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26. The day following he appeared. Stephen declareth now that the fathers did not only neglect, but maliciously reject the grace of God. For although the evil which he mentioneth did proceed from one man only, yet doth he by right assign the fault unto them all. For if they had been thankful to God, they would all with one consent have repressed his forwardness. 414414 “Proterviam,” petulance. But they are whisht, 415415 “Tacent omnes,” they are all silent. and suffer that good turn which Moses had done to be upbraided unto him; and, so much as in them lieth, they bring them into extreme danger whom they ought to have defended by endangering themselves. 416416 “Oppositas suis capitibus,” by exposing their own hands. Therefore, his drift is this, that the people themselves were in the fault, that they were no sooner delivered and eased. 417417 “Nonnisi per populum stetisse quominus levationem citius sentiret,” that is was owing entirely to the people themselves that they did not sooner obtain some alleviation. So the wickedness of men doth oftentimes hinder God from doing that [which] he would do. He is ready to help those that be his in due time, but we keep back his hand from ourselves with divers lets, and afterwards we complain of his slowness, but unjustly. Furthermore, this unthankfulness was too wicked against God, and too cruel against Moses. They were to thank God for giving such a faithful patron in the king’s court. They were to love and reverence Moses; but they rewarded him full evil 418418 “Atqui pessimam et iniquissimam mercedem reportat,” but he receiveth a very bad and most iniquitous recompense, viz. with threatenings and reproaches. Furthermore, inasmuch as the fact was brought to the king’s ears, we must needs impute that to the treachery of the people. Therefore, as when afterward the people could see the land of Canaan, they did through their own folly keep themselves from entering in; so now, refusing the grace of God in the person of one man, they cause the time of their deliverance to be deferred forty years. For although God had determined what he would do, yet those are justly blamed for the delay which hinder 419419 “Impediunt ac turbant,” impede and disturb. Moses in his office.
Men ye are brethren. There is, indeed, amongst men a general conjunction, so that they ought to use great courtesy one toward another, and to abstain from all injuries; but this is more unmeet and intolerable, when those hurt one another who are nearer linked together. Therefore, Moses doth not only use a general reason, that it may revoke 420420 “Quae ad aequitatem revocet,” which may call back or dispose to equity. their minds which were desirous to do harm, but he mentioneth their kindred and fellowship of blood to mollify their cruelty. Yet all in vain; for he which had done injury to his neighbor doth forwardly thrust him from him, and addeth thereunto threatening. And this is a common thing amongst men; for an evil conscience doth drive men into fury, and the worse every man’s cause is, the more boldly and cruelly doth he extol himself. But under what color doth he which hath the worst cause set himself so stubbornly against Moses? He saith he is no judge; but he did not reprove them according to authority, but did only friendly admonish them. Is it the duty of a judge alone to admonish us when we do amiss? But this is a common vice, used of all stubborn and unruly persons, to give place to no admonitions, save only when they are enforced by violence and authority; yea, they are like frantic [phrenzied] men who rail upon 421421 “Furiose impetunt,” furiously assault. their physicians. For which cause we must be the more careful to bridle our lust, lest we run headlong with such blind fury against those which are desirous to cure our vices. Furthermore, we are taught by this example, that the servants of God cannot so do their duty in reproving such vices of men, but they shall suffer many injuries, offend many, and incur dangers; and chiefly when they do well, they shall surely hear evil. But they must swallow up the unworthiness of these evils, 422422 “Sed horum malorum indignitas illis est devoranda,” but the indignity of these evils must be devoured by them, (overlooked or submitted to.) that they may not therefore cease to do that which the Lord commanded them, and which he alloweth. 423423 “Proinde ei probari,” and is therefore approved by him. Moses is burdened here with a cruel false accusation that he usurpeth the authority of a ruler, and by this means they lay treason to his charge. Secondly, it is objected unto him reproachfully that he slew an Egyptian; both these were very odious. Whereby we may gather with how dangerous a temptation the mind of the holy man was stricken. And forasmuch as we see that he was neither discouraged by exile, neither by any other evils, so that it did not repent him of his well-doing, let us also learn by his example to bear a valiant and strong mind and courage against all such assaults of Satan,