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nution to his wealth and grandeur to dismiss them; and not being able to reconcile his inclinations to the thoughts of parting with them, the vague and illgrounded learning of the times he lived in, was thought to afford arguments sufficient to take off the force of all the miracles, which were offered to induce him to it. It is no very hard matter to judge of truth, if we are but sincerely disposed to embrace it ; If any man will do God's will, he will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. A common capacity, and an ordinary share of understanding, will afford light enough, if evil passions do not make the light that is in us to become darkness. But if our heart be not duly disposed to embrace the truth; neither may we be persuaded, by the greatest arguments and demonstrations which can be offered, even though we have uncommon abilities to judge of, and understand the force of what is represented to us.
Some writers have imagined, that the non-compliance of Pharaoh, was an effect of temper produced in him by God himself. They endeavour to support their opinion by the many expressions of Moses, that God hardened Pharaoh's heart;' and by St. Paul's seeming to represent, from what is recorded by Moses, that God raised up Pharaoh on purpose to make him a terrible example of his power and vengeance to the whole world.d 1. But, God is said in Scripture to do
John vii. 17. ix. 12. X. 1, 20, 27. xi. 10, &c.
• Exod. iv. 21. vii. 3. d Rom. ix. 17.
many things, which are permitted by him to come to pass, in the ordinary and common course of things; according to which manner of expression, God may be said to harden Pharaoh's heart, only because he did not interpose, but suffered him to be carried on by the bent of his own passions to that inflexible obstinacy which proved his ruin. And in this sense, perhaps, we may interpret the words of St. Paul, therefore hath he mercy, on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. God had not so much mercy upon Pharaoh as to prevent his being hardened; and therefore in this sense is said to have hardened him. 2. It is plain, that Moses, unto whom God used these expressions about Pharaoh, understood them in this sense, from many parts of his behaviour to him; and especially from his earnestly intreating him to be persuaded, and to let the people go. If Moses had known, or thought, that God had doomed Pharaoli to unavoidable ruin, what room or opportunity could there be to endeavour to persuade him to avoid it? But that Moses attempted, with all possible application, to make an impression upon Pharaoh for his good, is very evident from the following passage, which if rightly translated would be very clear and expressive. And Moses said unto Pharaoh, glory over me, when shall I entreat for thee and for thy servants?' ....The translating the Hebrew words, hithpaar gnalai, glory over me, makes the sense of the place very obscure; the true rendering the words wonld be, do me glory or honour, i. c. believe me, which will be to my honour in the sight of the people ; and the whole of what passed between Pharaoh and Moses at this time, if rightly translated, is to this purpose • Then Pharaoh called for Moscs and Aaron, and paid; intreat the Lord, that he may take away the frogs from me, .... and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord. And Moses said, do me the honour to believe me, when I shall entreat for thee, and for thy servants. ....And Pharaoh said, to-morrow I will. And Moses said, be it according to thy word.'s Moses here made a very earnest address to Pharaoh, to induce him to be persuaded to part with the people; which he certainly would not have done, if he had thought that Pharaoh could no ways avoid not being persuaded, but that God himself prevented his compliance, on purpose to bring him to ruin. But I might observe, that Moses frequently expresses it, that Pharaoh hardened his own heart," and not that Gop hardened it; so that the two expressions, God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh hardened his own heart, are synonomous, and mean the one no more than the other; unless perhaps it may be said, that as it is agreeable to the Hebrew idiom, to call very high hills, the hills of God,' or very flourishing trees, the trees of the Lord, so in the same manner of speaking, it might be said, that
. Rom. ix. 18,
i Exod. viii. 9.
# Exod. viii. 8, 9, 10. viii. 15, 19, 32. & ix. 7, 34.
Psal. civ. 16.
Ibid. vii. 13, 92. Psal. lxviii. 15.
the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, to express, that it was exceedingly, and beyond measure obdurate. S. The expression cited by St. Paul from Moses, For this cause have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee....does not support the sense, which these expositors would put upon it. The Hebrew word hegnemadtika, does not signify, I have raised thee up, or brought thee into being ; but I have made thee stand or continue. * The Lxx translate the place very justly, EVEXEV THTH Sternen dins. For this cause thou hast been preserved. For the words of Moses were not designed to express to Pharaoh, that he was born or created on purpose to be brought to ruin ; but the reason for saying the words, and the true meaning of them is this; Moses had wrought several miracles before Pharaoh, but they had had no effect upon him. Hereupon Moses delivered to him a severer message, threatening, that God would send all his plagues upon his heart, and upon his servants, and upon his people, to smite him with pestilence, and to cut him off from the earth; and indeed (continues he, speaking still in the name of God) for this cause have I preserved thee hitherto, to shew in thee
* See Remarks upon this passage by the Rev. Walter Sellon, in his Tract entitled, “ General Redemption considered.'.... Edit.
| Most of the versions express the true meaning of this place better than our English translation. Onkelos renders it ; Verum propter hoc sustinui te, The Arabic expressos it; Propter rem hanc te reservavi.
my power; i. e. I had cut thee off sooner for thy obstinacy, but that I intended to make my power over thee more conspicuous; so that the words only signify, that Pharaoh was hitherto preserved by the forbearance of God, to be a more remarkable example; not that he was born to be brought to ruin.
Moses, by command from God, went once more to Pharaoh. The king had charged him never to see his face more, upon pain of death ;m and Moses had purposed to have so much regard to his own safety, as never to attempt it ;" but upon God's specially commanding him to go, he was not afraid ; knowing, that He who sent him could abundantly protect him. Moses now delivered to Pharaoh, the severest message he had ever brought him; and represented to him, that ato midnight God would strike dead the first-born of every family throughout all the land of Egypt; and that there should hereupon be such a dread and terror upon all the Egyptians, that they should come to him in the most submissive manner, and beg of him to lead the people out of the land ; and after that, said he, I shall go. Pharaoh was in a great rage at Moses speaking thus to them ; but Moses not desiring to stay only to incense and provoke him, turned away and left him.
It is surprizing, that not only our English, but all
m Exod. x. 28.
n Ver. 29. • This message was delivered to Pharaoh, after the Israelites had made preparations for eating the passover, some time in the day before they left Egypt.