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signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.” The tremendous namie JEHOVAH affixed as a signet to the record, and vouching its au. thority by sign upon sign, quickly produces belief: and inspires gratitude and joy, corrected by reverence and godly fear. So far then, the way is cleared, and Moses is no longer rejected as an upstart and intruder, as presuming to take upon himself the office of prince and judge over his brethren.
But this is the smallest difficulty in the way. Who does not eagerly cleave to the prospect of returning liberty? Men believe things incredible, attempt things impossible, endure things intolerable, when freedom, precious freedom is the object. No wonder then that oppressed, groaning Israel should greedily listen to the voice of this heavenly charmer. But the grand difficulties are vet behind. Their fetters will not fall off by a wish. Their fond desires dictate not the edicts of Pharaoh. The smarting of the strokes of their task-masters' whips are not to be conjured away by a sound. The question is not, will Israel believe? but will the king of Lgypt comply? Every step Moses ad. vances, he finds a new and growing proof of the truth and faithfulness of God. For the same mouth which declared concerning the children of Israel, “ they shall hearken unto thy voice,” declared concerning Pharaoh, .6" I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no not by a mighty hand.” The faith and obedience of the one, therefore, and the insolence and pride of the other, equally and conjointly demonstrated to Mo. ses, that the Lord had spoken unto him.
Armed, therefore, with a command from on high, confident of the goodness of their cause, and exalted above the fear of man, Moses and his brother advance boldly into the presence of the king, and make their
requisition in these lofty and majestic words; “ Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.”
In some ancient Jewish fragment, we have an account of four miracles, by which Moses signalized his entrance into Egypt. First, he made fire to issue out of the earth, in the eyes of all Israel, and thereby produced confidence in him as their deliverer. Se. condly, being shut up in prison by order of Pharaoh, he brake the bars, burst open the gates, struck the guards with death, and released himself. Thirdly, he pronounced in the ears of the king, the name of JEHOVAH-at the sound of which that prince became deaf, and after a certain interval recovered his hearing, through the interposition of him who had taken it away. Fourthly, by the use of the same awful name, he deprived all the Egyptian priests of sense and motion. To this the Rabbins add, that on entering the palace of the tyrant, he was suddenly clothed with a dreadful form, and a countenance bright and majestic, like that of an angel. But we have no need to resort to fancy for a description of the magnificence of the scene, neither is there reason to suppose that any part of the glory of Moses consisted in personal lustre. His employer and his errand lend him sufficient dignity and importance, without the glare which dazzles the eye.
Whatever were the outward appearance of Moses, his message, we know, was treated by Pharaoh with insolence and contempt, in these words; “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice, to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel
We are not to conclude that Pharaoh was an atheist, from his using this impious language. No; Egypt was a country wholly given to superstition; a land which had multiplied deities to itself. It was JEHOVAH whom he scorned to acknowledge. It was the God of Israel whom he despised. He judged of
of their Patron and Protector from their own present forlorn condition.
The method which Moses and Aaron employed to obtain the end of their mission, is a beautiful and an instructive, and an alarming representation of the conduct of Providence, towards sinners in general. They begin with delivering a plain message, in the name of their master. Being repulsed, they proceed to argue and expostulate. A deaf ear being turned to the voice of reason and humanity, they have recourse to more extraordinary proofs of the weight and authority of their commission; proofs which, indeed, mark an Almighty arm; but an arm stretched out to convince, not to crush. A bold defiance being
A bold defiance being given to Omnipotence, what other method of working conviction and of procuring respect is left, but to let it fall with all its dreadful weight on the head of the defier?
It happened to Israel, as it often does to men struggling to get free from the pressure of calamity, their efforts only serve to plunge them deeper in the mire; and it happened to Moses and Aaron, as it sometimes befalls men actuated by a similar good intention, but with less title and encouragement, their interference hurts those whom it was meant to serve; and they have the mortification of seeing the miseries of their poor brethren cruelly increased, through what might be deemed their own zeal and officiousness. The inflexible tyrant avenges himself, for the freedom taken with the king of Egypt, by persons so low and contemptible, upon the bleeding shoulders of thousands of wretches, who could not redress themselves, and who durst not complain. Miserable condition indeed! where the caprice of one man determines the fate of millions! Happy the nation where not men but laws govern!
Providence, in this instance, seems resolved to try how far sayage cruelty and patient suffering can gos
but ready to interfere in both, when they have come to the extreme. Israel is not prepared for salvation, till the cup of woe is full, and deliverance is despaired of from every quarter save Heaven: and Pharaoh feels not the rod of God's anger, till having filed up the measure of his iniquity, hardened his heart against God and against man, poured contempt upon mercy, and braved infinite justice, he exalts himself into an awful monument to every impenitent sinner of the desperate madness of fighting with his Maker.
Moses is ready to sink afresh, under this cruel disappointment. The reproaches of the unhappy sufferers, called, forced, lashed into labour, beyond what their strength could bear, cut him to the heart, and again he shrinks from the task which was imposed on him: and in these desponding words, he ventures to pour out the anguish of his soul before the Lord; “ Where. fore hast thou so evil intreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name he hath done evil to this people, neither hast thou delivered thy people at all."
Thus far has flowed the angry tide of proud imperi. ous passion; and thus low has ebbed the trembling, retreating stream of baffled expectation. And now, " It is time, Lord, that thou work!” To the one he saith, “ Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” To the other, 6 Return, and fill all thy channels, and overflow all thy banks."
The angel of the Lord begins with re-assuring Moses himself, by a recapitulation of the tenor of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, under the sanction of his name as the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. In all these wanderings, weaknesses and distresses, they had been encouraged to trust in a Being, omnipotent to protect them, all-sufficient to supply their wants. But their posterity were henceforth
to know him by another name, and under a new description, even the incommunicable, unutterable name, which denotes eternal, unchangeable, self-existence; deriving nothing from any, but conferring upon all, life, and breath, and all things; who is above all, through all, and in all; “ the same yesterday, today, and forever:” and, of consequence, true to his word, faithful in keeping covenant, unalterable in his decrees!
Under the seal of that most tremendous, most animating and inspiring, name, Moses is again dispatch: ed to the people, with the assurance of a speedy, an instantaneous appearance in their behalf. But alas! their spirit is broken, by the long continuance and accumulated weight of their calamities. They have been disappointed so often, that they can believe, can hope no longer; and the message delivered by Moses is like a charming song upon the ear of a deaf or a dead man.
He is sent from the people to Pharaoh, with a repetition of the demand of Heaven upon him. But alas! the messenger himself has caught the desponding spirit of the unhappy men whom he had been last visiting; and the heart of Pharaoh has not in the least relented. Heaven seems to have interposed somewhat too late; the cause appears lost. Let us judge nothing rashly; let us not judge before the time. Let us humbly and patiently wait the issue, and then condemn if we dare, if we can.
Moses at the bush saw God, under the appearance of a flame of fire; but no man can see God and live. “ No man hath seen God at any time: the only begot ten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." The deliverer of Israel needed himself to be nurtured and prepared for the discharge of his high office; but the Saviour of a lost world entered upon the execution of his infinitely more arduous task, every way qualified to bring it to a happy conclusion. The Jewish lawgiver stood himself condemned by the law,