Page images



[ocr errors]

Forty years after, God appears to him in a burning bush.

583 of the Lord in a flame a bush, while he was feeding the flock of Jethro sect. of fire in a bush.

bis father in law in the wilderness of mount Sinui,
even of that mount Sinai which (as you know)
lay in the confines of the Midianite country, VII. 30.

not far from the Red Sea. (Exod. iii. 1, 2.) 31 When Moses And Moses, seeing it,] admired the vision, for 31 saw it, he wondered at the bush burned with fre, and yet was not the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, consumed ; and as he drew near to behold and the voice of the Lord survey [it] more particularly, the voice of the came unto him, Lord came unto him out of the bush, [Saying,] 32

32 Saying, I am the “ I am the God of thy fathers, the God of
God of thy fathers,
the God of Abraham, Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the Goch
and the God of Isaac, of Jacob, who led them safely through all the
and the God of Jacobdifficulties of life, and still manifests a friend-
and durst not behold.” ship to them; in consequence of which, I am

not even now ashamed to own that title.”
And Moses upon this, perceiving that it was God
himself who was there present and spake to bim,
trembled at this appearance of his Majesty, and

did not dare to behold it, as he intended, with a 33 Then said the curious regard, And the Lord said unto him, 33 Lord to him, Put off “ Loose thy shoes from thy feet i; for the place fect ; for the place in which thou standest is now holy ground, where thou standest is while I thus visibly appear upon it ; and it holy ground.

becomes thee (by that usual token of respect

before princes) to express thy reverence for 34 I have seen, I my royal presence. I have surely seen the 34 have seen the afliction evil and oppressive treatment of my people which in Egypt, and I have are in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning; heard their groaning, and moved with pity and compassion at their and am come down to deliver

sufferings, I am come down to deliver them by now come, I will send thine hand : And now therefore come, and lay thee into Egypt. aside immediately thy cares of a shepherd for

others of much greater inportance, and I will
send thee into Egypt, to demand their dismis.
sion from that proud tyrant who so injuriously
detains and oppresses them.” (Exod. jii.

5-10.) 35 This Moses whom And thus you see, what in present circum- 35 they refused, saying, stances it will be Who


proper you to reflect upon, that this Moscs, whom they renounced ", saying


them :


i Loose thy shoes from thy feet.] It was done in a desart, as a token of the infinile'y formerly in the eastern nations, and is now greater reverence due to him. (Compare in the southern, esteemed a ceremony of re. Josh. v. 15, and Eccles. v. 1.) On the spect, to put off the shoes when approaching same principle, it seems, the priests mia superior, lest any of the dirt or dust nistered thus in the tabernacle and temple, cleaving to the shoes should be brought near no direction being given for shnes or sandals him, and tbat the person approaching bare. as a part of their dress, though all the rest foot might tread more cautiously. This, of it was so particularly prescribed. which perhaps was introduced at first in k This Moses, whom they renounced.] As court apartments where rich carpets might the terms of high respect, in which Stephen be nised, the King of kings requires to be



to him in the bush,

584 Reflections on the account that Stephen gives of Moses.
SECT. with disdain, Who has constituted thee a ruler and who made thee a ruler

a judge? even this very person did God, by the and a judge? the same Acts hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush, ruler and a deliverer VII. 36. send (to be] a ruler and a redeemer. And though by the hands of the

he hesitated for a while, he afterwards complied; angel which appeared
and at Jength led them forth in triumph, a 36 He brought tbem
willing people listed under his banner, doing out, after that he had
wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and af- sigus in the land of
terwards in the Red Sea, where Pharaoh and his Egypt, and in the ked
host were overwhelmed ; and working inany Sea, and in the wilder-
other miracles in the wilderness for the space of ness forty years.
forty years, where indeed they were every day
miraculously fed by manna from heaven, and
conducted by the pillar of fire and cloud.


Ver. He is indeed faithful that hath promised; he remembereth his
17 covenant for ever, the word which he commanded even to a thousand

generations. (Psal. cv. 8.) He multiplied his people in Egypt,
that Canaan might not want inhabitants, when the sinners against
their own souls that then held it should be cut off: And when he

had determined so to multiply the holy seed, vain were all the at18, 19 tempts of the ungrateful Egyptians to destroy the kindred of him

by whom, as they had formerly confessed, their lives had been
saved : (Gen. xlvii. 25.) Yet was the rod of the wicked permitted
for a while to rest upon their back, that the remembrance of the
bondage and the cruelties they had there endured might, through-
out all generations, be a source of joyful and grateful obedience
to that God who delivered them from the land of Egypt, and from
the house of bondage, and an engagement to serve him who had so
illustriously triumphed over idolatry, as it were in its head-quarters.
The church has often had its winter season, yet Providence has
over-ruled the severity of that, to conduce to the verdure and
beauty of its spring, and to the fruitfulness of its summer and its

20, 21 Moses was born in the midst of this persecuting time, and when

exposed, was the care of divine Providence, the compassion which
God put into the heart of this Egyptian princess, was to draw
after it a train of most important consequences.

