vale of obscurity, arrive at the summit of glory? Of Christ it is said, as following up the scene of his humiliation, 6 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and th ngs in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” But the time would fail to point out every mark of resemblance. Christ derives no glory from similitude to Moses, but all the glory of Moses flows from his typifying Christ the Lord, in whom “all the promises are yea and amen,” and who “is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."

« PreviousContinue »