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Title: Notes on the book of Exodus
Author: Mackintosh, C. H. (Charles Henry)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  NOTES

  _on the book of_

  EXODUS

  _by_

  C. H. MACKINTOSH

  "_He led them forth by the right way_"

  LOIZEAUX BROTHERS

  _Neptune, New Jersey_

  FIRST EDITION 1880

  TWENTY-SEVENTH PRINTING 1965

  LOIZEAUX BROTHERS, Inc., PUBLISHERS

  _A Nonprofit Organization, Devoted to the Lord's Work
  and to the Spread of His Truth_

  NEPTUNE, NEW JERSEY

  PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION


The writer cannot suffer a new edition of this volume to issue from
the press without a line or two of deep thankfulness to the Lord for
His grace in making use of such a feeble instrumentality in the
furtherance of His truth and the edification of His people. Blessed be
His name, when He takes up a book or a tract, He can make it effectual
in the accomplishment of His gracious ends. He can clothe with
spiritual power pages and paragraphs which to us might seem pointless
and powerless. May He continue to own and bless this service, and His
name shall have all the praise.

                                                            _C. H. M.
  Dublin, April, 1862_



PREFATORY NOTE

TO THE AMERICAN EDITION


As several persons in America have, without any authority whatever
from me, undertaken to publish my four[1] volumes of "Notes," I deem
it my duty to inform the reader that I have given full permission to
Messrs. LOIZEAUX BROTHERS to publish an edition of those books in such
form as they shall consider most suitable.

                                                     C. H. MACKINTOSH.

  _6 West Park Terrace, Scarborough,
          May 1st, 1879._

  [1] Now six.



In manuscript and proof-sheets, we have been traveling over a deeply
instructive and most interesting portion of the Word of God-THE BOOK
OF EXODUS.

Redemption by blood occupies a prominent place therein,--it
characterizes the book. God's many mercies to His redeemed, in the
display of His power, the patience of His love, and the riches of His
grace, flow from it. The great question of Israel's relationship to
God is settled by the blood of the lamb. It changes their condition
entirely. Israel within the blood-sprinkled door-posts was God's
redeemed, blood-bought people.

God being holy, and Israel guilty, no happy relationship could exist
between them till judgment had been accomplished. Sin must be judged.
A happy friendship once existed between God and man, on the ground of
innocence; but sin having entered and snapped the link asunder, there
can be no reconciliation but through the full expression of the moral
judgment of God against sin. We can only have "life through death."
God is the God of holiness, and He must judge sin. In saving the
sinner, He condemns his sin. The cross is the full and perfect
expression of this.

Typically, this was the great question, on "the evening of the
fourteenth day of the first month"; namely, _How can God exempt from
judgment, and receive into His favor, those whom His holiness
condemns?_ To this most solemn question, there was but one answer that
would satisfy the demands of the God of holiness, and that was the
_blood of the Lamb of His own providing_. "When I see the blood, I
will pass over you." This settled the all-important question. It was
one of life or death, of deliverance or judgment. The blood-sprinkled
door-post was a perfect answer to all the claims of holiness, and to
all the need of the congregation. All was settled now. God was
glorified, sin judged and put away, and Israel saved through the blood
of the lamb.

Blessed truth! Israel was now at peace with God, a sheltered, saved,
and happy people, though still in Egypt--the land of death and
judgment. God was now _pledged_ to deliver Israel,--precious type of
the perfect security of all who are trusting to the blood of Christ!
They were securely and peacefully feeding on the roasted lamb, when,
"at midnight, the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt,
from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the
first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon, and all the
first-born of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his
servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt;
for there was not a house where there was not one dead" (xii. 29,
30.). "But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move
his tongue, against man or beast; that ye may know how that the Lord
doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." (xi. 7.)

But why, some may ask, put this difference? The Israelites were
sinners as well as the Egyptians. True, on this ground there was "no
difference;" but, in type, the judgment of God against sin had been
expressed in the death of the unblemished lamb. The blood "on the
lintel and the two side-posts" was the proof of this. It proclaimed,
with a loud voice, that the lamb was slain, the ransom paid, the
captive freed, justice satisfied, and the hour of Israel's deliverance
fully come. _It was the blood that made the difference, and nothing
else_; "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Rom.
iii. 23.)

But oh, what a difference! The one, divinely shielded from the sword
of judgment; the other, defenceless and slain by it: the one,
feasting on the rich provisions of grace; the other, compelled to
taste the bitterness of the cup of wrath. The destroying angel entered
every house, throughout all the land of Egypt, that was not sprinkled
with the blood. The first-born of Pharaoh on the throne, and the
first-born of the captive in the dungeon, fell together.

No rank, age, or character escaped. The day of God's long-suffering
was ended, and the hour of His judgment was come. One thing alone
guided the angel of death on that dark and dreadful night, and that
was, WHERE THERE IS NO BLOOD, THERE IS NO SALVATION.

Dear reader, this is as true now as it was then! Where there is no
blood, there is no salvation,--"without shedding of blood is no
remission." Can any question be of such importance to you as this one:
Am I shielded by the blood of Jesus? Oh! have you fled for refuge to
the blood that was shed on Calvary? There, "Christ, our passover, was
sacrificed for us." His blood is represented as being sprinkled on
"the mercy-seat above." There, God's eye ever sees the blood of our
true paschal Lamb. Have you faith in that precious blood? Though
deeply sensible of your guilt, can you say in truth, This is my only
hiding-place: I do depend upon the blood? Then rest assured that you
are perfectly safe--that you are eternally saved. You have God's own
word for it--"When I see the blood, I will pass over you."--"We have
redemption _through His blood_, the forgiveness of sins, according to
the riches of His grace."--"But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes
were far off, are made nigh _by the blood of Christ_."--"Whom God hath
set forth to be a propitiation _through faith in His blood_." (Eph. i.
7; ii. 13; Rom. iii. 25.)

    "Happy they who trust in Jesus,
      Sweet their portion is and sure."

But, on the other hand, if the blood of Jesus is neglected or
despised, there can be no security, no peace, and no salvation. "How
shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. ii. 3.)
Unless the destroying angel sees the blood, he enters as the judge of
sin. Every sin must be punished, either in the person of the sinner,
or the sinner's substitute. This is a deeply solemn truth; but how
blessed to know that "Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for
the unjust, that He might bring us to God." "For He hath made Him to
be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the
righteousness of God In Him." (1 Peter iii. 18; 2 Cor. v. 21.) To
neglect this divine Substitute, and the shelter which He has provided,
is to expose the soul to the unrelenting judgment of God. No sin,
however small, can escape judgment, either on the cross of Christ, or
in the lake of fire. Oh, the priceless value of that blood which
"cleanseth us from ALL sin"!--which makes us clean enough for heaven!

Redemption being now accomplished, and Israel divinely prepared, they
commence their journey. But observe, in passing, _how_ they start.
Before taking one step, every question between the conscience and God
is divinely settled. They are forgiven, justified, and accepted, in
His sight. Hence it is written, "When Israel was a child, then I loved
him, and called my son out of Egypt." (Hosea xi. 1.) Blessed type of
the real condition in which every true believer begins his Christian
course! He may not see this blessed truth, or he may have a very
feeble apprehension of it, as Israel had, but that does not alter the
fact. God acts according to His own knowledge of the relationship, and
the affections which belong to it. We see this in the glorious
deliverance of His beloved people at the Red Sea, in the manna from
heaven, the water from the flinty rock, and in the pillar of His
presence, which accompanied them in all their wanderings. He ever acts
according to the purposes of His love, and the value of the blood of
Jesus.

Once more, dear reader, allow me to ask. Are you sure that you are
under the safe shelter, the secure refuge, the blessed hiding-place,
of the Redeemer's blood?

But I must now leave my reader, earnestly recommending him to pursue
the journey across the wilderness in company with God and His
redeemed. He will find the "Notes" most useful. They convey truth,
agreeably and intelligently to the heart, the conscience, and the
understanding. May many find them to be a real oasis in the desert.
The journey will prove a most profitable one if we thereby learn more
of the natural unbelief of our own heart and the abiding faithfulness
of God's. He never changes, blessed be His name; and the blood of the
slain Lamb never loses its efficacy.

    "Blest Lamb of God! Thy precious blood
      Shall never lose its power,
    Till every ransomed saint of God
      Be saved to sin no more."

May the Lord graciously own and use the following "Notes" for His own
glory and the blessing of many souls.

                                                           _A. M._

  _London_



CONTENTS


                                           _Page._

  CHAPTER I,                                     1

          "        II. 1-10,                     9

          "        II. 11-25,                   17

          "        III,                         33

          "        IV,                          58

          "        V. & VI,                     78

          "        VII.-XI,                     95

          "        XII,                        126

          "        XIII,                       163

          "        XIV,                        172

          "        XV,                         191

          "        XVI,                        206

          "        XVII,                       224

          "        XVIII,                      238

          "        XIX,                        247

          "        XX,                         254

          "        XXI.-XXIII,                 272

          "        XXIV,                       280

          "        XXV,                        284

          "        XXVI,                       298

          "        XXVII,                      313

          "        XXVIII. & XXIX,             319

          "        XXX,                        335

          "        XXXI,                       349

          "        XXXII,                      355

          "        XXXIII. & XXXIV,            364

          "        XXXV.-XL,                   369



NOTES

ON

THE BOOK OF EXODUS



CHAPTER I.


We now approach, by the mercy of God, the study of the Book of Exodus,
of which the great prominent theme is redemption. The first five
verses recall to the mind the closing scenes of the preceding book.
The favored objects of God's electing love are brought before us; and
we find ourselves very speedily conducted, by the inspired penman,
into the action of the book.

In our meditations on the Book of Genesis, we were led to see that the
conduct of Joseph's brethren toward him was that which led to their
being brought down into Egypt. This fact is to be looked at in two
ways. In the first place, we can read therein a deeply solemn lesson,
as taught in Israel's actings toward God; and, secondly, we have
therein unfolded an encouraging lesson, as taught in God's actings
toward Israel.

And, first, as to Israel's actings toward God, what can be more deeply
solemn than to follow out the results of their treatment of him who
stands before the spiritual mind as the marked type of the Lord Jesus
Christ? They, utterly regardless of the anguish of his soul, consigned
Joseph into the hands of the uncircumcised. And what was the issue, as
regards them? They were carried down into Egypt, there to experience
the deep and painful exercises of heart which are so graphically and
touchingly presented in the closing chapters of Genesis. Nor was this
all. A long and dreary season awaited their offspring in that very
land in which Joseph had found a dungeon.

But then God was in all this, as well as man; and it is His
prerogative to bring good out of evil. Joseph's brethren might sell
him to the Ishmaelites, and the Ishmaelites might sell him to
Potiphar, and Potiphar might cast him into prison; but Jehovah was
above all, and He was accomplishing His own mighty ends. "The wrath of
man shall praise Him." The time had not arrived in which the heirs
were ready for the inheritance and the inheritance for the heirs. The
brick-kilns of Egypt were to furnish a rigid school for the seed of
Abraham, while as yet "the iniquity of the Amorites" was rising to a
head amid the "hills and valleys" of the promised land.

All this is deeply interesting and instructive. There are "wheels
within wheels" in the government of God. He makes use of an endless
variety of agencies in the accomplishment of His unsearchable designs.
Potiphar's wife, Pharaoh's butler, Pharaoh's dreams, Pharaoh himself,
the dungeon, the throne, the fetter, the royal signet, the
famine--all are at His sovereign disposal, and all are made
instrumental in the development of His stupendous counsels. The
spiritual mind delights to dwell upon this,--it delights to range
through the wide domain of creation and providence, and to recognize,
in all, the machinery which an All-wise and an Almighty God is using
for the purpose of unfolding His counsels of redeeming love. True, we
may see many traces of the serpent,--many deep and well-defined
footprints of the enemy of God and man,--many things which we cannot
explain nor even comprehend; suffering innocence and successful
wickedness may furnish an apparent basis for the infidel reasoning of
the sceptic mind; but the true believer can piously repose in the
assurance that "the Judge of all the earth shall do right." He knows
right well that--

    "Blind unbelief is sure to err,
      And scan His ways in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
      And He will make it plain."

Blessed be God for the consolation and encouragement flowing out of
such reflections as these. We need them every hour while passing
through an evil world, in which the enemy has wrought such appalling
mischief, in which the lusts and passions of men produce such bitter
fruits, and in which the path of the true disciple presents
roughnesses which mere nature could never endure. Faith knows, of a
surety, that there is One behind the scenes whom the world sees not
nor regards; and, in the consciousness of this, it can calmly say, "It
is well," and, "It shall be well."

The above train of thought is distinctly suggested by the opening
lines of our book. "God's counsel shall stand, and He will do all His
pleasure." The enemy may oppose, but God will ever prove Himself to be
above him; and all we need is a spirit of simple, childlike confidence
and repose in the divine purpose. Unbelief will rather look at the
enemy's efforts to countervail than at God's power to accomplish. It
is on the latter that faith fixes its eye. Thus it obtains victory and
enjoys abiding peace. It has to do with God and His infallible
faithfulness. It rests not upon the ever-shifting sands of human
affairs and earthly influences, but upon the immovable rock of God's
eternal Word. That is faith's holy and solid resting-place. Come what
may, it abides in that sanctuary of strength. "Joseph died, and all
his brethren, and all that generation." What then? Could death affect
the counsels of the living God? Surely not. He only waited for the
appointed moment--the due time, and then the most hostile influences
were made instrumental in the development of His purposes.

"Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And
he said unto his people, 'Behold the people of the children of Israel
are more and mightier than we: come on, let us deal _wisely_ with
them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass that when there falleth
out any war they join also unto our enemies and fight against us, and
so get them up out of the land." (Ver. 8-10.) All this is the
reasoning of a heart that had never learnt to take God into its
calculations. The unrenewed heart never can do so; and hence, the
moment you introduce God, all its reasonings fall to the ground. Apart
from, or independent of, Him, they may seem very wise; but only bring
Him in, and they are proved to be perfect folly.

But why should we allow our minds to be, in any wise, influenced by
reasonings and calculations which depend, for their _apparent_ truth,
upon the total exclusion of God? To do so is, in principle, and
according to its measure, practical atheism. In Pharaoh's case, we see
that he could accurately recount the various contingencies of human
affairs,--the multiplying of the people, the falling out of war, their
joining with the enemy, their escape out of the land. All these
circumstances he could, with uncommon sagacity, put into the scale;
but it never once occurred to him that God could have anything
whatever to do in the matter. Had he only thought of this, it would
have upset his entire reasoning, and have written folly upon all his
schemes.

Now, it is well to see that it is ever thus with the reasonings of
man's sceptic mind. God is entirely shut out; yea, the truth and
consistency thereof depend upon His being kept out. The death-blow to
all scepticism and infidelity is the introduction of God into the
scene. Till He is seen, they may strut up and down upon the stage with
an amazing show of wisdom and cleverness; but the moment the eye
catches even the faintest glimpse of that blessed One, they are
stripped of their cloak, and disclosed in all their nakedness and
deformity.

In reference to the king of Egypt, it may assuredly be said, he did
"greatly err," not knowing God or His changeless counsels. He knew not
that, hundreds of years back, before ever he had breathed the breath
of mortal life, God's word and oath--"two immutable things"--had
infallibly secured the full and glorious deliverance of that very
people whom he was going, in his wisdom, to crush. All this was
unknown to him, and therefore all his thoughts and plans were founded
upon ignorance of that grand foundation-truth of all truths, namely,
that GOD IS. He vainly imagined that he, by his management, could
prevent the increase of those concerning whom God had said, "They
shall be as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the
sea-shore." His wise dealing, therefore, was simply madness and folly.

The wildest mistake which a man can possibly fall into is to act
without taking God into his account. Sooner or later, the thought of
God will force itself upon him, and then comes the awful crash of all
his schemes and calculations. At best, everything that is undertaken
independently of God, can last but for the present time. It cannot, by
any possibility, stretch itself into eternity. All that is merely
human, however solid, however brilliant, or however attractive, must
fall into the cold grasp of death, and moulder in the dark, silent
tomb. The clod of the valley must cover man's highest excellencies and
brightest glories; mortality is engraved upon his brow, and all his
schemes are evanescent. On the contrary, that which is connected with,
and based upon, God, shall endure forever. "His name shall endure
forever, and His memorial to all generations."

What a sad mistake, therefore, for a feeble mortal to set himself up
against the eternal God,--to "rush upon the thick bosses of the shield
of the Almighty"! As well might the monarch of Egypt have sought to
stem, with his puny hand, the ocean's tide, as to prevent the increase
of those who were the subjects of Jehovah's everlasting purpose.
Hence, although "they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them
with their burdens," yet, "the more they afflicted them, the more they
multiplied and grew." Thus it must ever be. "He that sitteth in the
heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision." (Ps. ii.
4.) Eternal confusion shall be inscribed upon all the opposition of
men and devils. This gives sweet rest to the heart in the midst of a
scene where all is apparently so contrary to God and so contrary to
faith. Were it not for the settled assurance that "the wrath of man
shall praise" the Lord, the spirit would often be cast down while
contemplating the circumstances and influences which surround one in
the world. Thank God, "we look not at the things which are seen, but
at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are
temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. iv.
18.) In the power of this, we may well say, "_Rest_ in the Lord, and
_wait patiently for Him_: fret not thyself because of him who
prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices
to pass." (Ps. xxxvii. 7.) How fully might the truth of this be seen
in the case of both the oppressed and the oppressor, as set before us
in our chapter! Had Israel "looked at the things that are seen," what
were they? Pharaoh's wrath, stern taskmasters, afflictive burdens,
rigorous service, hard bondage, mortar and brick. But, then, "the
things which are not seen," what were they? God's eternal purpose, His
unfailing promise, the approaching dawn of a day of salvation, the
"burning lamp" of Jehovah's deliverance. Wondrous contrast! Faith
alone could enter into it. Naught save that precious principle could
enable any poor, oppressed Israelite to look from out the smoking
furnace of Egypt, to the green fields and vine-clad mountains of the
land of Canaan. Faith alone could recognize in those oppressed slaves,
toiling in the brick-kilns of Egypt, the heirs of salvation, and the
objects of Heaven's peculiar interest and favor.

Thus it was then, and thus it is now. "We walk by faith, not by
sight." (2 Cor. v. 7.) "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." (1
John iii. 2.) We are "here in the body pent," "absent from the Lord."
As to fact, we are in Egypt, yet, in spirit, we are in the heavenly
Canaan. Faith brings the heart into the power of divine and unseen
things, and thus enables it to mount above everything down here, in
this place "where death and darkness reign." O, for that simple
childlike faith that sits beside the pure and eternal fountain of
truth, there to drink those deep and refreshing draughts which lift up
the fainting spirit and impart energy to the new man, in its upward
and onward course!

The closing verses of this section of our book present an edifying
lesson in the conduct of those God-fearing women, Shiprah and Puah.
They would not carry out the king's cruel scheme, but braved his
wrath, and hence God made them houses. "Them that honor Me I will
honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed." (1 Sam.
ii. 30.) May we ever remember this, and act for God, under all
circumstances!



CHAPTER II. 1-10.


This section of our book abounds in the weightiest principles of
divine truth--principles which range themselves under the three
following heads, namely, the power of Satan, the power of God, and the
power of faith.

In the last verse of the previous chapter, we read, "And Pharaoh
charged all his people, saying, 'Every son that is born ye shall cast
into the river.'" This was Satan's power. The river was the place of
death; and, by death, the enemy sought to frustrate the purpose of
God. It has ever been thus. The serpent has at all times watched with
malignant eye those instruments which God was about to use for His own
gracious ends. Look at the case of Abel, in Genesis iv. What was that
but the serpent watching God's vessel and seeking to put it out of the
way by death? Look at the case of Joseph, in Genesis xxxvii. There you
have the enemy seeking to put the man of God's purpose in the place of
death. Look at the case of "the seed royal," in 2 Chronicles xxii; the
act of Herod, in Matthew ii; the death of Christ, in Matthew xxvii. In
all these cases, you find the enemy seeking, by death, to interrupt
the current of divine action.

But, blessed be God, there is something beyond death. The entire
sphere of divine action, as connected with redemption, lies beyond the
limits of death's domain. When Satan has exhausted his power, then God
begins to show Himself. The grave is the limit of Satan's activity;
but there it is that divine activity begins. This is a glorious truth.
Satan has the power of death; but God is the God of the living, and He
gives life beyond the reach and power of death--a life which Satan
cannot touch. The heart finds sweet relief in such a truth as this, in
the midst of a scene where death reigns. Faith can stand and look on
at Satan putting forth the plenitude of his power. It can stay itself
upon God's mighty instrumentality of resurrection. It can take its
stand at the grave which has closed over a beloved object, and drink
in, from the lips of Him who is "the resurrection and the life," the
elevating assurance of a glorious immortality. It knows that God is
stronger than Satan, and it can therefore quietly wait for the full
manifestation of that superior strength, and, in thus waiting, find
its victory and its settled peace. We have a noble example of this
power of faith in the opening verses of our chapter.

"And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a
daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived and bare a son; and when she
saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when
she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes and
daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and
she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. And his sister stood
afar off, to wit what would be done to him." (Chap. ii. 1-4.) Here we
have a scene of touching interest, in whatever way we contemplate it.
In point of fact, it was simply faith triumphing over the influences
of nature and death, and leaving room for the God of resurrection to
act in His own proper sphere and character. True, the enemy's power is
apparent, in the circumstance that the child had to be placed in such
position--a position of death, in principle. And, moreover, a sword
was piercing through the mother's heart in thus beholding her precious
offspring laid, as it were, in death. Satan might act, and nature
might weep; but the Quickener of the dead was behind the dark cloud,
and faith beheld Him there, gilding heaven's side of that cloud with
His bright and life-giving beams. "By faith Moses, when he was born,
was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper
child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment." (Heb. xi.
23.)

Thus this honored daughter of Levi teaches us a holy lesson. Her
"_ark_ of bulrushes, daubed with slime and _pitch_," declares her
confidence in the truth that there was a something which could keep
out the waters of death, in the case of this "proper child," as well
as in the case of Noah, "the preacher of righteousness." Are we to
suppose, for a moment, that this "ark" was the invention of mere
nature? Was it nature's forethought that devised it? or nature's
ingenuity that constructed it? Was the babe placed in the ark at the
suggestion of a mother's heart, cherishing the fond but visionary hope
of thereby saving her treasure from the ruthless hand of death? Were
we to reply to the above inquiries in the affirmative, we should, I
believe, lose the beauteous teaching of this entire scene. How could
we ever suppose that the "_ark_" was devised by one who saw no other
portion or destiny for her child but death by _drowning_? Impossible.
We can only look upon that significant structure as faith's draft
handed in at the treasury of the God of resurrection. It was devised
by the hand of faith, as a vessel of mercy, to carry "a proper child"
safely over death's dark waters, into the place assigned him by the
immutable purpose of the living God. When we behold this daughter of
Levi bending over that "ark of bulrushes," which her faith had
constructed, and depositing therein her babe, we see her "walking in
the steps of that faith of her father Abraham, which he had," when "he
rose up from before his dead," and purchased the cave of Machpelah
from the sons of Heth. (Gen. xxiii.) We do not recognize in her the
energy of mere nature, hanging over the object of its affections,
about to fall into the iron grasp of the king of terrors. No; but we
trace in her the energy of a faith which enabled her to stand, as a
conqueror, at the margin of death's cold flood, and behold the chosen
servant of Jehovah in safety at the other side.

Yes, my reader, faith can take those bold and lofty flights into
regions far removed from this land of death and wide-spread
desolation. Its eagle gaze can pierce the gloomy clouds which gather
around the tomb, and behold the God of resurrection displaying the
results of His everlasting counsels, in the midst of a sphere which no
arrow of death can reach. It can take its stand upon the top of the
Rock of Ages, and listen, in holy triumph, while the surges of death
are lashing its base.

And what, let me ask, was "the king's commandment" to one who was in
possession of this heaven-born principle? What weight had that
commandment with one who could calmly stand beside her "ark of
bulrushes" and look death straight in the face? The Holy Ghost
replies, "They were not afraid of the king's commandment." The spirit
that knows aught of communion with Him who quickens the dead, is not
afraid of anything. Such an one can take up the triumphant language of
1 Cor. xv., and say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is
thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the
law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our
Lord Jesus Christ." He can give forth these words of triumph over a
martyred Abel; over Joseph in the pit; over Moses in the ark of
bulrushes; in the midst of "the seed royal," slain by the hand of
Athaliah; amid the babes of Bethlehem, murdered by the hand of the
cruel Herod; and far above all, he can utter them at the tomb of the
Captain of our salvation.

Now, it may be there are some who cannot trace the activities of
faith, in the matter of the ark of bulrushes. Many may not be able to
travel beyond the measure of Moses' sister, when "she stood afar off,
to wit what would be done to him." It is very evident that "his
sister" was not up to "the measure of faith" possessed by "his
mother." No doubt she possessed deep interest and true affection, such
as we may trace in "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sitting over
against the sepulchre" (Matt. xxvii. 61.); but there was something far
beyond either interest or affection in the maker of the "ark." True,
she did not "stand afar off, to wit what would be done to" her child,
and hence, what frequently happens, the dignity of faith might seem
like indifference, on her part. It was not, however, indifference, but
true elevation--the elevation of faith. If natural affection did not
cause her to linger near the scene of death, it was only because the
power of faith was furnishing her with nobler work in the presence of
the God of resurrection. Her faith had cleared the stage for Him, and
most gloriously did He show Himself thereon.

"And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river;
and her maidens walked along by the river's side: and when she saw the
ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had
opened it, she saw the child; and, behold, the babe wept. And she had
compassion on him, and said, 'This is one of the Hebrews' children.'"
Here, then, the divine response begins to break, in sweetest accents,
on the ear of faith. God was in all this. Rationalism, or scepticism,
or infidelity, or atheism, may laugh at such an idea. And faith can
laugh also; but the two kinds of laughter are very different. The
former laughs, in cold contempt, at the thought of divine interference
in the trifling affair of a royal maiden's walk by the river's side:
the latter laughs, with real heartfelt gladness, at the thought that
God is in everything. And, assuredly, if ever God was in anything, He
was in this walk of Pharaoh's daughter, though she knew it not.

The renewed mind enjoys one of its sweetest exercises while tracing
the divine footsteps in circumstances and events in which a
thoughtless spirit sees only blind chance or rigid fate. The most
trifling matter may, at times, turn out to be a most important link in
a chain of events by which the Almighty God is helping forward the
development of His grand designs. Look, for instance, at Esther vi. 1,
and what do you see? A heathen monarch spending a restless night. No
uncommon circumstance, we may suppose; and yet, this very circumstance
was a link in a great chain of providences at the end of which you
find the marvelous deliverance of the oppressed seed of Israel.

Thus was it with the daughter of Pharaoh, in her walk by the river's
side. Little did she think that she was helping forward the purpose of
"the Lord God of the Hebrews." How little idea had she that the
weeping babe in that ark of bulrushes was yet to be Jehovah's
instrument in shaking the land of Egypt to its very centre! Yet so it
was. The Lord can make the wrath of man to praise Him, and restrain
the remainder. How plainly the truth of this appears in the following
passage!--

"Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I go and call to
thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for
thee?' And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, 'Go.' And the maid went
and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her,
'Take this child away and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy
wages.' And the woman took the child and nursed it. And the child
grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her
son. And she called his name Moses; and she said, 'Because I drew him
out of the water.'" (Chap. ii. 7-10.) The beautiful faith of Moses'
mother here meets its full reward; Satan is confounded; and the
marvelous wisdom of God is displayed. Who would have thought that the
one who had said, "If it be a son, then ye shall kill him," and,
again, "Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river," should
have in his court one of those very sons, and _such_ "a son." The
devil was foiled by his own weapon, inasmuch as Pharaoh, whom he was
using to frustrate the purpose of God, is used of God to nourish and
bring up Moses, who was to be His instrument in confounding the power
of Satan. Remarkable providence! Admirable wisdom! Truly, Jehovah is
"wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." May we learn to trust
Him with more artless simplicity, and thus our path shall be more
brilliant, and our testimony more effective.



CHAPTER II. 11-25.


In considering the history of Moses, we must look at him in two ways,
namely, personally and typically.

First, in his personal character, there is much, very much, for us to
learn. God had not only to raise him up, but also to train him, in one
way or another, for the lengthened period of eighty years, first in
the house of Pharaoh's daughter, and then at "the backside of the
desert." This, to our shallow thoughts, would seem an immense space of
time to devote to the education of a minister of God. But then God's
thoughts are not as our thoughts. He knew the need of those forty
years twice told, in the preparation of His chosen vessel. When God
educates, He educates in a manner worthy of Himself and His most holy
service. He will not have a novice to do His work. The servant of
Christ has to learn many a lesson, to undergo many an exercise, to
pass through many a conflict, in secret, ere he is really qualified to
act in public. Nature does not like this. It would rather figure in
public than learn in private,--it would rather be gazed upon and
admired by the eye of man than be disciplined by the hand of God. But
it will not do. We must take God's way. Nature may rush into the scene
of operation; but God does not want it there. It must be withered,
crushed, set aside. The place of death is the place for nature. If it
_will_ be active, God will so order matters, in His infallible
faithfulness and perfect wisdom, that the results of its activity will
prove its utter defeat and confusion. He knows what to do with nature,
where to put it, and where to keep it. O, that we may all be in deeper
communion with the mind of God, in reference to self and all that
pertains thereto! Then shall we make fewer mistakes; then shall our
path be steady and elevated, our spirit tranquil, and our service
effective.

"And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he
went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens; and he spied
an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this
way and that way, and when he saw there was no man, he slew the
Egyptian, and hid him in the sand." This was zeal for his brethren;
but it was "not according to knowledge." God's time was not yet come
for judging Egypt and delivering Israel; and the intelligent servant
will ever wait for God's time. "Moses was grown," and "he was learned
in all the wisdom of the Egyptians;" and, moreover, "he supposed his
brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver
them." All this was true; yet he evidently ran before the time, and
when one does this, failure must be the issue.[2]

  [2] In Stephen's address to the council at Jerusalem, there is an
  allusion to Moses' acting, to which it may be well to advert. "And
  when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his
  brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong,
  he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the
  Egyptian; for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that
  God by his hand would deliver them; but they understood not." (Acts
  vii. 23-35.) It is evident that Stephen's object, in his entire
  address, was to bring the history of the nation to bear upon the
  consciences of those whom he had before him; and it would have been
  quite foreign to this object, and at variance with the Spirit's rule
  in the New Testament, to raise a question as to whether Moses had not
  acted before the divinely appointed time.

  Moreover, he merely says, "it came into his heart to visit his
  brethren." He does not say that God sent him, _at that time_. Nor does
  this, in the least, touch the question of the moral condition of those
  who rejected him. "They understood not." This was the fact as to them,
  whatever Moses might have personally to learn in the matter. The
  spiritual mind can have no difficulty in apprehending this.

  Looking at Moses typically, we can see the mission of Christ to
  Israel, and their rejection of Him, and refusal to have Him to reign
  over them. On the other hand, looking at Moses personally, we find
  that he, like others, made mistakes and displayed
  infirmities,--sometimes went too fast and sometimes too slow. All this
  is easily understood, and only tends to magnify the infinite grace and
  exhaustless patience of God.

And not only is there failure in the end, but also manifest
uncertainty, and lack of calm elevation and holy independence in the
progress of a work begun before God's time. Moses "_looked this way
and that way_." There is no need of this when a man is acting with and
for God, and in the full intelligence of His mind, as to the detail of
his work. If God's time had really come, and if Moses was conscious of
being divinely commissioned to execute judgment upon the Egyptian, and
if he felt assured of the divine presence with him, he would not have
"looked this way and that way."

This action teaches a deep practical lesson to all the servants of
God. There are two things by which it is superinduced, namely, the
fear of man's wrath, and the hope of man's favor. The servant of the
living God should neither regard the one nor the other. What avails
the wrath or favor of a poor mortal to one who holds the divine
commission and enjoys the divine presence? It is, in the judgment of
such an one, less than the small dust of the balance. "_Have not I
commanded thee?_ Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid,
neither be thou dismayed: for _the Lord thy God is with thee_
whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua i. 9.) "Thou, therefore, gird up
thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them _all that I command thee_:
be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For,
behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar,
and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah,
against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against
the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee, but they
shall not prevail against thee; for _I am with thee_, saith the Lord,
to deliver thee." (Jer. i. 17-19.)

When the servant of Christ stands upon the elevated ground set forth
in the above quotations, he will not "look this way and that way;" he
will act on wisdom's heavenly counsel--"Let thine eyes look straight
on, and thine eyelids look straight before thee." Divine intelligence
will ever lead us to look upward and onward. Whenever we look around
to shun a mortal's frown or catch his smile, we may rest assured there
is something wrong; we are off the proper ground of divine service. We
lack the assurance of holding the divine commission and of enjoying
the divine presence, both of which are absolutely essential.

True, there are many who, through profound ignorance, or excessive
self-confidence, stand forward in a sphere of service for which God
never intended them, and for which He therefore never qualified them.
And not only do they thus stand forward, but they exhibit an amount of
coolness and self-possession perfectly amazing to those who are
capable of forming an impartial judgment about their gifts and
merits. But all this will very speedily find its level; nor does it in
the least interfere with the integrity of the principle that nothing
can effectually deliver a man from the tendency to "look this way and
that way" save the consciousness of the divine commission and the
divine presence. When these are possessed, there is entire deliverance
from human influence, and consequent independence. No man is in a
position to serve others who is not wholly independent of them; but a
man who knows his proper place can stoop and wash his brethren's feet.

When we turn away our eyes from man, and fix them upon the only true
and perfect Servant, we do not find Him looking this way and that way,
for this simple reason, that He never had His eye upon men, but always
upon God. He feared not the wrath of man, nor sought his favor. He
never opened His lips to elicit human applause, nor kept them closed
to avoid human censure. This gave holy stability and elevation to all
He said and did. Of Him alone could it be truly said, "His leaf shall
not wither, and _whatsoever_ he doeth shall prosper." Everything He
did turned to profitable account, because everything was done to God.
Every action, every word, every movement, every look, every thought,
was like a beauteous cluster of fruit, sent up to refresh the heart of
God. He was never afraid of the results of His work, because He always
acted with and for God, and in the full intelligence of His mind. His
own will, though divinely perfect, never once mingled itself in aught
that He did, as a man, on the earth. He could say, "I came down from
heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."
Hence, He brought forth fruit "_in its season_." He did "_always_
those things which pleased the Father," and therefore never had any
occasion to "fear," to "repent," or to "look this way and that way."

Now in this, as in everything else, the blessed Master stands in
marked contrast with His most honored and eminent servants. Even a
Moses "feared," and a Paul "repented;" but the Lord Jesus never did
either. He never had to retrace a step, to recall a word, or correct a
thought. All was absolutely perfect: all was "fruit in season." The
current of His holy and heavenly life flowed onward without a ripple
and without a curve. His will was divinely subject. The best and most
devoted men make mistakes; but it is perfectly certain that the more
we are enabled, through grace, to mortify our own will, the fewer our
mistakes will be. Truly happy it is when, in the main, our path is
really a path of faith and single-eyed devotedness to Christ.

Thus it was with Moses. He was a man of faith--a man who drank deeply
into the spirit of his Master, and walked with marvelous steadiness in
His footprints. True, he anticipated, as has been remarked, by forty
years, the Lord's time of judgment on Egypt and deliverance for
Israel; yet, when we turn to the inspired commentary, in Hebrews xi,
we find nothing about this; we there find only the divine principle
upon which, in the main, his course was founded. "By faith Moses,
_when he was come to years_, refused to be called the son of
Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the
people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in
Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith
he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as
seeing Him who is invisible." (Ver. 24-27.)

This quotation furnishes a most gracious view of the actings of Moses.
It is ever thus the Holy Ghost deals with the history of Old Testament
saints. When He _writes_ a man's history, He presents him to us as he
is, and faithfully sets forth all his failures and imperfections. But
when, in the New Testament, He _comments_ upon such history, He merely
gives the real principle and main result of a man's life. Hence,
though we read, in Exodus, that "Moses looked this way and that
way"--that "he feared and said, 'Surely this thing is known,'" and,
finally, "Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh;" yet we are taught, in
Hebrews, that what he did, he did "by faith"--that he did not fear
"the wrath of the king"--that "he endured as seeing Him who is
invisible."

Thus will it be, by and by, "when the Lord comes, who both will bring
to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest _the
counsels of the hearts_: and then shall every man have praise of God."
(1 Cor. iv. 5.) This is a precious and consolatory truth for every
upright mind and every loyal heart. Many a "counsel" the "_heart_"
may form, which, from various causes, the _hand_ may not be able to
execute. All such "counsels" will be made "manifest" when "the Lord
comes." Blessed be the grace that has told us so! The affectionate
counsels of the heart are far more precious to Christ than the most
elaborate works of the hand. The latter may shine before the eye of
man; the former are designed _only_ for the heart of Jesus. The latter
may be spoken of amongst men; the former will be made manifest before
God and His holy angels. May all the servants of Christ have their
hearts undividedly occupied with His person, and their eyes steadily
fixed upon His advent.

In contemplating the path of Moses, we observe how that faith led him
entirely athwart the ordinary course of nature. It led him to despise
all the pleasures, the attractions, and the honors of Pharaoh's court.
And not only that, but also to relinquish an apparently wide sphere of
usefulness. Human expediency would have conducted him along quite an
opposite path. It would have led him to use his influence on behalf of
the people of God--to act _for_ them instead of suffering _with_ them.
According to man's judgment, providence would seem to have opened for
Moses a wide and most important sphere of labor; and surely, if ever
the hand of God was manifest in placing a man in a distinct position,
it was in his case. By a most marvelous interposition--by a most
unaccountable chain of circumstances, every link of which displayed
the finger of the Almighty--by an order of events which no human
foresight could have arranged, had the daughter of Pharaoh been made
the instrument of drawing Moses out of the water, and of nourishing
and educating him until he was "full forty years old." With all these
circumstances in his view, to abandon his high, honorable, and
influential position, could only be regarded as the result of a
misguided zeal which no sound judgment could approve.

Thus might poor blind nature reason. But faith thought differently;
for nature and faith are always at issue. They cannot agree upon a
single point. Nor is there anything, perhaps, in reference to which
they differ so widely as what are commonly called "openings of
providence." Nature will constantly regard such openings as warrants
for self-indulgence; whereas faith will find in them opportunities for
self-denial. Jonah might have deemed it a very remarkable opening of
providence to find a ship going to Tarshish; but, in truth, it was an
opening through which he slipped off the path of obedience.

No doubt it is the Christian's privilege to see his Father's hand, and
hear His voice, in everything; but he is not to be guided by
circumstances. A Christian so guided is like a vessel at sea without
rudder or compass; she is at the mercy of the waves and the winds.
God's promise to His child is, "I will guide thee with Mine eye." (Ps.
xxxii. 8.) His warning is, "Be not as the horse or as the mule, which
have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and
bridle, lest they come near unto thee." It is much better to be
guided by our Father's eye than by the bit and bridle of
circumstances; and we know that, in the ordinary acceptation of the
term, "providence" is only another word for the impulse of
circumstances.

Now, the power of faith may constantly be seen in refusing and
forsaking the apparent openings of providence. It was so in the case
of Moses. "By faith he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's
daughter," and "by faith he forsook Egypt." Had he judged according to
the sight of his eyes, he would have grasped at the proffered dignity,
as the manifest gift of a kind providence, and he would have remained
in the court of Pharaoh as in a sphere of usefulness plainly thrown
open to him by the hand of God. But, then, he walked by faith, and not
by the sight of his eyes; and hence he forsook all. Noble example! May
we have grace to follow it!

And observe what it was that Moses "esteemed greater riches than the
treasures in Egypt;" it was the "reproach of Christ." It was not
merely reproach _for_ Christ. "The reproaches of them that reproached
Thee have fallen upon Me." The Lord Jesus, in perfect grace,
identified Himself with His people. He came down from heaven, leaving
His Father's bosom, and laying aside all His glory, He took His
people's place, confessed their sins, and bore their judgment on the
cursed tree. Such was His voluntary devotedness; He not merely acted
_for_ us, but made Himself one _with_ us, thus perfectly delivering us
from all that was or could be against us.

Hence we see how much in sympathy Moses was with the spirit and mind
of Christ in reference to the people of God. He was in the midst of
all the ease, the pomp, and dignity of Pharaoh's house, where "the
pleasures of sin," and "the treasures of Egypt," lay scattered around
him in richest profusion. All these things he might have enjoyed if he
would. He could have lived and died in the midst of wealth and
splendor; his entire path, from first to last, might, if he had
chosen, have been enlightened by the sunshine of royal favor: but that
would not have been "faith;" it would not have been Christlike. From
his elevated position, he saw his brethren bowed down beneath their
heavy burden, and faith led him to see that his place was to be _with_
them. Yes; with them, in all their reproach, their bondage, their
degradation, and their sorrow. Had he been actuated by mere
benevolence, philanthropy, or patriotism, he might have used his
personal influence on behalf of his brethren. He might have succeeded
in inducing Pharaoh to lighten their burden, and render their path
somewhat smoother, by royal grants in their favor; but this would
never do, never satisfy a heart that had a single pulsation in common
with the heart of Christ. Such a heart Moses, by the grace of God,
carried in his bosom; and, therefore, with all the energies and all
the affections of that heart, he threw himself, body, soul, and
spirit, into the very midst of his oppressed brethren. He "chose
rather to suffer affliction _with_ the people of God." And, moreover,
he did this by "faith."

Let my reader ponder this deeply. We must not be satisfied with
wishing well to, doing service for, or speaking kindly on behalf of,
the people of God. We ought to be fully identified _with_ them, no
matter how despised or reproached they may be. It is, in a measure, an
agreeable thing to be a benevolent and generous spirit, to patronize
Christianity; but it is a wholly different thing to be identified with
Christians, or to suffer with Christ. A _patron_ is one thing, a
_martyr_ is quite another. This distinction is apparent throughout the
entire book of God. Obadiah took care of God's witnesses, but Elijah
was a witness for God. Darius was so attached to Daniel that he lost a
night's rest on his account, but Daniel spent that self-same night in
the lion's den, as a witness for the truth of God. Nicodemus ventured
to speak a word _for_ Christ, but a more matured discipleship would
have led him to identify himself _with_ Christ.

These considerations are eminently practical. The Lord Jesus does not
want patronage; He wants fellowship. The truth concerning Him is
declared to us, not that we might patronize His cause on earth, but
have fellowship with His Person in heaven. He identified Himself with
us, at the heavy cost of all that love could give. He might have
avoided this. He might have continued to enjoy His eternal place "in
the bosom of the Father." But how, then, could that mighty tide of
love, which was pent up in His heart, flow down to us guilty and
hell-deserving sinners? Between Him and us there could be no oneness,
save on conditions which involved the surrender of everything on His
part. But, blessed, throughout the everlasting ages, be His adorable
name, that surrender was voluntarily made. "He gave Himself for us,
that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify _unto Himself_ a
peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus ii. 14.) He would not
enjoy His glory alone. His loving heart would gratify itself by
associating "many sons" with Him in that glory. "Father," He says, "I
will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be _with Me_ where I am;
that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou
lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." (John xvii. 24.) Such
were the thoughts of Christ in reference to His people; and we can
easily see how much in sympathy with these precious thoughts was the
heart of Moses. He unquestionably partook largely of his Master's
spirit; and he manifested that excellent spirit in freely sacrificing
every personal consideration, and associating himself, unreservedly,
with the people of God.

The personal character and actings of this honored servant of God will
come before us again in the next section of our book. We shall here
briefly consider him as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. That he was a
type of Him is evident from the following passage,--"The Lord thy God
will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy
brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken." (Deut. xviii. 15.)
We are not, therefore, trafficking in human imagination in viewing
Moses as a type; it is the plain teaching of Scripture, and in the
closing verses of Exodus ii. we see this type in a double way: first,
in the matter of his rejection by Israel; and secondly, in his union
with a stranger in the land of Midian.

These points have already been, in some measure, developed in the
history of Joseph, who, being cast out by his brethren according to
the flesh, forms an alliance with an Egyptian bride. Here, as in the
case of Moses, we see shadowed forth Christ's rejection by Israel, and
His union with the Church, but in a different phase. In Joseph's case,
we have the exhibition of positive enmity against his _person_: in
Moses, it is the rejection of his _mission_. In Joseph's case, we
read, "They hated _him_, and could not speak peaceably unto _him_."
(Gen. xxxvii. 4.) In the case of Moses, the word is,--"_Who made thee
a prince and a judge over us?_" In short, the former was personally
hated; the latter, officially refused.

So also in the mode in which the great mystery of the Church is
exemplified in the history of those two Old Testament saints.
"Asenath" presents quite a different phase of the Church from that
which we have in the person of "Zipporah." The former was united to
Joseph in the time of his exaltation; the latter was the companion of
Moses in the obscurity of his desert life. (Comp. Gen. xli. 41-45 with
Exod. ii. 15; iii. 1.) True, both Joseph and Moses were, at the time
of their union with a stranger, rejected by their brethren; yet the
former was "governor over all the land of Egypt;" whereas the latter
tended a few sheep at "the backside of the desert."

Whether, therefore, we contemplate Christ as manifested in glory, or
as hidden from the world's gaze, the Church is intimately associated
with Him. And now, inasmuch as the world seeth Him not, neither can it
take knowledge of that body which is wholly one with Him. "The world
knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." (1 John iii. 1.) By and by,
Christ will appear in His glory, and the Church _with_ Him. "When
Christ our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear _with_ Him in
glory." (Col. iii. 4.) And again, "The glory which Thou gavest Me I
have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them,
and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the
world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou
hast loved Me." (John xvii. 22, 23.)[3]

  [3] There are two distinct unities spoken of in John xvii. 21, 23. The
  first is that unity which the Church is responsible to have
  maintained, but in which she has utterly failed. The second is that
  unity which God will infallibly accomplish, and which He will manifest
  in glory. If the reader will turn to the passage, he will at once see
  the difference, both as to character and result, of the two.

Such, then, is the Church's high and holy position. She is one with
Him who is cast out by this world, but who occupies the throne of the
Majesty in the heavens. The Lord Jesus made Himself responsible for
her on the cross, in order that she might share with Him His present
rejection and His future glory. Would that all who form a part of such
a highly privileged body were more impressed with a sense of what
becomes them as to course and character down here! Assuredly, there
should be a fuller and clearer response, on the part of all the
children of God, to that love wherewith He has loved them, to that
salvation wherewith He has saved them, and to that dignity wherewith
He has invested them. The walk of the Christian should ever be the
natural result of realized privilege, and not the constrained result
of legal vows and resolutions,--the proper fruit of a position known
and enjoyed by faith, and not the fruit of one's own efforts to reach
a position "by works of law." All true believers _are_ a part of the
bride of Christ; hence, they owe Him those affections which become
that relation. The relationship is not obtained because of the
affections, but the affections flow out of the relationship.

So let it be, O Lord, with all Thy beloved and blood-bought people!



CHAPTER III.


We shall now resume the personal history of Moses, and contemplate him
during that deeply interesting period of his career which he spent in
retirement--a period including, as we should say, forty of his very
best years--the prime of life. This is full of meaning. The Lord had
graciously, wisely, and faithfully led His dear servant apart from the
eyes and thoughts of men, in order that He might train him under His
own immediate hand. Moses needed this. True, he had spent forty years
in the house of Pharaoh; and, while his sojourn there was not without
its influence and value, yet was it as nothing when compared with his
sojourn in the desert. The former might be valuable; but the latter
was indispensable.

Nothing can possibly make up for the lack of secret communion with
God, or the training and discipline of His school. "All the wisdom of
the Egyptians" would not have qualified Moses for his future path. He
might have pursued a most brilliant course through the schools and
colleges of Egypt. He might have come forth laden with literary
honors--his intellect stored with learning, and his heart full of
pride and self-sufficiency. He might have taken out his degree in the
school of man, and yet have to learn his alphabet in the school of
God. Mere human wisdom and learning, how valuable soever in
themselves, can never constitute any one a servant of God, nor equip
him for any department of divine service. Such things may qualify
unrenewed nature to figure before the world; but the man whom God will
use must be endowed with widely-different qualifications--such
qualifications as can alone be found in the deep and hallowed
retirement of the Lord's presence.

All God's servants have been made to know and experience the truth of
these statements. Moses at Horeb, Elijah at Cherith, Ezekiel at
Chebar, Paul in Arabia, and John at Patmos, are all striking examples
of the immense practical importance of being alone with God. And when
we look at the Divine Servant, we find that the time He spent in
private was nearly ten times as long as that which He spent in public.
He, though perfect in understanding and in will, spent nearly thirty
years in the obscurity of a carpenter's house at Nazareth ere He made
His appearance in public. And even when He had entered upon His public
career, how oft did He retreat from the gaze of men, to enjoy the
sweet and sacred retirement of the divine presence!

Now we may feel disposed to ask, How could the urgent demand for
workmen ever be met if all need such protracted training, in secret,
ere they come forth to their work? This is the Master's care--not
ours. He can provide the workmen, and He can train them also. This is
not man's work. God alone can provide and prepare a true minister. Nor
is it a question with Him as to the length of time needful for the
education of such an one. We know He could educate him in a moment, if
it were His will to do so. One thing is evident, namely, that God has
had all His servants very much alone with Himself, both before and
after their entrance upon their public work; nor will any one ever get
on without this. The absence of secret training and discipline will
necessarily leave us barren, superficial, and theoretic. A man who
ventures forth upon a public career ere he has duly weighed himself in
the balances of the sanctuary, or measured himself in the presence of
God, is like a ship putting out to sea without proper ballast: he
will doubtless overset with the first stiff breeze. On the contrary,
there is a depth, a solidity, and a steadiness flowing from our having
passed from form to form in the school of God, which are essential
elements in the formation of the character of a true and effective
servant of God.

Hence, therefore, when we find Moses, at the age of forty years, taken
apart from all the dignity and splendor of a court, for the purpose of
spending forty years in the obscurity of a desert, we are led to
expect a remarkable course of service; nor are we disappointed. The
man whom God educates is educated, and none other. It lies not within
the range of man to prepare an instrument for the service of God. The
hand of man could never mould "a vessel meet for the Master's use."
The One who is to use the vessel can alone prepare it; and we have
before us a singularly beautiful sample of His mode of preparation.

"Now, Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of
Midian; and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came
to the mountain of God, even to Horeb." (Exod. iii. 1.) Here, then, we
have a marvelous change of circumstances. In Genesis, chapter xlvi.
31, we read, "Every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians;" and
yet Moses, who was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," is
transferred from the Egyptian court to the back of a mountain to tend
a flock of sheep, and to be educated for the service of God.
Assuredly, this is not "the manner of man." This is not nature's line
of things. Flesh and blood could not understand this. We should have
thought that Moses' education was finished when he had become master
of all Egypt's wisdom, and that, moreover, in immediate connection
with the rare advantages which a court life affords. We should have
expected to find in one so highly favored, not only a solid and varied
education, but also such an exquisite polish as would fit him for any
sphere of action to which he might be called. But then, to find such a
man with such attainments, called away from such a position to mind
sheep at the back of a mountain, is something entirely beyond the
utmost stretch of human thought and feeling. It lays prostrate in the
dust all man's pride and glory. It declares plainly that this world's
appliances are of little value in the divine estimation; yea, they are
as "dung and dross," not only in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the
eyes of all those who have been taught in His school.

There is a very wide difference between human and divine education.
The former has for its end the refinement and exaltation of nature;
the latter begins with withering it up and setting it aside. "The
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they
are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. ii. 14.) Educate the "natural man" as
much as you please, and you cannot make him a "spiritual man." "That
which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the
Spirit is spirit." (John iii. 6.) If ever an educated "natural man"
might look for success in the service of God, Moses might have counted
upon it; he was "grown," he was "learned," he was "mighty in word and
deed," and yet he had to learn something at "the backside of the
desert" which Egypt's schools could never have taught him. Paul learnt
more in Arabia than ever he had learnt at the feet of Gamaliel.[4]
None can teach like God; and all who will learn _of_ Him must be alone
_with_ Him.

  [4] Let not my reader suppose for a moment that the design of the
  above remarks is to detract from the value of really useful
  information, or the proper culture of the mental powers. By no means.
  If, for example, he is a parent, let him store his child's mind with
  useful knowledge; let him teach him everything which may, hereafter,
  turn to account in the Master's service: let him not burden him with
  aught which he would have to "lay aside" in running his Christian
  course, nor conduct him, for educational purposes, through a region
  from which it is well-nigh impossible to come forth with an unsoiled
  mind. You might just as well shut him up for ten years in a coal mine
  in order to qualify him for discussing the properties of light and
  shade, as cause him to wade through the mire of a heathen mythology in
  order to fit him for the interpretation of the oracles of God, or
  prepare him for feeding the flock of Christ.

    "In the desert God will teach thee."

There it was that Moses learnt his sweetest, deepest, most influential
and enduring lessons. Thither, too, must all repair who mean to be
educated for the ministry.

Beloved reader, may you prove, in your own deep experience, the real
meaning of "the backside of the desert"--that sacred spot where nature
is laid in the dust, and God alone exalted. There it is that men and
things, the world and self, present circumstances and their
influences, are all valued at what they are really worth. There it is,
and there alone, that you will find a divinely-adjusted balance in
which to weigh all within and all around. There are no false colors,
no borrowed plumes, no empty pretentions there. The enemy of your soul
cannot gild the sand of that place. All is reality there. The heart
that has found itself in the presence of God, at "the backside of the
desert," has right thoughts about everything. It is raised far above
the exciting influence of this world's schemes. The din and noise, the
bustle and confusion of Egypt do not fall upon the ear in that distant
place. The crash in the monetary and commercial world is not heard
there; the sigh of ambition is not heaved there; this world's fading
laurels do not tempt there; the thirst for gold is not felt there; the
eye is never dimmed with lust, nor the heart swollen with pride there;
human applause does not elate, nor human censure depress there. In a
word, everything is set aside save the stillness and light of the
divine presence. God's voice alone is heard, His light enjoyed, His
thoughts received. This is the place to which all must go to be
educated for the ministry; and there all must remain if they would
succeed in the ministry.

Would that all who come forward to serve in public knew more of what
it is to breathe the atmosphere of this place. We should then have far
less vapid attempts at ministry, but far more effective
Christ-honoring service.

Let us now inquire what Moses saw and what he heard at "the backside
of the desert." We shall find him learning lessons which lay far
beyond the reach of Egypt's most gifted masters. It might appear, in
the eyes of human reason, a strange loss of time for a man like Moses
to spend forty years doing nothing save to keep a few sheep in the
wilderness. But he was there with God, and the time that is thus spent
is never lost. It is salutary for us to remember that there is
something more than mere _doing_ necessary on the part of a true
servant. A man who is always doing will be apt to do too much. Such an
one would need to ponder over the deeply-practical words of the
perfect Servant, "He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear
to _hear_ as the learned." (Is. l. 4.) This is an indispensable part
of the servant's business. The servant must frequently stand in his
master's presence, in order that he may know what he has to do. The
"ear" and the "tongue" are intimately connected, in more ways than
one; but, in a spiritual or moral point of view, if my ear be closed
and my tongue loose, I shall be sure to talk a great deal of folly.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift _to hear_,
slow _to speak_." (James i. 19.) This seasonable admonition is based
upon two facts, namely, that everything good comes from above, and
that the heart is brimful of naughtiness, ready to flow over. Hence
the need of keeping the ear open and the tongue quiet,--rare and
admirable attainments!--attainments in which Moses made great
proficiency at "the backside of the desert," and which all can acquire
if only they are disposed to learn in that school.

"And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire, out
of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold the bush burned with
fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, 'I will now turn
aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.'" (Chap.
iii. 2, 3.) This was truly "a great sight"--a bush burning, yet not
burnt. The palace of Pharaoh could never have afforded such a sight.
But it was a gracious sight as well as a great sight, for therein was
strikingly exhibited the condition of God's elect. They were in the
furnace of Egypt; and Jehovah reveals Himself in a burning bush. But
as the bush was not consumed, so neither were they, for God was there.
"The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge." (Psalm
xlvi.) Here is strength and security--victory and peace. God _with_
us, God _in_ us, and God _for_ us. This is ample provision for every
exigence.

Nothing can be more interesting or instructive than the mode in which
Jehovah was pleased to reveal Himself to Moses, as presented in the
above quotation. He was about to furnish him with his commission to
lead forth His people out of Egypt, that they might be His
assembly--His dwelling-place, in the wilderness and in the land of
Canaan; and the place from which He speaks is a burning bush. Apt,
solemn, and beautiful symbol of Jehovah dwelling in the midst of His
elect and redeemed congregation! "Our God is a consuming fire," not to
consume _us_, but to consume all in us and about us which is contrary
to His holiness, and, as such, subversive of our true and permanent
happiness. "Thy testimonies are very sure; holiness becometh Thy
house, O Lord, forever."

There are various instances, both in the Old and New Testaments, in
which we find God displaying Himself as "a consuming fire." Look, for
example, at the case of Nadab and Abihu, in Leviticus x. This was a
deeply solemn occasion. God was dwelling in the midst of His people,
and He would keep them in a condition worthy of Himself. He could not
do otherwise. It would neither be for His glory nor for their profit
were He to tolerate aught in them inconsistent with the purity of His
presence. God's dwelling-place must be holy.

So, also, in Joshua vii. we have another striking proof, in the case
of Achan, that Jehovah could not possibly sanction, by His presence,
evil, in any shape or form, how covert soever that evil might be. He
was "a consuming fire," and as such He should act, in reference to any
attempt to defile that assembly in the midst of which He dwelt. To
seek to connect God's presence with evil unjudged is the very highest
character of wickedness.

Again, in Acts v, Ananias and Sapphira teach us the same solemn
lesson. God the Holy Ghost was dwelling in the midst of the Church,
not merely as an influence, but as a divine Person, in such a way as
that one could lie to Him. The Church was, and is still, His
dwelling-place; and He must rule and judge in the midst thereof. Men
may walk in company with deceit, covetousness, and hypocrisy; but God
cannot. If God is going to walk with us, we must judge our ways, or He
will judge them for us. (See also 1 Cor. xi. 29-32.)

In all these cases, and many more which might be adduced, we see the
force of that solemn word, "Holiness becometh Thy house, O Lord,
forever." The moral effect of this will ever be similar to that
produced in the case of Moses, as recorded in our chapter. "Draw not
nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for _the place
whereon thou standest is holy ground_." (Verse 5.) The place of God's
presence is holy, and can only be trodden with unshod feet. God,
dwelling in the midst of His people, imparts a character of holiness
to their assembly, which is the basis of every holy affection and
every holy activity. The character of the dwelling-place takes its
stamp from the character of the Occupant.

The application of this to the Church, which is now the habitation of
God, through the Spirit, is of the very utmost practical importance.
While it is blessedly true that God, by His Spirit, inhabits each
individual member of the Church, thereby imparting a character of
holiness to the individual; it is equally true that He dwells in the
assembly, and hence the assembly must be holy. The centre round which
the members are gathered is nothing less than the Person of a living,
victorious, and glorified Christ. The energy by which they are
gathered is nothing less than God the Holy Ghost; and the Lord God
Almighty dwells in them and walks in them. (See Matt. xviii. 20; 1
Cor. vi. 19; iii. 16, 17; Eph. ii. 21, 22.) Such being the holy
elevation belonging to God's dwelling-place, it is evident that
nothing which is unholy, either in principle or practice, must be
tolerated. Each one connected therewith should feel the weight and
solemnity of that word, "The place whereon thou standest is holy
ground." "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy."
(1 Cor. iii. 17.) Most weighty words these, for every member of God's
assembly--for every stone in His holy temple! May we all learn to
tread Jehovah's courts with unshod feet!

However, the visions of Horeb bear witness to the grace of the God of
Israel as well as to His holiness. If God's holiness is infinite, His
grace is infinite also; and while the manner in which He revealed
Himself to Moses declared the former, the very fact of His revealing
Himself at all evidenced the latter. He came down because He was
gracious; but when come down, He should reveal Himself as holy.
"Moreover he said, 'I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses hid his face; for
he was afraid to look upon God." (Verse 6.) The effect of the divine
presence must ever be to make nature hide itself; and when we stand
before God with unshod feet and covered head--_i.e._, in the attitude
of soul which those acts so aptly and beautifully express, we are
prepared to hearken to the sweet accents of grace. When man takes his
suited place, God can speak in the language of unmingled mercy.

"And the Lord said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people
which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their
taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver
them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of
that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk
and honey.... Now, therefore, behold, the cry of the children of
Israel is come unto Me; and I have also seen the oppression wherewith
the Egyptians oppress them.'" (Ver. 7-9.) Here the absolute, free,
unconditional grace of the God of Abraham, and the God of Abraham's
seed, shines forth in all its native brightness, unhindered by the
"ifs" and "buts," the vows, resolutions, and conditions of man's legal
spirit. God had come down to display Himself, in sovereign grace, to
do the whole work of salvation, to accomplish His promise made to
Abraham, and repeated to Isaac and Jacob. He had not come down to see
if, indeed, the subjects of His promise were in such a condition as to
_merit_ His salvation: it was sufficient for Him that they _needed_
it. Their oppressed state, their sorrows, their tears, their sighs,
their heavy bondage, had all come in review before Him; for, blessed
be His name, He counts His people's sighs, and puts their tears into
His bottle. He was not attracted by their excellencies or their
virtues. It was not on the ground of aught that was good in them,
either seen or foreseen, that He was about to visit them, for He knew
what was in them. In one word, we have the true ground of His gracious
acting set before us in the words, "I am the God of Abraham," and "I
have seen the affliction of My people."

These words reveal a great fundamental principle in the ways of God.
It is on the ground of what He is that He ever acts. "I AM," secures
all for "MY PEOPLE." Assuredly, He was not going to leave _His_ people
amid the brick-kilns of Egypt, and under the lash of Pharaoh's
taskmasters. They were His people, and He would act toward them in a
manner worthy of Himself. To be His people,--to be the favored objects
of Jehovah's electing love--the subjects of His unconditional promise,
settled everything. Nothing should hinder the public display of His
relationship with those for whom His eternal purpose had secured the
land of Canaan. He had come down to deliver them; and the combined
power of earth and hell could not hold them in captivity one hour
beyond His appointed time. He might and did use Egypt as a school, and
Pharaoh as a schoolmaster; but when the needed work was accomplished,
both the school and the schoolmaster were set aside, and His people
were brought forth with a high hand and an outstretched arm.

Such, then, was the double character of the revelation made to Moses
at Mount Horeb. What he saw and what he heard combined the two
elements of holiness and grace,--elements which, as we know, enter
into and distinctly characterize all the ways and all the
relationships of the blessed God, and which should also mark the ways
of all those who in any wise act for, or have fellowship with, Him.
Every true servant is sent forth from the immediate presence of God,
with all its holiness and all its grace; and he is called to be holy
and gracious--he is called to be the reflection of the grace and
holiness of the divine character; and, in order that he may be so, he
should not only start from the immediate presence of God at the first,
but abide there, in spirit, habitually. This is the true secret of
effectual service.

    "Childlike, attend what Thou wilt say,
    Go forth and do it, while 'tis day,
      Yet never leave my sweet retreat."

The spiritual man alone can understand the meaning of the two things,
"go forth and do," and, "yet never leave." In order to act _for_ God
outside, I should be _with_ Him inside. I must be in the secret
sanctuary of His presence, else I shall utterly fail.

Very many break down on this point. There is the greatest possible
danger of getting out of the solemnity and calmness of the divine
presence, amid the bustle of intercourse with men, and the excitement
of active service. This is to be carefully guarded against. If we lose
that hallowed tone of spirit which is expressed in "the unshod foot,"
our service will very speedily become vapid and unprofitable. If I
allow my work to get between my heart and the Master, it will be
little worth. We can only effectually serve Christ as we are enjoying
Him. It is while the heart dwells upon His powerful attractions that
the hands perform the most acceptable service to His name; nor is
there any one who can minister Christ with unction, freshness, and
power to others, if he be not feeding upon Christ, in the secret of
his own soul. True, he may preach a sermon, deliver a lecture, utter
prayers, write a book, and go through the entire routine of outward
service, and yet not minister Christ. The man who will present Christ
to others must be occupied with Christ for himself.

Happy is the man who ministers thus, whatever be the success or
reception of his ministry. For should his ministry fail to attract
attention, to command influence, or to produce apparent results, he
has his sweet retreat and his unfailing portion in Christ, of which
nothing can deprive him. Whereas, the man who is merely feeding upon
the fruits of his ministry, who delights in the gratification which it
affords, or the attention and interest which it commands, is like a
mere pipe, conveying water to others, and retaining only rust itself.
This is a most deplorable condition to be in; and yet is it the actual
condition of every servant who is more occupied with his work and its
results, than with the Master and His glory.

This is a matter which calls for the most rigid self-judgment. The
heart is deceitful, and the enemy is crafty; and hence there is great
need to hearken to the word of exhortation, "Be sober, be vigilant."
It is when the soul is awakened to a sense of the varied and manifold
dangers which beset the servant's path, that it is, in any measure,
able to understand the need there is for being much alone with God: it
is there one is secure and happy. It is when we begin, continue, and
end our work at the Master's feet, that our service will be of the
right kind.

From all that has been said, it must be evident to my reader that
every servant of Christ will find the air of "the backside of the
desert" most salutary. Horeb is really the starting-post for all whom
God sends forth to act for Him. It was at Horeb that Moses learnt to
put off his shoes and hide his face. Forty years before, he had gone
to work; but his movement was premature. It was amid the
flesh-subduing solitudes of the mount of God, and forth from the
burning bush, that the divine commission fell on the servant's ear,
"Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou
mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt."
(Ver. 10.) Here was real authority. There is a vast difference between
God sending a man, and a man running unsent. But it is very manifest
that Moses was not ripe for service when first he set about acting. If
forty years of secret training were needful for him, how could he have
got on without it? Impossible! He had to be divinely educated and
divinely commissioned; and so must all who go forth upon a path of
service or testimony for Christ. O, that these holy lessons may be
deeply graven on all our hearts, that so our every work may wear upon
it the stamp of the Master's authority and the Master's approval.

However, we have something further to learn at the foot of Mount
Horeb. The soul finds it seasonable to linger in this place. "It is
good to be here." The presence of God is ever a deeply practical
place; the heart is sure to be laid open there. The light that shines
in that holy place makes everything manifest; and this is what is so
much needed in the midst of the hollow pretension around us, and the
pride and self-complacency within.

We might be disposed to think that the very moment the divine
commission was given to Moses, his reply would be, Here am I, or,
Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? But no; he had yet to be brought
to this. Doubtless, he was affected by the remembrance of his former
failure. If a man acts in anything without God, he is sure to be
discouraged, even when God is sending him. "And Moses said unto God,
'Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth
the children of Israel out of Egypt?'" (Ver. 11.) This is very unlike
the man who, forty years before, "supposed that his brethren would
have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them." Such is
man!--at one time too hasty; at another time too slow. Moses had
learnt a great deal since the day in which he smote the Egyptian. He
had grown in the knowledge of himself, and this produced diffidence
and timidity. But then he manifestly lacked confidence in God. If I am
merely looking at myself, I shall do "nothing;" but if I am looking at
Christ, "I can do all things." Thus, when diffidence and timidity led
Moses to say, "Who am I?" God's answer was, "Certainly _I_ will be
with thee." (Ver. 12.) This ought to have been sufficient. If God be
with me, it makes very little matter who I am, or what I am. When God
says, "I will send thee," and "I will be with thee," the servant is
amply furnished with divine authority and divine power; and he ought,
therefore, to be perfectly satisfied to go forth.

But Moses puts another question; for the human heart is full of
questions. "And Moses said unto God, 'Behold, when I come unto the
children of Israel and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers
hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name?
what shall I say unto them?'" It is marvelous to see how the human
heart reasons and questions, when unhesitating obedience is that which
is due to God; and still more marvelous is the grace that bears with
all the reasonings and answers all the questions. Each question seems
but to elicit some new feature of divine grace.

"And God said unto Moses, 'I AM THAT I AM;' and He said, 'Thus shalt
thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.'"
(Ver. 14.) The title which God here gives Himself is one of wondrous
significancy. In tracing through Scripture the various names which God
takes, we find them intimately connected with the varied need of
those with whom He was in relation. "Jehovah-jireh" (the Lord will
provide), "Jehovah-nissi" (the Lord my banner), "Jehovah-shalom" (the
Lord send peace), "Jehovah-tsidkenu" (the Lord our righteousness),--all
these His gracious titles are unfolded to meet the necessities of His
people; and when He calls Himself "I AM," it comprehends them all.
Jehovah, in taking this title, was furnishing His people with a blank
check, to be filled up to any amount. He calls Himself "I AM," and
faith has but to write over against that ineffably precious name
whatever we want. God is the only significant figure, and human need
may add the ciphers. If we want life, Christ says, "I AM the life;" if
we want righteousness, He is "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS;" if we want
peace, "He is our peace;" if we want "wisdom, sanctification, and
redemption," He "is made" all these "unto us." In a word, we may
travel through the wide range of human necessity, in order to have a
just conception of the amazing depth and fullness of this profound and
adorable name, "I AM."

What a mercy to be called to walk in companionship with One who bears
such a name as this! We are in the wilderness, and there we have to
meet with trial, sorrow, and difficulty; but, so long as we have the
happy privilege of betaking ourselves, at all times and under all
circumstances, to One who reveals Himself in His manifold grace, in
connection with our every necessity and weakness, we need not fear
the wilderness. God was about to bring His people across the sandy
desert, when He disclosed this precious and comprehensive name; and
although the believer now, as being endowed with the Spirit of
adoption, can cry, "Abba, Father," yet is he not deprived of the
privilege of enjoying communion with God in each and every one of
those manifestations which He has been pleased to make of Himself. For
example, the title "God" reveals Him as acting in the solitariness of
His own being, displaying His eternal power and Godhead in the works
of creation. "The Lord God" is the title which He takes in connection
with man. Then, as "the Almighty God," He rises before the view of His
servant Abraham, in order to assure his heart in reference to the
accomplishment of His promise touching the seed. As "Jehovah," He made
Himself known to Israel, in delivering them out of the land of Egypt,
and bringing them into the land of Canaan.

Such were the various measures and various modes in which "God spake
in times past unto the fathers, by the prophets" (Heb. i. 1.); and the
believer, under this dispensation or economy, as possessing the Spirit
of sonship, can say, It was my Father who thus revealed Himself, thus
spoke, thus acted.

Nothing can be more interesting or practically important in its way
than to follow out those great dispensational titles of God. These
titles are always used in strict moral consistency with the
circumstances under which they are disclosed; but there is, in the
name "I AM," a height, a depth, a length, a breadth, which truly pass
beyond the utmost stretch of human conception.

    "When God would teach mankind His name,
    He calls Himself the great 'I AM,'
    And leaves a blank--believers may
    Supply those things for which they pray."

And, be it observed, it is only in connection with His own people that
He takes this name. He did not address Pharaoh in this name. When
speaking to him, He calls Himself by that commanding and majestic
title, "The Lord God of the Hebrews;" _i.e._, God, in connection with
the very people whom he was seeking to crush. This ought to have been
sufficient to show Pharaoh his awful position with respect to God. "I
AM" would have conveyed no intelligible sound to an uncircumcised
ear--no divine reality to an unbelieving heart. When God manifest in
the flesh declared to the unbelieving Jews of His day those words,
"Before Abraham was, I _am_," they took up stones to cast at Him. It
is only the true believer who can feel, in any measure, the power, or
enjoy the sweetness, of that ineffable name, "I AM." Such an one can
rejoice to hear from the lips of the blessed Lord Jesus such
declarations as these:--"_I am_ that bread of life," "_I am_ the light
of the world," "_I am_ the good Shepherd," "_I am_ the resurrection
and the life," "_I am_ the way, the truth, and the life," "_I am_ the
true vine," "_I am_ Alpha and Omega," "_I am_ the bright and morning
star." In a word, he can take every name of divine excellence and
beauty, and, having placed it after "I AM," find JESUS therein, and
admire, adore, and worship.

Thus, there is a sweetness, as well as a comprehensiveness, in the
name "I AM," which is beyond all power of expression. Each believer
can find therein that which exactly suits his own spiritual need,
whatever it be. There is not a single winding in all the Christian's
wilderness journey, not a single phase of his soul's experience, not a
single point in his condition, which is not divinely met by this
title, for the simplest of all reasons, that whatever he wants, he has
but to place it, by faith, over against "I AM" and find it all in
Jesus. To the believer, therefore, however feeble and faltering, there
is unmingled blessedness in this name.

But although it was to the elect of God that Moses was commanded to
say, "I AM hath sent me unto you," yet is there deep solemnity and
reality in that name when looked at with reference to the unbeliever.
If one who is yet in his sins contemplates, for a moment, this amazing
title, he cannot, surely, avoid asking himself the question, How do I
stand as to this Being who calls Himself, "I AM THAT I AM"? If,
indeed, it be true that HE IS, then what _is_ He to _me_? What am _I_
to write over against this solemn name, "I AM"? I shall not rob this
question of its characteristic weight and power by any words of my
own; but I pray that God the Holy Ghost may make it searching to the
conscience of any reader who really needs to be searched thereby.

I cannot close this section without calling the attention of the
Christian reader to the deeply interesting declaration contained in
the fifteenth verse,--"And God said, moreover, unto Moses, 'Thus shalt
thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent
me unto you: _this is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all
generations_.'" This statement contains a very important truth--a
truth which many professing Christians seem to forget, namely, that
God's relationship with Israel is an eternal one. He is just as much
Israel's God now as when He visited them in the land of Egypt. Only,
because of rejecting their Messiah, they are, in His governmental
dealings, set aside for a time. But His word is clear and emphatic:
"This is My name forever." He does not say, This is My name for a
time, so long as they continue what they ought to be. No; "This is My
name _forever_, and this is My memorial unto _all generations_." Let
my reader ponder this. "God hath not cast away His people which He
foreknew." (Rom. xi. 2.) They are His people still, whether obedient
or disobedient, united together or scattered abroad, manifested to the
nations or hidden from their view. They are His people, and He is
their God. Exodus iii. 15 is unanswerable. The professing church has
no warrant whatever for ignoring a relationship which God says is to
endure "forever." Let us beware how we tamper with this weighty word,
"forever." If we say it does not mean forever when applied to Israel,
what proof have we that it means forever when applied to us? God
means what He says; and He will, ere long, make manifest to all the
nations of the earth that His connection with Israel is one which
shall outlive all the revolutions of time. "The gifts and calling of
God are without repentance." When He said, "This is My name forever,"
He spoke absolutely. "I AM" declared Himself to be Israel's God
forever; and all the Gentiles shall be made to bow to this; and to
know, moreover, that all God's providential dealings with them, and
all their destinies, are connected, in some way or other, with that
favored and honored, though now judged and scattered, people. "When
the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He
separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according
to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is His
people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance." (Deut. xxxii. 8, 9.)

Has this ceased to be true? Has Jehovah given up His "portion," and
surrendered "the lot of His inheritance"? Does His eye of tender love
no longer rest on Israel's scattered tribes, long lost to man's
vision? Are the walls of Jerusalem no longer before Him? or has her
dust ceased to be precious in His sight? To reply to these inquiries
would be to quote a large portion of the Old Testament, and not a
little of the New; but this would not be the place to enter
elaborately upon such a subject. I would only say, in closing this
section, let not christendom "be ignorant of this mystery, that
blindness _in part_ is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the
Gentiles be come in. And so _all Israel shall be saved_." (Rom. xi.
25, 26.)



CHAPTER IV.


We are still called to linger at the foot of Mount Horeb, at "the
backside of the desert;" and truly, the air of this place is most
healthful for the spiritual constitution. Man's unbelief and God's
boundless grace are here made manifest in a striking way.

"And Moses answered and said, 'But, behold, they will not believe me,
nor hearken unto my voice; for they will say, The Lord hath not
appeared unto thee.'" How hard it is to overcome the unbelief of the
human heart! How difficult man ever finds it to trust God! How slow he
is to venture upon the naked promise of Jehovah! Anything, for nature,
but that. The most slender reed that the human eye can _see_ is
counted more substantial, by far, as a basis for nature's confidence,
than the unseen "Rock of ages." Nature will rush with avidity to any
creature stream or broken cistern, rather than abide by the unseen
"Fountain of living waters."

We might suppose that Moses had seen and heard enough to set his fears
entirely aside. The consuming fire in the unconsumed bush, the
condescending grace, the precious, endearing, and comprehensive
titles, the divine commission, the assurance of the divine
presence,--all these might have quelled every anxious thought, and
have imparted a settled assurance to the heart. Still, however, Moses
raises questions, and still God answers them; and, as we have
remarked, each successive question brings out fresh grace. "And the
Lord said unto him, 'What is that in thine hand?' And he said, 'A
rod.'" The Lord would just take him as he was, and use what he had in
his hand. The rod with which he had tended Jethro's sheep was about to
be used to deliver the Israel of God, to chastise the land of Egypt,
to make a way through the deep, for the ransomed of the Lord to pass
over, and to bring forth water from the flinty rock to refresh
Israel's thirsty hosts in the desert. God takes up the weakest
instruments to accomplish His mightiest ends. "A rod," "a ram's horn,"
"a cake of barley meal," "an earthen pitcher," "a shepherd's
sling,"--anything, in short, when used of God, will do the appointed
work. Men imagine that splendid ends can only be reached by splendid
means; but such is not God's way. He can use a crawling worm as well
as a scorching sun, a gourd as well as a vehement east wind. (See
Jonah.)

But Moses had to learn a deep lesson, both as to the rod and the hand
that was to use it. He had to learn, and the people had to be
convinced. "And He said, 'Cast it on the ground.' And he cast it on
the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Put forth thine hand and take it by the
tail.' And he put forth his hand and caught it, and it became a rod
in his hand; 'that they may believe that the Lord God of their
fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
hath appeared unto thee.'" This is a deeply significant sign. The rod
became a serpent, so that Moses fled from it; but, being commissioned
by Jehovah, he took the serpent by the tail, and it became a rod.
Nothing could more aptly express the idea of Satan's power being
turned against himself. This is largely exemplified in the ways of
God. Moses himself was a striking example. The serpent is entirely
under the hand of Christ; and when he has reached the highest point in
his mad career, he shall be hurled into the lake of fire, there to
reap the fruits of his work throughout eternity's countless ages.
"That old serpent, the accuser, and the adversary," shall be eternally
crushed beneath the rod of God's Anointed.

    "Then the end--beneath His rod,
      Man's last enemy shall fall;
    Hallelujah! Christ in God,
      God in Christ, is all in all."

"And the Lord said furthermore unto him, 'Put now thine hand into thy
bosom.' And he put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out,
behold his hand was leprous as snow. And He said, 'Put thine hand into
thy bosom again.' And he put his hand into his bosom again, and
plucked it out of his bosom; and, behold, it was turned again as his
other flesh." The leprous hand and the cleansing thereof present to
us the moral effect of sin, as also the way in which sin has been met
in the perfect work of Christ. The clean hand, placed in the bosom,
becomes leprous; and the leprous hand, placed there, becomes clean.
Leprosy is the well-known type of sin; and sin came in by the first
man and was put away by the second. "By man came death, by man came
also the resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. xv. 21.) Man brought in
ruin, man brought in redemption; man brought in guilt, man brought in
pardon; man brought in sin, man brought in righteousness; man filled
the scene with death, man abolished death and filled the scene with
life, righteousness, and glory. Thus, not only shall the serpent
himself be eternally defeated and confounded, but every trace of his
abominable work shall be eradicated and wiped away by the atoning
sacrifice of Him "who was manifested that He might destroy the works
of the devil."

"And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two
signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the
water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land; and the water which
thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land."
This was a solemn and most expressive figure of the consequence of
refusing to bow to the divine testimony. This sign was only to be
wrought in the event of their refusing the other two. It was first to
be a sign to Israel, and afterwards a plague upon Egypt. (Comp.
chapter vii. 17.)

All this, however, fails to satisfy the heart of Moses. "And Moses
said unto the Lord, 'O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore
nor since Thou hast spoken unto Thy servant; but I am slow of speech,
and of a slow tongue.'" Terrible backwardness! Naught save Jehovah's
infinite patience could have endured it. Surely, when God Himself had
said, "I will be with thee," it was an infallible security, in
reference to everything which could possibly be needed. If an eloquent
tongue were necessary, what had Moses to do but to set it over against
"I AM"? Eloquence, wisdom, might, energy,--everything was contained in
that exhaustless treasury. "And the Lord said unto him, 'Who hath made
man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the
blind? have not _I the Lord_? Now, therefore, go, and I will be with
thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.'" Profound, adorable,
matchless grace! worthy of God! There is none like unto the Lord our
God, whose patient grace surmounts all our difficulties, and proves
itself amply sufficient for our manifold need and weakness. "I THE
LORD" ought to silence forever the reasonings of our carnal hearts.
But, alas! these reasonings are hard to be put down. Again and again
they rise to the surface, to the disturbance of our peace, and the
dishonor of that blessed One, who sets Himself before our souls, in
all His own essential fullness, to be used according to our need.

It is well to bear in mind that when we have the Lord with us, our
very deficiences and infirmities become an occasion for the display
of His all-sufficient grace and perfect patience. Had Moses remembered
this, his want of eloquence need not have troubled him. The apostle
Paul learnt to say, "Most gladly, therefore, _will I rather glory_ in
my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore
_I take pleasure_ in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in
persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak,
then am I strong." (2 Cor. xii. 9, 10.) This is, assuredly, the
utterance of one who had reached an advanced form in the school of
Christ. It is the experience of one who would not have been much
troubled because of not possessing an eloquent tongue, inasmuch as he
had found an answer to every description of need in the precious grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The knowledge of this truth ought to have delivered Moses from his
diffidence and inordinate timidity. When the Lord had so graciously
assured him that He would be with his mouth, it should have set his
mind at rest as to the question of eloquence. The Maker of man's mouth
could fill that mouth with the most commanding eloquence, if such were
needed. This, in the judgment of faith, is most simple; but, alas! the
poor doubting heart would place far more confidence in an eloquent
tongue than in the One who created it. This would seem most
unaccountable, did we not know the materials of which the natural
heart is composed. That heart cannot trust God; and hence it is that
even the people of God, when they suffer themselves to be in any
measure governed by nature, exhibit such a humiliating lack of
confidence in the living God.

Thus, in the scene before us, we find Moses still demurring. "And he
said, 'O my Lord, send, I pray Thee, by the hand of him whom Thou wilt
send.'" This was, in reality, casting from him the high honor of being
Jehovah's sole messenger to Egypt and to Israel.

It were needless to say that divinely-wrought humility is an
inestimable grace. To "be clothed with humility" is a divine precept;
and humility is unquestionably the most becoming dress in which a
worthless sinner can appear. But it cannot be called humility to
refuse to take the place which God assigns, or to tread the path which
His hand marks out for us. That it was not true humility in Moses is
obvious from the fact that "the anger of the Lord was kindled against
him." So far from its being humility, it had actually passed the limit
of mere weakness. So long as it wore the aspect of an excessive
timidity, however reprehensible, God's boundless grace bore with it,
and met it with renewed assurances; but when it assumed the character
of unbelief and slowness of heart, it drew down Jehovah's just
displeasure; and Moses, instead of being the sole, is made a joint,
instrument in the work of testimony and deliverance.

Nothing is more dishonoring to God, or more dangerous for us, than a
mock humility. When we refuse to occupy a position which the grace of
God assigns us, because of our not possessing certain virtues and
qualifications, this is not humility, inasmuch as if we could but
satisfy our own consciences in reference to such virtues and
qualifications, we should then deem ourselves entitled to assume the
position. If, for instance, Moses had possessed such a measure of
eloquence as he deemed needful, we may suppose he would have been
ready to go. Now the question is, How much eloquence would he have
needed to furnish him for his mission? The answer is, Without God, no
amount of human eloquence would have availed; but with God, the merest
stammerer would have proved an efficient minister.

This is a great practical truth. Unbelief is not humility, but
thorough pride. It refuses to believe God because it does not find in
_self_ a reason for believing. This is the very height of presumption.
If, when God speaks, I refuse to believe, on the ground of something
in myself, I make Him a liar. (1 John v. 10.) When God declares His
love, and I refuse to believe because I do not deem myself a
sufficiently worthy object, I make Him a liar, and exhibit the
inherent pride of my heart. The bare supposition that I could ever be
worthy of aught save the lowest pit of hell, can only be regarded as
the most profound ignorance of my own condition and of God's
requirements. And the refusal to take the place which the redeeming
love of God assigns me, on the ground of the finished atonement of
Christ, is to make God a liar, and cast gross dishonor upon the
sacrifice of the cross. God's love flows forth spontaneously. It is
not drawn forth by my deserts, but by my misery. Nor is it a question
as to the place which I deserve, but which Christ deserves. Christ
took the sinner's place on the cross, that the sinner might take His
place in the glory. Christ got what the sinner deserved, that the
sinner might get what Christ deserves. Thus _self_ is totally set
aside, and this is true humility. No one can be truly humble until he
has reached heaven's side of the cross; but there he finds divine
life, divine righteousness, and divine favor. He is done with himself
forever, as regards any expectation of goodness or righteousness, and
he feeds upon the princely wealth of another. He is morally prepared
to join in that cry which shall echo through the spacious vault of
heaven, throughout the everlasting ages, "Not unto us, O Lord, not
unto us, but unto Thy name give glory." (Psalm cxv. 1.)

It would ill become us to dwell upon the mistakes or infirmities of so
honored a servant as Moses, of whom we read that he "was verily
faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those
things which were to be spoken after." (Heb. iii. 5.) But, though we
should not dwell upon them in a spirit of self-complacency, as if we
would have acted differently in his circumstances, we should
nevertheless learn from such things those holy and seasonable lessons
which they are manifestly designed to teach. We should learn to judge
ourselves and to place more implicit confidence in God,--to set self
aside, that He might act in us, through us, and for us. This is the
true secret of power.

We have remarked that Moses forfeited the dignity of being Jehovah's
sole instrument in that glorious work which He was about to
accomplish. But this was not all. "The anger of the Lord was kindled
against Moses; and He said, 'Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I
know that he can speak well: and also, behold, he cometh forth to meet
thee; and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And _thou
shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth_: and I will be with
thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even
he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him
instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith
thou shalt do signs.'" (Chap. iv. 14-17.) This passage contains a mine
of most precious practical instruction. We have noted the timidity and
hesitation of Moses, notwithstanding the varied promises and
assurances with which divine grace had furnished him. And now,
although there was nothing gained in the way of real power, although
there was no more virtue or efficacy in one mouth than in another,
although it was Moses after all who was to speak unto Aaron; yet was
Moses quite ready to go when assured of the presence and co-operation
of a poor feeble mortal like himself; whereas he could not go when
assured, again and again, that Jehovah would be with him.

Oh! my reader, does not all this hold up before us a faithful mirror
in which you and I can see our hearts reflected? Truly it does. We are
more ready to trust anything than the living God. We move along with
bold decision when we possess the countenance and support of a poor
frail mortal like ourselves; but we falter, hesitate, and demur when
we have the light of the Master's countenance to cheer us, and the
strength of His omnipotent arm to support us. This should humble us
deeply before the Lord, and lead us to seek a fuller acquaintance with
Him, so that we might trust Him with a more unmixed confidence, and
walk on with a firmer step, as having Him _alone_ for our resource and
portion.

No doubt the fellowship of a brother is most valuable,--"Two are
better than one,"--whether in labor, rest, or conflict. The Lord
Jesus, in sending forth His disciples, "sent them two by two,"--for
unity is ever better than isolation;--still, if our personal
acquaintance with God, and our experience of His presence, be not such
as to enable us, if needful, to walk alone, we shall find the presence
of a brother of very little use. It is not a little remarkable that
Aaron, whose companionship seemed to satisfy Moses, was the man who
afterwards made the golden calf. (Exod. xxxii. 21.) Thus it frequently
happens, that the very person whose presence we deem essential to our
progress and success, afterwards proves a source of deepest sorrow to
our hearts. May we ever remember this!

