Sidor som bilder

them such fools as to mistake villany and than death, as their sex was weaker. O madness for the best virtue.

marvellous cruelty, that a man should kill Injustice is upheld by violence, whereas a man for his sex's sake! Whosoever just governments are maintained by love. hath loosed the reins unto cruelty, is easily Taskmasters must be set over Israel; they carried into incredible extremities. should not be the true seed of Israel, if they From burdens they proceed to bondage, were not still set to wrestle with God in and from bondage to blood: from an unaffiictions: heavy burdens must be laid upon just vexation of their body, to an inhuman them. Israel is never but loaded : the des- destruction of the fruit of their body. As tiny of one of Jacob's sons is common to the sins of the concupiscible part, from all, to lie down betwixt their burdens. If slight motions, grow on to foul executions, they had seemed to breathe them in Goshen so do those of the irascible. There is no sometimes, yet even there it was no small sin whose harbour is more unsafe than that misery to be foreigners, and to live among of malice: but ofttimes the power of tyrants idolaters ; but now the name of a slave is answers not their will. Evil commanders added to the name of a stranger. Israel hath cannot always meet with equally mischiegathered some rust in idolatrous Egypt, and vous agents. now he must be scoured: they had borne The fear of God teaches the midwives the burden of God's anger if they had not to disobey an unjust command; they well borne the burdens of the Egyptians. knew how no excuse it is for evil, I was

As God afflicted them with another mind bidden. God said to their hearts, “ Thou than the Egyptians (God to exercise them, shalt not kill.” This voice was louder than the Egyptians to suppress them), so causes Pharaoh's. I commend their obedience in he the event to differ. Who would not disobeying ; I dare not commend their exhave thought with these Egyptians, that so cuse. There was as much weakness in extreme misery should not have made the their answer, as strength in their practice: Israelites unfit, both for generation and re- as they feared God in not killing, so they sistance ? Moderate exercise strengthens, feared Pharaoh in dissembling. Ofttimes extreme destroys nature: that God, which those that make conscience of greater sins many times works by contrary means, are overtaken with less. It is well and caused them to grow with depression, with rare, if we can come forth of a dangerous persecution to multiply. How can God's action without any soil; and if we have church but fare well, since the very malice escaped the storm, that some after-drops of their enemies benefits them! O the so- wet us not. vereign goodness of our God, that turns all / Who would not have expected that the our poisons into cordials! God's vine bears midwives should be murdered, for not mur. the better with bleeding.

dering ? Pharaoh could not be so simple And now the Egyptians could be angry to think these women trusty; yet his inwith their own maliciousness, that this was dignation had no power to reach to their the occasion of multiplying them whom punishment. God prospered the midwives: they hated and feared ; to see that this who can harm them ? Even the not doing service gained more to the workmen than of evil is rewarded with good. And why to their masters: the stronger therefore the did they prosper? Because they feared Israelites grew, the more impotent grew the God — not for their dissimulation, but their malice of their persecutors. And since piety; so did God regard their mercy, that their own labour strengthens them, now he regarded not their infirmity. How fondly tyranny will try what can be done by the vio- do men lay the thank upon the sin, which lence of others. Since the present strength is due to the virtue! True wisdom teaches cannot be subdued, the hopes of succession to distinguish God's actions, and to ascribe must be prevented: women must be sub- them to the right causes : pardon belongs orned to be murderers; and those whose to the lie of the midwives, and remuneraoffice is to help the birth must destroy it. tion to their goodness; prosperity to their

