« PreviousContinue »
even at the right hand of God, who also maketh interceffion for us."*
How many things in the fcriptures; in Mofes, in the the prophets, in the law, in the gofpel, are dark and hard to be understood? But the hour cometh when the veil fhall be removed from our eyes; when the truth as it is in Jefus fhall ftand confeffed without a myftery; and fhall be feen and read of all men. "What" he doth, "ye know not now, but ye fhall know hereafter." "We know in part, and we prophefy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part fhall be done away." "For now we fee through a glafs, darkly; but then face to face now I know in part; but then fhall I know, even as alfo I am known."t
*Rom. viii. 32, 33, 34.
1 Cor. xiii. 12.
And it came to pass when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God faid, Left peradventure the people repent when they fee war, and they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Ifrael went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. And Mofes took the bones of Jofeph with him: for he had ftraitly fworn the children of Ifrael, Jaying, God will furely vifit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them, by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
ALL that weak, ignorant, erring man can know, is a few of the fmaller objects which are immediately around him; and of thefe but a few of the more obvious qualities which they poffefs, and the relations in which they stand to one another. Remove them but a little as to space or time, and they gradually disappear, till they are at length involved in total darkness.
The diftance of a few leagues terminates our vifion; the lapfe of a few years erafes all traces from our memory. The cloud of night conceals or changes the appearance of things the neareft to us, and the moft perfectly known. Here, we are dazzled and confounded by an excefs of light; there, we are checked and repulfed by dimnefs and obfcurity. The fun forbids us to behold his face by reafon of his fplendour; the earth and the ocean prefent to us but their furface; and the heavens oppofe to the eager eye a vault of cryftal, faying, "Hitherto fhalt thou come, but no further." We feel ourfelves hedged in, fettered, confined on every fide. And our condition in this refpect is that of every created, limited being. Open profpect after profpect; expand fyftem upon fyftem; add faculty to faculty; yet the profpect is bounded at length. Suns and worlds are capable of being numbered, and there is a height and depth till beyond, which the understanding of an angel cannot fathom.
There is only ONE Being whofe duration is immeafurable-whofe fpace is unconfined-whofe power is uncontrolled-whofe understanding is infinite. With JEHOVAH "a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years." He alone can "declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, faying, My counfel fhall ftand, and I will do all my pleasure."* HE is "above all, and through all, and in all!" An impenetrable veil hides futurity from every created eye; but the Spirit of prophecy is pleafed fometimes to remove it. Abraham faw the Redeemer's day afar off, and rejoiced. He faw in prophetic vifion the fervitude, the affliction, and the deliverance of his pofterity, at the distance of four hundred years. To mortal man, whofe longest span of existence is diminifhed to much. under a century, four hundred years have fomething like the appearance of an eternity; but before God, time
*Ifa. xlvi. 10.
time and space are contracted to a point, to a moment. With him, that which is to be done is already done. Men fhape events according to their fancy, their fears, their wishes or their hopes. But the counfel of the Lord it shall stand, and he fulfilleth all his pleafure."
What was the word of the Lord to Abraham? "And he faid unto Abram, Know of a furety, that thy feed fhall be a ftranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they fhall afflict them four hundred years. And alfo that nation whom they fhall ferve will I judge: and afterward fhall they come out with great fubftance."* What was the doing of the Lord in conformity to that word? And it came to país, that at midnight the Lord fmote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the firft-born of Pharaoh that fat on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle." "And the children of Ifrael did according to the word of Mofes and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of filver and jewels of gold, and raiment. And the Lord gave the people favour in the fight of the Egyptians, fo that they lent unto them fuch things as they required: and they spoiled the Egyptians.' Ifrael came into Egypt few in number, weak and indigent; but they go out from the land of their oppreffion greatly increased, mighty and formidable; laden with the spoils of their cruel oppreffors, the well-earned reward of the labours of many years, and of much forrow.
It is repeatedly remarked, that the prediction relating to the deliverance of God's people was fulfilled to a fingle day. Of this we have a confirmation in the preceding chapter, and the 41ft verfe; "And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the felf-fame day, it come to país, that all the hofts of the LORD went out of the land of
Egypt." Again, at the 51ft verfe; "And it came to
*Gen, xv. 13, 14.
pafs, the felf-fame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Ifrael out of the land of Egypt by their armies." And yet on comparing numbers in the prediction and the hiftory of its accomplishment, we find a difference of thirty years. The feventy interpreters were aware of this difficulty, and have obviated it by thus paraphrafing the paffage in Exodus, "The fojourning of the children of Ifrael in the land of Canaan, and in the land of Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years." To justify which computation we need but to observe, that Moses in the four hundred and thirty years, includes all the time that Abraham had paffed in Canaan, previous to the birth of Ifaac. And a learned prelate of our own country, archbishop Ufher, in his valuable chronology, has proved this calculation to be juft. For Abraham was exactly twenty-five years in Canaan before Ifaac was born.* From the birth of Ifaac to the exodus from Egypt was four hundred and five, which completes the four hundred and thirtieth year mentioned in this paffage, and by Paul in the third of the Galatians, 17th verse. Thus perfect are all the ways and works of God; thus abfolute his power over all perfons and all events! No skill, no ardour, no violent efforts on the part of Ifrael, could accelerate their enlargement. Nor could the combined ftrength of Egypt, of mankind, of created nature, retard it one fingle hour!
In order to preferve to all generations the memory of a period fo fingular and fo important in their hifto
* Jacob was born to Ifaac when he was fixty years old; and at the time he went down to Egypt, according to his own declaration to Pharaoh, he was one hundred and thirty; which, added to the twenty-five years of Abraham's pilgrimage, from his leaving Ur of the Chaldees to the birth of Ifaac, make two hundred and fifteen. He and his pofterity continued in Egypt a like period of two hundred and fifteen years. So that it is plain Mofes reckoned in the whole fam of four hundred and thirty years, all the pilgrimages of Abraham and his pofterity, from his firft leaving his kindred and father's house in Mefopotamia down to their triumphant exit from Egypt, and their fetting out on the conqueft of Canaan, whofe iniquity though not before, was now full.