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النشر الإلكتروني

EXODUS.

THIRD PRAYER OF MOSES.

And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people : and

thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, 1 know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, 1 pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, my presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.Es. xxxiii. 12–15: also, 18-23.

Moses, for the third time, is prostrate before God; and the

prayer which he now offers, seems to be a continuation, or rather renewal of that which he offered when he returned unto the Lord, 32: 31. In that interview with God, he obtained a promise that an “angel" should accompany him in conducting the children of Israel to Canaan, 32: 34. But here the subject is renewed, evidently with a desire on his part to secure the same guiding hand which Israel had enjoyed. Thus far, the “cloudy pillar” had conducted their march. Was this symbol of the divine presence still to go before them ? or, were they henceforth to trust to the more ordinary providence of God ? Moses wished his doubts resolved; he wished his heart to be set at rest on a point of so much importance.

Mark the manner of his plea: “See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know," i. e. not specifically, “whom thou will send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight." Moses had satisfactory evidence that God regarded him as his friend, as he had had before assurances of the divine favor; inasmuch as God had offered to destroy the whole nation of Israel, and bestow upon him the blessings designed for them. Might he not, then, venture to ask that God would manifest his way," his mind, to him,

in reference to the course he should pursue in conducting the children of Israel to their destined inheritance; and especially that he would favor him and them with the guardianship and guidance of the “angel of his presence."

And to these personal considerations, he now adds others, growing out of their relationship to God: “Consider that this nation is thy people.” God had long before adopted their fathers; he had made them “exceedingly great and precious promises ;" he had watched over the nation in Egypt with a divine and parental care; he had effected their deliverance by means of, and amidst the subline manifestations of his power; for them he had poured out water from the rock, and rained bread from heaven. Moses bethought himself of all these tokens of God's interest in this people, and now he asks, “wilt thou now forsake them ? If thy presence, thy special presence, go not with us, carry us not up hence. Better that we should fail and fall in the wilderness. And unless the pillar of cloud' guide us, as it has done, how shall we know that we have found favor in thy sight? Go with us, as thou hast done, and we shall know that we are the peculiar people of God, separated by him from the heathen nations of the world, to maintain his holy worship, to observe his ordinances and statutes, and to convey to future generations the inestimable blessings promised in the covenant."

Such is an outline of the fervent supplication of Moses. And how is it received ? An immediate and definite assurance is given him that it shall be as he has asked. The same gracious symbol of the divine presence enjoyed by them since their departure from Egypt should accompany them, till they reached the land of their inheritance, and he “would give them rest.” They should subdue their enemies; which, having accomplished, they should sit “each one under his vine and fig-tree, having none to molest them, or make them afraid."

Let us pause, and consider the efficacy of prayer. Before us is a nation, a whole nation, guilty of ingratitude the most offensive, and of idolatry the inost senseless and provoking. And before that nation, as they are encamped round about Sinai, are the most magnificent displays of Jehovah's power.

His voice, with terror in the sound,

Through clouds and darkness breaks;
All heaven in lightning shines around,

And earth with thunder shakes.

Yet, behold them prostrate by thousands, paying homage to a calf! Was there, in all time, a more humiliating spectacle? Was it strange that the indignation of Jehovah was like devouring fire? Was it not yet more strange that he should have restrained himself, and suffered Moses to intercede in their behalf ? A. few, may be, would not join in with the unhallowed worship, but we read of none—no, not one-ready to unite with Moses in deprecating the wrath of Jehovah. He stands forth alone. He prays ; prays for a nation-a nation

more obnoxious at that hour, Than Sodom in her day had pow'r to be;

And wonderful, most wonderful, he is heard; he secures their pardon; he procures a blessing for all.

Hence, learn what an individual may accomplish! God has set bounds to the billows of the ocean; the earth itself must revolve in her prescribed orbit; the eccentric comet must return from her“ voyage of awful length;" but where is the limit to the efficacy of “the fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man?" On which page of the sacred oracles is it inscribed, in respect to the humble supplicant, “thus far thou mayest prevail, but no farther ?" Blessed truth! God can hear one for thousands; one for millions; a president for a state; a monarch for a kingdom. And if one may, and, in times of emergency, should thus plead, how will men in

office and authority excuse themselves in the neglect of a duty, which, if faithfully performed, may be of more avail than the most numerous armies, and the most firmly constructed fortifications ?

How many of the presidents of this republic have been praying men? How many of our governors feel it incuinbent on them to pray specifically, ardently, for the people over whom they preside? Who of our generals retire to their tents to hold converse with God, and ask for blessings on the armies which they lead ? Emperors, kings, queens, princes-how many of them, in times of national sins, imitate the example of Moses? Yet we learn what such might do, and what blessings they might prove to the nations among whom they dwell, and over whose destinies they preside.

We return again to Moses. He had obtained one important blessing, which conveyed joy and assurance to his heart. But, now, there was another blessing one of a more personal nature, and which, doubtless, was suggestsd by those divine manifestations, the “Shekinah," the “pillar of cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night;" the “sapphire throne,” seen by Moses and the elders of Israel, 24: 10, those different forms in which God had revealed himself. What did these wondrous symbols involve ? What lay behind ? And were there not brighter glories which mortal eyes might behold ? Might he not wish—not to gratify a vain curiosity, but as a means of a more perfect assimilation to God, as such holy communion would contribute to effect-might he not venture to ask, “making one concession an argument for seeking another," a sight of the more unclouded glory of his Maker ?

But what was it Moses desired; a sensible manifestation ? some bright and corporeal vision? or, was it a mental apprehension of the divine perfections, as they exist in, and are connected with the spiritual essence of Jehovah ? We should speak with caution on a subject so solemn and

recondite. We may not be positive, but it would seem that he had in view some visible glory; something which he desired to behold, and which, if his request was granted, ho expected to behold with his mortal eye. Who can say that it was not “the brightness of the Father's glory” which he desired to see; "the express image of his person;" some corporeal or visible manifestation of the Messiah-that Mediator, through whom he might have understood the Infinite Father designed to exhibit himself to his saints to all eter nity, and

Shed sweet glories on them all ?

But, whatever it was that Moses asked, God was pleased to grant, so far as “he had ability to receive it.” As to a full, unclouded view of the divine glory, that he could not enjoy, and live. It was a splendor which would overpower; an effulgence which would extinguish life.

But, with inexpressible kindness and condescension, God assures him that he shall be favored with a softened view of his glory; not the full view of his face, that no man could see and live, but with a vision of him after he had passed, and which might be denominated his "hinder," or "retiring” glory. That he might see; that he could see; but, even for such a view, he must enter a cleft in the rock, and be shielded by the divine hand. That hand would be removed, when Moses might gaze with safety upon the softened glory of his Maker.

The day following, the prayer of Moses is answered. He ascends the mountain alone. He repairs to the rock, and retires to the cleft. Not an Israelite may be seen, even on the skirt of the mountain; not a beast may touch it, during the solemn and mysterious interview between God and his servant Moses.

Let us not hope to reach the feelings of the favored leader of Israel. A holy awe pervades his soul. A deep, and,

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