There was less suspicion of cruelty in fear of God. that sex, and more opportunity of doing But that which the midwives will not, mischief. The male children must be born, the multitude shall do. It were strange if and die at once. What can be more inno- wicked rulers should not find some or other cent than the child that hath not lived so instruments of violence; all the people much as to cry, or to see light? It is fault must drown whom the women saved : enough to be the son of an Israelite. The cruelty hath but smoked before, now it daughters may live for bondage, for lust; fames up; secret practising hath made it à condition so much (at the least) worse shameless, that now it dare proclaim tv.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

ranny. It is a miserable state, where scionable care, singularity. Every vice
every man is made an executioner. There hath a title, and every virtue a disgrace.
can be no greater argument of an ill cause, Yet while possible tasks were imposed,
than a bloody persecution; whereas truth there was some comfort: their diligence
upholds herself by mildness, and is pro- might save their back from stripes. The
moted by patience. This is their act; what conceit of a benefit to the commander, and
was their issue? The people must drown | hope of impunity to the labourer, might
their males, themselves are drowned: they give a good pretence to great difficulties.
die by the same means by which they | But to require tasks not feasible is tyran-
caused the Israelitish infants to die. That nical, and doth only pick a quarrel to
law of retaliation which God will not allow punish. They could neither make straw,
to us, because we are fellow-creatures, he nor find it, yet they must have it. Do
justly practiseth in us. God would have what may be, is tolerable ; but do what
us read our sins in our judgments, that we cannot be, is cruel. Those which are
might both repent of our sins and give above others in place, must measure their
glory to his justice.

commands, not by their own wills, but by
Pharaoh raged before ; much more now, the strength of their inferiors. To require
that he received a message of dismission. more of a beast than he can do, is inhuman.
The monitions of God make ill men worse: The task is not done; the taskmasters
the waves do not beat, nor roar any where are beaten : the punishment lies where the
so much as at the bank which restrains charge is; they must exact it of the people,
them. Corruption, when it is checked, Pharaoh of them. It is the misery of those
UOws mad with rage : as the vapour in a which are trusted with authority, that their
cloud would not make that fearful report, inferiors' faults are beaten upon their backs.
if it met not with opposition. A good This was not the fault to require it of the
heart yields at the stillest voice of God: taskmasters, but to require it by the task-
but the most gracious motions of God masters of the people. Public persons do
harden the wicked. Many would not be either good or ill with a thousand hands,
so desperately settled in their sins, if the and with no fewer shall receive it.
world had not controlled them. How mild
a message was this to Pharaoh, and yet
how galling! « We pray thee let us go." | CONTEMPLATION II. — OF THE BIRTH AND
God commands him that which he feared.

BREEDING OF Moses. He took pleasure in the present servitude of Israel: God calls for a release. If the It is a wonder that Amram, the father suit had been for mitigation of labour, for of Moses, would think of the marriage-bed preservation of their children, it might have , in so troublesome a time, when he knew carried some hope, and have found some he should beget children either to slavery favour : but now God requires that which or slaughter. Yet even now, in the heat of he knows will as much discontent Pharaoh, this bondage, he marries Jochebed. The as Pharaoh's cruelty could discontent the drowning of his sons was not so great an Israelites; “ Let us go." How contrary evil, as his own burning; the thraldom of are God's precepts to natural minds! And his daughters not so great an evil, as the indeed, as they love to cross him in their subjection unto sinful desires. He therefore practice, so he loves to cross them in their uses God's remedy for his sin, and refers commands before, and his punishments the sequel of his danger to God. How necesafterwards. It is a dangerous sign of an sary is this intimation for those which have ill heart to feel God's yoke heavy.

not the power of containing ! Perhaps he Moses talks of sacrifice. Pharaoh talks would have thought it better to live child. of work. Any thing seems due work to a less: but Amram and Jochebed durst not carnal mind, saving God's service; nothing incur the danger of a sin, to avoid the dansuperfluous, but religious duties. Christ ger of a mischief. No doubt, when Jochetells us, there is but one thing necessary ; bed, the mother of Moses, saw a man-child nature tells us, there is nothing but that born of her, and him beautiful and comely, needless : Moses speaks of devotion, Pha she fell into extreme passion to think that raoh of idleness. It hath been an old use, the executioner's hand should succeed the as to cast fair colours upon our own vicious midwife's. All the time of her conception, actions, so to cast evil aspersions upon the she could not but fear a son; now she good actions of others. The same devil sees him, and thinks of his birth and death that spoke in Pharaoh, speaks still in our at once: her second throes are more griescoffers, and calls religion hypocrisy ; con- / vous than her first. The pains of travail is

[ocr errors]

others are somewhat mitigated with hope, our ignorance and regardlessness! She saw and countervailed with joy, that a man. the ark, opens it, finds the child weeping: child is born ; in her they are doubled with his beauty and his tears had God provided fear. The remedy of others is her com for the strong persuasions of mercy. This plaint. Still she looks when some fierce young and lively oratory prevailed. Her Egyptian would come in, and snatch her heart is struck with compassion, and yet new-born infant out of her bosom, whose her tongue could say, “ It is a Hebrew comeliness had now also added to her child." affection.

