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means to work, and now he can confidently look up to Heaven for that blessing which can give success to the means. He ascends to meet God, but ascends not alone. As wickedness seeks to fortify and to keep itself in countenance by the society of the wicked, so the fire of devotion keeps itself alive by the sacred communication of a kindred flame. The hands of Moses alone had soon become feeble, and must have dropped down, and Amalek finally have prevailed; supported by Aaron and Hur, they continue "steady till the going down of the sun;" and Amalek and his people are discomfited with the edge of the sword.
Of Aaron, one of the companions of Moses upon the mount, we know much; of Hur, the other, the scripture account is more sparing. Those who are never at a loss so long as fancy and invention can create, make him the son of Caleb, and the husband of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. It appears from the history, that he was the father of Uri; and the grandfather of Bezaleel, the famous artist, employed, by special endowment and appointment of Heaven, for the construction of the more curious and costly furniture of the tabernacle and sanctuary. But it is of more importance for us to know him, and for him to be reported, as a person of the first quality, and his quality supported by that which gives rank its highest lustre, genuine piety. Moses left him, in commission with Aaron, to judge the people, when a short while after this he went up alone into Mount Sinai, to meet God. This is argument sufficient of his high rank; and the assumption of him to assist his devotion in Mount Horeb, while Israel was engaged with Amalek, is a proof equally clear and decisive of his extraordinary piety.
Behold then the man of God, supported and encouraged by two such companions; discovering all the honest anxiety of the patriot, together with all the confidence and fervour of the saint; with his eyes eagerly bent on the conflicting armies in the plain below; and his hands, with his heart, lifted up to God in the heavens, from whom his help came. It was clearly the intention of Providence, that the deliverance which should be wrought for Israel on this occasion, though not wholly independent on the use of means, should evidently appear to flow chiefly and only from the interposition and grace of Heaven. "It came to pass when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, that Amalek prevailed."
This is the first battle which Israel was called to fight; and it was designed to be a model of all that should follow; of assured success to them, and victory over all their enemies, provided they constantly acknowledged God, with hands continually lifted up to heaven. And it had undoubtedly a farther view, namely to represent in general, the powerful and certain effect of prayer to God, and of a sense of dependence upon him; to shew that our strength is in exact proportion to the perception of our own weakness, and to our confidence in almighty grace. The lesson inculcated in this history is the same which Christ taught his disciples in the parable of the unjust judge and the importunate widow, "That men ought always to pray, and not to faint."* If importunity and the love of ease have power to constrain a man to do his duty, though he have no inclination to it, how much more certain the effect of earnestness and importunity with the Hearer of prayer, the Father of mercies; who is ever more ready to grant than man to ask? "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him."+
Have you considered then, my christian friend, what a powerful instrument is put into your hand, mighty as the rod of God in the hand of Moses, wherewith he did wonders? "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are,
and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."* Surely, then," the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." God has not given you assurance of success in all your undertakings, but he has bestowed upon you the privilege, and promised you the spirit of prayer, by which you shall certainly obtain one of two things; either that blessing from above upon your honest endeavours, which maketh rich, which insures success, and makes it durable; or, that resignation of spirit, and submission to the will of God, which subdue misfortune, and which turn calamity and disappointment themselves into advantage. God has not given thee, my friend, the promise of riches; but he has given thee, what is much better, the spirit of grace and supplication to form thy soul to contentment. You have no security against pain and sorrow; but you have that which produces patience and fortitude. You cannot promise yourself long life; but habitual intercourse with God by prayer overcomes the fear of death.
Glorious privilege! Whatever my situation in life be, here is something to improve it, if good; something to mend it, if evil. Here is the ornament and essence of prosperity, the cure and cordial of adversity. Here is the guardian and the guide of life; the sweetener and subduer of death. Prayer brings all the glorious perfections of Deity into our possession. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."‡ "When I am weak, then am I strong:""for I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Is the thorn not removed, the messenger of Satan not rebuked, though the Lord be thrice besought that they may depart? No matter. Is it not said, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness? Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."§
But where are the hands which never hang down? Those of Moses himself became beavy. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Fatal omen to Israel! Amalek instantly gains the ascendant. But happily, Moses was not alone in the mount: "And they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun." "As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend ;" and so devotion kindles and keeps alive devotion. Secret prayer, like the melody of one sweet toned voice stealing upon the ear, gently wafts the soul to heaven: social worship, as a full chorus of harmonized sounds, pierces the sky, and raises a great multitude of kindred spirits to the bright regions of everlasting love, and places them together before the throne of God. How happy are Aaron and Hur, in lending this aid to the wearied hands of Moses, and to the declining interest of the Israel of God! How happy is Moses in being thus supported! But there is an Intercessor whose hands never hang down, whose fervour never cools, whose mediation never fails, whose attention is never relaxed. "We have an advo cate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous." Him "the Father heareth always:""as a Prince he hath power and prevaileth."
Let us now turn our eyes to the struggle in the valley below. There we meet "the confused noise of the warrior, and garments rolled in blood:" the alternate shouts of acclamation and triumph, mingling with the piercing shrieks of the wounded, and the groans of the dying. Israel, now hurrying on to victory, and anon flying before the insulting foe. The event for a while is
† James v. 16.
+ James i. 5.