However, Moses at length consents to go; but ere he is fully equipped
for his work, he must pass through another deep exercise,--yea, he
must have the sentence of death inscribed by the hand of God upon his
very nature. He had learnt deep lessons at "the backside of the
desert;" he is called to learn something deeper still, "by the way in
the inn." It is no light matter to be the Lord's servant. No ordinary
education will qualify a man for such a position. Nature must be put
in the place of death, and kept there. "We had the sentence of death
in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which
raiseth the dead." (2 Cor. i. 9.) Every successful servant will need
to know something of this. Moses was called to enter into it, in his
own experience, ere he was morally qualified. He was about to sound in
the ears of Pharaoh the following deeply solemn message: "Thus saith
the Lord, 'Israel is My son, even My first-born: and I say unto thee,
Let My son go, that he may serve Me: and if thou refuse to let him go,
behold I will slay thy son, even thy first-born.'" Such was to be his
message to Pharaoh,--a message of death, a message of judgment; and,
at the same time, his message to Israel was a message of life and
salvation. But, be it remembered, that the man who will speak, on
God's behalf, of death and judgment, life and salvation, must, ere he
does so, enter into the practical power of these things in his own
soul. Thus it was with Moses. We have seen him, at the very outset, in
the place of death, typically; but this was a different thing from
entering into the experience of death in his own person. Hence we
read, "And it came to pass, by the way in the inn, that the Lord met
him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut
off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said,
'Surely, a bloody husband art thou to me.' So He let him go: then she
said, 'A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.'" This
passage lets us into a deep secret in the personal and domestic
history of Moses. It is very evident that Zipporah's heart had, up to
this point, shrunk from the application of _the knife_ to that around
which the affections of nature were entwined. She had avoided that
mark which had to be set in the flesh of every member of the Israel of
God. She was not aware that her relationship with Moses was one
involving death to nature. She recoiled from the cross. This was
natural. But Moses had yielded to her in the matter; and this explains
to us the mysterious scene "in the inn." If Zipporah refuses to
circumcise her _son_, Jehovah will lay His hand upon her _husband_;
and if Moses spares the feelings of his wife, Jehovah will "seek to
kill him." The sentence of death must be written on nature; and if we
seek to avoid it in one way, we shall have to encounter it in another.

It has been already remarked that Zipporah furnishes an instructive
and interesting type of the Church. She was united to Moses during the
period of his rejection; and from the passage just quoted, we learn
that the Church is called to know Christ as the One related to her "by
blood." It is her privilege to drink of His cup, and be baptized with
His baptism. Being crucified with Him, she is to be conformed to His
death--to mortify her members which are on the earth--to take up the
cross daily, and follow Him. Her relationship with Christ is founded
upon blood, and the manifestation of the power of that relationship
will necessarily involve death to nature. "And ye are complete in Him,
which is the head of all principality and power; in whom also ye are
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off
the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through
the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead."
(Col. ii. 10-12.)

Such is the doctrine as to the Church's place with Christ,--a doctrine
replete with the richest privileges for the Church, and each member
thereof. Everything, in short, is involved:--the perfect remission of
sin, divine righteousness, complete acceptance, everlasting security,
full fellowship with Christ in all His glory. "Ye are _complete_ in
Him." This, surely, comprehends everything. What could be added to one
who is "complete"? Could "philosophy," "the tradition of men," "the
rudiments of the world," "meats, drinks, holy days, new moons, or
Sabbaths"? "Touch not" this, "taste not" that, "handle not" the other,
"the commandments and doctrines of men," "days, and months, and times,
and years,"--could any of these things, or all of them put together,
add a single jot or tittle to one whom God has pronounced "complete"?
We might just as well inquire if man could have gone forth upon the
fair creation of God, at the close of the six days' work, to give the
finishing touch to that which God had pronounced "very good."

Nor is this completeness to be, by any means, viewed as a matter of
attainment,--some point which we have not yet reached, but after which
we must diligently strive, and of the possession of which we cannot be
sure until we lie upon a bed of death, or stand before a throne of
judgment. It is the portion of the feeblest, the most inexperienced,
the most unlettered child of God. The very weakest saint is included
in the apostolic "_ye_." All the people of God "_are_ complete in
Christ." The apostle does not say, Ye _will_ be, Ye _may_ be, _Hope_
that ye may be, _Pray_ that ye may be: no; he, by the Holy Ghost,
states, in the most absolute and unqualified manner, that "ye _are_
complete." This is the true Christian starting-post; and for man to
make a goal of what God makes a starting-post, is to upset everything.

But, then, some will ask, Have we no sin, no failure, no imperfection?
Assuredly we have. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John i. 8.) We have sin
_in_ us, but no sin _on_ us. Moreover, our standing is not in _self_,
but in Christ. It is "_in Him_" we "are complete." God sees the
believer in Christ, with Christ, and as Christ. This is his
changeless condition--his everlasting standing. "The body of the sins
of the flesh" is "put off by the circumcision of Christ." The believer
is not in the flesh, though the flesh is in him. He is united to
Christ in the power of a new and an endless life, and that life is
inseparably connected with divine righteousness in which the believer
stands before God. The Lord Jesus has put away everything that was
against the believer, and He has brought him nigh to God, in the
self-same favor as that which He Himself enjoys. In a word, Christ is
his righteousness. This settles every question, answers every
objection, silences every doubt. "Both He that sanctifieth and they
who are sanctified are all of one." (Heb. ii. 11.)

The foregoing line of truth has flowed out of the deeply interesting
type presented to us in the relationship between Moses and Zipporah.
We must now hasten to close this section, and take our leave, for the
present, of "the backside of the desert," though not of its deep
lessons and holy impressions, so essential to every servant of Christ,
and every messenger of the living God. All who would serve
effectually, either in the important work of evangelization, or in the
varied ministries of the house of God--which is the Church--will need
to imbibe the precious instructions which Moses received at the foot
of Mount Horeb, and "by the way in the inn."

Were these things properly attended to, we should not have so many
running unsent--so many rushing into spheres of ministry for which
they were never designed. Let each one who stands up to preach, or
teach, or exhort, or serve in any way, seriously inquire if, indeed,
he be fitted and taught and sent of God. If not, his work will neither
be owned of God nor blessed to men, and the sooner he ceases, the
better for himself and for those upon whom he has been imposing the
heavy burden of hearkening to him. Neither a humanly-appointed nor a
self-appointed ministry will ever suit within the hallowed precincts
of the Church of God. All must be divinely gifted, divinely taught,
and divinely sent.

"And the Lord said to Aaron, 'Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.'
And he went and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. And Moses
told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the
signs which He had commanded him." This was a fair and beauteous
scene--a scene of sweet brotherly love and union--a scene which stands
in marked contrast with many of those scenes which were afterwards
enacted in the wilderness-career of these two men. Forty years of
wilderness life are sure to make great changes in men and things. Yet
it is sweet to dwell upon those early days of one's Christian course,
before the stern realities of desert life had, in any measure, checked
the gush of warm and generous affections,--before deceit and
corruption and hypocrisy had well-nigh dried up the springs of the
heart's confidence, and placed the whole moral being beneath the
chilling influences of a suspicious disposition.

That such results have been produced, in many cases, by years of
experience, is, alas! too true. Happy is he who, though his eyes have
been opened to see nature in a clearer light than that which this
world supplies, can nevertheless serve his generation by the energy of
that grace which flows forth from the bosom of God. Who ever knew the
depths and windings of the human heart as Jesus knew them? "He knew
_all_, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what
was in man." (John ii. 24, 25.) So well did He know man, that He could
not commit Himself unto him. He could not accredit man's professions,
or endorse his pretensions. And yet, who so gracious as He? Who so
loving, so tender, so compassionate, so sympathizing? With a heart
that understood all, He could feel for all. He did not suffer His
perfect knowledge of human worthlessness to keep Him aloof from human
need. "He went about doing good." Why? Was it because He imagined that
all those who flocked around Him were real? No; but "because God was
with Him." (Acts x. 38.) This is our example. Let us follow it,
though, in doing so, we shall have to trample on _self_ and all its
interests, at every step of the way.

Who would desire that wisdom, that knowledge of nature, that
experience, which only lead men to ensconce themselves within the
inclosures of a hard-hearted selfishness, from which they look forth
with an eye of dark suspicion upon everybody? Surely, such a result
could never follow from aught of a heavenly or excellent nature. God
gives wisdom; but it is not a wisdom which locks the heart against
all the appeals of human need and misery. He gives a knowledge of
nature; but it is not a knowledge which causes us to grasp with
selfish eagerness that which we, falsely, call "our own." He gives
experience; but it is not an experience which results in suspecting
everybody except myself. If I am walking in the footprints of Jesus,
if I am imbibing, and therefore manifesting, His excellent spirit, if,
in short, I can say, "To me to live is Christ;" then, while I walk
through the world, with a knowledge of what the world is; while I come
in contact with man, with a knowledge of what I am to expect from him;
I am able, through grace, to manifest Christ in the midst of it all.
The springs which move me, and the objects which animate me, are all
_above_, where He is, who is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and
forever." (Heb. xiii. 8.) It was this which sustained the heart of
that beloved and honored servant, whose history, even so far, has
furnished us with such deep and solid instruction. It was this which
carried him through the trying and varied scenes of his wilderness
course. And we may safely assert that, at the close of all,
notwithstanding the trial and exercise of forty years, Moses could
embrace his brother when he stood on Mount Hor, with the same warmth
as he had when first he met him "in the mount of God." True, the two
occasions were very different. At "the mount of God" they met and
embraced, and started together on their divinely-appointed mission.
Upon "Mount Hor" they met by the commandment of Jehovah, in order
that Moses might strip his brother of his priestly robes, and see him
gathered to his fathers, because of an error in which he himself had
participated. (How solemn! How touching!) Circumstances vary: men turn
away from one; but with God "is no variableness, neither shadow of
turning." (James i. 17.)

"And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the
children of Israel; and Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had
spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And
the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the
children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then
they bowed their heads and worshiped." (Ver. 29-31.) When God works,
every barrier must give way. Moses had said, "The people will not
believe me." But the question was not as to whether they would believe
him, but whether they would believe God. When a man is enabled to view
himself simply as the messenger of God, he may feel quite at ease as
to the reception of his message. It does not detract, in the smallest
degree, from his tender and affectionate solicitude in reference to
those whom he addresses. Quite the contrary; but it preserves him from
that inordinate anxiety of spirit which can only tend to unfit him for
calm, elevated, steady testimony. The messenger of God should ever
remember whose message he bears. When Zacharias said to the angel,
"Whereby shall I know this?" was the latter perturbed by the question?
Not in the least. His calm, dignified reply was, "I am Gabriel, that
stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee, and to
show thee these glad tidings." (Luke i. 18, 19.) The angel rises
before the doubting mortal, with a keen and exquisite sense of the
dignity of his message. It is as if he would say, How can you doubt,
when a messenger has actually been dispatched from the very
presence-chamber of the Majesty of heaven? Thus should every messenger
of God, in his measure, go forth, and, in this spirit, deliver his
message.



CHAPTERS V. & VI.


The effect of the first appeal to Pharaoh seemed aught but
encouraging. The thought of losing Israel made him clutch them with
greater eagerness and watch them with greater vigilance. Whenever
Satan's power becomes narrowed to a point, his rage increases. Thus it
is here. The furnace is about to be quenched by the hand of redeeming
love; but ere it is, it blazes forth with greater fierceness and
intensity. The devil does not like to let go any one whom he has had
in his terrible grasp. He is "a strong man armed," and while he
"keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." But, blessed be God,
there is "a stronger than he," who has taken from him "his armor
wherein he trusted," and divided the spoils among the favored objects
of His everlasting love.

"And afterward, Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh,--'Thus
saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a
feast unto Me in the wilderness.'" (Chap. v. 1.) Such was Jehovah's
message to Pharaoh. He claimed full deliverance for the people on the
ground of their being His, and in order that they might hold a feast
unto Him in the wilderness. Nothing can ever satisfy God in reference
to His elect, but their entire emancipation from the yoke of bondage.
"Loose him and let him go" is really the grand motto in God's gracious
dealings with those who, though held in bondage by Satan, are
nevertheless the objects of His eternal love.

When we contemplate Israel amid the brick-kilns of Egypt, we behold a
graphic figure of the condition of every child of Adam by nature.
There they were, crushed beneath the enemy's galling yoke, and having
no power to deliver themselves. The mere mention of the word _liberty_
only caused the oppressor to bind his captives with a stronger fetter,
and to lade them with a still more grievous burden. It was absolutely
necessary that deliverance should come from without. But from whence
was it to come! Where were the resources to pay their ransom? or where
was the power to break their chains? And even were there both the one
and the other, where was the _will_? Who would take the trouble of
delivering them? Alas! there was no hope, either within or around.
They had only to look up. Their refuge was in God. He had both the
power and the will. He could accomplish a redemption both by price and
by power. In Jehovah, and in Him alone, was there salvation for
ruined and oppressed Israel.

Thus it is in every case. "Neither is there salvation in any other;
for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we
must be saved." (Acts iv. 12.) The sinner is in the hands of one who
rules him with despotic power. He is "sold under sin"--"led captive by
Satan at his will" fast bound in the fetters of lust, passion, and
temper,--"without strength," "without hope," "without God." Such is
the sinner's condition. How, then, can he help himself? What can he
do? He is the slave of another, and everything he does is done in the
capacity of a slave. His thoughts, his words, his acts, are the
thoughts, words, and acts of a slave. Yea, though he should weep and
sigh for emancipation, his very tears and sighs are the melancholy
proofs of his slavery. He may struggle for freedom; but his very
struggle, though it evinces a desire for liberty, is the positive
declaration of his bondage.

Nor is it merely a question of the sinner's _condition_; his very
_nature_ is radically corrupt--wholly under the power of Satan. Hence
he not only needs to be introduced into a new condition, but also to
be endowed with a new nature. The nature and the condition go
together. If it were possible for the sinner to better his condition,
what would it avail so long as his nature was irrecoverable bad? A
nobleman might take a beggar off the streets and adopt him; he might
endow him with a noble's wealth, and set him in a noble's position;
but he could not impart to him nobility of nature; and thus the nature
of a beggarman would never be at home in the condition of a nobleman.
There must be a nature to suit the condition; and there must be a
condition to suit the capacity, the desires, the affections, and the
tendencies of the nature.

Now, in the gospel of the grace of God, we are taught that the
believer is introduced into an entirely new condition; that he is no
longer viewed as in his former state of guilt and condemnation, but as
in a state of perfect and everlasting justification; that the
condition in which God now sees him is not only one of full pardon,
but it is such that infinite holiness cannot find so much as a single
stain. He has been taken out of his former condition of guilt, and
placed absolutely and eternally in a new condition of unspotted
righteousness. It is not, by any means, that his old condition is
improved. This is utterly impossible. "That which is crooked cannot be
made straight." "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his
spots?" Nothing can be more opposed to the fundamental truth of the
gospel than the theory of a gradual improvement in the sinner's
condition. He is born in a certain condition, and until he is "born
again" he cannot be in any other. He may try to improve, he may
resolve to be better for the future--to "turn over a new leaf"--to
live a different sort of life; but, all the while, he has not moved a
single hair's breadth out of his real condition as a sinner. He may
become "religious," as it is called,--he may try to pray, he may
diligently attend to ordinances, and exhibit an appearance of moral
reform; but none of these things can, in the smallest degree, affect
his positive condition before God.

The case is precisely similar as to the question of _nature_. How can
a man alter his nature? He may make it undergo a process, he may try
to subdue it--to place it under discipline; but it is nature still.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh." There must be a new nature
as well as a new condition. And how is this to be had? By believing
God's testimony concerning His Son. "As many as received Him, to them
gave He power to become the sons of God, even _to them that believe on
His name_: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John i. 12, 13.) Here we
learn that those who believe on the name of the only begotten Son of
God, have the right or privilege of being sons of God. They are made
partakers of a new nature: they have gotten eternal life.--"He that
believeth on the Son _hath_ everlasting life" (John iii.
36.).--"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that _heareth_ My word, and
_believeth_ on Him that sent Me, _hath_ everlasting life, and shall
not come into condemnation; but _is_ passed from death unto life"
(John v. 24.).--"And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John xvii.
3.).--"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life,
and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son _hath_ life." (1
John v. 11, 12.)

Such is the plain doctrine of the Word in reference to the momentous
questions of condition and nature. But on what is all this founded?
How is the believer introduced into a condition of divine
righteousness and made partaker of the divine nature? It all rests on
the great truth that "JESUS DIED AND ROSE AGAIN." That blessed One
left the bosom of eternal love, the throne of glory, the mansions of
unfading light; came down into this world of guilt and woe; took upon
Him the likeness of sinful flesh; and, having perfectly exhibited and
perfectly glorified God in all the movements of His blessed life here
below, He died upon the cross, under the full weight of His people's
transgressions. By so doing, He divinely met all that was or could be
against us. He magnified the law and made it honorable; and, having
done so, He became a curse by hanging on the tree. Every claim was
met, every enemy silenced, every obstacle removed. "Mercy and truth
are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
Infinite justice was satisfied, and infinite love can flow, in all its
soothing and refreshing virtues, into the broken heart of the sinner;
while, at the same time, the cleansing and atoning stream that flowed
from the pierced side of a crucified Christ, perfectly meets all the
cravings of a guilty and convicted conscience. The Lord Jesus, on the
cross, stood in our place. He was our representative. He died, "the
just for the unjust." "He was made sin for us." (2 Cor. v. 21; 1
Peter iii. 18.) He died the sinner's death, was buried, and rose
again, having accomplished all. Hence, there is absolutely nothing
against the believer. He is linked with Christ, and stands in the same
condition of righteousness. "As He is, so are we in this world." (1
John iv. 17.)

This gives settled peace to the conscience. If I am no longer in a
condition of guilt, but in a condition of justification,--if God only
sees me _in_ Christ and as Christ, then, clearly, my portion is
perfect peace. "Being justified by faith, we _have_ peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. v. 1.) The blood of the Lamb has
canceled all the believer's guilt,--blotted out his heavy debt, and
given him a perfectly blank page, in the presence of that holiness
which "cannot look upon sin."

But the believer has not merely found peace with God; he is made a
child of God, so that he can taste the sweetness of communion with the
Father and the Son, through the power of the Holy Ghost. The cross is
to be viewed in two ways: first, as satisfying God's claims; secondly,
as expressing God's affections. If I look at my sins in connection
with the claims of God as a Judge, I find, in the cross, a perfect
settlement of those claims. God, as a Judge, has been divinely
satisfied--yea, glorified, in the cross. But there is more than this.
God had affections as well as claims; and, in the cross of the Lord
Jesus Christ, all those affections are sweetly and touchingly told out
into the sinner's ear; while, at the same time, he is made partaker
of a new nature which is capable of enjoying those affections and
having fellowship with the heart from which they flow. "For Christ
also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He
might bring us to God." (1 Peter iii. 18.) Thus, we are not only
brought into _a condition_, but unto _a Person_, even God Himself, and
we are endowed with _a nature_ which can delight in Him.--"_We also
joy in God_, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now
received the reconciliation (margin)." (Rom. v. 11.)

What force and beauty, therefore, can we see in those emancipating
words, "Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the
wilderness." "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath
anointed Me to preach the gospel; He hath sent Me to heal the
broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering
of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." (Luke
iv. 18.) The glad tidings of the gospel announce full deliverance from
every yoke of bondage. Peace and liberty are the boons which that
gospel bestows on all who believe it, as God has declared it.

And mark, it is "that they may hold a feast to _Me_." If they were to
get done with Pharaoh, it was that they might begin with God. This was
a great change. Instead of toiling under Pharaoh's taskmasters, they
were to feast in company with Jehovah; and, although they were to pass
from Egypt into the wilderness, still the divine presence was to
accompany them; and if the wilderness was rough and dreary, it was the
way to the land of Canaan. The divine purpose was, that they should
hold a feast unto the Lord in the wilderness, and in order to do this,
they should be "_let go_" out of Egypt.

However, Pharaoh was in no wise disposed to yield obedience to the
divine mandate. "Who is the Lord," said he, "that I should obey His
voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel
go." (Chap. v. 2.) Pharaoh most truly expressed, in these words, his
real condition. His condition was one of ignorance and consequent
disobedience. Both go together. If God be not known, He cannot be
obeyed; for obedience is ever founded upon knowledge. When the soul is
blessed with the knowledge of God, it finds this knowledge to be life
(John xvii. 3.), and life is power; and when I get power, I can act.
It is obvious that one cannot act without life; and therefore it is
most unintelligent to set people upon doing certain things in order to
get that by which alone they can do anything.

But Pharaoh was as ignorant of himself as he was of the Lord. He did
not know that he was a poor, vile worm of the earth, and that he had
been raised up for the express purpose of making known the glory of
the very One whom he said he knew not. (Exod. ix. 16; Rom. ix. 17.)
"And they said, 'The God of the Hebrews has met with us: let us go, we
pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the
Lord our God; lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.'
And the king of Egypt said unto them, 'Wherefore do ye, Moses and
Aaron, let the people from their work? Get you unto your burdens ...
let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labor therein;
and let them not regard _vain words_.'" (Ver. 3-9.)

What a development of the secret springs of the human heart we have
here! What complete incompetency to enter into the things of God! All
the divine titles and the divine revelations were, in Pharaoh's
estimation, "vain words." What did he know or care about "three days'
journey into the wilderness," or "a feast to Jehovah"? How could he
understand the need of such a journey, or the nature or object of such
a feast? Impossible. He could understand burden-bearing and
brick-making; these things had an air of reality about them, in his
judgment; but as to aught of God, His service, or His worship, he
could only regard it in the light of an idle chimera, devised by those
who only wanted an excuse to make their escape from the stern
realities of actual life.

Thus has it too often been with the wise and great of this world. They
have ever been the most forward to write folly and vanity upon the
divine testimonies. Hearken, for example, to the estimate which the
"most noble Festus" formed of the grand question at issue between Paul
and the Jews:--"They had certain questions against him of their own
superstition, and _of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to
be alive_." (Acts xxv. 19.) Alas! how little he knew what he was
saying! How little he knew what was involved in the question, as to
whether "Jesus" was "dead" or "alive"! He thought not of the solemn
bearing of that momentous question upon himself and his friends,
Agrippa and Bernice; but that did not alter the matter; he and they
know somewhat more about it now, though in their passing moment of
earthly glory they regarded it as a superstitious question, wholly
beneath the notice of men of common sense, and only fit to occupy the
disordered brain of visionary enthusiasts. Yes; the stupendous
question which fixes the destiny of every child of Adam--on which is
founded the present and everlasting condition of the Church and the
world--which stands connected with all the divine counsels,--this
question was, in the judgment of Festus, a vain superstition.

Thus was it in Pharaoh's case. He knew nothing of "the Lord God of the
Hebrews"--the great "I AM," and hence he regarded all that Moses and
Aaron had said to him, in reference to doing sacrifice to God, as
"vain words." The things of God must ever seem vain, profitless, and
unmeaning to the unsanctified mind of man. His name may be made use of
as part of the flippant phraseology of a cold and formal
religiousness; but He Himself is not known. His precious name, which,
to a believer's heart, has wrapped up in it all that he can possibly
need or desire, has no significancy, no power, no virtue for an
unbeliever. All, therefore, connected with God--His words, His
counsels, His thoughts, His ways,--everything, in short, that treats
of or refers to Him, is regarded as "vain words."

However, the time is rapidly approaching when it will not be thus. The
judgment-seat of Christ, the terrors of the world to come, the surges
of the lake of fire, will not be "vain words." Assuredly not; and it
should be the great aim of all who, through grace, believe them now to
be realities, to press them upon the consciences of those who, like
Pharaoh, regard the making of bricks as the only thing worth thinking
about--the only thing that can be called real and solid.

Alas! that even Christians should so frequently be found living in the
region of sight--the region of earth--the region of nature--as to lose
the deep, abiding, influential sense of the reality of divine and
heavenly things. We want to live more in the region of faith--the
region of heaven--the region of the "new creation." Then we should see
things as God sees them, think about them as He thinks; and our whole
course and character would be more elevated, more disinterested, more
thoroughly separated from earth and earthly things.

But Moses' sorest trial did not arise from Pharaoh's judgment about
his mission. The true and whole-hearted servant of Christ must ever
expect to be looked on, by the men of this world, as a mere visionary
enthusiast. The point of view from which they contemplate him is such
as to lead us to look for this judgment and none other. The more
faithful he is to his heavenly Master, the more he walks in His
footsteps, the more conformed he is to His image, the more likely he
is to be considered, by the sons of earth, as one "beside himself."
This, therefore, should neither disappoint nor discourage him. But
then it is a far more painful thing when his service and testimony are
misunderstood, unheeded, or rejected by those who are themselves the
specific objects thereof. When such is the case, he needs to be much
with God, much in the secret of His mind, much in the power of
communion, to have his spirit sustained in the abiding reality of his
path and service. Under such trying circumstances, if one be not fully
persuaded of the divine commission, and conscious of the divine
presence, he will be almost sure to break down.

Had not Moses been thus upheld, his heart must have utterly failed him
when the augmented pressure of Pharaoh's power elicited from the
officers of the children of Israel such desponding and depressing
words as these,--"The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have
made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes
of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us." This was
gloomy enough; and Moses felt it so, for "he returned unto the Lord,
and said, 'Lord, wherefore hast Thou so evil entreated this people?
Why is it that Thou hast sent me? For since I came unto Pharaoh to
speak in Thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast Thou
delivered Thy people at all.'" The aspect of things had become most
discouraging, at the very moment when deliverance seemed at hand;
just as, in nature, the darkest hour of the night is often that which
immediately precedes the dawn of the morning. Thus will it assuredly
be in Israel's history in the latter day. The moment of most profound
darkness and depressing gloom will precede the bursting of "the Sun of
Righteousness" from behind the cloud, with healing in His wings to
heal eternally "the hurt of the daughter of His people."

We may well question how far genuine faith, or a mortified will,
dictated the "_wherefore?_" and the "_why?_" of Moses, in the above
quotation. Still, the Lord does not rebuke a remonstrance drawn forth
by the intense pressure of the moment. He most graciously replies,
"Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand
shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out
of his land." (Chap. vi. 1.) This reply breathes peculiar grace.
Instead of reproving the petulance which could presume to call in
question the unsearchable ways of the great I AM, that ever-gracious
One seeks to relieve the harassed spirit of His servant by unfolding
to him what He was about to do. This was worthy of the blessed
God--the unupbraiding Giver of every good and every perfect gift. "He
knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." (Ps. ciii. 14.)

Nor is it merely in His actings that He would cause the heart to find
its solace, but in Himself--in His very name and character. This is
full, divine, and everlasting blessedness. When the heart can find
its sweet relief in God Himself--when it can retreat into the strong
tower which His name affords--when it can find, in His character, a
perfect answer to all its need, then, truly, it is raised far above
the region of the creature, it can turn away from earth's fair
promises, it can place the proper value on man's lofty pretensions.
The heart which is endowed with an experimental knowledge of God can
not only look forth upon earth, and say, "All is vanity;" but it can
also look straight up to Him, and say, "All my springs are in Thee."

"And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, 'I am the Lord: and I
appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God
Almighty; but by My name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have
also established My covenant with them to give them the land of
Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And
I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the
Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant.'"
"JEHOVAH" is the title which He takes as the Deliverer of His people,
on the ground of His covenant of pure and sovereign grace. He reveals
Himself as the great self-existing Source of redeeming love,
establishing His counsels, fulfilling His promises, delivering His
elect people from every enemy and every evil. It was Israel's
privilege ever to abide under the safe covert of that significant
title--a title which displays God acting for His own glory, and
taking up His oppressed people in order to show forth in them that
glory.

"Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, 'I am the Lord, and I will
bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid
you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched-out
arm, and with great judgments; and I will take you to Me for a people,
and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your
God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
And I will bring you in unto the land concerning the which I did swear
to give it unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to
you for a heritage: I am the Lord.'" (Ver. 6-8.) All this speaks the
purest, freest, richest grace. Jehovah presents Himself to the hearts
of His people as the One who was to act _in_ them, _for_ them, and
_with_ them, for the display of His own glory. Ruined and helpless as
they were, He had come down to show forth His glory, to exhibit His
grace, and to furnish a sample of His power, in their full
deliverance. His glory and their salvation were inseparably connected.
They were afterwards reminded of all this, as we read in the book of
Deuteronomy,--"The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you,
because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest
of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and because He would
keep the oath which He had sworn onto your fathers, hath the Lord
brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house
of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." (Chap. vii. 7,
8.)

Nothing is more calculated to assure and establish the doubting,
trembling heart than the knowledge that God has taken us up _just as
we are_, and in the full intelligence of what we are; and, moreover,
that He can never make any fresh discovery to cause an alteration in
the character and measure of His love. "Having loved His own which
were in the world, He loved them unto the end." (John xiii.) _Whom_ He
loves and _as_ He loves, He loves unto the end. This is an unspeakable
comfort. God knew all about us--He knew the very worst of us, when He
manifested His love to us in the gift of His Son. He knew what was
needed, and He provided it; He knew what was due, and He paid it; He
knew what was to be wrought, and He wrought it; His own requirements
had to be met, and He met them. It is all His own work. Hence, we find
Him saying to Israel, as in the above passage, "I will bring you out,"
"I will bring you in," "I will take you to Me," "I will give you the
land," "I am Jehovah." It was all what _He would do_, as founded upon
what _He was_. Until this great truth is fully laid hold of, until it
enters into the soul, in the power of the Holy Ghost, there cannot be
settled peace. The heart can never be happy, or the conscience at
rest, until one knows and believes that all divine requirements have
been divinely answered.

The remainder of our section is taken up with a record of "the heads
of their fathers' houses," and is very interesting, as showing us
Jehovah coming in and numbering those that belonged to Himself, though
they were still in the possession of the enemy. Israel was God's
people, and He here counts up those on whom He had a sovereign claim.
Amazing grace! To find an object in those who were in the midst of all
the degradation of Egyptian bondage! This was worthy of God. The One
who had made the worlds, who was surrounded by hosts of unfallen
angels, ever ready to "do His pleasure," should come down for the
purpose of taking up a number of bond-slaves with whom He condescended
to connect His name. He came down and stood amid the brick-kilns of
Egypt, and there beheld a people groaning beneath the lash of the
taskmasters, and He uttered those memorable accents, "Let _My_ people
go;" and, having so said, He proceeded to count them up, as much as to
say, These are Mine; let Me see how many I have, that not one may be
left behind. "He taketh up the beggar from the dunghill, to set him
amongst the princes of His people, and to make him inherit the throne
of glory."(1 Sam. ii.)



CHAPTERS VII.-XI.


These five chapters form one distinct section, the contents of which
may be distributed into the three following divisions, namely, the ten
judgments from the hand of Jehovah, the resistance of "Jannes and
Jambres," and the four objections of Pharaoh.

The whole land of Egypt was made to tremble beneath the successive
strokes of the rod of God. All, from the monarch on His throne to the
menial at the mill, were made to feel the terrible weight of that rod.
"He sent Moses His servant, and Aaron whom He had chosen. They showed
His signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham. He sent darkness
and made it dark; and they rebelled not against His word. He turned
their waters into blood, and slew their fish. Their land brought forth
frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings. He spake, and
there came divers sorts of flies and lice in all their coasts. He gave
them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land. He smote their
vines also, and their fig-trees; and brake the trees of their coasts.
He spake, and their locusts came, and the caterpillars, and that
without number, and did eat up all the herbs in their land, and
devoured the fruit of their ground. He smote also all the first-born
in their land, the chief of all their strength." (Ps. cv. 26-36.)

Here the inspired Psalmist has given a condensed view of those
appalling inflictions which the hardness of Pharaoh's heart brought
upon his land and upon his people. This haughty monarch had set
himself to resist the sovereign will and course of the Most High God;
and, as a just consequence, he was given over to judicial blindness
and hardness of heart. "And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh,
and he hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had spoken unto Moses. And
the Lord said unto Moses, 'Rise up early in the morning, and stand
before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the
Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me, For I will at this
time send all My plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and
upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like Me in
all the earth. For now I will stretch out My hand that I may smite
thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from
the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for
to show in thee My power, and that My name maybe declared throughout
all the earth.'" (Exod. ix. 12-16.)

In contemplating Pharaoh and his actings, the mind is carried forward
to the stirring scenes of the book of Revelation, in which we find the
last proud oppressor of the people of God bringing down upon his
kingdom and upon himself the seven vials of the wrath of the Almighty.
It is God's purpose that Israel shall be pre-eminent in the earth;
and, therefore, every one who presumes to stand in the way of that
pre-eminence must be set aside. Divine grace must find its object; and
every one who would act as a barrier in the way of that grace, must be
taken out of the way,--whether it be Egypt, Babylon, or "the beast
that was, is not, and yet is," it matters not. Divine power will clear
the channel for divine grace to flow, and eternal woe be to all who
stand in the way. They shall taste, throughout the everlasting course
of ages, the bitter fruit of having exalted themselves against "the
Lord God of the Hebrews." He has said to His people, "No weapon that
is formed against thee shall prosper," and His infallible faithfulness
will assuredly make good what His infinite grace hath promised.

Thus, in Pharaoh case, when he persisted in holding, with an iron
grasp, the Israel of God, the vials of divine wrath were poured forth
upon him; and the land of Egypt was covered, throughout its entire
length and breadth, with darkness, disease, and desolation. So will it
be by and by, when the last great oppressor shall emerge from the
bottomless pit, armed with satanic power, to crush beneath his "foot
of pride" the favored objects of Jehovah's choice. His throne shall be
overturned, his kingdom devastated by the seven last plagues, and,
finally, he himself plunged, not in the Red Sea, but "in the lake that
burneth with fire and brimstone." (Comp. Rev. xvii. 8; xx. 10.)

Not one jot or one tittle of what God has promised to Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob shall fail. He will accomplish all. Notwithstanding all that
has been said and done to the contrary, God remembers His promises,
and He will fulfill them. They are all "yea and amen in Christ."
Dynasties have risen and acted on the stage of this world; thrones
have been erected on the apparent ruins of Jerusalem's ancient glory;
empires have flourished for a time, and then fallen to decay;
ambitious potentates have contended for the possession of "the land of
promise"--all these things have taken place; but Jehovah has said
concerning Palestine, "The land shall not be sold forever: for the
land is Mine." (Lev. xxv. 23.) No one, therefore, shall ever finally
possess that land but Jehovah Himself, and He will inherit it through
the seed of Abraham. One plain passage of Scripture is quite
sufficient to establish the mind in reference to this or any other
subject. The land of Canaan is for the seed of Abraham, and the seed
of Abraham for the land of Canaan; nor can any power of earth or hell
ever reverse this divine order. The eternal God has pledged His word,
and the blood of the everlasting covenant has flowed to ratify that
word. Who, then, shall make it void? "Heaven and earth shall pass
away, but that word shall never pass away." Truly, "there is none like
unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and
in His excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and
underneath are the everlasting arms; and He shall thrust out the enemy
from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell
in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn
and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O
Israel, who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield
of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thy enemies
shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high
places." (Deut. xxxiii. 26-29.)

We shall now consider, in the second place, the opposition of "Jannes
and Jambres," the magicians of Egypt. We should not have known the
names of these ancient opposers of the truth of God, had they not
been recorded by the Holy Ghost, in connection with "the perilous
times" of which the apostle Paul warns his son Timothy. It is
important that the Christian reader should clearly understand the real
nature of the opposition given to Moses by those magicians, and in
order that he may have the subject fully before him, I shall quote the
entire passage from St. Paul's epistle to Timothy. It is one of deep
and awful solemnity.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For
men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,
blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without
natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent,
fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady,
high-minded, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God; having a
form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive
silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever
learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as
Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth:
men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall
proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifest unto all, as
theirs also was." (2 Tim. iii. 1-9.)

Now, it is peculiarly solemn to mark the nature of this resistance to
the truth. The mode in which "Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses" was
simply by imitating, as far as they were able, whatever he did. We do
not find that they attributed his actings to a false or evil energy,
but rather that they sought to neutralize their power upon the
conscience, by doing the same things. What Moses did they could do, so
that after all there was no great difference. One was as good as the
other. A miracle is a miracle. If Moses wrought miracles to get the
people out of Egypt, they could work miracles to keep them in; so
where was the difference?

From all this we learn the solemn truth that the most satanic
resistance to God's testimony in the world is offered by those who,
though they imitate the effects of the truth, have but "the form of
godliness," and "deny the power thereof." Persons of this class can do
the same things, adopt the same habits and forms, use the same
phraseology, profess the same opinions as others. If the true
Christian, constrained by the love of Christ, feeds the hungry,
clothes the naked, visits the sick, circulates the Scriptures,
distributes tracts, supports the gospel, engages in prayer, sings
praise, preaches the gospel, the formalist can do every one of these
things; and this, be it observed, is the special character of the
resistance offered to the truth "in the last days"--this is the spirit
of "Jannes and Jambres." How needful to understand this! How important
to remember that, "_as_ Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, _so_ do"
those self-loving, world-seeking, pleasure-hunting professors "resist
the truth." They would not be without "a form of godliness;" but,
while adopting "the form," because it is customary, they hate "the
power," because it involves self-denial. "The power" of godliness
involves the recognition of God's claims, the implanting of His
kingdom in the heart, and the consequent exhibition thereof in the
whole life and character; but the formalist knows nothing of this.
"The power" of godliness could never comport with any one of those
hideous features set forth in the foregoing quotation; but "the form,"
while it covers them over, leaves them wholly unsubdued; and this the
formalist likes. He does not want his lusts subdued, his pleasures
interfered with, his passions curbed, his affections governed, his
heart purified. He wants just as much religion as will enable him "to
make the best of both worlds." He knows nothing of giving up the world
that is, because of having found "the world to come."

In marking the forms of Satan's opposition to the truth of God, we
find that his method has ever been, first, to oppose it by violence;
and then, if that did not succeed, to corrupt it by producing a
counterfeit. Hence, he first sought to slay Moses (Chap. ii. 15.), and
having failed to accomplish his purpose, he sought to imitate his
works.

Thus, too, has it been in reference to the truth committed to the
Church of God. Satan's early efforts showed themselves in connection
with the wrath of the chief priests and elders, the judgment-seat, the
prison, and the sword. But in the passage just quoted from 2 Timothy,
we find no reference to any such agency. Open violence has made way
for the far more wily and dangerous instrumentality of a powerless
form, an empty profession, a human counterfeit. The enemy, instead of
appearing with the sword of persecution in his hand, walks about with
the cloak of profession on his shoulders. He professes and imitates
that which he once opposed and persecuted; and, by so doing, gains
most appalling advantages for the time being. The fearful forms of
moral evil which, from age to age, have stained the page of human
history, instead of being found only where we might naturally look for
them, amid the dens and caves of human darkness, are to be found
carefully arranged beneath the drapery of a cold, powerless,
uninfluential profession; and this is one of Satan's grand
masterpieces.

That man, as a fallen, corrupt creature, should love himself, be
covetous, boastful, proud, and the like, is natural; but that he
should be all these beneath the fair covering of "a form of
godliness," marks the special energy of Satan in his resistance to the
truth in "the last days." That man should stand forth in the bold
exhibition of those hideous vices, lusts, and passions which are the
necessary results of departure from the source of infinite holiness
and purity, is only what might be expected, for man will be what he is
to the end of the chapter. But on the other hand, when we find the
holy name of the Lord Jesus Christ connected with man's wickedness and
deadly evil,--when we find holy principles connected with unholy
practices,--when we find all the characteristics of Gentile
corruption, referred to in the first chapter of Romans, associated
with "a form of godliness," then, truly, we may say, these are the
terrible features of "the last days"--this is the resistance of
"Jannes and Jambres."

However, there were only three things in which the magicians of Egypt
were able to imitate the servants of the true and living God, namely,
in turning their rods into serpents (Chap. vii. 12.), turning the
water into blood (Chap. vii. 22.), and bringing up the frogs (Chap.
viii. 7.); but in the fourth, which involved the exhibition of life,
in connection with the display of nature's humiliation, they were
totally confounded, and obliged to own, "This is the finger of God."
(Chap. viii. 16-19.) Thus it is also with the latter-day resisters of
the truth. All that they do is by the direct energy of Satan, and lies
within the range of his power. Moreover, its specific object is to
"resist the truth."

The three things which "Jannes and Jambres" were able to accomplish
were characterized by satanic energy, death, and uncleanness; that is
to say, the serpents, the blood, and the frogs. Thus it was they
"withstood Moses;" and "so do these also resist the truth," and hinder
its moral weight and action upon the conscience. There is nothing
which so tends to deaden the power of the truth as the fact that
persons who are not under its influences at all, do the self-same
things as those who are. This is Satan's agency just now. He seeks to
have all regarded as Christians. He would fain make us believe
ourselves surrounded by "a Christian world;" but it is counterfeit
Christianity, which, so far from being a testimony to the truth, is
designed by the enemy of the truth, to withstand its purifying and
elevating influence.

In short, the servant of Christ and the witness for the truth is
surrounded, on all sides, by the spirit of "Jannes and Jambres;" and
it is well for him to remember this--to know thoroughly the evil with
which he has to grapple--to bear in mind that it is Satan's imitation
of God's reality, produced, not by the wand of an openly-wicked
magician, but by the actings of false professors, who have "a form of
godliness, but deny the power thereof," who do things apparently right
and good, but who have neither the life of Christ in their souls, the
love of God in their hearts, nor the power of the Word in their
consciences.

"But," adds the inspired apostle, "they shall proceed no further, for
their folly shall be manifested unto all, as theirs also was." Truly
the "folly" of "Jannes and Jambres" was manifest unto all, when they
not only failed to imitate the further actings of Moses and Aaron, but
actually became involved in the judgments of God. This is a solemn
point. The folly of all who are merely possessed of the form will, in
like manner, be made manifest. They will not only be quite unable to
imitate the full and proper effects of divine life and power, but they
themselves become the subjects of those judgments which will result
from the rejection of that truth which they have resisted.

Will any one say that all this has no voice for a day of powerless
profession? Assuredly it has. It should speak to each conscience in
living power; it should tell on each heart, in accents of impressive
solemnity. It should lead each one to inquire seriously whether he is
testifying for the truth, by walking in the power of godliness, or
hindering it, and neutralizing its action, by having only the form.
The effect of the power of godliness will be seen by our "continuing
in the things which we have learned." None will continue, save those
who are taught of God; those, by the power of the Spirit of God, have
drunk in divine principle, at the pure fountain of inspiration.

Blessed be God, there are many such throughout the various sections of
the professing Church. There are many, here and there, whose
consciences have been bathed in the atoning blood of "the Lamb of
God," whose hearts beat high with genuine attachment to His Person,
and whose spirits are cheered by "that blessed hope" of seeing Him as
He is, and of being eternally conformed to His image. It is
encouraging to think of such. It is an unspeakable mercy to have
fellowship with those who can give a reason of the hope that is in
them, and for the position which they occupy. May the Lord add to
their number daily. May the power of godliness spread far and wide in
these last days, so that a bright and well-sustained testimony may be
raised to the name of Him who is worthy.

The third point in our section yet remains to be considered, namely,
Pharaoh's four subtle objections to the full deliverance and complete
separation of God's people from the land of Egypt. The first of these
we have in chapter viii. 25.--"And Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron,
and said, 'Go ye, _sacrifice to your God in the land_.'" It is
needless to remark here, that whether the magicians withstood, or
Pharaoh objected, it was, in reality, Satan that stood behind the
scenes; and his manifest object, in this proposal of Pharaoh, was to
hinder the testimony to the Lord's name--a testimony connected with
the thorough separation of His people from Egypt. There could
evidently be no such testimony had they remained in Egypt, even though
they were to sacrifice to Him. They would have taken common ground
with the uncircumcised Egyptians, and put Jehovah on a level with the
gods of Egypt. In this case, an Egyptian could have said to an
Israelite, I see no difference between us; you have your worship and
we have ours; it is all alike.

As a matter of course, men think it quite right for every one to have
a religion, let it be what it may. Provided we are sincere, and do not
interfere with our neighbor's creed, it does not matter what shape our
religion may happen to wear. Such are the thoughts of men in reference
to what they call religion; but it is very obvious that the glory of
the name of Jesus finds no place in all this. The demand for
separation is that which the enemy will ever oppose, and which the
heart of man cannot understand. The heart may crave religiousness,
because conscience testifies that all is not right; but it craves the
world as well. It would like to "sacrifice to God in the land;" and
Satan's object is gained when people accept of a worldly religion, and
refuse to "come out and be separate." (2 Cor. vi.) His unvarying
purpose from the beginning has been to hinder the testimony to God's
name on the earth. Such was the dark tendency of the proposal, "Go ye,
sacrifice to your God in the land." What a complete damper to the
testimony, had this proposal been acceded to! God's people in Egypt
and God Himself linked with the idols of Egypt! Terrible blasphemy!

