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celebration; and, as positive and arbitrary thence? The whole number which accom institutions derive all their value and use panied Jacob from Canaan, when driven from a right understanding of their meaning, thence by the famine, himself included, was and the design of their author, express words sixty-six; which added to the family of Joseph are put into the mouths of parents and heads already in Egypt, consisting of himself, of families for the instruction of generations Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On, to come, in the nature and reason of this adopted by marriage into the family of Abrasolemn service. “And thou shalt show thy ham, and their two sons, the amount is son in that day, saying, This is done, because seventy, when they left that country. In a of that which the Lord did unto me, when period of little more than two hundred years, I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be they are increased to the amazing sum of for a sign unto thee, upon thine hand, and six hundred thousand men of military age, for a memorial between thine eyes, that the without reckoning females, children of both Lord's law may be in thy mouth: for with a sexes under twenty, and old men of sixty strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out and upward : for that was the age of superof Egypt. And it shall be when thy son annuation among this people. Taking thereasketh thee, in time to come, saying, What fore the calculation so low as four of all the is this ? that thou shalt say unto him, By other descriptions for one of the military age, strength of hand the Lord brought us out that is, males from twenty to sixty, the whole from Egypt, from the house of bondage. And number of the descendants of Abraham that it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly left Egypt, must have been at least three ' let us go, that the Lord slew all the first-born millions. So that, dividing the whole time in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of of their sojourning there into periods of twenman, and the first-born of beasts: therefore ty years, it appears that their number was I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the multiplied nearly three times every twenty matrix, being males; but all the first-born of years. Now, if we consider, that the most my children I redeem.” Hence it appears rapid state of population in the ordinary that, besides this great annual sacrifice, a course of nature, and in circumstances the law was enacted at this time, though it was most favourable to it, is a doubling the numnot to be enforced until they should be put ber of inhabitants every twenty years; and in possession of the promised land, that in that only in the earlier ages of a people or grateful remembrance of God's passing over colony; what must we think of this amazing their first-born when he destroyed those of increase in circumstances the most unfavourEgypt, the first-born of the human species, able: in a people cooped up in a narrow disand also of the brute creation, through every trict, and that district not their own, but the age, should be dedicated and set apart as a property of a nation much more powerful sacred property. The great Legislator was than themselves; a people among whom pleased afterwards, by a particular injunc- marriage was grievously discouraged by the tion, to appropriate to himself one whole tribe want of liberty, by hard and oppressive laout of the twelve, in room of the first-born bour, by subjection to the despotism of a out of every tribe, to minister unto him in foreign prince, by penal edicts which doomed holy things; and in this ordinance the church all their male children to death, and by which of God, at that early period, both exhibited doubtless, multitudes perished, together with and enjoyed an emblematical representation their natural increase? The multiplication of the evangelical priesthood ; not vested in of Israel in a proportion so great, in a proand exclusively belonging to a particular gress so rapid, in a situation so unfriendly description of men, but the common charac- will be in reality found a miracle, though ter and dignity of all christians; a genera- less striking to a superficial observation, betion chosen of God, in Christ, a royal priest- ing gradually and imperceptibly performed, hood, an holy nation, a peculiar people—that upon closer attention, a prodigy equal or they should show forth the praises of Him, superior to any that were wrought in imwho hath called them out of darkness into mediately effecting their enfranchisement. his marvellous light.” And they are intro- And this leads us to the grateful acknowduced before the throne, with this song of ledgment of God's wise and gracious provi. praise in their mouths, “ Unto Him that loved i dence, in its ordinary operations and effects. us, and washed us from our sins in his own What is daily preservation butcreation-one blood, and hath made us kings and priests omnific "LET THERE BE,” daily, every instant unto God and his father ; to Him be glory repeated? What is the progress of vegetaand dominion forever and ever.
tion, of life and reason, but the continual Is it not worth while to compare, seeing interposition of the great Source of all being, the Spirit of God has thought it meet to life and intelligence? What is dissolution transmit to us the very numbers, the entire and death, but the supporting, vivifying powstate of Israel, as it were, at the time of its er of God withdrawn from the body which is descent into Egypt, and at its departure just now inhabited ? * Rev. i. 5, 6.
