Page images

pains some might take to gather a great SERM. deal, and others thro’their weakness or in- VII. firmity might gather less, yet when they came home, they were all found to be of equal measure, a compleat omer for every person in their families respectively. But others have chosen rather to explain it without a miracle, as intending nothing more than this, that after they had gathered in the field by guess and without an exact measure, they proceeded at home to measure it by an omer, when he who had above his quantity disposed of it to others who had less, that so there might on no hand be either defect or superfluity. And this interpretation of the place may seem to suit better with the Apostle's application of it as a motive to induce the rich, out of their abundance, to supply the needs of the poor. As it is written, (says he) He that had gathered much had nothing over, and he that had gathered little had no lack *

For its form and figure, it is represented to have been small and round, like the hoar frost, and like coriander seed, and its taste to have been like wafers made with honey, and as the taste of fresh oilt. To reconcile which variation the Jewis Expositors remark, that it had the taste of honey, when it was eaten fimply as it fell

+ Exod. xvi. 14, 31. and Numb. xi. 8.




Cor. viii. 15.


Serm. from heaven, but that it received the taste

VII. of oil, when it was dressed and prepared by cart and management *; when, as the scrip

ture speaks, they ground it in mills, or beat it in à mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of itt

Hence the Jewish Writers take occasion to magnify the excellency of this heavenly Manna, as containing such variety of tastes, that it might suit to every palate, and give to each particular person the relish of those delicacies which his soul desired. Nor is this indeed any novel conceit, or invention of the modern Rabbins, but we find it as old as the Author of the book of Wifdom, who has in these terms given his encomium of this celestial food : " Thou se feddest thine own people with Angels « food, and didst send them from heaven « bread prepared without their labour, ve to content every man's delight, and agreeing to every taste : For thy suste

nance declared thy sweetness unto thy “ children, and serving to the appetite of " the eater, tempered itself to every

man's “ liking I"

So far the Hebrew Writers have carried the excellency of this Manna, which fome have thought' || should be but figuratively

Apud Buxtorf. Exercit. ad Hift. Mannæ, cap. 3. + Numb, xi, 8. I Wisdom xvi. 20, 21,

# Vid. Buxt. de Manna, cap. 3.




understood to denote, that as it was given SERM.. immediately by God from heaven, it not VII. only had all the perfections and virtues of ordinary food, but even exceeded and sur, passed them; so that they who were blessed with such provision might well be content with it, and ought not to desire any thing besides, or complain of any

defici ency. Its figure was the most perfect, being round: Its colour the most grateful, white: Its substance was pure and transparent like chrystal: Its taste was sweet as honey, and withal it was rich and oily to promote the better nutriment: It was not in any natural way generated by the earth, or air, or water, but made by the immediate power of God. Yet such was the ingratitude and folly of many Israelites, they made it matter of complaint, if they had nothing else, they even lothed the de licacy which was made common, and preferred the yery cucumbers and garlick of Egypt to this heavenly provision *.

In this view they fitly represent to us those earthly and carnal minds, which (as the Apostle speaks) do relish only carnal things t, and disdain that spiritual banquet

nd repast of souls, which this Manna of the Israelites significantly figured out. So St. Paul intimates that the people in the Wilderness did eat the same spiritual meat * Numb. xi. 5, 6. + Rom. viii. 5.


N 4

SERM. with us * : And our blessed Saviour more VII. plainly declares himself to be the bread of

God, which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world*: Who in the mystical symbols of his body and blood, does offer himself to the faithful partakers of that holy communion, to assure them of the pardon of their fins, and sustain them to eternal life. If any of his Auditors took offence at his discourse, it was because (as he tells them) they believed not, nor understood the spiritual purport and design of it.

But as the thing prefigured is more excellent and honourable than the Type which only did prefigure it, so it was fit our blessed Lord should give the preference to that bread of life which he has fet before us in the new testament, and facramentally exhibited in his laft supper. Your fathers (says he) did eat Manna in the wilderness, and are dead: This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven ; if any man eat of this bread, be shall live for ever : and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. And again; This is that bread which came down from heaven :' not as your fathers did eat

+ John vi. 33.

Manna, ,

1 Cor. x. 3.

Manna, and are dead: be that eateth of this Serm. bread, shall live for ever *.

VII. And thus far of the circumstances of this great event, and the spiritual application of it; 1 proceed next in the

II. SECOND place, to urge the reasonableness of that inference which is drawn by Moses in the Text, and explains the end or delign of this stupendous dispensation : That be might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth

s man live.

Our sustenance being usually supplied in a regular and settled course of nature, we are too apt to overlook the gracious hand of Providence in the supply of it, and afcribe it with too little caution to human art and management. But God taught the Jfraelites, by sending Manna from heaven, that however the soil were barren of itself, and no way cultivated or improved by rural cares, yet he was able to provide for his people in the wilderness, and supply all the defects of nature.

This example may remind us how the Divine Providence watches over us for good ; and tho' fuch extraordinary supplies are not to be expected for the sake of private and particular exigencies, nor yet * John vi. 49, 50, 51, 58.


« PreviousContinue »