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CHAP, xviii. 13—27.
13. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening
14. And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people ? Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15. And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God:
16. When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another; and I do muke them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17. And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
19. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel: and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:
20. And thou shalt teach them ordinunces and laws, and shalt, show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
21. Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating codetousness: and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens;
22. And let them judge the people at all seasons, and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee; but
small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
23. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
24. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.
25. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
26. And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged them. selves.
27. And Moses let his father-in-law depart; and he went his way into his own land.
Before the visit of the father-in-law of Moses was concluded, an instance is here recorded of his superior prudence and sagacity. The day after the arrival of Jethro, Moses applied himself as usual to his accustomed work, and sat from morning until evening, to hear the different causes which the people might bring before him; thus acting as sole judge for this immense multitude. His father-in-law, struck with the unnecessary expenditure of strength and time, which such an arrangement must have occasioned, wisely urges Moses to depute others to manage those lesser causes, to the settlement of which they were as competent as himself, and to retain only the “great matters" in his own hands, piously adding, “If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall go to their place in peace.” Moses, like a man of true wisdom, at once perceiving the excellency of the counsel, prepares to act upon the suggestion. Although the result is mentioned in this chapter before us, it is probable that he did not finally carry it into effect, until, as we read, he shortly afterwards received directions from God so to do. It was a re
markable evidence to the meekness of Moses, that in the lofty situation to which God had called him, he should have been so open to admonition and advice; and still more that he should willingly have deprived himself of so large a portion of authority, even for the purchase of personal ease; for there are very few men who are called to exalted stations in the world, to whom the love of power is not the idol before which all others bow their heads.
The advice of Jethro is, however, worthy of a more minute consideration; it is well to observe the characters of those whom he recommends Moses to exalt: “Provide out of the people, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” It was necessary that they should be men of talent, “able men;" but he thought it at least equally necessary, that they should be men of God, “hating covetousness and loving truth.” How important would it be to the best interests of our highly-favoured country, if qualifications such as these were always considered among the first essential characteristics in those who are to fill the highest offices in the state! How great a duty is it especially that they always should be so considered by those who are called, as most heads of families now are, to exercise the elective franchise! The question persons are too apt to ask, when selecting those who are to represent them in the great council of the nation, is entirely confined to the inquiry, What is the political party? Not what are the religious or even moral principles of those proposed to them. And yet can a Christian man, whatever be his party, consider himself as fitly represented by an infidel, a scoffer, a disbeliever in providence, an habitual debauchee, or an ungodly man of the world? Is not the Christian bound, far stronger than by any political ties, to advocate the cause, or to promote the elevation, wherever the opportunity is given him, "of such as fear God and keep his commandments?” Yes, we believe that this, like every other trust, is committed to us, by One who will require an account, and that mere political partisanship will justify no Christian man in advancing the cause of any who belong to the classes to which we have referred.
It may, however, be said, that men qualified as we have suggested, do not often present themselves, and in such case, what must be the Christian's course? We should reply, God forbid that this should be the case, but if it be, let not the Christian assist in misrepresenting himself, but let him stand aloof, and “let the dead bury their dead.” Well would it be for our country, if the selection recommended by Jethro were attended to, and if all her offices of trust and power, from the highest to the lowest, were filled only by able men, fearing God, men of truth, hating covetousness.
The prosperity of a nation simply depends upon the favour of her God, and this will usually be proportioned to the prayers and piety of her people. Thanks be to God, these are manifested in a remarkable degree, (we speak only in comparison with other lands,) in our own most blessed and prospered kingdom, and proportionably great is her happiness, and powerful her ascendency. But could we behold a
truly religious government, influenced on every occasion primarily by the desire to promote God's honour and glory, and conducting every thing else in subserviency to that one great object, truly our country would present a spectacle, such as the world has never seen; and it is not too much to affirm, that it might then be safely predicted of her, as can now only be said of the spiritual church of God, “That the gates of hell should never prevail against her;" but that, glorious in her moral supremacy over all the nations of the earth, she should reign triumphant until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
CHAP, xix, 1-13.
1. In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.
2. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.
3. And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
4. Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
5. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: