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THE WISE CHOICE,
WHETHER we search the records of sacred or profane history, it would be difficult to select, with the exception of "the man Christ Jesus," a more remarkable individual than Moses. Whether we consider his talents, natural and acquired, his superiority as legislator, the public spirit he manifested, and the anxious concern he shewed for the prosperity of Israel, the meekness of temper he usually displayed, we are struck with the fact, that he was no common character. On his preservation in helpless infancy, his happiness in communing with God "face to face, as a man talketh with his friend," his eminence as a type of the great Deliverer and Legislator of the Church, and his remarkable death and burial, we dwell with interest profound and delightful; and with Stephen we pronounce him a man "mighty in words and deeds."
Few passages of the sacred writings suggest reflections more pleasing, than the one in which Paul, in writing to the Hebrews, details the influence of faith on the heart and conduct of Moses."By faith Moses, when he was come
years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of reward."
In reading this passage our imagination is conducted to the court of Egypt.
Here, where royalty dwells in splendour, possessing more than heart could wish; where idolatry is practised, and from whence has issued many an edict to persecute and oppress the people of Jehovah; here dwells Moses, a man snatched in infancy by the daughter of the Monarch from a watery grave, and adopted into the royal house as her own son:-Moses who had been carefully instructed in "Arithmetic, Geometry, Physic, Music, Hieroglyphics and Astronomy," sciences for which Egypt at that period was justly celebrated. Besides this, he no doubt filled high offices in the state; and probably was, as some of the Jewish writers tells us, designed by Pharoah himself to be the future sovereign of the country. If ever man had reason to be satisfied with the present world, it was Moses. Possessed of influence and of honour, and able to enjoy every gratification which a man in his high station could wish to pursue, what could be more desirable than that "he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good ?”
But happiness consists not in, nor is it necessarily connected with splendour. The royal couch may be planted with thorns; an aching heart may reside in a palace. While the ignorant and inexperienced may be coveting the pomp and circumstance of a crown, he who sustains it may be groaning under the load that oppresses his mind. Elevated as was Moses in the house of Pharaoh, a burden hangs on his soul which none can remove but the God of Israel. The
religion taught by Jehovah, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that alone, can make a man truly happy. Forty years long has Moses been seeking for enjoyment in a palace, but he finds it not; it is imparted only by "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," and by him it is given to every believing applicant.
It is a pleasing fact, that religion is occasionally found where we did not suppose it to exist. We should not have looked for Christians in the household of Nero; nor should we have expected that Moses, the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, would receive divine light, and feel the importance of the truth. For, removed as these persons generally are from God, and ignorant as they almost universally appear of the great things of the Gospel, He, whose ways are not as our ways, and whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, can visit them by his Spirit, and "shine into their hearts to give them the light of the knowledge of glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." And though it is true" that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called by divine grace," yet some are visited by "the day-spring from on high," and qualified for important offices in his church. But for the sovereign grace of God, Moses had contentedly revelled in the splendid pleasures of the Egyptian court, engaged in the sin of idolatry, and united with the ruling tyrant in his oppression of the Israelites. But God had marked him for his own, and in his due time inclined him to adopt the resolution we have already referred
and that the great Messiah promised to the fathers should be born of their nation, should instruct them in the knowledge of God, and redeem them from spiritual slavery by the shedding of his blood. The Spirit of God impressed these truths on his heart; he believed them; and thus placing a simple reliance on these important facts, his views, his feelings, and his conduct were changed.
Believers in the religion of the Bible have often been charged with enthusiasm. But why?-Have those who prefer the charge examined the matter; and is there ground on which it is supported? The faith of the Christian has regard to the testimony of God. Jehovah had revealed the truths which Moses believed; sce Gen. xv. 13—19. xviii. 8, 9, 13. xxii. 18. and where, we ask, is the enthusiasm, where the irrationality of believing the word of him that made us? Awful, indeed, must be the condition of those, who live and die rejecting the testimony God hath given of his Son.
Where the faith of the Gospel has been produced in the heart by the influence of the Holy Spirit, it will not be concealed as a hidden principle. It is a light that cannot be hid; it is leaven that must produce effects; a fire that must burn; a seed that must grow and produce fruit-it works by love. When a man believes what God has revealed, he must of necessity love his Creator, both on account of the loveliness of his character, and the grace displayed in his conduct. And having loved God, he will love his people also; because they bear the image of their common Father, and are constantly seeking the promotion of his glory. Besides which, Jesus has made it the test of our christian character, that we should love the brethren, who with us have been begotten again "by the word of truth." Hence we are not surprised at the resolution of Moses to connect himself with the people of God." They alone possess the knowledge of Jehovah; they are looking forward to the land of promise, and they are hoping for the apappearance of the Messiah. And if there are so many reasons why he should unite with them-why should he, or they, who act like him, be charged with enthusiasm ?
