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favoured people a constant sense of their equality.
All had their constant supply ; every one was entitled to his fair proportion ; and no good purpose did it answer to grasp at a double portion. For the hand which miraculously rained down this heavenly bread, miraculously modified it to every one's use. “ He who gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.” Now if we attend to the conduct of Providence to this day, and in every state of the world, we shall find the same equality of stribution still going on. A man has just what he uses and no more. With a chest full of gold, he has a desire to eat but twice or thrice a day at most. With a thousand suits of apparel in his wardrobe, he can use but one at a time.
His neighbour, therefore, who has but one dinner, and one coat at once, is, upon the whole, just as rich as he. Beyond what nature requires, reason approves, and the Almighty crowns with his blessing, all is childish and fantastical. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth ; and there is that withboldeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty."* If this were felt and understood as it ought, we should see less eagerness, rapacity and selfishness in one part of mankind, and less unthankfulness and discontent in another.
Sixthly. Mark the danger of giving way to a light, wanton, fanciful disposition. Even manna pleased not long. An imagination filled with the luxurious dainties of Egypt, soon spurned at it, as light bread." There is no end to wishing and desiring. Unadulterated nature craves but little, and is not difficult to please. But once give the reins to fancy, and the wealth of Cresus, the magnificence of Solomon, the elegance of Lucullus, and the luxury of Heliogabalus, will soon stink and be despised. Men ate angels' food, and loathed it. Of what importance then must it be, to check in ourselves, and to repress in those whose virtue and happiness are entrusted to our care, the first workings of a wild and fantastical appetite. Children cannot be too simply clothed and fed. Solicit the palate by delicacies, and you kindle a fire in the imagination to which no wealth can administer a sufficient supply of fuel, which no reason can keep within bounds, which will certainly produce a thousand real evils, and render the possession of the real felicities of life tasteless and insipid. Teach young ones to value themselves on dress and appearance, and you undermine the fabric of their true consequence. In proportion as you lead them to derive their importance from the adorning of their bodies, you strip and expose their minds.
Seventhly. The same Power which corrupted the manna on the second day, and which preserved it from corruption every seventh day, commanded a small portion to be laid up, for a memorial to future generations; and for that purpose miraculously kept it in its original state of sweetness and perfection. In this we see the absolute subjection of all things to the will of God. They grow and decay, they continue and pass away, they live and perish just as he will. " I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living." “ And, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” No power nor skill can redeem the body from the power of the grave; the arm of an archangel is unable to confine it there.
Finally. The manna from heaven is likewise an image of better things to come. The bread of angels could not confer immortality on those who did eat it: but “ the true bread which came down from heaven,” communicates eternal life to all who partake of it. But the words of our Saviour himself will best explain this subject. “ Jesus saith unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me
* Prov, xi, 24.
shall never thirst. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. ' If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinkeih my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day; for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” “ As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth of this bread shall live forever."*
ilaving thus finished the Course of Lectures proposed for this season,t what remains, but that with a grateful heart I first acknowledge the great goodness of Almighty God, who has graciously lent health and strength for carrying on this undertaking thus far. If any savour of divine things has been felt, or communicated ; if scripture truth has, to any, been set in a new or an agreeable light; if a taste for sacred reading and meditation has been conveyed ; if the connexion between the Old and New Testamerit has been pointed out, and impressed upon any heart; and, if the young in particular have been induced, by any thing said in this place, to think for themselves, and to compare spiritual things with spiritual ;-the Lecturer has gained his end, and is already in possession of his reward. The praise he cheerfully renders to Him to whom it belongs.
To you, my very dear friends, my thanks are in the next place unquestionably due, and are rendered with unfeigned gratitude. Your patient attendance and candid attention, during seven months together, I shall ever consider as a proof of attachment the most flattering and the most encouraging. Why should I conceal my feelings on the occasion ? I engaged in this undertaking, at first with fear and trembling ; I proceeded with solicitude; but I conclude with heartfelt satisfaction; because the countenance I have met with encourages me to hope that my labours may have been doing some good. If there be one circumstance which gives me pain, it is the excess of that liberality and approbation which has so far overrated and overpaid my endeavours to convey to you useful and pleasing instruction. In return, all I can do, is to wish and pray that your kindness may be returned a thousand fold into your bosoms, in temporal, spiritual and heavenly blessings. And now, my beloved brethren, farewell. To the grace of God I commend you all: even, “ to Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ; even to the only wise God our Saviour.”I That we shall never all meet again in an earthly temple is certain. For time is hastening to silence the tongue of the preacher, and to close the hearer's
* John vi. 47, &c.