See here the merciful daughter of a cruel Many times God writes presages of ma- father' It is an uncharitable and injurious jesty and honou:. even in the faces of child ground, to judge of the child's disposition dren. Little did she think that she held by the parent's. How well doth pity beseem in her lap the deliverer of Israel. It is great personages, and most in extremities! good to hazard in greatest appearances of It had been death to another to rescue the danger. If Jochebed lad said, if I bear child of a Hebrew; in lier it was safe and a son, they will kill him, where had been noble. It is a happy thing when great the great rescuer of Israel ? Happy is that ones improve their places to so much more resolution which can follow God hood- charity, as their.liberty is more. winked, and let him dispose of the event. Moses' sister finding the princess com. When she can no longer hide him in her passionate, offers to procure a nurse, and womb, she hides him in her house, afraid fetches the mother: and who can be so fit Jest every one of his cryings should guide a nurse as a mother ? She now with glad the executioners to his cradle. And now hands receives her child, both with au. she sees her treasure can be no longer hid, thority and reward. She would have given she ships him in a bark of bulrushes, and all her substance for the life of hier son ; commits him to the mercy of the waves, and now she hath a reward to nurse him. and (which was more merciless) to the The exchange of the name of a mother for danger of an Egyptian passenger, yet doth the name of a nurse, hath gained her both she not leave him without a guardian. her son and his education, and with both a

No tyranny can forbid her to love him recompense. Religion doth not call us to wliom she is forbidden to keep. Her a weak simplicity, but allows us as much daughter's eyes must supply the place of of the serpent as of the dove. Lawful po. her arms. And if the weak affection of a licies have from God both liberty in the mother were thus effectually careful, what use, and blessing in the success. shall we think of Him wliose love, whose! The good lady did not breed him as some compassion, is (as himself) infinite? His child of alms, or as some wretched outcast, eye, his hand, cannot but be with us, even for wliom it might be favour enough to live, when we forsake ourselves. Moses had but as her own son, in all the delicacies, in never a stronger protection about him, no, all the learning of Egypt. Whatsoever not when all his Israelites were pitched the court or the school could put into him, about his tent in the wilderness, than now I he wanted not; yet all this could not make when he lay sprawling alone upon the him forget that he was a Hebrew. Eduwaves: no water, no Egyptian, can hurt cation works wondrous changes, and is of him. Neither friend nor mother dare own great force either way. A little advance. bim, and now God challenges his custody. ment bath so puffed some up above them. When we seem most neglected and forlorn selves, that they have not only forgot their in ourselves, then is God most present, friends, but scorned their parents. All the most vigilant.

honours of Egypt could not win Moses not His providence brings Pharaoh's daugh- to call his nurse inother, or wean him from ter thither to wash herself. Those times a willing misers with the Israelites. If we looked for no great state: a princess comes had Moses' faitli, we could not but make to bathie herself in the open stream. She | his choice. It is only our infidelity that meant only to wash herself: God fetches binds us so to the world, and makes us her thither to deliver the deliverer of his prefer the momentary pleasures of sin unto people. His designs go beyond ours. We that everlasting recompense of reward. know not (when we set our foot over our He went forth and looked on the bur. threshold) what he hath to do with us. dens of Israel. What needed Moses to