Moses was
fitted for the great part he was to act in the close of life by very


through the whole of this discourse speaks be a ruler and redeemer, intimated bow
of Moses, tended to shew how improbable possible it was, that Jesus, whom they had
it was, that he should have spoken con- lately rejected, might nevertheless be con-
temptibly of him, as the witnesses pretended; stituted a Saviour by the divine deter-
so this circumstance of the Israelites having mination.
rejected him, whom God had appointed to

[ocr errors]


Reflections on the account that Stephen gives of Moses. 585 different means; the learning, the magnificence, and politeness sect. of the court of Egypt were to do their part, that he might be able to appear with honour in that court as an ambassador,


to conduct himself with becoming dignity as a prince; but they 22
could not do the whole : They were to illustrate his generosity in
seeking, in the midst of such various pleasures, and at the ex-
pence of such high prospects to vindicate his oppressed brethren, 23, 24
whose sorrow touched his heart, and whose groans pierced (if I
may so express it) through all the music of the court, through all
the martial noise of the camp, in which he might sometimes reside
and command : Glorious triumph of faith, that when he was
come to such full age, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's
daughter, and chose rather to meet with affliction in the cause of
Christ, than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin! (Heb. xi.
24, 25.)

But forty years of retirement in the desart of Midian, spent in 29
the meditations and devotions, for which the life of a shepherd
gave so great advantage, must ripen him to feed God's people Israel;
while they, in the mean time, justly groaned under the continuance
of that bondage from which they were so backward to accept of a 25
proffered deliverer.

At length light breaks in upon them in the midst of their dark- 30, 31
ness: Let us turn aside and behold with proper affection this great
sight, the bush burning but not consumed; and therein an emblem
of the preservation of the church, even amidst the fiercest flames.
Let us hear with pleasure that voice which proclaims to all that 32
hear it, so compassionate and faithful a God, which opens so
glorious and lasting a hope ; I am the God of Abraham, ihe God
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. “ Thou art not, O Lord, the
God of the dead but of the living, (Mat. xxii. 32.) these pious
patriarchs therefore live with thee, and their believing seed
shall partake of that life and joy in the city, which because
thou hast prepared for them, thou art not ashamed to be called
their God.(Heb. xi. 16.)

How does God manifest the heart of a parent towards these bis 34 oppressed children! I have seen, I have seen the affliction of Israel: Thus, () Lord, dost thou see all our afflictions ! Let thy church, and each of thy people, trust thee to come down for their deliverance in thine own time and way ; let us with pleasure behold this Moses whom they rejected, and from whom a worthless offender could not bear a reproof, made a leader and a redeemer : So is 35, 36 our blessed Jesus, though once rejected and despised, eralted to be a Prince and a Saviour. It is not in vain that we have trusted, it is he that should redeem Israel. (Luke xxiv. 21.) He has conquered the tyrant of hell, he has broken our chains, he has brought us forth into a wilderness, but a wilderness in which God nourishes


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

586 Moses had pointed out another prophet, even Christ. sect. and guides us; and he shall ere long have what Moses had not,

the honour and delight of leading all his people into the land of promise, and dividing to them a joyful and everlasting inheritance there.



Stephen proceeds in his discourse, till his audience are so enraged

that they rush upon him and stone him. Acts VII. 37, to the end. VIII. 1.

Acts VII. 37.

