Imatges de pàgina
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his faculties perfectly ripened, and his judgment calm, unclouded, and dispassionate. Were not this the case, had he been now just emerging from youth, with all the sanguine and enthusiastic ardor of dawning manhood upon him, it might have been regarded as the effect of a rash excitement, as a sudden sally of the buoyant temperament of his age, and one which he would afterwards have re gretted or condemned. Had it occurred later in life, when the powers and energies of his mind were on the wane, when the pursuits of ambition and the prospects of pleasure had vanished, it might have been stigmatized as the act of an old worn-out courtier, whose disgusted satiety of this world's good had driven him to the sorry refuge of seeking something better in another. It might easily have been characterized as the mean compromise of a man in his dotage with an uneasy conscience, for having squandered his youthful prime and his manly meridian in the service of the world to the neglect of his Maker. But every such imputation is cut off by the facts of the case. It was not a step prompted by the precipitate ardor of youth, nor one dictated by the timid or sordid policy of age. It was a decision formed under circumstances in which deep principle, and not passionate impulse, must have been the ruling motive; for while in a worldly sense he had nothing to hope from a transfer of himself, he had, on the other hand, everything to lose. We have only to appeal to our own knowledge of human nature to learn the difficulty, and consequently the virtue of such a sacrifice. When we compare the respective states of the Egyptians and the Israelitish people, it would seem to human view that the lot of the meanest Egyptian was preferable to that of the highest Israelite. Yet Moses voluntarily gave up the one for the other; the bonors of the palace for the ignominy of the brick-yard."

It is said of Dioclesian, the forty-second Emperor of Rome, and it is said to his praise, that after a prosperous and glorious reign, he publicly and voluntarily resigned the throne, and retired into obscurity. It is also said to the great elevation of the character of our own great Washington, that he refused to accept of a crown when it was offered bim, preferring the place of a private citizen in a republic, to the sceptre of a king where the people are in bondage. But these condescended only to such a rank in private lise as was surrounded with ease, afluence, and continued respectabili

Bush's Notes on Exodus, Vol. I. p. 29.

ty. Their sacrifices were relieved by many countervailing considerations. But Moses went down from the dignity of a court to the degradation of a slave. Nor was it after he had reaped the laurels of glory and satisfied his soul with worldly honor. It was just at a time when the most was to be hoped ; just when the trembling hand of an aged king was about to drop the sceptre of Egypt into his arms; just when the natural course of events was weaving for him the glittering diadem. He chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Here was principle—here was faith—here was magnanimity unparalleled in the annals of time, and securing the rewards of eternity.

This conduct, however, like the conduct of all good men, lies exposed to the harsh judgment of worldlings. There are such in the world as have not faith enough to appreciate eternal realities, who will be prepared to pronounce it ultra and imprudent. And that we may be prepared to defend it, let us consider, in the third place, the wisdom displayed in the choice which Moses made.

The great object of Moses in all this matter was plainly to devote himself to the interests of his suffering kinsmen, and to secure unto his own soul the blessings which God had promised them. There were but two ways conceivable in which there was any hope of accomplishing this object. The one was that which he did pursue, viz. to break away entirely from his Egyptian connections, and cast in his lot with the Israelites; the other, and this is the course which worldly policy would have dictated, was to await the death of Pharaoh, first ascend the throne, then liberate his brethren by an official decree, give free toleration to the Hebrew religion, and in this way accomplish bis purpose without sacrificing any immunities of wealth or honor incident to his relation to the royal family. The wisdom of Moses' choice will then be adequately exhibited, if we point out the dangers and uncertainties which attended this plan, and the glorious success which attended the other.

1st. Then, it is to be remarked in reference to the royal—the official plan—the plan which looked to the throne, that it depended upon the supposition that Moses would survive Pharaoh. This was by no means a settled point. There is no law in existence which prevents the young from dying before the old, And though the

probability in the case was in favor of the plan, it was yet too great an uncertainty to serve as the foundation of so grave a calculation.

2nd. But even admitting that Moses would survive the king, admitting that he would succeed to the throne, it would still be a question whether the Egyptians, jealous as they were of the Hebrews, would have acknowledged his sovereignty, or have rendered him such obedience as was essential to his success. The probability here was against him. Did he ascend the throne and turn his attention to his suffering kindred—did he undertake any measures to better their condition, the same feelings which led to the cruel slaughter of the Hebrew children must have been roused again in all their fury, dissentions and internal wars have sprung up, and Moses most likely have been defeated or assassinated.

3rd. Then again, the idolatrous religion of Egypt would have been in bis way. To have refused to respect and encourage it, or even to join in its abominable observances, might have forfeited his throne. But not to have refused, would have provoked the wrath of Jehovah, and his plan have failed.

