Billeder på siden

"The Spirit of the Lord God was upon them; because the Lord had anointed them to preach good tidings unto the meek; he had sent them to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of their God." "And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: and Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped." From this assembly they enter at once into the presence of Pharaoh, and solemnly demand permission, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, to go, that they may hold a feast unto him in the wilderness. This interference only brings down re

1 Isaiah lxi. 1, 2.

proaches upon themselves, and additional misery upon their people; and Moses, already disappointed and dejected, reproached by the captives as the author of their increased calamity, thus expostulates with God: "Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil-entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me ? for since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all." But the Lord bears with the impatience of his servant and renews his promises. "Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land." Thus encouraged, Moses returns again and again with the same demand, and ever with the same success; "the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses." Miracle after miracle is wrought: punishment succeeds punishment: plague after plague is hurled upon Pharaoh and his people; till, ex

hausted by their continual sufferings, even the Egyptians rise against their king and say, "How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?"

During the whole of this memorable contest between human obduracy and Almighty power; the conduct of Moses, though described in the simplest and least ostentatious terms, is marked in a surprising degree with dignity, accompanied by that meekness and patience and forbearance which become the minister of God. He never for a moment forgets whose commission he bears, whose authority he wields, whose works he performs, whose words he speaks. His expressions and actions are noble; his word is power, his step is majesty. Even the Egyptians acknowledge his extraordinary merit: even the servants of Pharaoh pay him reverence and respect. "The man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people."

It is remarkable that the first miracles wrought by Moses are said to have been imitated by the Egyptian magicians '. Two suppositions are employed, in order to explain this. One, that God thought fit, in order to make his own omnipotence more manifest, to permit the magicians to exhibit these miraculous powers, in a limited degree, and for a short period. The other, and, as it appears to me, the most probable, is, " that the magicians did not perform works really supernatural, nor were assisted by any superior invincible being; but were mere impostors, attempting to imitate the real miracles of Moses by secret sleights or jugglings; which to a certain degree, and in a small

1 The names of the chief among these are given by St. Paul (2 Timothy iii. 8.) from the many traditions respecting this remarkable period; when he likens the opposition made to himself and his converts by certain corrupt teachers and busy meddlers, to that which Moses encountered. "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further."

extent, they succeeded in doing, so as to deceive the spectators 1." This would appear from the mode of expression used in describing these attempts; namely, that the Magicians did so or in like manner as Moses had done; which expression is not so strong nor precise as that used in describing the real miracles :-from the fact that the whole of the waters are said to have been turned into blood, and the whole of the land covered with frogs; so that the magicians could not have performed so perfect a miracle, nor indeed any miracle at all, unless upon a spot of ground cleared for the purpose, or with water procured, as it is stated to have been, by digging 2 :-from the language used by Moses, who declares that they practised by enchantments:-lastly, and from their own declaration, when, foiled in their attempt to imitate the fourth miracle, they were compelled to confess, "This is the

1 Graves, App. Sect. 2.

2 Exodus vii. 24. "And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water," &c.

« ForrigeFortsæt »