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as the Lord foreknew and foretold.-This also is a figure, and an awful figure too, of the progression of sin, and of its hardening deceitfulness. When the fountain of life is corrupted, as man's is, it bringeth forth abominable things, filling the secret recesses of the heart, as well as the whole conduct and conversation, with evil. And if inconveniencies or afflictions arise from it, they only make impression for a time, and, when removed, or respited as the Egyptian trouble was, are soon forgotten or repelled.

The THIRD judgement upon Pharaoh and his servants, which followed the curse on the water and the curse proceeding from its filthy productions, was the curse upon the land, the dust of which became lice, covering man and beast, throughout all the country. And though this was owned by the wisest men to be the finger of God; yet Pharaoh's heart was hardened.†-When God's judgements fall upon an obdurate heart, leaving it to produce all that is noisome and detestable; when the means of support are turned into perniciousness, and the means of grace harden in sin; when evil, and only evil, arises out of those very circumstances which to others are mercies (like the unprofitable dust, instead of fruits, from the fertile soil of Egypt ;) we may well fear, that the finger of God is indeed sealing up a soul unto perdition. This falling from one degree of wickedness to another, is but the continuation of judgement begun, which must inevitably end in ruin.

The FOURTH plague was in the air, infesting it with a heavy mixture of all manner of flying vermin, down

* Exod. viii. 15.

+ Exod. viii. 19.


to the very ground. These annoyed the Egyptians only, the Lord expressly putting that mark of his redemption, a division between his people and Pharaoh's people, which stood for an eminent sign of his protection These divers over the one and of his dominion over all. sorts of flies (says the psalmist) devoured them; i. e. fed upon them with extremity of pain and trouble.-Thus what the curse upon the air produced to the body, the judgement upon the spirit of a man produces to his soul even all manner of evil thoughts, pestilent opinions, false principles, and all the swarms of ambitious and detestable desires, which (as it were) feed upon and exhaust the mind. All these inflict stings upon the conscience, and weary, if not wear out, the heart of sinners: and this is a further stage towards everlasting ruin. How mercifully are God's people preserved from these torments of the soul! What a blessing is it to be separated from the evil notions, spirit, and practices, of a miserable world!

The FIFTH Woe from God to the Egyptians was d very heavy plague upon the cattle, and, in short upon all that lived by the earth, water, and air, which administered support to man.* The Israelites only lost nothing. This curse upon the means of life, and upon the agents appointed for its assistance and comfort; making a man's table his snare, and that which should have been for his welfare only a trap; is a mark of further indignation, and another step to final ruin. The children of God are preserved from this calamity by him,

* Exod. viii, 21.

† Exod. ix. 3.


who causeth every thing to work together for their good.

The SIXTH infliction of judgement increased in awe◄ fulness. It came home immediately to the persons themselves. The ashes of a furnace were sprinkled toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh, bearing this implication, that it should be for a curse of dust (like that afterwards shaken from the feet of our Lord's disciples, for a testimony) against them, producing leprous boils with fiery ulcerations. Here the heart of the magi or wise men failed them; and they could no longer stand before Moses, nor calumniate the power of God. But the Lord yet hardened the heart of Pharaoh. -This is a figure, and the first in this order of curses, of impenitent dereliction and apostasy. The wrath of God, under the token of fiery dust, is scattered upon the enemies of his people, producing the most noisome* and virulent sores of sin, and rendering their case preparatively intolerablet in the judgement. The sign threatened this dreadful calamity, that, as Sodom and Gomorrah were turned into ashes and condemned for an example to the ungodly, so the whole earth, which now is, is kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgement, and perdition of ungodly men ;§ under the ban of Anathema Maran-atha, which shall be executed, when the Lord cometh with his saints, to convict the ungodly of their evil words and deeds against him and his people. T And the confirmation, that this belongs to them, is,

* Rev. xvi. 2.
↑ 2 Pet. ii. 6.
I Cor. xvi. 22.

+ Mat. x. 15. xiii. 42.

§ 2 Pet. iii. 7.


¶ Jude 15,


that (like Pharaoh) their heart is hardened; and they make light of it all. On the other hand, the Lord chooseth his people in the furnace of affliction, both to purify and to bring them out of it.*

As the plagues increase, and proceed on to their dismal period, so do the warnings in their aweful solemnity; though all in vain,† The SEVENTH Judgement is brought forward: and a wonderful and unexampled one it was. A grievous or heavy hail descended with fire; hardened unmelting water with piercing inextinguishable flames, accompanied with thunder the most tremendous, destroyed all that was without cover through the whole land, except in the province of Goshen where the Israelites sojourned. These dreadful terrors extorted an acknowledgement of God's justice in punishing sin, and sudden promises of compliance with God's commands, earnest intreaties even of the despised Moses's prayers, and a strong desire to be released from the pain; but the terror neither purified the conscience, nor changed the heart. When the plague ceased, the former hardness returned or remained; and Pharaoh sinned yet more, or (as the word is) added, or went forward, to sin. Thus it is spiritually. The terrors of God alone, the denunciations of his vengeance, or even the sight of hell itself, do not and cannot change or renew the mind of a sinner, though they may frighten him in the highest degree. He may relent for a time, acknowledge his undeniable sinfulness, make many protestations of reformation, and request even the prayers

* Isa xlviii. 10. with Deut. iv. 20.
† Exod. ix. 14, &c.


of real Christians; but, if there be nothing more than these ebullitions of nature in the case, he will return, like the dog and sow in the scripture, to what he was before; and thereby afford a proof, that it is not the sense of pain or removal of distress, but the abhorrence and removal of sin through faith in the Redeemer, which can alone affect and alter the state of the soul.

The EIGHTH curse was brought forward, after the Lord had said, I have hardened Pharaoh's heart, and the heart of his servants 'n for the very purpose of my fixing these my signs 1p within him; and also, that it might be recorded and remembered by Israel. This was the plague of locusts,† infinite in number, and ra vaging in kind. They covered the earth, filled the houses, and devoured all that was left. Such locusts as these were never seen before, or since.-The psalmist tells us what they denoted. The Lord cast upon them [the

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* Exod. x. 1, 2.

+ Bochart informs us, from Damir, an Arabic writer, that no creature is so pestiferous to the Arabians and Africans as the locusts. They come in swarms incredible, march on over every thing, ravage a whole harvest in a few hours, and are not to be destroyed by any means. Their bite is painful; and the saliva, or moisture of their bodies is the very poison of herbs. When they die, they fill the air with a noisome smell, which is usually followed by the plague. Hieroz. apud POLI Syn. in loc. If the common locusts were so terrible; how much more dreadful must those be, which God sent, above all example?-A judgement from enemies, under an almost similar type, is threatened to the Jews, from the hissing or humming fly, which the Lord would hiss for in the uttermost parts of the river of Egypt, i. e. in Abyssinia, where this terrible and pernicious insect is said to prevail, and to drive all creatures, at a certain season, before them. See BRUCE'S Travels. Vol. i. p. 390,



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