This vast host was accompanicd with what
Moses calls a mixed multitude. This is sup diffidence of another to be countenanced and posed to bave been made up of the produce encouraged; care was to be exercised about of marriages between Israelites and Egyp- those who were either unable or unwilling tians; of Egyptians, who, from the miracles to exercise any about themselves. What a which they had seen wrought in favour of charge then was that of Moses and Aaron! Israel, had been determined to follow the bearing on their shoulders the burden of such fortunes of that people; and of neighbours an assembly; a vast multitude agitated with who, in the ordinary intercourse of mankind, the ordinary passions of human nature; unmight be brought into contact with them, and armed, unaccustomed to discipline, untractwho, through fear, interest, or curiosity, might able; one moment elated with extravagant be induced to follow their camp.
hopes, the next depressed with unreasonable Man, with his usual ignorance and haste, fears. The wisdom of a Moses had been unwould have been for conducting this mighty equal to the task, unsupported by the Wisdom army directly to Canaan. And no doubt the which sees all things at one view, and the same Almighty arm which had thus asserted Power which “worketh all things after the them into liberty, could have led them straight counsel of his own will." forward to conquest. But, in studying the There is a happy disposition in all the evils history of the divine conduct as ordering and to which our nature and condition are subgoverning the affairs of men, we find it is ject, to find out and to apply their own remecomposed partly of the interpositions of Hea- dy. Necessity always sets invention to ven, and partly of the exertions of men. It work. Invention puts the machine in v is not all miracle; that were to encourage tion; and once in motion, every wheel keeps eternal indolence and stupidity in rational its place, exerts its power, performs its office. beings, formed after the image of God, and But here the mighty machine, prepared in to reduce men to mere passive clods of earth; all its parts according to the plan of infinite nor is it all, on the other hand, the effect of wisdom, put together and regulated by the human skill, industry, and diligence; for that hand of almighty power, and conducted by were to resign the government of the world unchangeable truth and faithfulness, could to the frail and the foolish; that were to not vary its motion, could not deviate from weaken the power of religion, which is the its design: and the passa ge of perhaps four life, the joy, the guide, the support of the millions of people, with their immense posuniverse. But we discover divine interpo- sessions of flocks and herds, and other prosition, to a certain degree, so as to inspire a perty, from Egypt to Canaan, will appear one reasonable confidence in and dependence of those singular phenomena in history, which upon God; and we discern the exertions of no principles of human conduct, no natural men crowned with success through the bless- and ordinary concurrence of events, are able ing of Heaven upon them, and this enforcing to explain: and which must finally be. rethe necessity of bringing out and exercising solved into a wisdom and power preternatuthe powers and faculties of our intellectual ral and divine. Accordingly, we find Pronature. Israel is delivered from Egypt at vidence taking immediately the charge of once; but is introduced into Canaan by de-them; but not in the usual way, not by form. grees. The former, an act of sovereign ing a regular discipline, and raising up compower, unmixed with, independent upon hu- manders and magistrates of unusual address man efforts; the latter, the less perceptible and ability, but declaring by sensible tokens, operation of Omnipotence, blending itself which were seen, read, and understood of all with, subduing, directing, and promoting the “ I am the Leader and Commander of my designs and endeavours of reasonable beings, people.” who had a great object in view, and a clear But before we proceed to the consideration rule to walk by. Thus, in a case of universal of this wonderful symbol of the divine preimportance, the justification and adoption of sence, we must attend our author, and take the sinner, are acts of free, sovereign grace, notice of a tender and touching circumstance whereby sin is forgiven, and the right and in the departure from Egypt, namely, the reprivileges of sons conferred; whereas, sanc- moving of the bones of Joseph. That truly tification is the gradual work of the Spirit, great man had been the saviour of his father's supporting us by the way, overcoming our house when he was alive, and was now the enemies by little and little, and making us hope of Israel after he was dead. In all “ meet to be partakers of the inheritance of their amictions, his precious dust had been to the saints in light.”