Reader, we should deeply ponder this. The effort to induce Israel to
worship God in Egypt reveals a far deeper principle than we might, at
first sight, imagine. The enemy would rejoice, at any time, by any
means, or under any circumstances, to get even the semblance of divine
sanction for the world's religion. He has no objections to such
religion. He gains his end as effectually by what is termed "the
religious world" as by any other agency; and hence, when he can
succeed in getting a true Christian to accredit the religion of the
day, he gains a grand point. As a matter of actual fact, one knows
that nothing elicits such intense indignation as the divine principle
of separation from this present evil world. You may hold the same
opinions, preach the same doctrines, do the same work; but if you only
attempt, in ever so feeble a manner, to act upon the divine commands,
"From such turn away" (2 Tim. iii. 5.), and "Come out from among
them" (2 Cor. vi. 17.), you may reckon assuredly upon the most
vigorous opposition. Now how is this to be accounted for? Mainly by
the fact that Christians, in separation from this world's hollow
religiousness, bear a testimony for Christ which they never can bear
while connected with it.

There is a very wide difference between human religion and Christ. A
poor, benighted Hindoo might talk to you of his religion, but he knows
nothing of Christ. The apostle does not say, If there be any
consolation in religion; though, doubtless, the votaries of each kind
of religion find what they deem consolation therein. Paul, on the
other hand, found his consolation in Christ, having fully proved the
worthlessness of religion, and that, too, in its fairest and most
imposing form. (Comp. Gal. i. 13, 14; Phil. iii. 4-11.)

True, the Spirit of God speaks to us of "pure religion and undefiled;"
but the unregenerate man cannot, by any means, participate therein;
for how could he possibly take part in aught that is "pure and
undefiled"? This religion is from heaven, the source of all that is
pure and lovely; it is exclusively before the eye of "God and the
Father;" it is for the exercise of the functions of that new nature
with which all are endowed who believe on the name of the Son of God.
(John i. 12, 13; James i. 18; 1 Peter i. 23; 1 John v. 1.) Finally, it
ranges itself under the two comprehensive heads of active benevolence
and personal holiness,--"To visit the fatherless and widows in their
affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James i.
27.)

Now, if you go through the entire catalogue of the genuine fruits of
Christianity, you will find them all classed under these two heads;
and it is deeply interesting to observe that, whether we turn to the
eighth of Exodus or to the first of James, we find separation from the
world put forward as an indispensable quality in the true service of
God. Nothing could be acceptable before God--nothing could receive
from His hand the stamp of "pure and undefiled," which was polluted by
contact with an "evil world." "'Come out from among them, and be ye
separate,' saith the Lord, 'and touch not the unclean thing; and I
will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My
sons and daughters,' saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.)

There was no meeting-place for Jehovah and His redeemed in Egypt; yea,
with them, redemption and separation from Egypt were one and the same
thing. God had said, "I am come down to deliver them," and nothing
short of this could either satisfy or glorify Him. A salvation which
would have left them still in Egypt could not possibly be God's
salvation. Moreover, we must bear in mind that Jehovah's purpose in
the salvation of Israel, as well as in the destruction of Pharaoh,
was, that "His name might be declared throughout all the earth;" and
what declaration could there be of that name or character were His
people to attempt to worship Him in Egypt? Either none whatever or an
utterly false one. Wherefore it was essentially necessary, in order to
the full and faithful declaration of God's character, that His people
should be wholly delivered and completely separated from Egypt; and it
is as essentially necessary now, in order to a clear and unequivocal
testimony for the Son of God, that all who are really His should be
separated from this present world. Such is the will of God; and for
this end Christ gave Himself. "Grace unto you and peace from God the
Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that
He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the
will of God and our Father; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
(Gal. i. 3-5.)

The Galatians were beginning to accredit a carnal and worldly
religion--a religion of ordinances--a religion of "days, and months,
and times, and years;" and the apostle commences his epistle by
telling them that the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for the purpose
of delivering His people from that very thing. God's people must be
separate, not, by any means, on the ground of their superior personal
sanctity, but because they are His people, and in order that they may
rightly and intelligently answer His gracious end in taking them into
connection with Himself, and attaching His name to them. A people
still amid the defilements and abominations of Egypt could not have
been a witness for the Holy One; nor can any one now, while mixed up
with the defilements of a corrupt worldly religion, possibly be a
bright and steady witness for a crucified and risen Christ.

The answer given by Moses to Pharaoh's first objection was a truly
memorable one. "And Moses said, 'It is not meet so to do; for we shall
sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God; lo,
shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes,
and will they not stone us? We will go three days' journey into the
wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God, as He shall command
us.'" (Chap. viii. 26, 27.) Here is true separation from Egypt--"three
days' journey." Nothing less than this could satisfy faith. The Israel
of God must be separated from the land of death and darkness, in the
power of resurrection. The waters of the Red Sea must roll between
God's redeemed and Egypt ere they can properly sacrifice to Jehovah.
Had they remained in Egypt, they would have to sacrifice to the Lord
the very objects of Egypt's abominable worship.[5] This would never
do. There could be no tabernacle, no temple, no altar, in Egypt. It
had no site, throughout its entire limits, for aught of that kind. In
point of fact, as we shall see further on, Israel never presented so
much as a single note of praise until the whole congregation stood, in
the full power of an accomplished redemption, on Canaan's side of the
Red Sea. Exactly so is it now. The believer must know where the death
and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ have forever set him, ere
he can be an intelligent worshiper, an acceptable servant, or an
effectual witness.

  [5] The word "abomination" has reference to that which the Egyptians
  worshiped.

It is not a question of being a child of God, and, as such, a saved
person. Many of the children of God are very far from knowing the full
results, as regards themselves, of the death and resurrection of
Christ. They do not apprehend the precious truth, that the death of
Christ has made an end of their sins forever, and that they are the
happy partakers of His resurrection life, with which sin can have
nothing whatever to do. Christ became a curse for us, not, as some
would teach us, by being born under the curse of a broken law, but by
hanging on a tree. (Compare, attentively, Deut. xxi. 23; Gal. iii.
13.) We were under the curse because we had not kept the law; but
Christ, the perfect Man, having magnified the law and made it
honorable, by the very fact of His obeying it perfectly, became a
curse for us by hanging on the tree. Thus, in His life He magnified
God's law, and in His death He bore our curse. There is therefore now
no guilt, no curse, no wrath, no condemnation for the believer; and,
albeit, he must be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ; but
even there the question of _sin_ is not raised. The cross of Christ
has settled that forever; so that it is written of those that believe,
"_And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more_." (Heb. x.
17.) The Christian's whole course must indeed be manifested before the
judgment-seat of Christ; but the Judge Himself has put away all his
sins, and is his righteousness, so that the judgment-seat cannot but
be friendly to him. He surely will not condemn His own work. The
righteousness that was required, God Himself has provided it. He
surely will not find any flaw therein. The light of the judgment-seat
will be bright enough to disperse every mist and cloud which might
tend to obscure the matchless glories and eternal virtues which belong
to the cross, and to show that the believer is "clean every whit."
(John xiii. 10; xv. 3; Eph. v. 27.)

It is because these foundation-truths are not laid hold of in the
simplicity of faith that many of the children of God complain of their
lack of settled peace--the constant variation in their spiritual
condition--the continual ups and downs in their experience. Every
doubt in the heart of a Christian is a dishonor done to the Word of
God and the sacrifice of Christ. It is because he does not, even now,
bask in the light which shines from the cross of Christ, that he is
ever afflicted with a doubt or a fear. And yet those things which so
many have to deplore--those fluctuations and waverings--are but
trifling consequences, comparatively, inasmuch as they merely affect
their experience. The effect produced upon their worship, their
service, and their testimony, is far more serious, inasmuch as the
Lord's honor is concerned. But, alas! this latter is but little
thought of, generally speaking, simply because personal salvation is
the grand object--the aim and end--with the majority of professing
Christians. We are prone to look upon everything that affects
ourselves as _essential_; whereas, all that merely affects the glory
of Christ in and by us is counted _non-essential_.

However, it is well to see with distinctness, that the same truth
which gives the soul settled peace, puts it also into the position of
intelligent worship, acceptable service, and effectual testimony. In
the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, the apostle sets forth the
death and resurrection of Christ as the grand foundation of
everything.--"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which
I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye
stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I
preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered
unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died
for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and
that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (Ver.
1-4.) Here is the gospel in one brief and comprehensive statement. A
dead and risen Christ is the ground-work of salvation. "He was
delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification."
(Rom. iv. 25.) To see Jesus, by the eye of faith, nailed to the cross,
and seated on the throne, must give solid peace to the conscience and
perfect liberty to the heart. We can look into the tomb, and see it
empty; we can look up to the throne, and see it occupied, and go on
our way rejoicing. The Lord Jesus settled everything on the cross on
behalf of His people; and the proof of this settlement is that He is
now at the right hand of God. A risen Christ is the eternal proof of
an accomplished redemption; and if redemption is an accomplished fact,
the believer's peace is a settled reality. We did not make peace, and
never could make it; indeed, any effort on our part to make peace
could only tend more fully to manifest us as _peace-breakers_. But
Christ, having made peace by the blood of His cross, has taken His
seat on high, triumphant over every enemy. By Him, God preaches peace.
The word of the gospel conveys this peace; and the soul that believes
the gospel, has peace--settled peace before God, for Christ is his
peace. (See Acts x. 36; Rom. v. 1; Eph. ii. 14; Col. i. 20.) In this
way, God has not only satisfied His own claims, but, in doing so, He
has found out a divinely righteous vent through which His boundless
affections may flow down to the guiltiest of Adam's guilty progeny.

Then, as to the practical result of all this. The cross of Christ has
not only put away the believer's sins, but also dissolved forever his
connection with the world; and, on the ground of this, he is
privileged to regard the world as a crucified _thing_, and to be
regarded by it as a crucified one. Thus it stands with the believer
and the world,--it is crucified to him and he to it. This is the real,
dignified position of every true Christian. The world's judgment about
Christ was expressed in the position in which it deliberately placed
Him. It got its choice as to whether it would have a murderer or
Christ. It allowed the murderer to go free, but nailed Christ to the
cross, between two thieves. Now, if the believer walks in the
footprints of Christ--if he drinks into and manifests His spirit, he
will occupy the very same place in the world's estimation; and, in
this way, he will not merely know that, as to standing before God, he
is crucified with Christ, but be led to realize it in his walk and
experience every day.

But while the cross has thus effectually cut the connection between
the believer and the world, the resurrection has brought him into the
power of new ties and associations. If in the cross we see the world's
judgment about Christ, in resurrection we see God's judgment. The
world crucified Him, but "God hath highly exalted Him." Man gave Him
the very lowest, God the very highest, place; and, inasmuch as the
believer is called into full fellowship with God in His thoughts about
Christ, he is enabled to turn the tables upon the world, and look upon
it as a crucified thing. If, therefore, the believer is on one cross
and the world on another, the moral distance between the two is vast
indeed. And if it is vast in principle, so should it be in practice.
The world and the Christian should have absolutely nothing in common;
nor will they, except so far as he denies his Lord and Master. The
believer proves himself false to Christ to the very same degree that
he has fellowship with the world.

All this is plain enough; but, my beloved Christian reader, where does
it put us as regards this world? Truly, it puts us outside, and that
completely. We are dead to the world and alive with Christ. We are at
once partakers of His rejection by earth and His acceptance in heaven;
and the joy of the latter makes us count as nothing the trial
connected with the former. To be cast out of earth, without knowing
that I have a place and a portion on high, would be intolerable; but
when the glories of heaven fill the soul's vision, a little of earth
goes a great way.

But some may feel led to ask, What is the world? It would be difficult
to find a term more inaccurately defined than "world," or
"worldliness;" for we are generally disposed to make worldliness begin
a point or two above where we are ourselves. The Word of God, however,
has, with perfect precision, defined what "the world" is, when it
marks it as that which is "not of the Father." Hence, the deeper my
fellowship with the Father, the keener will be my sense of what is
worldly. This is the divine way of teaching. The more you delight in
the Father's love, the more you reject the world. But who reveals the
Father? The Son. How? By the power of the Holy Ghost. Wherefore, the
more I am enabled, in the power of an ungrieved Spirit, to drink in
the Son's revelation of the Father, the more accurate does my judgment
become as to what is of the world. It is as the limits of God's
kingdom expand in the heart, that the judgment as to worldliness
becomes refined. You can hardly attempt to define worldliness. It is,
as some one has said, "shaded off gradually from white to jet black."
This is most true. You cannot place a bound and say, Here is where
worldliness begins; but the keen and exquisite sensibilities of the
divine nature recoil from it; and all we need is, to walk in the power
of that nature, in order to keep aloof from every form of worldliness.
"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
Walk with God, and ye shall not walk with the world. Cold distinctions
and rigid rules will avail nothing. The power of the divine life is
what we want. We want to understand the meaning and spiritual
application of the "three days' journey into the wilderness," whereby
we are separated forever, not only from Egypt's brick-kilns and
taskmasters, but also from its temples and altars.

Pharaoh's second objection partook very much of the character and
tendency of the first. "And Pharaoh said, 'I will let you go, that ye
may sacrifice unto the Lord your God in the wilderness; _only ye shall
not go very far away_.'" (Chap. viii. 28.) If he could not keep them
in Egypt, he would at least seek to keep them _near_ it, so that he
might act upon them by its varied influences. In this way, they might
be brought back again, and the testimony more effectually quashed than
if they had never left Egypt at all. There is always much more serious
damage done to the cause of Christ by persons seeming to give up the
world and returning to it again, than if they had remained entirely of
it; for they virtually confess that, having tried heavenly things,
they have discovered that earthly things are better and more
satisfying.

Nor is this all. The moral effect of truth upon the conscience of
unconverted people is sadly interfered with, by the example of
professors going back again into those things which they seemed to
have left. Not that such cases afford the slightest warrant to any one
for the rejection of God's truth, inasmuch as each one is personally
responsible and will have to give account of himself to God. Still,
however, the effect in this, as well as in everything else, is bad.
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through
the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again
entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than
the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have
known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn
from the holy commandment delivered unto them." (2 Peter ii. 20, 21.)

Wherefore, if people do not "go very far away," they had better not go
at all. The enemy knew this well; and hence his second objection. The
maintenance of a border position suits his purpose amazingly. Those
who occupy this ground are neither one thing nor the other; and, in
point of fact, whatever influence they possess, tells entirely in the
wrong direction.

It is deeply important to see that Satan's design, in all these
objections, was to hinder that testimony to the name of the God of
Israel, which could only be rendered by a "three days' journey into
the wilderness." This was, in good truth, going "very far away." It
was much farther than Pharaoh could form any idea of, or than he could
follow them. And oh! how happy it would be if all who profess to set
out from Egypt would really, in the spirit of their minds and in the
tone of their character, go thus far away from it; if they would
intelligently recognize the cross and grave of Christ as forming the
boundary between them and the world! No man, in the mere energy of
nature, can take this ground. The Psalmist could say, "Enter not into
judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be
justified." (Ps. cxliii. 2.) So also is it with regard to true and
effectual separation from the world. "_No man living_" can enter into
it. It is only as "_dead_ with Christ," and "risen again with Him,
through faith of the operation of God," that any one can either be
"justified" before God, or separated from the world. This is what we
may call going "very far away." May all who profess and call
themselves Christians go thus far. Then will their lamp yield a steady
light. Then would their trumpet give a certain sound. Their path would
be elevated; their experience deep and rich; their peace would flow as
a river; their affections would be heavenly and their garments
unspotted. And, far above all, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ would
be magnified in them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, according to the
will of God their Father.

The third objection demands our most special attention. "And Moses and
Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, 'Go,
serve the Lord your God; but who are they that shall go?' And Moses
said, 'We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and
with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for
we must hold a feast unto the Lord.' And he said unto them, 'Let the
Lord be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look
to it; for evil is before you. Not so; go now ye that are men, and
serve the Lord; for that ye did desire.' And they were driven out from
Pharaoh's presence." (Chap. x. 8-11.) Here, again, we have the enemy
aiming a deadly blow at the testimony to the name of the God of
Israel. Parents in the wilderness and their children in Egypt!
Terrible anomaly! This would only have been a half deliverance, at
once useless to Israel and dishonoring to Israel's God. This could not
be. If the children remained in Egypt, the parents could not possibly
be said to have left it, inasmuch as their children were part of
themselves. The most that could be said in such a case was, that in
part they were serving Jehovah, and in part Pharaoh. But Jehovah could
have no part with Pharaoh. He should either have all or nothing. This
is a weighty principle for Christian parents. May we lay it deeply to
heart! It is our happy privilege to count on God for our children, and
to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph.
vi.) We should not be satisfied with any other portion for "our little
ones" than that which we ourselves enjoy.

Pharaoh's fourth and last objection had reference to the flocks and
herds. "And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, 'Go ye, serve the
Lord; only let your flocks and herds be stayed: let your little ones
also go with you.'" (Chap. x. 24.) With what perseverance did Satan
dispute every inch of Israel's way out of the land of Egypt! He first
sought to keep them _in_ the land, then to keep them _near_ the land,
next to keep part of themselves in the land, and finally, when he
could not succeed in any of these three, he sought to send them forth
without any ability to serve the Lord. If he could not keep the
servants, he would seek to keep their ability to serve, which would
answer much the same end. If he could not induce them to sacrifice in
the land, he would send them out of the land without sacrifices.

In Moses' reply to this last objection, we are furnished with a fine
statement of the Lord's paramount claim upon His people and all
pertaining to them. "And Moses said, 'Thou must give us also
sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord
our God. Our cattle also shall go with us; _there shall not a hoof be
left behind_: for thereof must we take to serve the Lord our God; and
we know not with what we must serve the Lord until we come thither.'"
(Ver. 25, 26.) It is only when the people of God take their stand, in
simple childlike faith, upon that elevated ground on which death and
resurrection set them, that they can have anything like an adequate
sense of His claims upon them. "We know not with what we must serve
the Lord until we come thither." That is, they had no knowledge of
the divine claim, or their responsibility, until they had gone "three
days' journey." These things could not be known amid the dense and
polluted atmosphere of Egypt. Redemption must be known as an
accomplished fact, ere there can be any just or full perception of
responsibility. All this is perfect and beautiful. "If any man will do
His will, he shall know of the doctrine." I must be up out of Egypt,
in the power of death and resurrection, and then, but not until then,
shall I know what the Lord's service really is. It is when we take our
stand, by faith, in that "large room," that wealthy place into which
the precious blood of Christ introduces us,--when we look around us
and survey the rich, rare, and manifold results of redeeming
love,--when we gaze upon the Person of Him who has brought us into
this place, and endowed us with these riches, then we are constrained
to say, in the language of one of our own poets,--

    "Were the whole realm of nature mine,
      That were an offering far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
      Demands my heart, my life, my all."

"There shall not a hoof be left behind." Noble words! Egypt is not the
place for aught that pertains to God's redeemed. He is worthy of
all--"body, soul, and spirit;" all we are and all we have belongs to
Him. "We are not our own, we are bought with a price;" and it is our
happy privilege to consecrate ourselves and all that we possess to Him
whose we are, and Him whom we are called to serve. There is naught of
a legal spirit in this. The words, "until we come thither," furnish a
divine guard against this horrible evil. We have traveled the "three
days' journey," ere a word concerning sacrifice can be heard or
understood. We are put in full and undisputed possession of
resurrection life and eternal righteousness. We have left that land of
death and darkness; we have been brought to God Himself, so that we
may enjoy Him, in the energy of that life with which we are endowed,
and in the sphere of righteousness in which we are placed: thus it is
our joy to serve. There is not an affection in the heart of which He
is not worthy; there is not a sacrifice in all the flock too costly
for His altar. The more closely we walk with Him, the more we shall
esteem it to be our meat and drink to do His blessed will. The
believer counts it his highest privilege to serve the Lord. He
delights in every exercise and every manifestation of the divine
nature. He does not move up and down with a grievous yoke upon his
neck, or an intolerable weight upon his shoulder. The yoke is broken
"because of the anointing," the burden has been forever removed by the
blood of the cross, while he himself walks abroad, "redeemed,
regenerated, and disenthralled," in pursuance of those soul-stirring
words, "LET MY PEOPLE GO."

    _Note._--We shall consider the contents of chapter xi. in
    connection with the security of Israel, under the shelter of
    the blood of the paschal lamb.



CHAPTER XII.


"And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Yet will I bring one plague more upon
Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he
shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.'"
(Chap. xi. 1.) One more heavy blow must fall upon this hard-hearted
monarch and his land ere he will be compelled to let go the favored
objects of Jehovah's sovereign grace.

How utterly vain it is for man to harden and exalt himself against
God; for, truly, He can grind to powder the hardest heart, and bring
down to the dust the haughtiest spirit. "Those that walk in pride He
is able to abase." (Dan. iv. 37.) Man may fancy himself to be
something; he may lift up his head, in pomp and vainglory, as though
he were his own master. Vain man! how little he knows of his real
condition and character! He is but the tool of Satan, taken up and
used by him, in his malignant efforts to counteract the purposes of
God. The most splendid intellect, the most commanding genius, the most
indomitable energy, if not under the direct control of the Spirit of
God, are but so many instruments in Satan's hand to carry forward his
dark designs. No man is his own master; he is either governed by
Christ or governed by Satan. The king of Egypt might fancy himself to
be a free agent, yet he was but a tool in the hands of another. Satan
was behind the throne; and, as the result of Pharaoh's having set
himself to resist the purposes of God, he was judicially handed over
to the blinding and hardening influence of his self-chosen master.

This will explain to us an expression occurring very frequently
throughout the earlier chapters of this book,--"The Lord hardened
Pharaoh's heart." There is no need whatever for any one to seek to
avoid the full, plain sense of this most solemn statement. If man
resists the light of divine testimony, he is shut up to judicial
blindness and hardness of heart. God leaves him to himself, and then
Satan comes in and carries him headlong to perdition. There was
abundant light for Pharaoh, to show him the extravagant folly of his
course in seeking to detain those whom God had commanded him to let
go. But the real disposition of his heart was to act against God, and
therefore God left him to himself, and made him a monument for the
display of His glory "through all the earth." There is no difficulty
in this to any, save those whose desire is to argue against God--"to
rush upon the thick bosses of the shield of the Almighty"--to ruin
their own immortal souls.

God gives people, at times, according to the real bent of their
hearts' desire. "... because of this, God shall send them strong
delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be
damned who believed not the truth, but _had pleasure in
unrighteousness_." (2 Thess. ii. 11, 12.) If men will not have the
truth when it is put before them, they shall assuredly have a lie. If
they will not have Christ, they shall have Satan; if they will not
have heaven, they shall have hell.[6] Will the infidel mind find fault
with this? Ere it does so, let it prove that all who are thus
judicially dealt with have fully answered their responsibilities. Let
it, for instance, prove, in Pharaoh's case, that he acted, in any
measure, up to the light he possessed. The same is to be proved in
every case. Unquestionably, the task of proving rests on those who are
disposed to quarrel with God's mode of dealing with the rejecters of
His truth. The simple-hearted child of God will justify Him, in view
of the most inscrutable dispensations; and even if he cannot meet and
satisfactorily solve the difficult questions of a sceptical mind, he
can rest perfectly satisfied with this word, "Shall not the Judge of
all the earth do right?" There is far more wisdom in this method of
settling an apparent difficulty, than in the most elaborate argument;
for it is perfectly certain that the heart which is in a condition to
"reply against God," will not be convinced by the arguments of man.

  [6] There is a vast difference between the divine method of dealing
  with the heathen (Rom. i.) and with the rejecters of the gospel. (2
  Thess. i. ii.) In reference to the former, we read, "And even as they
  did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a
  reprobate mind:" but with respect to the latter, the word is, "Because
  they received not the love of _the truth_ that they might _be saved_,
  ... God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe _a
  lie_; that they all might _be damned_." The heathen refuse the
  testimony of creation, and are therefore left to themselves. The
  rejecters of the gospel refuse the full blaze of light which shines
  from the cross, and therefore "a strong delusion" will, ere long, be
  sent from God upon them. This is deeply solemn for an age like this,
  in the which there is so much light and so much profession.

However, it is God's prerogative to answer all the proud reasonings,
and bring down the lofty imaginations of the human mind. He can write
the sentence of death upon nature, in its fairest forms. "It is
appointed unto men once to die." This cannot be avoided. Man may seek
to hide his humiliation in various ways,--to cover his retreat through
the valley of death in the most heroic manner possible,--to call the
last humiliating stage of his career by the most honorable titles he
can devise,--to gild the bed of death with a false light,--to adorn
the funeral procession and the grave with the appearance of pomp,
pageantry, and glory,--to raise above the mouldering ashes a splendid
monument, on which are engraven the records of human shame,--all these
things he may do; but death is death after all, and he cannot keep it
off for a moment, or make it aught else than what it is, namely, "the
wages of sin."

The foregoing thoughts are suggested by the opening verse of chapter
xi--"One plague more!" Solemn word! It signed the death-warrant of
Egypt's first-born--"the chief of all their strength." "And Moses
said, 'Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the
midst of Egypt; and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die,
from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto
the first-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill; and all
the first-born of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout
all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be
like it any more.'" (Chap. xi. 4-6.) This was to be the final
plague--death in every house. "But against any of the children of
Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast; that ye
may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians
and Israel." It is the Lord alone who can "put a difference" between
those who are His and those who are not. It is not our province to say
to any one, "Stand by thyself; I am holier than thou:" this is the
language of a Pharisee. "But when God puts a difference," we are bound
to inquire what that difference is; and, in the case before us, we see
it to be a simple question of _life or death_. This is God's grand
"difference." He draws a line of demarkation, and on one side of this
line is "life," on the other "death." Many of Egypt's first-born might
have been as fair and attractive as those of Israel, and much more so;
but Israel had life and light, founded upon God's counsels of
redeeming love, established, as we shall see presently, by the blood
of the lamb. This was Israel's happy position; while, on the other
hand, throughout the length and breadth of the land of Egypt, from the
monarch on the throne to the menial behind the mill, nothing was to be
seen but death; nothing to be heard but the cry of bitter anguish,
elicited by the heavy stroke of Jehovah's rod. God can bring down the
haughty spirit of man. He can make the wrath of man to praise Him, and
restrain the remainder. "And all these thy servants shall come down
unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and
all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out." God
will accomplish His own ends. His schemes of mercy must be carried out
at all cost, and confusion of face must be the portion of all who
stand in the way. "O, give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for
His mercy endureth forever.... To Him that smote Egypt in their
first-born; for His mercy endureth forever: and brought out Israel
from among them; for His mercy endureth forever: with a strong hand
and with a stretched-out arm; for His mercy endureth forever." (Ps.
cxxxvi.)

"And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
'This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the
first month of the year to you.'" (Chap. xii. 1, 2.) There is here a
very interesting change in the order of time. The common or civil year
was rolling on in its ordinary course, when Jehovah interrupted it in
reference to His people, and thus, in principle, taught them that they
were to begin a new era in company with Him; their previous history
was henceforth to be regarded as a blank. Redemption was to constitute
the first step in _real life_.

This teaches a plain truth. A man's life is really of no account until
he begins to walk with God, in the knowledge of full salvation and
settled peace, through the precious blood of the Lamb. Previous to
this, he is, in the judgment of God, and in the language of Scripture,
"dead in trespasses and sins;" "alienated from the life of God." His
whole history is a complete blank, even though, in man's account, it
may have been one uninterrupted scene of bustling activity. All that
which engages the attention of the man of this world--the honors, the
riches, the pleasures, the attractions of life, so called--all, when
examined in the light of the judgment of God, when weighed in the
balances of the sanctuary, must be accounted as a dismal blank, a
worthless void, utterly unworthy of a place in the records of the Holy
Ghost. "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life." (John iii.
36.) Men speak of "seeing life" when they launch forth into society,
travel hither and thither, and see all that is to be seen; but they
forget that the only true, the only real, the only divine way to "see
life," is to "believe on the Son of God."

How little do men think of this! They imagine that "real life" is at
an end when a man becomes a Christian, in truth and reality, not
merely in name and outward profession; whereas God's Word teaches us
that it is only then we can see life and taste true happiness.--"He
that hath the Son, hath life." (1 John v. 12.) And, again, "Happy is
he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." (Ps. xxxii.
1.) We can get life and happiness _only_ in Christ. Apart from Him,
all is death and misery, in Heaven's judgment, whatever the outward
appearance may be. It is when the thick vail of unbelief is removed
from the heart, and we are enabled to behold, with the eye of faith,
the bleeding Lamb, bearing our heavy burden of guilt upon the cursed
tree, that we enter upon the path of life, and partake of the cup of
divine happiness,--a life which begins at the cross, and flows onward
into an eternity of glory,--a happiness which, each day, becomes
deeper and purer, more connected with God and founded on Christ, until
we reach its proper sphere, in the presence of God and the Lamb. To
seek life and happiness in any other way is vainer work by far than
seeking to make bricks without straw.

True, the enemy of souls spreads a gilding over this passing scene, in
order that men may imagine it to be all gold. He sets up many a
puppet-show to elicit the hollow laugh from a thoughtless multitude,
who will not remember that it is Satan who is in the box, and that his
object is to keep them from Christ, and drag them down into eternal
perdition. There is nothing real, nothing solid, nothing satisfying,
but in Christ. Outside of Him, "all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
In Him alone true and eternal joys are to be found; and we only begin
to live when we begin to live _in_, live _on_, live _with_, and live
_for_ Him. "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it
shall be the first month of the year to you." The time spent in the
brick-kilns and by the flesh-pots must be ignored. It is henceforth to
be of no account, save that the remembrance thereof should ever and
anon serve to quicken and deepen their sense of what divine grace had
accomplished on their behalf.

"Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth
day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb according
to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house.... Your lamb shall
be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it out
from the sheep or from the goats: and ye shall keep it up until the
fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the
congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening." Here we have the
redemption of the people founded upon the blood of the lamb, in
pursuance of God's eternal purpose. This imparts to it all its divine
stability. Redemption was no afterthought with God. Before the world
was, or Satan, or sin--before ever the voice of God was heard breaking
the silence of eternity, and calling worlds into existence, He had His
deep counsels of love; and these counsels could never find a
sufficiently solid basis in creation. All the blessings, the
privileges, and the dignities of creation were founded upon a
creature's obedience, and the moment that failed, all was gone. But
then, Satan's attempt to mar creation only opened the way for the
manifestation of God's deeper purposes of redemption.

This beautiful truth is typically presented to us in the circumstance
of the lamb's being "kept up" from the "tenth" to "the fourteenth
day." That this lamb pointed to Christ is unquestionable. 1 Cor. v. 7
settles the application of this interesting type beyond all
question,--"For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." We
have, in the first epistle of Peter, an allusion to the keeping up of
the lamb,--"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with
corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation,
received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood
of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily
was _foreordained before the foundation of the world_, but was
_manifest in these last times for you_." (Chap. i. 18-20.)

All God's purposes from everlasting had reference to Christ, and no
effort of the enemy could possibly interfere with those counsels; yea,
his efforts only tended to the display of the unfathomable wisdom and
immovable stability thereof. If the "Lamb without blemish and without
spot" was "foreordained before the foundation of the world," then,
assuredly, redemption must have been in the mind of God before the
foundation of the world. The blessed One had not to pause in order to
devise some plan to remedy the terrible evil which the enemy had
introduced into His fair creation. No; He had only to bring forth,
from the unexplored treasury of His precious counsels, the truth
concerning the spotless Lamb, who was foreordained from everlasting,
and to be "manifest in these last times for us."

There was no need for the blood of the Lamb in creation as it came
fresh from the hand of the Creator, exhibiting, in every stage and
every department of it, the beauteous impress of His hand--"the
infallible proofs" of "His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom. i.); but
when, "by one man," sin was introduced into the world, then came out
the higher, richer, fuller, deeper thought of redemption by the blood
of the Lamb. This glorious truth first broke through the thick clouds
which surrounded our first parents, as they retreated from the garden
of Eden; its glimmerings appear in the types and shadows of the Mosaic
economy; it burst upon the World in full brightness when "the
dayspring from on high" appeared in the Person of "God manifest in the
flesh;" and its rich and rare results will be realized when the
white-robed, palm-bearing multitude shall cluster round the throne of
God and the Lamb, and the whole creation shall rest beneath the
peaceful sceptre of the Son of David.

Now, the lamb taken on the tenth day, and kept up until the fourteenth
day, shows us Christ foreordained of God from eternity, but manifest
for us in time. God's eternal purpose in Christ becomes the foundation
of the believer's peace. Nothing short of this would do. We are
carried back far beyond creation, beyond the bounds of time, beyond
the entrance in of sin and everything that could possibly affect the
ground-work of our peace. The expression, "foreordained before the
foundation of the world," conducts us back into the unfathomed depths
of eternity, and shows us God forming His own counsels of redeeming
love, and basing them all upon the atoning blood of His own precious,
spotless Lamb. Christ was ever the primary thought in the divine mind;
and hence, the moment He began to speak or act, He took occasion to
shadow forth that One who occupied the highest place in His counsels
and affections; and, as we pass along the current of inspiration, we
find that every ceremony, every rite, every ordinance, and every
sacrifice pointed forward to "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin
of the world," and not one more strikingly than the passover. The
paschal lamb, with all the attendant circumstances, forms one of the
most profoundly interesting and deeply instructive types of Scripture.

In the interpretation of Exodus xii, we have to do with _one_ assembly
and _one_ sacrifice.--"The whole assembly of the congregation of
Israel shall kill _it_ in the evening." (Ver. 6.) It is not so much a
number of families with several lambs--a thing quite true in
itself--as one assembly and one lamb. Each house was but the local
expression of the whole assembly gathered round the lamb. The antitype
of this we have in the whole Church of God, gathered by the Holy
Ghost, in the name of Jesus, of which each separate assembly, wherever
convened, should be the local expression.

"And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side-posts
and on the upper door-post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and
unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of
it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head
with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof." (Ver. 7-9.) We have
to contemplate the paschal lamb in two aspects, namely, as the ground
of peace, and the centre of unity. The blood on the lintel secured
Israel's peace.--"When I see the blood, I will pass over you." (Ver.
13.) There was nothing more required in order to enjoy settled peace,
in reference to the destroying angel, than the application of the
blood of sprinkling. Death had to do its work in every house
throughout the land of Egypt. "It is appointed unto men once to die."
But God, in His great mercy, found an unblemished substitute for
Israel, on which the sentence of death was executed. Thus God's claims
and Israel's need were met by one and the same thing, namely, the
blood of the lamb. That blood outside proved that _all_ was perfectly,
because divinely, settled; and therefore perfect peace reigned within.
A shade of doubt in the bosom of an Israelite would have been a
dishonor offered to the divinely appointed ground of peace--the blood
of atonement.

True it is that each one within the blood-sprinkled door would
necessarily feel that were he to receive his due reward, the sword of
the destroyer should most assuredly find its object in him; but then
the lamb was treated in his stead. This was the solid foundation of
his peace. The judgment that was due to him fell upon a divinely
appointed victim; and believing this, he could feed in peace within. A
single doubt would have made Jehovah a liar; for He had said, "When
_I_ see the _blood_, I will pass over you." This was enough. It was no
question of personal worthiness. Self had nothing whatever to do in
the matter. All under the cover of the blood were safe. They were not
merely in a salvable state, they were _saved_. They were not hoping or
praying to be saved; they knew it as an assured fact, on the authority
of that Word which shall endure throughout all generations. Moreover,
they were not partly saved and partly exposed to judgment; they were
wholly saved. The blood of the lamb and the word of the Lord formed
the foundation of Israel's peace on that terrible night in which
Egypt's first-born were laid low. If a hair of an Israelite's head
could be touched, it would have proved Jehovah's word void, and the
blood of the lamb valueless.

It is most needful to be simple and clear as to what constitutes the
ground of a sinner's peace in the presence of God. So many things are
mixed up with the finished work of Christ, that souls are plunged into
darkness and uncertainty as to their acceptance. They do not see the
absolutely settled character of redemption through the blood of
Christ, in its application to themselves. They seem not to be aware
that full forgiveness of sin rests upon the simple fact that a full
atonement has been offered,--a fact attested, in the view of all
created intelligence, by the resurrection of the sinner's Surety from
the dead. They know that there is no other way of being saved but by
the blood of the cross (but the devils know this, yet it avails them
naught). What is so much needed is to know that _we are saved_. The
Israelite not merely knew that there was safety in the blood; he knew
that _he_ was _safe_. And why safe? Was it because of anything that he
had done, or felt, or thought? By no means; but because God had said,
"When I see the blood, I will pass over you." He rested upon God's
testimony: he believed what God said, because God said it: "he set to
his seal that God was true."

And, observe, my reader, it was not by his own thoughts, feelings, or
experiences, respecting the blood, that the Israelite rested. This
would have been a poor, sandy foundation to rest upon. His thoughts
and feelings might be deep or they might be shallow; but, deep or
shallow, they had nothing to do with the ground of his peace. It was
not said, When _you_ see the blood, and value it as you ought, I will
pass over you. This would have been sufficient to plunge him in dark
despair about himself, inasmuch as it was quite impossible that the
human mind could ever sufficiently appreciate the precious blood of
the lamb. What gave peace was the fact that Jehovah's eye rested upon
the blood, and that He knew its worth. This tranquilized the heart.
The blood was outside, and the Israelite inside, so that he could not
possibly see it; but God saw it, and that was quite enough.

The application of this to the question of a sinner's peace is very
plain. The Lord Jesus Christ having shed His precious blood, as a
perfect atonement for sin, has taken it into the presence of God, and
sprinkled it there; and God's testimony assures the believing sinner
that everything is settled on his behalf--settled not by his estimate
of the blood, but by the blood itself, which God estimates so highly,
that because of it, without a single jot or tittle added thereto, He
can righteously forgive all sin, and accept the sinner as perfectly
righteous in Christ. How can any one ever enjoy settled peace if his
peace depends upon his estimate of the blood? Impossible! The loftiest
estimate which the human mind can form of the blood must fall
infinitely short of its divine preciousness; and therefore, if our
peace were to depend upon our valuing it as we ought, we could no more
enjoy settled peace than if we were seeking it by "works of law."
There must either be a sufficient ground of peace in the blood
_alone_, or we can never have peace. To mix up our estimate with it,
is to upset the entire fabric of Christianity, just as effectually as
if we were to conduct the sinner to the foot of mount Sinai, and put
him under a covenant of works. Either Christ's atoning sacrifice is
sufficient or it is not. If it is sufficient, why those doubts and
fears? The words of our _lips_ profess that the work is finished; but
the doubts and fears of the _heart_ declare that it is not. Every one
who doubts his full and everlasting forgiveness, denies, so far as he
is concerned, the completeness of the sacrifice of Christ.

But there are very many who would shrink from the idea of deliberately
and avowedly calling in question the efficacy of the blood of Christ,
who, nevertheless, have not settled peace. Such persons profess to be
quite assured of the sufficiency of the blood, _if_ only _they_ were
sure of an interest therein--_if only_ they had the right kind of
faith. There are many precious souls in this unhappy condition. They
are occupied with their interest and their faith, instead of with
Christ's blood and God's word. In other words, they are looking in at
self, instead of out at Christ. This is not faith; and, as a
consequence, they have not peace. An Israelite within the
blood-stained lintel could teach such souls a most seasonable lesson.
He was not saved by his interest in, or his thoughts about, the blood,
but simply by the blood. No doubt he had a blessed interest in it, and
he would have his thoughts likewise; but then God did not say, When I
see your interest in the blood, I will pass over you. Oh, no! THE
BLOOD, in all its solitary dignity and divine efficacy, was set before
Israel; and had they attempted to place even a morsel of unleavened
bread beside the blood, as a ground of security, they would have made
Jehovah a liar, and denied the sufficiency of His remedy.

We are ever prone to look at something in or connected with ourselves
as necessary, in order to make up, with the blood of Christ, the
ground-work of our peace. There is a sad lack of clearness and
soundness on this vital point, as is evident from the doubts and fears
with which so many of the people of God are afflicted. We are apt to
regard the fruits of the Spirit _in_ us, rather than the work of
Christ _for_ us, as the foundation of peace. We shall see, presently,
the place which the work of the Holy Spirit occupies in Christianity;
but it is never set forth in Scripture as being that on which our
peace reposes. The Holy Ghost did not make peace, but Christ did. The
Holy Ghost is not said to be our peace, but Christ is. God did not
send preaching peace by the Holy Ghost, but by Jesus Christ. (Comp.
Acts x. 36; Eph. ii. 14, 17; Col. i. 20.) My reader cannot be too
simple in his apprehension of this important distinction. It is the
blood of Christ which gives peace, imparts perfect justification--divine
righteousness, purges the conscience, brings us into the holiest of
all, justifies God in receiving the believing sinner, and constitutes
our title to all the joys, the dignities, and the glories of heaven.
(See Rom. iii. 24-26; v. 9; Eph. ii. 13-18; Col. i. 20-22; Heb. ix.
14; x. 19; 1 Peter i. 19; ii. 24; 1 John i. 7; Rev. vii. 14-17.)

It will not, I fondly hope, be supposed that, in seeking to put "the
precious blood of Christ" in its divinely appointed place, I would
write a single line which might seem to detract from the value of the
Spirit's operations. God forbid. The Holy Ghost reveals Christ; makes
us to know, enjoy, and feed upon Christ; He bears witness to Christ;
He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us. He is the
power of communion, the seal, the witness, the earnest, the unction.
In short, His blessed operations are absolutely essential. Without
Him, we can neither see, hear, know, feel, experience, enjoy, nor
exhibit aught of Christ. This is plain. The doctrine of the Spirit's
operations is clearly laid down in the Word, and is understood and
admitted by every true and rightly-instructed Christian.

Yet, notwithstanding all this, the work of the Spirit is not the
ground of peace; for, if it were, we could not have settled peace
until Christ's coming, inasmuch as the work of the Spirit, in the
Church, will not, properly speaking, be complete till then. He still
carries on His work in the believer. "He maketh intercession with
groanings which cannot be uttered." (Rom. viii.) He labors to bring us
up to the predestinated standard, namely, perfect conformity, in all
things, to the image of "the Son." He is the sole Author of every
right desire, every holy aspiration, every pure affection, every
divine experience, every sound conviction; but, clearly, His work _in_
us will not be complete until we have left this present scene and
taken our place with Christ in the glory. Just as, in the case of
Abraham's servant, his work was not complete, in the matter of
Rebecca, until he had presented her to Isaac.

Not so the work of Christ _for_ us. That is absolutely and eternally
complete. He could say, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me
to do." (John xvii. 4.) And, again, "It is finished." (John xix. 30.)
The Holy Ghost cannot yet say He has finished His work. As the true
Vicar of Christ upon earth, He still labors amid the varied hostile
influences which surround the sphere of His operations. He works in
the hearts of the people of God to bring them up, practically and
experimentally, to the divinely appointed standard; but He never
teaches a soul to lean on His work for peace in the presence of God.
His office is to speak of Jesus. He does not speak of Himself. "He,"
says Christ, "shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you." (John
xvi. 13, 14.) If, then, it is only by the Spirit's teaching that any
one can understand the true ground of peace, and if the Spirit never
speaks of Himself, it is obvious that He can only present Christ's
work as the foundation on which the soul must rest forever; yea, it is
in virtue of that work that He takes up His abode and carries on His
marvelous operations in the believer. He is not our title, though He
reveals that title and enables us to understand and enjoy it.

Hence, therefore, the paschal lamb, as the ground of Israel's peace,
is a marked and beautiful type of Christ as the ground of the
believer's peace. There was nothing to be added to the blood on the
lintel; neither is there anything to be added to the blood on the
mercy-seat. The "unleavened bread" and "bitter herbs" were necessary,
but not as forming, either in whole or in part, the ground of peace.
They were for the inside of the house, and formed the characteristics
of the communion there; but THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB WAS THE FOUNDATION
OF EVERYTHING. It saved them from death, and introduced them into a
scene of life, light, and peace. It formed the link between God and
His redeemed people. As a people linked with God, on the ground of
accomplished redemption, it was their high privilege to meet certain
responsibilities; but these responsibilities did not form the link,
but merely flowed out of it.

And I would further remind my reader that the obedient _life_ of
Christ is not set forth in Scripture as the procuring cause of our
forgiveness. It was His death upon the cross that opened those
everlasting floodgates of love which else should have remained pent up
forever. If He had remained to this very hour, going through the
cities of Israel, "doing good," the vail of the temple would continue
unrent, to bar the worshiper's approach to God. It was His death that
rent that mysterious curtain "from top to bottom." It is "by _His
stripes_," not by His obedient life, that "we are healed;" and those
"stripes" He endured _on the cross_, and no where else. His own words,
during the progress of His blessed life, are quite sufficient to
settle this point.--"I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am
I straitened till it be accomplished." (Luke xii. 50.) To what does
this refer but to His death upon the cross, which was the
accomplishment of His baptism and the opening up of a righteous vent
through which His love might freely flow out to the guilty sons of
Adam? Again, He says, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and
die, it abideth alone." (John xii. 24.) He was that precious "corn of
wheat;" and He should have remained forever "alone," even though
incarnate, had He not, by His death upon the accursed tree, removed
out of the way everything that could have hindered the union of His
people with Him in resurrection. "If it die, it bringeth forth much
fruit."