This event seenied casual to this princess, have afflicted himself with the afflictions but predetermmed and provided by God of others ? Himself was at ease and plea. before she was. How wisely and sweetly sure in the court of Pharaoh. A good God brings to pass his own purposes, in heart cannot endure to be happy alone,

and must needs, unbidden, share with others, well, if never so well tempered. No sugar in their miseries. He is no true Moses that can bereave a pill of its bitterness. None but is not moved with the calamities of God's | the gracious can say, “ Let the righteous church. To see an Egyptian smite a He- smite me." Next to the not deserving a brew, it smote him, and moved him to smite. reproof, is the well taking of it. But who He bath no Israelitish blood in him that is so ready to except and exclaim as the can endure to see an Israelite stricken either wrong doer? The patient replies not. One with hand or tongue.

injury draws on another, first to his brother, Here was his zeal: where was his au- then to his reprover. Guiltiness will make thority? Doubtless, Moses had an instinct a man stir upon every touch. He that was from God of liis magistracy, else how should wronged could incline to reconciliation. he think they would have understood what Malice makes men incapable of good coun. himself did not ? Oppressions may not be sel; and there are none so great enemies righted by violence, but by law. The to justice as those who are enemies to redress of evil, by a person unwarranted, peace. is evil. Moses knew that God had called With what impatience doth a galled heart him; he knew that Pharaoh knew it not; receive an admonition! This unworthy therefore he hides the Egyptian in the sand. Israelite is the pattern of a stomachiful of. Those actions which may be approved un- fender: first he is moved to choler in him. to God, are not always safe with men: as self, then he calls for the authority of the contrarily, too many things go current with admonisher. A small authority will serve men, which are not approved of God. for a loving admonition. It is the duty of

Another Hebrew is stricken, but by a men, much more of Christians, to advise Hebrew: the act is the same, the agents against sin; yet this man asks, “ Who differ; neither doth their profession more made thee a judge ?" for but finding fault differ than Moses' proceedings. He gives with his injury. Then he aggravates and blows to the one, to the other words. The misconstrues : “ Wilt thou kill me?" when blows to the Egyptians were deadly; the Moses meant only to save both. It was words to the Hebrew gentle and plausible. the death of his malice only that was in. As God makes a difference betwixt the chas-tended, and the safety of his person. And tisements of his own and punishments of lastly, he upbraids liim with former actions: strange children, so must wise governors“ Thiou killedst the Egyptian.” What if learn to distinguish of sins and judgments he did? what if unjustly? What was this according to circumstances. How mildly to the Hebrew ? Another man's sin is no doth Moses admonish! “ Sirs, ye are bre-excuse for ours. A wicked heart never thren." If there had been but a dram of good looks inward to itself, but outward to the Dature in these Hebrews, they bad relented: i quality of the reprover: if that afford exnow it is strange to see, that being so uni- ception, it is enough; as a dog runs first versally vexed with their common adversary, to revenge on the stone. What matter is it they should yet vex one another. One to me who lie be that admonisheth me? would have thought that a common oppo. Let me look home into myself : let me look sition should have united them more ; yet to his advice. If that be good, it is more now private grudges do thus dangerously shame to me to be reproved by an evil man. divide them. Blows enough were not dealt As a good man's allowance cannot warrant by the Egyptians, their own must add to the evil, so an evil man's reproof may remedy violence. Still Satan is thus busy, and evil. If this Hebrew had been well pleased, Christians are thus malicious, that (as if Moses bad not heard of his slaughter; now they wanted eniemies) they fly on one an- in choler all will out; and if this man's other's faces. While we are in this Egypt | tongue had not thus cast him in the teeth of the world, all unkind strifes would easily with blood, lie had been surprised by Phabe composed, if we did not forget that we | raoh, ere he could have known that the fact are bretliren.

was known. Behold an Egyptian in the skin of an Now he grows jealous, flees, and escapes. Hebrew: how dogged an answer doth Moses No friend is so commodious, in some cases, receive to so geutle a reproof! Who would as an adversary. This wound, which the not have expected that this Hebrew had Hebrcw thought to give Moses, saved his been enough dejected with the common afflic life. As it is good for a man to have an tion? But vexations may make some more enemy, so it shall be our wisdom to make miserable, not more humble; as we see sick- use of his most choleric objections. The Desses make some tractable, others more fro-worst of an enemy .nay prove most sove. ward. It is no easy matter to bear a reproof reign to ourselves. Moses flees. It is no


discomfort for a man to flee when his con- ' I do not so much marvel that Jethro gave science pursues him not. Where God's him his daughter (for he saw him valiant, warrant will not protect us, it is good for wise, learned, nobly bred), as that Moses the heels to supply the place of the tongue. would take her, a stranger both in blood

