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behind, not the smallest thing to tempt us to turn back again ; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God ; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither, what solemn and extraordinary sacrifices will be
required. 27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not
let them go ; he did not permit Pharaoh to comply with this 28 motion, but suffered him to go on in his obstinacy. And Pha
raoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more : for in [that] day thou seest my face thou shalt die. Strange, that he should threaten a person with
death who had done such miracles, and might strike him dead on 29 the spot ! And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, or right;
80 it shall come to pass : as thou hast warned me, I a8sure thee in the name of God, thai thou shalt see me no more, either to beg my prayers, or be helped out of thy troubles by my means ; I will see thy face again po more.
1. WWE see the folly of refusing to humble ourselves before
VV God. Our message to every sinner is the same as that of Moses to Pharaoh, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself ? and this is a just description of the nature of true repent. ance. Men are exhorted and besought to do this ; and it is highly fit and reasonable that creatures who have offended should humble themselves, acknowledge God's righteousness, and own their distress, and with humility entreat his favour. God expects this from all men, for all have sinned: the greatest are not exempted; he insists upon it, that they reverence and bow down before him. For neglecting this, Belshazzar was punished : and all those who lift themselves up against God, who act proudly and arrogantly, shall soon be brought low. Remember, it is not sufficient that we show external reverence to God; unless the heart be humble, and our dispositions be sincere and contrite, it will be so far from securing us, that it will make our case worse, and our plagues the more wonderful.
2. We see the inefficacy of partial reformation, and a partial compliance with the commands of God. Pharaoh offers some terms, but will not come up to God's requirements. He never yields God his whole demands, but, as Bp. HALL expresses it, i dodges like some hard chapman. First, Israel shall not go. Then, they may sacrifice, but it shall be in Egypt. Then, in the wilderness, but not far off. He would then allow the men, and then the children, but not the cattle. In this manner do sinners trifle with the almighty and everlasting God : when his word and their own consciences alarm them, they will part with one lust, and then another, that which they can spare with least reluctance,
and are least profited by ; but still they have some foolish reserve, they have some favourite passion, that they will indulge : they will not part with every lust, nor give up their whole heart to God, Thus Herod heard John gladly, and did some things. This is a foolish and absurd conduct ; for there is no treating with God, without surrendering at discretion. If we would be accepted of him, we must esteem his precepts concerning all things 10 be right, and hate every false way.
3. See the vanity of confessing sin, when it is not reformed. Pharaoh acknowledges his sin, prays that he may be forgiven, and desires Moses to intercede for him ; but at the same time was hardening his heart. He prays to be forgiven this once, which implies a promise that he would offend no more : but all this was the effect of a fright; he had no serious meaning in it. Thus sinners, when greatly terrified, think of repenting, and perhaps call upon God for mercy, entreat the prayers of others, and promise how holy and obedient they will be ; while their hearts continue the same ; and they are deceiving themselves, while at: tempting to mock God. Such unhappy persons sin against the convictions of their own minds ; and their hearts grow harder, by every instance in which the word or providence of God seems to soften them, while they continue impenitent and unreformed. Let us guard against such a mistake as this. It is in vain to confess sin, and express our shame and grief on account of it, while we do not utterly forsake it. Remember how that promise is expressed, He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall find mercy.
4. The state of the Egyptians and Israelites during the plague of darkness, is a lively emblem of the different condition of saints and sinners. Darkness overshadowed the Egyptians ; a terrible emblem of that darkness of mind in which sinners are involved : they are surrounded with spiritual darkness ; the god of this world hath blinded their eyes. But saints are children of light ; they were once darkness, but are made light in the Lord ; they walk in his light. How happy the condition of the Israel of God, of all upright souls, to whom there ariseth light in the thickest darkness. Thus it is said in Isa. Ix. 1, 2. (in which there is probably an allusion to the story before us) Arise, shine, for thy kight is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people ; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. Sinners shall be banished to a state of everlasting darkness ; for then there is reserved blackness of darkness for ever, But light is sown for the righteous ; they shall be advanced to a world, where the sun shall no more be their light by day, neither for bright. nes& shall the moon give light unto them, but the Lord shall be unto them an everlasting light, and their God, their glory. And he shall lead them to fountains of living water, and wipe away all tears from
their eyes. And the inhabitants shall not say, I am sick; the peoa ple that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.
