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own folly, and permitted him to remain destitute of the honour which he obstinately persevered to decline. But it pleased God to show us patience, at least in one instance, too powerful for unbelief: “ for his ways are not like our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts.”
He who would cure infidelity in others, must first be purged of the old leaven himself. To effect this in the heart of his servant Moses, God vouchsafes to perform miracle upon miracle. He turns the rod which was in the hand of Moses into a serpent; and from a serpent to a rod again; in order to intimate to him and to the world that the most harmless things be. come noxious, and the most pernicious things innocent, at his command, His hand is in a moment covered with leprosy, and in a moment restored to shew the power of God's holy law to fix guilt upon the sinner, and of his grace to remove it from the penitent. He is enjoined and authorised to perform these signs before all Israel, in order to produce that conviction in them, which they had first wrought upon his own mind. Should these still happen to fail, he is permitted to go a step farther. Nature shall submit to a thorough alteration, rather than the seed of faithful Abraham continue slaves in Egypt, or perish through unbelief. Water shall become blood before their eyes, rather than the blood of their innocent children be poured out any more like water upon the ground
And now, surely, Moses is gained, and the work of God shall no longer stand still. Alas! the sullen spirit is not yet subdued. Though forced to retreat, he continues to fight as he retires. The slowness of Israel to believe, was formerly the plea; now his own want of talents is urged in excuse of his strange backwardness and disobedience, That objection too is immediately removed, by a promise of wisdom and eloquence suited to the occasion. The language of
the oracle, and the long-suffering of the speaker are miraculous and supernatural, as all the other circum. stances of the case. And the Lord said unto him, 6. Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind ? Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say,” Exodus iv. 11, 12
“Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!” This instead of producing humble submission and instantaneous compliance, without a reason and without a plea, meets with a direct refusal; “O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.” And now what heart does not tremble for fear, that the fire which had spared the bush, should wax hot, to punish the madness of the prophet? What patience can endure such a repetition of insult? The anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses; and-and what? O it becomes a flame of love to melt his heart and purify it of its dross. “ The anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also behold, he cometh forth to meet thee; and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.” Providence had all this while been preparing a concluding, a convincing proof of power, wisdom and goodness inconceivable. Lo, Aaron is already far advanced on his way from Egypt, in quest of his brother.
That after so long an interval, through a field of so many chances, he should at that very instant of time arrive-How is it to be accounted for? On no other principle but this, the Lord is a wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working
“ He seeth the end from the beginning.” He saith, “ My counsel shall stand, and I will fulfil all my pleasure.” “He doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." Let every knee bow, let every tongue confess, let every heart adore, and love and submit.
Moses is at length subdued, and we stand with astonishment and joy to contemplate the triumph of mercy over judgment. God grant we may improve the example of his divine patience as a pattern. God in mercy preserve us from presuming upon it, as an encouragement to offend. And may God 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 eventsof peculiar importance, which latest posterity is disposed fondly to commemorate. But the memory of remarkable deliverances is necessarily blended with the recollection of heavy distress or imminent danger, and whether as men, or as citizens, we greatly rejoice, by that very joy we expressly declare that we, or our fathers, once had cause to mourn. Perpetual sunshine suits not the state of the natural world; perpetual success is by no means favourable either to human happiness or virtue. Hunger is necessary to give a relish to food; the gloom of winter is the happiest recommendation of the cheerfulness and bloom of spring. We discover the value of health by disease; and the blessings of peace would be but half understood, were it not for the antecedent anxieties and calamities of war. Men therefore act foolishly as well as impiously when they charge the wise, righteous and merciful Governor of the world, with carelessness or unkindness, because he admits into the system of his works, or into his moral government of the uni. verse, what ignorance calls disorder, what presumption cries down as unnecessary, and pride condemns, as unjust.
What so irregular at first sight, and always so to the vulgar eye, as the face of the starry heavens? A handful of little sparks, scattered at random in the air! But to the attentive, inquiring, enlightened spirit, they present a vast coinbination of worlds, each in its place, every one moving in its proper orbit; the whole possessing every quality that can at once excite astonishment and inspire delight; greatness, order, beauty, harmony, utility! They present excellencies obvious to the slightest observation of the most shallow understanding; excellencies undiscoverable by the closest investigation of the most penetrating genius. Now, clownish thoughtlessness and stupidity are not more incompetent to judge of the order and frame of nature, than passion and prejudice, by which all men are governed, are to determine upon the wisdom and goodness of the ways of Providence. Every man would have every thing bend to his humour, conveniency, indolence or interest. This would produce, were it permitted, endless confusion and misery, did not God overrule and employ the activity and the indolence, the senseless caprices and the jarring interests of men to execute his purposes, and without their intention, nay, in spite of their efforts, making them productive of regularity, stability and happiness.
In contemplating, therefore, agents and events, those of which we have heard and read, or those which we see and in which we are concerned, the only road to composure and improvement is, to consider the whole as the work of a supreme, intelligent, almighty, invisible Agent, who is carrying on a plan which we comprehend not, or understand only in part, and who, from all that we can know of him from nature, from experience, and from revelation, takes delight in shewing mercy and doing good, but who, in the exercise of even these gracious prerogatives, governs not himself by the partial lights, hasty conceptions and contracted views of ignorant, erring men, but by his