62 Cor. xii. 9,
* James v.
awfully in doubt; turning upon the strength and feebleness, not of thousands, but of one single arm; decided at length, not by the edge of the sword, but the elevation or depression of a rod; and that rod swayed, not by the skill and prowess of Joshua, but the firmness and devotion of Moses.
But now, doubt and anxiety are at an end. The hands of Moses are propped up, and Israel finally prevails. And what heart save that of an Amalekite but must rejoice in the issue? "The cunning is taken in his own craftiA design of violence and blood falls upon the head of him that contrived it. The righteous and innocent cause bears down pride and cruelty. We behold the destination of Heaven standing good, the birthright sold away, the blessing anticipated; the elder made subject to the younger. "God is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him and hath prospered?"*
Israel has conquered. But it is impossible to mistake the means by which he has gotten the victory. "The hand of the Lord, and his holy arm, they have gotten him the victory." The altar, therefore, which was built to celebrate this signal success, shall by its name perpetuate the remembrance of God the deliverer. Jehovah-Nissi," the Lord my banner," was inscribed upon it by the divine appointment; and a reason is assigned in the sixteenth "For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
These words, having been variously rendered, have given occasion to various opinions among interpreters. Some read the passage thus, "Because the hand of Amalek is against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." This reading resolves the guilt of Amalek, not into an insidious and cruel design against Israel, but into a rash and impious attempt to defeat the plan of Providence, which was to bring Israel into the quiet possession of Canaan, and to exalt that nation, favoured of God but envied of man, to wealth, power and empire. God therefore was pleased to vindicate in person the cause which was his own, and to write disappointment and a curse upon every plan which Amalek could form, of greatness and prosperity. So "fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God," so dangerous to form a combination" against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision."+
Others literally translate the words thus, " With the hand upon the throne of the Lord, sworn that he will have war with Amalek om generation to generation." He, that is, Moses, hath sworn, with the most awful solemnities, and recorded the oath in a book for perpetual preservation, that there shall be no peace between Israel and Amalek till he be utterly destroyed. The hand which was extended towards heaven, the throne of the great and terrible God, with the rod in it; the instrument of a victory which was interrupted by the going down of the sun, has been lifted up, to swear by him that liveth forever," that the triumph of that day shall be followed up, till the hated name of Amalek be extinguished from under heaven.
Some make Jehovah himself to be the person who binds himself by this solemn oath. "The hand," that is, Jehovah's own hand, upon the throne of the Lord. "Because he could swear by no greater, he hath sworn by himself, that He will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." We have a prophesy in the mouth of Balaam to the same effect; "And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable and said, Amalek was the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be that he perish forever."
* Job ix. 4.
+ Psal. ii. 2-4.
Numb. xxiv. 20.
The execution of this dreadful sentence was reserved to the days of Samuel, four hundred and twelve years after; and was committed to Saul, who, through an impolitic and sinful lenity, failed to fulfil the design of Providence, and thereby incurred the displeasure of Heaven, and forfeited his life and crown by his disobedience. I transcribe the passage.
"Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel; now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel; how he laid wait for him in the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go, and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."* This order Saul obeyed but in part. He assumed and exercised a dispensing power, and it became a snare to him. He took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive; and reserved the best of the spoil. The prophet is sent of God to reprove his disobedience; which Saul attempting to palliate, brings down this censure upon his head. "When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord! Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken, than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king."+ Has God commanded to destroy? Who shall presume to save ? Has he commanded to spare? Who dares destroy? "I say unto you, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear fear him, which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell you, fear him."
yea, I say unto
1 Sam. xv. 1-3.
+1 Sam. xv. 17, &c.
Luke xii. 4, 5.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
EXODUS XVIII. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. And Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh, and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel: whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly, he was above them. And Jethro, Moses's father-in-law, took a burut-offering and sacrifices for God. And Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses's fatherin-law before God.
THE great Author and Ruler of the world has evidently in view the pleasure and happiness, as well as the wisdom and virtue of his rational creature We find, through the widely expanded frame of nature, and the extensive plan of Providence, as many sources of joy as there are means of improvement. What an infinite, beautiful and pleasing variety in the works and in the ways of God! all ministering to human comfort, all aiming at making men good. The mind of man is formed to desire and to relish variety. The objects with which he is conversant are therefore varied without end, to gratify that desire, and to correspond with that relish. The glare of perpetual sunshine and the fervid heat of an eternal summer, would speedily oppress and destroy mankind: but, relieved by the tranquillity of darkness, the freshness of spring, the sedateness of autumn, and even the gloom of winter, they become no less grateful than they are beneficial. In surveying the globe, the eye is not permitted to tire by having to crawl along a boundless plain; but sparkles with delight as it springs from valley to valley, and from hill to hill. And even the glories of the starry heavens are rendered still more glorious by being kept in continual motion; and thereby are made continually to exhibit a different appearance.
The events of human life, for the same reason, are endlessly variegated like the objects of sense. Wretched were the dull stagnation of constant prosperity, success and ease. Intolerable would be the agitation and distress of unceasing, unabating, unrelenting toil, pain, disappointment and vexation of spirit. But, one thing being set over against another, the great, the prosperous and the happy are forever admonished, reproved and brought low; the poor, the despised and the miserable are cheered, supported and exalted.
The word of God exhibits a resemblance to the system of nature, and to the conduct of Providence. In it we have the same pleasing, engaging va riety; the same happy accommodation to the tastes, occasions and necessities of mankind. The antiquarian and the naturalist, the politician and the legis