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4. To be cut off from all hope of any posterity ; the imidwives of Egypt being commanded to kill all their male children: and when the midwives refused, the Egyptians were commanded to take and cast them into the river Nile : and, you know, this occafioned the miraculous prefervation of Mofes.-Thus their afflic. tion was great and grievous : it was as great as the wildom of Egypt, and as base also ; likewise growing and lasting, till it came to an extremity. Then it was that the Lord said, I have seen, I bave seen tbe affliction of my people.
Quest. How came they to be thus aflliated? Was it not by the providence of God? Yea, indeed, it was; as you fee Plalm cv. 25. where it is said, “ He turned their hearts to hate his people, and to deal fubtilly with his fervants :"? so that their afflictions were ordered of the Lord, for these and the like ends.
(1.) Left his people, living amongst the Egyptians, fhould become too familiar with them, and fo be drawn to their idolatry, he would have them to hate them for, if they had been well entertained among them, they might have fallen away from the true God, as fome of them did, Joshua xxiv. Ezek. xxiii. for as fore as they were afficted. How much more would they have fallen, if they had been kindly entertained by them? For they had as much natural inclination to fall away from the worship of the true God, to idolatry, as all other men hath ; therefore, he would have the Egyptians to opprefs them.
(2.) That they m ght long to be delivered from their grievous affliction, and to be possessed of the good land promised to them, as the seed of Abraham. He would thus ftir up in them a sense of their present state, and a desire after liberty. Hence, when Moses was sent, they were glad to hear of their deliverance, and that there was hope they would get iheir head out of the yoke of bondage they were into.
(3.) That they might not return to Egypt again, when once they were out of it, remembring what sla.. very they were in ; though yet it is strange, as you see, Num. xiv. they would gladly have been back again : though-Canaan was called a land Aowing with milk and.
honey, and Egypt a place of onions and garlick : yet, when they found but a little distress in the wilderness, how would they have been back again ? Much more would they have longed to return, if they had not been fure afflicted in Egypt. I may add another reason,
(4.) That in their deliverance from the affliction, God's glory might be the greater, both in manifesting his justice, in punishing the Egyptians; and his truth and mercy, in delivering his people.
And here, to adapt this matter to the case of God's people at present in Scotland, have they not been in great bondage, and under grievous oppression and churchtyranny? Have not judicatories been dealing craftily with them? And, have they not been brought under great hardships, by fevere task-masters, and cruel watchmen? How long hath the bondage continued, and how greatly hath it been growing these good many years ? How have defections come to such a height, that a covenanted Reformation was like to have no shadow of a testimony for it, and so all hope of transmitting it purely to posterity, was ready to be cut off, and we from having a posterity to praise the Lord, and do service to him, as a covenanted land ? Thuse that were appearing for that cause of God, have been cut off, and cast out of the fynagogue; and so they, and all that cleave to them, cast, as it were, to the door; the Lord having turned the hearts of this generation to hate his people, and deal subtilly with his servants * And wherefore hath the Lord done this?
1.. That we may not fall in love with the fashions of the generation, nor may go on in the same course of defection. Nay, how hath God made his people's affiction and oppression, by ecclesiastical sentences, the occasion of rendering their crafty and cruel oppressors hateful and contemptible in their eyes, and their ways to be odious ?
* The oppression and tyranny of Church-judicatories, the severity and cruelty of the watchmen, their opposition to a testimony for truth, and their thrusting out of the synagogue those who befriended it, and adhered thereto, may be seen laid open, Vol. V. p. 298. 399, 390.
2. God hath so ordered it, that his people might long to be delivered from their afilictions, and relieved from the hardships they were under with reference to the want of church-privileges.
3. Thrat, being once set' at liberty, they might use all means not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
4. That God might he the more glorified, both in shewing his just displeasure against cppressors, and his mercy to his people, according to his promile in Christ.
III. The third thing here is, The carriage and beha. viour of this people under their distress and a fili&tion : it is expressed by the word groaning. In the book of Exodus it is said, they disbed, they cried, they groaned: here there is but cne word used. For understanding whereof, there is a two-fold cry to God in afiliation. 1. The cry of oppreffion. 2. The cry of the oppressed. The first is real, the other is vocal.
