Page images

judged ill to play his tricks in a country stocked with magiciacs, who were as well versed as himself, in the powers of nature, and in the knowledge of the secret arts. Farmer, on Miracles, p 428.

The supposition that the magicians wrought real mira. cles, rests solely on the concise scripture account: “ And the magicians of Egypt did so, (or, in like manner) with their enchantments: for they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents.” Exod. vii. 11-12. And the same phrase recurs, after the first and second plagues, Exod. vii. 22, and Exod. viii. 7. ,

But the phrase, they did so," in popular language, denotes the attempt only, and not the deed: for it is used in the case of the third plague of lice, which the magicians failed to produce: “ And the magicians did so, with their inchantments; but they could not." Exod. viii.

18. ... And the original term, Davons, in the first instance,

rendered their inchantments” is intirely different from that, used in other parts of scripture, to denote magic, sorcery, or diabolical arts,Isaiah xlvii. 9, &c. It is probably derived from the verb onb, to burn, or from the subslantive, signifying a flame, and applied to the flaming sword which kept the way to the tree of life," Gen. iii. 24. And most aptly denotes that legerdemain or slight of hand, with which jugglers impose on the senses of spectators, by their dexterity in brandishing their wands or rods. And the abridged term, Dios, wanting the medial letter 1, in the two succeeding instances, (if really different from the former) is probably derived from the verb oss, or ois, to cover or hide; and therefore fitly erpresses any secret artifices, or covert methods of deception, whereby false appearances are imposed upon the spectators. See Burtorf, Pagninus, Robertson's Clavis Pentateuchi, or Parkhurst's Heb. Lex.

And these interpretations are supported by scripture authority :--The author of the wisdom of Solomon stiles the feats of the Egyptian magicians, “.the illusions of art magic.?? (rayonns eja Tessypiata Teguns) and declares, that “ they were put down, and their vaunting in wisdom was reproved with disgrace.” Wisd. xvii. 7.

The apparent success of the magicians in the three first imitations, and their failure in the fourth, may easily be accounted for. They were not summoned by Pharaoh, until after Aaron's rod had been turned into a ser

pent; pent; and previous notice had been given by Moses of the two first plagues; so that in all these cases, they knew before hand what they were to undertake, and had time før preparation : But the plague of lice, was no sponer denounced than 'executed, without any previous warning. Exod. viii. 16—7. Besides, the minuteness of these odious vermin, baffled all their skill and dexterity to handle and apply them to the purpose of deception, like the former objects of sensible bulk, rods and serpents, water and frogs. Accordingly, this miracle extorted from the magicians themselves, that remarkable confession; This is the finger of God,an expression remarkably though tacitly contrasted with their own legerdemain, or slight of hand in the former cases.

It may seem strange, that this confession made no impression on Pharaoh, nor on the magicians themselves; for immediately after, we read, that Pharaoh's heart was hardened; and he hearkened not unto them (Moses and Aaron) as the Lord had said," chap. viii. 19. And that the magicians still continued to withstand, though they could not imitate the succeeding plagues, we may collect, from the effects of the sixth plague, “ And the magicians could not stand before Moses, because of the boil; for the boil was upon the magicians and all the Egyptians," chap, ix, 11, they were smitten with boils themselves, as a punishment of their obstinacy; for though they confessed the third plague to be the finger of God, or of a God, (as the original word Elohim, implies) the phrase only intimates that it was a supernatural event, such as according to their notions of polytheism,. might be wrought by the agency of some demon; But they did not give the glory to the LORD, or “ the honour due unto his name," as they ought to have done; and they were silent at least, if they did not disparage the succeeding plagues. Accordingly, St. Paul taxes the conduct of their leaders, “ James and Jambres*, in withstanding Moses," with glaring absurdity: their tolly was manifest unto all men.” . Tim. ni. 8, in attempting to place the feats of human art on a level with the undeniable operations of divine power; but at length, shamefully miscarrying in their undertaking, they ex

* S. Paul probably learnt their names from the Targum of Jonathan Ben l'aziel, on Exod. vu. 11. They are celebrated along with Moses by Plany -Est et alia Bagues factio, a lose, et Immune et lotape, Judet, perdens; sed multi anillibus annorum post Coroastren xxx. 1.


ose bite is in that God chose the wished 10 a

posed themselves to disgrace," and the contempt of those who had formerly held them in veneration for their“ wisdom.And the cause of their folly in withstanding the truth,is attributed by the Apostle, to their being " men of corrupt mind, reprobute (or undiscerning) concerning the faith.And he compares to them such false teachers in the last days, as should have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.• The observation of Philo, on the plague of lice is trata' ly excellent: .

