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tion in respect of time, namely of forty years each; but very different in refpect of fituation, notoriety and importance. The firft, and of which the bible is filent, or speaks but a fingle word, prefents him to us a ftudent in the fchools of the Egyptian Magi, one among the princes in the court of Pharaoh, a poet, an orator, a statesman, a general, or whatever elfe imagination pleases to make him. The fecond, exhibits an humble fhepherd, tending the flocks of Jethro his father-in-law, and fulfilling the duties and exemplifying the virtues of the private citizen. In the third, we attend the footsteps of the faviour of his nation, the leader and commander, the lawgiver and judge of the Ifrael of God: under whom that chofen race was conducted from Egyptian oppreffion, to the poffeffion of the land promised to Abraham and to his feed; the inftrument chofen, raised up and employed of the Divine Providence, to execute the purposes of the Almighty, in a cafe which affected the general interests, spiritual and everlasting, of all mankind.
It is of the fecond of these periods we are now to treat; and though our materials be fmall and few, if we be fo happy as to make a proper use of them, we fhall find that, by the blefling of God, our labour has not been in vain.
In Mofes, then, in the very prime and vigour of his life, we see a mind uncorrupted by the maxims and manners of an impious, tyrannical, idolatrous court; a mind not intoxicated by royal favour, not feduced by the allurements of ambition, not deadened by the uninterrupted poffeffion of profperity, to the impreffions of humanity and compaffion. And what preferved him? He believed in God. The mind's eye was fixed on Him who is invifible to the eye of fenfe. And what is the wifdom of Egypt compared to this? It was a land of aftronomers, a land of warriors, a land of artists; and the improvement which Mofes made in every liberal art and fcience, we may well fuppofe was equal to any, the firft, of the age and
nation in which he lived. But a principle infinitely fuperior to every thing human, a principle not taught in the fchools of the philofophers, a principle which carries the foul where it refides, beyond the limits of this little world, infpired high thoughts, dictated a noble, manly, generous conduct.
And firft, it taught him to defpife and to reject empty, unavailing, worldly honours. "By faith Mofes, when he was come to years, refused to be called the fon of Pharaoh's daughter."* Ordinary spirits value themselves on rank and distinction. Ordinary men, raised unexpectedly to eminence, ftrive to conceal and to forget the meannefs of their extraction but Mofes would rather pafs for the fon of a poor, oppreffed Ifraelite, than for the adopted fon and heir of the oppreffing tyrant's daughter. Putting religion out of the question, true magnanimity will feek to derive confequence from itself, not from parentage or any other adventitious circumstance; will not confider itself as ennobled by what it could have no power over, nor debafed by what has in its own nature no fhame. To be either vain of one's ancestry, or ashamed of it, is equally the mark of a grovelling fpirit. Art thou highly descended, my friend? Let high birth infpire high, that is, worthy, generous fentiments. Beware of difgracing reputable defcent, by fordid, vulgar, vicious behaviour. Haft thou nothing to boast of in refpect of pedigree? Strive to lay the foundation of thine own nobility: convince the fools of the world, that goodnefs is true greatnefs; that a catalogue of living virtues is much more honourable than a long lift of departed names. Know ye not, that faith makes every one who lives by it more than the fon of a king? For the fon of a king may be a fool or a profligate; but faith makes its poffeffor a fon of God, that is, a wife and a good man; and by it, Mofes was more noble in the wildernefs of Sinai, than in the imperial court of Pharaoh.
Heb. xi. 24.
As this divine inftructor taught him to undervalue and to refuse empty honours, fo it infpired him with pity to his afflicted brethren. "And it came to pass in those days, when Mofes was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens and he fpied an Egyptian fmiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren."* Eafe and affluence generally harden the heart. If it be well with the selfish man himself, he little cares what others endure. But religion teaches another leffon: "Love to God whom we have not feen," will always be productive of "love to men whom we have feen." From the root of faith many kindred stems fpring up; and all bring forth fruit. There, arises the stately plant of heavenly mindedness, producing the golden apples of felf-government, selfdenial, and contempt of the world; and close by its fide, and fheltered by its branches, gentle fympathy expands its bloffoms and breathes its perfumes; confolation to the afflicted, and relief to the miferable.
