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3. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
4. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
5. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
6. And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord communded them, so
7. And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.
At the commencement of the portion of Scripture which we have just read, we find the Almighty encouraging the doubting and timid Moses, by the remarkable declaration, “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet;" that is, thou shalt have such wonderful powers committed to thee, that Pharaoh shall look upon
thee with as much respect as upon one of his divinities, and Aaron shall receive his communications from thy mouth, to make them unto Pharaoh, in the same manner as a prophet receives the revelations of God for his people. But still, lest Moses should rely too much upon these important gifts, as calculated to produceimmediate success, the Almighty most considerately adds, “But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you.” It was very merciful in God, thus to prepare his servant, and preserve him from disappointment; and we find, in after ages, our Lord, precisely in a similar spirit, forewarning his disciples of the improbable and distressing circumstance of his own betrayal and death, that so fearful a contradiction
to their hopes and expectations might not destroy their faith; “Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am
We are at all times, and even after all cautions, so prone to judge by present appearances, so inclined to expect an immediate triumph, that it is most merciful in our heavenly Father, thus to guard against this weakness of our fallen nature; and by these and innumerable other instances in divine writ, to convince us that the absence of present success, or even the certainty of present disappointment, forms not the slightest ground for doubt or despondency. How affecting and beautiful a lesson upon this deeply important subject, is conveyed to us by the Prophet Isaiah, when, speaking in the person of his divine Master, he exclaims, “ Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and in vain; yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.”+
It is most essential to the comfort and usefulness of the Christian minister, and, indeed, of every private Christian, to bear in mind, that our one great end, and aim, and object in life, must be the glory of God, and that this, as in the case of Pharaoh, may sometimes be infinitely more promoted by the delay of our success, the postponement of what may appear even God's triumph, than it could have been by its immediate achievement. This feeling, when fully wrought into the heart, will enable us to labour far more patiently and perseveringly; not eagerly looking for present
* John xiii. 19.
+ Isaiah xlix. 4.
results, not cast down or mortified at the failure of an immediate harvest, but fully content to go on quietly and meekly in the different posts which God has assigned to us, sowing the seed, watering the infant plant, watching and nurturing its early progress, but well content, if it be the Lord's will, that another should step in and reap, where he has never sown, when our eyes are closed in death, and our bodies laid in their silent resting-places.
CHAP. vii. 8–13.'
8. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
9. When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you : then thou shalt say unto Auron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
10. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
11. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their en. chantments.
12. For they cust down every man his rod, and they became ser. pents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.
13. And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.
In all instances where it has pleased the Almighty to vouchsafe any new directions, and to deliver new truths to his people, he has seen fit to accompany them with miraculous power, that his messengers
might be able to appeal to it as our Lord did, when he said, “If ye believe not me, believe the works.” So it was in the case of Moses, and upon this first visit of the prophet to the monarch, after his refusal to accede to his request, he is told (as it were) to spread before Pharaoh his credentials, in the shape of the miraculous transformation of his rod into a serpent. But, alas! for Pharaoh, such power had the evil spirit over him and his people, that “the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments," and consequently his heart was hardened, and she hearkened not unto Moses, as the Lord had said." In fact, he saw nothing wonderful, nothing convincing, in what could be so easily imitated. How often is this the case, even at the present day, that many
of the wonderful effects of the great power of God, and his religion, more especially its comforts and consolations, are so cunningly counterfeited by Satan and the world, that the poor deluded soul rejects the only real comforter, mistakes the empty, heartless joys produced by the enchantments of these deluders, for that
peace which the world can never give, and throws itself into the arms of the destroyer. There for a time satisfied with his vanishing pleasures, and transitory and worthless consolations, it never discovers the cheat, until, perhaps, the day for grace and mercy has passed away, and the day of the vengeance of the Lord is at hand.
CHAP. vii. 14-25.
14. And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.
15. Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he gocth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.
16. And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebreus hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serre me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.
17. Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.
18. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stinli; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river.
19. And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.
20. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharuoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
21. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river: and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
22. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said.