Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

has it failed to evangelise the race, but Christianity has actually perished from regions where it once flourished. No, our brethren will take nothing by making charges against us. We are weak in numbers, but strong in truth. The Gospel has not failed, and neither will the coming of the kingdom fail at the blessed day and hour fixed in the counsels of Infinite Wisdom or its happy inauguration in our world. Nor need we wonder that a long time should elapse between the designation or appointment to the inheritance and its actual possession. Of ordinary heirs, Paul mentions the well-known fact, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all. Christians are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; but all their life long in their mortal state they are kept out of possession, having only the earnest of it in their hearts ; nor can they enter on this inheritance until the time of their Master's coronation. And to come to a case not only in point but typical of that which is before us, David was anointed king many years before he came to the throne.

So David's Son and Lord has been appointed and anointed by the Father, and sits at His right hand until the times of restitution. We are more than satisfied with the Father's choice. Jesus is just the King we would have. He will rule the world in righteousness, and the people with His truth ; and we are looking for that blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ."

EDITOR.

INTERNAL EVIDENCES. The Character of Moses a Proof of his Mission. I WISH in this, and perhaps a few following papers, to draw the

of internal evidences to their truth which the Scriptures contain. The points are such as have struck my mind in reading the Bible, and they may also be of interest to others.

While to some minds, what are called the external evidences of revealed religion, such as miracles and prophecy, come home with most weight, there are others who are chiefly influenced by what are called its internal evidences. Its adequate descriptions of God, its pure and ennobling morality, its solution of difficulties which beset the inquiring mind, its response to the craving and desires of the heart of man, the absence of worldly motives on the part of its human teachers,-these, and other such considerations come home with power to multitudes who have never closely studied the external evidences of their faith. It was such considerations chiefly which, in the second century of Christ, won over to the side of Christianity, Tatian, one of the most learned, if not one of the soundest thinkers of that time. The heathen system of his day had

[ocr errors]

disgusted him when his attention was drawn to the writings of the Old Testament. “These writings," he says, “won my confidence by the simplicity of their style, the unaffected plainness of the speakers, the intelligible account of the creation ; by the predictions of future events, the salutary tendency of their precepts, and the prevailing doctrine of one God."'* It is in such a field as this presents to view that we should wish to walk for a time.

The first point to which we would draw attention is the character of Moses. His writings are the basis of the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testament. He gives us the history of creation; a slight but very clear and intelligible sketch of the progress of mankind before the period of the deluge; the religious declension of man subsequent to that period ; the call of Abraham to keep alive a theistic doctrine which would otherwise perish; the history of the people of Israel, sprung from Abraham ; predictions of its future, until another prophet should be raised up by God to that people like to Moses, to whose every word they should pay an absolute and unquestioning obedience (Deut. xviii. 18). The Books of Moses, then, are the very foundation of our faith; and it is, therefore, of the utmost consequence and interest to examine into the life of a man on whose writings our Christian faith depends. Faith in Mosos, our Lord tells us, is faith in Christ; rejection of Moses is rejection of Christ (John v. 46). We affirm of him that his personal character is in itself a proof of his Divine mission.

We assume as true of Moses the Scriptural account of him so far as it does not enter within the range of the supernatural. We assume, that is, that there was such a man as Moses, that he lived at the period of which the history of him speaks; that he was very great in the court of Egypt, was the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, and might have expected to succeed Pharaoh on the throne. We assume that he, for whatever reasons, chose rather to identify himself with the fortunes of a people then held in bondage in Egypt, that he became their leader; and, while conducting them through the peninsula of Sinai, gave them that code of laws, legal, moral, and ceremonial, which they observe to this day, so far as practicable, and profess to have derived from him. To such must be conceded no ordinary amount of sagacity and learning. Allow him or deny him to have had, what he certainly claimed to have had—a Divine mission to Israel-he must, whether this latter claim be conceded or refused, be allowed by all to have been one of the greatest men in intellect and knowledge that have ever arisen among men. Our argument is that his conduct throughout his life is altogether inconsistent with any other than the Divine origin of that religious system which he taught, of which he was, from his position and from his natural ability, perfectly capable of judging.

*“ Church History,” by Dr. Augustus Neander, v. 2. p. 427. Bohn.

Personal ambition has always been the great motive with the originators of every religion which has only had a human origin. To sway the mind and consciences of men is the aim and the hope of such teachers. They seek this either as in itself an end, or else as a means through it to obtain for themselves and their families rule and power in temporal matters.

Now, perhaps of all human characters who have ever exercised power in the world, Moses is the farthest from any charge of personal ambition. In two great periods of bis life he was undoubtedly in places of power. But as regards the first of these, his place in the court of Egypt, he had never sought it; as regards the second of these, his position as leader and lawgiver of Israel, it was imposed upon him against his will. His real character comes out in his relation to both these periods. Had he been allowed his heart's desire, that desire would have been to continue to feed his fatherin-law's flock in the desert of Horeb (Exod. ii. 21 ; iii. 1). We will for a few moments refer to the two great active periods of his life, between which his peaceful, quiet, happy sojourn in Midian is interposed.

