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something that would make it appear more wonderful. The second way is, by accounts written. This is far more certain; for when a thing is put down in writing, it cannot be altered materially, except on purpose : and, if the writing be on some subject which it is important to a nation to preserve faithfully, they have it safely laid up, and take care that the copies made of it should be correct. If the account was not written till a good while after the death of those whose actions it relates, we cannot so much depend upon it, because then the writer must have obtained his accounts by tradition: but if it is written directly after the things happened, and there are proofs in it of the writer being a sincere and impartial person, we may receive it without fear, as a true account. This was the case with the writings of Moses: and his openly recording his own faults and weaknesses, shews that he was sincere and impartial. The third way of coming at a knowledge of the past, is—by monuments set up, or by days and ceremonies being observed in memory of them,--as the monument of the fire in London, and the bonfires on the fifth of November now. It is certain, that at this present time there is a feast observed among the Jews, in memory of their deliverance out of Egypt, called the passover. How came this feast ever to be observed ? Such a thing being kept by a whole nation, shews that they believe in the thing which it professes to be a memorial of. The observance of a particular day, and of particular ceremonies, from year to year, gives certainty to the circumstances they commemorate; and thus we, who live several thousand years after, have, through the Jews' passover, a certainty that the train of miracles ---of which the slaughter of the first-born was the last and most fearful,-actually took place under the eyes of those Jews who first partook of it. To make a whole river appear. like blood, would be as difficult as to turn it into blood.; Remarks on the Seventh Chapter of Exodus. 293 and as this, and the other wonders recorded, took place on his stretching out his rod, this proves that Moses was really sent by the Almighty himself. : V. 11, 12. « Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.” How was this? How could the magicians of Egypt do "in like manner with their enchantments ?" Were they also sent by God? No: they did not so much as pretend to be : but they shewed what appearances their arts were able to produce, in order to discredit the miracle of Moses, and to persuade the lookers on that he was only a magician like themselves. Such wonders as they worked may be seen still. We even now often hear of jugglers. They are so skilful in sleight of hand, (as it is called), that they do things as surprising as these. The magicians were sent for after Aaron's rod had been turned into a serpent. They came prepared for what was expected of them. Most likely they had hollow rods, with serpents hidden in them; (these creatures are often tamed by those who understand their nature;) and; as they threw down the stick, they skilfully drew out what confined the serpent, and caught up the rod again too quickly for the eye to follow them. But the serpent into which Aaron's rod had turned, swallowed up their's, and thereby it was shewn that what the servants of God had done, was no trick, but truly a miracle. · V, 14-21. Then came the first plague-which was not inflicted till Pharaoh had refused to hearken to the command of God, when confirmed by a miracle, having nothing in it of the nature of a judgment. The Lord proved him before he began to punish. The river, the streams, the ponds, the pools, were all turned to blood, by the lifting up of Aaron's rod; so that the water they took up was nothing but blood; the Egyptians loathed to drink it :-their only resource was to dig “round about the river;" and then, it seems, water sprang up fit for use. . V. 22. “And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments.” If they had restored the water, it would have been of some use ; but all they could do, was, by their hidden arts, (as the word enchantment signifies here,) to change the colour of water brought to them for the purpose,—which may easily be done by some preparations; though to change a whole river could be done no otherwise than by miracle. How wisely God provided against the cavils and objections of unbelievers in these mi, racles! If they had been done in a corner, only before a few of Moses' friends, and upon so small a scale, that the arts and tricks of cunning men could do as much, there would have been nothing to satisfy us that they were wrought by the power of God: but all was performed in the open face of day, before enemies keen to discover if there had been any deceit, and upon so large a scale that it was utterly impossible for the most skilful juggler to have accomplished such a thing. A river all blood!
miles and miles from the place where Aaron stood and stretched out his rod! And this afterwards be. came so evident, that the magicians were compelled to give up the attempt. False miracles-tricks which had some likeness to the wonders God has, for important purposes, enabled his servants to perform have often followed real ones :- just as false coin will be forged in imitation of sterling money. Among the Roman Catholics 'there are these forged miracles; but they are so 'managed, as to avoid a thorough enquiry;---they are wrought among people who are ready and anxious to receive themfor the profit of those who perform them and in order to
On Patience under Suffering. 295 support a religion already established, not to prove the truth of a new doctrine.
V. 25. “ And seven days were fulfilled," &c.It is remarkable that the first punishment inflicted on Egypt, was by means of that river in which they had drowned the Hebrew children. In the course of seven days could they fail to feel the rebuke which the bloody waters would seem to give them? But what a state the country was in—wherever they had been used to resort for fresh and wholesome water, they were now disgusted with the sight of blood : and even in their houses, in the vessels where water stood, all was now blood. The fish, (on which many of them lived) died, and the river stank: yet « Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also". he shut himself up from the sight of it; as if resolved the misery which so many could not avoid, should not disturb him. But, at the end of a week, the Lord, in mercy, delivered the land from that plague.
T. B. P.
ON PATIENCE UNDER SUFFERING. .
No virtue is more necessary in our journey through life than patience; and by nothing is the Christian more truly distinguished, than by the patience with which he bears all the trials and afflictions which are his lot on earth. If we were willing to consult our own happiness, not only hereafter, but in this world also, I am sure we should always cultivate and pray for a patient temper. An impatient man adds greatly to his real trials by the manner in which he bears them; he suffers the most trifling thing to annoy him, and his composure is ruffled on the slightest provocation: he is disagreeable to all about him: and the knowledge of this heightens his sufferings. This must necessarily be the case with the worldly man; he “sets his affections on things on the earth, not on things above;" and therefore looks for all his happiness here, and is irritable and impatient when he finds his wishes contradicted. But I much fear, that, if we look at those who profess to be Christians, we shall find that the same disposition is often too evident in all men; I fear, indeed, that we are all too apt to look for our reward here, instead of considering that this world is not our abiding place, but á passage to a better, and that our trials here are the exercises to call forth those graces which are to fit us for the happiness of the world to come.
Could we but learn to consider all that befalls us as ordained by a Providence who ordereth all things both in heaven and earth, and without whose knowledge not a sparrow falleth to the ground, surely we should learn to submit to all our trials with meekness and resignation. Though the worldly man sinks when his worldly prospects are blighted, we do not expect that the Christian is also to sink under the load of affliction; he has a father in heaven to whom he may always look up in his greatest need; who at the same time that He sends the burden, sends also strength to bear it. Hath He not said, " As is thy day so shall thy strength be;" and is He not able to perform that which He has promised ? Perhaps, sometimes when we are mur. muring at the heavy trials with which God sees fit to visit us, if we were, for one instant, to reflect on our sins, and on the heavy punishment which they deserve, we should exclaim, God is indeed a God of mercy, not to proportion my chastisement to the weight of my sins; and then, instead of rebelling against God's righteous judgments, we should humble ourselves before His mighty hand, and, with heartfelt gratitude confess our own unworthi, ness, and His unspeakable mercy. . :