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THE SLAVERY AND DELIVERANCE OF ISRAEL IN - EGYPT.
GEN. xv, 13, 14. And he said unto. Abram, Know of a surely, that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years. And also that nation whom they shall serve will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
Acts vii, 35, 36. This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler, and a deliverer, by the hands of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
THERE is a mournful pleasure in recalling the words, and reviewing the feelings, of those who are gone before; and whose lot in this world, like our own, was mingled in almost equal proportions of good and evil. Time has effected changes, by his slow devastations, which speak to the heart; and we cannot hear the voice of years departed, without feeling our attention arrested, and amid the suspension of our employments, giving reverence to the testimony of those, whose wisdom, snatched from that all-destroying hand, remains upon record, for our instruction. We open this vol. ume, and are surrounded by scenes now blotted out from the face of nature: by actors who have perform. ed their parts, and have vanished out of our sight. Here we see Babylon rearing her majestic head, in awful dignity, over the plains extended on every side. We shut the book, and the mighty empire disappears— “Babylon the great, is fallen! is fallen!” Oblivion has spread an impenetrable mist over the spot on which this queen of the nations stood, and we look in vain for some traces of her former greatness. In the Bible we are introduced to Jerusalem in all her glory. We see the tabernacle of God lifting its hallowed curtains on the summit of Mount Zion. We hear the voice of the “sweet singer of Israel” rising amid the devotions of that dispensation, and his words are chanted to the harmony of a thousand stringed instruments. We withdraw our eyes from the sacred page, and imagination loses her power, the visions which the pleasing enchantress painted before us, vanish; and we see the 'shadows slit away, with regret. But all is not delusion—the words which we hear—the experience of the persons whole lives we study—the precepts which were given them, and which still remain upon record— are engraven upon our hearts in characters never to be obliterated. Customs change with years. Yet is man in the present day, what he was in ages that are passed: only he was surrounded by different scenes, he was led to so by different habits. His peculiar situation, his ... ?" circumstances, exist no longer: but he had the same principles common to human nature, the same feel- ings, the same necessities, the same expectations. Our fathers felt, like ourselves, the pleasures of hope, the
anguish of disappointment, the pantings of suspense, the throbbings of joy, the pangs of fear. They lived uncertain of the future. They trembled as they approached the brink of time. The world which they now inhabit, and the mysteries of which are now laid open to them, was once as secret, and as much an object of the mingled emotions of apprehension and of hope, to them as to us. There were moments when their faith was not in lively exercise, and when the fear of death was as powerfully felt in their bosoms as in our own. Then they fled to this word for support, and derived from it the sweetest consolation. Yes— and we are hastening to be what they are. After a few years, we shall join their society. We are floating down the same stream, over which their vessels have already passed: borne along by the same current, we sail between the same winding banks, pass through the same straits, meet with the same rocks and quicksands, and are agitated by the same tempests: but they have safely anchored in the haven, and we are stretching all our canvass to make the same point of destination, that, with them, we may be sheltered from the storm, for ever! We avail ourselves of the directions which they had left behind them, because in all ages “the Author and Finisher of our faith” is the same. He will be to future generations, what he was to them, what he is to us. When our posterity shall trample upon our dust, when our very names shall have perished from the record of time, when new faces shall appear on this wide and busy scene of action, the name of God will remain to our children, the same as it appears this night to us, the same as it was announced to Moses from the bush which burned with fire and was not consumed—“I AM THAT I AM!”
The channels of a man's information are confined to the past and to the present. He travels with a mist perpetually before his eyes: but when he looks back– the road which he has already trodden is clearly dis. cernible: no vapor hovers over it: it is visible in all its parts, except those very remote portions of it which have dwindled into the obscurity of prolonged perspective. The faithful and impartial record of the inspired pages, causes the earliest periods of time to roll back for the instruction of these latter days. In a moment we feel ourselves transported into the garden of GoD, and hear his voice whispering amid the trees of Paradise in the cool of the day. We accompany the patriarch from his country and his father's house: we traverse with him, conducted by an invisible hand, the land, in the “length thereof, and in the breadth thereof.” we rest wherever he pitches his tent: we participate his domestic joys and sorrows; and at length we follow him to his long home, and see his body deposited in the grave, there to slumber “until the times of the restitution of all things.” We are hurried into the camps of the Alexanders and Caesars of the day: we visit their tents, and listen to their projects to disturb the repose of mankind: we perceive these designs carried into effect, just so far as the wisdom of Providence permits, and no farther; and we see these detroyers of the order and harmony of society, sinking one after another into the dust and the silence of death. History snatches from the hand of time, all that is valuable and useful. By her magic pencil the departed visions of ancient days return, and the fathers pass and repass before our eyes, that we may see, and admire, and imitate their excellencies: that we may abhor and
avoid their vices: that we may pity and escape their
weaknesses: that our understandings may be enlightened, our judgments established in the truth, and our minds conducted through the lowly and peaceful paths. of religion to the eternal temple of God.
And we derive information from the sources of present knowledge, and from the teachings of present experience. Every day adds something to the intellectual stature of anintelligent man: every day developes something important and interesting. The moment reason dawns upon the mind, the man finds himself surrounded by beings occupying the same rank with himself in the scale of creation: he feels his destiny and his happiness inseparably linked with theirs; and he awakes to a sense of new duties, involving in them a correspondent responsibility. He can no longer deem himself an idle spectator of the bustle and activity around him. Every day something transpires which affects : his interests and his peace: or the interest and the peace of those whom he loves; and he is drawn from his solitude in spite of himself—he is roused into exertion. in defiance of his preference for inactivity. He is soon involved in a thousand perplexities. He calls in the assistance of his contemporaries, that he may avail himself of the aid of their observations, in connexion with his own, to learn something of the road which they are mutually travelling; and that by their combined exertions they may more successfully combat, and more effectually subdue, the temptations by which they are mutually assaulted. We are justified then, my friends, in trying every source of information which God permits to us—and not only in availing ourselves. of present experience, but in plundering, as at this time, the past of its treasures.