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stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
Moses supposed, that his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them. So it might have been expected, that when the Messiah came, he should be recognised by those whose Saviour he was to prove. “ The lord of the vineyard said, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.”? And we consent to the justness of the expectation. But they did not reverence him; they did not recognise him; they did not acknowledge him to be the Son of God: and when he so revealed himself, they treated it as blasphemy, and resolved, “ We will not have this man to reign over us." And so the Israelites had dealt with Moses. They thrust him away, saying, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us ?" 3
If, however, God were to abandon men to the consequences of their hardness of heart and perverse will, who would be saved? He did not then abandon the Israelites 6 whom he foreknew :" whom he had destined to be 6 high above all nations in praise, and in name, and in honour.” 4
30. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him [Moses] in the wilderness of Mount Sina, an angel of the Lord, in a flame of fire in a bush.
2 Luke xx. 13.
3 Ex. xi. 14.
4 Deut. xxvi. 19.
31. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,
32. Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
33. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
34. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them: and now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
35. 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 hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
36. 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.
It was a remarkable coincidence, that as God made that same Moses whom the people had refused, their ruler and deliverer, so he had also 66 made that same Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ.” And throughout both the former and the latter history, we have a striking proof how much better is God to man, than man to himself. We saw the Israelites averse to the deliverance which God had prepared for them : putting away, as far as depended on themselves, his merciful designs. And is this singular? Does it belong
to the Israelites alone; or is it a history, a picture, of man's heart? What is every sin that is committed, but a rejection of God's mercy, like the rejection of Christ Jesus by the Jewish nation ? God offers us happiness : but it must be in the way of righteousness: and we are as unwilling to receive on those terms the happiness which he offers, as the Israelites were to be ruled by Moses, or the Jewish people to acknowledge the Messiah. And as the Israelites would never have been redeemed from Egyptian bondage, if the mercy of God had not been too great to leave them to themselves : so will the history of every soul admitted into the heavenly kingdom, be a record of God's patience and long-suffering. For thus saith the Lord God: I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not: I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” 5
5 Isaiah xlii. 16.
CONTINUATION OF STEPHEN'S
DISCOURSE.-A. D. 33.
Acts vii. 37–53.
37. This is that Moses which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me ; him shall ye hear.1
38. This is he that was in the church in the wilderness, with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers; who received the lively oracles’ to give unto us :
39. To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt;
40. Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as to this Moses which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
41. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the work of their own hands.
42. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, 0 ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts, and sacrifices, by the space of forty years in the wilderness ? 3
1 Deut. xviii. 15—20.
2 The oracles or words of the living God, not such as the heathen listened to, from senseless idols.
43. Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them : and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
Stephen had been accused of speaking blasphe-.. mous words against Moses. He shows how little he deserves this accusation by the honour which he ascribes to Moses. And then he turns the argument against his opposers, as the Lord Jesus himself had done. He had upbraided his Jewish adversaries, because, professing to follow Moses, they had not understood his words. (John v. 45, 46.) 6 Do not think that I will accuse you unto the Father : there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." In the same manner Stephen reminds them, how Moses had declared, that God should raise a prophet up unto them of their brethren, like unto
3 Amos v. 25–27. “Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch, (an idol of the Phi listines,) and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.”