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their enemies—and it is a lesson held up to oppressors and persecutors of every age, that there is no depth of misery however great, no chains of slavery however strong, no state of degradation however low, that can bar the accomplishment of His purposes of love and mercy.
When the time, the set time,” was arrived, the proud and haughty spirit of the king of Egypt-perhaps the most potent and mighty monarch of his day, as Egypt was undoubtedly the most renowned empire-was fatally taught what it is for man to contend with his Maker. Adequate means were adopted by the God of Abraham for the delivery of his people, and the Divine purposes were triumphantly fulfilled, as they always must be, to the utter confusion of every enemy, and to the praise of His own glory. The redeemed myriads might well, in the contemplation of the great things God had done for them, burst out into a song of thanksgiving, saying, “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." • Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power : thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy!”
It may be further noticed, that the time of neither of the first nor second commencement was to be dated from the time the prophecy was given.
The date generally assigned to the transactions between the Lord and Abrabam, recorded in Genesis, chap. xv., when this chronological prophecy was given, is the year B. c. 1913 or 1911, which falls in between the two actual commencements. If it were known to the children of Israel during the time of their bondage, they would most probably have calculated the termination from this time, which would have brought it 20 or 22 years before it actually transpired; and this circumstance might probably add to the hopelessness of their situation. But as a Divine promise cannot fail, although man's expectations may for a time be disappointed, and bis calculations be made from an erroneous datum; though things for a time may appear to be getting worse, instead of betteryet it is well never to forget, that “ God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath He said, and shall he not do it?" It hath pleased him to throw a certain degree of obscurity around the clearest revelations he hath made respecting future events, particularly as it regards times and seasons ; yet is there nothing uncertain or indefinite. His command is, “though it tarry, wait for it; for it will come, it will not tarry.' And such reflections of course apply to those chronological prophecies, the completion of which the church is now looking for, as well as
to the one in question. And the posterity of Abraham may rest assured, that that greater deliverance which is promised them, and for which they are now looking, will in the fulness of time be made manifest; and that, however discouraging appearances may at any time be, yet will God then do his work-his greater work, to put them again in possession of their own favoured land.
It is nothing to the purpose that they are now a despised, degraded, and dispersed peoplea bye-word, a taunt, and a reproach wherever they are found:-let it be considered what was their condition, when the four hundred years promised to Abraham had expired, and when God's high commission was given to Moses. It is certain that, before this period had arrived, not a thought entered into the mind of their oppressor, or any of his subjects, that from a people so contemptible in their eyes—so bowed down, so utterly helpless--they had any thing to dread or apprehend. No sign appeared, indicating that high destiny which so nearly awaited them-no sign appeared, indicating otherwise than that events would proceed in their usual course, and that Pharaoh, in the pursuit of his cruel policy and arbitrary conduct, might still persevere unmolested. Yet what happened ? In the short space of a few months, perhaps of a few weeks, for the purpose of
effecting their deliverance, his kingdom was covered with horror, confusion, and death! The fruits of the earth were blasted-the waters were turned into blood--the cattle were destroyed-filthy and venemous insects filled every house, and every street, and every field—thunder, and fire, and hail,swept with devastation over the country-a thick darkness, a darkness that might be felt, for three days universally prevailed, except in the tents of Israel—the firstborn of every degree were slain—and, finally, as a consummating judgment, the king and all his host were drowned in the Red Sea !
And it is a reflection that forces itself upon the mind, in connexion with the time in which we are living, that not only Egypt was thus visited with these heavy and fearful judgments ; but likewise the inhabitants of Canaan, the people amongst whom the children of Israel sojourned the former part of this period, were in their turn totally ruined, and became the victims of God's unsparing vengeance. Though they were a warlike people, and dwelt in “cities great and walled up to heaven," and had, like the Egyptians, nothing apparently to fear from Israel, unaccustomed and unknown as they were to war and conquest; yet it is said, that, on hearing what God had wrought for them in Egypt, they should be afraid — that “sorrow should take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina”- that
“the dukes of Edom should be amazed ; the mighty men of Moab, trembling should take bold upon them: all the inhabitants of Canaan should melt away. Fear and trembling should take hold upon them. By the greatness of thine arm they shall be still as a stone.” And God in due time fulfilled his threatenings upon them; their iniquities, it is said, being full. He made, as he has promised yet again to do—he made Israel his “battle-axe," and under the conduct of their appointed leader and general, Joshua, he destroyed and brought into subjection the whole country of Canaan; thus fulfilling his promise to Abraham, in putting his seed in possession of this land, which, as it has been, yet again shall be, the glory of all lands.
But it was not immediately after their deliverance from Egypt that this consummation was permitted to take place. The people were to be led forty years in the wilderness, “to humble then, to prove them, and to know what was in their hearts, whether they would keep his commandments or no.” For it is the usual way
of God's providence, when he has any very great mercies to bestow, first to prepare bis people for their reception, and then to make the bestowment. So it was most eminently in this case: he found those who came up out of Egypt, rebellious and stiff-necked, prone to idolatry, and ever murmuring against Him and his servant