My reader cannot too carefully ponder this subject. It is one of
immense weight and importance. He has to remember two points in
reference to this entire question, namely, that there could be no
union with Christ, save in resurrection; and that Christ _only_
suffered for sins on the cross. We are not to suppose that incarnation
was, by any means, Christ taking us into union with Himself. This
could not be. How could sinful flesh be thus united? The body of sin
had to be destroyed by death. Sin had to be put away according to the
divine requirement; all the power of the enemy had to be abolished.
How was all this to be done? Only by the precious, spotless Lamb of
God submitting to the death of the cross. "It became Him, for whom are
all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto
glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect _through
sufferings_." (Heb. ii. 10.) "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do
cures to-day and to-morrow, and _the third day I shall be perfected_."
(Luke xiii. 32.) The expressions "perfect" and "perfected" in the
above passages, do not refer to Christ in His own Person abstractedly,
for He was perfect from all eternity, as Son of God; and as to His
humanity, He was absolutely perfect likewise. But then, as "the
Captain of salvation"--as "bringing many sons unto glory"--as
"bringing forth much fruit"--as associating a redeemed people _with_
Himself,--He had to reach "the third day" in order to be "perfected."
He went down _alone_ into the "horrible pit, and miry clay;" but
directly He plants His "foot on the rock" of resurrection. He
associates with Himself the "many sons." (Psalm xl. 1-3.) He fought
the fight alone; but, as the mighty Conqueror, He scatters around Him,
in rich profusion, the spoils of victory, that we might gather them up
and enjoy them forever.

Moreover, we are not to regard the cross of Christ as a mere
circumstance in a life of sin-bearing. It was _the_ grand and only
scene of sin-bearing. "His own self bare our sins in His own body on
the tree." (1 Peter ii. 24.) He did not bear them any where else. He
did not bear them in the manger, nor in the wilderness, nor in the
garden; but ONLY "ON THE TREE." He never had aught to say to sin, save
on the cross; and there He bowed His head, and yielded up His precious
life, under the accumulated weight of His people's sins. Neither did
He ever suffer at the hand of God, save on the cross; and there
Jehovah hid His face from Him because He was "made sin." (2 Cor. v.)

The above train of thought, and the various passages of Scripture
referred to, may perhaps enable my reader to enter more fully into the
divine power of the words, "_When I see the blood_, I will pass over
you." The lamb needed to be without blemish, no doubt, for what else
could meet the holy eye of Jehovah? But had the blood not been shed,
there could have been no passing over, for "without shedding of blood
is no remission." (Heb. ix. 22.) This subject will, the Lord
permitting, come more fully and appropriately before us in the types
of Leviticus. It demands the prayerful attention of every one who
loves our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

We shall now consider the second aspect of the passover, as the centre
round which the assembly was gathered, in peaceful, holy, happy
fellowship. Israel saved by the blood was one thing, and Israel
feeding on the lamb was quite another. They were saved _only_ by the
blood; but the object round which they were gathered was, manifestly,
the roasted lamb. This is not, by any means, a distinction without a
difference. The blood of the lamb forms the foundation both of our
connection with God, and our connection with one another. It is as
those who are washed in that blood, that we are introduced to God and
to one another. Apart from the perfect atonement of Christ, there
could obviously be no fellowship either with God or His assembly.
Still we must remember that it is to a living Christ in heaven that
believers are gathered by the Holy Ghost. It is with a living Head we
are connected--to "a living stone" we have come. He is our centre.
Having found peace through His blood, we own Him as our grand
gathering-point and connecting link.--"Where two or three are gathered
together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. xviii.
20.) The Holy Ghost is the only Gatherer; Christ Himself is the only
object to which we are gathered; and our assembly, when thus convened,
is to be characterized by holiness, so that the Lord our God may dwell
among us. The Holy Ghost can only gather to Christ. He cannot gather
to a system, a name, a doctrine, or an ordinance. He gathers to a
Person, and that Person is a glorified Christ in heaven. This must
stamp a peculiar character on God's assembly. Men may associate on any
ground, round any centre, or for any object they please; but when the
Holy Ghost associates, it is on the ground of accomplished redemption,
around the Person of Christ, in order to form a holy dwelling-place
for God. (1 Cor. iii. 16, 17; vi. 19; Eph. ii. 21, 22; 1 Pet. ii. 4,
5.)

We shall now look in detail at the principles brought before us in the
paschal feast. The assembly of Israel, as under the cover of the
blood, was to be ordered by Jehovah in a manner worthy of Himself. In
the matter of safety from judgment, as we have already seen, nothing
was needed but the blood; but in the fellowship which flowed out of
this safety, other things were needed which could not be neglected
with impunity.

And first, then, we read, "They shall eat the flesh in that night,
roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they
shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but
roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance
thereof." (Ver. 8, 9.) The lamb round which the congregation was
assembled, and on which it feasted, was a roasted lamb--a lamb which
had undergone the action of fire. In this we see "Christ our passover"
presenting Himself to the action of the fire of divine holiness and
judgment which found in Him a perfect material. He could say, "Thou
hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast
tried me and shalt find nothing: I am purposed that my mouth shall not
transgress." (Psalm xvii. 3.) All in Him was perfect. The fire tried
Him, and there was no dross. "His head with his legs and with the
purtenance thereof." That is to say, the seat of His understanding,
His outward walk, with all that pertained thereto--all was submitted
to the action of the fire, and all was entirely perfect. The process
of roasting was therefore deeply significant, as is every circumstance
in the ordinances of God. Nothing should be passed over, because all
is pregnant with meaning.

"Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water." Had it been eaten
thus, there would have been no expression of the great truth which it
was the divine purpose to shadow forth; namely, that our paschal Lamb
was to endure, on the cross, the fire of Jehovah's righteous wrath,--a
truth of infinite preciousness to the soul. We are not merely under
the shelter of the blood of the Lamb, but we feed, by faith, upon the
Person of the Lamb. Many of us come short here. We are apt to rest
satisfied with being saved by what Christ has done for us, without
cultivating holy communion with Himself. His loving heart could never
be satisfied with this. He has brought us nigh to Himself, that we
might enjoy Him, that we might feed on Him, and delight in Him. He
presents Himself to us as the One who has endured, to the uttermost,
the intense fire of the wrath of God, that He may, in this wondrous
character, be the food of our ransomed souls.

But how was this lamb to be eaten? "With unleavened bread and bitter
herbs." Leaven is invariably used, throughout Scripture, as
emblematical of evil. Neither in the Old nor in the New Testament is
it ever used to set forth anything pure, holy, or good. Thus, in this
chapter, "the feast of unleavened bread" is the type of that practical
separation from evil which is the proper result of being washed from
our sins in the blood of the Lamb, and the proper accompaniment of
communion with His sufferings. Naught but unleavened bread could at
all comport with a roasted lamb. A single particle of that which was
the marked type of evil, would have destroyed the moral character of
the entire ordinance. How could we connect any species of evil with
our fellowship with a suffering Christ? Impossible. All who enter, by
the power of the Holy Ghost, into the meaning of the cross will
assuredly, by the same power, put away leaven from all their borders.
"For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: _therefore_ let us
keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice
and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
(1 Cor. v. 7, 8.) The feast spoken of in this passage is that which,
in the life and conduct of the Church, corresponds with the feast of
unleavened bread. This latter lasted "seven days;" and the Church
collectively, and the believer individually, are called to walk in
practical holiness, during the seven days, or entire period, of their
course here below; and this, moreover, as the direct result of being
washed in the blood, and having communion with the sufferings of
Christ.

The Israelite did not put away leaven in order to be saved, but
because he was saved; and if he failed to put away leaven, it did not
raise the question of security through the blood, but simply of
fellowship with the assembly. "Seven days shall there be no leaven
found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened,
even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel,
whether he be a stranger, or born in the land." (Ver. 19.) The cutting
off of an Israelite from the congregation answers precisely to the
suspension of a Christian's fellowship, if he be indulging in that
which is contrary to the holiness of the divine presence. God cannot
tolerate evil. A single unholy thought will interrupt the soul's
communion; and until the soil contracted by any such thought is got
rid of by confession, founded on the advocacy of Christ, the communion
cannot possibly be restored. (See 1 John i. 5-10.) The true-hearted
Christian rejoices in this. He can ever "give thanks at the
remembrance of God's holiness." He would not, if he could, lower the
standard a single hair's breadth. It is his exceeding joy to walk in
company with One who will not go on, for a moment, with a single jot
or tittle of "leaven."

Blessed be God, we know that nothing can ever snap asunder the link
which binds the true believer to Him. We are "saved in the Lord," not
with a temporary or conditional, but "with an everlasting salvation."
But then salvation and communion are not the same thing. Many are
saved who do not know it; and many, also, who do not enjoy it. It is
quite impossible that I can enjoy a blood-stained lintel if I have
leavened borders. This is an axiom in the divine life. May it be
written on our hearts! Practical holiness, though not the basis of our
_salvation_, is intimately connected with our _enjoyment_ thereof. An
Israelite was not saved by unleavened bread, but by the blood; and yet
leaven would have cut him off from communion. And as to the Christian,
he is not saved by his practical holiness, but by the blood; but if he
indulges in evil, in thought, word, or deed, he will have no true
enjoyment of salvation, and no true communion with the Person of the
Lamb.

This, I cannot doubt, is the secret of much of the spiritual
barrenness and lack of settled peace which one finds amongst the
children of God. They are not cultivating holiness; they are not
keeping "the feast of unleavened bread." The blood is on the lintel,
but the leaven within their borders keeps them from enjoying the
security which the blood provides. The allowance of evil destroys our
fellowship, though it does not break the link which binds our souls
eternally to God. Those who belong to God's assembly must be holy.
They have not only been delivered from the guilt and consequences of
sin, but also from the practice of it, the power of it, and the love
of it. The very fact of being delivered by the blood of the paschal
lamb, rendered Israel responsible to put away leaven from all their
quarters. They could not say, in the frightful language of the
antinomian, Now that we are delivered, we may conduct ourselves as we
please. By no means. If they were saved _by grace_, they were saved
_to holiness_. The soul that can take occasion, from the freedom of
divine grace and the completeness of the redemption which is in Christ
Jesus, to "continue in sin," proves very distinctly that he
understands neither the one nor the other.

Grace not only saves the soul with an everlasting salvation, but also
imparts a nature which delights in everything that belongs to God,
because it is divine. We are made partakers of the divine nature,
which cannot sin, because it is born of God. To walk in the energy of
this nature is, in reality, to "keep" the feast of unleavened bread.
There is no "old leaven" nor "leaven of malice and wickedness" in the
new nature, because it is of God, and God is holy, and "God is love."
Hence it is evident that we do not put away evil from us in order to
better our old nature, which is irremediable; nor yet to obtain the
new nature, but because we have it. We have life, and, in the power of
that life, we put away evil. It is only when we are delivered from the
guilt of sin that we can understand or exhibit the true power of
holiness. To attempt it in any other way is hopeless labor. The feast
of unleavened bread can only be kept beneath the perfect shelter of
the blood.

We may perceive equal significancy and moral propriety in that which
was to accompany the unleavened bread, namely, the "bitter herbs." We
cannot enjoy communion with the sufferings of Christ without
remembering what it was which rendered those sufferings needful, and
this remembrance must necessarily produce a chastened and subdued tone
of spirit, which is aptly expressed by the bitter herbs in the paschal
feast. If the roasted lamb expressed Christ's endurance of the wrath
of God in His own Person, on the cross, the bitter herbs express the
believer's recognition of the truth that He "suffered _for us_." "The
chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are
healed." (Isaiah liii. 5.) It is well, owing to the excessive levity
of our hearts, to understand the deep meaning of the bitter herbs. Who
can read such psalms as the sixth, twenty-second, thirty-eighth,
sixty-ninth, eighty-eighth, and one hundred and ninth, and not enter,
in some measure, into the meaning of the unleavened bread with bitter
herbs? Practical holiness of life, with deep subduedness of soul, must
flow from real communion with Christ's sufferings; for it is quite
impossible that moral evil and levity of spirit can exist in view of
those sufferings.

But, it may be asked, is there not a deep joy for the soul in the
consciousness that Christ has borne our sins; that He has fully
drained, on our behalf, the cup of God's righteous wrath?
Unquestionably. This is the solid foundation of all our joy. But can
we ever forget that it was for "_our sins_" He suffered? Can we ever
lose sight of the soul-subduing truth that the blessed Lamb of God
bowed His head beneath the weight of our transgressions? Surely not.
We must eat our lamb with bitter herbs, which, be it remembered, do
not set forth the tears of a worthless and shallow sentimentality, but
the deep and real experiences of a soul that enters, with spiritual
intelligence and power, into the meaning and into the practical effect
of the cross.

In contemplating the cross, we find in it that which cancels all our
guilt. This imparts sweet peace and joy. But we find in it also the
complete setting aside of nature--the crucifixion of "the flesh"--the
death of "the old man." (See Rom. vi. 6; Gal. ii. 20; vi. 14; Col. ii.
11.) This, in its practical results, will involve much that is
"bitter" to nature. It will call for self-denial--the mortification of
our members which are on the earth (Col. iii. 5.)--the reckoning of
self to be dead indeed unto sin (Rom. vi.). All these things may seem
terrible to look at; but when one gets inside the blood-stained
door-post, he thinks quite differently. The very herbs which to an
Egyptian's taste would no doubt have seemed so bitter, formed an
integral part of Israel's redemption _feast_. Those who are redeemed
by the blood of the Lamb, who know the joy of fellowship with Him,
esteem it a "feast" to put away evil and to keep nature in the place
of death.

"And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that
which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire."
(Ver. 10.) In this command, we are taught that the communion of the
congregation was in no wise to be separated from the sacrifice on
which that communion was founded. The heart must ever cherish the
vivid remembrance that all true fellowship is inseparably connected
with accomplished redemption. To think of having communion _with God_
on any other ground is to imagine that He could have fellowship with
our evil, and to think of fellowship _with man_ on any other ground is
but to form an unholy club, from which nothing could issue but
confusion and iniquity. In a word, all must be founded upon, and
inseparably linked with, the blood. This is the simple meaning of
eating the paschal lamb the same night on which the blood was shed.
The fellowship must not be separated from its foundation.

What a beauteous picture, then, we have in the blood-sheltered
assembly of Israel, feeding peacefully on the roasted lamb, with
unleavened bread and bitter herbs! No fear of judgment, no fear of the
wrath of Jehovah, no fear of the terrible hurricane of righteous
vengeance which was sweeping vehemently over the land of Egypt, at the
midnight hour. All was profound peace within the blood-stained lintel.
They had no need to fear anything from without; and nothing within
could trouble them, save leaven, which would have proved a death-blow
to all their peace and blessedness. What a picture for the Church!
What a picture for the Christian! May we gaze upon it with an
enlightened eye and a teachable spirit!

However, we are not yet done with this most instructive ordinance. We
have been looking at Israel's _position_, and Israel's _food_, let us
now look at Israel's _habit_.

"And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your
feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste; it is
the Lord's passover." (Ver. 11.) They were to eat it as a people
prepared to leave behind them the land of death and darkness, wrath
and judgment, to move onward toward the land of promise--their
destined inheritance. The blood which had preserved them from the fate
of Egypt's first-born was also the foundation of their deliverance
from Egypt's bondage; and they were now to set out and walk with God
toward the land that flowed with milk and honey. True, they had not
yet crossed the Red Sea,--they had not yet gone the "three days'
journey;" still they were, in principle, a redeemed people, a
separated people, a pilgrim people, an expectant people, a dependent
people; and their entire habit was to be in keeping with their present
position and future destiny. The girded loins bespoke intense
separation from all around them, together with a readiness to serve.
The shod feet declared their preparedness to leave that scene; while
the staff was the expressive emblem of a pilgrim people, in the
attitude of leaning on something outside themselves. Precious
characteristics! Would that they were more exhibited by every member
of God's redeemed family.

Beloved Christian reader, let us "meditate on these things." We have
tasted, through grace, the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Jesus;
as such, it is our privilege to feed upon His adorable Person and
delight ourselves in His "unsearchable riches;" to have fellowship in
His sufferings, and be made conformable to His death. Oh! let us,
therefore, be seen with the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the
girded loins, the shoes and staff. In a word, let us be marked as a
holy people, a crucified people, a watchful and diligent people,--a
people manifestly "on our way to God"--on our way to glory--"bound for
the kingdom." May God grant us to enter into the depth and power of
all these things, so that they may not be mere theories in our
intellects--mere principles of scriptural knowledge and
interpretation, but living, divine realities, known by experience, and
exhibited in the life, to the glory of God.

We shall close this section by glancing, for a moment, at verses
43-49. Here we are taught that while it was the place and privilege of
every true Israelite to eat the passover, yet no uncircumcised
stranger should participate therein.--"There shall no stranger eat
thereof ... all the congregation of Israel shall keep it."
Circumcision was necessary ere the passover could be eaten. In other
words, the sentence of death must be written upon nature ere we can
intelligently feed upon Christ, either as the ground of peace or the
centre of unity. Circumcision has its antitype in the cross. The male
alone was circumcised; the female was represented in the male. So, in
the cross, Christ represented His Church, and hence the Church is
crucified with Christ; nevertheless she lives by the life of Christ,
known and exhibited on earth, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
"And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the
passover unto the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let
him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the
land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." "They that are
in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. viii. 8.)

The ordinance of circumcision formed the grand boundary line between
the Israel of God and all the nations that were upon the face of the
earth; and the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ forms the boundary
between the Church and the world. It matters not, in the smallest
degree, what advantages of person or position a man possessed, he
could have no part with Israel until he submitted to that
flesh-cutting operation. A circumcised beggar was nearer to God than
an uncircumcised king. So, also, now, there can be no participation in
the joys of God's redeemed, save by the cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ; and that cross sweeps away all pretensions, levels all
distinctions, and unites all in one holy congregation of blood-washed
worshipers. The cross forms a boundary so lofty, and a defense so
impenetrable, that not a single atom of earth or of nature can cross
over or pass through to mingle itself with "the new creation." "_All_
things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself." (2 Cor. v. 18.)

But not only was Israel's _separation_ from all strangers strictly
maintained, in the institution of the passover; Israel's _unity_ was
also as clearly enforced. "_In one house_ shall it be eaten: thou
shalt not carry forth aught of the flesh abroad out of the house:
neither shall ye break a bone thereof." (Ver. 46.) Here is as fair and
beauteous a type as we could have of the "one body and one Spirit."
The Church of God is _one_. God sees it as such, maintains it as such,
and will manifest it as such, in the view of angels, men, and devils,
notwithstanding all that has been done to interfere with that hallowed
unity. Blessed be God, the unity of His Church is as much in His
keeping as is her justification, acceptance, and eternal security. "He
keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken." (Ps. xxxiv. 20.)
And again, "A bone of Him shall not be broken." (John xix. 36.)
Despite the rudeness and hard-heartedness of Rome's soldiery, and
despite all the hostile influences which have been set to work, from
age to age, the body of Christ is _one_ and its divine unity can never
be broken. "THERE IS ONE BODY AND ONE SPIRIT;" and that, moreover,
down here on this very earth. Happy are they who have got faith to
recognize this precious truth, and faithfulness to carry it out, in
these last days, notwithstanding the almost insuperable difficulties
which attend upon their profession and their practice. I believe God
will own and honor such.

The Lord deliver us from that spirit of unbelief which would lead us
to judge by the sight of our eyes, instead of by the light of His
changeless Word.



CHAPTER XIII.


In the opening verses of this chapter we are taught, clearly and
distinctly, that personal devotedness and personal holiness are fruits
which redeeming love produces in those who are the happy subjects
thereof. The dedication of the first-born and the feast of unleavened
bread are here set forth in their immediate connection with the
deliverance of the people out of the land of Egypt.--"'Sanctify unto
Me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children
of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is Mine.' And Moses said unto
the people, 'Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out
of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you
out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.'" And
again, "Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh
day shall be a feast unto the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten
seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee;
neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters."

Then we have the reason of both these significant observances laid
down.--"And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done
_because of that_ which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of
Egypt." And again, "It shall be, when thy son asketh thee in time to
come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength
of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage.
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the
Lord slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both the first-born
of man and the first-born of beast; _therefore_ I sacrifice to the
Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the first-born
of my children I redeem."

The more fully we enter, by the power of the Spirit of God, into the
redemption which is in Christ Jesus, the more decided will be our
separation, and the more whole-hearted will be our devotedness. The
effort to produce either the one or the other, until redemption is
known, will prove the most hopeless labor possible. All our doings
must be "because of that which the Lord hath done," and not in order
to get anything from Him. Efforts after life and peace prove that we
are, as yet, strangers to the power of the blood; whereas the pure
fruits of an experienced redemption are to the praise of Him who has
redeemed us. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should
boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good
works, which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them."
(Eph. ii. 8-10.) God has already prepared a path of good works for us
to walk in; and He, by grace, prepares us to walk therein. It is only
as saved that we can walk in such a path. Were it otherwise, we might
boast; but seeing that we ourselves are as much God's workmanship as
the path in which we walk, there is no room whatever for boasting.

True Christianity is but the manifestation of the life of Christ,
implanted in us by the operation of the Holy Ghost, in pursuance of
God's eternal counsels of sovereign grace; and all our doings previous
to the implantation of this life are but "dead works," from which we
need to have our consciences purged just as much as from "wicked
works." (Heb. ix. 14.) The term "dead works" comprehends all works
which men do with the direct object of getting life. If a man is
seeking for life, it is very evident that he has not yet gotten it. He
may be very sincere in seeking it, but his very sincerity only makes
it the more obvious that, as yet, he has not consciously reached it.
Hence, therefore, everything done in order to get life is a dead work,
inasmuch as it is done without life--the life of Christ, the only true
life, the only source from whence good works can flow. And, observe,
it is not a question of "wicked works;" no one would think of getting
life by such. No; you will find, on the contrary, that persons
continually have recourse to "dead works," in order to ease their
consciences, under the sense of "wicked works," whereas divine
revelation teaches us that the conscience needs to be purged from the
one as well as the other.

Again, as to righteousness, we read that "all our righteousnesses are
as filthy rags." It is not said that all our wickednesses, merely, are
as filthy rags. This would at once be admitted. But the fact is, that
the very best fruit which we can produce, in the shape of
religiousness and righteousness, is represented, on the page of
eternal truth, as "dead works," and "filthy rags." Our very efforts
after life do but prove us to be dead, and our very efforts after
righteousness do but prove us to be enwrapped in filthy rags. It is
only as the actual possessors of eternal life and divine righteousness
that we can walk in the divinely prepared path of good works. Dead
works and filthy rags could never be suffered to appear in such a
path. None but "the redeemed of the Lord" can walk therein. It was as
a redeemed people that Israel kept the feast of unleavened bread, and
dedicated their first-born to Jehovah. The former of these observances
we have already considered; as to the latter, it contains a rich mine
of instruction.

The destroying angel passed through the land of Egypt to destroy all
the first-born; but Israel's first-born escaped through the death of a
divinely provided substitute. Accordingly, these latter appear before
us, in this chapter, as a living people, dedicated to God. Saved by
the blood of the lamb, they are privileged to consecrate their
ransomed life to Him who had ransomed it. Thus it was only as redeemed
that they possessed life. The grace of God alone had made them to
differ, and had given them the place of living men in His presence. In
their case, assuredly, there was no room for boasting; for, as to any
personal merit or worthiness, we learn from this chapter that they
were put on a level with an unclean and worthless thing.--"Every
firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt
not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck; and all the first-born
of man among thy children shalt thou redeem." (Ver. 13.) There were
two classes--the clean and the unclean, and man was classed with the
latter. The lamb was to answer for the unclean; and if the ass were
not redeemed, his neck was to be broken; so that an unredeemed man was
put upon a level with an unclean animal, and that, moreover, in a
condition than which nothing could be more worthless and unsightly.
What a humiliating picture of man in his natural condition! O, that
our poor proud hearts could enter more into it! Then should we rejoice
more unfeignedly in the happy privilege of being washed from our guilt
in the blood of the Lamb, and having all our personal vileness left
behind forever, in the tomb where our Surety lay buried.

Christ was the Lamb--the clean, the spotless Lamb: we were unclean;
but (forever adored be His matchless name!) He took our position, and,
_on the cross_, was made sin, and treated as such. That which we
should have endured throughout the countless ages of eternity, He
endured for us on the tree. He bore _all_ that was due to us, there
and then, in order that we might enjoy what is due to Him, forever. He
got our desserts that we might get His. The clean took, for a time,
the place of the unclean, in order that the unclean might take forever
the place of the clean. Thus, whereas by nature we are represented by
the loathsome figure of an ass with his neck broken, by grace we are
represented by a risen and glorified Christ in heaven. Amazing
contrast! It lays man's glory in the dust, and magnifies the riches of
redeeming love. It silences man's empty boastings, and puts into his
mouth a hymn of praise to God and the Lamb, which shall swell
throughout the courts of heaven during the everlasting ages.[7]

  [7] It is interesting to see that by nature we are ranked with an
  unclean animal; by grace we are associated with Christ the spotless
  Lamb. There can be nothing lower than the place which belongs to us by
  nature: nothing higher than that which belongs to us by grace. Look,
  for example, at an ass with his neck broken; there is what an
  unredeemed man is worth. Look at "the precious blood of Christ;" there
  is what a redeemed man is worth. "Unto you that believe is the
  preciousness." That is, all who are washed in the blood partake of
  Christ's preciousness. As He is "a living stone," they are "living
  stones;" as He is "a precious stone," they are "precious stones." They
  get life and preciousness all from Him and in Him. They are as He is.
  Every stone in the edifice is precious, because purchased at no less a
  price than "the blood of the Lamb." May the people of God know more
  fully their place and privileges in Christ!

How forcibly is one here reminded of the apostle's memorable and
weighty words to the Romans, "Now if we be dead with Christ, we
believe that we shall also live with Him: knowing that Christ being
raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over
Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He
liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be
dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should
obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as
instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto
God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as
instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion
over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Rom. vi.
8-14.) We are not only ransomed from the power of death and the grave,
but also united to Him who has ransomed us at the heavy cost of His
own precious life, that we might, in the energy of the Holy Ghost,
dedicate our new life, with all its powers, to His service, so that
His worthy name may be glorified in us according to the will of God
and our Father.

We are furnished, in the last few verses of Exodus xiii, with a
touching and beautiful example of the Lord's tender consideration of
His people's need. "He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are
dust." (Psalm ciii. 14.) When He redeemed Israel and took them into
relationship with Himself, He, in His unfathomed and infinite grace,
charged Himself with all their need and weakness. It mattered not what
they were or what they needed when I AM was with them, in all the
exhaustless treasures of that name. He had to conduct them from Egypt
to Canaan, and we here find Him occupying Himself in selecting a
suitable path for them.--"And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let
the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of
the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, 'Lest
peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to
Egypt;' but God led the people about through the way of the wilderness
of the Red Sea." (Ver. 17, 18.)

The Lord, in His condescending grace, so orders for His people that
they do not, at their first setting out, encounter heavy trials, which
might have the effect of discouraging their hearts and driving them
back. "The way of the wilderness" was a much more protracted route;
but God had deep and varied lessons to teach His people, which could
only be learnt in the desert. They were afterwards reminded of this
fact, in the following passage: "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." (Deut. viii. 2-4.) Such precious lessons as these could never
have been learnt in "the way of the land of the Philistines." In that
way, they might have learnt what _war_ was, at an early stage of their
career; but "in the way of the wilderness," they learnt what _flesh_
was, in all its crookedness, unbelief, and rebellion. But I AM was
there, in all His patient grace, unerring wisdom, and infinite power.
None but Himself could have met the demand; none but He could endure
the opening up of the depths of a human heart. To have my heart
unlocked any where, save in the presence of infinite grace, would
plunge me in hopeless despair. The heart of man is but a little hell.
What boundless mercy, then, to be delivered from its terrible depths!

    "Oh, to grace how great a debtor
      Daily I'm constrained to be!
    Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
      Bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

"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." Jehovah not only selected a path for His people,
but He also came down to walk with them therein, and make Himself
known to them according to their need. He not only conducted them
safely outside the bounds of Egypt, but He also came down, as it were,
in His traveling chariot, to be their Companion through all the
vicissitudes of their wilderness journey. This was divine grace. They
were not merely delivered out of the furnace of Egypt and then allowed
to make the best of their way to Canaan--such was not God's manner
toward them. He knew that they had a toilsome and perilous journey
before them, through serpents and scorpions, snares and difficulties,
drought and barrenness; and He, blessed be His name forever, would not
suffer them to go alone. He would be the Companion of all their toils
and dangers; yea, "He went before them." He was "a guide, a glory, a
defense, to save from every fear." Alas! that they should ever have
grieved that blessed One by their hardness of heart. Had they only
walked humbly, contentedly, and confidingly with Him, their march
would have been a triumphant one from first to last. With Jehovah in
their forefront, no power could have interrupted their onward progress
from Egypt to Canaan. He would have carried them through and planted
them in the mountain of His inheritance, according to His promise, and
by the power of His right hand; nor should as much as a single
Canaanite have been allowed to remain therein to be a thorn in their
side. Thus will it be by and by, when Jehovah shall set His hand a
second time to deliver His people from under the power of all their
oppressors. May the Lord hasten the time!



CHAPTER XIV.


"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great
waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep."
(Psalm cvii. 23, 24.) How true is this! and yet our coward hearts do
so shrink from those "great waters." We prefer carrying on our
traffic in the shallows, and, as a result, we fail to see "the works"
and "wonders" of our God; for these can only be seen and known "in the
deep."

It is in the day of trial and difficulty that the soul experiences
something of the deep and untold blessedness of being able to count on
God. Were all to go on smoothly, this would not be so. It is not in
gliding along the surface of a tranquil lake that the reality of the
Master's presence is felt; but actually when the tempest roars, and
the waves roll over the ship. The Lord does not hold out to us the
prospect of exemption from trial and tribulation; quite the opposite:
He tells us we shall have to meet both the one and the other; but He
promises to be with us in them, and this is infinitely better. God's
presence _in_ the trial is much better than exemption _from_ the
trial. The sympathy of His heart _with us_ is sweeter far than the
power of His hand _for us_. The Master's presence with His faithful
servants while passing through the furnace was better far than the
display of His power to keep them out of it. (Dan. iii.) We would
frequently desire to be allowed to pass on our way without trial, but
this would involve serious loss. The Lord's presence is never so sweet
as in moments of appalling difficulty.

Thus it was in Israel's case, as recorded in this chapter. They are
brought into an overwhelming difficulty: they are called to "do
business in great waters:" "they are at their wit's end." Pharaoh,
repenting himself of having let them go out of his land, determines
to make one desperate effort to recover them. "And he made ready his
chariot, and took his people with him; and he took six hundred chosen
chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one
of them.... And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted
up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they
were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord."
Here was a deeply trying scene--one in which human effort could avail
nothing. As well might they have attempted to put back with a straw
the ocean's mighty tide, as seek to extricate themselves by aught that
they could do. The sea was before them, Pharaoh's hosts behind them,
and the mountains around them. And all this, be it observed, permitted
and ordered of God. He had marked out their position before
"Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon."
Moreover, He permitted Pharaoh to come upon them. And why? Just to
display Himself in the salvation of His people, and the total
overthrow of their enemies. "To Him that divided the Red Sea into
parts: for His mercy endureth forever: and made Israel to pass through
the midst of it: for His mercy endureth forever: but overthrew Pharaoh
and his host in the Red Sea: for His mercy endureth forever." (Ps.
cxxxvi.)

There is not so much as a single position in all the desert-wanderings
of God's redeemed, the boundaries of which are not marked off, with
studious accuracy, by the hand of unerring wisdom and infinite love.
The special bearings and peculiar influences of each position are
carefully arranged. The Pi-hahiroths and the Migdols are all ordered
with immediate reference to the moral condition of those whom God is
conducting through the windings and labyrinths of the wilderness, and
also to the display of His own character. Unbelief may ofttimes
suggest the inquiry, Why is it thus? God knows why; and He will,
without doubt, reveal the why whenever the revelation would promote
His glory and His people's good. How often do we feel disposed to
question as to the why and the wherefore of our being placed in such
and such circumstances! How often do we perplex ourselves as to the
reason of our being exposed to such and such trials! How much better
to bow our heads in meek subjection, and say, "It is well," and "it
shall be well"! When God fixes our position for us, we may rest
assured it is a wise and salutary one; and even when we foolishly and
willfully choose a position for ourselves, He most graciously
overrules our folly, and causes the influences of our self-chosen
circumstances to work for our spiritual benefit.

It is when the people of God are brought into the greatest straits and
difficulties, that they are favored with the finest displays of God's
character and actings; and for this reason He ofttimes leads them into
a trying position, in order that He may the more markedly show
Himself. He could have conducted Israel through the Red Sea, and far
beyond the reach of Pharaoh's hosts, before ever the latter had
started from Egypt; but that would not have so fully glorified His own
name, or so entirely confounded the enemy, upon whom He designed to
"get Him honor." We too frequently lose sight of this great truth, and
the consequence is that our hearts give way in the time of trial. If
we could only look upon a difficult crisis as an occasion of bringing
out, on our behalf, the sufficiency of divine grace, it would enable
us to preserve the balance of our souls, and to glorify God, even in
the deepest waters.

We feel disposed, it may be, to marvel at Israel's language on the
occasion now before us. We may feel at a loss to account for it; but
the more we know of our own evil hearts of unbelief, the more we shall
see how marvelously like them we are. They would seem to have
forgotten the recent display of divine power on their behalf. They had
seen the gods of Egypt judged, and the power of Egypt laid prostrate
beneath the stroke of Jehovah's omnipotent hand; they had seen the
iron chain of Egyptian bondage riven, and the furnace quenched by the
same hand;--all these things they had seen, and yet the moment a dark
cloud appeared upon their horizon, their confidence gave way, their
hearts failed, and they gave utterance to their unbelieving murmurings
in the following language: "Because there were no graves in Egypt,
hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou
dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?... It had been
better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the
wilderness." (Ver. 11, 12.) Thus is "blind unbelief" ever "sure to
err, and scan God's ways in vain." This unbelief is the same in all
ages. It led David, in an evil hour, to say, "I shall one day perish
by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than that I should
speedily escape into the land of the Philistines." (1 Sam. xxvii. 1.)
And how did it turn out? Saul fell on Mount Gilboa, and David's throne
was established forever. Again, it led Elijah the Tishbite, in a
moment of deep depression, to flee for his life from the wrathful
threatenings of Jezebel. How did it turn out? Jezebel was dashed to
pieces on the pavement, and Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire to
heaven.

So it was with Israel in their very first moment of trial. They really
thought that the Lord had taken such pains to deliver them out of
Egypt merely to let them die in the wilderness. They imagined that
they had been preserved by the blood of the paschal lamb in order that
they might be buried in the wilderness. Thus it is that unbelief ever
reasons. It leads us to interpret God in the presence of the
difficulty, instead of interpreting the difficulty in the presence of
God. Faith gets behind the difficulty and there finds God, in all His
faithfulness, love, and power. It is the believer's privilege ever to
be in the presence of God. He has been introduced thither by the blood
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and nothing should be suffered to take him
thence. The place itself he never can lose, inasmuch as his Head and
Representative, Christ, occupies it on his behalf. But although he
cannot lose the thing itself, he can very easily lose the enjoyment of
it--the experience and power of it. Whenever his difficulties come
between his heart and the Lord, he is evidently not enjoying the
Lord's presence, but suffering in the presence of his difficulties.
Just as when a cloud comes between us and the sun, it robs us, for the
time, of the enjoyment of his beams. It does not prevent him from
shining, it merely hinders our enjoyment of him. Exactly so is it when
we allow trials and sorrows, difficulties and perplexities, to hide
from our souls the bright beams of our Father's countenance, which
ever shine, with changeless lustre, in the face of Jesus Christ. There
is no difficulty too great for our God; yea, the greater the
difficulty, the more room there is for Him to act in His proper
character, as the God of all power and grace. No doubt Israel's
position, in the opening of our chapter, was a deeply trying one,--to
flesh and blood, perfectly overwhelming; but then the Maker of heaven
and earth was there, and they had but to use Him.

Yet, alas! my reader, how speedily we fail when trial arises! These
sentiments sound very nicely on the ear, and look very well upon paper
(and, blessed be God, they are divinely true); but then the thing is
to practice them when opportunity offers. It is in the practice of
them that their power and blessedness are really proved. "If any man
will _do_ His will, he shall _know_ of the doctrine, whether it be of
God." (John vii. 17.)

"And Moses said unto the people, 'Fear ye not, stand still, and see
the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you to-day; for the
Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day ye shall see them again no more
forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.'"
(Ver. 13, 14.) Here is the first attitude which faith takes in the
presence of a trial. "_Stand still._" This is impossible to flesh and
blood. All who know, in any measure, the restlessness of the human
heart under anticipated trial and difficulty, will be able to form
some conception of what is involved in standing still. Nature must be
_doing_ something. It will rush hither and thither. It would fain have
some hand in the matter. And although it may attempt to justify and
sanctify its worthless doings, by bestowing upon them the imposing and
popular title of "a legitimate use of means," yet are they the plain
and positive fruits of unbelief, which always shuts out God, and sees
naught save the dark cloud of its own creation. Unbelief creates or
magnifies difficulties, and then sets us about removing them by our
own bustling and fruitless activities, which, in reality, do but raise
a dust around us which prevents our seeing God's salvation.

Faith, on the contrary, raises the soul above the difficulty, straight
to God Himself, and enables one to "stand still." We gain nothing by
our restless and anxious efforts. "We cannot make one hair white or
black," nor "add one cubit to our stature." What could Israel do at
the Red Sea? Could they dry it up? Could they level the mountains?
Could they annihilate the hosts of Egypt? Impossible! There they were,
inclosed within an impenetrable wall of difficulties, in view of which
nature could but tremble and feel its own perfect impotency. But this
was just the time for God to act. When unbelief is driven from the
scene, then God can enter; and, in order to get a proper view of His
actings, we must "stand still." Every movement of nature is, so far as
it goes, a positive hindrance to our perception and enjoyment of
divine interference on our behalf.

This is true of us in every single stage of our history. It is true of
us as sinners when, under the uneasy sense of sin upon the conscience,
we are tempted to resort to our own doings in order to obtain relief.
Then, truly, we must "stand still" in order to "see the salvation of
God." For what could we do in the matter of making an atonement for
sin? Could we have stood with the Son of God upon the cross? Could we
have accompanied Him down into the "horrible pit and the miry clay"?
Could we have forced our passage upward to that eternal rock on which,
in resurrection, He has taken His stand? Every right mind will at once
pronounce the thought to be a daring blasphemy. God is alone in
redemption; and as for us, we have but to "stand still, and see the
salvation of God." The very fact of its being God's salvation proves
that man has naught to do in it.

The same is true of us, from the moment we have entered upon our
Christian career. In every fresh difficulty, be it great or small, our
wisdom is to stand still--to cease from our own works, and find our
sweet repose in God's salvation. Nor can we make any distinction as to
difficulties. We cannot say that there are some trifling difficulties
which we ourselves can compass, while there are others in which naught
save the hand of God can avail. No; all are alike beyond us. We are as
little able to change the color of a hair as to remove a mountain,--to
form a blade of grass as to create a world. All are alike to us, and
all are alike to God. We have only, therefore, in confiding faith, to
cast ourselves on Him who "humbleth Himself [alike] to behold the
things that are in heaven and on earth." We sometimes find ourselves
carried triumphantly through the heaviest trials, while at other times
we quail, falter, and break down under the most ordinary
dispensations. Why is this? Because, in the former, we are constrained
to roll our burden over on the Lord; whereas, in the latter, we
foolishly attempt to carry it ourselves. The Christian is, in himself,
if he only realized it, like an exhausted receiver, in which a guinea
and a feather have equal momenta.

"The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Precious
assurance! How eminently calculated to tranquilize the spirit in view
of the most appalling difficulties and dangers! The Lord not only
places Himself between us and our sins, but also between us and our
circumstances. By doing the former, He gives us peace of conscience;
by doing the latter, He gives us peace of heart. That the two things
are perfectly distinct, every experienced Christian knows. Very many
have peace of conscience, who have not peace of heart. They have,
through grace and by faith, found Christ, in the divine efficacy of
His blood, between them and all their sins; but they are not able, in
the same simple way, to realize Him as standing, in His divine wisdom,
love, and power, between them and their circumstances. This makes a
material difference in the practical condition of the soul, as well as
in the character of one's testimony. Nothing tends more to glorify the
name of Jesus than that quiet repose of spirit which results from
having Him between us and everything that could be a matter of anxiety
to our hearts. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is
stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."

But some feel disposed to ask the question, "Are we not to do
anything?" This maybe answered by asking another, namely, What can we
do? All who really know themselves must answer, Nothing. If,
therefore, we can do nothing, had we not better "stand still"? If the
Lord is acting for us, had we not better stand back? Shall we run
before Him? Shall we busily intrude ourselves upon His sphere of
action? Shall we come in His way? There can be no possible use in two
acting, when one is so perfectly competent to do all. No one would
think of bringing a lighted candle to add brightness to the sun at
midday: and yet the man who would do so might well be accounted wise,
in comparison with him who attempts to assist God by his bustling
officiousness.

However, when God, in His great mercy, opens the way, faith can walk
therein. It only ceases from man's way in order to walk in God's. "And
the Lord said unto Moses, 'Wherefore criest thou unto Me? Speak unto
the children of Israel that they go forward.'" It is only when we have
learnt to "stand still" that we are able effectually to go forward. To
attempt the latter until we have learnt the former is sure to issue in
the exposure of our folly and weakness. It is therefore true wisdom,
in all times of difficulty and perplexity, to "stand still"--to wait
only upon God, and He will assuredly open a way for us; and then we
can peacefully and happily "go forward." There is no uncertainty when
God makes a way for us; but every self-devised path must prove a path
of doubt and hesitation. The unregenerate man may move along with
great apparent firmness and decision in his own ways; but one of the
most distinct elements in the new creation is self-distrust, and the
element which answers thereto is confidence in God. It is when our
eyes have seen God's salvation that we can walk therein; but this can
never be distinctly seen until we have been brought to the end of our
own poor doings.

There is peculiar force and beauty in the expression, "_See_ the
salvation of God." The very fact of our being called to "see" God's
salvation, proves that the salvation is a complete one. It teaches
that salvation is a thing wrought out and revealed by God, to be seen
and enjoyed by us. It is not a thing made up partly of God's doing and
partly of man's. Were it so, it could not be called _God's_ salvation.
In order to be His, it must be wholly divested of everything
pertaining to man. The only possible effect of human efforts is to
raise a dust which obscures the view of God's salvation.

"Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward." Moses himself
seems to have been brought to a stand, as it appears from the Lord's
question--"Wherefore criest thou to Me?" Moses could tell the people
to "stand still, and see the salvation of God," while his own spirit
was giving forth its exercises in an earnest cry to God. However,
there is no use in crying when we ought to be acting; just as there is
no use in acting when we ought to be waiting. Yet such is ever our
way. We attempt to move forward when we ought to stand still, and we
stand still when we ought to move forward. In Israel's case, the
question might spring up in the heart, Whither are we to go? To all
appearance, there lay an insurmountable barrier in the way of any
movement forward. How were they to go through the sea? This was the
point. Nature could never solve this question. But we may rest assured
that God never gives a command without, at the same time,
communicating the power to obey. The real condition of the heart may
be tested by the command; but the soul that is, by grace, disposed to
obey, receives power from above to do so. When Christ commanded the
man with the withered hand to stretch it forth, the man might
naturally have said, How can I stretch forth an arm which hangs dead
by my side? But he did not raise any question whatever, for with the
command, and from the same source, came the power to obey.

Thus, too, in Israel's case, we see that with the command to go
forward came the provision of grace. "But lift thou up thy rod, and
stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of
Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." Here was
the path of faith. The hand of God opens the way for us to take the
first step, and this is all that faith ever asks. God never gives
guidance for two steps at a time. I must take one step, and then I get
light for the next. This keeps the heart in abiding dependence upon
God. "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land." It is
evident that the sea was not divided throughout at once. Had it been
so, it would have been "sight" and not "faith." It does not require
faith to begin a journey when I can see all the way through; but to
begin when I can merely see the first step, this is faith. The sea
opened as Israel moved forward, so that for every fresh step they
needed to be cast upon God. Such was the path along which the redeemed
of the Lord moved, under His own conducting hand. They passed through
the dark waters of death, and found these very waters to be "a wall
unto them, on their right hand and on their left."

