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While, therefore, you endeavour to discharge the duty which belongs to your several callings, as members of the general church of Christ, you will ever bear in mind that nothing more is expected than what your nature is capable of performing, and that the Spirit of Him, who is everywhere present, is an assistant who will take upon himself what you cannot perform, and who may, at all times, be regarded as your most certain and ready help. When, however, we fail in inflicting such punishment on sin and impiety, as our duty shall have pointed out, shall we repine at our ill success, and draw any argument from this against the justice of God, and his constant superintendence over the proceedings of his creatures ? Such, after the reflections we have been encouraging, I conceive will not be our practice: we shall, on the other hand, feel assured that we have been checked in what we would have done, simply and for no other reason than because the accomplishment of our wishes would not have produced the contemplated effect ; or because it would not have produced it unaccompanied by a greater evil. May you be duly impressed with this persuasion, inasmuch as this will produce within you, patience, equanimity, and happiness in this life, and happiness of unspeakable and immeasurable extent in the world to come!

SERMON V.

HIGH AND LOW EQUALLY ACCOUNTABLE

TO GOD.

Exodus ix. 16.

For this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew

in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

It would be well, brethren, for the world at large, though more especially so, perhaps, for the individuals themselves, were people in authority and power—those who have been elevated to a rank superior to that of the generality of their species, to bear in mind the declaration which, by the command of God, the Jewish lawgiver conveyed to the king of Egypt.

The history of this monarch, as far as it is connected with his treatment of the children of Israel, and his repeated refusal to comply with the divine commands, which were delivered to him by Moses and Aaron, must be familiar to all who devote the least degree of attention to the study of the Sacred History which its importance demands.

It cannot, therefore, be desirable that we should, at the present moment, recapitulate the description of the different transactions and occurrences which led the Almighty to express himself to Pharaoh in the words of our text. Suffice it to observe, that this declaration was conveyed to the Egyptian king because he prohibited the departure of the Israelites from his dominions, in opposition to the commands of God, and likewise because he even treated them with increased rigour and oppression. The royal oppressor knew full well, that the Almighty Being who caused his commands to be conveyed to him through the instrumentality of Moses, had ample power to enforce obedience to these commands: for such knowledge, the numerous miracles which Moses had already performed, were abundantly sufficient to impart. It could have been nothing less, therefore, than a disposition of inexcusable malice and obstinacy which urged him to contravene these commands. This disposition was it, which, in opposi. tion to the dictates of reason and discretion, induced him to deny the capacity of Him who had given such transcendent proofs of power and of goodness, (for goodness it was to interfere in behalf of the

oppressed,) and virtually as well as verbally to ask, “ Who is the Lord that I should let Israel go?” The consequence of this almost unprecedented obstinacy was, that he himself was soon overwhelmed with destruction, together with a numerous host of his subjects, who dared to support the authority of an earthly king in opposition to Him who had given such evidences of his sovereign authority, and who had proved himself to be “ King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Had the king of Egypt, brethren, been but an ordinary mortal—had his lot been cast in an humbler sphere of life, the probability is, that he would not have acted with this foolish arrogance and pride. Presuming, however, upon his elevated rank, he had the audacity to impugn the majesty of the Most High, and, doubtless, in the pride of his heart, and in the height of his self-conceit, he fancied that the power which an earthly king possessed could not be surpassed by that of any being, however great his pretensions might be. The error was indeed great, though by no means without parallel in the history of the world; and, practically speaking, if not theoretically so, by no means an ordinary one. How forcibly, indeed, does not the conceit of the Egyptian monarch remind us of the conduct, and subsequent fate of the king of Babylon? It was while luxuriating in sin and iniquity, that the latter experienced a dream which, as he himself expressed it, made him afraid. The interpretation of this dream was given by the prophet Daniel, then a captive in Babylon. The holy man, at the same time that he predicted Nebuchadnezzar's approaching downfall, failed not to exhort the voluptuous monarch to avert his impending fate, by breaking off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor". The caution, unfortunately for Nebuchadnezzar, was disregarded.

Daniel, iv. 27.

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Instead of profiting by the advice which he had received, his subsequent demeanour, and his consequent punishment, bear a sufficiently marked resemblance to those of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. “ At the end of twelve months” was it, after the caution before alluded to, that “he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. And the king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word,” however, “was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee, and they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” I think, brethren, it is not possible to read the explanation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, as made in the first instance, and its fulfilment, afterwards recorded by the prophet Daniel, without at once perceiving a striking resemblance in the Almighty's will and intention respecting them, as well as in the feelings of the two monarchs themselves. They were evidently, one no less than the other, raised above the generality of their species, and elevated to the royal dignity, in order that the supremacy of the Divine Power might be reflected upon those who gazed upon the earthly majesty

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