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“ Hear now, ye rebels ; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod smote the rock twice."-NUM. xx. 10, 11.
In this transaction Moses incurred the displeasure of the Lord. In three things he erred. His beautiful characteristic of meekness gave way to impatience, and that led to presumption.
“ Must we fetch you water out of this rock?” as if any act or power of his own could be necessary, or could be mingled with the act and power of God. Then he rashly, or angrily, struck the rock twice, which, being typical of Christ, he ought not to have done.
os Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Heb. ix. 28.
“ We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." • By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Heb. x. 10, 14.
From the stricken rock a stream issued, which was a welcome and necessary supply to those who were faint and weary. The lives of the drooping people could not have been supported but for the flowing of this stream. The water from this rock took its course through the wilderness where they journeyed, for the refreshment of the whole congregation of Israel. All who thirsted freely drank.
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea come,
buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah lv. 1.
All the followers of Jesus are travelling through a wilderness; all need the same sustenance. The wanderings, the journeyings, the rebellions, the murmurings, the faintness and weariness of God's ancient chosen people, are typical of all his elect.
“They did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink : for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. x. 3, 4.
Christ being smitten, the life-giving stream flowed which strengthens the soul and cleanses it from all pollution.
“ All who wash shall be clean : all who drink shall live.”
Let us individually ask ourselves if we believe this truth to the saving of our souls. We ought not to rest satisfied with a mere speculative assent: we ought to endeavour to realize it to ourselves, that God is indeed our own God and Saviour. Until we know this experimentally we cannot be sure that we have passed from death unto life. We have pot“ received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” If we have received it, “ the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Rom. viii, 15, 16. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” 1 John y. 10.
We are new creatures in Christ Jesus. Instead of being lifeless-dead in trespasses and sins—we are quickened. We no longer fulfil the desires of the flesh ; we become obedient to the spirit. This new principle within us is inluential and active, and we are made meet for an inheritance with the saints in light; not meet in ourselves, but made meet. This is not, cannot be, a work done by us, but it is done in us. To say that one single day, one single hour, of perfect conformity to the pure and holy will of God, is necessary for this meetness, is to drive us to despair; for if we deviate in the smallest matter we forfeit all our claim. But although we can never attain to it, while in the flesh, we must continually aim at and strive after perfection ; for all the children of God love God, and long for a perfect conformity to all his righteous will; not that they may be saved through that conformity, but because they know they are already saved, through the perfect conformity of their Saviour.
As they journey through the wilderness they have an unerring guide. All are instructed ; all are guarded and provided for. Of all the Israel of God it may be said, “The Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of bis inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness ; be led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye; as an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings : so the Lord alone did lead him.” Deut. xxxii. 9–12.
Many a tried servant of God, at the close of life, can vouch for the truth of Joshua's declaration, “I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof." Joshua xxiii. 14.
On a retrospective view of his days on earth, each child of God may trace the mercy and love which followed him all his life long. He can discover the training hand of a Father in every dispensation : all has been ordered and sure from the beginning to the end; from childhood to manhood ; when first sought out, and found in the wilderness, erring and straying like a lost sheep, when light first dawned upon his mind; his state may be compared to that of infancy. In his weakness he is carried and gently led on-his nourishment is administered as he is able to bear it. Our compassionate Shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom, and feeds them with milk while they are babes. 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2. Those who cannot walk are carried, the weak are strengthened, the naked are clothed, and as they grow they receive supplies proportioned to their circumstances.' They are disciplined, governed, taught, restrained; not permitted to pursue their own wild will. They are turned from the way of folly into “the ways of wisdom, which are ways of pleasantness and all her paths peace.” As Noah and all with him were preserved in the ark when safely shut in by the hand of God himself, in like manner the whole family of God are preserved in Christ, the spiritual ark. God himself having chosen them and given them to Christ, they cannot be lost: we have his own assurance for that, “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” John xvii. 12. The power of God is beyond all other power, and therefore he says, “ They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John X. 28, 29.
As the Israelites were guided through the wilderness by the pillar and the cloud, so are all his elect SEPTEMBER, 1839.
people guided, upheld, and led on daring their earthly pilgrimage. When mourning by reason of many sins and infirmities, they are comforted; when faint and weary, refreshment is provided : “He shall drink of the brook in the way ; therefore shall he lift up his head." Psalm cx. 7.
Believing in “ the stricken Rock," they find peace and everlasting security ; they lean on a Rock against which “ the gates of hell shall not prevail.” They are the children of a Father who is always watching over them to do them good. He gives us all things richly to enjoy ; the body is sustained, the soul is fed, the understanding is enlightened : “ The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.” Psalm cxix. 130.
The children of God are the simple ; they receive instruction in simplicity and truth. As new-born babes they desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” 1 Peter ii. 2. The fear of God is instilled, and becomes an abiding stedfast principle, and love also. Filial fear and love are rooted and grounded together. We love God because he first loved us. An infant is taught by the love of the parent to return that love: it was not born in the breast of the child, neither is the love of God found in our nature. Until the heart is changed, it is at enmity with God: the word of God in us brings about this change. Thus He educates, or brings us up in his steadfast fear and love. The fear here expressed is not the slavish fear of punishment, such as criminals under condemnation experience; it is the child-like fear of one who loves his Father, and would not grieve him : “ And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the