+ For the reason assigned, when these discourses were first submitted to the public eye, some of the occasional addresses from the pulpit were retained in the publication. But the Lectures of a season not corresponding exactly to the usual size of a volume, it became at length a matter of doubt, whether these addresses should be altogether suppressed, modelled into a more proper diction and station from the press, or given exactly in the order and words in which they were delivered. The doubt issued in resolving upon the last. This Lecture concluded the Course of the Spring, 1783. The Course of the ensuing season commenced with that which follows. Perhaps it was unnecessary to say so much, in explanatiou of a matter so little important as the conclusion of one discourse aud the introduction te another.
Jude 24, 25.
But we have everlasting consolation and good hope, through grace, of meeting together, and of worshipping in that temple, which has no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day ; for there shall be no night there."* Let us, therefore, “ be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as we know that pur labour is not in vain in the Lord.”+
HISTORY OF MOSES.
EXODUS XVII. 1, 2, 5, 6.
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their
journies, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim; and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water, that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide you with me? Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord ? And the Lord said umo Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb: and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in tbe sight of the elders of Israel.
The reconciliation of interrupted friendship is one of th chief delights of human life. The extatic pleasure of meeting again, after long absence, persons whom we dearly love, obliterates in a moment the pain of separation : and one hour of sweet communication compensates the languor, solicitude and gloom of many years.
After an interval of five months, I return, to converse with Moses, and to talk of him to you, with the satisfaction of one who has been upon a long journey, and, returning home, finds again those whom he left, those whom he loves; and finds them such as he wishes them to be. Let us, my dear friends, with increased ardour, affection, admiration and gratitude, renew our intimacy with the venerable man to whom we are indebted for so much rational pleasure, and for so much useful instruction. Moses, thou prince of historians, sublimest of poets, sagest of legislators, clearest-sighted of prophets, most amiable of men! To thee we owe our knowledge of the ages beyond the flood! Thou first taughtest to string the sacred lyre, and to adapt the high praises of God to the enchanting concord of sweet sounds. By thee, king in Jeshurun, all succeeding princes have been instructed how to govern; and lawgivers are formed to political wisdom and sagacity. By thee, Jews were led to expect, and Gentiles are encouraged to rejoice in MesSIAH, the great prophet, after thy similitude ; by whom alone thou art excelled. And by thee, sweetest, meekest, gentlest of mankind, the endearing
* Rev. xxi. 23-25.
t1 Cor. xv. 58.
charities of private life are most engagingly exemplified, and most powerfully recommended.
But chiefly thee, O Spirit! thee only, we adore,
" Who didst inspire
Whatever wisdom we may have learned, whatever pleasure we may have errjoyed, whatever comfort we possess, whatever hope we feel-all, all is of thee, pure, eternal, unchanging source of light, and life, and joy.
Moses, in the passage of his writings which I have now read, is carrying on his own interesting, eventful history. At the head of the myriads of Israel, he is now pursuing his march from Egypt to Canaan, following a guide who would not mislead them, and whom they could not mistake ; protected by a power, which, like a wall of fire, bid defiance to every threatening foe; and, from day to day, supplied by a bounty incapable of being exhausted. All these present and singular advantages, had the sweetness of hope mingled with them. They had just escaped from the most humiliating and oppressive of all servitude, and they were hastening to the inheritance of their fathers ; yet we find them a people as peevish, irritable, and difficult to please, as if they had never known adversity, and as if they had just issued from the lap of ease and indulgence. To-day, the bread is dry and stale; to-morrow, the water is bitter; the third day, there is a scarcity of it. The water is sweetened ; manna descends; quails fall around their camp; but there is still “a cruel something unpossessed,” and all that went before is forgotten; all that is in possession becomes insipid. Bestow on the ungrateful person nine hundred and ninetynine favours, and withhold the thousandth, and all you have done for him is lost. The present pressure always seems the heaviest. Mouldy bread and brackish water in the wilderness, are considered as evils more intolerable than all the rigours of slavery in Egypt.
