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same argument hold thus, I need not strive to live by using the means of life, for if continuance of life is decreed for me, I shall live do what I will, if not, I shall die do what I can? The objection is not more futile in the one case, than in the other."
EXODUS ix. 16.
In very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
Ir were rationally to be expected from a variety of considerations, in arguing à priori, that if ever God should vouchsafe to favour mankind with a written revelation of his will, it would contain many assertions and modes of expression, which, in process of time, must unavoidably become obscure and ❝ hard to be understood;" and which men of ungodly minds would "wrest unto their own destruction." This difficulty would also be considerably increased, so soon, as ever the original language, in which such revelation was communicated, ceased to be the living language of men.
To vindicate, therefore, any obscure passages or expressions in holy scripture from misrepresentation or misconstruction; to give them a fair and satisfactory interpretation; and hereby to show, that they are perfectly consonant both to the known attributes of the divine nature, and to the whole analogy of faith, appears to be an employment well worthy of every man who is a friend to genuine religion; and it is the hope of affording a little assistance in the accomplishment of so laudable a design, that has given rise to the following remarks, which are, with deference, submitted to the candid examination of every pious and judicious reader.
Whilst I contemplated, many years ago, the different explana- tions which different expositors and commentators had given to Exod. ix. 16. in connexion with the correspondent quotation of St. Paul in Rom. ix. 17.; and had observed that such writers, whether Calvinistic or Arminian, were manifestly biassed by a partiality to their respective systems of christian theology; a conjecture arose in my mind, that possibly the specific Pharaoh, of whom the scripture makes mention in Exod. ix. did not reign in Egypt by the title of hereditary right; or, that he did not succeed to the throne in a lineal descent from that Pharaoh, who was the illustrious patron of Joseph and his kindred; but either by violent usurpation, or by descent, in some distant collateral branch from the original stem; and that if such conjecture could be substantia
ted by solid evidence, the great difficulty, which had hitherto been the subject of dispute, would instantly vanish. For it would then be seen that the sacred historian, on whose authority the ambiguous assertion rested, had simply related an event which came to pass in the course of God's providence, previously to the effusion of the miraculous plagues on a guilty land; and, moreover, that the said Pharaoh was raised up by divine appointment to be an oppressor for a season both to the Egyptians and the Israelites, in the same sense as Attila, king of the Huns, was to the Pagans, and christians of the Roman empire in a later age.
This conjecture naturally led to a diligent examination of the Hebrew text in the Old Testament, and of the Greek in the New, in order to discover whether it was at all inconsistent with the letter of divine inspiration. For the words themselves (it was taken for granted) could never be made fairly and without violence to imply, either in Hebrew or Greek, that God purposely created or brought into existence an execrable tyrant, that in him might be displayed the awful nature and extent of avenging wrath. That such a meaning, however, has actually been ascribed to the passage before us, is a notorious fact; and, in proof, it will be sufficient to appeal to Beza's interpretation of mysiga es, feci ut existeres. Yet I am not so uncharitable as to suppose, that either Beza, or others who concurred with him in sentiment, ever cherished the thought of imputing to God the origin of moral evil; but that they here adopted an interpretation which seemed in their judgment to be most natural and most agreeable to the letter of the Hebrew, without duly adverting to the conclusion deducible from it.
The words in Exod. ix. 16. are, "In very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." And the words as quoted by St. Paul, in Rom. ix. 17. are exactly parallel, viz. "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee; and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth."
The Hebrew word, on which the whole weight of the difficulty lies, is ; of which our translators have honestly given us a literal rendering in the margin, " made the stand." But this is a metaphorical mode of diction, which they have wisely declined to admit into the text; because it does not exactly harmonize with the term adopted by St. Paul, saytiga. And it is remarkable, that snyga is not the word, which the LXX. have used, but diilngrs, thou hast been preserved; which, whether intended or not, is an evasion of the difficulty; a dissection, rather than a solution, of
the Gordian knot. We must therefore conclude, that St. Paul purposely deviated from the Septuagint version, (and there are many more instances of the like deviation in all the writings of the New Testament) and was divinely directed, for the better instruction of christians, to translate the original anew.
It would now be a waste of time to amuse the reader with the various significations, of which the word n is capable. Whoever wishes to see them recited in detail, may consult Poole's Synopsis, both on Exod. ix. 16. and Rom. ix. 17. St. Paul's
yiga is an unexpectionable warrant for our present translation, I have raised thee up. If therefore we consider the idea which the sacred writers wished to convey, as coinciding with exaltation, advancement, promotion, and the like; the question immediately occurs, in what did it consist? or, what was the peculiar eminence of station, to which God was pleased to exalt him? It was that of a regal throne. For, by the invisible hand of divine providence, he was advanced to the high honour of presiding as sovereign over all the land of Egypt. This furnishes an easy explanation to Exod. i. 8. and derives a degree of authenticity from it. "Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." Hereby was verified that observation, which was afterward made by Daniel the prophet," The most high ruleth in the kingdom of men, and he giveth it to whomsoever he will. He changeth the times and the seasons. He removeth kings and setteth up kings."
