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Egypt was, as the author of the Book of Wisdom informs us, attended with unusual hon ors *; and when we consider that those inward comforts which religion inspires (the only succours of reason) were withdrawn, we may easily suppose, that fear magnified every real danger, and created many imaginary ones. The terror of the Lord, was now sent forth upon those who defied Him, producing ail the horrors of an evil conscience.— "* Over them was spread an heavy night, an image of that darkness which should afterwards receive them; but yet were they unto themselves more grievous than the darkness."
'The Israelites might have taken the opportunity of departing during the Egyptian darkness, but the Lord would not permit them to steal away, as He intended to deliver them from bondage, in a triumphant manner.
After what has been said concerning the other plagues of Egypt, it is the less necessary to point out the instruction which the present section is designed to convey. The wonders it relates furnished additional proofsj of the omnipotency of the Lord, of his great forbearance towards sinners, and of his goodness to those who fear and worship him.
It may, however, be proper to observe, that the race of insects which proved so destructive to the Egyptians is not extinct .; as formidable an army of them as ravag. ed that country, would soon collect and annoy our own, should the Creator shew his power for that purpose, and he has myriads besides of different species, all capable of doing great mischief to the produce of the fields and gardens; (even those minute ones which occasion Wights and mildew are considered as important evils.)
* Book of Wisdom, xv.i. This chapter may - be read heie as a commentary ofl'tbis part of Sacred History,
Let us therefore humbly beseech God to forbid their approach; and let us never forget to be thankful to Him, for preserving to us the fruits of the earth.
It is God alone that dispenseth light • and darkness, and though He has established the courses of the heavenly bodies, so that the sun and moon mark a regular succession of days and nights, months and years, He undoubtedly can, even without subverting the plan which His wisdom has formed, make darkness like noon day, and noon like the shadow of death, in any part of the world. We ought, therefore, to be thankful to His providence for the light of the sun and moon, and endeavour to live so conformably to his holy will, that we may never provoke Him to send upon us, such dreadful visitations as struck dismay and terror into the minds of the most hardened sinners.
THE LORD'S LAST MESSAGE TO PHARAOH.
From Exodus, Chap. x. and xi.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.
Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and' every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.
And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people.
And Mo6es said, Thus saith the-Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt;
'And all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, From the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the fust-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill ; and all the first-born of beasts. - And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, apainst man or beast ; that ye may know, how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee; and after that I will go out. . 1
And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more ; for in that day thou seest my face, thou shalt die.
And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more. And he went out from Pharaoh in great anger.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.
And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land. ^:
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS. By the former plagues the Lord had demonstrated that all nature was at his command; that the lives of animals depended on His will, and that he could send health or disease on mankind as it seemed good in- His light. He next resolved to prove, that he had equal
power power over the lives of mankind, by inflicting that punishment which he had before threatened *.
It seems to be intimated in this section, that some of the Egyptians were so affected by the judgments they had endured, that they feared to refuse any thing which Moses or the Israelites should require of them; at least they wished to be rid of a peojJe, whose detention had been the cause of so much distress to their country. Pharaoh, however, continued obstinately resolved Dot to obey the Lor D: and instead of humbling himself, received, with the most furious rage, the awful message which Moses delivered to him.
The apostle St. Paul observes, that it is one effect of impiety to deaden the tender affections of the soul f; and the passage before us affords a striking proof of this assertion. Pharaoh had sufficient reason to believe that the Lord was able to do what he threatened; and, if his heart had been susceptible of the usual emotions of parental love, he would readily have made a sacrifice of his jirl.le to save the life of his child; the same may be isaid of his subjects.
The expression, the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart-, is frequently repeated, perhaps to keep in mind, that unless he had been strengthened, as has been before observed, he could not have maintained such a long contest with Omnipotence. It is certain, that Moses did not suppose that God had doomed Pharaoh to commit evil, and suffer for it, for hi frequently admonished him to obey the command of the Lord; and'repeatedly intreated the Lord to deliver him from the plagues : this would have been a mockery of God, nay, an act of presumption" in Moses, if he had been convinced, that Goa Himseli prevented Pharaoh's compliance, on purpose to bring him to destruction.
* Sec Section lviii. f Rom. i. 31. " Without natural affection."
We learn from this Section, that the death of children is sometimes meant as a divine chastisement to parents. In respect to the Egyptians, it was most likely designed as a punishment for bringing up theirs to defy the Lord God of the Hebrews. If then we have any desire to preserve the lives of our children, let us be careful not to offend the Lord by any flagrant act of impiety ourselves; or encourage in our offspring the practice of any vice, that may provoke Him to cut them off in the mormng of their days.
THE INSTITUTION OP THE PASSOTER.
From Exodus, Chap. xii.:
And the Loud spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of theiftfathers, a lamb for an house.
And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it, according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating, shall make your count for the Iamb. . ., . i
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: yo shall take it out from the sheep, «r from the goats. (;
And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the