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Exodus in. 11^ 12.
And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and tJmt I should briny forth the children of Israel out of Egypt. Certainly I will he with thee. The wonderful appearance in which God was pleased to manifest himself unto Moses is related in the beginning of this chapter, as we saw in our last sermon. While Moses was filled with awe and fear, God made known to him the merciful purport of this visit He told him that^ pitjing the oppression under which his people were sufieriug, he was now determined to deliver them, and that he had selected him to be his instrument
E COURAGEME TS GIVE TO MOSES. 89 in their deliverance. It is the Lord's prerogative to send by whom he will, and his power to qualify those whom he chooses ; and thus he spake to Moses in the tenth verse, " Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt." ow surely Moses would hear with delight the mercy intended for his nation, and receive with much satisfactioil the honour which was put upon himself. But no ; he was appalled by the appointment. He could not believe himself equal to it, or think himself worthy of it. Forty years before in the ardour of youth ]ie had made such an attempt. But he then ran without being sent; he had had no authority given him to undertake their deliverance. He had only of himself " supposed that his
brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them." But the time was not then come, his commission had not been given him, and therefore he failed in his purpose. It came to nothing, and even met with opposition from the very persons whom he meant to benefit. But
00 E COURAGEME TS Moses now had different views and feelings. He had been leading a qniet life of contemplation and industry^ and had gained more knowledge of God and of himself; he had greater experience of the dispodtions and manners of others, and more hmnilitjr and diffidence of his own powors ; he conld better estimate the magnitude and diffieoltj of the work ; he conld better understand the weight of the opposition which woidd arise from a powerful king and a mighty nation ; and he might also well expect to hare s^ain to encounter fear or unwillingness in his own people. ow also he would feel that he could have no protection or favour from Pharaoh*8 daughter, and obscure as he was in Midiao, be l«k.d „<».• Um«lf » dt<««fcer hu sufficient and incompetent for se great an undertaking. Such was the feeling of the Apostle Paul, when a dispensation of the gospel was committed to him. He looked at the momentous consequences which were involved in it to htmself and his fellow-men, and he fdt the awfrd respousiMlity of the trust. He anxiously
GIVE TO MOSES. 91 cried therefore, ^* Who is sufficient for these tluDgs ?" ^ Who is able so to proclaim the infinitely important tmths of the gospel, as to deliver his own soul, and save the souls of
others ? Who has knowledge and judgment rightly to divide the word of truth ? Who has discernment to set forth all the counsel of God so correctly and discriminately as that it shall prove the medium of conversion to some, while it leaves others perishing in their sins, yet altogether without excuse ?' These seem to have been thoughts that passed in the mind of him who said, " We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves." And indeed, brethren, the office of the ministry of the gospel is an honour which no man should presume to take unto himself. They only who have deep views of its nature, and lowly thoughts of their own powers and su£Sciency, are qualified to enter upon it ; and they only will be found competent to execute it rightly ; they emly can expect to be honoured iu it. It was. with such a feeling that Moses said in the text, ^^ Who am I, that I should go
92 E COURAGEME TS unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ?" In answer to this expression of diffidence and apprehension God gave him great encours^ement in the assurance that follows. He said, '' Certainly I will be with ihee/' Let the encouragement contained in consideration of this assurance of the presence of God be the first head of our discourse. I. In this assurance there was enough to remove all his doubts and fears, and give him courage and strengHi. If God would be with him^ what could he not then effect ? If God would be for him^ who could be against him with any success ? What could the might of Pharaoh avail, or how could there be any hindrance from the fears or unwillingness of the Israelites? Every* thing that opposed
itself would be cast down before the presence of God, and every obstacle removed by the influence of his spirit. However weak he might be in himself, he would be mighty through the accompanying power of God. — Thus also speaks the Apostle, " Our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able
GIVE TO MOSES. 93 * ministers of the ew Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit ; for the letter kUleth, but the spirit giveth life." He afterwards adds, as the conclusion and effect of this grace received from God, " Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we faint not ; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully : but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." It was thus' that the weapons which the' Apostles used in their holy warfare, being *^ not carnal" were " mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds ;" by these they were enabled to '' cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." A promise of the same kind, let us remember for our comfort, was given by Christ when he sent forth his disciples to proclaim the gospel and evangelize the world. He spake unto them, saying, " All power is
94 E COURAGEME TS given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of Ae Son, and of the Holy Ghost : teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded yon : and, lo, I am with yon abvay, even unto the end of the worldJ^ This is the support of his ministers now. In the faith of thid promise they execute their commission. They ^each the gospel depending upon the presence and blessing of Christ to render the word effectual. They know that its saving effects are produced, not by might nor by power of theirs, but by the Spirit of the Lord ; and '< they have their treasure in earthen vessds, Uiat the excellency of the power may be not of diem, but of God." But in addition to this promise Moses desired some further instruction. He en* quired by what name he should make the Lord known to the Israelites. He said, ^* Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them. The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say unto me. What is his name ? what
GIVE TO MOSES. 95 shall I saj unto them ? The answer is in remarkable tenns, terms which express more than any other could possibly do. ^' God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am : and he said. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you." Let the encouragement given by this declaration of the ame of God be the second head of our discourse. 11. The name by which God thus announced himself to Moses is full of most important description of his nature. It contains in fact all that we can imagine of an eternal, self-existent, independent, selfsufficient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and immutable God, with every other attribute
that necessarily belongs to Deity, and intimates moreover that the mode of his existence is incomprehensible and past finding out. Here let us remember that this very name waB appropriated by Jesus Christ to himself. In the eighth chapter of St. John's Gospel, and the My-eighth verse, he speaks of him-* self thus, "Before Abraham was, I am."
