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appointment at finding that, although it was indeed water, it was so bitter or brackish, that it was utterly impossible, even for men perishing with thirst, to drink of it.
Again, observe the similitude to the Christian's lot. How often does he anticipate, with feelings of unmixed delight, some approaching event, some coming enjoyment, perhaps as natural and as innocent as the desire of water to the thirsty soul. It comes, but, alas! how changed from all that his joyous anticipations had portrayed it; how little, how less than little, does it contain to satisfy his expectations! He has lo ed for too much from the creature, and the Creator has vindicated his own majesty, by depriving it even of the little which it really possessed, and of which, otherwise, he would have permitted the enjoyment.
While the people murmured, Moses cried unto the Lord, and received at once a remedy; and the bitter waters were made sweet. Happily, such is still the power of prayer, and such the mercy and kindness of our heavenly Father, that bitter as may be the portion, the prayer of faith will still call down a blessing, which being cast into the cup shall be sufficient, not merely to rob it of its bitterness, but to impart to it a permanent and heavenly sweetness, so that oftentimes the draught that we commence only with feelings of dislike, we finish with pleasure, thankfulness, and praise.
27. And they came to Elim, where were twelde wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
All, therefore, of their long and tedious wanderings, was not to be toil, and trouble, and disappointment. Here was a delightful spot where the sweetest water and the shadiest trees abounded: and where they were permitted to encamp and to rest for a considerable time, before they again set forward. How often in the Christian's pilgrimage do we behold the same mercy extended to him; he has, perhaps, passed through much trouble, spiritual, mental, bodily, and yet there are resting-places provided for him, even here below, by the kindness of his heavenly Father, which make him for a time almost forget the disquietudes of the way. What a blessed and merciful provision, and how doubly endeared to the Christian's heart, by recognising, in the affection of friends, in the peace and calm of domestic concord, in the love and kindness so undeserved, and yet so often greeting him, where so little expected, the hand, the same hand, that has inflicted every trial, and dealt every blow. How can he longer doubt, that all was love?
He knows his joys to be so, simply because they show it now; he shall soon know his sorrows to have been so, for they shall manifest it with equal plainness hereafter.
CHAP. xvi. 1-8.
1. And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregas tion of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure out of the land of Egypt.
2. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3. And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
4. Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from headen for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
5. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. 6. And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel,
then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt;
7. And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8. And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesk to eat. and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.
We left the Israelites in one of those few but des lightful resting-places, by “the still waters and green pastures, with which, even upon earth, the Lord sometimes provides and refreshes his travailing and wearied people. But there is a work to be achieved, a race to be run, a journey to be performed, from which none are exempt, and sweet as may be our moments of repose, they are chiefly valuable to the Christian as qualifying him for fresh labours, and renewing his strength for farther efforts in the spiritual life,
and the service of his God. The Israelites, accordingly, were ordered to resume their journey, and, alas! for the ingratitude of man, the first return they make for so pleasant and so delightful a halt is to recommence their travels and their repinings together. “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when wedid eat bread to the full," is the ungrateful language in which they permit themselves to murmur against Moses and against God.
How little had the late transient period of rest and comfort profited their souls! There was infinitely more of humility, more of self-abasement, more of the desire to serve and honour God, when suffering amidst the brick-kilns of Egypt, than now, after the first period of tranquil enjoyment of their newly-recovered liberty.
Strange is it, indeed, that adversity should usually bring us so much nearer to God than temporal prosperity: many men, by God's grace, are improved by the former, how few, how very few, who are not absolutely injured by the latter! There is much truth in one of our old homely national proverbs, “It is hard to carry a full cup without spilling.” Well is it, for those who remember it, if it make a season of peculiar prosperity, or of rest and enjoyment, also a season of special prayer, and watchfulness, and consideration. For whether our prosperity be temporal, or be it even spiritual, it is almost invariably followed by increasing assaults of our invisible enemies, and more rebellious risings of our own evil and corrupt hearts,
CHAP. xvi. 9—18.
9. And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10. And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congre: gation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold., the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.
11. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
12. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord
13. And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given
you to eat.
16. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating; an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more,
18. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
The Almighty, tender and compassionate even to the worst of sinners, bears once more with the mur,