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EXODUS iii. 11, 12.

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the

children of Israel out of Egypt? Certainly I will be with thee.

And he said,

In our reflections upon the history of


Moses, the man of God," we are now brought to that momentous period when, having made a deliberate selection between interest and conscience, he steps forward into more public and active duties, puts his resolutions in practice, and proceeds to act upon his convic

1 Deut. xxxiii. 1.

tions. "It came into his heart to visit his brethren." It was not sufficient, in his estimation, to express a distant affection for his kindred, a cold regard for their welfare, an ineffective commisseration for their state. He does not employ a deputy, nor merely make inquiries concerning them. He visits them personally, without regarding the contempt of the Egyptians, and unites himself to them, without fearing the dangers which he may encounter.

The first prominent circumstance of his life is thus narrated. “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand." What the violence was which the Egyptian committed is not expressly stated, and the Jewish traditions upon the subject are as

usual various and extravagant. But the general and most rational supposition is, that an attempt was made to take away the life of the Israelite his brother, and therefore life was justly made the forfeit of life.

It is by no means improbable that Moses had conceived, even at this time, some unformed idea of liberating Israel from bondage; and that, feeling perhaps a vague and indeterminate presentiment of being himself the destined deliverer, he undertook, in all the eagerness and presumption of inexperience, this apparently wild and desperate enterprise. It is difficult to suppose, that he could look upon the burdens of his people, and see their oppressions, and hear their groanings, without feeling some risings of human anger within him against their tyrants; some of the fervency of righteous indignation against their persecutors; some desire to avenge their wrongs and redress their grievances. Indeed, the language of Stephen clearly leads to this conclu

sion; "When he was full forty years old it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel, and seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them but they understood not'." He appears, however, to have assumed this office without authority-before it was conferred upon him; and to have entered upon it uncalled. This first attempt was made in the spirit of manly daring, from the impulse of generous sympathy, with feelings of the noblest patriotism and self-devotion. And are not such feelings and motives honourable? are they not to be prized and cherished and encouraged? Valuable, indeed, they are, and rare as they are valuable. They are of the very finest clay of human nature of the very purest elements of

1 Acts vii. 23, 24, 25.

human affections. Still they are but clay, they are but human elements, they are but of the earth, and therefore earthy. The minister of God must have objects and principles more pure, more exalted, more spiritualized, than mere humanity can supply more holy than any with which the world can mingle. The very vehemence of temper, too, which Moses appears to have shown on this occasion, was not that by which the protracted work of Israel's redemption and establishment, could be accomplished. It might win a single victory, but it would not pursue with patience a slow and almost imperceptible train of conquest. It might rush headlong against the danger, but it would not be content to wait the Lord's time for extrication. It might break through a single obstacle, however formidable, but it would not contend with difficulties unceasingly occurring, nor support the sickness of the heart arising from hope perpetually deferred. The minister of Jehovah needed faith and hope and patience and endurance. Faith unextin

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