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years' service) called him off, he had so what could he see but a bush in a flame, ended his days. Humble resolutions are which he saw at first unsatisfied ? It is good so much more heroical, as they fall into to come to the place of God's presence, higher subjects.
howsoever: God may perhaps speak to thy Thiere can be no fitter disposition for a heart, though thou come but for novelty. leader of God's people, than constancy in | Even those which have come upon curiohis undertakings, without either weariness sity, have been oft taken. Absence is withor change. How had he learned to subdue out hope. If Moses had not come, he all ambitious desires, and to rest content had not been called out of the bush. with his obscurity! So he might have the To see a fire not consuming the bush, freedom of his thoughts, and full opportu- was much: but to hear a speaking fire, nity of holy meditations, he willingly leaves this was more ; and to hear his own name the world to others, and envies not his out of the mouth of the fire, it was most of proudest acquaintance of the court of Pha all. God makes way for his greatest mesraoh. He that hath true worth in him-sages by astonishment and admiration; as, self, and familiarity with God, finds more on the contrary, carelessness carries us to pleasure in the deserts of Midian, than a mere unproficiency under the best means others can do in the palaces of kings. | of God. If our hearts were more awful,
While he is tending his sheep, God ap- | God's messages would be more effectual peared unto him. God never graces the to us. idle with his visions. When he finds us in In that appearance, God meant to call our callings, we find him in the tokens of Moses to come ; yet when he is come, inhis mercy. Satan appears to the idle man hibits him - “ Come not hither.” We in manifold temptations; or rather presents must come to God; we must not come himself, and appears not. God was ever too near him. When we meditate of the with Moses, yet was he not seen till now. great mysteries of his word, we come to He is never absent from his; but sometimes | him. We come too near him when we he makes their senses witnesses of his pre- search into his counsels. The sun and sence. In small matters may be greater the fire say of themselves, Come not too wonders. That a bush should burn, is no near ; how much more the light which marvel ; but that it should not consume in none can attain unto? We have all our burning, is justly miraculous. God choos- limits set us. The Gentiles might come eth not ever great subjects wherein to ex- into some outer courts, not into the inmost; ercise his power; it is enough that his the Jews might come into the inner court, power is great in the smallest. When I not into the temple; the priests and Lelook upon this burning bush with Moses, vites into the temple, not into the holy of methinks I can never see a worthier and holies; Moses to the hill, not to the bush. more lively emblem of the church: that in The waves of the sea had not more need Egypt was in the furnace, yet wasted not. of bounds than man's presumption. MoSince then, how oft hath it been flaming, ses must not come close to the bush at all; never consumed! The same power that and, where he may stand, he may not stand enlightens it, preserves it ; and to none but with his shoes on. There is no unholiness his enemies is he a consuming fire. Moses in clothes. God prepared them for man was a great philosopher : but small skill at first, and that of skins, lest any excepwould have served to know the nature of tion should be taken at the hides of dead fire, and of the bush; that fire meeting beasts. This rite was significant. What with combustible matter, could not but are the shoes but worldly and carnal affecconsume. If it had been some solid wood, tions? If these be not cast off when we it would have yielded later to the flame; come to the holy place, we make ourselves but bushes are of so quick despatch, that unholy. How much less should we dare the joy of the wicked is compared to a fire to come with resolutions of sin ? This is of thorns. He noted a while, saw it con- not only to come with shoes on, but with tinued, and began to wonder. It was some shoes bemired with wicked filthiness; the marvel how it should come there : but how touch whereof profanes the pavement of it should continue without supply, yea, God, and makes our presence odious. without diminution of matter, was truly Moses was the son of Amram, Amram admirable. Doubtless he went oft about of Kohath, Kohath of Levi, Levi of Jacob, it, and viewed it on all sides; and now, Jacob of Isaac, Isaac of Abraham. God when his eye and mind could meet with puts together both ends of his pedigree: no likely causes so far off, resolves, I will go * I am the God of thy father, and of Abra. see it. His curiosity led him nearer; and ham, Isaac, Jacob." If