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as holy unto the Lord. God has claimed that at our hands, or rather he has presented it to us as a boon, in the days of man's innocency; and although we contend not that the Christian's Lord's day should be marked by the rigid observances of the Jewish Sabbath, which we do not believe to be binding upon us, we do contend for the spiritual observance of the Lord's day in its fullest extent, and most blessed entireness. We are asked for this day, this one brief portion of our time, to be, as far as our circumstances will admit, wholly devoted to God, to his house, his ordinances, his word, his throne of grace. We are invited, as we love the well-being of our own souls, to be very jealous over our thoughts, our words, our employments, our books, our company on that day. All is not too much for God, and we may be assured that all is not more than we shall wish that we had rendered Him, when we hear for the last time, the Sabbath bells of earth, and are about to enter, through the merits of our Redeemer, upon the eternal Sabbath of our Father's kingdom.

EXPOSITION XL,

CHAP. xvii. 1-7,

1. And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no zoater for the people to drink.

- 2. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?

3. And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murřured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

4. And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

5. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take wilh thce of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

6. Behold, I will stand befure 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 the sight of the. clders of Israel.

7. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, und because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?

In the verses which we have just read, we are informed that, “according to the commandment of the Lord," the people pitched their tents in Rephidim, and there was no water to drink. Strange, we are tempted to say at first sight, that the Almighty should order this vast multitude to encamp where so grievous a deficiency existed. Yet, without such privations, what would have been the trials of their faith, or what the opportunities for manifesting the great power and glory of the Almighty? If the world had no temptations, if life had no difficulties, the Christian's faith would be little more than a name, and the difference between the true Israel of God, and their Egyptian persecutors, would be imperceptible. As regarded the Israelites, indeed, the trial generally redounded

to their discredit and disgrace, for they were a faithless and perverse generation, and no sooner began to suffer than they began to murmur also. 66 Wherefore is this," was their language on the present occasion, “ that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt to kill us, and our children, and our cattle, with thirst?" “Give us water, that we may drink! And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?” or, as the same word is elsewhere rendered, “Wherefore do ye distrust the Lord?" This, then, was the sin of which the Israelites were guilty on the present occasion-an ungrateful distrust of God.

Let us pause to consider how peculiarly unreasonable, under the remarkable circumstances of the children of Israel, was such a feeling. Here was a vast multitude of human beings, who retired to rest every night of their lives without any preparation for, or any possibility, by ordinary means, of acquiring food for the following day; but as surely as the morning came, so certainly arrived from their heavenly Father, their morning's meal. Yet these men could imagine that this gracious Being, who had brought them forth from the land of bondage, by a course of miracles such as the world had never before witnessed; who had, during their short journey, changed the very nature of the elements in their behalf, had made the waters become a wall, and had rained down bread from heaven, that those whom he had so miraculously preserved, should be so miraculously sustained, yet these men could believe, that the same merciful Being had now wilfully ordered

them to encamp where they must inevitably perish from thirst. Surely it would be impossible, in all the pages of human history, to find a parallel to distrust so ungrateful, and faithlessness so unwarranted and unjust. But before we actually assert this, let us look a little closely into our own hearts. Has it pleased God to lead any individual among us out of the bondage of sin, into the glorious liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free? What a miracle of mercy is this, for who could have escaped the trammels of corruption by his own strength, or by the force of his own resolutions? But if the Almighty have done this, it is not perhaps all that He has done. Has He not also protected and guided that individual on his spiritual journey, and blessed him with aid, far beyond the power of nature to give, or the world to take away? Nay more, has He not refreshed his thirsting soul with the stream of that river which makes glad the city of God? Has He not permitted him to partake of the spiritual waters, of which the apostle declares that those of Meribah were but the type, when he says, “They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them; and that rock was Christ?"* What a wonderful similarity is there, then, between the circumstances under which the Christian and the Israelite enter upon their respective difficulties! Now let us ask ourselves as Christians, when any severe and heavy affliction assails us, “when," to use the language of the prophet, "we seek water and there is none, when our eyes fail with looking upward," what are the feelings with which we meet the trial ? - Does our faithful heart but cling the closer to the arm that strikes the blow, knowing that He who has led us thus far, will not, cannot forsake us ? And are we enabled to say with him of old, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Or, do we distrust the God of all our mercies, and cry despondingly in heart, with David, “I shall yet one day perish by the hand of Saul?” or, with these murmuring Israelites, “Why hast thou brought us out to kill us with thirst?” These are, indeed, sad evidences that the life of faith is very feeble within our breast. For we must remember, that faith is trust; that the only faith which can save us, is a confiding faith; that thus to distrust God is to tempt Him; to tempt Him to forsake us, yea, even to tempt Him to destroy us; therefore, the apostle says, “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” Let us, therefore, strive earnestly in the strength of God's grace against every temptation to distrust Him, for this is the worst of unbelief; above all, let us not despair. Let us follow the injunction of the apostle, “Quit you like men, be strong." Let us cast ourselves unreservedly into the arms of our Redeemer; he has undertaken for us, and we need not, must not, dare not doubt Him. All will yet be well. The trial may for the present not be joyous, but grievous, as St. Paul says, but afterwards it will assuredly bring the peaceable fruits of righteousness to us that are exercised thereby. Let us not imagine for a moment, with those distrustful Israelites, that any affliction from the hands of our

* I Cor. x. 4.

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