图书图片
PDF
ePub

3

were, in a short space of time, successively sent upon the Egyptians, and that in particular they had lately been afflicted with a putrid disorder, which must have weakened them greatly; we may easily conceive, that unless the principle of animal life (which seems to be here meant by the heart) had been hardened, nature must have sunk beneath such a pressure of calamity. Under these circumstances the Egyptians were very unfit to encounter the horrors of a tremendous 'storm, which was calculated to occasion the most violent agitation of spirits.

It is observable, that all the threatenings sent from God to Pharaoh, were conditional. Let my people go, &c. else; if thou refuse I will bring, &c.from whence we may infer, that Pharaoh's will was free, and that he had no injustice to complain of, but would have found par. don if he had repented. It should likewise be remarked, that he had time allowed him for reflection, between one judgment and another, and generally a day and night ; but the longer the respite that was granted him, the more obdurate he became, Sometimes, in deed, he seemed inclined to comply, in part, with what was required of him, but he never did this from a principle of obedience to God, for he was resolutely - bent to maintain his own right to the services of those whom the LORD claimed as His own peculiar people, which was exalting himself against Gob.

Locusts are a species of very devouring insects. Travellers * inform us that they fly in the air all compact together, like a vast cloud, sometimes fifteen or eighteen miles long, and about ten or twelve miles broad, so that they quite darken the sky, and make the brightest day obscure; and that wherever they alight, they devour all the corn in an hour's time, and frequently make a famine

* See Stackhouse on the Bible, in the Notes,

in the country, These insects do not live above six months, and when they are dead, the stench of them 80 corrupts and infects the air, thạt it very often breeds pestilences. The prophet Joel calls the locust, the taterpillar and the palmer-worm, God's great army, which he sends among # wicked and rebellious people*. An ordinary locust is described by an ancient naturalist, as so fierce that it can kill a șerpent, by taking it fast by the jaws, and biting it to death. How formidable then must those of Egypt have appeared, which were such as had never been seen before ! not that they were created on purpose to be a plague to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, (for it appears that they came with a strong east wind from a distant country, most likely a place which had never been inhabited by mankind) but they certainly were directed by a divine impulse to visit these coasts.

There is something in the thoughts of famine so very shocking, that no person, who properly reflects, would willingly expose himself to its horrors. Pharaoh could not avoid seeing that this dreadful evil, was coming fast upon him, and his people. The locusts devoured, with astonishing rapacity, the vegetables, which made a principal part of their food. Every hour's delay increased the danger ; therefore, impelled by fear of the power of the LORD, he entreated Moses and Aaron to implore forgiveness for him, but it soon appeared that he had no true penitence. The Lord's mercy, like the kindness of a tender father to a profligate son, served only to harden him still more to resist his will and commands.

The plague which followed was more dreadful than any which had yet been sent, not only on account of its duration, but there is a solemnity in darkness, which naturally fills the mind with awe. That which fell upon * Joel ii. 25,

Egypt

Egypt was, as the author of the Book of Wisdont in. forms us, attended with unusual horrors *; 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 pernyit them to steal away, as He intended to deliver them from bondage, in a triumphant man

ner.

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 proofs, 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 CRÈ ATOR 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 blights and mildew are considered as important evils.)

* Book of Wisdom, xvj. This chapter may be read here as & commentary on'this part of Sacred History.

Let

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

even without subverting the plan which His wisdon 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 dread. ful visitations as struck dismay and terror into the minds of the most hardened sinners.

SECTION LXV.'

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 ; after. wards 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 Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About mid. night will I go out into the midst of Egypt:

And.

And all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall dic, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the first-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, against 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 ine, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee ; and after that I will

go out.

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 sight. He next resolved to prove, that he had equal

power

« 上一页继续 »