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his father's family; and to go to a land to which God would guide him. Abraham obeyed, and left Chaldæa. His father Terah went with him as far as Charran (or Haran, as it is called in the Old Testament), where he died; and then Abraham came southward to the country called Canaan, in which the Jews were living at the time Stephen was speaking. (Gen. xii. 1-9; xi. 31, 32.) God did not please to bestow any property in the land of this country upon Abraham himself, not even a foot of ground; but He promised that he would give him possession of the whole land, and that it should belong to his descendants; while at the time the promise was made, he had no child at all. (Gen. xii. 14, 15.) God also foretold that the children of Abraham should remain in a foreign country; the people of which should make slaves of them, and give them bad treatment for four hundred years.

But God also promised that He would punish the people of that nation who thus behaved ; and that then the children of Abraham should be delivered, and come into the promised land, where they were to serve God who had brought them forth. (Gen. xv. 13, 14.)

Then God established his covenant with Abraham, and gave him the sign of circumcision, (Gen. xvii. 7-11), and when Isaac was afterwards born, Abraham circumcised him when he was eight days old. Jacob was born to Isaac; and the twelve patriarchs, the heads of the twelve tribes, to Jacob. Ten of these sons of Jacob were jealous of their brother Joseph, and sold him as a slave to some merchants, who took him into Egypt. (Gen. xxxvii.) God was however the present help of Joseph, and delivered him out of all his troubles, turning the heart of the king of Egypt to be favourable to him, and giving him wisdom to deserve the favour : so that Pharaoh appointed him to govern the kingdom of Egypt, and all his affairs. Then came the great dearth in Egypt and Canaan, which produced extreme distress and famine. The wisdom of Joseph had however provided against this in Egypt; and as Jacob heard of this, he sent his sons upon two different journies to obtain corn there. Upon the second journey, Joseph discovered himself to his brothers, and made Pharaoh acquainted with them : the result was, that Joseph invited his father into Egypt; who came with all the family, consisting at that time of seventy-five persons. The whole of that generation of the family of Abraham died in Egypt; but their bodies were conveyed into the promised land, and buried in a piece of ground which belonged to the family of Abraham by purchase, having been bought from the family of Hamor, the father of Shechem. (Joshua xxiv. 32.)

But by the time that the period drew near for accomplishing the promise which God had so solemnly made to Abraham, his children had so increased in Egypt, that they were become a great multitude. The memory of Joseph and his influence had passed away from the Egyptian rulers ; and another race of kings were come to the throne, who treated his kindred in a very different manner, cunningly keeping them in servile labour, and oppressing them to such a degree, that their infants were ordered to be destroyed, in order to exterminate the whole people. It was during this persecution that Moses was born. He was a beautiful child; and one in whose beauty there seemed to be a purpose of God for his preservation, to be afterwards a divine instrument, (see the marginal reading in verse 20). He was kept three months by his mother; and when at that age he was exposed on the banks of the river, he was preserved by the daughter of the king, who had him brought up as her own son.

Moses became well instructed in all the learning, for which the Egyptians were at that time more famous than any other nation in the world; and the power both of his eloquence and his conduct was very great. It was not till he was forty years old, that he felt the desire to enquire into the condition of his kindred, in order to befriend them. He happened to be present when one of the Egyptians was illtreating an Israelite ; and Moses took his part, and in the quarrel gave the Egyptian a blow which killed him. He had defended the Israelite intentionally, under the idea that the people would have been ready to receive him as a person appointed in the providence of God, to deliver them from their oppressed condition. They however had no such expectation; and this he soon discovered, for on the following day he attempted to reconcile two of the Israelites, who were at blows together; when the one who was in the wrong refused to allow him to interfere, as having no authority amongst them, and besides taunted him with having killed the Egyptian. This alarmed Moses, and made him leave Egypt, and escape into the country of Midian, where he married and had two sons. (Exod. ii.)

He had continued there forty years, when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in the desert country at Mount Sinai; it was in a flame of fire, which seemed to be burning a bush, and yet the bush was not consumed. Moses was filled with wonder, and went towards it, when the Lord spoke to him out of the bush. He called himself the God of the fathers of the Jews—the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, at which Moses was overcome with fear, and did not dare to look


The Lord commanded him to take his shoes from his feet in token of veneration, as the ground on which he stood was rendered holy by the divine presence. Then God told him how He had taken account of the sufferings which his people, the Israelites, were forced to endure in Egypt, and had listened to the expression of their sorrows; and that He had then shewn himself to Moses, in preparation for their deliverance, for which purpose he meant to send him back to Egypt. Thus the very Moses, who had been refused as having no authority amongst the Jews, was appointed by God himself, through that divine manifestation which appeared in the bush, to have the authority of a ruler, and to be the deliverer of the people. He was the means of effecting their deliverance, after having given evidence of his divine commission, by the miracles which he wrought both before they left Egypt—and in the act of leaving it at the Red Sea-and afterwards during forty years in the wilderness.