The Egyptians could not move in such a path as this. They moved on
because they saw the way open before them: with them it was sight, and
not faith,--"Which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned." When
people _assay_ to do what faith alone can accomplish, they only
encounter defeat and confusion. The path along which God calls His
people to walk is one which nature can never tread. "Flesh and blood
cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. xv. 50.), neither can it
walk in the ways of God. Faith is the great characteristic principle
of God's kingdom, and faith alone can enable us to walk in God's ways.
"Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. xi.) It
glorifies God exceedingly when we move on with Him, as it were,
blindfold. It proves that we have more confidence in His eyesight than
in our own. If I know that God is looking out for me, I may well close
my eyes, and move on in holy calmness and stability. In human affairs,
we know that when there is a sentinel or watchman at his post, others
can sleep quietly. How much more may we rest in perfect security when
we know that He who neither slumbers nor sleeps has His eye upon us,
and His everlasting arms around us!

"And the angel of God which went before the camp of Israel, removed
and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before
their face, and stood behind them. And it came between the camp of the
Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to
them, but it gave light by night to these; so that the one came not
near the other all the night." (Ver. 19, 20.) Jehovah placed Himself
right between Israel and the enemy: this was protection indeed. Before
ever Pharaoh could touch a hair of Israel's head, he should make his
way through the very pavilion of the Almighty--yea, through the
Almighty Himself. Thus it is that God ever places Himself between His
people and every enemy, so that "no weapon formed against them can
prosper." He has placed Himself between us and our sins; and it is our
happy privilege to find Him between us and every one and every thing
that could be against us. This is the true way in which to find both
peace of heart and peace of conscience. The believer may institute a
diligent and anxious search for his sins, but he cannot find them.
Why? Because God is between him and them. He has cast all our sins
behind His back, while, at the same time, He sheds forth upon us the
light of His reconciled countenance.

In the same manner, the believer may look for his difficulties, and
not find them, because God is between him and them. If, therefore, the
eye, instead of resting on our sins and sorrows, could rest only upon
Christ, it would sweeten many a bitter cup, and enlighten many a
gloomy hour. But one finds constantly that nine-tenths of our trials
and sorrows are made up of anticipated or imaginary evils, which only
exist in our own disordered, because unbelieving, minds. May my reader
know the solid peace, both of heart and conscience, which results
from having Christ, in all His fullness, between him and _all_ his
sins and _all_ his sorrows.

It is at once most solemn and interesting to note the double aspect of
the "pillar" in this chapter. "It was a cloud and darkness" to the
Egyptians, but "it gave light by night" to Israel. How like the cross
of our Lord Jesus Christ! Truly, that cross has a double aspect
likewise. It forms the foundation of the believer's peace, and, at the
same time, seals the condemnation of a guilty world. The self-same
blood which purges the believer's conscience and gives him perfect
peace, stains this earth and consummates its guilt. The very mission
of the Son of God which strips the world of its cloak, and leaves it
wholly without excuse, clothes the Church with a fair mantle of
righteousness, and fills her mouth with ceaseless praise. The very
same Lamb who will terrify, by His unmitigated wrath, all tribes and
classes of earth, will lead, by His gentle hand, His blood-bought
flock through the green pastures and beside the still waters forever.
(Compare Rev. vi. 15-17 with vii. 13-17.)

The close of our chapter shows us Israel triumphant on the shore of
the Red Sea, and Pharaoh's hosts submerged beneath its waves. The
fears of the former and the boastings of the latter had both alike
been proved utterly groundless: Jehovah's glorious work had
annihilated both the one and the other. The same waters which formed a
wall for God's redeemed, formed a grave for Pharaoh. Thus it is ever:
those who walk by faith find a path to walk in, while all who assay
to do so find a grave. This is a solemn truth, which is not in any
wise weakened by the fact that Pharaoh was acting in avowed and
positive hostility to God when he "assayed" to pass through the Red
Sea. It will ever be found true that all who attempt to imitate
faith's actings will be confounded. Happy are they who are enabled,
however feebly, to walk by faith. They are moving along a path of
unspeakable blessedness,--a path which, though it may be marked by
failure and infirmity, is nevertheless "begun, continued, and ended in
God." O, that we may all enter more fully into the divine reality, the
calm elevation, and the holy independence of this path!

We ought not to turn from this fruitful section of our book without a
reference to 1 Cor. x, in which we have an allusion to "the cloud and
the sea."--"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be
ignorant, how that all our fathers were _under the cloud_, and all
passed _through the sea_; and were all baptized unto Moses in the
cloud and in the sea." (Ver. 1, 2.) There is much deep and precious
instruction for the Christian in this passage. The apostle goes on to
say, "Now these things were our types," thus furnishing us with a
divine warrant for interpreting Israel's baptism "in the cloud and in
the sea" in a typical way; and, assuredly, nothing could be more
deeply significant or practical. It was as a people thus baptized that
they entered upon their wilderness journey, for which provision was
made in "the spiritual meat" and "spiritual drink" provided by the
hand of love. In other words, they were typically a people dead to
Egypt and all pertaining thereto. The cloud and the sea were to them
what the cross and grave of Christ are to us. The cloud secured them
from their enemies; the sea separated them from Egypt: the cross, in
like manner, shields us from all that could be against us, and we
stand at heaven's side of the empty tomb of Jesus. Here we commence
our wilderness journey,--here we begin to taste the heavenly Manna,
and to drink of the streams which emanate from "that spiritual Rock,"
while, as a pilgrim people, we make our way onward to that land of
rest of the which God has spoken to us.

I would further add here, that my reader should seek to understand the
difference between the Red Sea and Jordan. They both have their
antitype in the death of Christ; but in the former we see separation
from Egypt; in the latter, introduction into the land of Canaan. The
believer is not merely separated from this present evil world by the
cross of Christ, but he is quickened out of the grave of Christ,
raised up together, and made to sit together in Christ, in the
heavenlies. (Eph. ii. 5, 6.) Hence, though surrounded by the things of
Egypt, he is, as to his actual experience, in the wilderness; while,
at the same time, he is borne upward, by the energy of faith, to that
place where Jesus sits, at the right hand of God. Thus, the believer
is not merely "forgiven all trespasses," but actually associated
_with_ a risen Christ in heaven;--he is not merely saved _by_ Christ,
but linked _with_ Him forever. Nothing short of this could either
satisfy God's affections or actualize His purposes in reference to the
Church.

Reader, do we understand these things? do we believe them? are we
realizing them? do we manifest the power of them? Blessed be the grace
that has made them unalterably true with respect to every member of
the body of Christ, whether it be an eye or an eye-lash, a hand or a
foot. Their truth, therefore, does not depend upon our manifestation,
our realization, or our understanding, but upon "THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF
CHRIST," which has canceled all our guilt and laid the foundation of
all God's counsels respecting us. Here is true rest for every broken
heart and every burdened conscience.



CHAPTER XV.


This chapter opens with Israel's magnificent song of triumph on the
shore of the Red Sea, when they had seen "that great work which the
Lord did upon the Egyptians." They had seen God's salvation, and they
therefore sing His praise and recount His mighty acts. "_Then_ sang
Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord." Up to this
moment, we have not heard so much as a single note of praise. We have
heard their cry of deep sorrow as they toiled amid the brick-kilns of
Egypt, we have hearkened to their cry of unbelief when surrounded by
what they deemed insuperable difficulties, but, until now, we have
heard no song of praise. It was not until, as a saved people, they
found themselves surrounded by the fruits of God's salvation, that the
triumphal hymn burst forth from the whole redeemed assembly. It was
when they emerged from their significant baptism "in the cloud and in
the sea," and were able to gaze upon the rich spoils of victory which
lay scattered around them, that six hundred thousand voices were heard
chanting the song of victory. The waters of the Red Sea rolled between
them and Egypt, and they stood on the shore as a fully delivered
people, and therefore they were able to praise Jehovah.

In this, as in everything else, they were our types. We, too, must
know ourselves as saved, in the power of death and resurrection,
before ever we can present clear and intelligent worship. There will
always be reserve and hesitancy in the soul, proceeding, no doubt,
from positive inability to enter into the accomplished redemption
which is in Christ Jesus. There may be the acknowledgment of the fact
that there is salvation in Christ, and in none other; but this is a
very different thing from apprehending, by faith, the true character
and ground of that salvation, and realizing it as _ours_. The Spirit
of God reveals, with unmistakable clearness, in the Word, that the
Church is united to Christ in death and resurrection; and, moreover,
that a risen Christ, at God's right hand, is the measure and pledge of
the Church's acceptance. When this is believed, it conducts the soul
entirely beyond the region of doubt and uncertainty. How can the
Christian doubt when he knows that he is continually represented
before the throne of God by an Advocate, even "Jesus Christ the
righteous"? It is the privilege of the very feeblest member of the
Church of God to know that he was represented by Christ on the
cross,--that _all_ his sins were confessed, borne, judged, and atoned
for there. This is a divine reality, and, when laid hold of by faith,
must give peace; but nothing short of it ever can give peace. There
may be earnest, anxious, and most sincere desires after God,--there
may be the most pious and devout attendance upon all the ordinances,
offices, and forms of religion; but there is no other possible way in
which to get the sense of sin entirely removed from the conscience,
but seeing it judged in the Person of Christ, as a sin-offering, on
the cursed tree. If it was judged there once for all, it is now by the
believer to be regarded as a divinely, and therefore eternally,
settled question; and that it was so judged is proved by the
resurrection of the Surety. "I know that whatsoever God doeth it shall
be forever: nothing can be put to it nor anything taken from it: and
God doeth it that men should fear before Him." (Ecc. iii. 14.)

However, while it is generally admitted that all this is true in
reference to the Church collectively, many find considerable
difficulty in making a personal application thereof. They are ready to
say, with the Psalmist, "Truly, God is good to Israel, even to such as
are of a clean heart. _But as for me_," etc. (Ps. lxxiii. 1, 2.) They
are looking at themselves instead of at Christ in death and Christ in
resurrection; they are occupied rather with their appropriation of
Christ than with Christ Himself; they are thinking of their capacity
rather than their title. Thus they are kept in a state of the most
distressing uncertainty, and, as a consequence, they are never able to
take the place of happy, intelligent worshipers. They are praying for
salvation instead of rejoicing in the conscious possession of it; they
are looking at their imperfect fruits instead of Christ's perfect
atonement.

Now in looking through the various notes of this song in Exodus xv, we
do not find a single note about _self_, its doings, its sayings, its
feelings, or its fruits; it is all about Jehovah, from beginning to
end. It begins with, "I will sing unto the Lord, for _He_ hath
triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath _He_ thrown into
the Sea." This is a specimen of the entire song. It is a simple record
of the attributes and actings of Jehovah. In chapter xiv, the hearts
of the people had, as it were, been pent up by the excessive pressure
of their circumstances; but in chapter xv, the pressure is removed,
and their hearts find full vent in a sweet song of praise. Self is
forgotten; circumstances are lost sight of; one object, and but one,
fills their vision, and that object is the Lord Himself, in His
character and ways. They were able to say, "Thou, Lord, hast made me
glad through Thy work; I will triumph in the works of Thy hands." (Ps.
xcii. 4.) This is true worship. It is when poor, worthless self, with
all its belongings, is lost sight of, and Christ alone fills the
heart, that we present proper worship. There is no need for the
efforts of a fleshly pietism to awaken in the soul feelings of
devotion; nor is there any demand whatever for the adventitious
appliances of religion, so called, to kindle in the soul the flame of
acceptable worship. Oh, no! Let but the heart be occupied with the
Person of Christ, and "songs of praise" will be the natural result. It
is impossible for the eye to rest on Him and the spirit not be bowed
in holy worship. If we contemplate the worship of the hosts which
surround the throne of God and the Lamb, we shall find that it is ever
evoked by the presentation of some special feature of divine
excellence or divine acting. Thus should it be with the Church on
earth; and when it is not so, it is because we allow things to intrude
upon us which have no place in the regions of unclouded light and
unalloyed blessedness. In all true worship, God Himself is at once the
object of worship, the subject of worship, and the power of worship.

Hence Exodus xv. is a fine specimen of a song of praise. It is the
language of a redeemed people celebrating the worthy praise of Him who
had redeemed them. "The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become
my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him a habitation; my
father's God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a man of war: the Lord
is His name.... Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power:
Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.... Who is
like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like Thee, glorious in
holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?... Thou in Thy mercy hast
led forth the people which Thou hast redeemed: Thou hast guided them
in Thy strength unto Thy holy habitation.... The Lord shall reign
forever and ever." How comprehensive is the range of this song! It
begins with redemption and ends with the glory. It begins with the
cross and ends with the kingdom. It is like a beauteous rainbow, of
which one end dips in "the sufferings," and the other in "the glory
that should follow." It is all about Jehovah. It is an outpouring of
soul produced by a view of God and His gracious and glorious actings.

Moreover, it does not stop short of the actual accomplishment of the
divine purpose, as we read, "Thou _hast guided_ them in Thy strength
unto Thy holy habitation." The people were able to say this, though
they had but just planted their foot on the margin of the desert. It
was not the expression of a vague hope,--it was not feeding upon poor,
blind chance. Oh, no! When the soul is wholly occupied with God, it is
enabled to launch out into all the fullness of His grace, to bask in
the sunshine of His countenance, and delight itself in the rich
abundance of His mercy and loving-kindness. There is not a cloud upon
the prospect when the believing soul, taking its stand upon the
eternal rock on which redeeming love has set it in association with a
risen Christ, looks up into the spacious vault of God's infinite
plans and purposes, and dwells upon the effulgence of that glory which
God has prepared for all those who have washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb.

This will account for the peculiarly brilliant, elevated, and
unqualified character of all those bursts of praise which we find
throughout sacred Scripture. The creature is set aside: God is the
object. He fills the entire sphere of the soul's vision. There is
nothing of man, his feelings, or his experiences, and therefore the
stream of praise flows copiously and uninterruptedly forth. How
different is this from some of the hymns we so often hear sung in
Christian assemblies, so full of our failings, our feebleness, our
shortcomings. The fact is, we can never sing with real, spiritual
intelligence and power when we are looking at ourselves. We shall ever
be discovering something within which will act as a drawback to our
worship. Indeed, with many, it seems to be accounted a Christian grace
to be in a continual state of doubt and hesitation; and, as a
consequence, their hymns are quite in character with their condition.
Such persons, however sincere and pious, have never yet, in the actual
experience of their souls, entered upon the proper ground of worship.
They have not yet got done with themselves,--they have not passed
through the sea, and, as a spiritually baptized people, taken their
stand on the shore, in the power of resurrection. They are still, in
some way or another, occupied with self: they do not regard self as a
crucified thing, with which God is forever done.

May the Holy Ghost lead all God's people into fuller, clearer, and
worthier apprehensions of their place and privilege as those who,
being washed from their sins in the blood of Christ, are presented
before God in all that infinite and unclouded acceptance in which He
stands, as the risen and glorified Head of His Church. Doubts and
fears do not become them, for their divine Surety has not left a
shadow of a foundation on which to build a doubt or a fear. Their
place is within the vail. They "have boldness to enter into the
holiest by the blood of Jesus." (Heb. x. 19.) Are there any doubts or
fears in the holiest? Is it not evident that a doubting spirit
virtually calls in question the perfectness of Christ's work--a work
which has been attested, in the view of all created intelligence, by
the resurrection of Christ from the dead? That blessed One could not
have left the tomb unless all ground of doubting and fearing had been
perfectly removed on behalf of His people. Wherefore it is the
Christian's sweet privilege ever to triumph in a full salvation. The
Lord Himself has become his salvation; and he has only to enjoy the
fruits of that which God has wrought for him, and to walk to His
praise while waiting for that time when "Jehovah shall reign forever
and ever."

But there is one note in this song to which I shall just invite my
reader's attention.--"He is my God, and I will prepare Him a
habitation." It is worthy of note that when the heart was full to
overflowing with the joy of redemption, it gives expression to its
devoted purpose in reference to "a habitation for God." Let the
Christian reader ponder this. God dwelling with man is a grand thought
pervading Scripture from Exodus xv. to Revelation. Hearken to the
following utterance of a devoted heart: "Surely I will not come into
the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give
sleep to mine eyes, nor slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a
place for the Lord, _a habitation_ for the mighty God of Jacob." (Ps.
cxxxii. 3-5.) Again, "For the zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up."
(Ps. lxix. 9; John ii. 17.) I do not attempt to pursue this subject
here; but I would fain awaken such an interest concerning it in the
breast of my reader as shall lead him to pursue it, prayerfully, for
himself, from the very earliest notice of it in the Word until he
arrives at that soul-stirring announcement, "Behold, the tabernacle of
God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His
people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Rev. xxi. 3, 4.)

"So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; and they went out into the
wilderness of Shur: and they went three days into the wilderness and
found no water." (Ver. 22.) It is when we get into wilderness
experience that we are put to the test as to the real measure of our
acquaintance with God and with our own hearts. There is a freshness
and an exuberance of joy connected with the opening of our Christian
career, which very soon receives a check from the keen blast of the
desert; and then, unless there is a deep sense of what God is to us,
above and beyond everything else, we are apt to break down, and, "in
our hearts, turn back again into Egypt." The discipline of the
wilderness is needful, not to furnish us with a title to Canaan, but
to make us acquainted with God and with our own hearts; to enable us
to enter into the power of our relationship, and to enlarge our
capacity for the enjoyment of Canaan when we actually get there. (See
Deut. viii. 2-5.)

The greenness, freshness, and luxuriance of spring have peculiar
charms, which all pass away before the scorching heat of summer; but
then, with proper care, that very heat which removes the fair traces
of spring, produces the mellowed and matured fruits of autumn. Thus it
is also in the Christian life; for there is, as we know, a striking
and deeply instructive analogy between the principles which obtain in
the kingdom of nature and those which characterize the kingdom of
grace, seeing it is the same God whose handiwork meets our view in
both.

There are three distinct positions in which we may contemplate Israel,
namely, in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in the land of Canaan. In all
these, they are "our types;" but we are in all three together. This
may seem paradoxical, but it is true. As a matter of actual fact, we
are in Egypt, surrounded by natural things, which are entirely adapted
to the natural heart. But, inasmuch as we have been called by God's
grace into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ, we, according to the
affections and desires of the new nature, necessarily find our place
outside of all that which belongs to Egypt[8] (_i.e._, the world in
its natural state), and this causes us to taste of wilderness
experience, or, in other words, it places us, as a matter of
experience, in the wilderness. The divine nature earnestly breathes
after a different order of things--after a purer atmosphere than that
with which we find ourselves surrounded, and thus it causes us to feel
Egypt to be a moral desert.

  [8] There is a wide moral difference between Egypt and Babylon, which
  it is important to understand. Egypt was that out of which Israel
  came; Babylon was that into which they were afterwards carried. (Comp.
  Amos v. 25-27 with Acts vii. 42, 43.) Egypt expresses what man has
  made of the world; Babylon expresses what Satan has made, is making,
  or will make, of the professing church. Hence, we are not only
  surrounded with the _circumstances_ of Egypt, but also by the moral
  _principles_ of Babylon.

  This renders our "days" what the Holy Ghost has termed "perilous"
  (χαλεποι--"difficult"). It demands a special energy of the Spirit of
  God, and complete subjection to the authority of the Word, to enable
  one to meet the combined influence of the realities of Egypt and the
  spirit and principles of Babylon. The former meet the natural desires
  of the heart; while the latter connect themselves with, and address
  themselves to, the _religiousness_ of nature, which gives them a
  peculiar hold upon the heart. Man is a religious being, and peculiarly
  susceptible of the influences which arise from music, sculpture,
  painting, and pompous rites and ceremonies. When these things stand
  connected with the full supply of all his natural wants--yea, with all
  the ease and luxury of life, nothing but the mighty power of God's
  Word and Spirit can keep one true to Christ.

  We should also remark that there is a vast difference between the
  destinies of Egypt and those of Babylon. The nineteenth of Isaiah sets
  before us the blessings that are in store for Egypt. It concludes
  thus: "And the Lord shall smite Egypt; He shall smite and heal it; and
  they shall return even to the Lord, and He shall be entreated of them,
  and shall heal them.... In that day shall Israel be the third with
  Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; whom
  the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and
  Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance." (Ver.
  22-25.)

  Very different is the close of Babylon's history, whether viewed as a
  literal city or a spiritual system.--"I will also make it a possession
  for the bittern, and pools of water; and I will sweep it with the
  besom of destruction, saith the Lord of Hosts." (Isaiah xiv. 23.) "It
  shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation
  to generation." (Isaiah xiii. 20.) So much for Babylon literally; and
  looking at it from a mystic or spiritual point of view, we read its
  destiny in Rev. xviii. The entire chapter is a description of Babylon,
  and it concludes thus: "A strong angel took up a stone, like a great
  millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, 'Thus, with violence
  shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no
  more at all.'" (Ver. 21.)

  With what immense solemnity should those words fall upon the ears of
  all who are in any wise connected with Babylon--that is to say, with
  the false, professing church,--"Come out of her, My people, that ye be
  not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues"!
  (Rev. xviii. 5.) The "power" of the Holy Ghost will necessarily
  produce, or express itself in, a certain "form," and the enemy's aim
  has ever been to rob the professing church of the power, while he
  leads her to cling to and perpetuate the form--to stereotype the form
  when all the spirit and life has passed away. Thus he builds the
  spiritual Babylon. The stones of which this city is built are lifeless
  professors; and the slime or mortar which binds these stones together
  is "a form of godliness without the power."

  Oh! my beloved reader, let us see to it that we fully, clearly, and
  influentially understand these things.

But then, inasmuch as we are, in God's view, eternally associated with
Him who has passed right through into the heavenlies, and taken His
seat there in triumph and majesty, it is our happy privilege to know
ourselves, by faith, as "sitting together in Him" there. (Eph. ii.) So
that although we are, as to our bodies, in Egypt, we are, as to our
experience, in the wilderness, while, at the same time, faith
conducts us, in spirit, into Canaan, and enables us to feed upon "the
old corn of the land," _i.e._, upon Christ, not as One come down to
earth merely, but as One gone back to heaven and seated there in
glory.

The concluding verses of this fifteenth chapter show us Israel in the
wilderness. Up to this point, it seemed to them to be all fair
sailing. Heavy judgments poured upon Egypt, but Israel perfectly
exempt,--the army of Egypt dead upon the sea shore, but Israel in
triumph. All this was well enough; but, alas! the aspect of things
speedily changed. The notes of praise were soon exchanged for the
accents of discontent. "When they came to Marah, they could not drink
of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore the name of it
was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, 'What
shall we drink?'" Again, "The whole congregation of the children of
Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness; and the
children of Israel said unto them, 'Would to God we had died by the
hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots,
and when we did eat bread to the full! for ye have brought us forth
into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.'"

Here were the trials of the wilderness.--"What shall we eat?" and
"What shall we drink?" The waters of Marah tested the heart of Israel
and developed their murmuring spirit; but the Lord showed them that
there was no bitterness which He could not sweeten with the provision
of His own grace. "And the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had
cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet; there he made for
them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them." Beauteous
figure this of Him who was, in infinite grace, cast into the bitter
waters of death, in order that those waters might yield naught but
sweetness to us forever! We can truly say, "The bitterness of death is
past," and nothing remains for us but the eternal sweets of
resurrection.

Verse 26 sets before us the momentous character of this first stage of
God's redeemed in the wilderness. We are in great danger, at this
point, of falling into a fretful, impatient, murmuring spirit. The
only remedy for this is to keep the eye steadily fixed on
Jesus--"looking unto Jesus." He, blessed be His name, ever unfolds
Himself according to the need of His people; and they, instead of
complaining of their circumstances, should only make their
circumstances an occasion of drawing afresh upon Him. Thus it is that
the wilderness ministers to our experience of what God is. It is a
school, in which we learn His patient grace and ample resources.
"Forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness." (Acts xiii.
18.) The spiritual mind will ever own that it is worth having bitter
waters for God to sweeten. "We glory in tribulations also: knowing
that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and
experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of
God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto
us." (Rom. v. 3-5.)

However, the wilderness has its Elims as well as its Marahs,--its
wells and palm trees, as well as its bitter waters. "And they came to
Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm
trees; and they encamped there by the waters." (Ver. 27.) The Lord
graciously and tenderly provides green spots in the desert for His
journeying people; and though they are, at best, but oases, yet are
they refreshing to the spirit and encouraging to the heart. The
sojourn at Elim was eminently calculated to soothe the hearts of the
people, and hush their murmurings. The grateful shade of its palm
trees, and the refreshing of its wells, came in sweetly and seasonably
after the trial of Marah, and significantly set forth, in our view,
the precious virtues of that spiritual ministry which God provides for
His people down here. "The twelve" and "the seventy" are numbers
intimately associated with ministry.

But Elim was not Canaan. Its wells and palm trees were but foretastes
of that happy land which lay beyond the bounds of the sterile desert
on which the redeemed had just entered. It furnished refreshment, no
doubt, but it was wilderness refreshment. It was but for a passing
moment, designed, in grace, to encourage their depressed spirits, and
nerve them for their onward march to Canaan. Thus it is, as we know,
with ministry in the Church. It is a gracious provision for our need,
designed to refresh, strengthen, and encourage our hearts, "until we
all come to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ."
(Eph. iv.)



CHAPTER XVI.


"And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of
the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is
between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after
their departure out of the land of Egypt." (Chap. xvi. 1.) Here we
find Israel in a very marked and interesting position. It is still the
wilderness, no doubt, but it is a most important and significant stage
thereof, namely, "between Elim and Sinai." The former was the place
where they had so recently experienced the refreshing springs of
divine ministry; the latter was the place where they entirely got off
the ground of free and sovereign grace, and placed themselves under a
covenant of works. These facts render "the wilderness of Sin" a
singularly interesting portion of Israel's journey. Its features and
influences are as strongly marked as those of any point in their whole
career. They are here seen as the subjects of the same grace which had
brought them up out of the land of Egypt, and therefore all their
murmurings are instantly met by divine supplies. When God acts in the
display of His grace, there is no hindrance. The streams of blessing
which emanate from Him, flow onward without interruption. It is only
when man puts himself under law that he forfeits everything; for then
God must allow him to prove how much he can claim on the ground of his
own works.

When God visited and redeemed His people, and brought them forth out
of the land of Egypt, it assuredly was not for the purpose of
suffering them to die of hunger and thirst in the wilderness. They
should have known this. They ought to have trusted Him, and walked in
the confidence of that love which had so gloriously delivered them
from the horrors of Egyptian bondage. They should have remembered that
it was infinitely better to be in the desert with God than in the
brick-kilns with Pharaoh. But no; the human heart finds it immensely
difficult to give God credit for pure and perfect love. It has far
more confidence in Satan than God. Look, for a moment, at all the
sorrow and suffering, the misery and degradation, which man has
endured by reason of his having hearkened to the voice of Satan; and
yet he never gives utterance to a word of complaint of his service, or
of desire to escape from under his hand. He is not discontented with
Satan, or weary of serving him. Again and again he reaps bitter fruits
in those fields which Satan has thrown open to him, and yet again and
again he may be seen sowing the self-same seed, and undergoing the
self-same labors.

How different it is in reference to God! When we have set out to walk
in His ways, we are ready, at the earliest appearance of pressure or
trial, to murmur and rebel. Indeed, there is nothing in which we so
signally fail as in the cultivation of a confiding and thankful
spirit. Ten thousand mercies are forgotten in the presence of a single
trifling privation. We have been frankly forgiven all our sins,
"accepted in the Beloved," made heirs of God and joint-heirs with
Christ, the expectants of eternal glory, and, in addition to all, our
path through the desert is strewed with countless mercies; and yet let
but a cloud the size of a man's hand appear on the horizon, and we at
once forget the rich mercies of the past in view of this single cloud,
which, after all, may only "break in blessings on our head." The
thought of this should humble us deeply in the presence of God. How
unlike we are in this, as in every other respect, to our blessed
Exemplar! Look at Him--the true Israel in the wilderness--surrounded
by wild beasts, and fasting forty days. How did He carry Himself? Did
He murmur? did He complain of His lot? did He wish Himself in other
circumstances? Ah, no. God was the portion of His cup and the lot of
His inheritance (Ps. xvi.); and, therefore, when the tempter
approached and offered Him the necessaries, the glories, the
distinctions, and the honors of this life, He refused them all, and
tenaciously held fast the position of absolute dependence upon God and
implicit obedience to His word. He would only take bread from God, and
glory from Him likewise.

Very different was it with Israel after the flesh! No sooner did they
feel the pressure of hunger than "they murmured against Moses and
Aaron in the wilderness." They seemed to have actually lost the sense
of having been delivered by the hand of Jehovah, for they said, "_Ye_
have brought us forth into this wilderness." And again, in chapter
xvii, "the people murmured against Moses, and said, 'Wherefore is this
that _thou_ hast brought us up out of Egypt to kill us and our
children and our cattle with thirst?'" Thus did they, on every
occasion, evince a fretful, murmuring spirit, and prove how little
they realized the presence and the hand of their almighty and
infinitely gracious Deliverer.

Now, nothing is more dishonoring to God than the manifestation of a
complaining spirit on the part of those that belong to Him. The
apostle gives it as a special mark of Gentile corruption that, "when
they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, _neither were
thankful_." Then follows the practical result of this unthankful
spirit,--"They became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish
heart was darkened." (Rom. i. 21.) The heart that ceases to retain a
thankful sense of God's goodness will speedily become "dark." Thus
Israel lost the sense of being in God's hands; and this led, as might
be expected, to still thicker darkness, for we find them, further on
in their history, saying, "Wherefore hath the Lord brought us into
this land, _to fall by the sword_, that our wives and our children
shall be a prey?" (Numb. xiv. 3.) Such is the line along which a soul
out of communion will travel. It first loses the sense of being in
God's hands for good, and finally begins to deem itself in His hands
for evil. Melancholy progress this!

However, the people, being so far the subjects of grace, are provided
for; and our chapter furnishes the marvelous account of this
provision,--"Then said the Lord unto Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread
from heaven for you.'" They, when enveloped in the chilling cloud of
their unbelief, had said, "Would to God we had died by the hand of the
Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we
did eat bread to the full." But now the word is, "Bread from heaven."
Blessed contrast! How amazing the difference between the flesh pots,
the leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt, and this heavenly
manna--"angels' food"! The former belonged to earth, the latter to
heaven.

But then this heavenly food was, of necessity, a test of Israel's
condition, as we read, "That I may prove them, whether they will walk
in My law or no." It needed a heart weaned from Egypt's influences, to
be satisfied with or enjoy "bread from heaven." In point of fact, we
know that the people were not satisfied with it, but despised it,
pronounced it "light food," and lusted for flesh. Thus they proved how
little their hearts were delivered from Egypt, or disposed to walk in
God's law. "In their hearts they turned back again into Egypt." (Acts
vii. 39.) But instead of getting back thither, they were ultimately
carried away beyond Babylon. (Acts vii. 43.) This is a solemn and
salutary lesson for Christians. If those who are redeemed from this
present evil world do not walk with God in thankfulness of heart,
satisfied with His provision for the redeemed in the wilderness, they
are in danger of falling into the snare of Babylonish influences. This
is a serious consideration. It demands a heavenly taste to feed on
bread from heaven. Nature cannot relish such food; it will ever yearn
after Egypt, and therefore it must be kept down. It is our privilege,
as those who have been baptized unto Christ's death, and "risen again
through the faith of the operation of God," to feed upon Christ as
"the bread of life which came down from heaven." This is our
wilderness food--Christ as ministered by the Holy Ghost, through the
written Word; while, for our spiritual refreshment, the Holy Ghost has
come down as the precious fruit of the smitten Rock--Christ, as
smitten for us. Such is our rare portion in this desert world.

Now, it is obvious that, in order to enjoy such a portion as this, our
hearts must be weaned from everything in this present evil world--from
all that would address itself to us as natural men--as men alive in
the flesh. A worldly heart--a carnal mind, would neither find Christ
in the Word, nor enjoy Him if found. The manna was so pure and
delicate that it could not bear contact with earth. It fell upon the
dew (see Numb. xi. 9.), and had to be gathered ere the sun was up.
Each one, therefore, had to rise early and seek his daily portion. So
it is with the people of God now. The heavenly Manna must be gathered
fresh every morning. Yesterday's Manna will not do for to-day, nor
to-day's for to-morrow. We must feed upon Christ every day, with fresh
energy of the Spirit, else we shall cease to grow. Moreover, we must
make Christ our primary object. We must seek Him "_early_," before
"other things" have had time to take possession of our poor
susceptible hearts. Many of us, alas! fail in this, We give Christ a
secondary place, and the consequence is, we are left feeble and
barren. The enemy, ever watchful, takes advantage of our excessive
spiritual indolence to rob us of the blessedness and strength which
flow from feeding upon Christ. The new life in the believer can _only_
be nourished and sustained by Christ. "As the living Father hath sent
Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, even he shall live
by Me." (John vi. 57.)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the One who came down from
heaven to be His people's food, is ineffably precious to the renewed
soul; but, in order to enjoy Him thus, we need to realize ourselves as
in the wilderness, separated to God in the power of accomplished
redemption. If I am walking with God through the desert, I shall be
satisfied with the food which He provides, and that is, Christ as come
down from heaven. "The old corn of the land of Canaan" has its
antitype in _Christ ascended up_ on high, and seated in the glory. As
such, He is the proper food of those who, by faith, know themselves as
raised up together, and seated together in Him in the heavenlies. But
the Manna, that is, _Christ as come down_ from heaven, is for the
people of God in their wilderness life and experience. As a people
journeying down here, we need a Christ who also journeyed down here;
as a people seated in spirit up there, we have a Christ who is seated
up there. This may help to explain the difference between the manna
and the old corn of the land. It is not a question of redemption; that
we have in the blood of the cross, and there alone. It is simply the
provision which God has made for His people, according to their varied
attitudes, whether as actually toiling in the desert, or in spirit
taking possession of the heavenly inheritance.

What a striking picture is presented by Israel in the wilderness!
Egypt was behind them, Canaan before them, and the sand of the desert
around them; while they themselves were called to look up to heaven
for their daily supply. The wilderness afforded not one blade of grass
nor one drop of water for the Israel of God. In Jehovah alone was
their portion. Most touching illustration of God's pilgrim people in
this wilderness world! They have nothing here. Their life, being
heavenly, can only be sustained by heavenly things. Though _in_ the
world, they are not _of_ it, for Christ has chosen them out of it. As
a heaven-born people, they are on their way to their birth-place, and
sustained by food sent from thence. Theirs is an upward and onward
course. The glory leads _only_ thus. It is utterly vain to cast the
eye backward in the direction of Egypt; not a ray of the glory can
there be discerned. "They looked _toward the wilderness_, and behold
the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud." Jehovah's chariot was in
the wilderness, and all who desired companionship with Him should be
there likewise; and if there, the heavenly manna should be their food,
and that alone.

True, this manna was strange sustenance, such as an Egyptian could
never understand, appreciate, or live upon; but those who had been
"baptized in the cloud and in the sea" could, if walking in
consistency with that significant baptism, enjoy and be nourished by
it. Thus is it now in the case of the true believer. The worldling
cannot understand how he lives. Both his life and that which sustains
it lie entirely beyond the range of nature's keenest vision. Christ is
his life, and on Christ he lives. He feeds, by faith, upon the
powerful attractions of One who, though being "God over all, blessed
forever," "took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the
likeness of men." (Phil. ii. 7.) He traces Him from the bosom of the
Father to the cross, and from the cross to the throne, and finds Him,
in every stage of His journey, and in every attitude of His life, to
be most precious food for his new man. All around, though, in fact,
Egypt, is morally a waste howling wilderness, affording nothing for
the renewed mind; and just in proportion as the Christian finds any
material to feed upon must his spiritual man be hindered in his
progress. The only provision which God has made is the heavenly Manna,
and on this the true believer should ever feed.

It is truly deplorable to find Christians seeking after the things of
this world. It proves, very distinctly, that they are "loathing" the
heavenly Manna, and esteeming it "light food;" they are ministering to
that which they ought to mortify. The activities of the new life will
ever show themselves in connection with the subjugation of "the old
man with his deeds;" and the more that is accomplished, the more will
we desire to feed upon the "Bread which strengthens man's heart." As
in nature, the more we exercise, the better the appetite, so in grace,
the more our renewed faculties are called into play, the more we feel
the need of feeding, each day, upon Christ. It is one thing to know
that we have life in Christ, together with full forgiveness and
acceptance before God, and it is quite another to be in habitual
communion with Him--feeding upon Him by faith--making Him the
exclusive food of our souls. Very many profess to have found pardon
and peace in Jesus, who, in reality, are feeding upon a variety of
things which have no connection with Him. They feed their minds with
the newspapers and the varied frivolous and vapid literature of the
day. Will they find Christ there? Is it by such instrumentality that
the Holy Ghost ministers Christ to the soul? Are these the pure
dew-drops on which the heavenly Manna descends for the sustenance of
God's redeemed in the desert? Alas! no; they are the gross materials
in which the carnal mind delights. How, then, can a true Christian
live upon such? We know, by the teaching of God's Word, that he
carries about with him two natures; and it may be asked, Which of the
two is it that feeds upon the world's news and the world's
literature?--Is it the old, or the new? There can be but one reply.
Well, then, which of the two am I desirous of cherishing? Assuredly my
conduct will afford the truest answer to this inquiry. If I sincerely
desire to grow in the divine life--if my one grand object is to be
assimilated and devoted to Christ--if I am earnestly breathing after
an extension of God's kingdom _within_, I shall, without doubt, seek
continually that character of nourishment which is designed of God to
promote my spiritual growth. This is plain. A man's acts are always
the truest index of his desires and purposes. Hence, if I find a
professing Christian neglecting his Bible, yet finding abundance of
time--yea, some of his choicest hours--for the newspaper, I can be at
no loss to decide as to the true condition of his soul. I am sure he
cannot be spiritual--cannot be feeding upon, living for, or witnessing
to, Christ.

If an Israelite neglected to gather, in the freshness of the morning
hour, his daily portion of the divinely appointed food, he would
speedily have become lacking in strength for his journey. Thus is it
with us. We must make Christ the paramount object of our soul's
pursuit, else our spiritual life will inevitably decline. We cannot
even feed upon feelings and experiences connected with Christ, for
they, inasmuch as they are fluctuating, cannot form our spiritual
nourishment. It was Christ yesterday, and it must be Christ to-day,
and Christ forever. Moreover, it will not do to feed partly on Christ
and partly on other things. As in the matter of _life_ it is Christ
_alone_, so in the matter of _living_ it must be Christ _alone_. As we
cannot mingle any thing with that which _imparts_ life, so neither can
we mingle any thing with that which _sustains_ it.

It is quite true that, in spirit, and by faith, we can even now feed
upon a risen and glorified Christ, ascended up to heaven in virtue of
accomplished redemption, as prefigured by "the old corn of the land."
(See Joshua v.) And not only so, but we know that when God's redeemed
shall have entered upon those fields of glory, rest, and immortality
which lie beyond the Jordan, they shall, in actual fact, be done with
wilderness food; but they will not be done with Christ, nor with the
remembrance of that which constitutes the specific nourishment of
their desert life.

Israel were never to forget, amid the milk and honey of the land of
Canaan, that which had sustained them during their forty years'
sojourn in the wilderness. "This is the thing which the Lord
commandeth: 'Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that
they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness,
when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.'... As the Lord
commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the testimony, to be
kept." (Ver. 32-34.) Most precious memorial of the faithfulness of
God! He did not suffer them to die of hunger, as their foolish hearts
had unbelievingly anticipated. He rained bread from heaven for them,
fed them with angels' food, watched over them with all the tenderness
of a nurse, bore with them, carried them on eagles' wings, and, had
they only continued on the proper ground of grace, He would have put
them in eternal possession of all the promises made to their fathers.
The pot of manna, therefore, containing, as it did, a man's daily
portion, and laid up before the Lord, furnishes a volume of truth.
There was no worm therein, nor aught of taint. It was the record of
Jehovah's faithfulness in providing for those whom He had redeemed out
of the hand of the enemy.

Not so, however, when man hoarded it up for himself. Then the symptoms
of corruptibility soon made their appearance. We cannot, if entering
into the truth and reality of our position, hoard up. It is our
privilege, day by day, to enter into the preciousness of Christ, as
the One who came down from heaven to give life unto the world. But if
any, in forgetfulness of this, should be found hoarding up for
to-morrow, that is, laying up truth beyond his present need, instead
of turning it to profit in the way of renewing strength, it will
surely become corrupt. This is a salutary lesson for us. It is a
deeply solemn thing to learn truth; for there is not a principle which
we profess to have learnt which we shall not have to prove
practically. God will not have us theorists. One often trembles to
hear persons make high professions and use expressions of intense
devotedness, whether in prayer or otherwise, lest, when the hour of
trial comes, there may not be the needed spiritual power to carry out
what the lips have uttered.

There is a great danger of the intellect's outstripping the conscience
and the affections. Hence it is that so many seem, at first, to make
such rapid progress up to a certain point; but there they stop short
and appear to retrograde. Like an Israelite gathering up more manna
than he required for one day's food. He might appear to be
accumulating the heavenly food far more diligently than others; yet
every particle beyond the day's supply was not only useless, but far
worse than useless, inasmuch as it "bred worms." Thus is it with the
Christian. He must _use_ what he gets,--he must feed upon Christ as a
matter of actual need, and the need is brought out in actual service.
The character and ways of God, the preciousness and beauty of Christ,
and the living depths of the Word, are only unfolded to faith and
need. It is as we use what we receive that more will be given. The
path of the believer is to be a practical one; and here it is that so
many of us come short. It will often be found that those who get on
most rapidly in theory are the slowest in the practical and
experimental elements, because it is more a work of intellect than of
heart and conscience. We should ever remember that Christianity is not
a set of opinions, a system of dogmas, or a number of views; it is
pre-eminently a living reality,--a personal, practical, powerful
thing, telling itself out in all the scenes and circumstances of daily
life, shedding its hallowed influence over the entire character and
course, and imparting its heavenly tone to every relationship which
one may be called of God to fill. In a word, it is that which flows
from being associated and occupied with Christ. This is Christianity.
There may be clear views, correct notions, sound principles, without
any fellowship with Jesus; but an orthodox creed without Christ will
prove a cold, barren, dead thing.

Christian reader, see carefully to it that you are not only saved by
Christ, but also living on Him. Make Him the daily portion of your
soul. Seek Him "_early_," seek him "_only_." When any thing solicits
your attention, ask the question, Will this bring Christ to my heart?
Will it unfold Him to my affections, or draw me near to His Person? If
not, reject it at once: yes, reject it, though it present itself under
the most specious appearance and with the most commanding authority.
If your honest purpose be to get on in the divine life, to progress in
spirituality, to cultivate personal acquaintance with Christ, then
challenge your heart solemnly and faithfully as to this. Make Christ
your habitual food. Go, gather the Manna that falls on the dew-drops,
and feed upon it with an appetite sharpened by a diligent walk with
God through the desert. May the rich grace of God the Holy Ghost
abundantly strengthen you in all this![9]

  [9] My reader will find it profitable to turn to the sixth of John,
  and prayerfully meditate upon it, in connection with the subject of
  the manna. The passover being near, Jesus feeds the multitude, and
  then takes His departure to a mountain, there to be alone. From thence
  He comes to the relief of His distressed people tossed upon the
  troubled waters. After this, He unfolds the doctrine of His Person and
  work, and declares how He was to give His flesh for the life of the
  world, and that none could have life save by eating His flesh and
  drinking His blood. Finally, He speaks of Himself as ascending up
  where He was before and of the quickening power of the Holy Ghost. It
  is, indeed, a rich and copious chapter, in which the spiritual reader
  will find a vast fund of truth for the comfort and edification of his
  soul.

