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of the true religion, and to the condemnation.of an idolatrous world, who had forsaken the Lord Jehovah, and gone after idols, that could neither see, nor hear, nor help. All which good ends, and many more, God had in view. Wherefore,
Although Joseph's brethren acted a very wicked, cruel, God-provoking part, in selling their brother, notwithstanding all his cries and tears, and the anguish of his soul, with an en: vious, malicious, and impious intention to prevent the accomplishinent of his divine dreams, scoffingly saying among themselves, “ And then we shall see what will become of his dreams ;" yet, at the same time, the God of Abraham, acted truly like himself, a noble, a God-like part, in letting them take their course, with a design to over-rule it, as he did to accomplish his dreams; and that in a way so much to his own glory, and so much to the general good. And how know we but that the infinitely wise Governor of the universe, when he permitted angels and man to fall, and things in the intelligent system to take such a course as they have, designed to over-rule the whole so, (according to a plan he had then in view,) as tbat, in the issue, God should be more exalted, and the system more holy and happy than if sin and misery had nerer entered ?
But to proceed to a
od Instance of the wisdom of God in the permission of sin. Sometime after Joseph's death, when the children of Israel were greatly multiplied, there arose another king in Egypt, who knew not Joseph, nor paid the least regard to his memory; who, to enrich himself, attempted to bring the Israelites into a perpetual bondage, and to that end set task-masters over them, who made them serve with rigour. And, observing how exceedingly they multiplied, lest they should become too numerous and
up out of a land in which they were so abused, Pharoah ordered the midwives to kill their male children. But the midwives proving unfaithful to his injunctions, he laid his commands on all his people in general, to take every male child and cast it into the river*. All which was inhuman and barbarous to the last degree. As God had provided for the kind entertainment of the Israelites, by the means of Joseph, whoin 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 Joseple’s day, and so generously provided for, that they began after a while to forget the land of Canaan, and feel theinselves at home, and fall in love with the customs and idolatries of Egypt. And had it pot been that Pharaoh atteinpted 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*.
* Exodus 1.
Besides, at the same time that God, by the cruel tyranny of Pharaoh, was preparing the Israelites for their deliverance, he also over-ruled 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 bim 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 ; 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 fee 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 bim to deliver his people, who had been groaning under their sore bondage above one hundred years. “O, the depth of the knowledge and wisdom of God !!!
* Exodus xx. 2.
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 about their deliverance. And while Pharaoh is hurried on in his schemes, by his insatiable avarice, and indulges to barbarous cruelty, God, the infinitely wise superintendant, 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 beginning, had some noble God-like design in view, when he first permitted sin and misery to enter into the world which he had made ?
But to proceed to a 3d 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 labours of so many servants, no sooner perceived Moses' design, but be firmly resolved never to let Israel go. And when Moses assured him that the God of the Hebrews had appeared to him, he bid 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 honour'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, " Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, let my people go, that they may serve me.” “Begone to your burdens,” says Pharaoh to the Israelites. “ And you, Moses, do you hinder the people no longer from their labour. And you, task-masters, give them no straw; for they are idle and wanton, and full of notions; but I will tame these Hebrews, and make them know they had better been content where they were.” So the task-masters with rigour 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 labour unto the locust: He devoured their vines with hail, and their sicamore. 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 ainong them: He made a way to his anger ; he spared not their soul 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 bimself, 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 inortals to contend with ; resolved to vindicate his own honour 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 be intended that these his inighty 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 Aoating 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; bis