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heaven; the daily supply of manna in the desert during the space of forty years, and the gushing forth of streams of water from the smitten rock ;-all these were miracles of such a kind as to exclude the possibility of mistake or deception, and to leave no doubt on the minds of spectators, that they could only have been wrought by the mighty power of God.
But then the question presents itself, Do the miracles of Moses afford evidence as conclusive to us as to those who saw them? Have we reasonable and sufficient grounds for believing that they are not fancies or fictions, but veritable facts? In answer to this, and in proof of the reality of the miracles of Moses, various reasons might be adduced; but of these we shall select the three following:
I. The high moral character of Moses himself.
As to this, numerous testimonies are borne both by Jewish and heathen writers; all of whom concur in declaring that Moses was a man of high moral worth, of transparent truthfulness and incorruptible integrity, as well as of great mental power and superior accomplishments. But besides these external testimonies, which are so well known that they need not be specified, his own writings clearly reveal his true character, and show that he was utterly incapable of fraud or deception. No one can read candidly the five books of Moses, without coming to the conclusion that he was a man who feared God, who entertained the most exalted conceptions of the Divine majesty and purity, who recognised God's omniscience, and revered His glorious holiness. And then, the great object of his life and labours evidently was to inspire all his brethren with the same lofty sentiments, and to persuade them to honour, love, and obey God, with all their heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. Still more, Moses was distinguished by the purest disinterestedness, by the most unaffected humility and meekness, by the warmest affection for his brethren, and the most devoted zeal for their welfare. With the great influence which he possessed and merited, he might easily have aggrandised his own house and family; but, on the contrary, he secured for them neither power, nor rank, nor worldly possessions, in that nation of which he was so long the acknowledged leader and lawgiver. Moses belonged to the tribe of Levi; but this tribe, instead of being exalted above the other tribes, had no share with them in the partition of Canaan, and was left in a great measure dependent upon their contributions. Besides, he assigned the high priesthood to the family of his brother Aaron, and thus prevented the possibility of his own children ever attaining it. And not only were his sons excluded from that spiritual office, but they were also denied the right of succession to him in his civil capacity ; for he nominated Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, to succeed him as the chief ruler and leader of Israel. In all this, then, we perceive a greatness of mind, a disinterestedness of feeling, and a purity of motive, which have rarely been equalled. Evidently he had no selfish ends in view, but his simple aim was to fulfil faithfully the high commission of Him whose servant he was. And who can read his dying testimony and parting charge to the people, without being convinced that such a man was incapable of deception or imposture ? May we not confidently affirm that the infidel, who believes the contrary, manifests far greater credulity than that which he ascribes to those who believe that Moses was a man of God, and a messenger of heaven, and that he was proved to be so by “signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds ? "
II. The acknowledgment of the miracles by the Israelites at the time.
The books of Moses abound with appeals addressed to the people, as to the reality of the miracles which they witnessed. These appeals not only prove the firm belief of Moses himself that they were real miracles, but they also imply a solemn attestation on the part of the people to the same effect. Frequently he had occasion to rebuke them sharply for their murmuring and idolatry and rebellion against God; but he never rebuked them for doubting or denying the miracles which they had seen. On the contrary, he employed these miracles of power and mercy as arguments and motives to induce them to love and obey God, who had shown them such distinguishing favour. Not only did the whole Jewish nation acknowledge the miracles as true, but it was expressly on that ground that they were persuaded to submit to the authority and guidance of Moses, to adopt the new institutions which he set up among them, and to conform to the burdensome religious rites which he enjoined. They were “a stiff-necked and rebellious people," as he often told them : they were most reluctant to abandon “the flesh-pots of Egypt,” and were ever prone to break out into murmurs and complaints amid the privations and hardships of the wilderness; and many a time they would have been glad to find out that Moses was an impostor; and they would easily have found it out, if he had been
But no suspicion ever crossed any of their minds that the miracles were a deception; and it was reserved for the rationalists of Germany, and their humble imitators in England and America, to discover and suggest this “rational” hypothesis ! It cannot be denied that the contemporaries of Moses, that is, the whole Jewish nation, received the miracles as true and certain, that they handed down the record of them to their children as a reliable record, and still more, that they cherished the greatest respect
for Moses during his life, and the profoundest veneration for his memory after his death.
Beyond all question, they regarded Moses as a chosen instrument, in the hand of God, to work out for them a great national deliverance; and on the ground of those miracles, which were performed before their eyes, they accepted the law which he prescribed to them, and submitted to that heavy yoke of ritualism which he laid upon them. And thus, in addition to the testimony given by the personal character of the lawgiver, we have the testimony of the whole nation to the reality of the miracles, which Moses performed by the mighty power of God.
It has been truly remarked, by a well-known author, that the history of God's dealings with Israel, especially at the Red Sea, was interwoven with the whole religious literature of the nation. “Living as they did apart from all maritime pursuits, yet their poetry, their devotion, abounds with expressions which can be traced back only to this beginning of their national history. They had been literally 'baptized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea.'
Even in the dry inland valleys of Palestine, danger and deliverance were always expressed by the visions of sea and storm. 'All Thy waves and billows are gone over me.' "The springs of waters were seen, and the foundations of the round world were discovered, at Thy chiding, O Lord, at the blasting of the breath of