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Exodus iii. 2.

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and
that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ?

Exodus iii. 2.

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and
that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ?

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 02, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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MOSES. BY DAVID J. VAUGHA, M.A., Exodus iii. 2. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ? OUR First Lessons for to-day*s services bring us to the commencement of the history of the exodus of Israel from Egypt : that history, in which the noblest character of the Old Testament is the central and most prominent figure. A great German writer on the history of Israel says : ' To fathom such a life as that of Moses would be one of the most difficult of historic problems, did we even possess the most abundant materials. For we here approach a power which produces the mightiest and most lasting results, but which works in a mysterious privacy, which in its own nature is hard to apprehend, and is especially difficult for us of a later age to penetrate. Our life moves in the midst of those very truths which received their first currency and acknowledgment from Moses and other minds like his ; we are sustained and protected by them; we live in the hourly enjoyment of their blessed
fruits. But the very ease with which we now. move in their sphere tempts many, learned and imlearned, to regard their first establishment and promulgation as a light affair. How few are now able to appreciate the power which, first and alone, p 210 MOSES. [SER. grasps such truths, and is then able also to connect them with the innermost life of a nation, and thus permanently establish them in the world ! There is still great difference of opinion among us about Mohammed, although we can all judge him without bias, and although we possess numerous and well- preserved documents by which to discern his life and character. How much more difficult is it to conduct such an inquiry satis- factorily, when it concerns the founder of a religion, who towers far above Mohammed both in depth of spirit and permanence of influence, and whom nevertheless the extant historical records do not exhibit to us in anything like the same vividness and authenticity/ In spite of the immense difficulty of the task, I propose to endeavour to help you to-night to form some conception, how- ever inadequate, of the life and character and work of Moses. However poorly I accomplish my task, it cannot but do us good to dwell for a little while upon a noble character and upon a period, which tlie author just quoted truly describes as * one of those periods with whose exceptional grandeur every good man loves to quicken his own spirit, and which he therefore desires to bring fully before him even to the minutest details.' Even the children amongst us are familiar with the story of
the birth of Moses, and the curious chance (if we may call it so) which transferred him from a poor Hebrew's cottage to the royal palace, and put alKthe learning of Egypt within his reach. There can be no reason whatever for distrusting the later tradition, which appears in the speech of the first Christian martyr St. Stephen, and which represented him as * learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.' In this respect Moses occupied the same position of advantage which St. Paul also occupied : both being men who had received the best education that could be had in their day. We know well to what good account St. Paul turned his education,^using it, without being in the least degree fettered by it It would be the same, XXI.] MOSES. 211 doubtless, with Moses, — a. man of far greater gifts and genius and force of character, than was even St. Paul The later accounts represented the life of Moses as divided into three equal periods of forty years each : forty years of wealth and position in Egypt ; forty years of exile and servitude; forty years of arduous and most responsible toil, as leader, law- giver, prophet. It may have been so ; but the earlier accounts know nothing of this symmetrical arrangement of the 1 20 years of his life. They merely tell us, that, * When he was grown^ he went out unto his brethreUj and looked on their burdens.' The general impression left on our minds by the life and character of Moses, regarded as a whole, is unquestionably one of extraordinary, almost solitary, grandeur, dignity, and elevation. Wordsworth's line describes it best : — *Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart.* There is not a single character in the Old Testament, that will bear comparison with it, — for purity, for elevation, for power, for pathos. There is only one character in the whole range of history, that overtops it ; and that is more than human, — the

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