« PreviousContinue »
from us. He that fitteth in the heavens fhall laugh: the Lord fhall have them in derifion."*
Others literally tranflate the words thus, "With the hand upon the throne of the Lord, he hath fworn that he will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." He, that is, Mofes, hath fworn, with the most awful folemnities, and recorded the oath in a book for perpetual prefervation, that there fhall be no peace between Ifrael and Amalek till he be utterly deftroyed. The hand which was extended towards heaven, the throne of the great and terrible God, with the rod in it; the inftrument of a victory which was interrupted by the going down of the fun, has been lifted up, to" fwear by Him that liveth forever," that the triumph of that day fhall be followed up, till the hated name of Amalek be extinguifhed from under heaven.
Some make Jehovah himself to be the perfon who binds himself by this folemn oath. "The hand," that is, Jehovah's own hand, upon the throne of the Lord. "Because he could fwear by no greater, he hath fworn by himself, that He will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." We have a prophecy in the mouth of Balaam to the fame effect; "And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and faid, Amalek was the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be that he perish forever."†
The execution of this dreadful fentence was referved to the days of Samuel, four hundred and twelve years after; and was committed to Saul, who, through an impolitic and finful lenity, failed to fulfil the design of Providence, and thereby incurred the displeasure of Heaven, and forfeited his life and crown by his difobedience. I tranfcribe the paffage.
"Samuel alfo faid unto Saul, The Lord fent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Ifrael; now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus faith the Lord of hofts, I VOL. III. remember
*Pfal. ii. 2, 3, 4.
† Numb. xxiv. 20.
remember that which Amalek did to Ifrael; how he laid wait for him in the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go, and fmite Amalek, and utterly deftroy all that they have, and spare them not; but flay both man and woman, infant and fuckling, ox and fheep, camel and afs."* This order Saul obeyed but in part. He affumed and exercised a difpenfing power, and it became a fnare to him. He took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive; and referved the best of the spoil. The prophet is fent of God to reprove his difobedience; which Saul attempting to palliate, brings down this cenfure upon his head. "When thou waft little in thine own fight, waft thou not made the head of the tribes of Ifrael, and the Lord anointed thee king over Ifrael? And the Lord fent thee on a journey, and faid, Go, and utterly destroy the finners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be confumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didft fly upon the fpoil, and didft evil in the fight of the Lord. And Samuel faid, Hath the Lord as great delight in burntofferings and facrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than facrifice; and to hearken, than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the fin of witchcraft, and ftubbornnefs is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou haft rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king."† Has God commanded to destroy? Who fhall prefume to fave? Has he commanded to fpare? Who dares deftroy? "I say unto you, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you fhall fear: fear him, which, after he hath killed, hath power to caft into hell yea, I fay unto you, fear him."‡
I Sam. xv. 1, 2, 3.
† 1 Sam. xv. 17, &c. Luke xii. 4, 5.
And Mofes went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeifance, and kiffed him: and they afked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. And Mofes told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh, and to the Egyptians for Ifrael's fake, and all the travel that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Ifrael: whom be bad delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro faid, Bleffed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly, he was above them. And Jethro, Mofes's father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and facrifices for God and Aaron came, and all the elders of Ifrael to eat bread with Mofes's father-in-law before God.
THE great Author and Ruler of the world has evidently in view the pleasure and happinefs, as well as the wifdom and virtue of his rational creatures. find, through the widely expanded frame of nature, and the extenfive plan of Providence, as many fources of joy as there are means of improvement. What an
infinite, beautiful and pleafing variety in the works and in the ways of God! all miniftering to human comfort, all aiming at making men good. The mind of man is formed to defire and to relish variety. The objects with which he is converfant are therefore varied without end, to gratify that defire, and to correfpond with that relifh. The glare of perpetual funfhine and the fervid heat of an eternal fummer, would speedily oppress and destroy mankind : but, relieved by the tranquillity of darkness, the freshnefs of fpring, the fedatenefs of autumn, and even the gloom of winter, they become no lefs grateful than they are beneficial. In furveying the globe, the eye is not permitted to tire by having to crawl along a boundless plain; but sparkles with delight as it fprings from valley to valley, and from hill to hill. And even the glories of the ftarry heavens are rendered' ftill more glorious by being kept in continual motion; and thereby are made continually to exhibit a different appearance.
The events of human life, for the fame reason, are endlessly variegated like the objects of fenfe. Wretched were the dull ftagnation of conftant profperity, fuccefs and eafe. Intolerable would be the agitation and diftrefs of unceafing, unabating, unrelenting toil, pain, disappointment and vexation of spirit. But, one thing being fet over against another, the great, the profperous and the happy are forever admonished, reproved and brought low; the poor, the despised and the miserable are cheered, fupported and exalted.
The word of God exhibits a refemblance to the fyftem of nature, and to the conduct of Providence. In it we have the fame pleafing, engaging variety; the fame happy accommodation to the taftes, occafions and neceflities of mankind. The antiquarian and the naturalift, the politician and the legiflator, the poet and the philofopher, the moralift and the divine, the man of retirement and the man of the world, the man of reafon and the man of fancy, all find in fcrip
ture an helper toward the discovery of truth, and the attainment of happiness; a guide to the understanding, a corrector and fupporter of the imagination, a comforter of the heart, a teacher of wisdom, a rule of faith, a fource of joy.
The very structure of the facred compofitions is inimitably calculated, by a beautiful and easy tranfition from fubject to fubject, and from scene to scene, to relieve and yet to preferve the attention; prefenting always a new and interefting object, or the fame object placed in a new and interefting light. Thus the tumultuous, noify and bloody scenes of Horeb and Rephidim-fcenes of murmuring, rebellion and war, are happily relieved by fcenes of domeftic tranquillity, love and joy; and we are prepared to attend Mofes, to meet God in the mount, by mixing in the virtuous, cheerful and affectionate intercourse of his private family.
Let us then thankfully take the relief which a gracious God has in his word provided for us; and contemplate one of thofe calm, but neither uninterefting nor uninstructive representations of human life, which come home to the bofom and the fire-fide of every man who has a heart, who has a relation, who has a friend.
The hiftory of Mofes now looks back, and reminds us of his being "a ftranger in a strange land," name ly, of his fleeing from Egypt into Midian, of his arriving there, conducted of Providence, juft at the moment to render a seasonable fervice to the daughters of Raguel, or Jethro, the priest of Midian; of the hofpitable reception afforded him by that worthy man, and of the alliance which he formed with him, by marrying his daughter Zipporah. Upon his being called back to Egypt to undertake the weighty charge which God had affigned him, he had intended and attempted to carry his wife and children along with him. But being reproved of God by the way for neglecting in his own family the rite of circumcifion, the feal of God's covenant, and, either special