96 E COURAGEME TS Whatever was meaut by Jehovah in his say*ing to Moses, '^ I Am hath sent me to you^'* the same was meant by the saying of Jesus, '^ Before Abraham was, I am." And so the Jews understood it, for immediately "they took up stones to cast at him," because they municable name of God. Hence it'k clear that He, who appeared to Moses in the bush, and he who was manifested to the Jews in human form, was one and the same person ; tl^at the Jehovah of the Old- Testament and the Jesus of the ew are identical. And here we may turn back to a part of the last sermon and observe that He, who is there first called '^ The Angel of the Lord," and afterwards " God," is without doubt the second person of the Holy Trinity, who by repeated manifestations of himself in different ways under the old dispensation prepared his church for that more visible form and long sojourn, when he came into the world as the Son of Mary, and " was made m the likened of men," that is, when " the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."
GIVE TO MOSES. 97 Here is that great mystery, " God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.^' Here is the foundation of our redemption placed? Here is our '' help laid upon one that is mighty," one '^ able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him.'* To this name, expressive of his essential nature, God also added a declaration of his covenant relation to the people of Israel. " God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you : this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." God had before encouraged Moses himself by this declaration, and now he sends him with the same encouragement to the Israelites, that they might know that the God of their fathers had not forsaken them, that he remembered the promises which he had made to them, and was now about VOL. II. F
98 E COURAGEME TS to fulfil them. And verily diis uajne aind memorial haTe endured thitmgli many generations. The Jews still pride themselyes lit it. Here it stands in the imperishable recced of the Scriptures. And if we Christians do rather call upon Giod as '^ The God and Father of our Xiord Jesus Chrtst,'* yet we also know that Jesus Christ himself was of the seed of Abraham, and came '^ to perform the mercy promised to these fathers, and to remember his holy covenant'' In this manner Grod sent forth Moses, with an assurance that his oountarym^ should '^ hearken to his voice/' and that the Idng- of Egypt should be compelled to let them go^
notwithstanding all hi^ objecticms and oppor sition, of which God forewanied Imxi; my further that the Egyptians themselves shcwld become, so d^^sirous of their i^nioval^ as tot send them out of their cmmtrywith abuor dance of wealth. But, pursuing this account of the Lord's conference with Moses, we have qqw to, cour, template in. the latter a degree of <|oubt and irresolution. We read in the first verse of
GIVE TO MOSES. 99 I the firarth chapter that ^' Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice : for they will say t^ Lord hat|i not appeared to thee.'' Hftrefore graciously condescending to his ii^rmify, God was pleased to give him some further eneonragement. Let the methods now adopted fer this purpose be the third bead of our discourse. III. The encouragement here consists of miraculous signs, promises of fitness to qualify him for his work, and the gifl of a companion and assistant. 1. The miraculous signs were these. God bade him cast his rod upon the ground ; he did so and it was chsuiged into a serpent : God iKule him put forth Ids hand and take it by the tail ; he caught it, and it became again a rod in his Imnd. ext, he bade him put his hand into his bosom ; he put it in, and. took it out leprous as snow : at God*s word he put it into his bosom again, and when he drew it out, it was turned again as his other flesh. Moreover God told him that, if they would not hearken unto the F2
100 E COURAGEME TS voice of these two signs, he should '^ take of the water of the riyer, and pour it upon the dry land ; and the water should become blood upon the drjr land." These miracles were intended to shew to Moses, and to the people when they were afterwards exhibited to them, that all creatures were what he might be pleased to make them, that the bodies of men were in eyery respect subject to him, and that the elements of creation could be changed as he pleased, and all made objects of loathing, fear, and destruction, or of desire, pleasure, and benefit, according to his appointments. 2. We are constrained to wonder at the backwardness of Moses. It now became no longer diffidence but distrust. He objected that he was not eloquent, and therefore not a fit person to persuade the Israelites, or to stand and speak before Pharaoh. And here again God shewed him the unreasonableness of his objection, and his want of faith. God had promised to be with him, and in that promise eyery requisite for the successfiil discharge of his mission was contained. God
