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will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” Psalm lxxxiv. 11. “ Fear not, O Israel, the Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going-out, and thy coming-in, from this time forth, and even forevermore, Psalm cxxi. 5-8.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and
the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.—Exodus xiv. 21, 22.
In the little benefits which men confer upon each other, it generally happens that some untoward circumstance insinuates itself, and occasions, to one of the parties at least, mortification, disappointment or disgust; for nothing human is perfect. A gracious action is frequently resented as an injury, from the ungracious manner in which it is performed. I am charmed with both the matter of that kindness shown me, and the affectionate disposition which prompted it; but alas, it arrived an hour too late! Another prevented my wishes; and I prized not the blessing, because I was not instructed in its value by feeling the want of it. This favour done me is very great, but it is not precisely the thing I looked for; or, it is so clogged with some unpleasant condition, that I would rather be without it: it affords me present relief, but will it not involve me in greater difficulties hereafter? Had I failed in my expectations from this quarter, I should easily have gained my end by applying to another friend. In a word, there is a perpetual something, in the friendly communications of men, which continually marrs the worth of what is given and re
ceived. And no wonder, if we consider that favours are not always granted from affection, nor accepted with gratitude. But the bounties of Heaven possess every quality that can enhance their value, and endear their Author to a sensible heart. Infinitely valuable in themselves, they flow from love. The good and perfect gifts, which come down from the Father of lights, are given “ liberally, and without upbraiding." Exactly what we need, they come precisely at the moment when we want them most, or when they are most bene. ficial to us. Worthy of God to bestow; they cannot be unworthy of us to receive. Were he to withbold his gracious aid, in vain should we look for relief from any other quarter. Productive of present satisfaction and joy, his benefits involve us in no future distress, shame
Serviceable to the body, they are at the same time improving to the mind. Important and interesting for time, they have an influence upon eternity.
The gracious interpositions of Jehovah in behalf of his chosen people, have this peculiar recommendation, to our attention, as to that people's grateful observation and acknowledgment—that they were not in the usual course of things; they were the fruits of the constant and unremitting care of a special providence; they were the suspension or alteration of the established laws of nature; they were the operation of a mighty hand, and an out-stretched arm, sensibly controlling the winds, the waves and the clouds; and subduing the most ungovernable elements to its purpose. Other parents are endued with transitory affections and attachments, suited to the transitory nature of the trust committed to them. The hen tends her unfledged brood with the vigilance of a dragon and the boldness of a lion. But
a material tenderness and anxiety diminish and expire with the occasion of them, namely, the weakness and inexperience of her young ones. When the son is be. , come a man, paternal care relaxes, and paternal au. zhority, is at an end. But, as the authority of our
heavenly Father never ceases, so his bowels of compassion are never restrained; his vigilance is never lulled to rest, his care never suspended; because his offspring is, to the last, impotent, improvident, imperfect.
In vain had Israel, by a series of miracles unparalleled in the annals of mankind, been rescued from Egyp. tian oppression, had not the same almighty arm which delivered them at first, continued to protect and port them. The strength of Egypt, broken as it was, had been sufficient to force them back. The wilderness itself had been fatal to them, without a foe. How easily are the greatest deliverances forgotten; how soon are the most awful appearances familiarized to the mind! The very first threatening of danger effaces from the memory of these Israelites all impression of the powerful wonders which had just passed before them, eclipses the glory of that cloud which, at that very instant, presented itself to their eyes, and overshadowed their heads. But let not self-flattery impose upon us, as if we were more faithful and obe. dient than they were. It is the mere deception of va. nity and self-love to suppose, that “ if one were to arise from the dead, we would be persuaded;" that if we saw a miracle wrought, we would believe; that if we heard Christ teach in our streets, we would forsake all and follow him.” The man, whom the usual appearances of nature do not move, would soon become insensible to more uncommon phenomena. For, extraordinary things frequently repeated are no longer so, and consequently soon loose their force. If the daily miracles of God's mercy and loving-kindness fail to convince men, what reason is there to hope, that mere exertions of power would produce a happier ef. fect? If Christ, speaking by his word and ministering servants, be treated with neglect, is it likely that his person would be held in veneration? If men “ hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be per
suaded though one rose from the dead,” Luke xvi. 31. It is not notorious, that Christ's personal ministrations were slighted, his miracles vilified, his character traduced?
Whose conduct is the more absurd and criminal, that of Pharaoh, in pursuing after and attempting to bring back a people, who had been a snare and a curse to himself and his kingdom; or that of Israel, in trembling at the approach of an enemy, whom God had so often subdued under them? Frail nature looks only to the creature; to surrounding mountains, opposing floods, persecuting foes: hence terror, confusion and astonishment. But faith eyes the pillar, the residence of divine majesty, and then mountains sink, seas divide, the chariot and horseman are overthrown. Every passion, when it becomes predominant, renders us silly and unreasonable; and none more so than fear. In danger and distress it is natural, but it is foolish, to impute to another the evils which we fear or feel. It seems to be an alleviation of our own misery, if we can contrive to shift the blame of it upon the shoulders of our neighbour. Hence Moses is loaded with the imputation of a deliberate design of involving his nation in this dire dilemma, between Pharaoh and the Red Sea, and of selling them to the foe. A high and responsible situation is far from being an enviable one. go well, the conductor of the undertaking receives but a divided, a mutilated praise. If an enterprise fail, the whole blame of the miscarriage is imputed to him. The astonished multitude dare not directly attack God himself. No: the cloudy pillar hangs over their heads, ready to burst, in thunder and fire, on the man who presumed to aim his shafts so high. But their impiety seeks the pitiful shelter of a subterfuge; they murmur against Moses, because they imagine they can do it with impunity: and think to escape the resentment of the master, though they are wounding him through the sides of his servant. Mark yet again the folly and