them the pledge of deliverance; and now, A great multitude of people is always an when that deliverance is come, they bear it object of serious attention, and of deep anx- with them to the land promised to their foreiety. Many mouths were to be fed, many fathers, for burial. Thus respectable and humours to be studied, many talents to be useful, in life and in death, are the wise and einp!cyed. Some were to be gained by love, the good ; thus anxious ought we to be to others to be governed by fear; the impetuosity promote the best interests of mankind, not of one was to be repressed, the timidity and only while we are yet with them; but to
leave something behind us that may benefitters, indeed, render the word harnessed, in and instruct after we are seen and heard no the eighteenth verse of the thirtieth chapter, more. Christians, we carry with us, as our armed. But the term ir: the original is so hope in this wilderness, not the bones of a equivocal, and the learned attempts to deterdeparted deliverer, but the memory of a risen mine its meaning are so unsuccessful, that Saviour. The sacred pledge of our final re- we remain still in the dark about its true demption is deposited, not in the coffin, but meaning. The presumption certainly is, in this precious record—but in the history of that the Israelites were not armed. What facts well known and firmly believed by you-had a nation of shepherds, living by sufferbut in many great and precious promises ance in a foreign land, to do with arms? given unto you. " For if we believe that Would the policy of Egypt have permitted Jesus died and rose again ; even so them it? But Moses, the most accurate of histoalso which sleep in Jesus will God bring with rians, takes care to point out a circumstance him." The ashes of the patriarch Joseph which furnishes the first idea of putting arms could not rest in the tomb till Israel came to into the hands of Israel. After the waves of the possession of their pronised inheritance; the Red Sea had swallowed up the Egyptian 80 the Spirit and providence of the great Re- army, their dead bodies with their arms were deemer are in perpetual motion and exercise, miraculously cast on shore, and provided Istill he shall have gathered into one all his rael with armour from their spoils. redeemed unto himself; till the youngest of It is evident that God intended to form the his sons, the meanest of his daughters, being courage and discipline of his people in the glorified, shall take possession of their pur- wilderness; before he tried these upon the chased inheritance, the kingdom prepared nations whom they were destined to subdue. for them from the foundation of the world.” Nay, further, it was evidently his design to
Thus then Israel takes his departure; thus settle their whole civil and religious polity, joyfully, thus triumphantly, thus increased; while they were yet in an erratic state, that and “not one sickly or feeble among them;" when they came to Canaan there might be a wonder not inferior to any of the rest. But nothing to do but to take possession, and to all " is of the Lord of Hosts, who is wonder- execute the laws which they had already reful in counsel, and excellent in working.” ceived. And alas, what shall we say? This
The plain of Rameses was the first great swarm of people, numerous as the sand upon | rendezvous of the Lord's host. They had the sea-shore, with the exception of one or
built, as part their task work, a city of that two, and Moses their leader among the rest, name, at the command of Pharaoh. But it thus pompously and powerfully saved, were was also the name of a region of Egypt else- saved from Egypt, but to die in the wilderwhere called Goshen; the same which Jo-ness. Men die, but the church lives; and seph chose for the reception of his aged pa- the church is the care of God. “Thy way rent; because being situated nearest to O God, is in the sea, and thy path in the Canaan, it diminished the length and fatigue great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. of his journey, and being a grassy country, Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the suited his family's employment, that of shep- hand of Moses and Aaron.' herds. The nearness to Canaan might ac Instead then of marching straight northcordingly be now again considered as a ward, in the direction of Canaan, their course is favourable circumstance to the return of Is- bent eastward, to the great wilderness which rael thitherward. If we may credit Philo, bounds Egypt and Arabia Petræa : God himthe two countries were not above three days' self leading the way, in a most wonderful disjourney distant the one from the other. And play of his glorious presence
and certain it is that the patriarchs, encumbered scribed in the words which I read at the with a convoy laden with corn, easily per- opening of the Lecture. “ And they took formed a journey to a more distant part of their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Egypt, and back again, in the course of not Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And many weeks at most. Moses might there the Lord went before them, by day in a pillar fore have, without much difficulty, conducted of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by the people of his charge to the place of their night in a pillar of fire, to give them light'; destination in a very small space of time. to go by day and night. He took not away But was the distance of place the only diffi- the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar culty which they had to encounter? How of fire by night, from before the people."; could men inured to slavery, men just es- In this, God spake at once to the understandcaped from the rod of a tyrannical oppressor, ing and to the senses. Could any Israelite have the courage to meet the prowess and doubt that the Lord was there? He had but discipline of the warlike nations of Canaan; to open his eyes, whether it were by day or unprovided with arins for the field, and with by night, and lo, a thick cloud obscuring the military engines for the attack of fortified brightness of the one, or a flaming fire distowns, had they been bold enough to attempt pelling the shades of the other, proclaimed to take possession by force. Some interpre
| Exod. xiii. 20-22
* Psalm lxxvii. 19.
