As God had provided for the kind entertainment of the Israelites, by the means of Joseph, whom he sent before them, so he could have provided for the continuation of their tranquillity, and restrained Pharaoh from this tyrannical conduct. But he chose to bring all these distresses upon them, to wean them from the idols and pleasures of Egypt; to make them mindful of the promised land, and to prepare them for their approaching deliverance, and for their wilderness travels.

Therefore he wisely let Pharaoh take his course. For the Israelites were so kindly received in Joseph's day, and so generously provided for, that they began after a while to forget the land of Canaan, and feel themselves at home, and fall in love with the customs and idolatries of Egypt. And had it not been that Pharaoh attempted their slavery, and treated them with so great severity, there would have been danger of their forgetting the God of their fathers totally, and incorporating at length with the Egyptians; so that they greatly needed these distresses to make them willing to leave Egypt, and discern the goodness of God in their deliverance, and to awaken them and their posterity, in ages then to come, to a sense of their great obligations to God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage.

Besides, at the same time that God, by the cruel tyranny of Pharaoh, was preparing the Israelites for their deliverance, he also overruled his barbarity to give an occasion of raising them up a deliverer. For Pharaoh having ordered all the male children to be cast into the river, Moses' mother, after having concealed him three months, durst keep him no longer, and so left him in an ark of bulrushes, at the side of the river, to the mercy of the cruel Egyptians. Here Pharaoh's daughter finds him ; is touched with compassion; and relieves the poor weeping infant. And now Moses is called “the son of Pharaoh's daughter," and is educated in Pharaoh's court, and instructed in all the learning of Egypt; and finally, completely furnished for the glorious work designed him. For, Pharaoh seeking Moses' life, he was obliged to flee to the land of Midian ; where, in the solitary life of a shepherd, he spent forty years, until he became the meekest man on earth. And being thus endowed with an extraordinary measure of human learning and of divine grace, God sends him to deliver his people, who had been groaning under their sore bondage above one hundred years. “O the depth both of the wisdom and knowledge of God !”

The very methods which Pharaoh, in his great policy, takes to bind down the Hebrews in perpetual slavery, God overrules, to prepare them for, and to bring out their deliverance. And

while Pharaoh is hurried on in his schemes by his insatiable avarice, and indulges in barbarous cruelty, God, the infinitely wise Superintendent, calmly looks on, and lets him take his course, conscious of his own almightiness, and having his own glorious plan all before him. And how know we but that this same infinitely wise being, who has had the government of the universe in his hands from the begivning, had some noble, Godlike design in view, when he first permitted sin and misery to enter into the world which he had made ?

3d. But I proceed to a third instance of the wisdom of God in the permission of sin.

Pharaoh, full of a sense of his own greatness and power, and of the advantages which would accrue to him from the labors of so many servants, no sooner perceived Moses' design, but he firmly resolved never to let Israel go. And when Moses assured him that the God of the Hebrews had appeared to him, he bade defiance, not only to Moses, but to his God. “I know not the Lord, nor will I let Israel go." And the more Moses insisted upon their release, the more his pride and covetousness wrought. For his honor's sake he scorned to yield ; and for his interest's sake he many a time resolved he never would; for the supreme Monarch of the universe, who does according to his pleasure in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, had looked on the bold, the daring, the haughty wretch, and determined to leave him to his own heart, to take his own way, and do as he pleased; foreseeing just how he would conduct, and how the affair would finally issue.

Go, says God to Moses, go unto Pharaoh, and say, "Thus saith the Lord, Let Israel go, that they may serve me. But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go; no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders, which I will do in the midst thereof. And Pharaoh shall know that I am the Lord ; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. Yea, my name shall be declared throughout all the earth. And thus do I order the affair, that thou also mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs that I have done amongst them, that ye may know that I am the Lord.”

Moses goes and delivers his message to Pharaoh, saying, 6. Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.” "Be gone to your burdens," says Pharaoh to the Israelites. “And you, Moses, do you hinder the people no longer from their labor. And you, task-masters, give them no straw; for they are idle and wanton, and full of VOL. II.


notions; but I will tame these Hebrews, and make them know they had better have been content where they were.” So the task-masters with rigor drive on the Israelites to perform their impossible tasks, and beat them for non-performance. They cry to Pharaoh, but cry in vain. “ Ye are idle, ye are idle,” says he, “and full of notions. Be gone! No mercy shall be shown you. I will make you repent your new scheme before I have done with you.” Thus Pharaoh storms, drives, sets up himself, hardens his heart, resolved they shall never go.

Whereupon the God of Israel "wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan. He turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink: he sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them: he gave also their increase unto the caterpillar, and their labor unto the locust : he devoured their vines with hail, and their sycamore-trees with frost: he gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts: he cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them: he made a way to his anger: he spared not their souls from death ; but gave their life over to the pestilence; and smote all the first-born in Egypt; the chief of their strength, in the tabernacles of Ham. But made his own people to go forth like sheep: he led them on safely; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies."

