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without any mixture or composition ; and therefore we must not conceive of Him as made up of several parts, faculties or ingredients, but only of ON E, who is that He is, and whatsoever is in Him is Himself; and though we read of several faculties or properties attributed to Him in Scripture, as wisdom, goodness, justice, &c. we must not apprehend them to be several powers, habits, or qualities, as they are in us; for as they are in God, they are neither distinguished from one another, nor from His nature and Essence in whom they are said to be ; for, to speak properly, they are not in Him, but are His very essence or nature itself*.”
The glorious title, I AM, is suitable to the Deity as the universal God of the whole creation : but it was His will to be distinguished to the Israelites by an additional one, “ The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," in reference to the covenant made with those patriarchs concerning the Promised seed'; by this name He is still known, and will ever continue to be remembered, as long as the world lasts.
It pleased God to direct Moses in what manner to open his mission; not at first to all the people, but to the heads of families. This was certainly consistent with prudence and policy; for it was better that each of these should make the important matter known to their wives and children at home, than that the whole multitude should be called together, as such a measure would have occasioned tumult, and furnished Pharaoh with a plausible pretence for increasing their oppression,
* Those, who wish for farther assistance in contemplating on the Deity, may read, with pleasure and advantage, “ An allempt to prove the Eristence and absolut e Perfection is the supreme, unoriginated Being, in a demonstrative Manne, by Hugh Hamilton, Dean of Armagh.” Published at Dublin, in 1784. - .*
If Moses had not been fully aware before hand of the obstinacy of l'haraoh, he would most likely have been discouraged afterwards from persevering in his application to him for leave to let Israel depart ; and had not the Israelites been informed that the Lord would permit them to spoil the Egyptians, as in times of war, they might have objected to leaving Egypt, on account of the 'Want 'of necessaries- for the journey they were required ļo také. . The expostulation which God permitted Mutes to make, shews that He did not overpower tne natural faculties of his mind; for the excuses Moses offered were such as reason would naturally suggest'; and God, kindly considering him as a reasonable creature, was not offended at his scruples, 'buť vouehsafed to give him a sensible demonstration of his miraculous power.
Moses, finding no immediate improvement of his natural fac ulties, still doubted his ability to execute what was required of him. Not that he had any impediment of speech, but to manage such a business as he was to be employed in, seemed to 'require an extraordinary degree of eloquence. This the Lord assured Moses by an unanswerable argument he could endow him with, and promised to do so.
The unwillingness of Mose's to go with the Lord's message after receiving tliese promises was certainly a sin, and justly kindled the anger of the LORD against him; but God graciously spared him, and for his firther encouragement, promised him an auxiliary in his brother Aaron, who was an eloquent man. Aaron how. ever was to act in a subordinate capacity to Moses, and to receive the divine commands through him. The rod, which had been turned into a serpent, was to be the ensign of the honorable office to which Moses was appointed.
; From this section much important instruction may be collected. In the first place. it affords a striking proof of the existence of God, and a certainty of a Di. VINE IMAGE in the nature of the Deity. It also shews that the Lord is true to his promises; and that when his servants are dead, and their bodies mouldering in the dust, He is still their God; which, as our saviour Himself observed, affords a strong argument in favour of the doctrine of a future existence; " for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living ;" all live unto him*.
We are likewise taught, that when we wish to study any thing that relates to the nature of the Deity, we should do it with awe and reverence. It will be proper for us to keep in mind, that the great I AM is the very LORD God, in whom the Deity visibly manifested Himself to the patriarchs., i
We are farther instructed by this section how to use our reason in other matters of a religious nature. It appears from hence just and proper to examine the dif. ficulties that lie in the way to our performance of any duty, and then to allow divine revelation to have its full weight ; which, from the just arguments it affords in the written Word, is now a sufficient guide, and will, even in the common occurrences of life, calm our fears and satisfy our minds ; for, when convinced that -we act agrecably to the commands of our Great CREA
TOR, we may confidently hope for the aid of Divine Grace to strengthen us in the performance of our duty. It is observable, that the Lord, God, on this occasion, made a promise to Moses, similar to that which, as the Messiah, He afterwards made to the apostlest. This,
* Luke xx. 38.
+ Matt. x. 19, 20. Mark xjii, 11. Luke xii, 11, 12. Luke xxi. 14, 15.
proves, that the extraordinary influence of the Holy St. RIT was at that time exerted, though not in so abundant a degree as after the promulgation of the Gospel.
From Exodus, Chap.iv. And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
And Moses took his wife, and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go,
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my
first born. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me : and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born.
And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him,
And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD, who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.
And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel.
And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he bad looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
By taking his family with him, Moses testified his faith in the Lord. The expression, I will harden Pharaoh's heart, 'will be explained in the sequel ; it is sufficient to remark here, that "the 'Lord speaks of this as a purpose relating to a future time, not as a thing already done. Pharaoh had 'not yet committed that offence to which the punishment here threatened is annexed, but the Lord 'foreknew that he would com.
The' rod of God was that which had been turned into a serpent, and which was the ensign of Moses' office, as the Minister of the Lord.
The Almighty being now about to fulfil the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by forming their pose terity into a nation, as his own peculiar people, styles them His first born ; this title signifies, thát Israel was the first "nation which he took into immediate covenant with Himself.
How comfortable must it have been both to Moses and Aaron to compare together the revelations which had been separately made to them ! It seems that they mil'tually encouraged each other, and hastened to execute the divine commission which they had received.
Moses soon had a proof of the foreknowledge of God, for he found the fears which he entertained, that 'the Israelites would not attend to him, groundless. They "Hearkened unto his 'voice as the 'Lord had said* ; and