1. The first, I say, is the real cry of sin itself: The hire of the labourer is said, James v. 4. to cry in the ears of God. A mercenary servant, that has no more to live upon but his wages, the with-holding of it cries for a curfe in the ears of God. And, Gen. iv. 10. when God questions Cain about his brother Abel, and he says, “ Am I my brother's keeper?” God answers, “ The cry of thy brother's blood is come up to heaven before me.” And Gen. xviii. 20. the fin of Sodom is said to cry in God's ears for a curse. - Thus the fin of oppression is a crying fin, and many other fins are crying fins. Scotland's perjury is a crying sin. Sin cries for vengeance to come down upon the committers thereof: thus when Israel were afilicted and oppressed, their oppreffion cried. But,
2. This was joined with the cry of the oppressed; the cry of the prayer of God's people, Deut. xxvi.7. “When we cried unto ihe Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affli&tion, and our labour, and our oppreffion.” Sirs, when people are afflicted and oppressed, what is the reason that the Lord rises not up
deliver them? Do not oppressions cry in the ears of the Lord ? Yea, but there should be a two-fold cry; with the cry of oppression, there should be the cry of the oppressed : for, God has two ears, so to speak; an ear of justice, to hear the cry of oppression; and an ear of
mercy, to hear the cry of the oppressed: now, when the cry of oppression comes up before him, he keeps up the stroke till the cry of the oppressed come also up. Well, the cry of oppression, even of church oppreffion in this land, hatlı come up before the Lord of hofts: 0 that there were more of the cry of the oppressed ! the cry of the prayer of faith. It is not a clamour I am speaking of; Non vox', fed votum. Moses is said to cry, when he uttered not a word; and there are groanings ubicb cannot be uttered, which the Lord hears and au(wers. If under the influence of the Spirit helping our infirmities, our hearts and voices were going together, through the land, to cry to the Lord, we might expect he would hear. As the ear of his justice hath been deafed, as it were, with the cry of oppression, obtrusions, errors, defections, and corruptions; if the ears of his mercy were also deafened with the importunate cries of the oppressed, afflicted, and scattered heritage of God; as we believe, in some measure, this exercise is taking place ainong some of the praying societies in Scotland: but if there were more and inore of it, we might ex. pect the Lord would remember his covenant, and his hand, and help up with reformation work, maugre all the opposition made to it.
Obferve, It is a pitiful case when people are in afflicti. on, and yet are not groaning nor crying to the Lord, nor seeking help from him. You fhould look upon afdiction as a scourge to drive you to God. As a good child, when beaten by his father, will not run away from him, but craw nearer to him, and cry for mercy; fo, in affliction, we are to rent our hearts, and cry to a God in Christ.
IV. The Fourth thing here is, The way how the Lord Thewed his pity to his oppressed people; I bave seen, I have seen; I have beard; I am come down to deliver. There are three expressions here by which he shews his pity and compaffion.
ist, It is expressed by SEEING ; I have seen, I have seen their afliction; or, seeing I have seen it. Here is mercy in his eye; he gives a look of pity and compaffion.
2dly, It is expressed by HEARING; I bave heard their groaning, I buve beard their groaning. Here is
mercy in his ear, which was open to their cry.
3dly, It is expressed by a COMING DOWN; I am come down to deliver them. Here is mercy in his feet, and band, and motion, for their help. These are figurative expressions, God speaking after the manner of men, by an usual allegory; and you have it very orderly exprefied, Exod. iii. 7, 8, 9.
We shall here observe three reasons of these ex. pressions.
1. To shew his wisdom, that when men would adt rightly towards oppressors or oppressed, they should cognosce, and put matters to a fair trial; or should fee with their eyes, as it were, how matters are; and hear with their ears, what humble fupplications are made to them, and act a just and equal part.
2. To let us see the patience of God, that he runs not at the first to strike, like a furious person, but comes at leisure, and by degrees : laving seen the case of his people, he hears their cry.
3. To let us see the certainty and folidity of God's dealings, that though he suffers long, he will not suffer always; and that, when he comes, he comes to pur. pose, for judgment on his enemies, and mercy to his friends. When men have pronounced judgment, they may retract, because they have not considered duly before-hand; but God hath feen, and seen again; and heard, and well considered matters, before he strikes, If he hath come with feet of wool, when he comes, he will have hands of iron. We need not say, the Lord is long in coming to punish the wicked, for when he comes, his strokes are fad, and sure, and heavy. His judgments are great and heavy. Nor that he is long in coming to deliver his people; for, when he comes indeed, he comes down with a vengeance on their enemies, and with an out-stretched arm of salvation and deliverance towards