Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

frighteous vengeance on his foes, his self-moving goodness and sovereign grace to the Israelites, torn away from their idols, and delivered out of the house of bondage, all fill his astonished soul; and the powerful impressions penetrate the centre of his heart. He looks forward, too, to the promised Canaan, to which the Almighty bad now undertaken to lead them, and imagines what terror the news of all these things would spread through all the land. Inspired with these views; ravished with the glory of the God of Israel; charmed with the majesty and beauty of the divine conduct, he spake, saying:

"I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously ; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation. He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. 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 iby wraih, which consumed them as stubble. Who is like unto thee, O LORD, amongst the gods Who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fear

: ful in praises, doing wonders? Thou, in thy mercy, hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemned. The people shall hear and be afraid. Sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine. All the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them. By the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone ; till thy

; people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over which thou hast purchased. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever*.”

And while Moses thus sang the praises of God, the supreme Monarch of the universe, and celebrated his glorious triumph over Pharaoh and all his idol-gods; so ravished with the wisdom, glory, and beauty of the divine conduct, as to be even more attached to his honour and interest than

ever, and even the better prepared to conduct with that steady fidelity through all the future trials of his life, always true to God, and heartily concerned to see the honour of his great name

Exodus xv.

[ocr errors]

secured; I say, while Moses was full of these divine views and tempers on this grand occasion, all Egypt were in profound darkness; and these dispensations, so bright and glorious in the view of Moses, to them appeared gloomy as death.

And if these dispensations of divine Providence, which to the Egyptians appeared so dark and gloomy, to Moses appeared so full of divine wisdom, beauty, and glory, how know we, but that God's whole plan of government, how dark soever it may now appear to a revolted world, under God's displeasure, may, to saints and angels, after the general judgment, appear perfect in wisdom, glory, and beauty, and be matter of their eternal delight and praise ? But to proceed,

4thly, To other instances of the wisdom of God in the permission of sin.

The Israelites, having thus escaped the hands of Pharaoh, and recovered their liberty, had it been left to them to direct their march, and point out their future fortunes, they might perhaps have thought it best, that, being led on directly to the land of Canaan, they should, by the mighty power of God, have been put into an immediate possession, to be followed with scenes of feasting, joy, and mirth, never to be interrupted.

But God, who knew their hearts; who knew how deeply tainted they were with the idolatries and manners of Egypt, and how high a relish they had for sensual pleasures, might easily foresee how all sense of the true God would soon be lost in the midst of such prosperity, and they become no beta ter than the ejected Canaanites. Besides, he saw that in almost every other respect, they were as yet unprepared to enter the promised land. And also he designed them for our


, ples, and his dispensations towards them for the instruction of mankind to the end of the world. Wherefore, let us attend to the divine conduct, and behold the manifold wisdom of God.

He had torn them away from their idols, their leeks, their onions, and their flesh-pots, to which they were stupidly attached. He had sent to them, by Moses, and commanded,“ that thes should cast away every man the abominations of his eyes, and not defile themselves with the idols of Egypt any more ;

for that he himself, was the LORD their Gon." But although the thunder of divine wrath so dreadfully roared thoughout all the land of Egypt among the Egyptians, and God was now, in a miraculous manner, working their deliverance ; yet, even now, they rebelled against the Lord, and would not hearken unto him. “ They did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt.” Wherefore God said, “ I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish mine anger upon them, in the midst of the land of Egypt*.” But then God considered what the Egyptians would say to such a dispensation of providence, and how it would be misinterpreted through all nations and

“ Wherefore, he wrought for his great name's sake that it might not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, and in whose sight God intended to make himself known to the Israelites by bringing them out of the land of Egyptt.” And therefore, instead of the destruction they deserved from his hands, for their stupid attachment to Egyptian abominations, God let loose Pharaoh to increase their burdens, to make their bondage absolutely intolerable, that he might force them from their idols, and drive them out of Egypt. And to bring them still more to their senses, God let Pharaoh loose to pursue them with chariots,


If when God met with such infinite provocations at the hands of the Hebrews, he could yet find in his heart to prosecute his design, and accomplish his promise to Abraham, that to his seed he would give the land of Canaan, we cannot have the least reason to doubt but that, notwithstanding all the present wickedness of his professing people in the world, whereby he is infinitely provoked to resign all Christendom to destruction, he will yet prosecute his designs, and accomplish all his promises,—“Give to his son the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession ; and bring every people, nation, language, and tongue, to serve him ; and satan shall be bound, and Christ shall reign on earth for a thousand years.”—No obstacles, no discouragements, no prvocations, no difficulties, of whatever kind, or however great, can hinder God from the accomplishment of the glorious designs of his grace. He redeemed Israel out of Egypt, although he saw what they were then and what they would be in all future times. Yea, he has given his Son, and that to the death of the cross, in order to carry on his designs, And what will not GOD ALMIGHTY then do? ALMIGHTINESS, SO INFI. NITELY engaged, cannot and will not be frustrated.

