By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;…
As no two men are alike, so it may be said no two lives are alike, though the lives of all men have many things in common. That life is the most interesting which embraces the largest amount of experience, and by the varieties and extraordinariness of its experiences differs most from other lives. But in estimating the interest of any individual life, we must ever bear in mind the fact that each life is double — it has its external and internal form. A life of mental struggle and soul triumphs like that of Plato, may have no external incidents of any importance, and set be interesting in the highest degree. Other lives may consist almost exclusively of external ups and downs. The most interesting life of all is one which embraces these two kinds of motion, and assumes a variety of phases in each department. Estimated according to this rule, few lives are so interesting as that of Moses. His external life was one of special variety. His internal life was one of hopes and fears; struggles, failures, and triumphs; passion and peace; discovery and perplexity; adversity and success; lamentations and songs; and work and leisure. He was a great and a good man in combination.
I. THE GOOD WHICH MOSES REJECTED. Paul gives us a summary of the sacrifices which Moses was led to make at the shrine of principle in the words, "He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter." This is mentioned as a real good which he abandoned.
1. This sacrifice involved the abandonment of wealth. It is a matter of importance to estimate aright the value of wealth. A man who has but little sense and less religion may desire to possess wealth for its own sake: but a man whose nature is refined and good finds no pleasure in gold or acres in themselves. He desires them simply as means — as instruments. To him they are of no value except as they help him to some higher good. Viewed in this light, wealth is a blessing, and like every other blessing it brings with it its own responsibilities, for in all things man is but a steward over God's property. Wealth is the real property of God who gives it, and not of the man who has it in his possession. The offer made to Moses involved wealth — "all the treasures of Egypt." In it itself he could care nothing for it, but as means to ends — as an additional talent to be used for man's good and God's glory — it was a blessing to be eagerly grasped. And then there was this further consideration, that if he refused the offer, it would be made to another and accepted, and this other might actually employ the wealth of Egypt to promote evil and clog the wheels of progress. Moses might say, "If this wealth becomes mine, I shall make good use of it. Money is a blessing though the love of it is a curse. If I reject it, another may take it arid use it to do evil." Here lay the force of the temptation.
2. This sacrifice on the part of Moses involved the abandonment of influence. A man who has lost the good opinion of his fellows can never hope to do them good, for our words have power as men have confidence in our wisdom and integrity. By rejecting the honour which the Egyptians proposed to confer upon Moses, he would lose their good opinion because they could not comprehend principles so lofty as those which led him thus to act. Then the influence which arose from his position as king of Egypt was immense. As king he could have purified the morals of courtiers by setting them a good example. He might introduce regulations, with the consent of the people, which would have crippled the power, in after ages, of tyrannical kings. He might even abolish slavery, and thus restore the Jews to their former splendour. His influence might go far toward the abolition of idolatry and the instruction of the people in the knowledge of the true God. Then, as the king of the mightiest nation then existing, his influence would be great in foreign states; and by means of the power which he derived from inexhaustible riches, and the influence which arose from his official position, and the place which he held in public esteem, the good which he might have effected would have extended to all nations and for ever. It required no small resolution to reject those means and opportunities of doing good.
II. THE EVILS WHICH MOSES SELECTED.
1. The mental anxiety which was inseparable from his position as the leader into liberty of a nation of slaves.
2. The many privations which must have been connected with the journey across Arabia.
3. The precarious prospects of his own family. What became of his children is not known, but their secular position proved very different from what it would have been had he accepted the crown of Egypt.
III. THE REASON OF THIS CHOICE. The sinful pleasures referred to in the text are not allied to those which are so called now. The pleasures of sin, according to modern notions, are pleasures of a gross or animal nature, such pleasures as could have had no attraction for a man of Moses' refined culture and pure habits. Paul refers, it seems to me, to the things which Moses rejected. These were the pleasures of sin — wealth, honour, and influence, or what was involved in being called " the son of Pharaoh's daughter." But, it may be asked, is wealth, or honour, or influence a pleasure of sin? Is it sinful for a man to be rich, respected, and obeyed? Is it wrong for a man to occupy the throne of a powerful and civilised country? In certain cases it is sinful; in others, it is not. If riches are gotten by being screwed out of the flesh and blood of the poor, then are riches the pleasures of sin. If the applause of others is obtained by sacrificing truth, honour, and goodness, as they were sacrificed by Herod, Pilate, and Felix, then is replication a pleasure of sin. If a man climbs to a throne of state, as many have done, by trampling on the rights of others, by crushing men's lives and liberties, then does regal power become a pleasure of sin. Did any such obstacles stand in the .way of Moses? Was he not offered the crown by those who had a right to bestow it? True; still must Moses have sinned had he become the monarch of Egypt. The kings of Egypt were both kings and priests. If the king did not belong to the sacerdotal class, he was adopted into that class at the time of his appointment, and instructed in the mysteries of the national religion. The king had to appear in the temple to offer sacrifices to the gods. He represented the national religion, premised to be faithful to the gods of his country, as well as administer justice to his subjects. It is evident, thus, that Moses in accepting the crown of Egypt, must have pretended that he was an idol worshipper. He was thus required to act, if not to utter, at least one falsehood. He was required to subscribe to what he did not believe — to promise to do, what, as a good man, he never could intend to perform.
IV. THE MAINSPRING OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE. Moses acted nobly because he acted conscientiously. But the question suggests itself to us, What enabled Moses to act thus conscientiously when a sacrifice so great was required of him? What gave to his conscience such unconquerable power?
1. Moses seems to have had the most satisfactory view of heaven — "the recompense of the reward." The blessedness of the future will not only be a reward, but also a recompense. All present evils and sufferings will be recompensed. The joy of the future will be in proportion to the sorrow of the present.
2. Moses, moreover, realised the presence of the invisible world, for the Greek means no more than this, or rather, it means all this — "as seeing the invisible." It is a general form of speech which embraces not only the Divine presence, but the actual presence of all invisible things. Moses had other means of vision than the mere eye of the body, and that was the reason of his triumph over the trials of this life.
(E. Lewis, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;