« PreviousContinue »
thee to deliver thee.” It is well no doubt that we cannot see what is to befall us. Had Jeremiah, or Luther, or many other of God's servants, seen at the outset all the difficulties which they would have to meet, their faith might have been staggered. But on the other hand, fear and unbelief often people the future with imaginary foes, or magnify the terror of real ones. Difficulties often are less formidable when we come fairly up to them than they appeared at a distance. Christian met Timorous running back, frightened at the lions; and as he approached them, truly they looked frightful, and roared dreadfully; but when he came very close, he saw that they both were chained, and that he could walk midway between them without danger. Jeremiah was expressly warned not to fear the faces” of his enemies. “Be not thou afraid of their faces;" and no doubt the faces of these enraged princes and priests looked fiendishly enough at him while he was declaring God's word to them; yet however fierce their countenances, they had no more power to hurt him than king Darius's lions had to hurt Daniel.
But if you or I refuse to go when we are sent--if we refuse to go where we are sent–if we refuse to speak God's words when He has put them into our mouth, or to walk in His laws when He has set them before us, we may expect disaster and shame. Even if we can propitiate our fellow-creatures, while we offend our God, what are we profited ? If we escape the den of lions, and fall into the everlasting fire, what are we profited ? If we have appeased the angry countenances of frowning mortals, and secure their blandest smiles, what are we advantaged, if the Infinite One frowns ? If you have escaped a cross, got quit of a disagreeable duty, succeeded in putting off a Gospel invitation with some clever excuse, what have you been doing but forging chains, and plaiting whips, and storing up memories with which your souls will be bound and scourged and tormented hereafter? I know that the voice which calls you to repentance, and invites you to your Saviour, is a mildly persuasive voice, a voice of love and of kindly welcome—“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" but you are much mistaken if you suppose on that account that it is a voice which may be trifled with. It is a voice of high authority, the authority of your Maker and your Lord, which you cannot trifle with and be guiltless; take care, therefore, lest it should be said to you, “Because I called, and ye refused; I stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; I will therefore laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh." (Prov. i. 24.)
Church of God, thou art as Jeremiah, weak as a child, and unable to lift up thy voice, without power from on high, against the sins of the age; yet thy Lord has called and commanded thee to speak and spare not; He has also declared that He will be with thee and deliver thee. Therefore fear not, ye who are the Lord's witnesses. Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints; your ascended Lord will touch your lips and animate your hearts. Show unto the people their transgressions, show them also the way of forgiveness and of amendment; then shall your message not be as that of Jeremiah, one of approaching captivity and desolation; but as that of Isaiah's herald on the mountains, proclaiming good tidings of salvation, and saying unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
PHARAOH; OR, GOD THE AVENGER OF
BY THE REV. LUKE TYERMAN, OF NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.
“ AND THE LORD SAID UNTO MOSES, RISE UP EARLY IN THE
MORNING, AND STAND BEFORE PHARAOH, AND SAY UNTO HIM,
FOR I WILL AT
EXODUS IX. 13–16.
Some two hundred and fifteen years previous to the time referred to in the text, Jacob and his family, to the number of sixty-six individuals, emigrated from the land of Canaan to the land of Egypt. Jacob's son Joseph was the prime minister in the Egyptian court, and through the influence which he exerted, the king permitted Jacob and his household to fix their residence in Goshen. Seventeen years after this migration Jacob died, was embalmed
* Preached at Newcastle upon Tyne, April 26, 1854, the day appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to be observed as a solemn fast day in reference to the present war.
by the physicians, and at Pharaoh's bidding was honoured with a public funeral; for not only Joseph and his brethren, but “all the servants of the king, and all the elders of the land went up both with chariots and horsemen from Goshen to Canaan, and there burying Jacob in the cave of Machpelah, they mourned with a great and sore lamentation."
Fifty-four years after this Joseph died, was embalmed and put into an Egyptian coffin. On his death-bed, and surrounded by his brethren, he avowed his belief that God, in accordance with his covenant, would bring them back to the land of Canaan, and avowing such a faith, he then and there made them promise, with an oath, that when they went they would take his bones, and bury them with his
Thus ends the book of Genesis, and between this and the beginning of the book of Exodus we find a gap of above a hundred and sixty years. During this lengthened interval the Israelites had greatly increased in numbers, and the reigning monarch dreading their rising influence had determined to reduce them to the most abject slavery. He set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens, and made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field.” They built the public granaries of the land, and, according to Josephus, the pyramids. Notwithstanding, however, the hard service which they were compelled to render, their numbers increased yet more and more. "The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” (Exodus i. 12.) Pharaoh now resorted to another measure.
The daughters of Hebrew slaves were allowed to live, probably in order to contribute to the gratification of Egyptian lusts; but all their new-born sons were ordered to be drowned in the river Nile.
Just at this juncture (sixty-four years after Joseph's death) the providence of God began to work out the redemption of his people. Moses is born and miraculously preserved. The child of a Hebrew slave becomes a nursling in the Egyptian court. Here, surrounded with regal luxuries and pomp, he lives till his fortieth year, his brethren, the Hebrews, still toiling at their tasks, and crushed beneath a despot's heel.
Another incident now occurs—Moses kills an Egyptian, who was smiting a Hebrew. In consequence of this Moses is obliged to flee from the Egyptian court. He makes his way to Midian, and here he dwells for the next forty years. During the whole of this lengthened period his brethren in Egypt are treated with the greatest cruelty; and many a time with an indignant spirit he thin plans to accomplish their deliverance. At length, however, God, who had seen every pang, and had heard every groan, begins the work of avenging them. A bush beside Horeb burns, but is not consumed-out of the bush Moses hears a voice, “I have seen the affliction of my people; I have heard their cry; I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt."
Such was Moses' great commission—he at once starts off-Aaron meets him—the two brothers, after a forty years separation, kiss each other, and then hasten onwards to the throne of Pharaoh, saying with all the boldness of God-sent men-"Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go." Pharaoh's response to this was an edict adding to the people's task. Moses and Aaron go again, and as an evidence that God had sent them, Moses casts his rod before Pharaoh, and the rod turns into a serpent-but the only result is, Pharaoh's hard heart