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The protection which the Deity promised to the Israelites, was conditional: " If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." "I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared; beware of him, and obey his voice; provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries"." The protection offered to man by the covenant of Christ, is conditional; Christ is that Angel of whom God said, 66 my name is in him," and to whom the power of granting "pardon" was given; He is sent before us also, to keep us in the way, and to bring us into the place which GOD hath prepared. "We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the endt." "Christ gave himself for us, to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works"," that we might be" a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices." Protection is offered to each of us,
9 Exod. xix. 5, 6.
r Exod. xxiii. 20, 21, 22.
t Hebr. iii. 14.
"Titus, ii. 14.
* 1 Peter, ii. 5.
during our pilgrimage, upon the same terms as those upon which it was offered to the Israelites, "If thou shalt indeed obey his voice and do all that I speak *."
GOD promised that He would cut off the enemies of the Israelites, but He said, "I will not drive them out from before thee in an year, lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee; by little and little will I drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land." So do our spiritual enemies continue to assail us during our pilgrimage; we have “fiery trialsa" and tribulations, to put our constancy to the proof. It is ordered, that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of GOD. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecutiond." And, were we not thus frequently assailed, were we entirely at rest in our possessions, we should be "choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life"," and should" bring no fruit to perfection." These "thorns in the flesh" are sent " to buffets" us, lest we should be "exalted above mea
sure." Were it not for these trials of our constancy, we should become desolate, and our evil passions, those beasts of the field, would multiply against us. But when we inherit the land, when the kingdom of Christ is fully established, "the evil beasts" will "cease out of the landh,' and the flock of the Lord "shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beasts of the land devour them, but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid." The reason, then, which GoD assigned for not cutting off at once the enemies of the Israelites, applies, in a figurative sense, to the continual warfare in which we are engaged with our spiritual enemies.
The Israelites, during their abode in the wilderness, offended the Deity in several ways. Forgetting Him who had so signally delivered them from bondage, who guided them by His presence, and who was conducting them to the promised rest, they became idolaters. They worshipped a golden calf, an idol of the land of slavery whence they had been redeemed. "Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass;" and, afterward, seduced by the inhabitants of the country through which they journeyed, they bowed down to the gods of the Moabites, and were joined to
2 Cor. xii. 7.
h Ezek. xxxiv. 25.
i Ezek. xxxiv. 22, 28.
* Exod. xxxii. 4.
1 Psalm cvi. 19, 20.
Baal-peor m. In both which instances, they were severely punished for their desertion of the service of God. Thus, in our passage through this world, although we have been so signally rescued from the yoke of spiritual bondage by our Redeemer, who is our guide and conductor to that rest which is prepared for the people of GOD; yet, following the evil propensities of our nature, the vices of that spiritual Egypt from which we have been delivered, or seduced by the evil example of the Moabites of this world, we bow down to the gods of unrighteousness, to the unrighteous Mammon, and sacrifice to that "covetousness which is idolatry";" and, by so doing, we lose our inheritance in the heavenly Canaan; for "no covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of GOD"."
Although the Israelites were plentifully supplied P with manna, they nevertheless became dissatisfied with this heavenly food, and they cried, "Give us flesh that we may eat," and they desired those things which they had eaten in Egypt. And God, in wrath, sent them quails in great abundance; "so they did eat and were well filled; for He gave them their own
m Numb. xxv. 2, 3. n Coloss. iii. 5.
P Psalm lxxviii. 25.
1 Numb. xi. 4, 5, 6, 13.
desires; "He gave them their request, but
sent leanness into their soul;" for, "while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people; and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague"." These dissatisfied Israelites represented those pilgrims in this world, who, although they have been redeemed from the bondage of sin, and are plenteously fed with heavenly manna, with "spiritual meat," lust, nevertheless, after those things, an indulgence in which would again bring them under the yoke of sin. "The lust of the flesh" makes them "enemies of the cross of Christ ";" their "god is their belly;" and "the carnal mind is enmity against God"," "for to be carnally minded is death"." "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ";" "if live after the flesh, ye shall die."
The Israelites, notwithstanding all the signs which God had showed among them, wanted faith in Him, so that they were terrified at the report of the spies concerning the promised land, and were afraid to take possession of it on account of their enemies, although God had said,