Pharaoh's design was, if possible, to prevent the egress of the Hebrews, that he might keep them for his slaves ; and that they and all the world might know, that he was too potent and mighty a prince to be subdued and conquered by the God of the Hebrews, to whom, from the beginning, he had bid defiance.

God's designs were, by severe and cruel bondage, to wean the Israelites from Egypt ; or, at least, to force them, weaned or not, to leave the country and be gone. Therefore he let Pharaoh loose, so unmercifully to oppress them. And as for Pharaoh, God let him lift up himself, harden his heart, be as stout and haughty as he pleased ; that, as he was desirous, so he might have full opportunity to try his strength with the God of the Hebrews; that, in the issue, he might know, and the Egyptians might know, to their shame and confusion, that he was the Lord, the only true and living God, infinitely superior to all their idols. And, in the mean time, he designed to give a lively picture of himself, as of one infinitely too wise, great, and powerful, for feeble mortals to contend with ; resolved to vindicate his own honor at all events, and revenge

affronts offered his majesty, and carry on his own designs in spite of all opposition, that the Israelites might see it, and know it for their good ; that all the inhabitants of Canaan might be struck into a panic; and, indeed, that his name might be declared throughout all the earth. For he intended that these his mighty works should never be forgotten among men, so long as the sun and moon should endure.

Methinks I behold Moses, on the other side of the Red Sea, standing safe on the shore, while the carcasses of the Egyptians, their broken chariots, their drowned horses, part sunk to the bottom, and part floating upon the sea, and scattered along the coasts. There he stands; he looks back, he surveys the gracious, the dreadful, the glorious works of the God of Abraham, from the day he saw the burning bush in the wilderness of Horeb, and received his commission to act in this grand affair. Pharaoh's haughty temper, his impious, covetous, tyrannical, deceitful conduct, all rise clear to his view. The astonishing works of the God of Israel, his righteous vengeance on his foes, his self-moving goodness and sovereign grace to the Israelites, torn away from their idols, and delivered out of the house of bondage, all fill his astonished soul; and the powerful impressions penetrate the centre of his heart. He looks forward, too, to the promised Canaan, to which the Almighty had now undertaken to lead them, and imagines what terror the news of all these things would spread through all the land. Inspired with these views, ravished with the glory of the God of Israel, charmed with the majesty and beauty of the divine conduct, he spake, saying,

"I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously ; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation. He is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation; my fathers' God, and I will exalt him. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power. Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee. Thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods ? Who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Thou, in thy mercy, hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed. The people shall hear and be afraid. Sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine. All the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them. By the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O

Lord, till the people pass over which thou hast purchased. The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”

And while Moses thus sang the praises of God, the supreme Monarch of the universe, and celebrated his glorious triumph over Pharaoh and all his idol gods ; so ravished with the wisdom, glory, and beauty of the divine conduct, as to be even more attached to his honor and interest than ever, and even the better prepared to conduct with that steady fidelity through all the future trials of his life, always true to God, and heartily concerned to see the honor of his great name secured; I say, while Moses was full of these divine views and tempers on this grand occasion, all Egypt were in profound darkness; and these dispensations, so bright and glorious in the view of Moses, to them appeared gloomy as death.

And if these dispensations of divine providence, which to the Egyptians appeared so dark and gloomy, to Moses appeared so full of divine wisdom, beauty, and glory, how know we but that God's whole plan of government, how dark soever it may now appear to a revolted world, under God's displeasure, may, to saints and angels, after the general judgment, appear perfect in wisdom, glory, and beauty, and be matter of their eternal delight and praise ?

4th. But I proceed, fourthly, to other instances of the wisdom of God in the permission of sin.

The Israelites, having thus escaped the hands of Pharaoh, and recovered their liberty, had it been left to them to direct their march, and point out their future fortunes, they might perhaps have thought it best, that, being led on directly to the land of Canaan, they should, by the mighty power of God, have been put into an immediate possession, to be followed with scenes of feasting, joy, and mirth, never to be interrupted.

But God, who knew their hearts, who knew how deeply tainted they were with the idolatries and manners of Egypt, and how high a relish they had for sensual pleasures, might easily foresee how all sense of the true God would soon be lost in the midst of such prosperity, and they become no better than the ejected Canaanites. Besides, he saw that in almost every other respect, they were as yet unprepared to enter the promised land ; and also he designed them for our ensamples, and his dispensations towards them for the instruction of mankind to the end of the world. Wherefore, let us attend to the divine conduct, and behold the manifold wisdom of God.

He had torn them away from their idols, their leeks, their onions, and their flesh-pots, to which they were stupidly attached. He had sent to them, by Moses, and commanded, that

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