† Ezekiel xx. 5–9.


and horsemen, and a great army; and contrived that he sliould overtake them, shut in among the mountains, unable to inake their escape ; that he might have opportunity to let Israel see his mighty power, in dividing the sea, and make them feel their dependance upon and obligations to him; and that, having led them through the sea, he might bave them in a barren wilderness, where there was neither bread, nor flesh, nor water, as the fittest scene for those transactions, and grand events, belonging to the infinitely wise plan which God bad laid out.

Israel had been in Egypt 215 years* ; and the latter part of the time, for above an hundred years in a state of bondage and slavery. They had almost forgotten the true God, and the true religion ; were habituated to the idolatry and manners of Egypt; well pleased with the country; and, but for their oppressions, would never have entertained any thoughts of leaving it. Yea, notwithstanding their severe bondage, were hardly prevailed upon to hearken to Moses, to whom they said, “ Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians," as they afterwards upbraided him in their distress at the Red seat. And they were of so mean and dastardly a spirit, as to be unfit to march against their enemies. God, who knew their temper, judged that if he had led them from Egypt strait to Canaan, which was not an hundred miles distant, the

approach of their enemies, prepared for war, would have frightened them back again to Egypti. Yea, such was their attachment to Egypt, their coldness to Canaan, their coward


* From the covenant with Abraham, to the giving of the law, was, (as St. Paul asserts, Gal iü. 17.) 430 years. And this will give light to Gen. xv. 13. and to Exod. xii. 40, 41. For the law was given soon after they came out of Egypt.

Joseph was 17 years old when he was sold, and it is supposed he was soon imprisoned, perhaps the very same year, and so that he lay in prison about 13 years; for he was 30 at his advancement. After which, in about nine years, Jacob and all his family came down into Egypt. After which Joseph lived 71 years. And so, in all, was in the greatest honour 80 years, to counterbalance 13 years of sorrow. Israel came out of Egypt 144 years after Joseph's death; the greatest part of which time they were under oppression. Moses was born 64 years after Joseph's death ; spent 40 in Pharaoh's court, and 40 in the land of Midian.


† Exodus xiv. 12.

* Exodus xiii. 17.

ice and their stupid infidelity, even after a year's dicipline in the wilderness, and notwithstanding their solemn u profession and promises to God at Mount Sinai, that, upon the ill tidings of the spies, they were for stoning Caleb and Joshua, and making to themselves a captain, and returning to their beloved Egypt.

Now such were the people God had to manage, so every way distempered, that they needed all their old notions, tastes, and tempers, to be eradicated ; and to have their minds wholly framed anew, in order to be fit inhabitants for the holy land.

They must be thoroughly weaned from Egypt; from their idolatry and their manners; and be brought to know the true God, and to be sensible of his infinite abhorrence of their tempers and ways, and have their hearts effectually broken under a sense of their vileness, that they might loath themselves, and turn to the Lord, and love him, and be prepared to understand and fall in with the religion he gave them from Mount Sinai, that they might be an holy people to the Lord, a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation; that they might be to his praise and glory, in the midst of an idolatrous, benighted world ; and that they might receive the promised land, not as a reward of their righteousness ; for they were a stiff-necked people; but as a mere free gift from the God of Abraham, their father; and feel themselves, by the means, laid under the strongest obligations to love him, and fear him, and walk in all his ways, and keep all his commands : and at the same time, be so inured to hardship, and so thoroughly confirmed in the belief of the being and perfections of God, as that, in an entire dependance on the Lord, they might march into the promised land, and behave like valiant soldiers, and execute God's vengeance on those idolatrous nations whom he had doomed to destruction ; break down their altars ; cut down their groves; burn their gods, and extirpate both them and their religion from off the face of the earth.

And what method, better suited to answer these noble ends could possibly have been devised, ban that which the Lord their God took for the space of forty years in the wilderness ?

« AnteriorContinuar »