4th. And there is also something so seductive in worldly preferments. Wealth, pleasure, power, honor; these are the gilded baits which lure to the snares of hell. And had Moses succeeded in every other respect, there was yet serious danger to be apprehended from these. There was wisdom then, deep, far-reaching wisdom, which led him to pursue a different plan.

Look however at the plan which he did adopt—the considerations which recommend it-the success which crowned it. Hav. ing fallen in with his suffering brethren, and having all the gracious influences of religion like a holy atmosphere around him, of what consequence was it to the interests of his soul whether he or Pharaoh first went to the grave—whether Egyptian leaders praised or reviled--whether they would admit the Hebrew religion into the court or not. It is true that he lost the pleasures and the treasures of Egypt. But these things are not without their bitter and their sorrow. And the excitement, hilarity, and gratification which they do afford, is at best of a low and bestial kind. And this is only · for a season.” Death to those that live longest comes speedily and cuts off all the streams of sensual delight. Like the flower that springs up, just opens its leaves, and then withers like the vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away, so is

life. It goes with the fleeting breath. The eyes hardly opened to the light are closed again in the tomb. A few years that fly like the weaver's shuttle, and all worldly pleasures and treasures can avail no more. It is also true that he had to endure reproach. But even suffering, with a consciousness of right and the hope of a glorious deliverance, may be endured with gladness and rejoicing. And reproach, when received in an effort to do good, is in itself a treasure. The scars which the old soldier has received in the defence of his country, he values more than his pension.

And how glorious were the consequences which resulted from his extraordinary choice! The heavenly Shekinah himself came down to honor him. From the fiery bush in the land of Midian he received the Divine legation to be the historian, the prophet, the law-giver, the leader, and the deliverer of Israel. In the prosecution of this great commission, kings, armies, animals, and even elements were made subject to his will. When he smote the river it was turned to blood. When he commanded Aaron to stretch forth his hand over the streams, and the ponds of Egypt, “the frogs came up and covered the land.” And at the same bidding all the loathsome and destructive insect hosts swarmed through all the country. Disease, and death, and hail, and darkness, all came at his command. When he struck the waters of the sea, they parted to their deepest channels. When he prayed, the heaven's rained bread, and the winds supplied the camp with fowls. When he smote the dusty rock, it parted, and the fresh waters followed them in all their meanderings in the desert. And when he died, angels instead of men were his attendants, and heavenly songsters chaunted his funeral anthem. Nor is there a single instance on record in which he ever regretted his conduct in leaving the throne and the treasures in Egypt. Not in all the trials which succeeded it-not in all the cares incident to his great office-not in all the ingratitude and rebellion of his brethren did he ever wish himself again in the court of Pharoah. It is plain then from this simple exhibition, that the choice of Moses was wise, and secured to him more real honor than royalty itself.

But the honor which he received for his faith, extends beyond the boundaries of time. It is said that “he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” In this extraordinary movement, he had his eyes and hopes directed toward the eternal blessedness of

the redeemed. Nor was he disappointed. Moses has already been at least 3,000 years in paradise, associated with the heavenly orders, and rejoicing with the blest. I make not this declaration without authority. It is a thing which is conclusively settled in the evangelical account of what transpired on the mount of Christ's transfiguration. There, where the glowing energies of the Savior's Divinity became too brilliant for a veil of flesh any longer to conceal them, and the adoring inhabitants of heaven began to gather around their Creator and God, whom did Peter and John discern among that glorious company? The record says, “And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” Yes, Moses is in glory! And from the happiness and glory which he has already enjoyed in the abode of the saints, who will say that his choice was not a wise one! Think you that he now regrets it? Can you suppose that he now looks down from his lofty seat and feels that he sacrificed too much, or that he has not received an ample recompense for all the privation and reproach he endured on earth? May we not reasonably fancy the lofty song which he sung on the shore of the Red sea still pealing from his lips as he stands upon the mount of God, “I will sing unto the Lord, for he bath triumphed gloriously. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation. He is my God, and I will honor him; my father's God, and I will exalt him!” In fact there is intimation given in the Scriptures, that the place of Moses among the redeemed who have crossed the Jordan, retains something of the pre-eminence of his place among the people of God whilst on earth. John, in his vision of “them that had gotten the victory," declares that “they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." He was a prophet on earth, and it would seem is a poet in heaven!

And with all the honor and glory which have resulted to Moses from his choice, both as it respects this world, and bis present habitation; it is but as a drop of the mighty ocean of what he is yet to receive. The joys of the redeemed flow on like a river without an ocean. Their happiness endures like a day without a night. When sun and moon shall fade and fall, and the most brilliant stars languish and expire, they shall still burn and blaze before the throne in ineffable and interminable splendor. There are theatres of glory prepared for them-heights and depths and lengths and breadths of

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