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glory, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
The redemption of the people under Moses at the Exodus from Egypt, having already been considered as a figure of the world's redemption under Jesus Christ, I need not dwell upon it here. I may however observe, that as the servitude of the Hebrews was extreme, and their oppression intolerable, when Moses was raised up to redeem them; so was the power of Satan at its utmost height, over Jews and Gentiles, at the coming of Christ. He was permitted to bind and to oppress after a strange manner the sons and daughters of Abraham. And if we consider the state of the Heathens at that time all over the world, we find them under the grossest darkness of idolatry, and the most abominable corruption of manners: so that Christ was wanted by the world of Jews and Gentiles as much as Moses by the Hebrews in Egypt.
On this occasion, we have before us a remarkable sign attending the mission of Moses; which being insisted upon by St. Stephen must (like all the other ways of God) have its sense and signification. God appeared to Moses in the desert, from a bush which was on fire and yet was not consumed. Which is a sign, first o 2 applying applying itself as an assurance of deliverance from the affliction of Egypt; and secondly as a pattern of the incarnation, when God should come down from heaven to redeem the whole world.
The burning bush was an earnest and a pledge to assure Moses, that the people of God, though then in a low and miserable condition (aptly signified by a thorn growing on a desert) and under a fiery trial in a furnace of affliction, should yet survive it all; as the bush, though in the midst of a flame of fire, was not consumed. According to this model, such should the event be; and such in fact it was, to the Hebrews in Egypt. As God was present in the bush which was not burned, so being present with his people in their fiery trial, and as it were partaking with them in their sufferings, they would certainly be delivered out of them: according to those words of the prophet Isaiah; in all their afflictions he teas afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: which passage some of the Jewish commentators themselves have properly applied to this exhibition of the burning bush, as a sign that God was with his people in their afflictions, to defend and preserve them in the fiery trial.
And if this wonderful spectacle was a sign
that that God was with them; surely it was also a sign that he would be with us in a like form for the salvation of the world from the bondage of sin: that, as the thorn of the desert is the lowest,amongst the trees, so should he take upon himself the form of a servant, the lowest condition of humanity; submitting to serve with us, and be afflicted in all our afflictions; that in and with him we might be enabled to sustain and survive the sharpness of death. That, as the children in the furnace of fire felt no harm because the Son of God was with them in the midst of it; so should not we be consumed by the trials of this world or the fire of judgment itself. Herein was it also signified, that the manifestation of God to man should not be that of a consuming fire, but of a benign light and glory instead of it; a light to lighten thp Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel. It was signified, that wrath was turned away; that God was reconciled, and that there is good will to man from him that dwelt in the bush *.
This appearance of God to Moses is such a testimony to his appearance afterwards in the flesh, that if we lay the whole together as a figure of the poverty of his birth, like tha.t of
o 3 a root
* Deuteronomy xxiii'u 16.
a root out of a dry ground; of the servility of his condition; of the thorns he bore at his crucifixion; of the glory and brightness of his transfiguration; of the misery of man; the condescension of God; the necessity of a re» deemer: in all these things met together in this exhibition of the burning bush, I see a complication of wonders, which cannot worthily be spoken of: we must adore the subject as we can, and leave it to the more adequate content plation of angels.
The work of Moses in delivering his people was attended with a display of divine power, which shewed how it should be in the other case. He brought them out, saith St. Stephen, after he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. So it may be said of Jesus Christ in the words to the same effect, "he brought them out after he had shewed fe wonders and signs; casting out devils, heal"ing the sick, raising the dead, feeding a hunt* gry multitude in a wilderness, and giving "every possible demonstration of a divine "power, exercised for the deliverance and sal"vation of the people of God."
The power of Moses in Egypt, and at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, was as visible
as as the sun in the heavens; and it was as plain and certain that he acted by the finger of God, as that he acted at all. But now the argument of St. Stephen leads us to observe, as one of the greatest of all wonders, how this man of might and wisdom, so miraculously preserved, and so highly commissioned, was understood and received by the people to whom he was sent? For if the forefathers of the Jews had rejected their lawgiver thus commissioned, and attested by all the evidences of divine power; then was it so far from being any objection against Jesus Christ, that they had misunderstood him, and hated him and crucified him; that it was requisite to the truth and divinity of his commission, that his brethren should sell him, and cast him out as they had done to Joseph; and that they should refuse him, as they had refused Moses. With this argument St. Stephen pressed the Jews, till they were unable to bear the force of it: and, I declare, I think it so forcible at this day, that a man must either be a Christian upon the strength of it, or fall into a rage, like the Jews, if he has an interest against it. Hear how the case is represented— "This Moses whom they refused, saying, who "made thee a ruler and a judge, the same "did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer,