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offered, have an evidence in our souls that we are in favour with God? Will not the very exercise of such grace demonstrate to us the truth and efficacy of the grace we have received? And, when we have shewn such love to God, can we entertain any doubt of God's love to us? Shall we feel any difficulty in concluding, that, if we have so chosen and loved God, he has first chosen and loved usP?" Moreover, God will give unto us the witness of his Spirit, assuring us that we are indeed his children, and his friends. This is what St. Paul has plainly taught us to expect: He tells us, that "tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience'; (that is, an evidence arising from trial, such an evidence as the gold has of its purity after having stood the trial of the fire;) and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us." Fear not then, any of you, to sacrifice your very Isaac to the Lord, if called to it. The trial may be painful at the time, but " it shall be to your praise and honour and glory, as well as unto the praise and honour and glory of your God, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."]
4. From the typical aspect of the whole, the transcendent love of God to man
[It is said, that "Abraham received Isaac from the dead in a figure"." This expression many interpret as importing that the whole of this history was a type or figure of our redemption by Christ. Whether that be the true import of the expression or not, I can have no doubt but that the whole transaction was typical of that most astonishing and incomprehensible mystery, the gift of God's only-begotten Son to "die for our sins, and to be raised again for our justification." Behold, then, the love of God in this! Do we admire the obedience of Abraham to the Divine command? O! what shall we say of the love of Almighty God, who, without any necessity on his own part, or any solicitation on ours, gave his only-begotten Son, not to die by a wound which inflicted pain only for a moment, but under the curse due to sin, even to the sins of the whole world? From all eternity did he ordain this sacrifice; and never drew back from his purpose. When his Son entreated with strong crying and tears to have the cup taken away from him, it was not removed; but was given him to drink, even to the dregs. With his own hand too did the Father inflict the fatal wound: yes, "it pleased the Lord Jehovah to bruise him.' For Isaac, the Lord accepted a
substitute, a ram caught in the thicket: but no substitute was found for the Lord Jesus Christ, seeing that he himself was the substitute for a guilty world: and, in token that his sacrifice had made a full atonement for sin, he was raised from the dead, and exalted to heaven, to carry on and perfect there the work which he had begun on earth. What shall we say to this love? The height, the depth, the length, the breadth of it, how unsearchable! how utterly incomprehensible! Turn then your eyes from Abraham to Abraham's God: or, if you look at Abraham at all, let it be not so much to admire, as to imitate, his obedience. "He saw by faith the day of Christ, and seeing it, he rejoiced;" and counted no sacrifice too costly wherewith to honour him. Your views of Christ, and of the Father's love in him, are incomparably clearer than ever Abraham's were: and therefore, if it be possible, your obedience should be proportionably more prompt, more selfdenying, and more firm. Let then every lust be sacrificed to God without reserve, and every interest too that may stand in the way of your duty to him. So shall you be children of Abraham indeed, and be acknowledged the friends of God by him, who will reward every man according to his works.]
Heb. xi. 24-26. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
IT is a great advantage to us to be conversant with the Holy Scriptures, not only because from them we learn the principles of religion, which can be derived from no other source, but because we see in them examples which have upon them the stamp and impress of God's approbation, and which therefore we cannot presume to disapprove. Had any individual of the present day acted as Moses did in the instance before us, we should, I doubt not, have all agreed in condemning him as inconsiderate, enthusiastic, and unwise. Not knowing his motives, or not giving him credit for them, we could not
have formed a correct judgment of his actions: but we are sure that the choice which Moses made, however absurd it might appear to those more immediately connected with him, was truly commendable. In bringing it before you, I shall endeavour,
I. To explain it—
Two things must here be noticed :
1. His conduct
[He was, next to Pharaoh, the first man in the whole land of Egypt, having been adopted by Pharaoh's daughter as her son, and being regarded as such by Pharaoh himself. All the pleasures, the riches, and the honours that man could possess, with the exception only of the imperial diadem, were within his reach, or rather he was in the actual enjoyment of them. Yet the whole of these did he renounce: and not at a season when by reason of youth he was unable to form a just estimate of them, or by reason of age was incapable of enjoying them, but in the very prime of life, at the age of forty, when he had arrived at full maturity both of body and minda: and when, from "being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," he was able to relish them with a zest, which a vulgar and uninstructed mind knows nothing of, and which nothing but refinement can bestow. All these he sacrificed voluntarily and with a determined purpose, "refusing" to be recognised any longer under the august character of Pharaoh's daughter, and choosing rather to appear in his own proper character as a child of Abraham.
Whilst Moses was in this exalted station, his brethren according to the flesh were suffering under the most grievous oppression. To unite himself with them, was to subject himself to all the reproach and cruelty under which they groaned. Yet he acknowledged them as his kindred: and voluntarily participated with them in their lot: descending thus at once from the highest eminence in the kingdom to the lowest state of degradation and infamy.]