The progrefs of compaffion, in Mofes, is defcribed with wonderful delicacy and judgment. First, he foregoes the pleasures of a court. Unable to relish a folitary, felfifh gratification, while he reflected that his nearest and dearest relations were eating the bread and drinking the water of affliction, he goes out to look upon their mifery, and tries by kind looks and words of love, to foothe their woes. Unable to alleviate, much less to remove their anguish, he is determined at least to be a partaker of it; and fince he cannot raise them to the enjoyment of his liberty and eafe, he voluntarily takes a fhare of their bondage and oppreflion. There is fomething wonderfully pleafing to a foul in trouble, to fee one who might have fhunned it, and have turned away from the fufferer, out of pure love drinking from the fame bitter cup, and fubmitting to the fame calamity. At length an honeft zeal breaks forth, and overleaps the bounds of patience and difcretion. Seeing a brutal Egyptian
* Exod. ii. II.
fmiting an Hebrew, incapable of fuppreffing his indignation, he affaults the oppreffor, and puts him to death. "Mofes was meek above all the men of the earth." But "furely oppreffion maketh a wife man mad." This we allege as an apology for the conduct of Mofes, not a vindication of it; for we pretend not to fay it was in all refpects juftifiable. But it is one of thofe fingular cafes to which common rules will not apply.
The day after, he had the mortification of feeing two Hebrews ftriving together. Unhappy men! as if they had not enemies enough in their common, cruel task-mafters; as if condemnation to labour in making bricks without fome of the neceffary materials, could not find employment for their most vigorcus efforts; as if an edict to deftroy all their male children from their birth, had not been fufficient to fill up the measure of their woe; they pour hatred and ftrife into the bowl, already furcharged with wormwood and gall. Wretched fons of men! eternally arraigning the wifdom and goodnefs of Providence; eternally complaining of the hardships of their lot; and eternally fwelling the catalogue of their miferies, by their own perverfenefs and folly; adding vinegar to nitre, and then wondering how their diftreffes came to be fo great! Mofes reproved the offending Egyptian by a blow, and a mortal one; he tries to gain an offending brother by meekness and gentlenefs; he makes reafon and humanity speak; but they speak in vain; for the fame fpirit that leads men to commit cruelty or injuftice, leads them alfo to vindicate and fupport their ill conduct. he faid to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smiteft thou thy fellow? And he faid, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us: intendeft thou to kill me, as thou killedft the Egyptian ?"* From this, Mofes difcovered that the rafh action which he had committed the day before, was publickly known and
* Exod. i. 13, 14.
talked of, and might prove fatal to him, unless he instantly fled from the danger. The affair had reached the ears of Pharaoh, who, it would appear, wanted only a decent pretence to rid himself of a man of whom all Egypt was jealous. He hurries away therefore out of the territories of the king of Egypt, into that part of Arabia which is called Petrea, from its mountainous or rocky afpect; and by a fingular concurrence of providential circumstances, is ftopped at a city of that country called Midian, and is induced to remain there for many years.
There lived in this city a perfon of diftinguifhed rank and station; but whether poffeffed of a facred or a civil character, the ambiguity of the term in the holy language permits us not to determine ; and the fcripture leaves us totally uncertain whether he were a priest or a prince of Midian. But we are left in no doubt respecting his moral and intellectual qualifications; and we fhall have no reason to be displeased at finding the hiftory of Mofes blended with that of fo fenfible and fo good a man as Jethro, or Raguel, turns out to be. Whatever his dignity was, the facerdotal or royal, we find his daughters trained up in all the fimplicity of thofe early times; following the humble, harmless profeffion of fhepherdeffes. Wife is that father, kind and just to his children, who, whatever his station, poffeffions or prospects may be, brings up his fons and his daughters to fome virtuous and useful employment; for idleness is not more odious, difhonourable and contemptible, than it is inimical to happiness, and irreconcileable to inward peace.
Mofes, being arrived in the neighbourhood of Midian, weary and faint with a long journey, through a barren and unhofpitable country, fits down by a well of water to reft and refresh himself. And, as a good man's footsteps are all ordered of the Lord, Providence fends him thither juft at the moment, to fuccour the daughters of Raguel from the violence of