Exodus 18:7
They asked each other of their welfare. Exodus 18:7. The visit of Jethro comes between the agony of Rephidim and the solemnities of "Sinai," like the insertion of a sweet pastoral poem between two tragedies. Something may be learnt from it as to what should characterise friendship in its highest form, that is, between two devout souls, as consecrated and elevated by religion.

I. CONSTANCY. Moses and Jethro met as in the earlier years; no assumption with Moses, no sycophancy with Jethro.

II. COURTESY. Ver. 7. The nearer our relations to each other, the more indispensable this grace.

III. MUTUAL SOLICITUDE. Ver. 7.

IV. INTERCHANGE OF EXPERIENCE. Vers. 8-11. Happy time, when the deeper experiences (religious) can be exchanged to mutual advantage.

V. COMMUNION IN WORSHIP. Ver. 12. It is clear that Jethro and Moses were one as to Monotheism, in their common possession of the great Divine traditions of the race. Jethro spiritually was in the descent of Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Melchisedek. For him but one God, the God of heaven and earth, and therefore the God of Israel. Contrast with Amalek! Hence the sacrifice and the sacrificial feast.

VI. FIDELITY IN GIVING COUNCIL. Vers. 14, 17-23. Great courage required.

VII. HUMILITY IN RECEIVING IT. This the moral attitude of Moses.

VIII. AN ULTIMATE REFERENCE IN ALL INTERCOURSE TO THE DIVINE FRIEND. Ver. 23. "And God commanded thee so."

IX. SYMPATHY AS TO GREAT OBJECT. Jethro knew the destiny of Israel, and was concerned for the realisation.

X. PEACEFUL PARTING AT LIFE'S DIVERGING PATHS. Ver. 27. Apply this to moral and intellectual cross-roads; and to that which is so difficult - agreeing to differ - and that with mutual respect and affection. All in view and hope of the Perfect and immortal amity that is beyond the sky. - R.







They asked each other of their welfare.
I. THIS WORLD IS NOT A SCENE ADAPTED OR INTENDED TO AFFORD THE PLEASURE AND BENEFIT OF FRIENDSHIP ENTIRE. Men cannot collect and keep around them an assemblage of congenial spirits, to constitute, as it were, a bright social fire, ever glowing, ever burning, amidst the winter of this world. They cannot surround themselves with the selectest portion of humanity, so as to keep out of sight and interference the general character of human nature. They are left to be pressed upon by an intimate perception of what a depraved and unhappy world it is. And so they feel themselves strangers and pilgrims upon earth.

II. IT IS CONTRARY TO THE DESIGN OF GOD THAT THE MORE EXCELLENT OF THIS WORLD'S INHABITANTS SHOULD FORM TOGETHER LITTLE CLOSE ASSEMBLAGES AND BANDS, WITHIN EXCLUSIVE CIRCLES, DETACHED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE FROM THE GENERAL MULTITUDE. On the contrary, it is appointed that they should be scattered and diffused hither and thither, to be useful and exemplary in a great number of situations; that there should be no large space without some of them. Thus it is a world that dissociates friends. Nevertheless, friends do sometimes meet; and then it is quite natural to do as Moses and Jethro did — "ask each other of their welfare."

III. In the meeting of genuine friends, after considerable absence, THESE FEELINGS WILL BE PRESENT.

1. Kind affection.

2. Inquiry.

3. Reflective comparison.

4. Gratitude to God for watching over them both.

5. Faithful admonition and serious anticipation.

(J. Foster.)

I. AS TO THE SALUTATIONS AT MEETING.

1. Courteousness. This excludes —

(1)Excessive familiarity;

(2)Rudeness;

(3)Pride.

2. A hearty welcome.

II. AS TO THE SUBJECTS OF CONVERSATION.

1. On public affairs.

2. On social matters.

3. With recognition of God.

4. Fit for mutual response (vers. 10, 11).

III. AS TO THE MODE OF FESTIVITY.

1. That such festivity may not be confined to the family.

2. That it may be preceded by an act of worship.

3. That it should be with consciousness of the Divine presence.To eat as before God, will make us —

(1)Happy and helpful;

(2)Temperate;

(3)Regardful of the soul s progress.

(D. G. Watt, M. A.)

1. It is not unbeseeming the highest places or persons in kingdom or Church of Christ to give due respect to relations.

2. Grace doth not unteach men manners and civil carriage respectively unto men.

3. Natural affection and expressions of it to friends beseemeth God's servants.

4. It is a natural duty for relations to inquire of and wish each other's peace.

5. Conduct to a tent for rest is suitable for travellers that visit their relations (ver. 7).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

One Sunday night I said, "Ah! you mothers will say that your children are all in bed; never mind, go upstairs and wake them, and talk to them about their souls." A mother (this I know to be true) went home, and her little girl was in bed and asleep. She woke her and said, "Jane, I have not spoken to you, dear child, about your soul. The pastor has been exhorting us to-night, and saying that even if you were asleep you should be wakened." Then said Jane, "Mother, I have often wondered that you did not speak to me about Christ, but I have known Him these two years." The mother stood convicted. She brought her daughter round on Monday and said, "Let this dear girl be baptized and lore the church." I said to her, "Why did you not tell your mother?" "Well," said she, "you know, mother never seemed to come up to the subject; she never gave me a chance." Then the mother said, "Quite right; I have not been to my children what I ought to have been; but, please God, there shall never be another child of mine that shall steal a march on her mother, and find Christ without her mother knowing it." God graciously rebuked that mother.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Among the means to be used in times of religious interest we may mention conversation. Many neglect it, but none can deny its power for good. Says Dr. Archibald Alexander, in his book on "Religious Experience": "Religious conversation, in which Christians freely tell of the dealings of God with their souls, has been often a powerful means of quickening the sluggish soul and communicating comfort." It is, in many cases, a great consolation to the desponding believer to know that his case is not entirely singular; and if a traveller can meet with one who has been over the difficult parts of the road before him, he may surely derive from his experience some salutary counsel and warning. The Scriptures are favourable to such communications. "Come and hear," says David, "all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul." Dr. Watts thought so much of the "talent for parlour teaching," that he declared that the man who had it could do more good than the minister by his public discourses. Said one who was under sentence of death: "When the minister spoke to me he seemed like one who was standing far above me; but when Alexander, that good man that everybody knows is the holiest man in the place, came in, he stood like one at my side, and when he classed himself with me, and said, 'Sinners like me and you,' I could stand it no longer." Saurin, the great French preacher, said, in his sermon on Christian conversation: "Are we returning from a sermon? Why not entertain one another with the subjects we have been hearing? Why not endeavour to imprint on one another's memories the truths that have been proved, and to impress upon one another's hearts such precepts as have been enforced? Have we been visiting a dying person? Why not make such reflections as naturally occur on such occasions the matter of our conversations? Why not embrace such a fair opportunity of speaking on the vanity of life, the uncertainty of worldly enjoyments, and the happiness of a pious departure to rest? Have you been reading a good book? Why not converse with our companions on the information we have derived from it?"

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