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whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Such is the true view of things. The man who possesses this view is come to his senses: he uses his faculties, and, in consequence, there is a complete revolution in his opinions, maxims, and conduct. This revolution is what the Scripture means when it speaks of a Christian as a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things become new.
This is being born of the Spirit; being illuminated by the Spirit of God, that he may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of the inheritance of the saints. This view makes him indifferent to the serious pursuits of others, and tranquil in the midst of those cares and sorrows which agitate his fellow-creatures: he sees them to be little and trifling, compared with eternal things. This view makes the favour of God the only thing desirable, and the displeasure of God the only thing dreadful. This view makes him pass through this life as a pilgrim and stranger, looking forward to a better country, and fixing his affections in heaven, where Christ his Saviour reigns, and where he hopes soon to be admitted. This view disarms death of its sting, and teaches him how to employ life. The man now lives as an immortal being, the heir of Heaven, the son of God, under the tutorship of his Spirit.
My brethren, has such a change of view taken place in you? Do you thus think of the world, and of life; of God, and of man; of sin, and of holiness? In a word, is
your nature renewed, or are you seeking that it may be renewed? I leave this for your serious consideration. In the words of an illustrious author, "the only rational men in the world are those who either know God to be their God, and are living to bim; or those who, not knowing it, are making it their whole endeavour to attain this knowledge, and to live according to this rule."
ON THE PURPOSES OF GOD IN CHASTENING
Deuteronomy viii. 2–6.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord
thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee; to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger; and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he 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 man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore, thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways and to fear him.
IT is an excellence peculiar to the Bible, that it not only, like other histories, relates facts and events, but, with a degree of truth and authority which no other book can claim, assigns the grounds and reasons why such events were permitted, and explains the real causes by which such facts were produced. In the Bible, God himself is pleased to withdraw the veil which in general conceals the springs and motives of his actions, and makes us in some degree acquainted with the designs of his Providence and the laws of his government.
Of this insight into the course of the Divine administration, the history of God's dealings with the children of Israel may be considered as affording a grand and striking illustration. It is true that we find, in that history, miraculous interpositions, which are not now to be expected; but these were only intended to give a more sensible exhibition of that power which acts as really, though not so ostensibly, at other times. Miracles do not alter the principles upon which the Almighty acts, but only display those principles more conspicuously. They do not indicate a different Agent, but only manifest the conduct of the same Agent in a more direct and express manner.
The history of the Jews is also remarkable, as being the only exhibition of the kind ever given to the world: The event is related, and the Almighty himself stands by and explains it, gives a comment upon it; and shews, in many cases, what he designed by it, and how such or such an event bore a reference to this or that nation, or to the general purposes which he had subsequently in view with respect to mankind at large. This history, therefore, taken in connexion with the writings of the Prophets, is a most interesting and valuable guide; enabling us to lay down the outline and general principles by which the Divine administration is carried on in the world.
In the words of my text we find an explanation of the reasons why God permitted the Israelites to wander for forty years in the wilderness, after he had brought them out of Egypt, before he suffered them to enter into the promised land. It was, no doubt, appointed partly as a punishment for their unbelief and rebellion. But they might have been punished in various ways: and this particular method was chosen by God to answer several purposes of the highest wisdom and importance. He determined that they should dwell so long in the wilderness; that they should endure so many afflictions, and be osten brought very low-at the same time that he was feeding them daily, and miraculously preserving even their raiment from decay-that these two grand purposes, amongst others, might be fully accomplished: first, that they might learn thoroughly to know themselves; and, secondly, that they might learn to know their absolute dependence upon God. “The Lord led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee; to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments or no. And he humbled thee and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he 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 man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy feet swell these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore, thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways and to fear him.”
Let us consider, then, more at length, in what manner God tried the Israelites in the wilderness—what were his designs in doing this—and for whom these designs were accomplished. These subjects will furnish abundant matter for our instruction, and the improvement of the various events of our own lives.
I. The way in which God tried the Israelites in the wilderness was this:-He was perpetually exposing