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Egyptians] the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending EVIL ANGELS among them. To the same purpose is the Revelation made to St. John. The locusts; like scorpions, inflicting torment, are expressly the evil spirits, whose king is the angel of the bottomless pit, bearing the name and occupation of Abaddon, the destroyer. Thus, when men continue in hardness and in an impenitent heart, they treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revela tion of the righteous judgement of God. They become possessed of legions of sins by legions of devils. A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth, says the prophet Joel, prophesying in the Spirit, and explaining this direful dereliction of sinners for sin.§ The LORD will utter his voice before his army; for his camp is very great: for he is strong, that executeth his word; for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it ?-It is a fearful thing indeed for the soul to be given up, as a cage of unclean birds, to the full possession and ravage of the spirits of destruction.
The NINTH judgement brought darkness which might be felt, over the land of Egypt, while the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. Under this curse Pharaoh resolved to see Moses no more; and thus excluded himself from further help and hope, and every means of either. This was the prelude and anticipation of that blackness of darkness for ever, which it signified, to sinners, who cannot cease from sin. Blindness of
*Ps. lxxviii. 49.
+ Rev. ix. 3, &c.
Rom. ii. 5.—auslavontov, impœnitibile, ERASM. " that cannot repent." Old Transl
mind, judicial darkness of the understanding, rebellious sinning against the demonstrations and signs of the Holy Ghost; are the sealing up for judgement, and the previous introduction to it. After this plague of darkness, therefore, to the Egyptians, there remained but one curse more; and that was the finishing sign of entire dereliction and determined reprobation.
This awful token was exhibited in the TENTH curse, under which followed, at midnight, in the darkest and most unexpected hour, the sad and solemn scene, of cutting off the FIRST-BORN among the Egyptians. Not a house was found in the land, where there was not one dead.*—All this stands upon record to declare, that they who reject the counsel of God against themselves, who persevere in sin and unbelief under every variety of afflicting and admonishing dispensations, who make light of the things of God, who hate his people and his truth, and who will not have Christ, the GREAT FIRST-BORN, to reign over them, neither regarding his sacrifice nor his person; shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. To these, who wilfully, maliciously, and perseveringly, sin, after the knowledge of the truth, held out unto them, there remaineth no passover, no atoning lamb, no substituted first-born; but a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. As the Egyptians, after this dreadful sign, had no place for repentance, or further warning; so those, who finally reject the Lord Jesus, can
have no further admonition, no other Saviour; but must be involved in despair and wretchedness for evermore.
Thus have we considered briefly (what indeed should have a more copious consideration) the prisoners of sin, and their end. The prisoners of hope, though prisoners by nature in the spiritual Egypt, as well as the others, have a different course and a different end: and these we shall treat of, under the next name, more particularly. In the mean time, lift up thy heart, O reader, and ask; to which of these two kinds thou mayest be said to be long? If thou art a prisoner of sin, consider the course, and the end of these things; and pray if haply thy sins may be forgiven thee, lest thou fall into misery: if a pri soner of hope, be thankful to JEHOVAH for his mercy, and bless his holy name; while we consider, in the next place, the means of hope, and the end of hope, in thy gracious redemption.
RANSOMED, OR REDEEMED.
WÈ have considered, in the sign of Pharaoh and his
servants, under the last title, the progression and the end of sin in this, we have a more delightful theme, even the means of mercy, and the representation of redemption, under the preservation of the children of Israel. These were bondmen and prisoners in Egypt: and it is one special purpose of their history to show, that, without God's peculiar help, they could never have released themselves. It does not even appear, however distressful their circumstances were, that they so much as thought of deliverance: certainly, they were so entirely enslaved, that they did not attempt any means or make any efforts for their own liberation. On the contrary, it is plain that the mixed multitude, after their release, had thoughts of returning to their old condition, only for the gratification of their appetites, under every circumstance of baseness and drudgery. Like Edomites, as they were afterwards called, and true children of Esau, for one morsel of meat or one mess of pottage, they were ready to part with, what is better than mere life, a just liberty, and with it their birthright, for which only life is valuable at all.
Moses, then an old and obscure man, (about fourscore years of age) was commissioned, from feeding sheep, to superintend a nation. Dying out of the world, and dead to it; he had, and could have, no ambitious views (as T4
some have inconsiderately, as well as maliciously, supposed) and especially as he had renounced them all before in the prime of life, by refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, under which character he might, had worldly grandeur been his object, been lord not only of the miserable Israelites, (as they have been termed) but of the wise and opulent Egyptians, their masters. The Lord appeared to him in a burning bush, which was neither consuming in the flame, nor to be consumed by it. This was the proper emblem of the state of his church upon earth. In the midst of the fire, God is with his people, so that they cannot be destroyed; and he gave this token, as the sensible demonstration of that truth, to Moses, and through him to all that should hereafter believe.
This angel of JEHOVAH, or messenger of the covenant, who was in the church in the wilderness, was CHRIST IMMANUEL; and he revealed himself to Moses as the divine essence, under the title of (what we render GoD) I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE, I AM, EVER WAS, AND EVER WILL BE.† That is, what Christ is to his people, he ever was before all time in covenant, and WILL BE to all eternity in faithfulness; and therefore he more expressly made himself known to the Israelites in affliction, both as the ALEHIM of their fathers,‡ i. e. engaged in covenant, and also peculiarly as JEHOVAH in himself, who therefore ever liveth to make it good,
* See his refusal of greatness for himself and family, in Exod. xxxii. I0, 11. And his family was afterwards sunk in his own tribe, as appears from 1 Chron. xxiii. 14.
† Ehjah asher Ehjah, Jehovah. Exod. iii. 14. vi. 3. Rev. i. 8. Exod. iii. 6, 13.