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ducted through the Red Sea, made to triumph over all their enemies, we are apt to consider them as thç favourites of Heaven, destined to personal honours and poffessions. But the event teaches us to correct our hafty judgment, and instructs us that not the par. ticular interests of individuals, but the great interests of the church of God, are the care of Heaven ; that, though Aaron and his sons may die, the priesthood ever lives; and that while prophet after prophet re. tires, it is only to make room for the Prince and Lord of all the prophets.
Of little consequence is it to obtain pofseffion of expected good, unless we be fitted for the enjoy. ment of it. A nation of flaves was unqualified to ex ercise the rights and to enjoy the privileges of citizens. Ifrael had no existence in Egypt but merely a natural one. They had no civil constitution, no laws, no government. To have been conducted directly to Canaan in such a state had been the reverse of a ben. cfit. Providence therefore thought proper to employ a series of years in the wilderness, in training the peo ple for empire, in modelling a government suitable to their future condition, and by enacting wise laws, res. pecting both religion and civil polity, prepared them for that exalted rank which they were to hold among the nations; and that duration of power and importance, with which the salvation of the whole huinan race was so closely connected. Thus the eternal de cree makes the possession of the heavenly Canaan sure to every heir of glory; which decree, the justifying grace and adopting love of his heavenly Father declare and confirm ; but he is not brought home to his Father's house above, till through the school of discipline, and by the Spirit of holiness, he is “ made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
Men, through impatience and peevishness, miss the very end at which they aim. Canaan flies but the farther off, from being grasped at too soon. The homely
to triumph ova Sider them as the personal honous -hes us to corred
that not the pair he great interelle -f Heaven; that, e, the priesthood after prophet 18
the Prince and
ain poffeffion of
for the enjoy
nqualified to ex Ieges of citizens merely a natural n, no laws, no Eted directly to everse of a bene coper to employ raining the peo nent suitable to
wise laws, Tel. prepared them to hold among wer and impor e whole hunan the eternal de ly Canaan fure 'the justifying
provision brought from Egypt was now spent ; the milk and honey of Canaan were not yet bestowed.
The wilderness naturally produced nothing for food, hardly water to quench their thirst. The wonders of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the sweetening of the bitter waters of Marah, all, all is forgotten the mo. ment distress comes upon them. 6 And the whole congregation of the children of Ifrael murmured against Mofes and Aaron in the wilderness." God immediately takes up the cause as his own; but instead of expreff-ing the resentment of an insulted sovereign and bene. factor, declares his gracious resolution to overcome . this ungracious spirit, by compliance and kindness; and men, unworthy of the meanest earthly fare, have a promise of a daily supply of bread from heaven. But as God does not always withhold in displeasure, fo he does not always grant from love. When Providence deigns to indulge the humours and gratify the lusts of men, it is far, very far from being a token for good. A promise of bread in the morning is precious information ; but the addition of flesh to the full in the evening wears rather the appearance of a threatening. When our desires exceed the bounds of wisdom, the accomplishment, not the disappointment of them, bem comes our punishment.
It is remarkable too, that the luxurious part of their demand was granted before that which was necefsary. The quails came in the evening; the manna appeared not till the next morning. Another proof, that the supply granted flowed not from unmixed affection.
Without going at present into any of the critical inquiries which have been pursued, respecting either the name or the nature of this wonderful bread, we proceed to make a few practical observations upon it, founded upon the letter of the history, as it stands in our bible,
First. Then and then only is faith warranted to expe& relief from a miracle, when means baye been
ly Father de -ught home to
the school of - he is made e of the faints
tried without effect; or, when we are in such a situation, that no means can be used with a probability of success. If God in his providence has brought us into the wilderness, where no corn can grow, where no water flows, we may reasonably look for an interposition from above for our support, which we should expect in vain in a land of corn and vineyards. Where there is a field for the exercise of foresight, industry and diligence, we tempt God instead of honouring him, when we cast our work, and not our care, upon him. And yet it is not uncommon to see a listless, indolent disposition, wanting to pass itself for reliance on the goodness of Heaven. Herod defired to see Christ merely in the view of gratification to an idle curiosity in hope of seeing a miracle performed; but his motive being wrong and unworthy, his defire was not indulged. The Pharisees, from a captious, unbelieving fpirit, tempted Christ, “ asking a sign from heaven;" but though figns innumerable were every day exhibited in compaffion to the misera
ble and condescension to the weak, no sign but that . o of the prophet Jonas," was given to the self-con
ceited infidel. JEHOVAH performs the wonders of his power and goodness, neither to save the exertions of the lazy, nor to tickle the imaginations of the curious. His object is not to make men stare and wonder, but to do them good.
Secondly. Man's happiest estate is to feel his daily, constant dependence upon his Maker, and to see the regular promised supply evincing the truth and faithfulness of its bountiful Author. With a monitor for God pressing in upon us through every avenue of the foul, we are nevertheless apt to be inattentive and unthankful. It is therefore an instance of great goodness, when God is pleased to force himself upon our thoughts, and to invite us to communion with 66 the Father of our spirits," in the commerce of a constant habitual friendship. Here then the poor have infinitely the advantage over the rich. They fee, or
in such a situa a probability of
brought us in. row, where'n or an interpoli.
ich we should and vineyards e of forefight; nstead of hon
and not our common to fee - to pass itfell 1. Herod de gratification to Tacle perform inworthy, his S, from a cap ít, “ asking a
innumerable to the mifera
they are blind indeed, they see their “ dry morsel and
fign but that
the self-con= wonders of the exertions is of the cu are and won
it to its ancient dignity and estimation. The restraints of religion are no encroachments on human liberty. 66 The fabbath was made for man," a season of reft for his body; a season of contemplation for his mind. It was intended to be his comfort, as a citizen of this world; and his condition as a candidate for another country, that is, an heavenly, is closely connected with it. Can the great God be honoured by our resting from the usual employments of life for a seventh part of our time? Surely not : but God is honoured and 'glorified, when man is made wife, good and happy.
Fourthly. The folly and perversenefs of men exbib. it a melancholy contrast to the wisdom and goodnefs: of God. The promise of the Almighty gave full affurance of a daily, certain, stated fupply. But either through mistrult at one time they attempt to hoard up to-morrow's provision from the fuperabundance of today; or, through impiety at another, they violate the divine appointment, by going out to gather on that day when they were expressly assured they needed to: expect none. Thus we are always doing too little or too much ; impatiently and impetuously outrunning Providence, or fluggishly and carelefsly lagging behind. And what do we get to ourselves, in either cafe, but difappointment and dishonour? The man who diffidently laboured to accumulate for five days of the week, when he looks upon his store, finds he has been treasuring up to himself nothing but stench and putrefaction; and the Ifraelite who prefumptuously truited his fabbath-day's entertainment to the manna of that day, muft fast for his folly.
Fifthly. Observe the care of Providence to preserve among this highly favoured people a constant sense of their equality. All had their constant supply ; every one was entitled to his fair proportion; and no good purpose did it answer to grasp at a double portion. tior the handwhich miraculously rained down this heavenly bread, miraculously modified it to every one's ufe. 66 He who gathered much had nothing over, and he
diffidently an he looks of nothing