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from an individual is not wise, but that he who looks for it from a community is a fool.” The treatment of the Israelites by the Egyptians is a type of the treatment of the people of God, in all ages by the world. It begins by inviting them as its guests, and it concludes by treating them as its slaves; while it may be predicated with as much truth of the world, as Moses here declares of the Egyptians, that its servitude is “a hard bondage," and "all its service" is “with rigour.” The only difference is, that in the case of the world, men too often love their servitude, and hug their chains, for they are blinded, as well as cheated, and mistake their hard-hearted taskmaster for their patron and their friend.
The manner in which the Egyptians reconcile to their own consciences their treatment of the Israelites is very instructive to the Christian, who desires to investigate the subtleties of his own heart. Pharaoh does not say to his people, “Come on, let us deal cruelly, or even cunningly, with the Israelites," when about to issue one of the most atrocious orders ever heard of, viz. the destruction of the male children of the Israelites; this would have been too bare-faced, even for an Egyptian conscience; but he says, "Let us deal wisely with them.”
What a comment upon the third chapter of Genesis! What an accursed fruit of that accursed tree, which the woman saw was to be desired to make one wise!” Ever since that fatal hour, wisdom and sin have been so inextricably entangled in the unrenewed heart of fallen man, that they are never separated, and never can be, until the Spirit of God changes and sanctifies that heart.
He it is, who alone teaches men no longer to call evil good, and good evil,” but to learn to value and to be guided by “the wisdom that is from above," which, St. James assures us, “is first pure," and widely different from the wisdom of all earthly policy ---the wisdom, in fact, of expediency-of which the same apostle says, “ This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish."
Always be cautious, in a course of difficulty; of adopting too readily what the world denominates the line of wisdom. In some rare instances, indeed, it may possibly be the correct road even for the Christian, but it is more than probable, that it may involve some compromise of duty, or some neglect of God; because these are considerations with which the world troubles not its votaries, and which therefore do not enter into its calculations. In all such cases, flee, therefore, from the world's counsels, and ask wisdom of him who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not," and who, for his dear Son's sake, will hear and answer the humblest applicant. He would have taught Pharaoh how to have freed himself from all apprehension of the Israelites, yet without committing a single sin. He will also teach you, how to walk amidst the most perplexing embarrassments of the most difficult path; or to dwell, if called to do so, in the neighbourhood of the worst of foes, or to bear the assaults of your most dangerous enemies, and yet to come off “more than conquerors, through him that loveth you.” It is indeed your great and valuable privilege, always to seek and always to rely upon this first of counsellors and friends: you have
no need of what the world usually calls its wisdom; you do not require the world's advice. Be content to be guided simply by the word and Spirit of the Lord. Trust with a child-like dependence upon God, and you shall fear no evil, for be assured that even if the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” While at that dread hour, when the world cannot help you, when all the powers of nature are in vain, yea, when your heart and your flesh shall fail you, you will be enabled still to rely with peace upon him, who has said, “I will be the strength of thy heart, and thy portion for ever.”
[Here may be read chap. i., from ver. 15 to the end of the chapter.]
Exodus ii. 1-3.
1. And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
2. And the woman conceived, and bare a son; and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
3. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him un 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.
The last verse of the preceding chapter is a key to the interesting little incident with which this commences; for we there read, “And Pharaoh charged all his people, with respect to the Israelites, saying Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.”
· It was, therefore, to prevent the execution of this horrible edict, that the parents of Moses having concealed him, as long as was possible, from the Egyptian searchers, in defiance of the command of Pharaoh, resolved to make a still more daring 'effort to secure the life of their child. To this they were guided, not by mere natural affection, which, doubtless, many other Israelites possessed as strongly as themselves, but by that firm and simple dependence upon the Almighty, which in all ages, and under all dispensations, is the peculiar and striking characteristic of the people of God. For the apostle to the Hebrews expressly declares this, when he says, that “ By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's command
We may learn from this, how entirely our conduct takes its colouring, in the sight of God, from our motives. It is impossible not to conclude, that other Israelites, influenced by strong natural affection, had endeavoured to elude the command of the king, though whether successfully or unsuccessfully, no notice is taken of it in Holy Writ; but when a single instance occurs in which the same act is performed, not as a mere effort of parental love, but as the fruit of a strong and lively faith, it is handed down as a testimony to the church for ever.
So is it with every word of our lips, and every action of our lives; it is not so much what we do, as why we do it, that is recorded in “ heaven's chancery.” The sinful word or look is the child of the still more sinful thought, and it is the guilty parent that will bring down judg
ment upon us, if unforgiven. The act of splendid and ostentatious charity to conciliate a world's applause, or the deed of kindness to satisfy a feeling heart, has each its own reward, but not the reward of those, who will one day hear, “ I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in.” It was the motive, not the act; it was the true and lively faith which produced the deed, it was the love to the Redeemer, manifesting itself in love to our fellowcreatures, that could alone enable the Saviour of the world to
have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Among the traditions of the Romish Church, is one so valuable in the lesson it is intended to impart, that we shall venture to insert it here. It is said that St. Martin was one day accosted by a beggar, in terms of deep and earnest supplication, for the relief of his necessities. This
very picture of misery, did not apply in vain; the saint immediately gave an alms. Upon this, the pretended mendicant threw off his disguise, and appearing as Satan himself, scoffingly asked the holy man, how he could have been so easily imposed upon. The saint calmly replied, “You are mistaken, if you imagine that I have been imposed upon at all. I never gave the money to you, I gave it, in your person, to the Lord Jesus Christ.” This, although it ought not to render us indiscriminate in the application of our charities, is an admirable illustration of the truth, that their value depends upon their motive