he had said only, I am thy God, it had been Moses' duty to | with God : further acquaintance makes him attend awfully ; but now, that he says, “I familiar, and familiarity makes him bold. am the God of thy father, and of Abraham," Frequency of conversation gives us freedom &c., be challenges reverence by prescrip- of access to God, and makes us pour out tion. Any thing that was our ancestors' our hearts to him as fully and as fearlessly pleases us, their houses, their vessels, their as to our friends. In the meantime, now coat-armour ; how much more their God! at first he made not so much haste to see, How careful should parents be to make but he made as much haste to hide his holy choices! Every precedent of theirs eyes. Twice did Moses hide his face; are so many monuments and motives to once for the glory which God put upon their posterity. What a happiness it is to him, which made him so shine that he be born of good parents ! Hence God could not be beheld of others; once for claims an interest in us, and we in him, God's own glory, which he could not be. for their sake. As many a man smartethhold. No marvel. Some of the creatures for his father's sin, so the goodness of others are too glorious for mortal eves; how much is crowned in a thousand generations. Nei. more, when God appears to us in the easi. ther doth God say, I was the God of Abra est manner, must his glory needs overcome ham, Isaac, Jacob: - but I am. The us! Behold the difference betwixt our patriarchis still live after so many thousand present and future estate. Then the more years of dissolution. No length of time majesty of appearance, the more delight. can separate the souls of the just from their When our sin is quite gone, all our fear at Maker. As for their body, there is still a God's presence shall be turned into joy. real relation betwixt the dust of it and the God appeared to Adam before his sin with soul; and if the being of this part be more comfort, but in the same form, which, after defective, the being of the other is more his sin, was terrible. And if Moses cannot lively, and doth more than recompense the abide to look upon God's glory, when he wants of that earthly half.
| descends to us in mercy, how shall wicked God could not describe himself by a more ones abide to see his fearful presence when sweet name than this “ I am the God of he sets upon vengeance! In this fire le thy father, and of Abraham,” &c. Yet flamed, and consumed not; but in his reMoses liides his face for fear. If he liad | venge, our God is a consuming fire. said, I am the glorious God that made First, Moses bides himself in fear, now heaven and earth, that dwells in light inac- l in modesty. “Who am I?" None in all cessible, whom the angels cannot behold; | Egypt or Midian was comparatively fit for or, I am God the avenger, just and terrible, this embassage. Which of the Israelites a consuming fire to mine enemies; here had been brought up a courtier, a scholar, had been just cause of terror.
an Israelite by blood, by education an EgypBut, why was Moses so frighted with a tian, learned, wise, valiant, experienced : familiar compellation ? God is no less aw. Yet, “ Who am I?" The more fit any ful to his own in his very mercies, (great man is for whatsoever vocation, the less is thy mercy that thou mayest be feared ) he thinks himself. Forwardness argues for to them no less majesty shines in the insufficiency. The unworthy thinks still, favours of God, than in his judgments and Who am I not? Modest beginnings give justice. The wicked heart never fears hopeful proceedings and happy endings. God, but thundering or shaking the earth, Once before, Moses had taken upon him, or raining fire from heaven; but the good and laid about him ; hoping then they can dread him in his very sunshine : his would have known, that by his hand God loving deliverances and blessings affect them meant to deliver Israel : but now, when it with awfulness. Moses was the true son comes to the point, “ Who am I?" God's of Jacob, who, wlien he saw nothing but best servants are not ever in an equal disvisions of love and mercy, could say, “How position to good duties. If we find differ. dreadful is this place !"
ences in ourselves sometimes, it argues that I see Moses now at the bush, hiding his grace is not our own. It is our frailty that face at so mild a representation; hereafter those services which we are, forward to we shall see him in this very mount, be- aloof off, we shrink at near hand, and feartwixt heaven and earth, in thunder, light- fully misgive. How many of us can bid ning, smoke, earthquakes, speaking mouth defiances to death, and suggest answers to to mouth with God, barefaced and fearless.absent temptations, whichi, when they come God was then more terrible, but Moses was home to us, we fly off, and change our note, less strange. This was his first meeting and, instead of action, expostulate!
