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plain; and which muft finally be refolved into a wifdom and power preternatural and divine. Accordingly we find Providence taking immediately the charge of them; but not in the ufual way, not by forming a regular discipline, and raifing up commanders and magiftrates of unufual addrefs and ability, but declaring by fenfible tokens, which were feen, read and understood of all, "I am the Leader and Commander of my people."

But before we proceed to the confideration of this wonderful fymbol of the divine prefence, we must attend our author, and take notice of a tender and touching circumstance in the departure from Egypt, namely, the removing of the bones of Jofeph. That truly great man had been the faviour of his father's houfe when he was alive, and was now the hope of Ifrael after he was dead. In all their afflictions, his precious duft had been to them the pledge of deliverance; and now when that deliverance is come, they bear it with them to the land promised to their forefathers, for burial. Thus refpectable and useful, in life and in death, are the wife and the good; thus anxious ought we to be to promote the best interests of mankind, not only while we are yet with them ; but to leave fomething behind us that may benefit and inftruct after we are feen and heard no more. Chriftians, we carry with us, as our hope in this wildernefs, not the bones of a departed deliverer, but the memory of a rifen Saviour. The facred pledge of our final redemption is depofited, not in a coffin, but in this precious record-but in the hiftory of facts, well known and firmly believed by you-but in many great and precious promifes given unto you. "For if we believe that Jefus died, and rofe again; even fo them also which fleep in Jefus will God bring with him." The afhes of the patriarch Jofeph could not reft in the tomb till Ifrael came to the poffeffion of their promised inheritance; fo the Spirit and prove idence of the great Redeemer are in perpetual motion


and exercife, till he fhall have gathered into one all his redeemed unto himfelf; till the youngest of his fons, the meaneft of his daughters, being glorified, thall take poffeffion of their purchased inheritance, "the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world."

Thus then Ifrael takes his departure; thus joyfully, thus triumphantly, thus increased; and "not one fickly or feeble among them;" a wonder not inferior to any of the reft. But all "is of the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counfel, and excellent in working.'

The plain of Ramefes was the first great rendezvous of the Lord's hoft. They had built, as part of their task-work, a city of that name at the command of Pharaoh. But it was alfo the name of a region of Egypt elsewhere called Gofhen; the fame which Jofeph chofe for the reception of his aged parent; becaufe being fituated nearest to Canaan, it diminished the length and fatigue of his journey, and being a graffy country, fuited his family's employment, that of fhepherds. The nearness to Canaan might accordingly be now again confidered as a favourable circumftance to the return of Ifrael thitherward.

we may


credit Philo, the two countries were not above three days journey diftant the one from the other. And certain it is that the patriarchs, encumbered with a convoy laden with corn, eafily performed a journey to a more diftant part of Egypt, and back again, in the course of not many weeks at most. Mofes might therefore have, without much difficulty, conducted the people of his charge to the place of their deftination in a very fmall space of time. But was the diftance of place the only difficulty which they had to encounter? How could men inured to flavery, men just escaped from the rod of a tyrannical oppreffor, have the courage to meet the prowefs and and difcipline of the warlike nations of Canaan; unprovided with arms for the field, and with military en


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gines for the attack of fortified towns, had they been bold enough to attempt to take poffeffion by force. Some interpreters, indeed, render the word harneffed, in the eighteenth verfe of the thirteenth chapter, armed. But the term in the original is fo equivocal, and the learned attempts to determine its meaning are fo unfuccessful, that we remain ftill in the dark about its true meaning. The prefumption certainly is, that the Ifraelites were not armed. What had a nation of fhepherds, living by fufferance in a foreign land, to do with arms? Would the policy of Egypt have permitted it? But Mofes, the most accurate of hiftorians, takes care to point out a circumftance which furnishes the first idea of putting arms into the hands of Ifrael. After the waves of the Red Sea had fwallowed up the Egyptian army, their dead bodies with their arms were miraculously caft on fhore, and provided Ifrael with armour from their spoils.