There is one point more in our chapter which we shall notice, namely,
the institution of the Sabbath, in its connection with the manna and
Israel's position as here set forth. From the second chapter of
Genesis down to the chapter now before us, we find no mention made of
this institution. This is remarkable. Abel's sacrifice, Enoch's walk
with God, Noah's preaching, Abraham's call, together with the detailed
history of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, are all presented; but there is
no allusion to the Sabbath until we find Israel recognized as a people
in relationship and consequent responsibility to Jehovah. The Sabbath
was interrupted in Eden; and here we find it again instituted for
Israel in the wilderness. But, alas! man has no heart for God's rest.
And it came to pass that "there went out some of the people on the
seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto
Moses, 'How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws? See,
for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore He giveth you
on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his
place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.'" (Ver.
27-29.) God would have His people enjoying sweet repose with Himself.
He would give them rest, food, and refreshment, even in the
wilderness. But man's heart is not disposed to rest with God. The
people could remember and speak of the time when they "_sat_ by the
flesh pots" in Egypt, but they could not appreciate the blessedness of
sitting in their tents, enjoying with God "the rest of the holy
Sabbath," feeding upon the heavenly manna.

And, be it remarked, that the Sabbath is here presented as a matter of
gift.--"The Lord hath _given_ you the Sabbath." Further on in this
book we shall find it put in the form of a law, with a curse and a
judgment attached to it in the case of disobedience. But whether
fallen man gets a privilege or a law, a blessing or a curse, it is all
alike. His _nature_ is bad. He can neither rest with nor work for God.
If God works and makes a rest for him, he will not keep it; and if God
tells him to work, he will not do it. Such is man. He has no heart for
God. He can make use of the name of the Sabbath as a something to
exalt himself, or as the badge of his own religiousness; but when we
turn to Exodus xvi, we find that he cannot prize _God's_ Sabbath as a
_gift_, and when we turn to Numbers xv. 32-36, we find he cannot keep
it as a _law_.

Now, we know that the Sabbath, as well as the manna, was a type. In
itself, it was a real blessing--a sweet mercy from the hand of a
loving and gracious God, who would relieve the toil and travail of a
sin-stricken earth by the refreshment of one day of rest out of the
seven. Whatever way we look at the institution of the Sabbath, we must
see it to be pregnant with richest mercy,--whether we view it in
reference to man or to the animal creation. And, albeit, that
Christians observe the first day of the week--the Lord's day--and
attach to it its proper principles, yet is the gracious providence
equally observable, nor would any mind at all governed by right
feelings, seek, for a moment, to interfere with such a signal mercy.
"The Sabbath was made for man;" and although man never has kept it,
according to the divine thought about it, that does not detract from
the grace which shines in the appointment of it, nor divest it of its
deep significancy as a type of that eternal rest which remains for the
people of God, or as a shadow of that substance which faith now enjoys
in the Person and work of a risen Christ.

Let not the reader therefore suppose that in any thing which has been
or may be stated in these pages the object is to touch, in the
slightest degree, the merciful provision of one day's rest for man and
the animal creation, much less to interfere with the distinct place
which the Lord's day occupies in the New Testament. Nothing is further
from the writer's thoughts. As a man he values the former, and as a
Christian he rejoices in the latter, far too deeply to admit of his
penning or uttering a single syllable which would interfere with
either the one or the other. He would only ask the reader to weigh,
with a dispassionate mind, in the balance of Holy Scripture, every
line and every statement, and not form any harsh judgment beforehand.

This subject will come before us again, in our further meditations, if
the Lord will. May we learn to value more the rest which our God has
provided for us in Christ, and while enjoying Him as our rest, may we
feed upon Him as the "hidden Manna," laid up, in the power of
resurrection, in the inner sanctuary,--the record of what God has
accomplished, on our behalf, by coming down into this world, in His
infinite grace, in order that we might be before Him according to the
perfectness of Christ, and feed on His unsearchable riches forever.



CHAPTER XVII.


"And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the
wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment
of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the
people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said,
'Give us water that we may drink.' And Moses said unto them, 'Why
chide ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?'" (Chap. xvii. 1,
2.) Did we not know something of the humiliating evil of our own
hearts, we should be quite at a loss to account for Israel's marvelous
insensibility to all the Lord's goodness, faithfulness, and mighty
acts. They had just seen bread descending from heaven to feed six
hundred thousand people in the wilderness; and now they are "ready to
stone" Moses for bringing them out into the wilderness to kill them
with thirst. Nothing can exceed the desperate unbelief and wickedness
of the human heart save the superabounding grace of God. In that grace
alone can any one find relief under the growing sense of his evil
nature which circumstances tend to make manifest. Had Israel been
transported directly from Egypt to Canaan, they would not have made
such sad exhibitions of what the human heart is, and, as a
consequence, they would not have proved such admirable ensamples or
types for us; but their forty years' wandering in the desert furnishes
us with a volume of warning, admonition, and instruction, fruitful
beyond conception. From it we learn, amongst many other things, the
unvarying tendency of the heart to distrust God. Any thing, in short,
for it but God. It would rather lean upon a cobweb of human resources
than upon the arm of an omnipotent, all-wise, and infinitely gracious
God; and the smallest cloud is more than sufficient to hide from its
view the light of His blessed countenance. Well, therefore, may it be
termed "an evil heart of unbelief," which will ever show itself ready
to "depart from the living God."

It is interesting to note the two great questions raised by unbelief
in this and the preceding chapter. They are precisely similar to those
which spring up within and around us every day, namely, "What shall we
eat? and What shall we drink? We do not find the people raising the
third question in the category--"Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" But
here are the questions of the wilderness--"_What?_" "_Where?_"
"_How?_" Faith has a brief but comprehensive answer to all the three,
namely, GOD! Precious, perfect answer! O that the writer and the
reader were more thoroughly acquainted with its force and fullness! We
assuredly need to remember, when placed in a position of trial, that
"there hath no temptation taken us but such as is common to man: but
God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye
are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, [or,
an "issue"--εκβασιν,] that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. x. 13.)
Whenever we get into trial, we may feel confident that with the trial
there is an issue, and all we need is a broken will and a single eye
to see it.

"And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, 'What shall I do unto this
people? they be almost ready to stone me.' And the Lord said unto
Moses, 'Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of
Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine
hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in
Horeb, and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out
of it, that the people may drink.' And Moses did so in the sight of
the elders of Israel." (Ver. 4-6.) Thus all is met by the most perfect
grace. Every murmur brings out a fresh display. Here we have the
refreshing stream gushing from the smitten rock--beauteous type of
the Spirit given as the fruit of Christ's accomplished sacrifice. In
chapter xvi, we have a type of Christ coming down from heaven to give
life to the world. In chapter xvii, we have a type of the Holy Ghost,
"shed forth" in virtue of Christ's finished work. "They drank of that
spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." (1 Cor.
x. 4.) But who could drink till the Rock was smitten? Israel might
have gazed on that rock and died of thirst while gazing; but until
smitten by the rod of God, it could yield no refreshment. This is
plain enough. The Lord Jesus Christ was the centre and foundation of
all God's counsels of love and mercy. Through Him all blessing was to
flow to man. The streams of grace were designed to gush forth from
"the Lamb of God;" but then it was needful that the Lamb should be
slain--that the work of the cross should be an accomplished fact--ere
any of these things could be actualized. It was when the Rock of Ages
was cleft by the hand of Jehovah that the flood-gates of eternal love
were thrown wide open, and perishing sinners invited, by the testimony
of the Holy Ghost, to "drink abundantly," drink deeply, drink freely.
"The gift of the Holy Ghost" is the result of the Son's accomplished
work upon the cross. "The promise of the Father" could not be
fulfilled until Christ had taken His seat at the right hand of the
Majesty in the heavens, having wrought out perfect righteousness,
answered all the claims of holiness, magnified the law and made it
honorable, borne the unmitigated wrath of God against sin, exhausted
the power of death, and deprived the grave of its victory. He, having
done all this, "ascended up on high, led captivity captive, and gave
gifts unto men. Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also
descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended
is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might
fill all things." (Eph. iv. 8-10.)

This is the true foundation of the Church's peace, blessedness, and
glory forever. Until the rock was smitten, the stream was pent up, and
man could do nothing. What human hand could bring forth water from a
flinty rock? And so we may ask, What human righteousness could afford
a warrant for opening the flood-gates of divine love? This is the true
way in which to test man's competency. He could not, by his doings,
his sayings, or his feelings, furnish a ground for the mission of the
Holy Ghost. Let him be or do what he may, he could not do this. But
thank God, it is done; Christ has finished the work; the true Rock has
been smitten, and the refreshing stream has issued forth, so that
thirsty souls may drink. "The water that I shall give him," says
Christ, "shall be in him a well of water, springing up into
everlasting life." (John iv. 14.) Again: "In the last day, that great
day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, 'If any man thirst,
let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the
Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living
water.' (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on
Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that
Jesus was not yet glorified.)" (John vii. 37-39; compare, also, Acts
xix. 2.)

Thus, as in the manna we have a type of Christ, so in the stream
gushing from the rock we have a type of the Holy Ghost. "If thou
knewest the gift of God [_i.e._, Christ], ... thou wouldest have asked
of Him, and He would have given thee living water [_i.e._, the
Spirit]."

Such, then, is the teaching conveyed to the spiritual mind by the
smitten rock; but the name of the place in which this significant type
was presented is a standing memorial of man's unbelief.--"He called
the name of the place Massah [_i.e._, Temptation], and Meribah
[_i.e._, Chiding], because of the chiding of the children of Israel,
and because they tempted the Lord, saying, 'Is the Lord among us, or
not?'" (Ver. 7.) After such repeated assurances and evidences of
Jehovah's presence, to raise such an inquiry proves the deep-seated
unbelief of the human heart. It was, in point of fact, tempting Him.
Thus did the Jews, in the day of Christ's presence amongst them, seek
of Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him. Faith never acts thus; it
believes in and enjoys the divine presence, not by a sign, but by the
knowledge of Himself. It knows He is there to be enjoyed, and it
enjoys Him. Lord, grant us a more artless spirit of confidence!

The next point suggested by our chapter is one of special interest to
us. "Then came Amalek and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses
said unto Joshua, 'Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek:
to-morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in
mine hand.'" (Ver. 8, 9.) The gift of the Holy Ghost leads to
conflict. The light rebukes and conflicts with the darkness. Where all
is dark there is no struggle; but the very feeblest struggle bespeaks
the presence of light. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the
Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other,
so that ye should not do the things that ye would." (Gal. v. 17.) Thus
it is in the chapter before us; we have the rock smitten and the water
flowing forth, and immediately we read, "Then came Amalek and fought
with Israel."

This is the first time that Israel are seen in conflict with an
external foe. Up to this point, the Lord had fought for them, as we
read in chapter xiv, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold
your peace." But now the word is, "Choose us out _men_." True, God
must now fight _in_ Israel, as, before, He had fought _for_ them. This
marks the difference, as to the type; and as to the antitype, we know
that there is an immense difference between Christ's battles _for_ us,
and the Holy Ghost's battles _in_ us. The former, blessed be God, are
all over, the victory gained, and a glorious and an everlasting peace
secured: the latter, on the contrary, are still going on.

Pharaoh and Amalek represent two different powers or influences.
Pharaoh represents the hindrance to Israel's deliverance from Egypt:
Amalek represents the hindrance to their walk with God through the
wilderness. Pharaoh used the things of Egypt to keep Israel from
serving the Lord; he therefore prefigures Satan, who uses "this
present evil world" against the people of God: Amalek, on the other
hand, stands before us as the type of the flesh. He was the grandson
of Esau, who preferred a mess of pottage to the birthright. (See Gen.
xxxvi. 12.) He was the first who opposed Israel after their baptism
"in the cloud and in the sea." These facts serve to fix his character
with great distinctness; and, in addition to these, we know that Saul
was set aside from the kingdom of Israel in consequence of his failing
to destroy Amalek. (1 Sam. xv.) And further, we find that Haman is the
last of the Amalekites of whom we find any notice in Scripture. He was
hanged on a gallows in consequence of his wicked attempt against the
seed of Israel. (See Esther.) No Amalekite could obtain entrance into
the congregation of the Lord. And finally, in the chapter now before
us, the Lord declares perpetual war with Amalek.

All these circumstances may be regarded as furnishing conclusive
evidence of the fact that Amalek is a type of the flesh. The
connection between his conflict with Israel and the water flowing out
of the rock is most marked and instructive, and in full keeping with
the believer's conflict with his evil nature, which conflict is, as we
know, consequent upon his having the new nature, and the Holy Ghost
dwelling therein. Israel's conflict began when they stood in the full
power of redemption, and had tasted "that spiritual meat, and drunk of
that spiritual Rock." Until they met Amalek, they had nothing to do.
They did not cope with Pharaoh; they did not break the power of Egypt,
nor snap asunder the chains of its thraldom; they did not divide the
sea, nor submerge Pharaoh's hosts beneath its waves; they did not
bring down bread from heaven, nor draw forth water out of the flinty
rock;--they neither had done, nor could they do, any of these things;
but now they are called to fight with Amalek. All the previous
conflict had been between Jehovah and the enemy. They had but to
"stand still" and gaze upon the mighty triumphs of Jehovah's
outstretched arm, and enjoy the fruits of victory. The Lord had fought
_for_ them; but now He fights _in_ or _by_ them.

Thus is it also with the Church of God. The victories on which her
eternal peace and blessedness are founded were gained, single-handed,
by Christ _for_ her. He was alone on the cross, alone in the tomb. The
Church had to stand aside, for how could she be there?--how could she
vanquish Satan, endure the wrath of God, or rob death of its sting?
Impossible. These things lay far beyond the reach of sinners, but not
beyond the reach of Him who came to save them, and who alone was able
to bear upon His shoulder the ponderous weight of all their sins, and
roll the burden away forever, by His infinite sacrifice, so that God
the Holy Ghost, proceeding from God the Father, in virtue of the
perfect atonement of God the Son, can take up His abode in the Church
collectively, and in each member thereof individually.

Now it is when the Holy Ghost thus takes up His abode in us,
consequent upon Christ's death and resurrection, that our conflict
begins. Christ has fought _for_ us; the Holy Ghost fights _in_ us. The
very fact of our enjoying this first rich spoil of victory, puts us
into direct conflict with the foe; but the comfort is that we are
victors ere we enter upon the field of conflict at all. The believer
approaches to the battle singing, "Thanks be to God which giveth us
the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. xv. 57.) We do
not, therefore, fight uncertainly, or as those that beat the air,
while we seek to keep under the body and bring it into subjection. (1
Cor. ix. 26, 27.) "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved
us." (Rom. viii. 37.) The grace in which we stand renders the flesh
utterly void of power to lord it over us. (See Rom. vi, passim.) If
the law is "the strength of sin," grace is the weakness thereof. The
former gives sin power over us; the latter gives us power over sin.

"And Moses said unto Joshua, 'Choose us out men, and go out, fight
with Amalek: to-morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the
rod of God in mine hand.' So Joshua did as Moses had said unto him,
and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top
of the hill. And it came to pass; when Moses held up his hand, that
Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But
Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone and put it under him,
and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on
the one side and the other on the other side; and his hands were
steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek
and his people with the edge of the sword." (Verses 9-13.)

We have here two distinct things, namely, conflict and intercession.
Christ is on high _for_ us, while the Holy Ghost carries on the mighty
struggle _in_ us. The two things go together. It is as we enter by
faith into the prevalency of Christ's intercession on our behalf that
we make head against our evil nature.

Some there are who seek to overlook the fact of the Christian's
conflict with the flesh. They look upon regeneration as a total change
or renewal of the old nature. Upon this principle it would necessarily
follow that the believer has nothing to struggle with. If my nature is
renewed, what have I to contend with? Nothing. There is nothing
within, inasmuch as my old nature is made new; and nothing without can
affect me, inasmuch as there is no response from within. The world has
no charms for one whose flesh is entirely changed, and Satan has
nothing by or on which to act. To all who maintain such a theory, it
may be said that they seem to forget the place which Amalek occupies
in the history of the people of God. Had Israel conceived the idea
that when Pharaoh's hosts were gone their conflict was at an end, they
would have been sadly put about when Amalek came upon them. The fact
is, _theirs_ only then began. Thus it is with the believer, for "all
these things happened unto Israel for ensamples, and they are written
for our admonition." (1 Cor. x. 11.) But there could be no "type," no
"ensample," no "admonition," in "these things" for one whose old
nature is made new. Indeed, such an one can have but little need of
any of those gracious provisions which God has made in His kingdom for
those who are the subjects thereof.

We are distinctly taught in the Word that the believer carries about
with him that which answers to Amalek, that is, "the flesh"--"the old
man"--"the carnal mind." (Rom. vi. 6; viii. 7; Gal. v. 17.) Now, if
the Christian, upon perceiving the stirrings of his evil nature,
begins to doubt his being a Christian, he will not only render himself
exceedingly unhappy, but also deprive himself of his vantage-ground
against the enemy. The flesh exists in the believer and will be there
to the end of the chapter. The Holy Ghost fully recognizes it as
existing, as we may easily see, from various parts of the New
Testament. In Romans vi. we read, "Let not sin therefore _reign_ in
your mortal bodies." Such a precept would be entirely uncalled for if
the flesh were not existing in the believer. It would be out of
character to tell us not to let sin reign, if it were not actually
dwelling in us. There is a great difference between dwelling and
reigning. It dwells in a believer, but it reigns in an unbeliever.

However, though it dwells in us, we have, thank God, a principle of
power over it. "Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not
under the law, but under grace." The grace which, by the blood of the
cross, has put away sin, insures us the victory, and gives us present
power over its indwelling principle.

We have died to sin, and hence it has no claim over us. "He that has
died is justified from sin." "Knowing this, that our old man has been
crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that
henceforth we should not serve sin." (Rom. vi. 6.) "And Joshua
discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword." All was
victory; and Jehovah's banner floated over the triumphant host,
bearing the sweet and heart-sustaining inscription, "Jehovah-nissi"
(the Lord my banner). The assurance of victory should be as complete
as the sense of forgiveness, seeing both alike are founded upon the
great fact that Jesus died and rose again. It is in the power of this
that the believer enjoys a purged conscience and subdues indwelling
sin. The death of Christ having answered all the claims of God in
reference to our sins, His resurrection becomes the spring of power in
all the details of conflict afterwards. He died _for_ us, and now He
lives _in_ us. The former gives us peace, the latter gives us power.

It is edifying to remark the contrast between Moses on the hill and
Christ on the throne. The hands of our great Intercessor can never
hang down. His intercession never fluctuates. "He _ever_ liveth to
make intercession for us." (Heb. vii.) His intercession is
never-ceasing and all-prevailing. Having taken His place on high, in
the power of divine righteousness, He acts for us according to what He
is, and according to the infinite perfectness of what He has done. His
hands can never hang down, nor can He need any one to hold them up.
His perfect advocacy is founded upon His perfect sacrifice. He
presents us before God, clothed in His own perfections, so that though
we may ever have to keep our faces in the dust, in the sense of what
we are, yet the Spirit can only testify to us of what He is before God
for us, and of what we are in Him. "We are not in the flesh, but in
the Spirit." (Rom. viii.) We are in _the body_, as to the fact of our
condition; but we are not in _the flesh_, as to the principle of our
standing. Moreover, the flesh is in us, though we are dead to it; but
we are not in the flesh, because we are alive with Christ.

We may further remark, on this chapter, that Moses had the rod of God
with him on the hill--the rod with which he had smitten the rock. This
rod was the expression or symbol of the power of God, which is seen
alike in atonement and intercession. When the work of atonement was
accomplished, Christ took His seat in heaven, and sent down the Holy
Ghost to take up His abode in the Church; so that there is an
inseparable connection between the work of Christ and the work of the
Spirit. There is the application of the power of God in each.



CHAPTER XVIII.


We here arrive at the close of a very marked division of the book of
Exodus. We have seen God, in the exercise of His perfect grace,
visiting and redeeming His people, bringing them forth out of the land
of Egypt, delivering them first from the hand of Pharaoh and then from
the hand of Amalek. Furthermore, we have seen, in the manna, a type of
Christ come down from heaven; in the rock, a type of Christ smitten
for His people; and in the gushing stream, a type of the Spirit given.
Then follows, in striking and beautiful order, a picture of the future
glory, divided into its three grand departments, namely, "the Jew, the
Gentile, and the Church of God."

During the period of Moses' rejection by his brethren, he was taken
apart and presented with a bride--the companion of his rejection. We
were led to see, at the opening of this book, the character of Moses'
relationship with this bride. He was "a husband by blood" to her. This
is precisely What Christ is to the Church. Her connection with Him is
founded upon death and resurrection; and she is called to fellowship
with His sufferings. It is, as we know, during the period of Israel's
unbelief and of Christ's rejection that the Church is called out; and
when the Church is complete, according to the divine counsels--when
the "fullness of the Gentiles is come in"--Israel shall again be
brought into notice.

Thus it was with Zipporah and Israel of old. Moses had sent her back
during the period of his mission to Israel; and when the latter were
brought forth as a fully delivered people, we read that "Jethro,
Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent
her back, and her two sons, of which the name of the one was Gershom;
'For,' he said, 'I have been an alien in a strange land;' and the name
of the other was Eliezer; 'For the God of my fathers,' said he, 'was
mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.' And Jethro,
Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into
the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God. And he said
unto Moses, 'I, thy father-in-law, Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy
wife and her two sons with her.' And Moses went out to meet his
father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each
other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. And Moses told
his father-in-law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the
Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon
them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced
for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom He had
delivered from the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, 'Blessed be
the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians,
and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who hath delivered the people from
under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater
than all gods; for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly He was
above them.' And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt-offering
and sacrifices for God; and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel,
to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God." (Chap. xviii.
2-12.)

This is a deeply interesting scene. The whole congregation assembled
in triumph before the Lord, the Gentile presenting sacrifice, and in
addition, to complete the picture, the bride of the deliverer,
together with the children whom God had given him, are all introduced.
It is, in short, a singularly striking foreshadowing of the coming
kingdom. "The Lord will give grace and glory." We have already seen,
in what we have traveled over of this book, very much of the actings
of "grace;" and here we have, from the pencil of the Holy Ghost, a
beauteous picture of "glory,"--a picture which must be regarded as
peculiarly important, as exhibiting the varied fields in which that
glory shall be manifested.

"The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God" are scriptural
distinctions which can never be overlooked without marring that
perfect range of truth which God has revealed in His holy Word. They
have existed ever since the mystery of the Church was fully developed
by the ministry of the apostle Paul, and they shall exist throughout
the millennial age. Hence, every spiritual student of Scripture will
give them their due place in his mind.

The apostle expressly teaches us, in his epistle to the Ephesians,
that the mystery of the Church had not been made known, in other ages,
to the sons of men, as it was revealed to him. But though not directly
revealed, it had been shadowed forth in one way or another; as, for
example, in Joseph's marriage with an Egyptian, and in Moses' marriage
with an Ethiopian. The type or shadow of a truth is a very different
thing from a direct and positive revelation of it. The great mystery
of the Church was not revealed until Christ, in heavenly glory,
revealed it to Saul of Tarsus. Hence, all who look for the full
unfolding of this mystery in the law, the prophets, or the psalms,
will find themselves engaged in unintelligent labor. When, however,
they find it distinctly revealed in the epistle to the Ephesians, they
will be able, with interest and profit, to trace its foreshadowing in
Old Testament Scripture.

Thus we have, in the opening of our chapter, a millennial scene. All
the fields of glory lie open in vision before us. "_The Jew_" stands
forth as the great earthly witness of Jehovah's faithfulness, His
mercy, and His power. This is what the Jew has been in bygone ages, it
is what he is now, and what he will be, world without end. "The
Gentile" reads, in the book of God's dealings with the Jew, his
deepest lessons. He traces the marvelous history of that peculiar and
elect people--"a people terrible from their beginning hitherto;" he
sees thrones and empires overturned, nations shaken to their centre,
every one and every thing compelled to give way, in order to establish
the supremacy of that people on whom Jehovah has set His love. "Now I
know," he says, "that the Lord is greater than all gods; for in the
thing wherein they dealt proudly He was above them." (Ver. 11.) Such
is the confession of "the Gentile" when the wondrous page of Jewish
history lies open before him.

Lastly, "_the Church of God_" collectively, as prefigured by Zipporah,
and the members thereof individually, as seen in Zipporah's sons, are
presented as occupying the most intimate relationship with the
deliverer. All this is perfect in its way. We may be asked for our
proofs. The answer is, "I speak as unto wise men: judge ye what I
say." We can never build a doctrine upon a type; but when a doctrine
is revealed, a type thereof may be discerned with accuracy and studied
with profit. In every case, a spiritual mind is essentially necessary,
either to understand the doctrine or discern the type. "The natural
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are
foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. ii. 14.)

From verse 13 to the end of our chapter, we have the appointment of
rulers, who were to assist Moses in the management of the affairs of
the congregation. This was the suggestion of Jethro, who feared that
Moses would "wear away" in consequence of his labors. In connection
with this, it may be profitable to look at the appointment of the
seventy elders in Numbers xi. Here we find the spirit of Moses crushed
beneath the ponderous responsibility which devolved upon him, and he
gives utterance to the anguish of his heart in the following accents:
"And Moses said unto the Lord, 'Wherefore hast Thou afflicted Thy
servant? And wherefore have I not found favor in Thy sight, that Thou
layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all
this people? have I begotten them, that Thou shouldest say unto me,
Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the suckling
child, unto the land which Thou swarest unto their fathers?... I am
not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for
me. And if Thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray Thee, out of hand,
if I have found favor in Thy sight; and let me not see my
wretchedness." (Numb. xi. 11-15.)

In all this we see Moses evidently retiring from a post of honor. If
God were pleased to make him the sole instrument in managing the
assembly, it was only so much the more dignity and privilege conferred
upon him. True, the responsibility was immense; but faith would own
that God was amply sufficient for that. Here, however, the heart of
Moses failed him (blessed servant as he was), and he says, "I am not
able to bear this people _alone_, because it is to heavy for _me_."
But he was not asked to bear them alone, for God was with him. They
were not too heavy for God. It was He that was bearing them; Moses was
but the instrument. He might just as well have spoken of his rod as
bearing the people; for what was he but a mere instrument in God's
hand, as the rod was in his? It is here the servants of Christ
constantly fail; and the failure is all the more dangerous because it
wears the appearance of humility. It seems like distrust of one's
self, and deep lowliness of spirit, to shrink from heavy
responsibility; but all we need to inquire is, Has God imposed that
responsibility? If so, He will assuredly be with me in sustaining it;
and having Him with me, I can sustain any thing. With Him, the weight
of a mountain is nothing; without Him, the weight of a feather is
overwhelming. It is a totally different thing if a man, in the vanity
of his mind, thrust himself forward and take a burden upon his
shoulder which God never intended him to bear, and therefore never
fitted him to bear it; we may then surely expect to see him crushed
beneath the weight: but if God lays it upon him, He will qualify and
strengthen him to carry it.

It is never the fruit of humility to depart from a divinely-appointed
post. On the contrary, the deepest humility will express itself by
remaining there in simple dependence upon God. It is a sure evidence
of being occupied about _self_ when we shrink from service on the
ground of inability. God does not call us unto service on the ground
of our ability, but of His own; hence, unless I am filled with
thoughts about myself, or with positive distrust of Him, I need not
relinquish any position of service or testimony because of the heavy
responsibilities attaching thereto. All power belongs to God, and it
is quite the same whether that power acts through one agent or through
seventy--the power is still the same; but if one agent refuse the
dignity, it is only so much the worse for him. God will not force
people to abide in a place of honor if they cannot trust Him to
sustain them there. The way lies always open to them to step down from
their dignity, and sink into the place where base unbelief is sure to
put us.

Thus it was with Moses. He complained of the burden, and the burden
was speedily removed; but with it the high honor of being allowed to
carry it. "And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Gather unto Me seventy men
of the elders of Israel whom thou knowest to be the elders of the
people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of
the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come
down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is
upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden
of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone." (Numb.
xi. 16, 17.) There was no fresh power introduced. It was the same
spirit, whether in one or in seventy. There was no more value or
virtue in the flesh of seventy men than in the flesh of one man. "It
is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." (John vi.
63.) There was nothing in the way of power gained, but a great deal
in the way of dignity lost, by this movement on the part of Moses.

In the after-part of Numbers xi, we find Moses giving utterance to
accents of unbelief, which called forth from the Lord a sharp
rebuke.--"Is the Lord's hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether
My word shall come to pass unto thee, or not." If my reader will
compare verses 11-15 with verses 21, 22, he will see a marked and
solemn connection. The man who shrinks from responsibility, on the
ground of his own feebleness, is in great danger of calling in
question the fullness and sufficiency of God's resources. This entire
scene teaches a most valuable lesson to every servant of Christ who
may be tempted to feel himself alone or overburdened in his work. Let
such an one bear in mind that, where the Holy Ghost is working, one
instrument is as good and as efficient as seventy; and where He is not
working, seventy are of no more value than one. It all depends upon
the energy of the Holy Ghost. With Him, one man can do all, endure
all, sustain all; without Him, seventy men can do nothing. Let the
lonely servant remember, for the comfort and encouragement of his
sinking heart, that, provided he has the presence and power of the
Holy Ghost with him, he need not complain of his burden nor sigh for a
division of labor. If God honor a man by giving him a great deal of
work to do, let him rejoice therein and not murmur; for if he murmur,
he can very speedily lose his honor. God is at no loss for
instruments. He could from the stones raise up children unto Abraham,
and He can raise up from the same the needed agents to carry on His
glorious work.

O for a heart to serve Him!--a patient, humble, self-emptied, devoted
heart,--a heart ready to serve in company, ready to serve alone,--a
heart so filled with love to Christ that it will find its joy, its
chief joy, in serving Him, let the sphere or character of service be
what it may! This assuredly is the special need of the day in which
our lot is cast. May the Holy Ghost stir up our hearts to a deeper
sense of the exceeding preciousness of the name of Jesus, and enable
us to yield a fuller, clearer, more unequivocal response to the
changeless love of His heart!



CHAPTER XIX.


We have now arrived at a most momentous point in Israel's history. We
are called to behold them standing at the foot of "the mount that
might be touched, and that burned with fire." The fair millennial
scene which opened before us in the preceding chapter has passed away.
It was but a brief moment of sunshine in which a very vivid picture of
the kingdom was afforded; but the sunshine was speedily followed by
the heavy clouds which gathered around that "palpable mount," where
Israel, in a spirit of dark and senseless legality, abandoned
Jehovah's covenant of pure grace for man's covenant of works.
Disastrous movement! A movement fraught with the most dismal results.
Hitherto, as we have seen, no enemy could stand before Israel,--no
obstacle was suffered to interrupt their onward and victorious march.
Pharaoh's hosts were overthrown, Amalek and his people were
discomfited with the edge of the sword: all was victory, because God
was acting on behalf of His people, in pursuance of His promise to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In the opening verses of the chapter now before us, the Lord
recapitulates His actings toward Israel in the following touching and
beautiful language: "Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and
tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the
Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto
Myself. Now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My
covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all
people; for all the earth is Mine. And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom
of priests and a holy nation." (Ver. 3-6.) Observe, it is "_My voice_"
and "_My covenant_." What was the utterance of that "voice"? and what
did that "covenant" involve? Had Jehovah's voice made itself heard for
the purpose of laying down the rules and regulations of a severe and
unbending lawgiver? By no means. It had spoken to demand freedom for
the captive, to provide a refuge from the sword of the destroyer, to
make a way for the ransomed to pass over, to bring down bread from
heaven, to draw forth water out of the flinty rock;--such had been
the gracious and intelligible utterances of Jehovah's "voice" up to
the moment at which "Israel camped before the mount."

And as to His "covenant," it was one of unmingled grace. It proposed
no condition, it made no demands, it put no yoke on the neck, no
burden on the shoulder. When "the God of glory appeared unto Abraham,"
in Ur of the Chaldees, He certainly did not address him in such words
as, Thou shalt do this, and Thou shalt not do that. Ah, no; such
language was not according to the heart of God. It suits Him far
better to place "a fair mitre" upon a sinner's head than to "put a
yoke upon his neck." His word to Abraham was, "I WILL GIVE." The land
of Canaan was not to be purchased by man's doings, but to be given by
God's grace. Thus it stood; and in the opening of the book of Exodus,
we see God coming down in grace to make good His promise to Abraham's
seed. The condition in which He found that seed made no difference,
inasmuch as the blood of the lamb furnished Him with a perfectly
righteous ground on which to make good His promise. He evidently had
not promised the land of Canaan to Abraham's seed on the ground of
aught that He foresaw in them, for this would have totally destroyed
the real nature of a promise,--it would have made it a compact and not
a promise; "but God gave it to Abraham by promise," and not by
compact. (Read Gal. iii.)

Hence, in the opening of this nineteenth chapter, the people are
reminded of the grace in which Jehovah had hitherto dealt with them;
and they are also assured of what they should yet be, provided they
continued to hearken to Mercy's heavenly "voice," and to abide in the
"covenant" of free and absolute grace. "Ye shall be a peculiar
treasure unto Me above all people." How could they be this? Was it by
stumbling up the ladder of self-righteousness and legalism? Would they
be "a peculiar treasure" when blasted by the curses of a broken law--a
law which they had broken before ever they received it? Surely not.
How, then, were they to be this "peculiar treasure"? By standing in
that position in which Jehovah surveyed them when he compelled the
covetous prophet to exclaim, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and
thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as
gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord
hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters. He shall pour the
water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and
his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath, as it were, the strength
of an unicorn." (Numb. xxiv. 5-8.)

However, Israel was not disposed to occupy this blessed position.
Instead of rejoicing in God's "holy promise," they undertook to make
the most presumptuous vow that moral lips could utter. "All the people
answered together, and said, '_All that the Lord hath spoken, we will
do_.'" (Chap. xix. 8.) This was bold language. They did not even say,
We hope to do, or We will endeavor to do. This would have expressed a
measure of self-distrust. But no; they took the most absolute
ground.--"We will do." Nor was this the language of a few vain
self-confident spirits who presumed to single themselves out from the
whole congregation. No; "_all_ the people answered _together_." They
were unanimous in the abandonment of the "holy promise"--the "holy
covenant."

And now, observe the result. The moment Israel uttered their "singular
vow," the moment they undertook to "do," there was a total alteration
in the aspect of things. "And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Lo, I come
unto thee _in a thick cloud_.... And thou shalt set bounds unto the
people, round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not
up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the
mount shall be surely put to death.'" This was a very marked change.
The One who had just said, "I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought
you unto Myself," now envelopes Himself "in a thick cloud," and says,
"Set bounds unto the people, round about." The sweet accents of grace
and mercy are exchanged for the "thunderings and lightnings" of the
fiery mount. Man had presumed to talk of his miserable doings in the
presence of God's magnificent grace. Israel had said, "We will do,"
and they must be put at a distance in order that it may be fully seen
what they are able to do. God takes the place of moral distance; and
the people are but too well disposed to have it so, for they are
filled with fear and trembling; and no marvel, for the sight was
"terrible,"--"so terrible, that Moses said, 'I exceedingly fear and
quake.'" Who could endure the sight of that "devouring fire," which
was the apt expression of divine holiness? "The Lord came from Sinai,
and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from Paran, and He
came with ten thousand of His saints; from His right hand went a fiery
law for them." (Deut. xxxiii. 2.) The term "fiery," as applied to the
law, is expressive of its holiness,--"Our God is a consuming
fire"--perfectly intolerant of evil, in thought, word, and deed.

Thus, then, Israel made a fatal mistake in saying, "We will do." It
was taking upon themselves a vow which they were not able, even were
they willing, to pay; and we know who has said, "Better that thou
shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay." It is of
the very essence of a vow that it assumes the competency to fulfill;
and where is man's competency? As well might a bankrupt draw a check
on the bank, as a helpless sinner make a vow. A man who makes a vow
denies the truth as to his nature and condition. He is ruined, what
can he do? He is utterly without strength, and can neither will nor do
any thing good. Did Israel keep their vow? Did they do "all that the
Lord commanded?" Witness the golden calf, the broken tables, the
desecrated Sabbath, the despised and neglected ordinances, the stoned
messengers, the rejected and crucified Christ, the resisted Spirit.
Such are the overwhelming evidences of man's dishonored vows. Thus
must it ever be when fallen humanity undertakes to vow.

Christian reader, do you not rejoice in the fact that your eternal
salvation rests not on your poor shadowy vows and resolutions, but on
"the one offering of Jesus Christ once"? Oh, yes, "this is our joy,
which ne'er can fail." Christ has taken all our vows upon Himself, and
gloriously discharged them forever. His resurrection-life flows
through His members and produces in them results which legal vows and
legal claims never could effect. He is our life, and He is our
righteousness. May His name be precious to our hearts. May His cause
ever command our energies. May it be our meat and our drink to spend
and be spent in His dear service.

I cannot close this chapter without noticing, in connection, a passage
in the book of Deuteronomy which may present a difficulty to some
minds. It has direct reference to the subject on which we have been
dwelling. "And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake
unto me; and the Lord said unto me, 'I have heard the voice of the
words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: _they have
well said all that they have spoken_.'" (Deut. v. 28.) From this
passage it might seem as though the Lord approved of their making a
vow; but if my reader will take the trouble of reading the entire
context, from verse twenty-four to twenty-seven, he will see at once
that it has nothing whatever to say to the vow, but that it contains
the expression of their terror at the consequences of their vow. They
were not able to endure that which was commanded. "If" said they, "we
hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For
who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God
speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou
near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak thou
unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will
hear it and do it." It was the confession of their own inability to
encounter Jehovah in that awful aspect which their proud legality had
led Him to assume. It is impossible that the Lord could ever commend
an abandonment of free and changeless grace for a sandy foundation of
"works of law."



CHAPTER XX.


It is of the utmost importance to understand the true character and
object of the moral law, as set forth in this chapter. There is a
tendency in the mind to confound the principles of law and grace, so
that neither the one nor the other can be rightly understood. Law is
shorn of its stern and unbending majesty, and grace is robbed of all
its divine attractions. God's holy claims remain unanswered, and the
sinner's deep and manifold necessities remain unreached, by the
anomalous system framed by those who attempt to mingle law and grace.
In point of fact, they can never be made to coalesce, for they are as
distinct as any two things can be. Law sets forth what man ought to
be, grace exhibits what God is. How can these ever be wrought up into
one system? How can the sinner ever be saved by a system made up of
half law, half grace? Impossible. It must be either the one or the
other.

The law has sometimes been termed "the transcript of the mind of God."
This definition is entirely defective. Were we to term it a transcript
of the mind of God as to what man ought to be, we should be nearer the
truth. If I am to regard the ten commandments as the transcript of the
mind of God, then, I ask, is there nothing in the mind of God save
"Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not"? Is there no grace? no mercy? no
loving-kindness? Is God not to manifest what He is? Is He not to tell
out the deep secrets of that love which dwells in His bosom? Is there
naught in the divine character but stern requirement and prohibition?
Were this so, we should have to say, God is law, instead of "God is
love." But, blessed be His name, there is more in His heart than could
ever be wrapped up in the "ten words" uttered on the fiery mount. If I
want to see what God is, I must look at Christ; "for in Him dwelleth
all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. ii. 9.) "The law was
given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John i.
17.) Assuredly there was a measure of truth in the law; it contained
the truth as to what man ought to be. Like everything else emanating
from God, it was perfect so far as it went--perfect for the object for
which it was administered; but that object was not, by any means, to
unfold, in the view of guilty sinners, the nature and character of
God. There was no grace, no mercy. "He that despised Moses' law died
without mercy." (Heb. x. 28.) "The man that doeth these things shall
live by them." (Lev. xviii. 5; Rom. x. 5.) "Cursed is every one that
continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law
to do them." (Deut. xxvii. 26; Gal. iii. 10.) This was not grace.
Indeed, Mount Sinai was not the place to look for any such thing.
There Jehovah revealed Himself in awful majesty, amid blackness,
darkness, tempest, thunderings, and lightnings. These were not the
attendant circumstances of an economy of grace and mercy; but they
were well suited to one of truth and righteousness, and the law was
that and nothing else.

In the law, God sets forth what a man ought to be, and pronounces a
curse upon him if he _is_ not that. But then a man finds, when he
looks at himself in the light of the law, that he actually is the very
thing which the law condemns. How then is he to get life by it? It
proposes life and righteousness as the ends to be attained by keeping
it; but it proves, at the very outset, that we are in a state of death
and unrighteousness. We want the very things at the beginning which
the law proposed to be gained at the end. How, therefore, are we to
gain them? In order to _do_ what the law requires, I must have life;
and in order to _be_ what the law requires, I must have righteousness;
and if I have not both the one and the other, I am "cursed." But the
fact is, I have neither. What am I to do? This is the question. Let
those who "desire to be teachers of the law" furnish an answer. Let
them furnish a satisfactory reply to an upright conscience, bowed down
under the double sense of the spirituality and inflexibility of the
law and its own hopeless carnality.

The truth is, as the apostle teaches us, "the law entered that the
offense might abound." (Rom. v. 20.) This shows us very distinctly the
real object of the law. It came in by the way in order to set forth
the exceeding sinfulness of sin. (Rom. vii. 13.) It was, in a certain
sense, like a perfect mirror let down from heaven to reveal to man his
moral derangement. If I present myself with deranged habit before a
mirror, it shows me the derangement, but does not set it right. If I
measure a crooked wall with a perfect plumb-line, it reveals the
crookedness, but does not remove it. If I take out a lamp on a dark
night, it reveals to me all the hindrances and disagreeables in the
way, but it does not remove them. Moreover, the mirror, the
plumb-line, and the lamp do not _create_ the evils which they
severally point out; they neither _create_ nor _remove_, but simply
_reveal_. Thus it is with the law; it does not create the evil in
man's heart, neither does it remove it; but, with unerring accuracy,
it reveals it.

"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not
known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law
had said, 'Thou shalt not covet.'" (Rom. vii. 7.) He does not say that
he would not have had "lust." No; but merely that he "had not known"
it. The "lust" was there; but he was in the dark about it until the
law, as "the candle of the Almighty," shone in upon the dark chambers
of his heart and revealed the evil that was there. Like a man in a
dark room, who may be surrounded with dust and confusion, but he
cannot see aught thereof by reason of the darkness. Let the beams of
the sun dart in upon him, and he quickly perceives all. Do the
sunbeams create the dust? Surely not. The dust is there, and they only
detect and reveal it. This is a simple illustration of the effect of
the law. It judges man's character and condition; it proves him to be
a sinner, and shuts him up under the curse; it comes to judge what he
is, and curses him if he is not what it tells him he ought to be.

It is therefore a manifest impossibility that any one can get life and
righteousness by that which can only curse him; and unless the
condition of the sinner, and the character of the law are totally
changed, it can do naught else but curse him. It makes no allowance
for infirmities, and knows nothing of sincere, though imperfect,
obedience. Were it to do so, it would not be what it is--"holy, just,
and good." It is just because the law is what it is that the sinner
cannot get life by it. If he could get life by it, it would not be
perfect, or else he would not be a sinner. It is impossible that a
sinner can get life by a perfect law, for inasmuch as it is perfect,
it must needs condemn him. Its absolute perfectness makes manifest and
seals man's absolute ruin and condemnation. "Therefore, by deeds of
law shall no flesh living be justified in His sight; for by the law is
the knowledge of sin." (Rom. iii. 20.) He does not say, By the law is
sin, but only "the knowledge of sin." "For until the law, sin was in
the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law." (Rom. v. 13.)
Sin was there, and it only needed law to develop it in the form of
"transgression." It is as if I say to my child, You must not touch
that knife. My very prohibition reveals the tendency in his heart to
do his own will. It does not create the tendency, but only reveals it.

The apostle John says that "sin is lawlessness." (1 John iii. 4.) The
word "transgression" does not develop the true idea of the Spirit in
this passage. In order to have "transgression," I must have a definite
rule or line laid down. Transgression means a passing across a
prohibited line; such a line I have in the law. I take any one of its
prohibitions, such as, "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not commit
adultery," "Thou shalt not steal." Here I have a rule or line set
before me; but I find I have within me the very principles against
which these prohibitions are expressly directed. Yea, the very fact of
my being told not to commit murder shows that I have murder in my
nature. There would be no necessity to tell me not to do a thing
which I had no tendency to do; but the exhibition of God's will as to
what I ought to be makes manifest the tendency of my will to be what I
ought not. This is plain enough, and is in full keeping with the whole
of the apostolic reasoning on the point.