| If they look under them, there they see COXTEMPLATION IV. - THE PLAGUES OF their waters changed into blood, their earth EGYPT.
swarming with frogs and grasshoppers: if
about them, one while the flies fill their It is too much honour for flesh and blood eyes and ears ; another while they see their to receive a message from heaven; yet fruits destroyed, their cattle dying, their here God sends a message to man, and is children dead. If, lastly, they look upon repulsed. Well may God ask, Who is themselves, they see themselves loathsome man, that I should regard him? But for with lice, painful and deformed with scabs, man to ask, Who is the Lord ? is a proud | biles, and blotches. and a bold blasphemy. Thus wild is nature First, God begins his judgments with waat the first; but ere God hath done with ters. As the river of Nilus was to Egypt, Pharaoh, he will be known of him, he will instead of heaven, to noisten and fatten the make himself known by him to all the earth, so their confidence was more in it Forld. God might have swept him away than in heaven. Men are sure to be pusuddenly. How unworthy is he of life, nished most, and soonest, in that whiclı who with the same breath that he receives, they make a co-rival with God. They had denies the giver of it! But he would have before defiled the river with the blood of him convinced, ere he was punished. First, innocents; and now it appears to them in therefore, he works miracles before him, it's own colour. The waters will no longer then upon him. Pharaoh was now, from keep their counsel. Never any man dea staff of protection and sustentation to lighted in blood, which had not enough of God's people, turned to a serpent that it ere his end: they shed but some few stung them to death. God shows himself, streams, and now behold whole rivers of in this real emblem, doing that suddenly / blood. Neither was this more a monument before him, which Satan had wrought in of their slaughter past, than an image of him hy leisure: and now, when he crawls, their future destruction. They were afterand winds, and hisses, threatening peril to wards overwhelmed in the Red Sea : and Israel, he shows him how in an instant he now, beforehand, they see the rivers red can turn him into a senseless stick, and with blood. How dependent and servile make him, if not useful, yet fearless. The is the life of man, that cannot either want same God which wrought this, gives Sa- one element, or endure it corrupted! It is tan leave to imitate it. The first plague hard to say, whether there were more hor. that he meant to inflict upon Pharaoh is ror or annoyance in this plague. They delusion. God can be content the devil complain of thirst, and yet doubt whether should win himself credit, where he means they should die or quench it with blood. to judge ; and holds the honour of a mira Their fiskı (the chief part of their suste. cle well lost, to harden an enemy: yet, to nance) dies with the infection, and infecteth show that his miracle was of power, the more by being dead. The stench of both other's of permission, Moses' serpent de- is ready to poison the inhabitants; yet Pha. vours theirs. How easily might the Egyp- raoh's curiosity carries him away quite from tians have thought, that he which caused the sense of the judgment. He had rather their serpent not to be, could have kept it send for his magicians to work feats, than from being: and that they, which could not to humble himself uuder God for the rekeep his serpent from devouring, could moval of this plague; and God plagues his not secure them from being consumed ! But curiosity with deceit: those whom he trusts wise thoughts enter not into those that shall undo him withi prevailing. The glory must perish. All God's judgments stand of a second miracle shall be obscured by a reads, and wait but till they be called for. false imitation, for a greater glory to God in They need but a watch-word to be given the sequel. them. No sooner is the rod lift up, but | The rod is lift up again. Behold, that they are gone forth into the world: pre Nilus, which they had before adored. was sently the waters run into blood; the frogs never so beneficial as it is now trouble. and lice crawl about, and all the other some; yielding them not only a dead, but troops of God come rushing in upon his a living annoyance: it never did so store adversaries. All creatures conspire to them with fish as it now plagries them with revenge the injuries of God. If the Egyp- / frogs. Whatsoever any man makes his tians look upward, there they have thun. god, besides the true one, shall be once der, lightning, hail, tempests: one while, his tormentor. Those loathsome creatures no light at all : another while, such fearful leave their own element to punish them flashes, as had more terror than darkness. / which rebelliously detained Israel from their
