« PreviousContinue »
day of darkness and thick gloominess; they have turned from the light of life, and they walk in the shadow of death.
III... The history of the world, perhaps, does not furnish us with a more awfully complete representation of the gradual hardening of the human heart, than in the person of the celebrated oppressor of Egypt, whose signal and terrific overthrow is recorded by Moses, in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus.
IV...All history, it is true, and all experience, teaches that when men persist in following the ignorant devices and noxious desires of their own hearts; when they persevere in their refusal to listen to Him who is about their path, and about their bed, spying out all their ways, and calling them, unceasingly, to quit the service of evil, and to come unto him ; entreating them, with gentle influences, and admonishing them, with timely warnings, to return into the ways of
peace : When men “harden” their hearts against their Maker's voice--" the Lord is far from the wicked!"* And this truth, so fearfully illustrated in the account of the king of Egypt, receives testimony from the results of our own every-day observation. We observe the degrees of moral apostasy, and the mandates of darkness are written in the deeds of some men.
* Prov.xv. 29.
“ In very
v...But the account of Pharaoh appears to have been designed, in the dispensations of Providence, to take a peculiarly conspicuous place in the history of mankind. deed,” the Lord said, it is written, “ for this cause have I raised thee up, to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”*
Almighty God, at any moment, might have brought to nothing the king of Egypt and his people. But he “ raised them up,” we read, to the end, that his name might be declared throughout all the earth—his mercy and longsuffering, and his wisdom, at the same timein reserving them for such destruction.
VI... After the death of Joseph, we read that the Pharaoh, or king, who protected and promoted Joseph, died; and that there arose up another king over Egypt, who knew not. Joseph, and who it was, who began the perse
* Exod. ix. 16.
cutions of God's chosen people. This was not the king to whom we have been alluding, but the one who preceded him. He, however, observing that the Hebrews increased considerably in number, “said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
“ Come on, let us deal wisely with them: lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
“Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
“ But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.
And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” *
You must observe, that, with the iniquities
* Exod. i.-" The fear entertained by Pharaoh, lest the Israelites should 'get them up out of the land,' was a reasonable apprehension : for Egypt was, in every age, subject to the incursions of that fierce and barbarous people, the Arabians, on that very side which the Israelites inhabited : who, possessing their own district, unmixed with the Egyptians, had the keys of the country in their hands, to admit or exclude an invader at pleasure.”—Bp. Warburton.
of Pharaoh and his people, performed against the Israelites, God's warnings begin; and, in addition to the inward reproof of conscience, which must have accompanied the high criminality of their proceedings against the. Hebrews, the open intervention of Providence called upon them to desist. But they were only “grieved because of the children of Israel,” — they only lamented and were perplexed because their evil devices were baffled.
The king then commanded that the male children of the Hebrews should be destroyed. But, we read, “ the midwives feared God, and did not as the king commanded, but saved the men children alive; therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.”
The prosperity of the midwives was another demonstration, which God, in his mercy, held forth to the Egyptians, of their conduct being directly opposed to his will. Now Pharaoh, however,
charged his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.”
“ And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein ; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river ; * and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child : and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy
* According to the custom of the country.