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ry, the ordinance of the paffover was to be honoured with an annual celebration; and, as pofitive and arbitrary institutions derive all their value and ufe from a right understanding of their meaning, and the defign of their author, exprefs words are put into the mouths of parents and heads of families for the inftruction of generations to come, in the nature and reafon of this folemn fervice. "And thou shalt fhew thy fon in that day, faying, This is done, because of that which the LORD did unto me, when I came forth out of Egypt. And it fhall be for a fign unto thee, upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord's law may be in thy mouth : for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. And it shall be when thy fon afketh thee, in time to come, faying, What is this? that thou fhalt fay unto him, By ftrength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage. And it came to pafs, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord flew all the firft-born in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man, and the first-born of beasts: therefore I facrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the first-born of my children I redeem." Hence it appears that, befides this great annual facrifice, a law was enacted at this time, though it was not to be enforced until they should be put in poffeffion of the promised land, that in grateful remembrance of God's paffing over their first-born when he destroyed thofe of Egypt, the first-born of the human species, and also of the brute creation, through every age, fhould be dedicated and fet apart as a facred property. The great Legiflator was pleased afterwards, by a particular injunction, to appropriate to himself one whole tribe out of the twelve, in room of the first-born out of every tribe, to minister unto him in holy things; and in this ordinance the church of GoD, at that early period, both exhibited and enjoyed an emblematical reprefentation of the evangelical priefthood; not vested in and exclu


fively belonging to a particular defcription of men, but the common character and dignity of all chriftians; a generation chofen of GOD, in Christ, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people-that they fhould fhew forth the praifes of Him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light." And they are introduced before the throne, with this fong of praife in their mouths, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our fins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and pricfts unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and Amen."*


Is it not worth while to compare, fecing the Spirit of God has thought it meet to tranfmit to us the very numbers, the entire state of Ifrael, as it were, at the time of its defcent into Egypt, and at its departure thence? The whole number which accompanied Jacob from Canaan, when driven thence by the famine, himfelf included, was fixty-fix; which, added to the family of Jofeph already in Egypt, confifting of himself, Afenath the daughter of the priest of On, adopted by marriage into the family of Abraham, and their two fons, the amount is feventy, when they left that country. In a period of little more than two hundred years, they are increased to the amazing fum of fix hundred thoufand men of military age, without reckoning females, children of both fexes under twenty, and old men of fixty and upward for that was the age of fuperannuation among this people. Taking therefore the calculation fo low as four of all the other defcriptions for one of the military age, that is, males from twenty to fixty, the whole number of the defcendants of Abraham that left Egypt muft have been at leaft three millions. So that, dividing the whole time of their fojourning there into periods of twenty years, it appears that their number was multiplied nearly three times every twenty years. Now, if we confider, that the most rapid ftate of population in the ordinary courie

* Ret. i. 5, 6.

courfe of nature, and in circumstances the most favourable to it, is a doubling the number of inhabitants every twenty years; and that only in the earlier ages of a people or colony; what muft we think of this amazing increase in circumftances the most unfavour able in a people cooped up in a narrow district, and that district not their own, but the property of a nation much more powerful than themselves; a people among whom marriage was grievously discouraged by the want of liberty, by hard and oppreffive labour, by fubjection to the defpotifm of a foreign prince, by penal edicts which doomed all their male children to death, and by which, doubtless, multitudes perished, together with their natural increafe? The multiplication of Ifrael in a proportion fo great, in a progress so rapid, in a situation fo unfriendly, will be in reality found a miracle, though less striking to a fuperficial obfervation, being gradually and imperceptibly performed, upon clofer attention, a prodigy equal or fuperior to any that were wrought in immediately effecting their enfranchisement. And this leads us to the grateful acknowledgment of God's wife and gracious providence, in its ordinary operations and effects. What is daily prefervation but creation-one omnific "LET THERE BE," daily, every instant repeated? What is the progrefs of vegetation, of life and reafon, but the continual interpofition of the great Source of all being, life and intelligence? What is diffolution and death, but the fupporting, vivifying power of God withdrawn from the body which is just now inhabited?

This vaft hoft was accompanied with what Mofes calls a mixed multitude. This is fuppofed to have been made up of the produc of marriages between Ifraelites and Egyptians; of Egyptians, who, from the miracles which they had feen wrought in favour of Ifrael, had been determined to follow the fortunes of that people; and of neighbours who, in the ordinary intercourfe of mankind, might be brought into con


tact with them, and who through fear, interest or curiofity, might be induced to follow their camp.

Man, with his ufual ignorance and hafte, would have been for conducting this mighty army directly to Canaan. And no doubt the fame almighty arm which had thus afferted them into liberty, could have led them straight forward to conqueft. But, in ftudying the history of the divine conduct as ordering and governing the affairs of men, we find it is compofed partly of the interpofitions of Heaven, and partly of the exertions of men. It is not all miracle; that were to encourage eternal indolence and ftupidity in rational beings, formed after the image of God, and to reduce men to mere paflive clods of earth; nor is it all, on the other hand, the effect of human skill, industry and diligence; for that were to refign the government of the world to the frail and the foolish; that were to weaken the power of religion, which is the life, the joy, the guide, the fupport of the universe. But we discover divine interpofition, to a certain degree, fo as to infpire a reasonable confidence in and dependence upon God; and we difcern the exertions of men crowned with fuccefs through the bleffing of Heaven upon them, and this enforcing the neceffity of bringing out and exercifing the powers and faculties of our intellectual nature. Ifrael is delivered from Egypt at once; but is introduced into Canaan by degrees. The former an act of fovereign power, unmixed with, independent upon human efforts; the latter, the lefs perceptible operation of Omnipotence, blending itself with, fubduing, directing and promoting the defigns and endeavours of reasonable beings, who had a great object in view, and a clear rule to walk by. Thus, in a cafe of univerfal importance, the juftification and adoption of the finner, are acts of free, fovereign grace, whereby fin is forgiven, and the right and privileges of fons conferred; whereas fanctification is the gradual work of the Spirit, fupporting us by the way, overcoming


our enemies by little and little, and making us "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the faints in light."

A great multitude of people is always an object of ferious attention, and of deep anxiety. Many mouths were to be fed, many humours to be ftudied, many talents to be employed. Some were to be gained by love, others to be governed by fear; the impetuofity of one was to be repreffed, the timidity and diffidence of another to be countenanced and encouraged; care was to be exercised about thofe who were either unable or unwilling to exercise any about themselves. What a charge then was that of Mofes and Aaron! bearing on their fhoulders the burden of fuch an af fembly; a vast multitude agitated with the ordinary paffions of human nature; unarmed, unaccustomed to difcipline, untractable; one moment elated with extravagant hopes, the next depreffed with unreafonable fears. The wisdom of a Mofes had been unequal to the task, unfupported by the Wisdom which fees all things at one view, and the Power which worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."

There is a happy disposition in all the evils to which our nature and condition are fubject, to find out and to apply their own remedy. Neceffity always fets invention to work. Invention puts the machine in motion; and once in motion, every wheel keeps its place, exerts its power, performs its office. But here the mighty machine, prepared in all its parts according to the plan of infinite wisdom, put together and regulated by the hand of almighty power, and conducted by unchangeable truth and faithfulness, could not vary its motion, could not deviate from its defign and the paffage of perhaps four millions of people, with their immenfe poffeffions of flocks and herds, and other property, from Egypt to Canaan, will appear one of thofe fingular phenomena in history, which no principles of human conduct, no natural and ordinary 'concurrence of events, are able to explain;

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