own. No bed, no table, can be free from / permitted the other. While wicked minds them: their dainty ladies cannot keep them have their full scope, they never look up out of their bosoms; neither can the Egyp- above themselves; but when orice God tians sooner open their mouths than they crosses them in their proceedings, their are ready to creep into their throats, as if want of success teaches them to give God they would tell them, that they came on his own. All these plagues, perhaps, had purpose to revenge the wrongs of their more horror than pain in them. The frogs Maker. Yet even this wonder also is Satan | creep upon their clothes, the lice upon their allowed to imitate. Who can marvel to skins: but those stinging hornets which see the best virtues counterfeited by wicked succeed them, shall wound and kill. The men, when he sees the devil emulating the water was annoyed with the first plague, miraculous power of God? The feats that the earth with the second and third; this Satan plays may harden, but cannot benefit. fourth fills the air, and, besides corruption, He that hath leave to bring frogs, hath brings smart. And that they may see this neither leave nor power to take them away, winged army comes from an angry God (not nor to take away the stench from them. either from nature or chance), even the To bring them, was but to add to the very flies shall make a difference betwist judgment; to remove them, was an act of Egypt and Goshen. He which gave them mercy. God doth commonly use Satan in their being, sets them their stint. They executing of judgment, never in the works cannot more sting an Israelite than favour of mercy to men.
an Egyptian. The very wings of flies are Yet even by thus much is Pharaoh har-directed by a providence, and do acknowdened, and the sorcerers grown insolent. ledge their limits. Now Pharaoh finds how When the devil and his agents are in the impossible it is for him to stand out with height of their pride, God shames them in God, since all his power cannot rescue him a trifle. The rod is lift up. The very dust from lice and flies. receives life. Lice abound everywhere, And now his heart begins to thaw a little: and make no difference betwixt beggars and “Go, do sacrifice to your God in this land;" princes. Though Pharaoh and his cour-or (since that will not be accepted) “ go tiers abhorred to see themselves lousy, yet into the wilderness, but not far." But how they hoped this miracle would be more soon it knits again! Good thoughts make easily imitable: but now the greater possi- but a thoroughfare of carnal hearts; they bility, the greater foil. How are the great can never settle there : yea, his very mis. wonder-mongers of Egypt abashed, that giving hardens him the more, that now they can neither make lice of their own, neither the murrain of his cattle, nor the nor deliver themselves from the lice that botches of his servants can stir him a whit. are made! Those that could make serpents He saw his cattle struck dead with a sudden and frogs, could not either make or kill contagion; he saw his sorcerers (after their lice; to show them that those frogs and contestation with God's messengers) struck serpents were not their own workmanship. with a scab in their very faces, and yet his Now Pharaoh must needs see how impo. heart is not struck. Who would think it tent a devil he served, that could not make possible, that any soul could be secure in that vermin which every day arises volun. the midst of such variety and frequence of tarily out of corruption. Jannes and Jam- judgments? These very plagues have not bres cannot now make those lice (so much more wonder in them, than their success as by delusion) which, at another time, they hath. To what a height of obduration cannot choose but produce unknowing, and will sin lead a man, and, of all sins, incre. which now they cannot avoid. That spirit dulity! Amidst all these storms Pharaoh which is powerful to execute the greatest sleepeth, till the voice of God's mighty things when he is bidden, is unable to do thunders, and hail mixed with fire, roused the least when he is restrained. Now these him up a little. co-rivals of Moses can say, " This is the Now, as betwixt sleeping and waking, finger of God." Ye foolishi enchanters, was he starts up, and says, “God is righteous, God's finger in the lice, not in the frogs, I am wicked; Moses, pray for us ;" and not in the blood, not in the serpent? And presently lavs down his head again. God why was it rather in the less than in the hath no sooner done thundering, than he greater ? Because ye did imitate the other, hath done fearing. All this while you not these: as if the same finger of God had never find him careful to prevent any one not been before in your imitation, which evil, but desirous still to shift it off, when was now in your restraint; as if ye could he feels it; never holds constant to any have failed in these, if ve had not been only good motion ; never prays for himself, but
