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“ fore should the Egyptians speak and say, For “ mischief did he bring them out to slay them in “the mountains? Turn from thy fierce wrath “and repent of this evil against thy people. Re“ member Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, thy “servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own “self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your “ seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that “I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and “they shall inherit it for ever. And the Lord re“pented of the evil, which he thought to do unto “his people."" On this occasion, you perceive that he “ withdrew his hand and wrought for his “ name's sake.”
When the Israelites “ despised the pleasant land, “ and believed not the word of the LORD,” He said to Moses, “I will smite them with the pesti“ lence, and disinherit them.”— And Moses said unto the LORD" Then the Egyptians shall hear of “it; for thou broughtest this people by thy might “ from among them: and they will tell it to the “inhabitants of this land; for they have heard that “ thou, Lord, art among this people, that thou, " Lord, art seen face to face, and that thy cloud 6 standeth over them, and that thou goest before “ them, by day-time in a pillar of a cloud, and in " a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill “ all this people, as one man; then the nations " which have heard the fame of thee, will speak,
• Ex. xxxii. 9–14.
“saying, because the Lord was not able to bring “this people into the land which he sware unto " them, therefore he hath slain them in the wil. . “ derness.'” In answer to this supplication “ the “ Lord again withdrew his hand, and wrought for “his name's sake, that it should not be polluted in “ the sight of the heathen.”
Joshua also pleaded in the same manner, when some of the people were slain by the men of Ai. “O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth “ their backs before their enemies ? For the Can" aanites, and the inhabitants of the land, shalli “ hear of it, and shall environ us round, and shall “ cut off our name from the earth; and what wilt “ thou do unto thy great name ? ?”
The pious and animated address of David to Goliath was made at a time, when the conduct and measures of King Saul could not but be justly disapproved by all pious Israelites: yet he assigned the same reason, why the Lord would deliver Goliath into his hand, and the Philistines into the hands of Israel, namely, “ that all the earth may “ know that there is a God in Israel. 3”—Hezekiah's plea, in prayer for deliverance from Sennacherib and the Assyrians, 'was this, “ that all the king“ doms of the earth may know, that thou art the “Lord God, even thou only.4"
The plea of Jeremiah, during a terrible drought, 'Numb. xiv. 11–23. 2 Josh. vii. 7-9. 3 1 Sam. xvii. 45–47. . 42 Kings xix, 15—19.
“ O Lord, though our iniquities testify against “us, do it for thy name's sake;'” and that of Daniel during the Babylonish captivity,' with very many others which might be adduced, abundantly teach us, that Israel, even when deserving the severest vengeance, was frequently placed in such circumstances, that the honour of God was concerned in sparing and delivering them.
The chapter, whence the text is chosen, introduces Jehovah recapitulating to the prophet, a variety of instances of this kind, and repeatedly subjoining, “ But I wrought for my name's sake, that “ it should not be polluted before the heathen, a“ mong whom they were. ” From this recapitulation we may observe, that God had called Abraham; and had engaged to him, by covenant and by oath, to render his posterity exceedingly numerous, to give them the land of Canaan, and to raise up the Messiaḥ from among them: and that he had ratified this engagement in the same manner to Isaac and Jacob. But when the descendants of these patriarchs had been increased to a vast multitude in Egypt, they had so degenerated from the piety of their ancestors, and had become so vile by their iniquities and idolatries, that they justly deserved destruction, at the very time when God had purposed their deliverance. Yet if he had cut them off by some tremendous judgment, or left them in Egyptian bondage; the
Jer. xiv. 7. 2 Dan. ix. 18, 19.
honour of his faithfulness and mercy would have been tarnished; his promise would have been broken, his covenant would have failed, and his whole plan concerning the Messiah have been disconcerted, He therefore, spared and delivered them, though unworthy, for his own name's sake.
The Lord had sent to Pharaoh, calling Israel his son, yea, his first born, and he demanded of him to “ let his son go that he might serve him :" but Pharaoh haughtily replied, “Who is Jehovah? “I know not JEHOVAH, neither will I let Israel “ go.” Thus the contest was begun; and not only the Egyptians, but in a little time all the neighbouring nations waited the event with fixed attention. Now, if the LORD, provoked by Israel's sin, had desisted from his demand, and had left the people in bondage, Pharaoh would have seemed victorious, and he as well as others would have concluded that JEHOVAH was unable to deliver his people. The honour of his eternal power and Godhead was therefore concerned in effecting their deliverance.
When this had been accomplished by “a migh“ ty hand and an out-stretched arm,” and the laws, ordinances, and oracles of Jehovah had been communicated to them, they renewed their rebellions, and by most aggravated crimes provoked him to keep them forty years in the wilderness, till nearly all that generation was dead. But if he had cut them off entirely, and had not put the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in possession of Canaan; not only would his oath and promise have failed, but the Egyptians, Canaanites, and surrounding nations would have blasphemed his great name, as if he had been unable to fulfil his engagements, and thus they would have been hardened in their idolatry and wickedness.
During a long course of years, after the nation was settled in Canaan, the interest, and almost the existence, of true religion in the world, was, according to the plan of infinite wisdom, inseparable from the preservation of Israel as a distinct people: and how great soever their provocations were, the honour of God was concerned in preventing the complete success of their idolatrous neighbours against them, though they were used as scourges for their frequent and severe chastisement. Nor, till the coming of the promised Messiah, could it consist with the glory of God, to pour out his vengeance upon the nation, and wholly to deprive them of their distinguished advantages. But after that event, his plan no more required their preservation as his visible church; and so “ wrath “ came upon them to the uttermost.”
There was likewise, through every age, a pious remnant in the land, to whom the promises especially belonged, and with whom the covenant was ratified. These persons prayed continually in behalf of the church and nation, according to the examples before adduced: and the honour of GOD