Moses, when he may not in Egypt, and religion. I could plead for him neces. will be doing justice in Midian. In Egypt, sity; his own nation was shut up to him. he delivers the oppressed Israelite ; in If he would have tried to fetch a daughter Midian, the wronged daughters of Jethro. of Israel, he had endangered to leave him. A good man will be doing good where self behind. I could plead some corresponsoever he is : his trade is a compound of dence in common principles of religion; for charity and justice. As, therefore, evil dis- doubtless Moses' zeal could not suffer him positions can not be changed with airs, no to smother the truth in himself: he should more will good. Now then he sits him down have been an unfaithful servant, if he had by a well in Midian. There he might have not been his master's teacher. Yet neither to drink, but where to eat he knew not. of these can make this match either safe The case was altered with Moses; to come or good. The event bewrays it dangerously from the dainties of the court of Egypt, to inconvenient. This choice had like to the hunger of the fields of Midian. It is a have cost him dear: she stood in his way lesson that all God's children must learn to for circumcision; God stands in his way take out, to want, and to abound. Who for revenge. Though he was now in God's can think strange of penury, when the great | message, yet might he not be forborn in governor of God's people once had nothing? this neglect. No circumstance either of Who would not have thought, in this case, the dearness of the solicitor, or our own Moses should have been heartless and sul- engagement, can bear out a sin with God. Jen; so cast down with his own complaints, | Those, which are unequally yoked, may that he should have had no feeling of others : not ever look to draw one way. True love yet how hot is he upon justice! No adver to the person cannot long agree with dis. sity can make a good man neglect good like of the religion. He had need to be duties. He sees the oppression of the shep-more than a man, that hath a Zipporah in herds, the image of that other he left behind his bosom, and would have true zeal in his him in Egypt. The maids (daughters of so heart. All this while, Moses' affection was great a peer) draw water for their flocks; not so tied to Midian, that he could forget the inhuman shepherds drive them away. Egypt. He was a stranger in Midian : Rudeness hath no respect, either to sex or what was he else in Egypt ? Surely either condition. If we lived not under laws, this Egypt was not his home, or a miserable were our case: might would be the measure one; and yet, in reference to it, he calls of justice. We should not so much as enjoy his son Gershom, a stranger there. Much our own water. Unjust courses will not ever better were it to be a stranger there, than prosper. Moses shall rather come from a dweller in Egypt. How hardly can we Egypt to Midian to beat the shepherds, than forget the place of our abode or education, they shall vex the daughters of Jethro. although never so homely: and if he so This act of justice was not better done than thought of his Egyptian home, where was taken. Reuel requites it kindly with an nothing but bondage and tyranny, how hospitable entertainment. A good nature is should we think of that home of ours ready to answer courtesies : we cannot do above, where is nothing but rest and blesstoo much for a thankful man. And if a edness ? courteous heathen reward the watering of a sheep in this bountiful manner, how shall our God recompense but a cup of cold CONTEMPLATION III.- OF MOSES' CALLING. water that is given to a disciple? This favour hath won Moses, who now consents Forty years was Moses a courtier, and to dwell with him, though out of the forty years (after that) a shepherd. That church. Curiosity, or whatsoever idle oc great men may not be ashamed of honest casions, may not draw us (for our residence) vocations, the greatest that ever were have out of the bounds of the church of God; been content to take up with mean trades. danger of life may. We love not the church The contempt of honest callings, in those if we easily leave it: if in a case of life, we which are well-born, argues pride without leave it not (upon opportunity) for a time wit. How constantly did Moses stick to of respite, we love not ourselves. The first his hook ! and yet a man of great spirits, part of Moses' requital was his wife, one of excellent learning, of curious educaof those whom he had formerly protected. tion; and, if God had not (after his forty

« FöregåendeFortsätt »