But if a man would enjoy the blessings of religion, he must be content to make expensive sacrifices. Moses sees the Israelites despised and persecuted; they
The parents of this distinguished individual, Amram and Jochebed, appear to have been among the number of those who called on the name of the Lord," believed his promises to the fathers, and were influenced by his fear. As Moses, by the overruling providence of God had been brought up, in childhood at least," under their eye, they, no doubt, had instructed him in the language and religion of his fathers. He had been told that Israel was now in Egypt by the pointment of Jehovah, who, by this event, was accomplishing his great purposes; that they should ultimately be delivered from their slavery; and possibly they had endeavoured to stimulate him to use exertions to accomplish this desirable object; that the land of Canaan should be given them for a possession;
THE WISE CHOICE.
are in bondage, while he possesses liberty, and is surrounded with plenty and with grandeur. But the faith he possesses overcomes the world. It triumphs over the principles of earth, and pities the motives that influence its votaries. It smiles at the sufferings which man inflicts, and despises the offers which the world presents; having in possession rich promises to support the mind in the hour of trial, and in prospect the enjoyment of immortal felicity. Must Moses cease "to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter?" This is a sacrifice he is quite willing to make; for he becomes by faith a son of Jehovah, he belongs to the family of heaven, and from henceforth he holds communion with the Governor of the universe: pouring into the bosom of Deity all his sorrows, and receiving from his infinite love the supply of all necessities. Must he "suffer affliction with the people of God?" He is content to do so: because they are the favourites of heaven; he is quite sure that the path of duty is the path of safety, and must eventually conduct to everlasting happiness. Their common Father will always provide for them; and though he may now suffer them to endure trials and afflictions, it is but to furnish him with an opportunity of administering grace to support their minds, and to prepare them for a residence in that land, where these sorrows and this bondage shall be unknown. Must he renounce "the pleasures" in which he had engaged?—Yes; and all these he cheerfully leaves-he knows they are all impure-they are "the pleasures of sin;" and what must be the nature of the enjoyment of him, who lives in a state of rebellion against God, whose heart is alienated from his Maker? His happiness cannot be genuine; for this is the portion only of him, who has been reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Moses felt also
men generally entertain!
that these pleasures are "but for a
"The splendid crown which Moses sought
"Though soon great Pharaoh's conquer'd pride "Was taught by death to bow.”
What then are the treasures of the world, compared with the exalted blessings which the religion of Christ exhibits to our view? All that earth gives is confessedly, and from its very nature, confined to the present state. Its pleasures end in the night of death-its honours are buried with us in the graveits riches pass not current in the world to come. Preparation for that solemn
us, it pretends not to give. It makes no promises beyond the tomb. But Moses, and every one that possesses faith in Christ, must needs regard another world. To the believer in Jesus, eternity opens a vast and delightful prospect. There he sees "the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul." A deliverance from the pains of hell, the dominion of sin, the power of death. There he enters on those durable riches, those lasting honours, those substantial pleasures, which this world, with all its boasting, could never afford him.
eternity into which death will introduce | it is pardoned in the statesman, whose heart is anxiously seeking but the temporal prosperity of mankind; it is not censured, nay, it is admired in the man of science, who is so attached to his studies, as even to forget the common duties of life. And is it unpardonable only in the man, who, relying on the testimony of God, tramples on the things of this world, because he is expecting, and that on the most rational grounds, soon to enter on a better? May it not be excused, if, feeling the vast solemnity of eternity, the things of time dwindle in our view into absolute insignificance; and if, anxiously engaged in preparing for the great change we must soon undergo, we care but little for events, which, compared with those that engross our attention, are but like the shaking of a leaf compared with the roaring of the thunders of God; or the light of a taper in comparison with the light of the great orb of day, when he shines forth in his noon-tide splendour?
No longer then let the heart of my reader be fixed on the baubles of the present world, but filled with sorrow for his past indifference to the concerns of his soul, let him
And who that reflects on the nature of worldly happiness, and the glories of the world to come; who that by the aid of faith sees him who is invisible," can blame Moses for such a choice? What does the man enjoy, who to-day occupies the throne of a mighty empire, while thousands bow before him, adopting the fulsome language of flattery, and saying of him as they did of Herod, "it is the voice of a god, and not of a man." Is he quite certain that those, who today load him with plaudits, may not conspire his death to-morrow? He who has every pleasure at command, does his conscience never whisper in his ears that he is a sinner? Does he never feel that the Christian, who in a mudwalled cottage has his "fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," is a character infinitely more honourable than himself? Does his heart never tell him that all this proud distinction, is but a bubble that will soon burst in disappointment? Will affliction keep at a distance from his throne; and will death listen to his edict, and forget to visit the palace?No: he is but a man, and must have his share of sorrows. As a guilty rebel before God he needs the pardon of his sins; and unless that pardon is obtained, he will find that, like other impenitent sinners, he must sink into the regions of despair. Already do the inhabitants of the grave proclaim in his ears, as he passes by their silent dwellings
"Fly to the hope the Gospel gives, "The man that trusts the promise lives." Let his heart no longer be placed on the objects of sense; but let him aspire after that grace that shall enable him to "set his affections on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God." Like Moses, let him heartily cast in his lot with the followers of Christ, cheerfully sharing their sorrows here, expecting to enjoy their reward hereafter.
The estimate which Moses formed of the vanity of the world on the one hand, and the blessedness of religion on the other, was altogether a correct one. True, he long lived as "a stranger in a strange land," but the Lord never for sook him, and at length promoted him to honour in the sight of many nations. He is immortalized as the deliverer and legislator of Israel; in answer to his prayers they were again and again preserved from entire destruction, and though on some occasions he manifested an improper and inconsistent spirit, yet did he generally display that meekness for which he stands so eminently distinguished. True he was not perfect,
And what becomes now of the charge of enthusiasm ? Or even supposing that a portion of it be possessed by the
Christian, it is forgiven in the artist" to err is human," but he with whom who exclaimed "I paint for eternity" is forgiveness, while he chastised him
"Princes, this clay must be your bed,
I beg therefore you would forgive my inattention, and accept now of my thanks for your pamphlets, until I shall have an opportunity of making a better return. Your history of Antichrist I approve of upon the whole; though I could have wished that baptism had not made such a capital figure in it, and that it had been better printed.
You will figure to yourself how I have been situated for some time past, when Linform you, that last year I was engaged in writing a number of letters on various subjects, and after I had given in the manuscript to the Printer last spring, I began to think it was too much in the polemical strain, and therefore recalled it, and gave in a few pages I had written on Christ's Com mission, Mat. xxviii. 19, 20, since which time I have proceeded with that subject, as other affairs would permit, the Printer keeping close at my heels, and now it has swelled to a volume of upwards of three hundred pages, and just upon the point of being published. It consists of three parts-I. How the Apostles taught the nations, and what it was they taught them, II. How they baptized the taught disciples; where I insist chiefly upon the meaning and import of baptism. III. What they taught the baptized disciples to observe, The whole concluding with the promise-"Lo, I am with you," &c. I have printed a number of additional copies of the 2nd part, viz. On baptism, which I have thrown into the form of a letter, and added to it some strictures upon the free-communion Baptists in England; with a short sketch of the church order, and social religious practices of the Baptists in Scotland. It makes a pamphlet of about ninety pages, to be had separately. They will be both ready in less than three weeks hence;
MR. ARCHIBALD M'LEAN TO MR. and if you will be so good as to send RICHARDS, OF LYNN.
LETTER II, MY VERY DEAR SIR,
a line by any of the vessels from Lynn to Leith, signifying what number you would chuse to have sent to your place, they shall be forwarded by the return of the vessel. You may also signify whether you chuse them sewed, bound, or in quires.
I must acknowledge that I have been very much to blame in not having written to you long before this time; and particularly in not having acknowledged the receipt of your pamphlets, which came duly to hand, though I was a long time out of town at the time they arrived. And though I have been much engaged one way or the other since
I can well conceive your difficulty in bringing people to attend to apostolic Christianity; and do not wonder that you have met with a great deal of ouble from your religious connections
that time, yet I cannot think it will fur-in that respect; but be not discouraged nish a sufficient apology for my neglect, my dear friend, the work is the Lord's;
LETTER FROM MR. M'LEAN TO MR. RICHARDS.
with exclusion from the land of Canaan, was pleased in a mysterious and happy manner to remove his soul into the heavenly world, burying his body till the morning of the resurrection, when it shall rise to immortal glory.
We learn from the interesting facts recorded of Moses, that the blessed God selects instruments to carry on his cause in the world from all classes of society. Moses of Egypt, and Saul of Tarsus, may be trained to oppose his people; but he can change their hearts, and constrain them to consecrate their mighty energies to his service. He sometimes makes even his enemies contribute to support and deliver his people. Little did Pharoah imagine, when he issued an edict that the male children of the Hebrews should be destroyed, that it would prove the means of his giving support, and training up one of those very infants, who should deliver the captives from his grasp, and who in his own court should acquire the arts of government. So true is it that the Supreme Governor of human affairs can make even "the wrath of man to praise him." We learn further from the history, that there is nothing lost by serving God; though we may have to sacrifice worldly good, the loss is abundantly made up by the peace of conscience, the serenity of soul, and all the happiness that religion brings. And finally, we see that faith in God, a firm and unmoving confidence in his word, will support a Christian under all the trials of life, and enable him "always to triumph in Christ,"
"O for a strong, a lasting faith, "To credit what the Almighty saith! "T'embrace the message of his Son, "And call the joys of heaven our own." Folkestone. J. B.