Having plainly shewn in this discourse that he could not have spoken against God and against Moses, as had been charged against him, Stephen took the occasion, whilst he was mentioning Moses with most honor as having divine authority, to refer the council to what this same Moses had spoken to the children of Israel, in anticipation of Jesus. He had said, “ The Lord thy God will raise up

unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deut. xviii. 15-19.) It was this Moses who led the congregation of the Lord's people in the wilderness; and was the person through whom the Angel of the Lord, who spoke from Mount Sinai, communicated with the Jews of that generation; and he too received the written commandments, which are oracles of life (Rom. vii. 10-14. Gal. iii. 21), in order to give them to the Israelites. But the people would not acknowledge his authority, and resisted his guidance, being desirous of going back into Egypt: so much so that, when Moses was detained in the presence of God on Mount Sinai for forty days, the people forced Aaron to make an idol as their god, under the guidance of which (having lost Moses) they would henceforth go. They actually made an image of a living animal, and performed the worship of sacrifice to the idol, feasting and rejoicing in token of the worship of a thing which they had made themselves. (Exod. xxxii. 1 Cor. x. 7. Isa. xliv. 9—20.)

It was then that God turned away his face from the children of Israel, and withdrew from them the restraining influence of His Holy Spirit, so that they gave way to their inclination for idolatry, and paid divine honours to the stars of the heavens; as the prophet Amos declares (Amos v. 25—27), asking the family of Israel, in the name of Jehovah, whether it was to Him alone that they offered sacrifices during the forty years wandering in the wilderness ; when all the while they carried about with them the shrines in which they kept images, which they worshipped as the god Moloch (Lev. xx. 245), and a star which they fancied to be their god Remphan (or Chiun, as Amos calls it). Here was the beginning of that idolatrous spirit, which in after times had its perfect work, and for which God threatened them, by the prophet, with the Babylonish captivity, and afterwards permitted it to come upon them as a punishment. What made this sin so peculiarly grievous, was the fact that, while this idolatry was going on amongst the Jews, they were in possession of the actual Tabernacle, in which was the Ark of the Testimony, arranged according to the command of God himself; who desired Moses to make it in the same form as had been shewn him on Mount Sinai. (Exod. xxv. 40; xxvi. 30.) This Tabernacle for the Ark was brought into Canaan in the next generation, under Joshua, (whose naine is the same as Jesus, of whom he was the type), when God established them in the land by destroying the former idolatrous inhabitants. Afterwards in the days of king David, when he had brought this Ark of the Testimony to Jerusalem, having found favour in God's sight, he desired to place it in a building fit to be so honoured as the temple for the worship of the God of Jacob. This however was not permitted to David, but to his son Solomon, who fulfilled the purpose of his father. (2 Sam. vi. 12; vii. 1–13. 1 Kings vi.) But whatever glory might be given to such a building for such a purpose, it is not to be thought that the most high God dwells in temples which are the work of the beings whom He himself created. The prophet Isaiah (lxvi. 1,2) had set forth this truth; for Jehovah said through him, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool : where is the house that ye build unto me ?” what abode will contain Him? “ where is the place of my rest?" with what spot of earth can He be satisfied ? Did not He create every single thing which men could employ in building a temple for Him ?

Stephen had now brought his defence to such a point, that the faithful application of Gospel truth might be made to the Council, formed of the persons who had been the murderers of Jesus. Having manifested his faith in God, his veneration for Moses, for the Temple, and the ordinances of the Law, against which he was charged with speaking blasphemously, he went on to the last charge against him, and boldly stated the truth on that point, in connexion with the want of spirituality, which had prepared them for rejecting the Messiah in the person of Jesus. Stephen told his judges that they had hardened themselves in obstinate pride, by their habitual resistance of the Holy Spirit ; and that though they boasted of the privileges of bodily circumcision, yet that by opposing the Holy Ghost, they plainly manifested that their hearts were not under the power of that covenant, of which circumcision was the seal; and that they did not pay

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