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was evidently, either the tent of Moses, or some other temporary place of worship; since the tabernacle, properly so called, was not yet constructed. It is added, that every one which sought the Lord, went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.” Probably, therefore, the motive of Moses in thus removing the tabernacle to a distance from their habitations, was to draw a more distinct line between those who served the Lord and those who served him not; between those who were real mourners for the late sin, and those whose sorrow was mere hypocrisy. It must have required some degree of real earnestness in the cause of deep and heart-felt penitence, and of moral courage and resolution, for a profligate and careless Israelite, whom the late awful judgment had convinced of the guilt and heinousness of sin, to have been thus seen by his former companions, leaving the camp, and going towards the distant tabernacle, to pour out his heart in repentance before God; while there is no doubt that the very painfulness of this act of separation would itself be profitable to his soul, and tend to promote his progress in the holy course upon which he had entered. So will it ever be with ourselves; it will form a powerful barrier against our return to the paths of folly, or to deeds of sin, if our penitence be known as widely as our delinquencies; if we are not ashamed to confess that our thoughts, our minds, our hearts, our lives are changed, and if it were necessary, that we should be willing to make as public an avowal of our altered principles, and our subdued and softened feelings, as we should ever have been of our former indifference, carelessness, and neglect. Perhaps it is not without some allusion to sentiments such as these, that the apostle to the Hebrews, after saying in reference to the Jewish sacrifices, “Wherefore, Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate,” immediately adds, “let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” In all ages, more or less of reproach will attach to a change of opinions or of heart, to a going forth unto Jesus without the camp: blessed be God that He can and does bestow upon the weakest of those who seek it, grace sufficient even for this painful degree of mental suffering, and that none shall confess him before men, whom he shall not be willing and ready to confess, when the time shall come, before the angels that are in heaven.
CHAP. xxxiii, 12-17.
12. And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people; and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
13. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight; and consider that this nation is thy people.
14. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
15. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
16. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
17. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
We were informed in the last portion of scripture, that in consequence of the disobedience and gross idolatry of the Israelites, the Almighty declared to them, that although he would send his angel to guide them on their future journey, He would no longer accompany them in person. We beheld how deeply, and apparently sincerely, the congregation of Israel mourned this desertion of their God. Moses, however, was not content merely to lament; he had too often experienced the power and efficacy of earnest, faithful, persevering intercession, to consider any thing to be beyond its reach, and, therefore, although the sentence had gone forth, he still resolves to try the availing influence of prayer. Accordingly he returns to the tabernacle, and the Lord descending in the cloudy pillar, “talked with Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”
Here was an opportunity not to be neglected, and most powerfully, and most successfully, did Moses employ it, for the cause he had so deeply at heart. He begins by reminding the Almighty that He had placed him in his present command, that the people were his, and that He had shown to Moses individually, marks of the most astonishing favour, condescension, and love: “Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.” He proceeds to build upon these tokens of God's love, a farther assurance of his favour, and adds, “ if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way," grant me counsel, bestow upon me thy guidance; above all, vouchsafe me thy presence to accompany me and my people. It was a bold request of Moses, after all that had passed, and yet so much does the Almighty desire that his people should ask great things, that they should put his power and mercy to the test, that they should believe nothing to be too hard for the Lord, or for the abounding munificence of his love, that the immediate answer from the Lord was, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” And upon Moses pleading still farther, that it would be utterly impossible for their neighbours to know that they were a separate and peculiar people, unless the Lord did, as He had hitherto done, visibly accompany them in the pillar of fire and cloud, the Almighty most mercifully and condescendingly replied, “ I will do this thing also, that thou hast spoken.” The Almighty is ready to grant all, and even more than all, that his servant could demand.
How eminent a type in this of our divine Saviour was Moses! God refuses nothing that he asks for those committed to his charge. And shall He, then, deny any thing to the Son of his love? No; blessed be his holy name, we are assured that he will not; every prayer of faith, therefore, that, like the prayer of Moses, is obviously for God's glory, may be com
mitted by his people to the charge of their ever-living intercessor, in the assurance, that however large are its demands, however great beyond their deserts are its requests, it shall receive an answer of peace; not proportioned to the merits, or rather the demerits of those who utter it, but to the infinite love of God,to Him who presents it, and who cannot ask in vain.
CHAP. xxxiii. 18-23.
18. And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory.
19. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom
I will show mercy.
20. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
21. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
22. And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
23. And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.
Moses, encouraged by the astonishing condescension and mercy of God, in revoking the sentence of the Israelites at the prayer of their leader, ventured, in the true spirit of a lively and abounding faith, to ask still greater things than these; and, as if over