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and was à partaker with others in guilt and transgres. sion; the Christian Leader was “holy, harmless and undefiled.” Moses undertook the work assigned to him, slowly and reluctantly; but, O, with what readiness did the friend of mankind press forward to the perfecting of his kind design; “Lo I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart,” Psalm xl. 7, 8. “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?” Luke xii. 50. -And yet there was no shame, no pain, no cross in the way of Moses; whereas the Captain of salvation was to be made perfect through sufferings;” nevertheless, he advanced undismayed
to the combat. “ With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer,” ib. xxii. 15. Moses frequently retired from the conflict, shrunk from the difficulty and danger,
failed in the hour of trial; but our great Leader and Commander went on “conquering and to conquer;" turned not back; desisted not from doing and from suf: fering, till he could say, “ It is finished.” The sun of righteousness shineth in his strength, let every star hide his diminished head. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
The Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I
will do unto Pharaoh; for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.--Exodus vi. 1.
THE history of the divine conduct is the best illustration of the nature of God. Do we desire to know what the Supreme Being is? We have but to consider what he does. Are we anxious to be satisfied of the truth of the declarations made by the great Jehovah concerning himself in his word? Let us compare them with the history and experience of men in every age. The proofs of the divine goodness and mercy are written in characters so fair, and are so frequently presented to our view, that not to observe them must argue the grossest stupidity and inattention; and not to acknowledge, love and adore the glorious Source of that unbounded goodness, must argue the blackest ingratitude. When the Lord makes himself known by the judgments which he executes, we see him advancing, to use the ideas and the language of men, with slow and reluctant steps. When misery is to be relieved, benefits conferred, or sins forgiven, the blessing outruns the expectation, nay, even desire. But, when the wicked are to be punished, justice seems to regret the necessity under which it is laid, and the sinner is not destroyed till, to his own conviction, his condemnation is acquitted of unrighteous
ness, and till every thing around him calls for vengeance.
The wickedness of the old world was so great, that God is said to have“ repented that he had made man." Nevertheless after God had threatened to destroy the human race with a delage, a reprieve of many years is granted, to afford space and means for averting the calamity by repentance. Abraham was permitted, nay, encouraged, to intercede for the sinful, the de. voted cities of the plain of Jordan; and the righteousness of so small a number as five persons would have saved the whole people of those regions. The nations of Canaan were not expelled, to make way for Israel; till the measure of their iniquity was full; and the haughty spirit of Pharaoh was not brought low, by wonder upon wonder, by plague upon plague, till he had hardened his heart against the power of God, and the sufferings of men, and thereby made himself a “ vessel of wrath fitted for destruction."
The awful scene we are this night to contemplate, is, in more respects than one, singular, and unexam. pled. We are not only presented with a series of miracles, a demonstration of the tremendous power of Almighty God, but, what is still more extraordinary, thry are a series of miracles, all marked with uncom. mon rigour and severity. The wise and righteous Go. vernor of the world seems, in this instance, to have deviated from the usual lenity of his proceeding; as if determined to make men tremble before him, and to stand in awe of his power and justice, as well as to hope in his mercy.
Moses and Aaron, though their former embassy to Pharaoh had met with a reception so mortifying to themselves, and so fatal to their afflicted brethren, are obliged and encouraged at God's command to undertake a second. And the haughty tyrant having dared to reject the first, as delivered in the name of an un. known God, they are now furnished with credentials
which carried their own authority on their foreheads, and which were calculated to convince every thing but rooted infidelity, of the divine power by which they were issued. First they make reason speak. And had Pharaoh been wise, no other monitor had been necessary. But a deaf ear being turned to that meek and heavenly charmer, it becomes needful to employ a stronger and more forcible language. Being again introduced, they again deliver their message, and are again treated with scorn. Aaron, as he was commanded, having the rod of God in his hand, casts it upon the ground before Pharaoh and his court, and lo! it instantly becomes animated; it is converted into a serpent, armed with deadly poison. When Moses first beheld this strange sight, “he was afraid, and would have fled;” but Pharaoh appears not in the least alarmed. The same fire melts wax, and hardens clay; the same doctrine is the savour of life unto life in them that believe, and of death unto death in them that perish.
Some interpreters have alleged, that this transform. ation was not only miraculous, but emblematical, and that it was intended to humble this tyrannical and sanguinary prince, by exhibiting a representation of his own character, and of his subserviency to the power of that God whom he had presumed to defy. What a sudden and striking change, through the permission of Providence takes place! A harmless rod or shepherd's crook, the emblem of mild, wise and good government, is changed into a poisonous snake, the emblem of cruelty and oppression. And lo, at the divine pleasure, the poison is again extracted, the deadly tooth is plucked out, and the fiery serpent becomes a harmless rod again. And thus, in general, afflictive providences are either the gentle rod of a wise father to admonish, to correct and to reform; or the keen twoedged sword of an adversary to cleave asunder, to devour and not to destroy. Whether this were intend
order to oppose skill to skill, and to diminish the re
ed or not, it is evident Pharaoh understood it not, or disregarded it. And, as infidelity is always desirous of fortifying itself by something that has the semblance of reason; and, while it pretends to doubt of every thing, as, in truth, the most simple and credulous principle in the world, Pharaoh affects to treat the miracle which was wrought by Moses and Aaron, as a mere trick, a feat of necromancy or magic. He calls for such of his own people as professed these arts, to confront them with the Israelitish ambassadors; in
spect and attention claimed by ivoses and Aaron, to their mission, and to their God, by showing similar, or equal signs, performed by Jannes and Jambres, the votaries of an Egyptian deity.
The magicians confidently undertake the task, and, through the permission of Heaven, partly succeed. The rods cast upon the ground, likewise become serpents. The heart of Pharaoh exults, and the magicians of Egypt laugh the Jewish shepherds to scorn. But the triumph of unbelief is only for a moment. Aaron's rod, in its serpent state, swallowed up their rods. Reasoning man will ask, why were not impiety and infidelity checked in their very first attempt? Why were the demons of Egypt left in possession of the slightest vestige of power, to oppose or to imitate the mighty power of God? Why grant to Pharaoh and to his magicians, even the momentary triumph of their incantations? The reason is obvious. Had the Egyptian encroachments been attended with no success, and produced no effect, infidelity would have had its plea at hand. “ Your pretended miracle is mere illusion, it is an attempt to mislead our understanding, by im, posing upon our senses. Though we cannot produce this particular effect, or perform this particular trick, by our art, we can effect wonders equally or much more astonishing." But, by being permitted to succeed in their first effort, and to rival Moses and Aaron