MOSES HIS CHOICE
With his EYE fixed upon Heaven:
THE HAPPY CONDITION
A Self-denying Heart
Hebrews 11:25, 26
BY JEREMIAH BURROUGHS
HEB. 11:25. “Chusing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, then to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”
CHAP. I: God will sometimes be honored, rather with the sufferings of men in high places, then with their services.
Having finished Moses his SELF-DENIAL, namely, what he refused, together with the circumstance of time, and the principle by which he was enabled thereunto: Now what it was that he chose, we are to consider; his appearing for, and the joining himself with the afflicted people of God, although he knew he must needs partake with them in their afflictions; he saw that God would rather be honored by him in an afflicted estate, then in the enjoyment of all his glory that he might have had; he was willing to submit to God in that way.
Yet he might have had many reasonings in himself, that might have drawn his heart another way; he might have thought, that in his keeping of the honor and power he had in the Court, he might have done a great deal of service for God, in the improving of his favor with Pharaoh and his Nobles for the people of God; he might have been of great use for them, that it was a thing of great consequence, for them to have a friend in the Court, that might do them so much good, as it was probable he might have done: Yea, he might have thought with himself, Surely God intends to use me here in some great service for his people, for how wonderful hath his Providence been towards me, in bringing me to, in raising of me up, and continuing me in this honor?
What a strange and extraordinary Providence of God was it, to dispose of my Parents hearts, to hide me in such a manner as they did amongst the rushes? and that the Daughter of Pharaoh must come at that time to the River, and that I must be found by her, and nobody else, and that God should dispose of her heart so, as to commiserate my condition, and to be so inclined towards me as she was, that she should not only preserve my life, but have me brought up as her own Son; that she should have care, that my education might be such, as I might be meet for honor and advancement in her Fathers house, whereas she might have brought me up in some base and servile manner, according to the quality of a Bondslaves child, of an Hebrew child, so much abhorred and hated by the Egyptians;
And that God should give me that understanding and capacity, that I should come to be learned in all the learning of the Egyptians; and that God should incline the heart of Pharaoh to me likewise, that he should countenance me, and prefer me; and that the favor of Pharaohs daughter, and of Pharaoh himself, should continue so long as it does, even to my growth up to forty years; that I should have favor in the eyes of his Nobles, and of all the Court, none of them seeking to undermine me, to alienate Pharaoh’s heart from me?
Surely God intended to use me in some great service here in the Court; if I should now do anything to provoke Pharaoh against me, to lose that favor, that honor, that power I have, what a loss would this be to the people of God? what would become of them? little hope then of any good to them: yea, if Pharaoh and the Court should frown upon me, it is like they will be more enraged against them, and rather make their burthen heavier, and their bondage sorer: Now then what a grievous thing would it be, that such an opportunity as I have in my hands should be lost?
But Moses seeing Gods mind, that he would rather have him venture himself in joining with his people in affliction, and that this was the way, whereby God would honor himself by him, he was content to let go all those reasonings, and yield up himself to Gods own way: God will sometimes rather be honored by the sufferings and afflictions of men in great Places (who one would think had large opportunities of service) then in any service that they shall or can do; and such men should be willing to submit to God herein: It is not what I or others think, how God may be honored this way or another, but what the will of God is, which way he will be honored; and God expects from men, not only that they should seek his honor, but that they should seek it his own way: All the intentions and aims at the glory of God that can possibly be, are nothing; God cares not for them, if they be out of his own way.
It was an excellent resolution of David, 2 Sam. 15:25, 26. If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back again, but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here I am, let him do to me as seemeth good to him. We read of Heman, a man of admirable wisdom, one of the wisest upon earth in his time, as appears 1 King. 4:31. and yet Psal. 88. God kept him down and low by afflictions all his days from his youth. This God doth;
First, to shew his sovereignty over his creature, that he hath the absolute dispose of all, to use them as he will.
Secondly, to shew that he hath no need of any for his service, for the bringing about his own ends, he hath thousand thousands of ways to effect his own will, without help from men, although in never such eminent places.
Thirdly, because he would not have us to put any confidence in man, to think that the work must needs be done by such and such; God will cast them aside, and bring the work about by other means, that we least thought of.
Fourthly, that he might have a proof of the self-denial of these men, of their absolute subjection to him; in the exercise of which grace, God takes exceeding delight.
Fifthly, that he might teach such, whilst they do enjoy their opportunities of service, to walk in dependence upon him, humbly before him, not attributing much to themselves: wherefore let such men learn not to set too high a price upon their condition, that God hath raised them unto above others: although it is true, that it is one of the greatest happinesses under heaven, to have large opportunities of service for God and his Church, yet we should not so value them, as to stretch conscience in the least degree, for the continuance or improvement of them: look to the word, keep close to it, and then regard not what men shall suggest, what a deal of good you might do, how much service, what honor you might bring to God; why will you hazard your self and the loss of all?
There is much danger in listening to these reasonings, because the opportunities for service, and the keeping up your self in that condition in which you are, being involved together, there may lie much self-love, under the pretense of doing service, and that so secretly, as without diligent and faithful search into your own hearts, you shall not perceive it your selves; wherefore while you see God offering opportunities of service, while you see his mind in improving you thus, follow it on with all your might, let no opportunity slip, do to the utmost you can for God; and when you see his mind to lay you aside, and to use you in another way, although it be of affliction, and grievous sufferings, yet be as willing to yield to God in this, as in the former way; and thereby,
First, you shall shew the most glorious work of self-denial that may be; it is more to deny one’s self here then in outward things, there is nothing goes more near to a true generous heart, then to be laid aside, and to be denyed to be used in service.
Secondly, it may be, if you bring your hearts to lie at Gods dispose in this, he will use you the rather, and you shall not be taken off; this may be the means of continuance of you in his work.
Thirdly, if you go on with such a disposition as this, it is more like that God will bless your service, while he does use you.
Fourthly, or if you shall be taken off for a while, and put into an afflicted condition; wherein it shall not appear that you are of any great use, (although sometimes sufferings are the greatest services) yet your afflictions shall but prepare you for higher service afterward, as it did in Moses: How did God use him afterwards in great and high employments? few men that ever lived upon the earth, were employed more for God then he was.
The Magdeburgenses Centuriatores think that Barnabas the Apostle was the same that Joseph was, who was one of the two, upon whom the lot was cast for the Apostleship when it fell upon Matthias, and he was refused, Acts 1. which Joseph was afterward called Barnabas by the Apostles, Acts 4:36. instead of Barsabas; they making Joses to be the same with Joseph: Joseph was a gracious man, and when he saw it was Gods mind not to use him in that work, he was content to go on in that way which God would have him, although it were in a far lower condition, then in the work of an Apostle, and therefore afterwards God called him to that high and honorable work.
Fifthly, howsoever, your reward shall be as great, as if you were used in the greatest service, in the highest work you could have desired to be used in: But if you shall not be willing to lay down all when God calls you thereunto, and to be put into any low suffering condition that he shall please to put you into, it is an evident sign that you went on before in your way with self-confidence, that you aimed at your self, that you did not give God the glory of your service; and if so, although God might use you for the good of others, yet there will come no blessing of it upon your selves. This in the general.
Jeremiah Burroughs, Moses His Choice, with His Eye Fixed upon Heaven: Discovering the Happy Condition of a Self-Denying Heart, (London: John Field, 1650), 1–7.