the dread presence of JEHOVAH. Could any, he sensible of our own darkness is to be par. one call in question his kindness, when he takers of his marvellous light. All that the saw darkness become a guide, and fire a brightest noon of human reason can discover protector? Durst any one presume to ap- is, that it is ignorance and folly, when placed proach too nigh, when dimness impenetrable, in comparison with the wisdom of God. and light inaccessible, alternately guarded Might not this wonderful pillar prefigure his pavilion? Was it possible for any heart to the ancient church the person and office to fear, when the Most Mighty thus declared, of the Redeemer of the world? Behold the in language more emphatical than can be divine essence wrapped up in, and closely conveyed by words—“ Lo, I am for you! united to a veil of flesh and blood. Behold Who is he that can, that dare to be against Deity raising our nature to incorruptibility
and glory“ in Christ, the first-fruits; and The appearances of God are suited to the afterwards in all that are Christ's at his circumstances of his people. Cloud by night coming." Do we not perceive in it, humanwould have been to increase the horror, and ity bringing down the divine nature to our to multiply the unwholesome damps of that bearing and perception : "the only begotten season. Fire by day would have been adding Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, defuel to a flame, already intensely hot, in a claring him to us.” “ The word made flesh" burning climate and parched soil." But tem- instructing the ignorant, cheering the dispered, adapted, distributed, according to consolate, directing the wanderer, refreshing wisdom not capable of error, the peculiar in the weary; guiding our waking, guarding convenience of each season is relieved ; and our sleeping moments; "a partaker of our the ills of nature are remedied by the dispen- flesh and blood, that he may be a merciful sations of grace. The cloudy fiery pillar is a High-Priest :" declared the Son of God with manifestation of Deity, suited to a wilderness power; men adoring and submitting; the state. In heaven, a God of love is light, powers of hell broken and discomfited: the without “any darkness at all.” In hell a triumph of heaven complete. “The Lord God of implacable wrath is perpetual dark- our God is a sun and shield: the Lord will ness, without one ray of light. On earth, a give grace and glory: no good thing will he God of justice and mercy is darkness and withhold from them that walk uprightly." light, in successive order and perfect harmo- “ Fear not, O Israel, the Lord is thy keeper: ny. In heaven, he is a flame that irradiates, the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. cheers, and quickens; in hell, a fire still con- The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the suming, never to be extinguished; on earth, moon by night. The Lord shall preserve fire in a cloud, mercy flowing in a spacious thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. channel, judgment restrained. Men can The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and only discover that of God which he is pleased thy coming.in, from this time forth, and even to reveal to them. Whether he is pleased for evermore.”+ to turn his dark or bright side to us, we are stationed equally at a distance from him. To
| Psalm cxxi. 5-8
* Psalm lxxxiv. 11.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
"And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east
wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground : and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.-Exodus xiv. 21, 22.
