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his death, which may be justly considered as denoting his destruction. He was cut off in the midst of his wickedness. Though he had been visited with plague after plague, yet he persisted in hardening his heart against God; and though he had permitted the Israelites to leave his kingdom, yet he pursued them with a strong desire and expectation of making them feel the weight of his vengeance. “ The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil ; — I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.” This was the language of Pharaoh's heart. He breathed nothing but malice and revenge ; and he was cut off in the full exercise of these malignant passions. This is one circumstance which indicates that his death was his destruction. And another is, that he died by the immediate hand of divine justice. As God opened the Red Sea in mercy to Israel, so he shut it again in judgment to Pharaoh, whom he had threatened to destroy. This was cutting him off by a judicial act, and in the same manner in which he had destroyed other incorrigible enemies. He drowned the inhabitants of the old world by a flood. He consumed the men of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven. Those sinners, we know, were victims of divine wrath, and set forth as examples, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. And since Pharaoh died as they died, we may conclude that he perished as they perished. God raised him up not merely for death, but for destruction. And it is not the first, but the second death, which may be properly called the destruction of a rational and immortal creature. This warrants us to believe that when God cut off Pharaoh from the earth, he consigned him to the regions of darkness, where he is reserved unto the judgment and condemnation of the great day.
II. I am to show that God raised up Pharaoh to fit him for destruction. God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. He never does any thing without a previous design. If he destroyed Pharaoh in the manner which has been represented, there can be no doubt but that he previously intended to destroy him in such a manner. But the divine declarations supersede the necessity of reasoning upon this head. God made known, from time to time, his purpose of destroying Pharaoh. He told Pharaoh to his face, that he would cut him off from the earth, and that he had raised him up for this purpose. He said to Moses before he went to Pharaoh, “ I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go;" and added, “I will stretch out my hand and smite Egypt." This was a plain prediction of the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea. And with equal plainness he revealed his purpose of destroying Pharaoh, to his friend Abraham. “ Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years: And that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge ;" that is, destroy. It appears from this last prediction, that God had formed his
purpose concerning Pharaoh, ages before he brought him into being; and hence we may naturally conclude that he formed it from eternity. He then formed all his other purposes; and there is no reason to imagine that he determined the character and condition of the king of Egypt in a later period.
Now if we look into the history of God's conduct towards Pharaoh, we shall find that he used all the proper and necessary means to form him a vessel of wrath, and fit him for that miserable end to which he was appointed.
1. He raised him up from nothing into being. He gave him a rational and immortal existence. He endued him with all the intellectual faculties which were necessary to constitute him a free, moral agent. Pharaoh appears to have possessed a strong and capacious mind. He was certainly capable of enlarged views. He had an extensive reach in his politics. His designs and measures with respect to the children of Israel were deep, and well adapted to answer the purposes
of his own personal power and interest. This shows that the Father of spirits gave him superior abilities, and placed him high in mental eminence.
2. God raised him up to the throne of Egypt. He girded him, and carried him in the arms of his providence, through infancy, childhood and youth, up to riper years. He gave him opportunities for cultivating his natural powers, and for qualifying himself for the highest station in life. At length, he placed the crown upon his head, and put the reins of government into his hands. He now stood at the head of a nation which held the first rank among the nations of the earth, in respect to power, wealth, learning and all the refinements of polished life. In this splendid situation, he was surrounded with every thing that could please his taste, flatter his vanity, and inflame his ambition. He knew no man in the world, who was able to control either his power or his pursuits. To such a giddy height God was pleased to raise him in the course of his providence. And this was a natural and necessary step to prepare him for his final fate. For it is a divine maxim, that “ pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
3. God not only raised Pharaoh to the pinnacle of human glory, but also removed from him outward restraints. Barely giving him the power of an unlimited monarch, was virtually setting him above all legal influence and control. But besides this, God removed Moses from his presence and kingdom, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, and thoroughly acquainted with all the arts and intrigues of a court. Had this wise and pious man been permitted to stand near the throne, or even to live in the kingdom, his example and influence might have been a silent and powerful check upon the ambition and cruelty of a lawless tyrant. But it seems God sent him into Midian, on purpose to give Pharaoh ample opportunity of indulging his inhuman and malignant disposition, in oppressing and abusing his innocent subjects. Accordingly we find that it was in the absence of Moses, that he devised and passed those cruel edicts which were designed to break the spirits and destroy the lives of the unoffending Israelites. God meant, by taking off outward restraints, to give him a fair opportunity of filling up the measure of his sins, and of ripening himself for deserved and predestinated ruin.
