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he is so; and yet, what is he? A creature sustained by bread, and refreshed by water; he lives by respiring the air which he sucks in; he depends, every instant of his existence, on the aid of every element. Let the quantity or qualities of any one of them be ever so little changed, and that moment he becomes miserable. One rainy or droughthy season makes whole nations to languish; the frost of a night destroys the hope of a year; and a single blast of wind sends mighty navies to the bottom. There is no need of a miracle to plague those whom God means to punish. All nature is at war with his adversaries: the stars in their courses fight against those who fight against God. O may we never be so mad as to provoke that Power by which we are continually supported, and from which we cannot flee! After a chastisement so awful, who could have imagined that Pharaoh was able still to stand out? But the human heart exhibits a mystery of iniquity, which nothing but multiplied experience could render credible. The next summons has a threatening annexed to it; and the moment of refusal is to be the moment of execution. The plague threatened, being particularly specified beforehand, was likely to excite the greater alarm, and thereby to drive the offender to the means of prevention: but, it would appear, Pharaoh despised it. What, terrified at a swarm of frogs! vermin, loathsome indeed, but despicably harmless. How ignorantly do men estimate the judgments of God, when they consider only the instrument which he employs. Men effect little with large and abundant means; God performs wonders with things mean and contemptible. Is a haughty tyrant to be subdued? There is no need of more than twelve legions of angels; an army of frogs in the hand of God, is sufficient for the purpose. Again the magicians are weak enough to assist the plague; at least, they affect to lend their aid; and rather than not to be thought mighty, will seek to themselves a name by doing mischief. Again, the river, which ministered so much to their pride, is made the minister of avenging Heaven to punish them. As its waters were lately all blood, to poison the fishes which it contained, and to taint the air, so now they are all putrefaction, to give dreadful life to an innumerable race of odious vermin, for humbling the proud. Every creature is, and does, just that which God would have it to be, and to do— it becomes either a blessing, or a curse, at his command! And, were we wise enough, to assist our weak, or to correct our erroneous vision, by the optics of the sanctuary, we should behold, under many a fair and flattering form, much loathsomeness and deformity. Pharaoh despised this plague, while it was only threatened, but feels it to be no slight one, when it falls upon him: and he is, in this respect, the image of many a thoughtless sinner, who trifle with the judgments denounced in the word of God, till bitter experience teaches them that every arrow from the quiver of the Almighty is both penetrating and poisonous. The proud heart which refused to bend, at length begins to break; and a slow, lingering, partial, reluctant consent is given to the demand of Heaven; and permission is granted to the people to go, “that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord.” The concession, slight as it is, procures a respite. Mercy, ever on the wing, flies to succour the miserable. We have seen Moses and Aaron executing the judgments of avenging Heaven, by the agency of a rod. Christ himself is the powerful word, by which God made and sustains worlds; the all-potent instrument to save, and to destroy. “With righteousness he shall judge the poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.” Moses acted by a delegated power: Jesus has all power in himself. “Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant: but Christ as a son over his own house.” The same Moses was the deliverer of Israel, and the scourge of Egypt: the same Jesus, who is the author of eternal salvation to them that believe, “shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire: taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “All judgment is committed to the Son.” “He shall reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet.” “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God knowest thou not yet, that Egypt is destroyed?..—Exodus x. 7.
HOW very different an appearance do objects wear, according as they are beautified and exalted by the favour of Heaven, or blasted and disfigured by the curse of an offended God! Eden, before man’s apostacy; Eden fresh planted, by the sovereign hand of the Creator, contained every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, and in the midst of it was the tree of life; but O sad reverse, the fatal effect of transgression! “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;” and the tree of life is removed to happier regions, or guarded from guilty man’s approach, by the flaming sword of the cherubim. The plain of Jordan, well-watered every where, and beautiful as the garden of the Lord, delighted the eyes and allured the heart of Lot, when he separated himself from his uncle Abraham. But O how awfully changed that once delicious spot! The day when Lot went out of it, “Abraham looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and towards all the lands of the plain, and beheld, and lo, the smoke of the coun
try went up, as the smoke of a furnace.” What a charming prospect did Egypt present in the days of her glory? Her fertile surface, covered with the silver flux of her stately, overflowing river, except where thousands of populous cities lifted up their proud heads to the skies; or, when the river retreated, her golden, luxuriant harvests waving with the fragrant wind. How changed the scene, when the Nile ran, not water, but blood; after the murrain had destroyed all their cattle; after the lightning and the hail had blasted every tree, had devoured every herb, and the “locusts had consumed what the hail had left!” What makes earth resemble heaven; and men like angels? The presence, the blessing, and the image of God! What once covered the earth with water, and shall at length destroy it by fire? What sinks men to the level of diabolical, damned spirits, and adds tenfold horror to gloomy hell? The wrath of the Almighty, and the deprivation of his glorious similitude. Nature sinks under the description and the denunciation of the divine displeasure. What must it be to endure its dreadful effects, without intermission, and without end! Instead of going into a particular detail of the subsequent plagues wherewith God afflicted Egypt, we shall suggest a few historical and practical remarks upon the subject in general, serving to unfold the windings and the workings of the human heart, to illustrate and vindicate the ways of Providence, to expose the madness of striving against God, and to display the wisdom, the safety and the happiness of submitting readily, cheerfully and universally to the divine authority. And, first. We observe, that as God has many inconceivable methods of doing good to men: so his power of punishing is unlimited, and the treasures of his wrath are far beyond what fear itself, which magnifies every object, can fancy. Of his glorious capa