GIVE TO MOSES. 101 reminded him of his own power to qualify by these expressive questions; ^* Who hath made man's mouth ? or who maketh the dumb^ or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind ? Have not I the Lord ?" God also engaged to fit him for his office even in this respect. He said to him, " ow therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." A similar promise was made to the first messengers of the Gospel in the same terms of power and grace. They were told
by Jesus that they should be brought before kings and rulers for his name's sake; they were bid not to meditate before what they should answer ; " for," he adds, " I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist." It is thus that God furnishes his servants with every faculty which they need to possess for the execution of every commission with which he entrusts them. In all respects their sufficiency is of him. Discernment of the truth, zeal to proclaim it to others, wisdom in stating it, and eloquence in recommending and persuading, are given
102 E COURAGEME TS to those preachers of his Grospel whom iie means to honour in the work of coiiYertiii^ souls to his service, and eyen then their saccess depends not upon these qualities in them, hut upon the influence which he gives to the heart of the hearer, as they spedc in his ears. 3. Moses still remained unwilling to go, and would gladly have been altogether excused. Such is the meaning of his words in the thirteenth verse : he said, '^ O my Lord, send I pray thee by the hand of him whom thou wilt send." This was not said in the spirit of Isaiah, when he ^^ heard the voice of the Lord saying. Whom shall I send, aad who will go for us?" and Isaiah said, '* Here am I, send me." o. It is evident fiom what follows that the meaning was, ^Lord send by some one else rather than by me." For we read that '^ the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses." 66d might have struck him dead in his anger, at least he might have thrown him wholly aside, imd appointed another. But the Lord pitied his frame and remembered that he was but dust.
OIVE TO MOSES. 108 «nd pardoned, and accepted him concenriug this thing also, and gave him his brother Aaron to be his companion and spokesman. Tbxm gracious was God to his servant, he met all his objections with kindness, gave him every confirmation and necessary assistance, and removed all his fears. This whole history seems to be a striking illustration of two truths which we read in the ew Testament. The first is contained in these words of our Lord (John xv. 5.) *' Without me ye can do nothing." This is, true of every attempt to accomplish any thing that is spiritual and holy. It is true of the ministers of the Gospel in their endeavours to colivert the sinner, or to edify and comfort Ae BQint. Their most ean^st exertions fail, their best words are unregarded, except the Lord hiliiself put a vital ef&cacy into them. It is true of every individual of mankind. o one can do any thing of a spiritual nature effectively for his own salvation by his own natural strength and goodness. This is very powerfbUy expressed in the tenth article of ourowi^ church, which says, * The condition
104 E COURAGEME TS df man after the fall of Adam is such^ that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God : wherefore we hare no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.' The second truth is contained in these words of the Apostle Paul, (Philip, iv. 13,) " I can do aQ things through Christ which
strengtheneth me." Every individual may do whatever is required for his complete salivation through the grace of Jesus, and that grace is never withheld from true and fervent prayer. By it he may repent, believe, and obey, overcome every difficulty, conquer every temptation, and fully work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. Through the strength given by Christ every public servant of his, on whatever mission he is sent, may successfully accomplish it. Powers of body and mind, knowledge, speech, courage, perseverance, every requisite of every
GIVE TO MOSES. 105 kind, can be furnished by the great master and head of the church. Oh ! that he may make his grace sufficient for us, and perfect his strength in our weakness. Often is the believer ready to despair when he considers the magnitude of his sins, the strength of corrupt nature, the temptations which arisci from surrounding friends and enemies, and the power and art of his great invisible foe. But if Christ be with him, Christ will enable him, by his all-powerful grace, successfully to resist, and effectually to conquer, every opponent and hinderance of his salvation. Yes, ^* strong in the Lord and in the power of his might," the weakest believer shall be stronger than the united strength of all who set themselves against him. O ye timid ones, take comfort from this, and go on your way with a humble confidence and holy trust in the presence and help of your Lord.
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