5. See the goodness of God, in the complete redemption of Israel, not a hoof was left behind. He that has begun deliverance, will complete it. But there is a nobler salvation, which God hath in reserve for his people, and he will complete and perfect that also. He will not lose the meanest of his servants, nor suffer one to remain under the power and tyranny of the god of this world. Nay, he will not lose the meanest part of this mortal body ; every part of the stamina, or principles of it, shall be raised from the bondage of corruption ; he will swallow up death in victory ; and give all his people a full release from the power of the enemy. The history afterward shows, that the words of Nioses were made good ; and we have the assurance of a faithful God, that the deliverance and salvation of all his servants shall also be complete ; and when he gathers his saints together out of this lower world, to bring them to the land that he hath promised, not one shall be left behind. Faithful is he that hath promised, who will also do it ; not one tittle of his word shall fail to be accomplished.
In the conclusion of the last chapter, Moscs said to Pharaoh, I will
see thy face again no more. It is generally thought, that before he went out he threatened the last plague ; if so, the three first verses of this chapter must be in a parenthesis. But perhaps Pharaoh, contrary to his resolution, sent for Moses again; as it is plain he did, afier the firstborn were slain. I AND the LORD said unto Moses, Yet, will I bring one
Hi plague [more] upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterward he will let you go hence : when he shall let (you) go,
he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether ; he shall be 2 glad to get rid of you, even by force. Speak now in the ears
of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour,
and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jew3 els of gold.* And the Lord gave the people favour in the
sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses (was] very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people. This was the reason why the courtiers did not meddle with Moses, and why the
• Many objections have been made to this conduct of Moses, and many commentators, and others, have endeavoured to vindicate it, but have done it very indifferently. The truth is, the Hebrew word Shoul does not signify to borriw, but to ask one to rise, as Psalm ii 8. ask of me, C. God here said, Ask of, or request your neighbours to give you such things, and I will dispose their minds to show you favour ; and so he did, v. 3. See ch. iii. 22.
Égyptians 80 readily granted the requests of the Israelites. 4. And Moses said to Pharaoh, before he went out of his pres.
ence, (compare v. 8. with ch. x. 29.) Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt, will manifest my power in an eminent manner, without using thy rod, 5 or any other instrument : And all the firstborn in the land of
Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, his son and successor, even unto the firstborn,
of the maid servant that [is] behind the mill, the meanest 6 slave ; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a
great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was y none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any
of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast, they shall not have the least disturbance :
that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference 8 between the Egyptians and Israel. And all these thy ser.
vants, who are now ready to drive me from thy presence, shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee, that. put themselves under thy conduci and command : and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh, who was in a great anger, or rage against Moses, because of this threat.
ening.* 9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken
unto you ; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. God being determined to punish him further, in right.
eous judgment suffered him to continue in his obstinate fury. 10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh :
and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israet go out of his land, till he was forced to it by the death of the firstborn,
1. UTE may observe, that to fear and reverence God, is
Vy the way to be feared and reverenced by the worst of men ; v. 3. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people. He was beloved of God, and reverenced by man. When God's servants act from religious principles, and evidence to the world their regard for God, men cannot but have an esteem for them : bad as the world is, wicked men will always have a secret reverence for the righteous. Let us, therefore, fear and honour God, and keep his charge ; and thus shall we have favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
• See this sense established in Shuckford's Con, vol. II. p. 336.
2. What reverence do we owe to that God, in whose hand our breath is! How easily can he cut off the spirits of men ; the spirits of princes, the greatest of men, are in his hand. He knew how to separate the firstborn in all the families of Egypt to destruction. Who would not fear so awful a Being, and reverence him, as the preserver of man and beast !
5. Let us be solicitous to be found among God's people, that we may escape the plagues which he brings upon the wicked. The Lord puts a difference between them, oftentimes in this world, and preserves them from the noisome pestilence : but when the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, it shall put a still greater difference between him that feareth God, and him that feareth him not. The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God; sudden destruction shall come upon them. But those who fear the Lord, he will hide in the day of his anger, and fix in a state of everlasting tranquillity and repose ; there Temainetă a rest for the people of God.
4. What a melancholy instance have we of an impotent, obstinate rage in Pharaoh. After having suffered so much, it might have been expected that he would have been mollified and humbled ; instead of this, he hardens his heart, and rages against Moses. This is too often the case of wicked men : they grow hardened by their afflictions. When God's messengers give them warning, set before them the terrors of the Lord, and point out the threatenings of his word, they grow angry at the messengers ; ministers become their enemies by telling them the truth. But whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear, whether they will bear it patiently, or let their passions rage, the message must be delivered, as we would deliver our own souls. God approves the zeal and fidelity of his servants, however men may despise or be offended at them. Let men rage ever so much, and stand out ever so long, God will humble them at last. His counsel shall stand ; and his ministers shall be a sweet savour in them that perish, as well as in them that are saved.