In the little benefits which men confer the matter of that kindness shown me, and upon each other, it generally happens that the affectionate disposition which prompted some untoward circumstance insinuates it- it; but alas, it arrived an hour too late! self, and occasions, to one of the parties at Another prevented my wishes; and I prized least, mortification, disappointment, or dis not the blessing, because I was not instructgust; for nothing human is perfect. A ed in its value by feeling the want of it. gracious action is frequently resented as an This favour done me is very great; but it is injury, from the ungracious manner in which not precisely the thing I looked for; or, it is it is performed. I am charmed with both | so clogged with some unpleasant condition,
that I would rather be without it: it affords at first, continued to protect and support me present relief, but will it not involve me them. The strength of Egypt, broken as it in greater difficulties hereafter? Had I fail- was, had been sufficient to force them back. ed in my expectations from this quarter, The wilderness itself had been fatal to them, I should easily have gained my end by ap- without a foe. How easily are the greatest plying to another friend. In a word, there deliverances forgotten; how soon are the is a perpetual something, in the friendly most awful appearances familiarized to the communications of men, which continually mind! The very first threatening of danger mars the worth of what is given and received. effaces from the memory of these Israelites, And no wonder, if we consider that favours all impression of the powerful wonders which are not always granted from affection, nor had just passed before them, and eclipses the accepted with gratitude. But the bounties glory of that cloud which, at that very instant, of Heaven possess every quality that can en- presented itself to their eyes, and overshahance their value, and endear their Author dowed their heads. But, let not self-flattery to a sensible heart. Infinitely valuable in impose upon us, as if we were more faithful themselves, they flow from love. The “good and obedient than they were. It is the mere and perfect gifts, which come down from the deception of vanity and self-love to suppose, Father of lights,” are given “ liberally, and that “ if one were to arise from the dead, we without upbraiding." Exactly what we need, would be persuaded;" that, if we saw a mirathey come precisely at the moment when we cle wrought, we would believe; that, if we want them most, or when they are most bene- heard Christ teach in our streets, we would ficial to us. Worthy of God to bestow, they forsake all and follow him.” The man cannot be unworthy of us to receive. Were he whom the usual appearances of nature do to withhold his gracious aid, in vain should we not move, would soon become insensible to look for relief from any other quarter. Pro- more uncommon phenoniena. For, extraorductive of present satisfaction and joy, his dinary things frequently repeated, are extrabenefits involve us in no future distress, ordinary no longer, and consequently soon shame, or remorse. Serviceable to the body, lose their force. If the daily miracles of they are at the same time improving to the God's mercy and loving-kindness fail to conmind. Important and interesting for time, vince men, what reason is there to hope, they have an influence upon eternity. that mere exertions of power would produce
The gracious interpositions of Jehovah, in a happier effect? If Christ, speaking by his behalf of his chosen people, have this pecu- word and ministering servants, be treated liar recommendation to our attention, as to with neglect, is it likely that his person that people's grateful observation and ac- would be held in veneration? If men“ hear knowledgment—that they were not in the not Moses and the prophets, neither will they usual course of things ; they were the fruits be persuaded though one rose from the dead"* of the constant and unremitting care of a Is it not notorious, that Christ's personal special providence; they were the suspension ministrations were slighted, his miracles vilior alteration of the established laws of nature: fied, his character traduced ? they were the operation of a mighty hand Whose.conduct is the more absurd and and an outstretched arm, sensibly controlling criminal
, that of Pharaoh, in pursuing after the winds, the waves, and the clouds; and and attempting to bring back a people who subduing the most ungovernable elements to had been a snare and a curse to himself and its purpose. Other parents are endued with his kingdom; or that of Israel, in trembling transitory affections and attachments, suited at the approach of an enemy whom God had to the transitory nature of the trust commit- so often subdued under them? Frail nature ted to them. The hen tends her unfledged looks only to the creature; to surrounding brood with the vigilance of a dragon and the mountains, opposing floods, persecuting foes: boldness of a lion. But maternal tenderness hence terror, confusion, and astonishment. and anxiety diminish and expire with the oc- But faith eyes the pillar, the residence of casion of them, namely, the weakness and in-divine majesty, and then mountains sink, experience of her young ones. When the son seas divide, the chariot and horsemen are is become a man, paternal care relaxes, and overthrown. Every passion, when it becomes parental authority is at an end. But as the predominant, renders us silly and unreasonauthority of our heavenly Father never able; and none more so than fear. In danger ceases, so his bowels of compassion are never and distress it is natural, but it is foolish, to restrained ; his vigilance is never lullcd to impute to another the evils which we fear or rest, his care never suspended; because his feel. It seems to be an alleviation of our offspring is, to the last, impotent, improvident, own misery, if we can contrive to shift the imperfect.
blame of it upon the shoulders of our neighIn vain had Israel, by a series of miracles bour. Hence Moses is loaded with the imanparalleled in the annals of mankind, been putation of a deliberate design of involving rescued from Egyptian oppression, had not his nation in this dire dilemma, between the same almighty arm which delivered them
* Luke xvi. 31