4. God endured this vessel of wrath with much long suffering and forbearance. Instead of treating him according to his deserts, he waited long to be gracious. He used a variety of means to bring him to repentance. He sent him one solemn message after another, by the mouth of Moses and of Aaron. And to impress those messages the more deeply on his mind, he followed them with one awful judgment after another, until he had spread desolation, terror and mourning through the land. These dreadful scenes were too heavy for Pharaoh to bear, and constrained him time after time to stoop and beg for relief. His cries were heard, and respite was granted. But mercies, as well as judgments, conspired to increase his stupidity and hardness of heart, which prepared him for a more unexpected and more aggravated doom.
But how came Pharaoh to wax worse and worse under both the smiles and frowns of Heaven? Mercies and afflictions have a moral tendency to soften and meliorate the hearts of good men. Saints have often derived great benefit from the instructions and discipline of divine providence. And even obdurate sinners, such as Manasseh, have been brought to humility and repentance under divine corrections. How then did it come to pass that Pharaoh grew more and more stupid and incorrigible under all the frowns, as well as patience and long suffering of God? This pertinent question leads to another important observation.
5. That God hardened his heart. We read, “ The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” And we read again,
And we read again, “ The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will." Pharaoh, as a man and as a king, was
just as much dependent on God as other men and other kings. His heart, therefore, was in the hand of the Lord, who had a right as well as power to turn it whithersoever he pleased. And he was pleased to turn it against all good. God told Moses before he sent him to Pharaoh, that he would harden his heart; and he repeatedly told Moses after he had sent him to Pharaoh, that he had hardened his heart. God intended to hinder Pharaoh from granting the request of the children of Israel, until he had prepared him for his final overthrow. And he foresaw that nothing short of hardening his heart would fit him for that fatal event. For the powers and faculties which he had given him, the exalted dignity which he had conferred upon him, and all the peculiar circumstances under which he had placed him, would have mutually conspired to fit him for heaven, if his heart had been tender and benevolent. It is often thought and said that nothing more was necessary on God's part, in order to fit Pharaoh for destruction, than barely to leave him to himself. But God knew that no external means and motives would be sufficient of themselves to form his moral character. He determined, therefore, to operate on his heart itself, and cause him to put forth certain evil exercises in the view of certain external motives. When Moses called upon him to let the people go, God stood by him and moved him to refuse. When Moses interceded for him and procured him respite, God stood by him and moved him to exult in his obstinacy. When the people departed from his kingdom, God stood by him and moved him to pursue after them with increased malice and revenge. And what God did on such particular occasions, he did at all times. He continually hardened his heart, and governed all the exercises of his mind, from the day of his birth to the day of his death. This was absolutely necessary to prepare him for his final state. All other methods, without this, would have failed of fitting him for destruction.
It is now time to make it appear, if possible,
We must proceed upon the supposition that God did treat him in the manner which has been represented; and especially that he did, among other things, actually harden his heart. For, if this be not supposed, there is no occasion to say a single word to justify the divine conduct, nor so much as to inquire why it is to be justified. But supposing this to have been sufficiently proved, it may be observed,
1. That better judges than we can pretend to be, have approved of God's treatment of Pharaoh. We find his own testimony in favor of God and against himself. In the verse before the text God told him that he would cut him off from the earth. And in the text he told him that in very deed he had raised him up for this purpose. But we read afterwards in the twenty-seventh verse of the context, “ Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time; the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” This Pharaoh said after God hád raised him up, after he had taken off restraints from his mind, after he had sent severe judgments upon him, after he had hardened his heart, and after he had told him that he had raised him up to destroy him. By this time Pharaoh was nearly ripened for ruin, and properly prepared to judge whether God had injured him, or whether he had injured God. And he freely acknowledges that he was wicked, and had injured God, and that God was righteous, and had never injured him. This testimony has every mark of truth and sincerity. And who shall presume to impeach the divine conduct towards Pharaoh, after he himself has publicly and solemnly justified it?
Moses and Aaron were well acquainted with the whole series of God's conduct towards Pharaoh, in the most critical and important stage of his life. God told them his ultimate design with respect to the king of Egypt. They also carried his messages to Pharaoh, and brought back his answers to God. They were personally knowing to the mercies and judgments which God employed to bring Pharaoh to submission and repentance, and also to the language and conduct of Pharaoh, under the divine warnings, admonitions and corrections. They stood spectators of the last miracle of justice, by which God fulfilled his threatening to Pharaoh, and cut him off from the earth. And they were so fully persuaded of the benevolence as well as rectitude of the divine conduct, that they most cordially joined with near three millions of people, in praising God for the destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts in the merciless waves. " Then sang
Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. — Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee; thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?" After such a solemn, public and joyful approbation of God's treatment of Pharaoh, it must be presumption in us to call in question the justice or the goodness of God.