Acts VII. 37. STT STEPIEN went on, in bis discourse before This is that Moses

the Sanhedrim, to mention sereral other cir- the children of Israel, Acts cumstances concerning Moses, which he judged A prophet shall the VII. 37. important to his present purpose; and having

Lord your God raise

up unto you of your taken norice of the commission he received from brethren, like unto me: God to be a ruler and deliverer, and of the won him shall ye bear. ders that he wrought in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, he added, This is ihat Moses who expressly said to the children of Israel, (Deut. xviii. 15.) A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from amongst your brethren like unto me, him shall


hear a :" Thereby pointing out, that Jesus of Nazareth, who is to be regarded as the great prophet and lawgiver of Israel, by whom God has sent you, as he did by Moses, a new system of precepts,

and new ample discoveries of his will. 38 This Moses is he who was the chief in the as 38 This is he that

sembly convened in the wilderness b, who had the was in the church in honour of conversing with the angel that spake the angel which spake to him there on mount Sinai, and of transacting to him in the mvont



a A prophet shall the Lord your God, &c.] plainly proves the angel to be a different As to the justice with which this prophecy person. But I think the doctrine itself, is applied to Christ, in its original and " that Christ was the God of Israel, or the diteral sense, see Dr. Bullock's Serm. on angel who appeared to Moses," a great Deut. xviii. 18. and Mr. Jeffery's True and certain truth, capable of being evinced Grounds, p. 128–155. whom I mentioned from many passages of the Old and New before in note i on Acts iii. 92, p. 534, to Testament, and from this paragraph in parwhich add Bishop Sherlock un Prophecy, ticular, though not from inis clause ; and I p. 187, & seq.

hope in due time to shew, that the argub This is he, who was in the assembly in ments which Mr. Pierce bas urged against the wilderness.] When this clause is quoted it iron Heb. xiii. 2. and ii. 2-4, are quite as it has been by some very great men, to inconclusive, follow Beza, Heinsius, prove that Christ was the person, who and the Prussian translators, in rendering brought Israel out of Egypt, gave them the EXXA9GiC, assembly, as our translatorsco, ACIS law, conducted them through the wilderness, xix, ult. because I am persuaded it refers, &c. the argument from thence is certainly not in the general to their being incorporated inconclusive ; for ou10 here evidently an into one church in the appropriate sense of swers to 0:13, ver. S6, and to wie that word, but to their being assembled rund Mwuons, ver. 37: and the following clause, the mountain on the solemn day when the which expresses his being with the angel, law was given, Exod. xix. 17, ģ seg.

e T.




After the law was given, Moses was soon rejected. 587 Sinai, and with our all things with our fathers, whom he then enter- SECT. fathers; who received ed into covenant with God : (Exod. xix. 3, 17; the lively oracles to give unto us,

xxiv. 7, 8 :) And it was he who received the
lively oracles of God, to give them unto us, even VII. 38
those oracles. of the living Jehovah, which are
so full of divine life and energy, which were
delivered in so awakening and impressing a

manner, and which instruct us in the way to
39 To whom our life and happiness. Yet notwithstanding this, 33
obey, but thrust hin you cannot but remember that this is the illus-
from them, and in trious prophet to whom our fathers, even after
their hearts turned all the proofs of his miraculous power in Egypt
back again into Egypt, and the Red Sea, would not be obediento; but

acted a part yet more stupid and ungrateful
than that which I mentioned before, (ver. 27,
35,) when they (as it were) thrust him from them
a second time, as in contempt of all these won-

derful appearances of God by him, and returned
40 Saying unto Aa. back again to Egypt in their hearts ; Saying to 40
ron, Make us gods to

Aaron, at the very foot of that mountain upon
go before us : for as
for this Moses which which God had visibly manifested himself to
brought us out of the them, while the sound of his voice was (as it
not what is become of were), yet in their ears, and though they but a

few days before had seen their great leader as-
cending up to him by an intimacy of approach
allowed to no other mortal, “ Make us Gods,
who may march before us, and conduct us in the
way; for (as for] this Moses, who indeed
brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know

not what is become of him, and cannot have pa-
41 And they made tience to wait for biin any longer. And they 41
and offered sacrifice stupidly made a calf, in imitation of the Egyp-
unto the idol, and re- tian Apis, in those very days while they conti-
joiced in the works of nued encamped in that remarkable situation,

and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced
in the works of their own hands, as if, instead
of a reproach and abomination, it had been an

ornament and defence to them. (Exod xxxii.
42 Then God turn- 1, 6.) But upon this God was most righte. 42
to worship the host of ously provoked, so that he turned, as it were,
heaven; as it is writ- away from them, and, as in many other in-
ten in the book of the stances, punished one sin by letting them fallinto.
prophets, O ye house another, yea, at length he gave them up in suc-

ceeding ages to the most abandoned, public,
and general idolatry, even to worship all the host


their own hands.

c To whom our fathers would not be obe- that they might see it was no new thing, dient.) This is observed by Stephen once for Israel to rebel against God by rejecting and again, and he insists upon it largely, deliverers sent from him. 4 E

d You

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »