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the burden of guilt, and that not by benumbing conscience, or lessening the sense of the evil of sin, but by assuring it of the honorable forgiveness of sin: and keeps it from being henceforward satisfied with a lifeless semblance of good works, &c.
Secondly : The ultimate effect is, to serve the living God; not to serve sin with impunity: none who have seen sin in the sufferings of Christ can wish for that. But the believer delights in the service of God, and enjoyment of God; finds sweet communion with him in his ordinances ; aims at his glory in all things, and studies conformity to his will. Has liberty of access to him ; trusts in him, and walks reverently before him. Draws near to him with freedom and confidence, in the name of Jesus, and through his mediation. And receives from him the supply of the Spirit, to fit for every good word and work. The more we live on Christ, the more lively shall we be in the service of the living God.
THE FAITH OF MOSES.
HEB, xi, 24–27.
By faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter. By faith, he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king ; for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
The Apostle, throughout this chapter, is celebrating the excellencies of vital faith ; and shows that its intrinsic nature, principal object, and blessed effects, have been the same in every age. Abel, Abraham, and Moses, all looked forward to the day of Christ. He was typified by Abel's firstlings; by the ram which Abraham substituted for Isaac; and his great salvation was prefigured by the redemption of Israel from Egypt, in which Moses was employed as an instrument. We are now, however, to consider Moses, not so immediately in his public and relative character, as with respect to his personal conduct, and wherein the text declares that he was
actuated by faith, and points out the obstacles which his faith surmounted, and the manner in which he overcame them all.
Let us notice,
By faith he was enabled to act the part described in the text. Had he looked merely to the things that were seen, he would have pursued a very different line of conduct. But he was influenced by a regard to the presence and perfections of an invisible Being; and by the information derived from his word, though not then committed to writing. Yea, he believed the existence of the unseen Jehovah; he realized his glorious perfections; he credited his faithful promises ; especially, he believed his declared design of separating a people to himself, among whom the promised seed should be born, in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed. No mere exertion of human reason could have discovered this truth: yet, having been once revealed, it was truly worthy of the utmost regard. And Moses well knew what he was about; for when he was come to mature years, he deliberately and determinedly made his choice. Whether God had early predisposed his mind to this step, through his mother's instructions ; or whether he had a new view given him about this time, we are not sure : however, he believed God; he believed in the promised seed; and he showed his faith by its wonderful effects.
Let us consider, SecondLY, The obstacles the faith of Moses had to surmount.
He was surrounded with the most formidable temptations. Surely, it was a far more wonderful display of divine grace to preserve him near forty years in Pharoah's court, than to preserve him perhaps not more than forty minutes in the covered cradle of bulrushes on the banks of the Nile. He was become great in wealth, power, and honor, in the court of the king; but he overcame all temptations. The snares of Egyptian learning did not entangle him : though, doubtless, they could have furnished the best glosses for their superstitions. The honor of being the son of Pharoah's daughter he refused ; though probably connected with an expectation of the succession to the crown. The pleasures
of sin he renounced. What indeed has sin, which can deserve the name of pleasure ? Yet multitudes are fascinated with what they account such, though transitory and evanescent at best. The treasures of Egypt he was willing to forego ; accounting the worst things belonging to Christ, preferable to the most substantial of worldly possessions. The wrath of the king he feared not. This refers probably to his final quitting of Egypt, rather than to his first flight. Having at first intermeddled, before God's appointed time, and without his express warrant, his natural courage failed him; and he feared, and fled from the face of Pharoah : but afterward, being called and authorized of God to go and face another tyrant, no less formidable than the former, and who was greatly exasperated against him, he feared not to deliver to him the most cutting messages, and to threaten him with awful destruction. Nor did he fear when he pursued after him to the Red Sea, expecting to glut his revenge.
THIRDLY: The manner in which Moses triumphed over all these temptations.
He was determined to join interests with the people of God, though then laboring under the pressure of evil. He was more willing to lie under the same pressures, and endure the same vexations, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. It is a comfort to think, that God then had a people, though oppressed, afflicted, enslaved ; a despised company of brickmakers, exposed to grievous hardships and cruel persecutions. Degenerate as the Israelites then were, some of them were the people of God in the highest sense; who were not only destined to inherit Canaan, and who were to preserve the knowledge and worship of Jehovah in the world, but who, from a regard to the promise of the Messiah, refused to coalesce with the Egyptians. With them Moses was like minded. As God's people were then a despised remnant, under sore afflictions, so have they generally been since. And they who would be numbered with them, must at least be prepared to suffer with them. Nevertheless, as the pleasures of sin are but for a season, so are the sufferings of the godly. Christ's reproach was esteemed by him greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. This expression strongly inti
mates that the faith, both of Moses and the Patriarchs, had an immediate respect to the Messiah ; which was the great reason why they would still keep their interests distinct from the Egyptians, and all the world of unbelievers. The promise of the seed of the woman is the great object of faith in every age, and the ground of that separation from the world which so much exposes believers to reproach and persecution. So now, the preaching of the cross is a stumbling block, and foolishness. The enemies of the church first slander and reproach it, and then persecute it. They use the former method to justify the latter. But if restrained from farther afflicting the people of God, the trial of cruel mockings is no small one. However, for Christ's sake, we may well undergo this, whatever else shall follow; and we shall find the benefits reserved, and expected from him, amply sufficient to counterbalance it all. Moses wisely preferred the reproach of Christ to all the treasures in Egypt: all he had, or might have had. The greatest abundance of earthly riches, cannot make them satisfactory to an immortal soul : they are an unworthy portion for a soul, unsatisfying and dishonorable. But the reproach of Christ stands connected with such present spiritual enjoyment, as well as with such a future recompence of reward, as renders it worthy of this preference. As the antidote of worldly enticements, Moses had respect to the recompence of reward. Not an earthly Canaan, which he himself never entered, and wherein the interests of his posterity cannot be compared with treasures in Egypt; but an heavenly inheritance, which, though gratuitous, and not merited or deserved by them who are heirs thereof, is not the less certain or valuable from its flowing from sovereign bounty. As the antidote of slavish fear, we are told that he endured as seeing him that is invisible. Nothing which he could see appeared to him so certain, and so worthy of his regard, as the invisible God : hence he was enabled, not only to persevere in duty, but to do so with courage and resolution, undaunted by all opposition.
Let us impartially examine, if we possess faith, the same in kind with that of Moses, the man of God. The less we are exposed at present to external trials, the more need we have
to be rigorous in trying ourselves. Nor do we know how soon a change may occur. Are we prepared to cast in our lot with the people of God, and to suffer affliction and reproach with them, enduring as seeing him that is invisible, and having respect to a future reward ? God has a people now, though not so visibly distinguished as Israel; yet really, a holy nation, a royal priesthood. They were not all Israel then, who were of Israel: not all like Caleb and Joshua. If some now enjoy a share of worldly property and respectability, let not these things seduce them to be shy of any truth, duty, or ordinance of God, to preserve their reputation among unbelievers, or subserve any worldly end. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and whatever worldly accommodations are granted, account it somewhat more than your bargain; which you should use for God while it is granted, and resign to-morrow, or to-day, if called to it.
CHRIST THE GREAT OBJECT OF FAITH.
HEB. xii. 2.
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
In the preceding verse, the Apostle compares the life of a Christian to a race, which he exhorts them to run, directing them in what manner they inay conduct themselves so as to hope for success. He here prosecutes the subject farther, and suggests that looking unto Jesus is the incumbent duty of all Christians, and the principal means and motive of that holy activity to which he wished to excite them.
I shall enlarge chiefly on two observations, and then make an improvement of the subject.
First: Jesus is the great object proposed, in the divine word, to the attention and dependence of his people.