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water—Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.
But now, as this meat and drink in the wilderness were figures of Christ, so the people in their use of them are ensamples to us. God shewed them, that man is in want of some nourishment which nature and the common course of things cannot give him: therefore he fed them with manna from heaven and water from a dry rock. But many of them took no delight in this spiritual diet. Though they had seen the wonders of the red sea, yet they carried Egypt with them in their hearts into the wilderness, and were sorry that they had left it. He who reads of their loathing that light bread, and desiring to return to the bondage of Egypt for the gratification of their lusts, may wonder at their stupidity; who could see manna sent down from the heavens, and the stream of a river running miraculously through a dry desert, and not partake of them with thankfulness and devotion! But he will find, when he looks around him, that men are just such now as they were in the wilderness: carnal, inattentive, and worldly minded. Christians, called to a state of salvation, give the preference to that world which "they renounced at their baptism, and bring it with them into the Christian profession, as the Hebrews brought Egypt with them into the wilderness. Whatever you think of the manna from heaven, and a springing well from a stone of flint, you have a greater miracle before your eyes daily. You have Christ come down to be the life of the world, and offering himself as the true manna' in the blessed sacrament. You have his spirit and his word; as a water of life attending you in your way through this wilderness: but these spiritual blessings have their value with those only who are spiritually minded. Count the congregation of Christians in any parish, and see how few of that number attend the holy Communion: then you will discover, that Christians are sick of this Jewish distemper. As the wonders of the wilderness i made no impression on those who were still affected to Egypt; so Christianity can offer nothing desireable to those whose hearts are full of the world. Where there is an attachment to fulness of feasting, excess of drinking, and to the other prospects, pleasures and profits of' the world, there can be no spiritual appetite. To thirst after earthly and heavenly things at the same time, is as impossible as to serve God and Mammon. Can the man, who makes it his wish and his pleasure to be drunk, join with
the the prophet and say—Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God, even the living God: when shall I come and. appear be jore the presence of God? Doth he not rather say, "let me never come near him, for I have "no relish for his ways or his worship. I wish "there were no church, no sacraments, no "preaching, no praying. I was baptized to be "a member of Christ, but I never desire to be '* in his company. Let me continue to be one "of the swine of Egypt, as I have hitherto "been, and let * my latter end be like theirs." Such is the language which passes in many hearts when it is put into plain English. Men are called by different names at distant periods of time; but the workings of their minds are the same in all ages. The devout Christian follows the calling of God at this day, on the same motives of faith as the Patriarchs did of old, and considers this life as a pilgrimage; while others are drawn away by the world and flesh just as they were whose carcases fell in the wilderness. They were made examples to us, with this intention, as the apostle instructs us, that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted *. If we look to their history in the
book of Numbers, we find how discontented, and miserable they were under the way of life to which God had brought them: The children of Israel wept again and said, who shall give us flesh to eat? It was well with us in Egypt, but now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all besides this manna before our eyes. Then we read that God complied with their murmurings, and sent them meat to the full; but sent a plague after it, whereby many were destroyed; and the place received its name from the graves of those who were buried for their lusts.
Here the child of this world may see his own picture. It is his object to gratify himself at any rate, without considering the consequences. His Paradise is this Egypt: self-denial is a meagre doctrine, and there is nothing to be got, which he can relish, by the service of God. You will therefore see people as fretful and cross when devotion and self-denial come in their way, as the weeping Israelites, who complained that they were dried up with eating manna. And the consequence is as it was of old, God is not well pleased with them: and sooner or later, every man will feel the effect of setting God against him by his indifference and disaffection. Some have their punishment in that fulness which they have desired. Who amongst us
cannot cannot recollect many, who have died before their time, by following some ungoverned appetite; and come to the same end, by the same means, as they who were buried at Kibrotli Hattaavah? If they live long to enjoy that for which they thought it worth their while to murmur against and despise the ways of God, they suffer miserably in another respect: as it is said in the Psalm, he gave them their desire, and sent leanness withal into their soul *: so that while their bodies were thriving their souls were starving. If it were possible to see the souls of some such people, they would look worse than skin and bone; wasting and perishing for lack of that grace by which the inner man is renewed. He then who wishes to find death, misery, and the displeasure of God, which is worst of all, let him turn back from his Christian profession, and demand satisfaction for all his lusts. But let him who wishes to find Canaan at last, be content to find a wilderness in the way to it, and there take with thankfulness what God has appointed for him.