It is evident that God intended to form the courage and difcipline of his people in the wilderness; before he tried these upon the nations whom they were deftined to fubdue. Nay, further, it was evidently his defign to fettle their whole civil and religious polity, while they were yet in an erratic ftate, that when they came to Canaan there might be nothing to do but to take poffeffion, and to execute the laws which they had already received. And alas, what fhall we say? This fwarm of people, numerous as the fand upon the fea-fhore, with the exception of one or two, and Mofes their leader among the reft, thus pompously and powerfully faved, were faved from Egypt, but to die in the wildernefs. Men die, but the church lives: and the church is the care of God. "Thy way, O God, is in the fea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddeft thy people like a flock, by the hand of Mofes and Aaron."*

* Pfal. lxxvii. 19.


Instead then of marching ftraight northward, in the direction of Canaan, their courfe is bent eastward, to the great wilderness which bounds Egypt and Arabia Petræa: God himself leading the way, in a most wonderful display of his glorious prefence and power, defcribed in the words which I read at the opening of the Lecture. "And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them, by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."* In this, GoD fpake at once to the understanding and to the fenfes. Could Ifraelite doubt that the Lord was there? He had but to open his eyes, whether it were by day or by night, and lo, a thick cloud obfcuring the brightness of the one, or a flaming fire difpelling the fhades of the other, proclaimed the dread prefence of JEHOVAH. Could any one call in queftion his kindness, when he faw darkness become a guide, and fire a protector? Durft any one presume to approach too nigh, when dimnefs impenetrable, and light inacceffible, alternately guarded his pavilion? Was it poffible for any heart to fear, when the Moft Mighty thus declared, in language more emphatical than can be conveyed by words" Lo, I am for you! Who is he that can, that dare to be against you?"


The appearances of God are fuited to the circumftances of his people. Cloud by night would have been to increase the horror, and to multiply the unwholesome damps of that feafon. Fire by day would have been adding fuel to a flame, already intenfely hot, in a burning climate and parched foil. tempered, adapted, diftributed, according to wifdom not capable of error, the peculiar inconvenience of each feafon is relieved; and the ills of nature are remedied

* Exod. xiii. 20, 21, 22.



remedied by the difpenfations of grace. The cloudy fiery pillar is a manifeftation of Deity, fuited to a wilderness ftate. In heaven, a God of love is light, without any darknefs at all." In hell, a God of implacable wrath is perpetual darknefs, without one ray of light. On earth, a God of justice and mercy is darkness and light, in fucceffive order and perfect harmony. In heaven, he is a flame that irradiates, cheers and quickens; in hell, a fire ftill confuming, never to be extinguifhed; on earth, fire in a cloud, mercy flowing in a fpacious channel, judgment reftrained. Men can only difcover that of God which he is pleafed to reveal to them. Whether he is pleafed to turn his dark or bright fide to us, we are ftationed equally at a distance from him. To be fenfible of our own darknefs is to be partakers of his marvellous light. All that the brighteft noon of human reafon can difcover is, that it is ignorance and folly, when placed in comparifon with the wifdom of GOD.

Might not this wonderful pillar prefigure to the ancient church the perfon and office of the Redeemer of the world? Behold the divine effence wrapped up in, and closely united to, a veil of flesh and blood. Behold Deity raifing our nature to incorruptibility and glory "in CHRIST, the first-fruits; and afterwards in all that are Chrift's, at his coming." Do we not perceive in it, humanity bringing down the divine nature to our bearing and perception; "the only begotten Son, who is in the bofom of the Father, declaring him to us." "The word made flefh" inftructing the ignorant, cheering the difconfolate, directing the wanderer, refreshing the weary; guiding our waking, guarding our fleeping moments; "a partaker of our flesh and blood, that he may be a merciful High-Prieft:" declared the Son of GOD with power; men adoring and fubmitting; the powers of hell broken and discomfited: the triumph of heaven complete. "The Lord our God is a fun and fhield:


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