“ Perhaps 'some may inquire, why did God punish the country by means of such minute and contemptible ani.mals, rather than by bears, lions, leopards, or other kinds of untameable wild beasts, which feed on human flesh?'. Or if not by means of these, by the Egyptian asps, whose bite is instant death? But, let him learn, if he be: ignorant, first, that God chose rather to correct than to destroy the inhabitants: for had he wished to annihilate' theni utterly, he need not have made use of animals, as' auxiliaries, but of the divinely inflicted evils of famine and pestilence. Besides, let him further learn that lesson so necessary for every state of life; namely, that men,' when they war, seek the most powerful aid, in order to supply their own weakness; but God, the highest and the greatest power, who stands in need of nothing; if at any time he wish to employ instruments, as it were, to inflict punishinents, chuses not the strongest and greatest, disregarding their strength ; but rather the mean and the little; whom he endues with invincible and irresistäble' powers to punish offenders.”

Indeed, after the very first sign, Pharaoh, and still more the magicians, were criminal for their unbelief and obduracy. For although the miracle of turning Aaron's rod into a serpent, as observed before, might have been open to suspicion'; yet when God was pleased to ratify it, on the spot, by another, in which there could be rio. room for fraud or artifice, in causing “ Aaron's rod to swallow up all the magicians rods”- not surely " to evince the superiority of Jehovah to all the fictitious Gods of Egypt;" as supposed, rather inconsistently, by the author of the remarks; but to establish the reality of the foregoing sign ;-This additional evidence, was abuda dantly sufficient to prove the interposition of the Supreine Being ;To kill and to make alivehaving ever been corta sidered as the sole prerogative of “GOD” 2 Kings v. 7.


The lowest degrees indeed, of animal life, exhibit an excellence and dignity, superior to all the glories of inanimate nature. Whence," the creation (n XT1065) in the New Testament, usually denotes, that part of the creation composed of beings endued with life; and es. pecially rational life, namely, mankind. Mark xvi. 15. And because the Egyptians « changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the Creation more than the CREATOR, who is blessed for evermore,” Rom. i. 25, therefore, we may presume, that in the first significant sign, and its verification, God began to exercise his judgments on “the fictitious Gods of Egypt," Exod. xii. 12, by producing and destroying the principal of their Gods, the serpent; which was worshipped in Egypt, under the title of Serapis; (I conceive, from the Hebrew, 470 Saraph or Seraph, signifying “ a fiery ser. pent." Numb. xxi. 16. Deut. vii. 15.) and universally, throughout the Heathen world; a species of idolatry, derived from the father of lies, “ the old serpent, the devil and satan," and still subsisting among his infatuated votaries in the East to this day. See Maurice's History of Hindostan, passim and Bryant's plagues of Egypt.

And if Pharaoh and the magicians were or inercusable," even in rejecting the evidence of this first sign, Rom. i. 19, 21, they became wilfully and criminally obstinate, in rejecting the still more stupendous evidences of the succeeding plagues; whose magnitude and extent, it became utterly impossible for the magicians to imitate perfectly, even in those few cases which they attempted, and still more in the succeeding, in which they either failed, or relinquished the vain contest: At length after Pharaoh and the magicians had persisted in hardening their hearts, during the first five plagues, and twice abused the gracious “ respites" for which Pharaoh himself petitioned, during the second plague of frogs, and the fourth of flies, Exod. viii. 5—28, when they had so long “ desc pised the riches of God's goodness and forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing (or acknowledging) that the (repeated) goodness of God, called them to repentance;", after the sixth plague, they thenceforward became fit objccts of divine wrath; and after the boil had been inflicted on themselves, without any salutary effect, “ God began to harden the heart of Pharaoh,and his servants, as expressly stated, Chap. ix. 12. And shall be more

.., fully

[merged small][ocr errors]

fully explained and vindicated, God willing, in an ensuing communication. . Dec. 28, 180+.

INSPECTOR. (To be continued)


Practical Discourses translated from the Latin of Thomas

à Kempis. By Bishop HORNE.

DISCOURSE II. Of Sorrow", and the consolation to be found in Gop.. 1. AS the devout soul passeth those days mourning, in

m which the bridegroom is taken away from her, so is she greatly .comforted by his spiritual visitations. These she considers as arguments of his love, not of her merit. And very meet and right it is, that she should think herself less than the least of all his mercies, and altogether unworthy of the grace voucksafed her. For what can she render upto ker Lord for all the benefits that he hath done unto her, but praise and thanksgiving? And was she in possession of all the merits of all the 5.lints, she must still be as nothing in his sight. To God alone must be ascribed all that is great, excellent, and glorious. Sufficient is it for the soul that hath the love of God in her, to skew forth, according to ber ability, the praises of him who is wonderful in his saints. Or, if she findeth herself unequal to that task, let her not cease so bewail her own wretchedness. The former is the more exalted employment, but perhaps the latter may be more profitable for her.

2. The soul skould ascend to heaven by the different steps and stages of the christian life : but let her not forget frequently to descend into herself by a lowly and humble consideration of her own infirmities; for herein is her greatest security. Let her know how to be exalted without presumption, and how to be humble without despair, seeing that to the poor in spirit is promised the kingdom of heaven. If nature shrinks at it, and the flesh cannot brook this salutary discipline, they must be brought to it by frequent meditation on that awful day, when every one that exalteth himself shall be abased. Happy the soul which now taketh the lowest place, and

Vol. VIII. Churchm. Mag. Feb.1805. N which

« PreviousContinue »