To those who would attribute ambition as a powerful motive with Moses, we would refer in reply to his renunciation of a foremost place in worldly grandeur in the court and kingdom of Egypt. We know as well from sacred as from profane history the eminent position which he occupied in Egypt as the adopted son of its Princess, and through her the heir to its throne.* He was brought up from his earliest years with this bright worldly prospect before him, and educated with reference to his attaining it. In physical and mental qualifications, he was fitted to adorn it; being strong and beautiful in person, of powerful mental qualities, all trained and exercised. Yet what was his conduct ? Not in early youth, when he might be supposed actuated by enthusiastic notions; not in the period of old age when mental effort and the responsibility of high position might have been distasteful to him, and led him to resign power which had become so: but in the full maturity of all his powers be renounced the heirship to the throne of Egypt. He certainly was not an ambitious man. Instead of coveting the honours, the riches, the pleasures of the world which lay at his feet, he takes his place with the poor down trodden race of Israel, labouring under hard taskmasters in the brickfields of Egypt. His heart lay with these his persecuted brethren. He takes his part with them. For them he leaves the brilliant court of Pharaoh and flies into the wilderness, having there no hope of ever leading them or ever seeing them again.

The next forty years of his life he spends in the wilderness of Midian (Exod. ii. 21). He is contented with his lot; so unlike what he had been used to from infancy. Wife and child

* Josephus' Antiquities. Book ii. Chap. ix.

and pastoral pursuits satisfied one who looked beyond this present life (Heb. xi. 26). The quiet of the pastures of the wilderness, the sublimity of the mount of God, with its varying lights and shadows, the contemplation to which the sun by day and the moon and the stars by night led up his mind, these were dearer to Moses' heart than the grand cities and monuments of Egypt, Thebes with its mighty population ; Zoan with its vast surrounding plains, where he afterwards wrought his miracles ; Memphis, whence stretched in long line the pyramids, and out from whose soil rose up the strange calm sphinx to gaze out through the centuries orer the land of the Nile. The peaceful occupations of shepherd life, the tent where wife and child awaited his return, the wise converse of Jethro, these were of higher, truer value to him than the palace and the court, with their intrigues, and envies, and ambitions. Where he lived his peaceful life, there he would willingly have died. His heart did not turn back to Egypt.

As such was the prevailing turn of his mind, we have in his age at the period when he went to assume the place of leader to Israel additional reason why it was not ambition that led him to take that step. It is in youth that daring lofty projects are conceived. It is in the prime of manhood that they are carried out. But age is not the period for commencing such. Moses at the age of forty had turned away from the paths of ambition. For the succeeding forty years he had lived in contentment a life of privacy. He would not at the age of eighty, of himself, have undertaken one of the most difficult positions possible from any motive of personal ambition. It is true that at a period long subsequent to this, “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated" (Deut. xxxiv. 70). But he could not have calculated, when he undertook his mission to his people, on such a wonderful prolongation of his vigour, doubtless given him to enable him to bear the heavy burden of Israel until their arrival at Canaan. Neither he nor they ever anticipated the forty years' travel in the wilderness (Num. xiv. 33).

Most certainly the office which Moses undertook was one of the most arduous in the world. To rescue a down-trodden people from the grasp of the most powerful military monarchy in the worldto lead out to unknown difficulties an abject race—this was the mission with which Moses was charged. We may safely say that at the age of eighty years it would never have been suggested to him by personal aunbition to undertake this mission, even though he had the aid of his brother Aaron, somewhat older than himself.

But it is impossible to overrate the reluctance which Moses felt to undertake his mission to Egypt. Let us take up the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Exodus, and read the sentiments of his mind when it is proposed to him. His thoughts and bis language are the farthest possible removed from those of ambition. It is positively piteous to read excuse after excuse, plea After plea, urged why he should not go. “Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ? ” (Exod. iii. 11).

" What shall I

say unto them?” (

(Exod. iii. 13). “They will not believe me!” (Exod. iv. 1). “0, my Lord, I am not eloquent” (Exod. iv. 10). But probably his last plea brings out most strongly the deep-seated reluctance with which he contemplated his departure from Midian to Egypt. It is, “ O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom Thou wilt send ” (Exod. iv. 13). Who is this? It is no other than “the prophet" of whom he speaks in Deut. xviii. 15 as to be raised up in after times to speak to man the message from God. Such a messenger had been looked forward to from the period of man's fall, and still in Moses' time he had not come. Moses looked forward to his coming, but plainly knew not when he should come, and did not expect it until after he himself should have passed away from this earthly scene (Deut. xviii. 18). But yet when the mission to Egypt is brought before him, in his extremity of reluctance he prays that the great prophet may come before his time to free him from a mighty task, which he felt beyond his power. As the Church of God in the present age, often sad and suffering, impatiently has prayed that the Lord might come back the second time sooner than the Father's appointed season, and are disposed to murmur because the Lord appears to them to be delaying His coming, so Moses, meek among mankind, at sight of the office proposed to him, plea after plea of his set aside, impatiently prays that God should for him alter His own times and seasons, and send the Great Messenger sooner than He had intended. The man who felt and acted thus was not moved by ambition to undertake the deliverance of Israel. He had no care for greatness which would lead him to play the impostor's part, and say, “ The Lord hath spoken unto me," when he knew no such voice had come. He was plainly a man to whom the quiet of private station was far dearer than greatness. He felt what Milton has so beautifully described in his “Paradise Regained,” that,

“A crown,
Golden in show, is but a wreath of thorns,
Brings dangers, troubles, cares, and sleepless nights
To him who wears the regal diadem,
When on his shoulder each man's burden lies;
For therein stands the office of a king,
His bonoar, virtue, merit, and chief praise,

That for the public all this weight he bears." It was duty, not ambition, which chained him to the leadership of of Israel. His was no easy task. Murmuring and rebellion were ever in his ears.

But the absence of ambition is clearly seen in Moses, not only in regard of his own personal greatness, but also as regards his family. He had two sons born to him in the land of Midian, Gershom and Eliezer (Exod. xviii. 2-4). These men were in the very prime of

« AnteriorContinuar »