Page images
PDF
EPUB

riod contains a fucceffion of feven lives, including Abraham's, from his feventy-fifth year to the eightieth of the life of Moses.

From the creation, then, to the exodus, is the space of two thoufand five hundred and thirteen years, and a fucceffion of twenty-four lives. The date of this event, in relation to other important and well known events in the history of mankind, stands as follows it happened after the death of Abraham, three hundred and thirty years. After the death of Ifaac, two hundred and twenty-five. After the death of Jacob, one hundred and ninety-eight. After the death of Jofeph, one hundred and forty-four. Before the destruction of Troy, about three hundred. Before the first Olympiad, or the earlieft reckoning time among the Greeks, feven hundred and fourteen, Before the building of the temple, when the Ifraelitish glory was in its zenith, five hundred and fix. Before the Babylonifh captivity, nine hundred and fixty-three. Before the building of Rome, seven hundred and thirty-eight. Before Chrift was born at Bethlehem, one thousand five hundred fifty-one. Before the prefent year 1793, three thousand three hundred and forty-four,

??*

What is the conclufion of the whole matter?" A thousand years," O Lord, " in thy fight are but as yefterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.' "Our fathers, where are they? the prophets, do they live forever?" "Seeing then that all these things fhall be diffolved, what manner of perfons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godlinefs; looking for and hafting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire fhall be diffolved, and the elements fhall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promife, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteoufnefs."+ teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." "Many fhall come from the east

"So

and

Pfal. xc. 4.

+ 2 Pet. ii. 11, 12, 13. ‡ Pfal. xc. 12.

and weft, and fhall fit down with Abraham, Ifaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."*"The law was given by Mofes, but grace, and truth came by Jefus. Chrift."+" And he that fat upon the throne faid, Behold, I make all things new." "He which teftifieth thefe things faith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen, Even fo, come, Lord Jefus."

*Mat. viii. 11. + John i. 17. ‡ Rev. xxii. 20

Hiftory

History of Moses.

XIII.

LECTURE

EXODUS XVI. 11-15.

And the Lord spake unto Mofes, faying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Ifrael; Speak unto them, faying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye fhall be filled with bread: and ye fhall know that I am the Lord your God. 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 hoft. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a fmall round thing, as Small as the boar-froft on the ground. And when the chil dren of Ifrael faw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wift not what it was. And Mofes faid unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

MAN, compofed of body and fpirit, is giving continual indication of the origin from which he springs. His creative imagination, his penetrating understanding, his quickness of apprehenfion, loftinefs of thought, eagerness of defire, fondness of hope; nay, even his erect figure, and a countenance turned upward to the fkies, befpeak him the fon of God, into whofe noftrils Jehovah has breathed the breath of life, and whom he has framed after his own image. On the other hand, appetites perpetually craving a fupply out of the earth; the law of his nature, which ftretches him in a state of infenfibility upon the lap of his mother,

mother, for one third of his exiftence, in order to fupport the employments of the other two; and rational powers fubjected to the will of fenfe, fhew us a creature taken from the duft of the ground, always dependent upon it, and hastening to return thitherward again.

Providence permits us not for a moment to forget who and whence we are. Have we laboured an hour or two? Hunger and thirst and wearinefs irresistibly draw us to the groffer elements of which we are compounded. A little bread and water having difpenfed their nourishing virtue, a fhort fleep having reftored our wafted powers, the foul ftarts up into conscious immortality, it springs forward to eternity, grasps the globe, expatiates from fphere to fphere, afcends to the throne of God himself. At one time, we behold a grovelling contemptible being, all body, abforbed in the low and grofs defire of the moment, a fit companion to the beafts that perish; and anon we fee that very fame wretched creature becoming all spirit, leaving the earth behind him, mixing with angels, and holding fellowship with the Father of fpirits.

Religion is conftantly aiming at the restoration of our fallen nature, is ftill exerting her quickening power to raise the beastial into rational, the rational into divine; fhe graciously employs herself in gradually detaching us from things feen and temporal, and in uniting us to those which are unseen and are eternal. The world, on the contrary, is as conftantly striving to degrade, to deprefs, to extinguifh the immortal principle, and to fink the man in the brute, Hence we fee the worldling dreaming of much goods laid up for many years, endeavouring to confer duration even upon his fenfuality; while Chrift teacheth his difciples to pray, faying, "Give us this day our daily bread." And by this admonition, he powerfully checks immoderate anxiety about the future. "Therefore, I fay unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye fhall cat, or what ye fhall drink; nor yet

for

[ocr errors]

for your body, what ye fhall put on is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air for they fow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they ?"*

To teach men their conftant dependence, their provision is bestowed in a gradual, daily fupply; not in heaps but in handfuls. And when God was pleafed miraculously to feed Ifrael in the wilderness for forty years together, the food of every day came in its day. All attempts to hoard were defeated. Every one's portion was fufficiently ample; and accumulation became a nuisance instead of wealth.

Men, under the impulfe of their paffions fluggishly crawl, or eagerly run to the objects of their purfuit; but God is ever advancing towards his in the fame fteady, majestic pace. When we hear of the birth of Mofes, the deliverer of Ifrael, we immediately conclude that the time of their redemption is now at hand. But behold forty years elapfe before a fingle effort is made for this purpose. And, it is then the feeble effort of a folitary individual to avenge a private wrong; while the general enfranchisement feems rather retarded than accelerated by it; and another period of forty years paffes, without one apparent ftep taken towards public liberty. The fetters of Egypt are at length broken,' and Ifrael is enlarged; but the poffeffion of Canaan is ftill at a dif tance; and a third space of forty years confumes that whole generation in the wilderness; and Mofes, their conductor, dies at the age of one hundred and twenty years, before the fole of one foot enters into the land of promife, as a poffeffion. So unlike are the preconceptions of erring men to the defigns of the infinitely wife God.

When we behold that vaft congregation, by such a difplay of Omnipotence refcued from bondage, con

ducted

Matt. vi. 25, 26.

« PreviousContinue »