Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

moved, the Israelites journeyed onward. The inspired writer adds, “ The Lord went” in the pillar, by which we know it to have contained the shekinah, or glorified presence of God, which appeared to Moses in the bush, so that the most ignorant Israelite could not fail to feel himself continually the object of the divine guidance.

It is delightful also to see to what minutiæ the goodness of the Lord condescended, for the cloud not only went before them as a guide, but spread itself over them as a covering from the burning heat of a perpetual sun; for we are told in the Book of Numbers, “ The cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out by the camp;"* and to this David most plainly refers, when recounting God's wonders in Egypt, he says, “He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light in the night.” In those fearfully scorching regions, how merciful an arrangement! The Almighty provided that his people should not only travel safely but comfortably; and thus does He continue to regulate his children's movements through this earthly wilderness. It is astonishing, how much of real happiness and enjoyment the Lord mingles in the cup of almost all his people; and assuredly the fault is generally their own, , if those who are walking on the King's highway to Zion, do not enjoy, at least, a large abundance of peace and security on the journey, as well as an assured hope, that both shall become infinite and eternal, at their journey's end.

* Num. x. 34.

EXPOSITION XXXIII.

CHAP. xiv. 1-12.

1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

2. Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the seu.

3. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are en. tangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.

4. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after 'them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.

5. And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and - the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us ?

6. And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:

7. And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.

8. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with a high hand.

9. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baalzephon.

10. And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.

11. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?

12. Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians ? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

Although, as we have seen in the last Exposition, the children of Israel were to be mercifully shielded from one species of trial at the commencement of their journey, it soon becomes evident, that they were not to be exempted from all. Hardly had they proceeded a day's journey on their way, when Pharaoh, regretting that he had lost so valuable a property as the services of this vast multitude, resolves upon regaining his captives, and for this purpose immediately follows them with all the battle array of Egypt.

This act of the hardened monarch occasions the Almighty to reveal to us a very solemn and improving truth. In the fourth verse of the passage of Scripture that we have just read, we are expressly told, “I will be honoured upon Pharaoh and upon all his host." The whole creation was produced to bring honour and glory to the great, the ineffable Creator; and whatever portion of it fails in this, assuredly falls short of the specific object for which it was called into existence. Pharaoh had, after numerous opportunities, wilfully and premeditatedly refused to honour God, therefore the Almighty says, “I will get me honour upon Pharaoh.” As if, in the case of some earthly creditor and debtor, the debtor should declare, "I will not pay what is due," and the creditor reply, “Then will I take it." Thus

it throughout all creation; man alone is the refusing debtor; man alone, too proud of the very gift, to recognise the Giver, too often absolutely neglects, in his course of reckless self-indulgence, or of headlong God-forgetting ambition, to honour that Being, without whose daily, hourly, momentary watchfulness and care, he would drop into the dust. But God will not be thus trifled with; he may leave the sinner unmolested through many a year of worldly prosperity and enjoyment, but the hour of reckoning must come, and God will be honoured either by him, in his repentance, humiliation, and earnest seeking, by a renewed life, to promote the glory of God; or upon him by a punishment infinitely more terrible, because infinitely more durable than that of Pharaoh. Receive this then, each for himself, as a certain and undeniable truth, that God will be honoured, either by you, or upon you. The choice is now your own; time is given you, life is given you, grace is given you, to decide and to act upon your decision. Be not content to imagine, that, what you denominate a life of harmlessness, will satisfy God. The life of Dives, as far as our Lord has seen fit to describe it, was a life of harmlessness; for few will pretend that his clothing “in purple and fine linen," and faring according to his income, were in themselves acts of sinfulness; yet he perished. And why? simply because he neglected to honour God, in the persons of his poorer brethren; simply because he had led a life of, what the world would, even in its very harshest vocabulary,denominate only innocent selfishness, instead of active usefulness or benevolence, prompted by the desire of adding to God's glory. So will it be with every individual, who thus grossly and fatally mis

takes the end and object of his existence. «Them that honour me I will honour,” are God's own words; and in vain shall the sinner, be his station what it may, hope to find mercy of the Lord, “in that day,when “every man shall be judged according as his works have been;" if he have despised, or neglected, or lightly esteemed this first great duty, and in advancing his own interests, or promoting his own pleasures, has forgotten God. “The wicked,” says the psalmist, “shall be turned into hell;" thus far, perhaps, most would agree; but then, unhappily for the class of which we have been speaking, he adds, and remember it was the Spirit of God, by whom he spake," and all the people that forget God."*

EXPOSITION XXXIV.

CHAP. xiv, 13–31.

13. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the saldation of the Lord, which he will show to you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for eder.

14. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

15. And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto mo? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

16. But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sca.

17. And 1, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and

* Psalm ix. 17.

« ÖncekiDevam »