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Heaven to carry on the plans of Providence, to promote the wisdom and the happiness of mankind, is man's highest glory as it is his truest felicity to do this voluntarily and from the heart, as an obedient, zealous, and cheerful fellow-worker with God. Now, Moses possessed this distinction and felicity in a very eminent degree. God raised up Pharaoh "in very deed for this cause, to shew in him his power, that his great name might be declared throughout all the earth;" and Pharaoh, unhappily for himself, accomplished the designs of Heaven, by his pride, obstinacy and rebellion. God called "Cyrus his anointed, by name, and surnamed him who had not known him, for Jacob his servant's sake, and Israel his elect." Nebuchadnezzar he employed as the rod of his anger to chastise a disobedient and gainsaying people, and then broke it in pieces and dashed it to the ground. These, and many others, stand upon record, as executing the will of the Eternal without their own consciousness or intention, nay, totally against it; but Moses had the rare felicity of engaging in one of the most generous purposes which can animate a hunian breast, knowing it to be, at the same time, the leading, commanding purpose of God himself. Every step be moved was supported by the enlivening reflection, that every step he moved was executing the decrees of the Almighty, and promoting the relief and salvation of his wretched countrymen.
How delightful the progress, when duty and inclination go hand in hand!
The circumstances in which God raised up Moses mark him peculiarly as his own. Every thing concurred to prove, that here "the arm of the Lord was revealed." Another king had arisen, "who knew not Joseph," the hope of Israel seemed to be perishing; Egypt was alarmed with expectation, or rather apprehension, of the appearance of this wonderful child; Israel was awakened to expectation, but abandoned it in despair. To reach the life of one, ten
thousand innocents perish by the sword. But, as if in defiance of the precautions of human wisdom, Moses is born in the very rage of that persecution which threatened his life. The daughter of Pharaoh becomes his protector, and Egyptian Magi vie with each other in rearing that genius, whose ascendant threatened the downfall of their country; and Moses is become great, before the world apprehends that it is he by whose hand God would deliver his people from bondage.
This brings us forward to the period when his personal character began plainly to unfold itself; and it discovers to us a mind superior to every mean, every selfish gratification. Men love to adopt the cause that prevails; and the cause of Israel was at that time low indeed. At a certain period of life passion bears unlimited sway. At forty, the calls of ambition and pride are loudest; and they who are themselves at ease are little disposed to embark in the miseries of others. But in Moses behold a man, not sunk into poverty violently obtruded upon him, but poverty deliberately chosen; a man of forty relinquishing, without reluctance or regret, the pleasures, riches and honors of a court, and exchanging them for the labor and oppression of an Israelitish slave, and glorying in the reproachful name of Hebrew, much more than in that of "the son of Pharaoh's daughter." Behold the manly indignation of a noble spirit hastening to avenge wretchedness and depression of insolence and cruelty, and in the punishment of one oppressor exhibiting an anticipated view of that great deliverance which, in process of time, God was by him to work in behalf of a whole people.
The spirit which beheld Egyptian oppression with just resentment, beheld discord among brethren with godly sorrow and regret. He boldly exposed his life to repel the one; in the spirit of meekness he tried to heal the other; and he very early experienced the un
gracious, and ungrateful, and discouraging requital of services the most kindly intended; the sad presage of that life of mortification unparalleled, and most unmerited, which he was afterwards called to endure. The insolent retort of an unkind brother awakened prudence, and put him for a season to flight; for valor, as the case then stood, valor against such fearful odds, could not have deserved the name of courage, but of rashness.
Providence still directs his path, and conducts him at once to usefulness and happiness. It seems as if the all-wise Jehovah meant to display in Moses an example of the great and of the petty virtues, the virtues of the man, of the citizen, and of the believer united; and in none of his future exploits, perhaps, is he more amiable and more estimable than in protecting the virgin daughters of Jethro from the violence of their rough and surly neighbors. Here we behold again on what delicate hinges the great God turns round the affairs of men. This piece of natural, honest, commendable gallantry, introduces Moses to the acquaintance of a prince, lays the foundation of an important alliance for life, and influences all his future fortunes, and feelings, as a man.
Hence we are conducted to the delicious, the calm, the contemplative period of our hero's mortal existence. We behold a simple shepherd tending a flock ¡not his own, but enjoying tranquillity and contentment; secluded from the society of men, but blessed with the visions of the Almighty; losing himself in sweet oblivion of a busy, bustling world, awake only to the innocent joys of domestic life, and the sublimer pleasures of religion. It was in all probability in this delightful retreat, during this blessed interval of retirement from and unconnectedness with what passed on the great theatre, that, divinely taught, he sung how the heavens and earth rose out of chaos." It was then and there that the Divine Spirit disclosed
to his astonished, his enraptured eye, the years beyond the flood, the spring-season of nature, the first man whom God created upon the earth, the amiableness of pure primeval innocence, the glories of paradise, the unlimited bounty of indulgent Heaven. It was then and there, that good Spirit put the pen into his hand, to trace that sacred record, which has descended to us for our delight and instruction, and which shall remain, till time expire, the wonder, the monitor, the guide of mankind unto all manner of truth.
What a happy period for the human race! how happy for himself. Were the will of man to prevail, who would exchange such a retirement as this, for the noise and glare which captivates fools? But men, such as Moses, are not made for themselves alone; and ill would he have improved the blessings of solitude, had he not learned in it, cheerfully to sacrifice his own humor and his own ease to the work and glory of God.
The time to favor Israel was now come, and Moses must think of privacy and self-enjoyment no longer. By a vision, such as might appal the boldest, and encourage the most fearful, he is remanded to Egypt with a commission, under the seal of Heaven to haughty Pharoah, and he fears no more the wrath of a king.
But we have insensibly deviated into the history of Moses, instead of delineating his character. Are they not, however, one and the same thing? To know what he was, we have but to consider what he said, and how he acted. But how is it possible to comprise, within the bounds of one discourse, a detail of forty active, busy years, from the day that God appeared to him in a flame of fire in the bush, to the day of his ascending to the top of Mount Nebo to die? In general, they contain a display of almost every human shining virtue, brought forward to the eye, and impressed on the heart, by their most lovely foil, modesty, meekness and humility. What magnanimity! united to what
coolness and self-government! what firmness and intrepidity! what patience and gentleness! what consummate wisdom! what amiable simplicity! in youth, in maturity, in old age; in public and in private life; in every relation and condition, who is like him, who deserves to be compared with him? In forming an idea of human excellence, Moses presents himself immediately to my view; it is no longer an idea, it is a delightful reality.
The more attentive part of my hearers will observe that, to complete the proposed plan of this discourse, there is still wanting the general leading idea of all these discourses, the resemblance between the type and the person typified....the analogy of Moses and Christ. This I refer to another Lecture; and beg leave to subjoin, as a proper sequel to this, the following elogium of Moses, translated from the works of an eloquent critic of his writings.*
ELOGIUM OF MOSES.
This most extraordinary personage was presented to the world in very singular circumstances. He appeared at a period of peculiar affliction to his kindred and nation; and Divine Providence seems to have raised him up expressly for the purpose of exemplifying virtues, which distress and persecution alone are calculated to place in the fairest point of light. By a series of miraculous events he escaped, in infancy, the fatal effects of a sanguinary decree, which doomed to death all the male children of the Hebrews, from the womb. And, what highly merits consideration, and serves strikingly to display the influence which Sovereign Wisdom exercises over all the affairs of men, he
Discours Hist. Critiques, &c. sur les Evenemens memoraoles du vieux Testament. par JAQUES SAURIN, Tome I. Discours LXX.