To obtain a just view of this conduct we must notice,
2. The principle from which it proceeded―
[We are told that he acted thus "by faith." By faith, he saw that the Hebrews were exclusively "the people of God;" and that, as such, whatever they might endure from man, they were and must be happy; since God, the God of the whole earth, was their God, and esteemed them as his own peculiar treasure. He saw too, that the reproach that was cast upon b Acts vii. 22.
a Exod. ii. 11. Acts vii. 23.
them was 66 cast upon them for the sake of Christ," in whom they professed to believe as their future Messiah, the Saviour of the world. Had they chosen to intermarry with the Egyptians, and become one people with them, they would have suffered nothing from Pharaoh, but would have fared as the rest of his subjects: but, holding fast their regard for Abraham as their father, and their expectation of Christ as to spring from one of his descendants, they exposed themselves to all the injuries which an envious, cruel, and despotic monarch could inflict: so that their reproach was properly "the reproach of Christ," Christ himself being the object of it, and suffering it, as it were, in the person of his people. He saw yet further, that the afflictions which they endured for Christ's sake should in due time be recompensed; and, that all who participated in their sufferings, should partake also of their reward. As the patriarchs looked by faith to a heavenly city, and a heavenly country, so did Moses look to a heavenly reward; in the prospect of which he was willing to forego all that this world could give him, and to sustain all that his most potent and malicious enemies could inflict upon him. Indeed in this view he esteemed reproach to be "riches," "great riches," yea, "greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt."]
But as the wisdom of this conduct may be doubted, I shall proceed,
II. To vindicate it—
may be thought that this measure was unnecessary, inexpedient, and absurd: but,
1. It was not unnecessary
[Circumstanced as he was, it became him to act as he did. He was, I grant, greatly indebted to Pharaoh's daughter: and he was bound to regard her with all the duteous affection which belonged to the relation into which he had been adopted by her. But his duty to the God of Abraham was paramount to every other and he would have sinned, if he had merged his fidelity to God in his regards for any creature whatsoever. All the pleasures which he had enjoyed, however innocent in themselves, were "pleasures of sin," as long as he continued to acknowledge the God of the Hebrews as his God, and the faith of the Hebrews as his faith. The neglecting to confess his God was, constructively, to deny him: and, if he continued any longer to deny God, he could expect nothing but to be denied of God in the day of judgment. The measure therefore which he adopted was not unnecessary, but absolutely necessary, both for his peace in this world, and his happiness in the world to come.]
c See Acts ix. 4. Col. i. 24.
2. It was not inexpedient
[It might be supposed, that if he had continued, like Joseph, at the head of the Egyptian government, he might have mitigated their sorrows, even though he should never be able to effect their release. But he had a secret intimation from God, that the time of their deliverance drew nigh, and that he was to be the instrument by whom they should be delivered. And so strong was this impression upon his mind, that he engaged in the work rashly and prematurely, without any direction from God; and thereby reduced himself to the necessity of fleeing to a foreign land, to avoid the punishment to which his own unwarrantable temerity had exposed him. The question in his mind was, What duty to his God required? and he was not at liberty to calculate then on matters of expediency, or to weigh in the balance of carnal reason the possible or probable issues of different events. His duty was to obey God; and to leave to God to save his people in his own time and way, according to his own infallible and eternal counsels.]
3. It was not absurd
[Moses looked beyond the concerns of time, and acted with eternity in view. He knew that his pleasures, riches, and honours, how great soever they were, were only "for a season;" and that the afflictions to which he was about to subject himself, were also "for a season" only; whereas the recompence which his sacrifices would insure him, was eternal. What comparison then could there be between these things? or what room was there for hesitating one moment which he should prefer? If he gained the whole world, what would it profit him, if he lost his own soul? or if, by sacrificing the whole world, his soul should be saved, what reason could he have to regret the sacrifice? His choice then was that which
sound wisdom dictated, and true piety inspired.
In truth, this is no other choice than what all the Prophets and Apostles in their respective ages have approved. David "would rather be a door-keeper in the house of his God than dwell in the tents of ungodliness:" And why? Because, as he tells us in another psalm, " A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked';" better in its possession, better in its operation, better in its end. Solomon was of precisely the same minds. St. Paul, like Moses, actually "suffered the loss of all things, and accounted them but dung, that he might win Christ h." Having made a sacrifice of every thing, so far was he from feeling himself impoverished by his
d Acts vii. 24-29.
6 Prov. xv. 16, 17.
e Ps. lxxxiv. 10. f Ps. xxxvii. 16.
h Phil. iii. 8.