Conceiving that I had discovered the true sense of the passage, I was naturally led farther to inquire, whether it received a sanction from any other history besides that of Moses. And though the inquiry did not afford complete satisfaction, yet it was not entirely fruitless.
It is generally allowed that the word pharaoh, in the ancient Egyptian language, was a name of office, and signified a king; and that there are many pharaohs of Egypt mentioned in scripture. The first four of them claim our present attention; and possibly, between these, one or more others might have intervened, and swayed the Egyptian sceptre, whom the scripture has passed over in silence. The first of them lived in the time of Abraham. The second was he, whose dreams were interpreted by Joseph. The third distinguished himself by his base ingratitude in forgetting the invaluable services of Joseph, and by his cruel edict which doomed all the male infants of the Hebrews to submersion in the Nile; and under his reign Moses was born. The fourth was that tyrannical monster, to whom Moses and Aaron addressed themselves by divine commission, and who was soon afterward drowned in the Red Sea.
The third appears to have had no male heir, in default whereof his daughter seems to have patronised the Hebrew infant, Moses. And she not only rescued him from the general massacre; but gave him a princely education, on purpose to qualify him for wearing the crown of Egypt after the demise of her father. For Moses himself informs us, Exod. ii. 9, 10, that, after he had been nursed for a time at the expense of Pharaoh's daughter, he was "brought unto her, and became her son. And she called his name MOSES." St. Paul also says, Heb. xi. 24-6. "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 of Egypt.
In corroboration of this sentiment, we learn from Josephus, in his second book of Jewish Antiquities, chap. v. that her name was Thermutis; and that previously to the birth of Moses, the royalty had been transferred to another family. But who was the immediate predecessor, or immediate successor, of her father, is a matter of which neither Josephus nor the scriptures have given us any information. He says, however, that Thermutis, having no offspring of her own, adopted Moses for her child on account of his divine beauty and excellent understanding; and that she also presented him to her father, as one that should succeed him in his kingdom; and that, after the death of her father, Moses, by divine instruction, addressed himself to the Hebrews, and prevailed on them to accept him for their leader in departing out of the land; and then presented himself before the king, who had newly assumed the reins of government, and expostulated with him on the subject of their liberation. But the king's name he has not mentioned. Neither can the point be ascertained by an appeal to the testimony of any other historian of Jewish or profane antiquity. For the chronological succession of the first kings of Egypt is so deeply enveloped in obscurity, and all that Herodotus, Diodorus, Eratosthenes, and others, have written on the subject, is so replete with mutual contradictions, that it has been considered by many learned men as in a great measure fabulous and uncertain.
The declaration of Jehovah, in the passage before us, appears now to be simply as follows. "For this cause have I exalted thee from thy former station to the august throne of Egypt, that in thee I might display the boundless extent of my power; and that, by thine instrumentality, I might declare my name (all the awful and adorable attributes of my essential character) throughout all the earth!" E.
We are favoured with the following letter from Capt. Benjamin Wickes, dated London, April 2d, 1806, which has lately been received by his friends in this place.
I wrote you a few days after my arrival at this place, and gave you I think some general account of what had happened to me since I saw you; but as I do not remember particulars, perhaps I may in this repeat some things I have already mentioned. We are going from London to Calcutta; two missionaries with their wives are going with us from the baptist society, and a young woman espoused to a missionary already in Bengal from the London society, and there to be married. On the 12th of last month, the baptist missionaries were ordained at Oxford, and set a part for the mission at Bengal. I went to Oxford on this occasion, and was witness of a very solemn scene, and was treated with all that tenderness, that would have been due to an eminently good and useful man. Alas! for us, how easy is it for man to be mistaken! These people went so far in a full meeting of their missionary society to vote me their thanks for the part I had acted in favour of their mission, and requested that I would set for their limner in London, to take my likeness, to be deposited among the most
noted of those that have been, are now, and may hereafter be, engaged in this work. This has been done, and whatever may be the consequence, I take it as I think it is meant, an expression of gratitude to a stranger who has given some proofs of favouring their cause. On
a remarkable instance before our eyes, of
BENJAMIN WICKES, Sen.
my return to London I found that the
Lord had blessed the ministry of the Jew
awakened under that sermon which you