Where does this censure fall ? On that moody, murmuring race, the Jews, and on them only? Alas! it overwhelms ourselves; it bears hard, not upon individuals here and there, but upon mankind! We expect more from the world than it possibly can bestow; and when we discover its insufficiency, we charge God foolishly; and because we have not every thing that we wish, we are satisfied with nothing. Solacing ourselves, like Jonah, under the shadow of a gourd, we fancy it is a perennial shelter. We see not the worm which is gnawing its root! and when it is smitten down and withers, we are ready to say, with the sullen, testy prophet, “ We do well to be angry.”
But, was the want of water a slight evil? And, is it sinful to complain under the pressure of calamity like this? And, was this the first time Israel had been in distress, and found relief? Who was it that sweetened the waters of Marah? Who divided the Red Sea ? Who rained bread from heaven ? And, who ever mended his condition by murmuring and discontent !
Had God intended to destroy that people, why ail this exertion of a strong hand, and stretched-out arm to deliver them. God in the failure of our earthly comforts intends not our mortification and ruin, but our wisdom and improvement. He thereby teaches us our dependence ; it summons us to the observation of his providence; and levels, not the hope and joy, but the pride and self-sufficiency of man.
Water! precious fluid! infinitely more valuable than the blood of the grape, than rivulets of oil, or honey from the rock ; refreshed, sustained every moment by thee, we are every moment wasting, neglecting, forgetting thee. We prize tõee not, because of thy rich abundance; and, because thou enterest
into every other mean of food and comfort, thy importance is unobserved, thy benefits forgotten. May I never know thy value from the want of thee.
“ There was no water for the people to drink.”. Wherefore the people did chide with “ Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide you with me? Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord ?" If in their calmest moments men are often incapable of reasoning justly, and distinguishing accurately, is it any wonder to find them, in the very tide and whirlwind of passion, acting foolishly and unreasonably? Who would envy preeminence such as that which Moses enjoyed? Is glory obtained ? He comes in but for a moderate share. Is blame incurred, or distress felt? All is imputed to him. To what a severe trial was the temper of this meekest of all men now put! What so provoking as to meet with censure when we are conscious of meriting praise ? What so galling as to have the calamities of others charged upon us as crimes ; to be accused as culpable, merely because we have been unfortunate ? Surely the great are set in “slippery places;” and uneasy must the head lie that wears a crown.”
We see Moses flying in the hour of danger, whither the people ought to have fled in the hour of their affliction. “ He cried unto the Lord.” Religion opens a refuge when every other refuge fails: and it administers a remedy to ills otherwise incurable. I tremble for the life of Moses. He trembles for himself. “ They are almost ready to stone me.” The voice of Jehovah is again heard, and Moses is in safety. But I tremble now, for these murmuring, unbelieving, rebellious Israelites: Is not the thunder of His indignation going to burst out? Is not the fire hastening to consumc ? Or, is the earth going to open her mouth, and swallow them quick up into the pit? Behold a solemn preparation is making! But it is an arrangement of love. It is the voice of God I hear : but it speaks mercy and peace. The tremendous rod of God, wherewith he bruised and broke Egypt, is again employed; but not as the instrument of punishment to Israel. It smites, not a sinful people, but the flinty rock; and it draws forth, not a stream of blood from the heart of the offender, but a stream of water to cool his tongue, and to restore his fainting soul. Surely, O Lord, thy ways are not as our ways : for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are thy ways higher than our ways, and thy thoughts than our thoughts."*' “ Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God : on them which fell, severity; but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness : otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”+ Astonishing instance of the power and sovereignty of the Most High! The same rod which smote the river, and it became blood, smites the rock, and it becomes streams of water. Who is to be feared, who is to be trusted, but the God who can do these great things?
How honourable had it been for Israel, to have had this stage of their marching through the wilderness, distinguished by a name which betokened and commemorated their faithfulness, obedience and submission. Instead of this, the names Massah and Meribah, must transmit to all generations the memory of temptation, chiding and strife. Happily the monuments of human frailty, folly and guilt, are also the monuments of the divine patience, forbearance and tender mercy. “ But the law had only a shadow of good things to come.” Where Moses leaves us, Isaiah takes us by the hand, and leads us on our way, pointing to Him whom all prophesy revealed, and saying, “Behold a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in & weary land."}
And the apostle of the Gentiles conducts our weary, wander
* Isa. lv. 8, 9.
+ Rom. xi. 22.
Isa. xxxii. 1, 2.