carelessly wills Moses and Aaron to pray I judgments, and run away from the reme. for him; never yields God his whole de- dies ? Evermore, when God's messengers mand, but higgleth and dodgeth, like some are abandoned, destruction is near. Moses hard chapmen, that would get a release | will see him no more, till he see him dead with the cheapest. First, they shall not | upon the sands; but God will now visit go ; then, Go, and sacrifice, but in Egypt; | him more than ever. The fearfullest plagues next, Go, sacrifice in the wilderness, but God still reserves for the upshot: all the not far off ; after, Go, ye that are men ; | former do but make way for the last. Phathen, Go, you and your children only; at raoh may exclude Moses and Aaron, but last, Go all, save your sheep and cattle. God's angel he cannot exclude. Insensible Wheresoever mere nature is, she is still messengers are used, when the visible are improvident of future good, sensible of pre- | debarred. sent evil, inconstant in good purposes, un- | Now God begins to call for the blood able through unacquaintance, and unwilling they owed him : in one night every house to speak for herself; niggardly in her grants hath a carcase in it, and, which is more and uncheerful. The plague of the grass grievous, of their first-born, and, which is hoppers startled him a little, and the more yet more fearful, in an instant. No man through the importunity of his servants; could comfort another; every man was too for when he considered the fish destroyed full of his own sorrow, helping rather to with the first blow, the cattle with the make the noise of the lamentation more fifth, the corn with the seventh, the fruit doleful and astonishing. How soon hath and leaves with this eighth, and nothing God changed the note of this tyrannical now left him but a bare fruitless earth | people! Egypt was never so stubborn in to live upon (and that covered over with denying passage to Israel, as now importulocusts), necessity drove him to relent for nate to entreat it. Pharaoh did not more an advantage : « Forgive me this once ; force them to stay before, than now to detake from me this death only."
part: whom lately they would not permit, But as constrained repentance is ever now they hire to go. Their rich jewels of short and unsound, the west wind, together silver and gold were not too dear for them with the grasshoppers, blows away his re whom they hated ; how much rather had morse ; and now is he ready for another they to send them away wealthy, than to judgment. As the grasshoppers took away have them stay to be their executors! the sight of the earth from him, so now Their love to themselves obtained of them a gross darkness takes away the sight of the enriching of their enemies; and now heaven too. Other darknesses were but they are glad to pay them well for their old privative; this was real and sensible. The work, and their present journey. God's Egyptians thought this night long, (how people had staid like slaves ; they go away could they choose, when it was six in one?) like conquerors, with the spoil of those that and so much the more, for that no man hated them, armed for security, and wealthy could rise to talk with other, but was ne- for maintenance. cessarily confined to his own thoughts. Old Jacob's seventy souls which he One thinks the fault in his own eyes, which brought down into Egypt, in spite of their he rubs oftentimes in vain. Others think, bondage and bloodshed, go forth six hunthat the sun is lost out of the firmament, dred thousand men, besides children. The and is now withdrawn for ever; others, world is well mended with Israel since he that all things are returning to their first went with his staff and his scrip over Jorconfusion : all think themselves miserable, dan. Tyranny is too weak, where God past remedy, and wish (whatsoever had bids “ Increase and multiply." I know not befallen them) that they might have had where else the good herb overgrows the but light enough to see themselves die. weeds; the church outstrips the world. I
Now Pharaoh proves like to some beasts fear, if they had lived in ease and delicacy, that grow mad with baiting. Grace often they had not been so strong, so numerous. resisted turns to desperateness. “ Get Never any true Israelite lost by his afflicthee from me; look thou see my face no tion. Not only for the action, but the more; whensoever thou comest in my sight, time, Pharaoh's choice meets with God's. thou shalt die.” As if Moses could not That very night, when the hundred and plague him as well in absence; as if he thirty years were expired, Israel is gone: that could not take away the lice, flies, Pharaoh neither can, nor can will to keep frogs, grasshoppers, couid, at his pleasure, them any longer; yet in this, not fulfilling take away the life of Moses that procured God's will, but his own. How sweetly them. What is this but to run upon the doth God dispose of all second causes,