Many, however, will admit that we cannot get life by the law; but they
maintain, at the same time, that the law is our rule of life. Now, the
apostle declares that "as many as are of works of law are under the
curse." (Gal. iii. 10.) It matters not who they are, if they occupy
the ground of law, they are, of necessity, under the curse. A man may
say, I am regenerate, and therefore not exposed to the curse. This
will not do. If regeneration does not take one off the ground of law,
it cannot take him beyond the range of the curse of the law. If the
Christian be under the former, he is, of necessity, exposed to the
latter. But what has the law to do with regeneration? where do we find
any thing about it in Exodus xx? The law has but one question to put
to a man,--a brief, solemn, pointed question, namely, Are you what you
ought to be? If he answer in the negative, it can but hurl its
terrible anathema at him and slay him. And who will so readily and
emphatically admit that, in himself, he is any thing but what he ought
to be, as the really regenerate man? Wherefore, if he is under the
law, he must inevitably be under the curse. The law cannot possibly
lower its standard, nor yet amalgamate with grace. Men do constantly
seek to lower its standard; they feel that they cannot get up to it,
and they therefore seek to bring it down to them; but the effort is in
vain: it stands forth in all its purity, majesty, and stern
inflexibility, and will not accept a single hair's breadth short of
perfect obedience; and where is the man, regenerate or unregenerate,
that can undertake to produce that? It will be said, We have
perfection in Christ. True; but that is not by the law, but by grace;
and we cannot possibly confound the two economies. Scripture largely
and distinctly teaches that we are not justified by the law; nor is
the law our rule of life. That which can only curse can never justify,
and that which can only kill can never be a rule of life. As well
might a man attempt to make a fortune by a deed of bankruptcy filed
against him.

If my reader will turn to the fifteenth of Acts, he will see how the
attempt to put Gentile believers under the law as a rule of life was
met by the Holy Ghost. "There rose up certain of the sect of the
Pharisees which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise
them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." This was nothing
else than the hiss of the old serpent, making itself heard in the dark
and depressing suggestion of those early legalists. But let us see how
it was met by the mighty energy of the Holy Ghost, and the unanimous
voice of the twelve apostles and the whole Church. "And when there had
been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, 'Men and
brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us,
that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear'"--what? Was it the
requirements and the curses of _the law_ of Moses? No. Blessed be God,
these are not what He would have falling on the ears of helpless
sinners. Hear what, then? "SHOULD HEAR THE WORD OF THE GOSPEL, AND
BELIEVE." This was what suited the nature and character of God. He
never would have troubled men with the dismal accents of requirement
and prohibition. These Pharisees were not His messengers; far from it.
They were not the bearers of glad tidings, nor the publishers of
peace, and therefore their "feet" were aught but "beautiful" in the
eyes of One who only delights in mercy.

"Now, therefore," continues the apostle, "why tempt ye God, to put a
yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we
were able to bear?" This was strong, earnest language. God did not
want "to put a yoke upon the neck" of those whose hearts had been set
free by the gospel of peace. He would rather exhort them to stand fast
in the liberty of Christ, and not be "entangled again with the yoke of
bondage." He would not send those whom He had received to His bosom of
love to be terrified by the "blackness and darkness and tempest" of
"the mount that might be touched." How could we ever admit the thought
that those whom God had received in grace He would rule by law?
Impossible. "We believe," says Peter, "that through the GRACE OF THE
LORD JESUS CHRIST we shall be saved, even as they." Both the Jews, who
had received the law, and the Gentiles, who never had, were now to be
"_saved_ through _grace_." And not only were they to be "saved" by
grace, but they were to "stand" in grace (Rom. v. 2.) and to "grow in
grace" (2 Pet. iii. 18.). To teach any thing else was to "tempt God."
Those Pharisees were subverting the very foundations of the Christian
faith; and so are all those who seek to put believers under the law.
There is no evil or error more abominable in the sight of the Lord
than legalism. Hearken to the strong language--the accents of
righteous indignation--which fell from the Holy Ghost in reference to
those teachers of the law,--"I would they were even cut off which
trouble you." (Gal. v. 12.)

And, let me ask, are the thoughts of the Holy Ghost changed in
reference to this question? Has it ceased to be a tempting of God to
place the yoke of legality upon a sinner's neck? Is it now in
accordance with His gracious will that the law should be read out in
the ears of sinners? Let my reader reply to these inquiries in the
light of the fifteenth of Acts and the epistle to the Galatians. These
scriptures, were there no other, are amply sufficient to prove that
God never intended that the "Gentiles should hear the word" of the
law. Had He so intended, He would assuredly have "made choice" of some
one to proclaim it in their ears. But no; when He sent forth His
"fiery law," He spoke only in _one_ tongue; but when He proclaimed the
glad tidings of salvation through the blood of the Lamb, He spoke in
the language "_of every nation under heaven_." He spoke in such a way
as that "_every man in his own tongue, wherein he was born_," might
hear the sweet story of grace. (Acts ii. 1-11.)

Further, when He was giving forth, from Mount Sinai, the stern
requirements of the covenant of works, He addressed Himself
exclusively to _one_ people. His voice was only heard within the
narrow inclosures of the Jewish nation; but when, on the plains of
Bethlehem, "the angel of the Lord" declared "good tidings of great
joy," He added those characteristic words, "which shall be to _all
people_." And again, when the risen Christ was sending forth His
heralds of salvation, His commission ran thus: "Go ye into _all the
world_ and preach the gospel to _every creature_." (Mark xvi. 15; Luke
ii. 10.) The mighty tide of grace, which had its source in the bosom
of God, and its channel in the blood of the Lamb, was designed to
rise, in the resistless energy of the Holy Ghost, far above the narrow
inclosures of Israel, and roll through the length and breadth of a
sin-stained world. "Every creature" must hear, "in his own tongue,"
the message of peace--the word of the gospel--the record of salvation
through the blood of the cross.

Finally, that nothing might be lacking to prove to our poor legal
hearts that Mount Sinai was not, by any means, the spot where the deep
secrets of the bosom of God were told out, the Holy Ghost has said,
both by the mouth of a prophet and an apostle, "How beautiful are the
feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings
of good things!" (Isa. iii. 7; Rom. x. 15.) But of those who sought
to be teachers of the law, the same Holy Ghost has said, "I would they
were even cut off which trouble you."

Thus, then, it is obvious that the law is neither the ground of life
to the sinner nor the rule of life to the Christian: Christ is both
the one and the other,--He is our life and He is our rule of life. The
law can only curse and slay. Christ is our life and righteousness. He
became a curse for us by hanging on a tree. He went down into the
place where the sinner lay--into the place of death and judgment; and
having, by His death, entirely discharged all that was or could be
against us, He became, in resurrection, the source of life and the
ground of righteousness to all who believe in His name. Having thus
life and righteousness in Him, we are called to walk not merely as the
law directs, but to "walk even as He walked." It will hardly be deemed
needful to assert that it is directly contrary to Christian ethics to
kill, commit adultery, or steal. But were a Christian to shape his way
according to these commands, or according to the entire decalogue,
would he yield the rare and delicate fruits which the epistle to the
Ephesians sets forth? Would the ten commandments ever cause a thief to
give up stealing, and go to work that he might have to give?--would
they ever transform a thief into a laborious and liberal man?
Assuredly not. The law says, "Thou shalt not steal;" but does it say,
Go and give to him that needeth,--Go, feed, clothe, and bless your
enemy,--Go, gladden by your benevolent feelings and your beneficent
acts the heart of him who only and always seeks your hurt? By no
means; and yet, were I under the law, as a rule, it could only curse
me and slay me. How is this, when the standard in the New Testament is
so much higher? Because I am weak, and the law gives me no strength
and shows me no mercy. The law _demands_ strength from one that has
none, and _curses_ him if he cannot display it. The gospel _gives_
strength to one that has none, and _blesses_ him in the exhibition of
it. The law proposes life as the end of obedience, the gospel gives
life as the only proper _ground_ of obedience.

But that I may not weary the reader with arguments, let me ask, If the
law be indeed the rule of a believer's life, where are we to find it
so presented in the New Testament? The inspired apostle evidently had
no thought of its being the rule when he penned the following words:
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor
uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to
_this rule_, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God."
(Gal. vi. 15, 16.) What "rule"? The law? No; but the "new creation."
Where shall we find this in Exodus xx? It speaks not a word about "new
creation." On the contrary, it addresses itself to man as he is--in
his natural or old-creation state--and puts him to the test as to what
he is really able to do. Now if the law were the rule by which
believers are to walk, why does the apostle pronounce his benediction
on those who walk by another rule altogether? Why does he not say, As
many as walk according to the rule of the ten commandments? Is it not
evident, from this one passage, that the Church of God has a higher
rule by which to walk? Unquestionably. The ten commandments, though
forming, as all true Christians admit, a part of the canon of
inspiration, could never be the rule of life to one who has, through
infinite grace, been introduced into the new creation--one who has
received new life in Christ.

But some may ask, Is not the law perfect? and if perfect, what more
would you have? The law is divinely perfect. Yea, it is the very
perfection of the law which causes it to curse and slay those who are
not perfect if they attempt to stand before it. "The law is spiritual,
but I am carnal." It is utterly impossible to form an adequate idea of
the infinite perfectness and spirituality of the law. But then this
perfect law coming in contact with fallen humanity--this spiritual law
coming in contact with "the carnal mind," could only "work wrath" and
"enmity." (Rom. iv. 15; viii. 7.) Why? Is it because the law is not
perfect? No, but because it is, and man is a sinner. If man were
perfect, he would carry out the law in all its spiritual perfectness;
and even in the case of true believers, though they still carry about
with them an evil nature, the apostle teaches us "that the
righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the
flesh, but after the Spirit." (Rom. viii. 4.) "He that loveth another
hath fulfilled the law.... Love worketh no ill to his neighbor;
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Rom. xiii. 8-10.) If I
love a man, I shall not steal his property--nay, I shall seek to do
him all the good I can. All this is plain, and easily understood by
the spiritual mind; but it leaves entirely untouched the question of
the law, whether as the ground of life to a sinner or the rule of life
to the believer.

If we look at the law, in its two grand divisions, it tells a man to
love God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his
mind; and to love his neighbor as himself. This is the sum of the law:
this, and not a tittle less, is what the law demands. But where has
this demand ever been responded to by any member of Adam's fallen
posterity? Where is the man who could say he loves God after such a
fashion? "The carnal mind [_i.e._, the mind which we have by nature]
is enmity against God." Man hates God and His ways. God came, in the
Person of Christ, and showed Himself to man--showed Himself, not in
the overwhelming brightness of His majesty, but in all the charm and
sweetness of perfect grace and condescension. What was the result? Man
hated God.--"Now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father."
(John xv. 24.) But, it may be said, man ought to love God. No doubt,
and he deserves death and eternal perdition if he does not; but can
the law produce this love in man's heart? was that its design? By no
means, "for the law worketh wrath." The law finds man in a state of
enmity against God; and without ever altering that state (for that was
not its province), it commands him to love God with all his heart, and
curses him if he does not. It was not the province of the law to alter
or improve man's nature; nor yet could it impart any power to carry
out its righteous demands. It said, "This do, and thou shalt live." It
commanded man to love God. It did not reveal what God was to man, even
in his guilt and ruin; but it told man what he ought to be toward God.
This was dismal work. It was not the unfolding of the powerful
attractions of the divine character, producing in man true repentance
toward God, melting his icy heart, and elevating his soul in genuine
affection and worship. No: it was an inflexible command to love God;
and, instead of producing love, it "worked wrath;" not because God
ought not to be loved, but because man was a sinner.

Again, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Can "the natural
man" do this? Does he love his neighbor as himself? Is this the
principle which obtains in the chambers of commerce, the exchanges,
the banks, the marts, the fairs, and the markets of this world? Alas!
no. Man does not love his neighbor as he loves himself. No doubt he
ought; and if he were right, he would; but then he is all
wrong--totally wrong--and unless he is "born again" of the Word and
the Spirit of God, he cannot "see nor enter the kingdom of God." The
law cannot produce this new birth. It kills "the old man," but does
not, and cannot, create "the new." As an actual fact, we know that the
Lord Jesus Christ embodied, in His glorious Person, both God and our
neighbor, inasmuch as He was, according to the foundation-truth of the
Christian religion, "God manifest in the flesh." How did man treat
Him? Did he love Him with all his heart, or as himself? The very
reverse. He crucified Him between two thieves, having previously
preferred a murderer and a robber to that blessed One who had gone
about doing good--who had come forth from the eternal dwelling-place
of light and love--Himself the very living personification of that
light and love--whose bosom had ever heaved with purest sympathy with
human need--whose hand had ever been ready to dry the sinner's tears
and alleviate his sorrows. Thus we stand and gaze upon the cross of
Christ, and behold in it an unanswerable demonstration of the fact
that it is not within the range of man's nature or capacity to keep
the law.[10]

  [10] For further exposition of the law, and also of the doctrine of
  the Sabbath, the reader is referred to a tract entitled "A Scriptural
  Inquiry into the True Nature of the Sabbath, the Law, and the
  Christian Ministry."

It is peculiarly interesting to the spiritual mind, after all that has
passed before us, to observe the relative position of God and the
sinner at the close of this memorable chapter. "And the Lord said unto
Moses, 'Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel.... An altar
of earth thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy
burnt-offerings and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen: in
all places where I record My name I WILL COME UNTO THEE, AND I WILL
BLESS THEE. And if thou wilt make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not
build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou
hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar,
that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.'" (Ver. 22-26.)

Here we find man not in the position of _a doer_, but of _a
worshiper_; and this, too, at the close of Exodus xx. How plainly this
teaches us that the atmosphere of Mount Sinai is not that which God
would have the sinner breathing,--that it is not the proper
meeting-place between God and man! "In all places where I record _My
name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee_." How unlike the
terrors of the fiery mount is that spot where Jehovah records _His
name_, whither He "comes" to "bless" His worshiping people!

But further, God will meet the sinner at an altar without a hewn stone
or a step--a place of worship which requires no human workmanship to
erect, or human effort to approach. The former could only pollute, and
the latter could only display human "nakedness." Admirable type of the
meeting-place where God meets the sinner now, even the Person and work
of His Son, Jesus Christ, where all the claims of law, of justice, and
of conscience are perfectly answered! Man has, in every age and in
every clime, been prone, in one way or another, to "lift up his tool"
in the erection of his altar, or to approach thereto by steps of his
own making; but the issue of all such attempts has been "pollution"
and "nakedness." "We all do fade as a leaf, and all our
righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Who will presume to approach God
clad in a garment of "filthy rags"? or who will stand to worship with
a revealed "nakedness"? What can be more preposterous than to think of
approaching God in a way which necessarily involves either pollution
or nakedness? And yet thus it is in every case in which human effort
is put forth to open the sinner's way to God. Not only is there no
need of such effort, but defilement and nakedness are stamped upon it.
God has come down so very near to the sinner, even in the very depths
of his ruin, that there is no need for his lifting up the tool of
legality, or ascending the steps of self-righteousness,--yea, to do
so, is but to expose his uncleanness and his nakedness.

Such are the principles with which the Holy Ghost closes this most
remarkable section of inspiration. May they be indelibly written upon
our hearts, that so we may more clearly and fully understand the
essential difference between LAW and GRACE.



CHAPTERS XXI.-XXIII.


The study of this section of our book is eminently calculated to
impress the heart with a sense of God's unsearchable wisdom and
infinite goodness. It enables one to form some idea of the character
of a kingdom governed by laws of divine appointment. Here, too, we may
see the amazing condescension of Him who, though He is the great God
of heaven and earth, can, nevertheless, stoop to adjudicate between
man and man in reference to the death of an ox, the loan of a garment,
or the loss of a servant's tooth. "Who is like unto the Lord our God,
who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and on
earth?" He governs the universe, and yet He can occupy Himself with
the provision of a covering for one of His creatures. He guides the
angel's flight and takes notice of a crawling worm. He humbles Himself
to regulate the movements of those countless orbs that roll through
infinite space, and to record the fall of a sparrow.

As to the character of the judgment set forth in the chapter before
us, we may learn a double lesson. These judgments and ordinances bear
a twofold witness: they convey to the ear a twofold message, and
present to the eye two sides of a picture. They tell of God and they
tell of man.

In the first place, on God's part, we find Him enacting laws which
exhibit strict, even-handed, perfect justice. "Eye for eye, tooth for
tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for
wound, stripe for stripe." Such was the character of the laws, the
statutes, and the judgments by which God governed His earthly kingdom
of Israel. Everything was provided for, every interest was maintained,
and every claim was met. There was no partiality--no distinction made
between the rich and the poor. The balance in which each man's claim
was weighed was adjusted with divine accuracy, so that no one could
justly complain of a decision. The pure robe of justice was not to be
tarnished with the foul stains of bribery, corruption, and partiality.
The eye and the hand of a divine Legislator provided for everything,
and a divine Executive inflexibly dealt with every defaulter. The
stroke of justice fell only on the head of the guilty, while every
obedient soul was protected in the enjoyment of all his rights and
privileges.

Then, as regards man, it is impossible to read over these laws and not
be struck with the disclosure which they indirectly, but really, make
of his desperate depravity. The fact of Jehovah's having to enact laws
against certain crimes, proves the capability on man's part of
committing those crimes. Were the capability and the tendency not
there, there would be no need of the enactments. Now there are many
who, if the gross abominations forbidden in these chapters were named
to them, might feel disposed to adopt the language of Hazael, and say,
"Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?" Such persons have
not yet traveled down into the deep abyss of their own hearts. For
albeit there are crimes here forbidden which would seem to place man,
as regards his habits and tendencies, below the level of a "dog," yet
do those very statutes prove, beyond all question, that the most
refined and cultivated member of the human family carries about in
his bosom the seeds of the very darkest and most horrifying
abominations. For whom were those statutes enacted? For man. Were they
needful? Unquestionably. But they would have been quite superfluous if
man were incapable of committing the sins referred to. But man _is_
capable; and hence we see that man is sunk to the very lowest possible
level--that his nature is wholly corrupt--that from the crown of his
head to the sole of his foot there is not so much as a speck of moral
soundness.

How can such a being ever stand, without an emotion of fear, in the
full blaze of the throne of God? how can he stand within the holiest?
how can he stand on the sea of glass? how can he enter in by the
pearly gates and tread the golden streets? The reply to these
inquiries unfolds the amazing depths of redeeming love and the eternal
efficacy of the blood of the Lamb. Deep as is man's ruin, the love of
God is deeper still: black as is his guilt, the blood of Jesus can
wash it all away: wide as is the chasm separating man from God, the
cross has bridged it. God has come down to the very lowest point of
the sinner's condition, in order that He might lift him up into a
position of infinite favor, in eternal association with His own Son.
Well may we exclaim, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath
bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." (1 John
iii. 1.) Nothing could fathom man's ruin but God's love, and nothing
could equal man's guilt but the blood of Christ. But now the very
depth of the ruin only magnifies the love that has fathomed it, and
the intensity of the guilt only celebrates the efficacy of the blood
that can cleanse it. The very vilest sinner who believes in Jesus can
rejoice in the assurance that God sees him and pronounces him "_clean
every whit_."

Such, then, is the double character of instruction to be gleaned from
the laws and ordinances in this section, looked at as a whole; and the
more minutely we look at them in detail, the more impressed we shall
be with a sense of their fullness and beauty. Take, for instance, the
very first ordinance that presents itself, namely, that of the Hebrew
servant.

"Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them: If thou
buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve, and in the seventh he
shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go
out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with
him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have borne him sons
or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he
shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love
my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free; then his
master shall bring him unto the judges: he shall also bring him to the
door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through
with an awl; and he shall serve him forever." (Chap. xxi. 1-6.) The
servant was perfectly free to go out, so far as he was personally
concerned. He had discharged every claim, and could therefore walk
abroad in unquestioned freedom; but because of his love to his master,
his wife, and his children, he voluntarily bound himself to perpetual
servitude; and not only so, but he was also willing to bear, in his
own person, the marks of that servitude.

The application of this to the Lord Jesus Christ will be obvious to
the intelligent reader. In Him we behold the One who dwelt in the
bosom of the Father before all worlds--the object of His eternal
delight--who might have occupied, throughout eternity, this His
personal and entirely peculiar place, inasmuch as there lay upon Him
no obligation (save that which ineffable love created and ineffable
love incurred) to abandon that place. Such, however, was His love to
the Father, whose counsels were involved, and for the Church
collectively and each individual member thereof, whose salvation was
involved, that He voluntarily came down to earth, emptied Himself, and
made Himself of no reputation, took upon Him the form of a servant and
the marks of perpetual service. To these marks we probably have a
striking allusion in the Psalms.--"Mine ears hast Thou digged." (Ps.
xl. 6, marg.) This psalm is the expression of Christ's devotedness to
God. "Then said I, 'Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is
written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is
within My heart.'" He came to do the will of God, whatever that will
might be. He never once did His own will, not even in the reception
and salvation of sinners, though surely His loving heart, with all its
affections, was most fully in that glorious work. Still He receives
and saves only as the servant of the Father's counsels. "All that the
Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in
no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own
will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the Father's will
which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose
nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John vi.
37-39.)

Here we have a most interesting view of the servant-character of the
Lord Jesus Christ. He, in perfect grace, holds Himself responsible to
receive all who come within the range of the divine counsels; and not
only to receive them, but to preserve them through all the
difficulties and trials of their devious path down here,--yea, in the
article of death itself, should it come, and to raise them all up in
the last day. Oh, how secure is the very feeblest member of the Church
of God! He is the subject of God's eternal counsels, which counsels
the Lord Jesus Christ is pledged to carry out. Jesus loves the Father,
and in proportion to the intensity of that love is the security of
each member of the redeemed family. The salvation of the sinner who
believes on the name of the Son of God is, in one aspect of it, but
the expression of Christ's love to the Father. If one such could
perish, through any cause whatsoever, it would argue that the Lord
Jesus Christ was unable to carry out the will of God, which were
nothing short of positive blasphemy against His sacred name, to whom
be all honor and majesty throughout the everlasting ages.

Thus we have, in the Hebrew servant, a type of Christ in His pure
devotedness to the Father. But there is more than this. "I love my
wife and my children." "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for
it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by
the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy
and without blemish." (Eph. v. 25-27.) There are various other
passages of Scripture presenting Christ as the antitype of the Hebrew
servant, both in His love for the Church as a body, and for all
believers personally. In Matthew xiii, John x and xiii, and Hebrews
ii, my reader will find special teaching on the point.

The apprehension of this love of the heart of Jesus cannot fail to
produce a spirit of fervent devotedness to the One who could exhibit
such pure, such perfect, such disinterested love. How could the wife
and children of the Hebrew servant fail to love one who had
voluntarily surrendered his liberty in order that he and they might be
together? And what is the love presented in the type, when compared
with that which shines in the antitype? It is as nothing. "The love of
Christ passeth knowledge." It led Him to think of us before all
worlds--to visit us in the fullness of time--to walk deliberately to
the door-post--to suffer for us on the cross, in order that He might
raise us to companionship with Himself in His everlasting kingdom and
glory.

Were I to enter into a full exposition of the remaining statutes and
judgments of this portion of the book of Exodus, it would carry me
much further than I feel, at present, led to go.[11] I will merely
observe, in conclusion, that it is impossible to read the section and
not have the heart drawn out in adoration of the profound wisdom,
well-balanced justice, and yet tender considerateness which breathe
throughout the whole. We rise up from the study of it with this
conviction deeply wrought into the soul, that the One who speaks here
is "the only true," "the only wise," and the infinitely gracious God.

  [11] I would here observe, once for all, that the feasts referred to
  in chapter xxiii. 14-19, and the offerings in chapter xxix, being
  brought out, in all their fullness and detail, in the book of
  Leviticus, I shall reserve them until we come to dwell upon the
  contents of that singularly rich and interesting book.

May all our meditations on His eternal Word have the effect of
prostrating our souls in worship before Him whose perfect ways and
glorious attributes shine there, in all their blessedness and
brightness, for the refreshment, the delight, and the edification of
His blood-bought people.



CHAPTER XXIV.


This chapter opens with an expression remarkably characteristic of the
entire Mosaic economy. "And He said unto Moses, 'Come up unto the
Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of
Israel; and worship ye _afar off ... they shall not come nigh_,
neither shall the people _go up_ with him." We may search from end to
end of the legal ritual, and not find those two precious words, "_draw
nigh_." Ah, no; such words could never be heard from the top of Sinai,
nor from amid the shadows of the law. They could only be uttered at
heaven's side of the empty tomb of Jesus, where the blood of the cross
has opened a perfectly cloudless prospect to the vision of faith. The
words, "afar off," are as characteristic of the law as "draw nigh" are
of the gospel. Under the law, the work was never done which could
entitle a sinner to draw nigh. Man had not fulfilled his promised
obedience; and the "blood of calves and goats" could not atone for the
failure, or give his guilty conscience peace. Hence, therefore, he had
to stand "afar off." Man's vows were broken and his sin unpurged; how,
then, could he draw nigh? The blood of ten thousand bullocks could not
wipe away one stain from the conscience, or give the peaceful sense of
nearness as being reconciled to God.

However, the "first covenant" is here dedicated with blood. An altar
is erected at the foot of the hill, with "twelve pillars, according to
the twelve tribes of Israel." "And he sent young men of the children
of Israel, which offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed
peace-offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the
blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on
the altar.... And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the
people, and said, 'Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord
hath made with you concerning all these words.'" Although, as the
apostle teaches us, it was "impossible that the blood of bulls and
goats could take away sin," yet did it "sanctify to the purifying of
the flesh," and, as "a shadow of good things to come," it availed to
maintain the people in relationship with Jehovah.

"Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the
elders of Israel; and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under
His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were
the body of heaven in clearness. And upon the nobles of the children
of Israel He laid not His hand: also they saw God and did eat and
drink." This was the manifestation of "the God of Israel," in light
and purity, majesty and holiness. It was not the unfolding of the
affections of a Father's bosom, or the sweet accents of a Father's
voice, breathing peace and inspiring confidence into the heart. No;
the "paved work of a sapphire stone" told out that unapproachable
purity and light which could only tell a sinner to keep off. Still,
"they saw God and did eat and drink." Touching proof of divine
forbearance and mercy, as also of the power of the blood!

Looking at this entire scene as a mere illustration, there is much to
interest the heart. There is the defiled camp _below_ and the
sapphire pavement _above_; but the altar, at the foot of the hill,
tells us of that way by which the sinner can make his escape from the
defilement of his own condition, and mount up to the presence of God,
there to feast and worship in perfect peace. The blood which flowed
around the altar furnished man's only title to stand in the presence
of that glory which "was like a devouring fire on the top of the mount
in the eyes of the children of Israel."

"And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the
mount; and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights." This
was truly a high and holy position for Moses. He was called away from
earth and earthly things. Abstracted from natural influences, he is
shut in with God, to hear from His mouth the deep mysteries of the
Person and work of Christ; for such, in point of fact, we have
unfolded in the tabernacle and all its significant furniture--"the
patterns of things in the heavens." The blessed One knew full well
what was about to be the end of man's covenant of works; but He
unfolds to Moses, in types and shadows, His own precious thoughts of
love and counsels of grace, manifested in, and secured by, Christ.

Blessed for evermore be the grace which has not left us under a
covenant of works. Blessed be He who has "hushed the law's loud
thunders and quenched mount Sinai's flame" by "the blood of the
everlasting covenant," and given us a peace which no power of earth
or hell can shake. "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our
sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and
His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."



CHAPTER XXV.


This chapter forms the commencement of one of the richest veins in
Inspiration's exhaustless mine--a vein in which every stroke of the
mattock brings to light untold wealth. We know the mattock with which
alone we can work in such a mine, namely, the distinct ministry of the
Holy Ghost. Nature can do nothing here. Reason is blind, imagination
utterly vain; the most gigantic intellect, instead of being able to
interpret the sacred symbols, appears like a bat in the sunshine,
blindly dashing itself against the objects which it is utterly unable
to discern. We must compel reason and imagination to stand without,
while, with a chastened heart, a single eye, and a spiritual mind, we
enter the hallowed precincts and gaze upon the deeply significant
furniture. God the Holy Ghost is the only One who can conduct us
through the courts of the Lord's house, and expound to our souls the
true meaning of all that there meets our view. To attempt the
exposition by the aid of intellect's unsanctified powers, would be
infinitely more absurd than to set about the repairs of a watch with
a blacksmith's tongs and hammer. "The pattern of things in the
heavens" cannot be interpreted by the natural mind, in its most
cultivated form. They must all be read in the light of heaven: earth
has no light which could at all develop their beauties. The One who
furnished the patterns can alone explain what the patterns mean,--the
One who furnished the beauteous symbols can alone interpret them.

To the human eye there would seem to be a desultoriness in the mode in
which the Holy Ghost has presented the furniture of the tabernacle;
but in reality, as might be expected, there is the most perfect order,
the most remarkable precision, the most studious accuracy. From
chapter xxv. to chapter xxx. inclusive, we have a distinct section of
the book of Exodus. This section is divided into two parts, the first
terminating at chapter xxvii. 19, and the second at the close of
chapter xxx. The former begins with the ark of the covenant, inside
the vail, and ends with the brazen altar and the court in which that
altar stood. That is, it gives us, in the first place, Jehovah's
throne of judgment, whereon He sat as Lord of all the earth; and it
conducts us to that place where He met the sinner, in the credit and
virtue of accomplished atonement. Then, in the latter, we have the
mode of man's approach to God--the privileges, dignities, and
responsibilities of those who, as priests, were permitted to draw nigh
to the Divine Presence and enjoy worship and communion there. Thus the
arrangement is perfect and beautiful. How could it be otherwise,
seeing that it is divine? The ark and the brazen altar present, as it
were, two extremes. The former was the throne of God established in
"justice and judgment" (Ps. lxxxix. 14.); the latter was the place of
approach for the sinner where "mercy and truth" went before Jehovah's
face. Man, in himself, dared not to approach the ark to meet God, for
"the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest" (Heb. ix.
8.); but God could approach the altar of brass, to meet man as a
sinner. "Justice and judgment" could not admit the sinner in, but
"mercy and truth" could bring God out; not, indeed, in that
overwhelming brightness and majesty in which He was wont to shine
forth from between those mystic supporters of His throne--"the
cherubim of glory," but in that gracious ministry which is
symbolically presented to us in the furniture and ordinances of the
tabernacle.

All this may well remind us of the path trodden by that blessed One
who is the antitype of all these types--the substance of all these
shadows. He traveled from the eternal throne of God in heaven, down to
the depth's of Calvary's cross. He came from all the glory of the
former, down into all the shame of the latter, in order that He might
conduct His redeemed, forgiven, and accepted people back with Himself,
and present them faultless before that very throne which He had left
on their account. The Lord Jesus fills up, in His own Person and work,
every point between the throne of God and the dust of death, and
every point between the dust of death and the throne of God. In Him,
God has come down, in perfect grace, to the sinner; in Him, the sinner
is brought up, in perfect righteousness, to God. All the way from the
ark to the brazen altar was marked with the footprints of love, and
all the way from the brazen altar to the ark of God was sprinkled with
the blood of atonement; and as the ransomed worshiper passes along
that wondrous path, he beholds the name of Jesus stamped on all that
meets his view. May that name be dearer to our hearts! Let us now
proceed to examine the chapters consecutively.

It is most interesting to note here that the first thing which the
Lord communicates to Moses is His gracious purpose to have a
sanctuary, or holy dwelling-place, in the midst of His people--a
sanctuary composed of materials which directly point to Christ, His
Person, His work, and the precious fruit of that work, as seen in the
light, the power, and the varied graces of the Holy Ghost. Moreover,
these materials were the fragrant fruit of the grace of God--the
voluntary offerings of devoted hearts. Jehovah, whose majesty "the
heaven of heavens could not contain," was graciously pleased to dwell
in a boarded and curtained tent erected for Him by those who cherished
the fond desire to hail His presence amongst them. This tabernacle may
be viewed in two ways: first, as furnishing "a pattern of things in
the heavens," and secondly, as presenting a deeply significant type of
the body of Christ. The various materials of which the tabernacle was
composed will come before us as we pass along; we shall therefore
consider the three comprehensive subjects put before us in this
chapter, namely, the ark, the table, and the candlestick.

The ark of the covenant occupies the leading place in the divine
communications to Moses. Its position, too, in the tabernacle was most
marked. Shut in within the vail, in the holiest of all, it formed the
base of Jehovah's throne. Its very name conveys to the mind its
import. An ark, so far as the Word instructs us, is designed to
preserve _intact_ whatever is put therein. An ark carried Noah and his
family, together with all the orders of creation, in safety over the
billows of judgment which covered the earth: an ark, at the opening of
this book, was faith's vessel for preserving "a proper child" from the
waters of death. When, therefore, we read of "the ark of the
covenant," we are led to believe that it was designed of God to
preserve His covenant unbroken in the midst of an erring people. In
it, as we know, the second set of tables were deposited. As to the
first set, they were broken in pieces beneath the mount, showing that
man's covenant was wholly abolished--that his work could never, by any
possibility, form the basis of Jehovah's throne of government.
"Justice and judgment are the habitation of that throne," whether in
its earthly or heavenly aspect. The ark could not contain within its
hallowed inclosure broken tables. Man might fail to fulfill his
self-chosen vow, but God's law must be preserved in its divine
integrity and perfectness. If God was to set up His throne in the
midst of His people, He could only do so in a way worthy of Himself.
His standard of judgment and government must be perfect.

"And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with
gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the
ark, that the ark may be borne with them." The ark of the covenant was
to accompany the people in all their wanderings. It never rested while
they were a traveling or a conflicting host; it moved from place to
place in the wilderness; it went before them into the midst of Jordan;
it was their grand rallying-point in all the wars of Canaan; it was
the sure and certain earnest of power wherever it went. No power of
the enemy could stand before that which was the well-known expression
of the divine presence and power. The ark was to be Israel's
companion-in-travel in the desert, and "the staves" and "the rings"
were the apt expression of its traveling character.

However, it was not always to be a traveler. "The afflictions of
David," as well as the wars of Israel, were to have an end. The prayer
was yet to be breathed and answered, "Arise, O Lord, into _Thy rest_:
Thou and _the ark of Thy strength_." (Ps. cxxxii. 8.) This most
sublime petition had its partial accomplishment in the palmy days of
Solomon, when "the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the
Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy
place, even under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread
forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim
covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And _they drew out the
staves_, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place
before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are
unto this day." (1 Kings viii. 6-8.) The sand of the desert was to be
exchanged for the golden floor of the temple. (1 Kings vi. 30.) The
wanderings of the ark were to have an end: there was "neither enemy
nor evil occurrent," and therefore "the staves were drawn out."

Nor was this the only difference between the ark in the tabernacle and
in the temple. The apostle, speaking of the ark in its wilderness
habitation, describes it as "the ark of the covenant, overlaid round
about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and
Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant." (Heb. ix.
4.) Such were the contents of the ark in its wilderness
journeyings--the pot of manna, the record of Jehovah's faithfulness in
providing for His redeemed in the desert, and Aaron's rod, "a token
against the rebels," to "take away their murmurings." (Compare Exod.
xvi. 32-34, and Numb. xvii. 10.) But when the moment arrived in which
"the staves" were to be "drawn out," when the wanderings and wars of
Israel were over, when the "exceeding magnificial" house was
completed, when the sun of Israel's glory had reached, in type, its
meridian, as marked by the wealth and splendor of Solomon's reign,
then the records of wilderness need and wilderness failure were
unnoticed, and nothing remained save that which constituted the
eternal foundation of the throne of the God of Israel, and of all the
earth. "_There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone_,
which Moses put there at Horeb." (1 Kings viii. 9.)

But all this brightness was soon to be overcast by the heavy clouds of
human failure and divine displeasure. The rude foot of the
uncircumcised was yet to walk across the ruins of that beautiful
house, and its faded light and departed glory was yet to elicit the
contemptuous "hiss" of the stranger. This would not be the place to
follow out these things in detail; I shall only refer my reader to the
last notice which the Word of God affords us of "the ark of the
covenant,"--a notice which carries us forward to a time when human
folly and sin shall no more disturb the resting-place of that ark, and
when neither a curtained tent nor yet a temple made with hands shall
contain it. "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great
voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world are become the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever
and ever.' And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on
their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, saying, 'We
give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to
come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast
reigned. And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the
time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest
give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and
them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them
which destroy the earth.' And the temple of God was open in heaven,
and there was seen in His temple _the ark of His covenant_: and there
were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and
great hail." (Rev. xi. 15-19.)

The mercy-seat comes next in order.--"And thou shalt make a mercy-seat
of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a
cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubim
of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the
mercy-seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub
on the other end; even of the mercy-seat shall ye make the cherubim on
the two ends thereof. And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings
on high, covering the mercy-seat with their wings, and their faces
shall look one to another; toward the mercy-seat shall the faces of
the cherubim be. And thou shalt put the mercy-seat above upon the ark;
and in the ark shalt thou put the testimony that I shall give thee.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from
above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the
ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in
commandment unto the children of Israel."

Here Jehovah gives utterance to His gracious intention of coming down
from the fiery mount to take His place upon the mercy-seat. This He
could do, inasmuch as the tables of testimony were preserved unbroken
beneath, and the symbols of His power, whether in creation or
providence, rose on the right hand and on the left--the inseparable
adjuncts of that throne on which Jehovah had seated Himself--a throne
of grace founded upon divine righteousness and supported by justice
and judgment. Here the glory of the God of Israel shone forth. From
hence He issued His commands, softened and sweetened by the gracious
source from whence they emanated, and the medium through which they
came--like the beams of the mid-day sun, passing through a cloud, we
can enjoy their genial and enlivening influence without being dazzled
by their brightness. "His commandments are not grievous," when
received from off the mercy-seat, because they come in connection with
grace, which gives the ears to hear and the power to obey.

Looking at the ark and mercy-seat together, we may see in them a
striking figure of Christ in His Person and work. He having, in His
life, magnified the law and made it honorable, became, through death,
a propitiation (or mercy-seat) for every one that believeth. God's
mercy could only repose on a pedestal of perfect righteousness. "Grace
reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our
Lord." (Rom. v. 21.) The only proper meeting-place between God and man
is the point where grace and righteousness meet and perfectly
harmonize. Nothing but perfect righteousness could suit God, and
nothing but perfect grace could suit the sinner. But where could these
attributes meet in one point? Only in the cross. There it is that
"mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed
each other." (Ps. lxxxv. 10.) Thus it is that the soul of the
believing sinner finds peace. He sees that God's righteousness and his
justification rest upon precisely the same basis, namely, Christ's
accomplished work. When man, under the powerful action of _the truth_
of God, takes his place as a sinner, God can, in the exercise of
_grace_, take His place as a Saviour, and then every question is
settled, for the cross having answered all the claims of divine
justice, mercy's copious streams can flow unhindered. When a righteous
God and a ruined sinner meet on a blood-sprinkled platform, all is
settled forever--settled in such a way as perfectly glorifies God, and
eternally saves the sinner. God must be true, though every man be
proved a liar; and when man is so thoroughly brought down to the
lowest point of his own moral condition before God as to be willing to
take the place which God's truth assigns him, he then learns that God
has revealed Himself as the righteous Justifier of such an one. This
must give settled peace to the conscience; and not only so, but impart
a capacity to commune with God, and hearken to His holy precepts, in
the intelligence of that relationship into which divine grace has
introduced us.

Hence, therefore, "the holiest of all" unfolds a truly wondrous
scene.--The ark, the mercy-seat, the cherubim, the glory! What a sight
for the high-priest of Israel to behold as, once a year, he went in
within the vail! May the Spirit of God open the eyes of our
understanding, that we may understand more fully the deep meaning of
those precious types.

Moses is next instructed about "the table of show-bread," or bread of
presentation. On this table stood the food of the priests of God. For
seven days those twelve loaves of "fine flour with frankincense" were
presented before the Lord, after which, being replaced by others, they
became the food of the priests, who fed upon them in the holy place.
(See Lev. xxiv. 5-9.) It is needless to say that those twelve loaves
typify "the Man Christ Jesus." The "fine flour," of which they were
composed, marks His perfect manhood, while the "frankincense" points
out the entire devotion of that manhood to God. If God has His priests
ministering in the holy place, He will assuredly have a table for
them, and a well-furnished table too. Christ is the table, and Christ
is the bread thereon. The pure table and the twelve loaves shadow
forth Christ as presented before God unceasingly in all the excellency
of His spotless humanity, and administered as food to the priestly
family. The "seven days" set forth the perfection of the divine
enjoyment of Christ, and the "twelve loaves" the administration of
that enjoyment in and by man. There is also, I should venture to
suggest, the idea of Christ's connection with the twelve tribes of
Israel, and the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The candlestick of pure gold comes next in order, for God's priests
need _light_ as well as _food_; and they have both the one and the
other in Christ. In this candlestick there is no mention of any thing
but pure gold.--"All of it shall be one _beaten_ work of pure gold."
"The seven lamps" which "gave light over against the candlestick"
express the perfection of the light and energy of the Spirit, founded
upon and connected with the perfect efficacy of the work of Christ.
The work of the Holy Ghost can never be separated from the work of
Christ. This is set forth in a double way in this beautiful figure of
the golden candlestick. "The seven lamps" being connected with "the
shaft" of "beaten gold," points us to Christ's finished work as the
sole basis of the manifestation of the Spirit in the Church. The Holy
Ghost was not given until Jesus was glorified. (Comp. John vii. 39
with Acts xix. 2-6.) In the third chapter of Revelation, Christ is
presented to the Church in Sardis as "having the seven Spirits." It
was as "exalted to the right hand of God" that the Lord Jesus "shed
forth" the Holy Ghost upon His Church, in order that she might shine,
according to the power and perfection of her position, in the holy
place, her proper sphere of being, of action, and of worship.

Then, again, we find it was one of Aaron's specific functions to light
and trim those seven lamps.--"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
'Command the children of Israel that they bring unto thee pure oil
olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.
Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the
congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning
before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute forever in your
generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before
the Lord continually." (Lev. xxiv. 1-4.) Thus we may see how the work
of the Holy Ghost in the Church is linked with Christ's work on earth
and His work in heaven. "The seven lamps" were there, no doubt; but
priestly energy and diligence were needed in order to keep them
trimmed and lighted. The priest would continually need "the tongs and
snuff-dishes" for the purpose of removing aught that would not be a
fit vehicle for the "pure beaten oil." Those tongs and snuff-dishes
were of "beaten gold" likewise, for the whole matter was the direct
result of divine operation. If the Church shine, it is only by the
energy of the Spirit, and that energy is founded upon Christ, who, in
pursuance of God's eternal counsel, became, in His sacrifice and
priesthood, the spring and power of every thing to His Church. All is
of God. Whether we look within that mysterious vail, and behold the
ark with its cover, and the two significant figures attached thereto;
or if we gaze on that which lay without the vail--the pure table and
the pure candlestick, with their distinctive vessels and
instruments--all speak to us of God, whether as revealed to us in
connection with the Son or the Holy Ghost.

Christian reader, your high calling places you in the very midst of
all these precious realities. Your place is not merely amid "the
patterns of things in the heavens," but amid "the heavenly things
themselves." You have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood
of Jesus;" you are a priest unto God; "the showbread" is yours; your
place is at "the pure table," to feed on the priestly food, in the
light of the Holy Ghost. Nothing can ever deprive you of those divine
privileges,--they are yours forever. Let it be your care to watch
against every thing that might rob you of the _enjoyment_ of them.
Beware of all unhallowed tempers, lusts, feelings, and imaginations.
Keep nature down; keep the world out; keep Satan off. May the Holy
Ghost fill your whole soul with Christ. Then you will be practically
holy and abidingly happy,--you will bear fruit, and the Father will be
glorified, and your joy shall be full.



CHAPTER XXVI.


The section of our book which now opens before us contains the
instructive description of the curtains and coverings of the
tabernacle, wherein the spiritual eye discerns the shadows of the
various features and phases of Christ's manifested character.
"Moreover, thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine
twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubim of
cunning work shalt thou make them." Here we have the different aspects
of "the Man Christ Jesus." The "fine twined linen" prefigures the
spotless purity of His walk and character; while the "blue, the
purple, and the scarlet" present Him to us as "the Lord from
_heaven_," who is to _reign_ according to the divine counsels, but
whose royalty is to be the result of His _sufferings_. Thus we have a
spotless Man, a heavenly Man, a royal Man, a suffering Man. These
materials were not confined to the "curtains" of the tabernacle, but
were also used in making "the vail" (ver. 31), "the hanging for the
door of the tent" (ver. 36), "the hanging for the gate of the court"
(chap. xxvii. 16), "the cloths of service and the holy garments of
Aaron" (chap. xxxix. 1). In a word, it was Christ everywhere, Christ
in all, Christ alone.[12]

  [12] The expression, "_white_ and _clean_," gives peculiar force and
  beauty to the type which the Holy Ghost has presented in the "fine
  twined linen." Indeed, there could not be a more appropriate emblem of
  spotless manhood.

The "fine twined linen," as expressive of Christ's spotless manhood,
opens a most precious and copious spring of thought to the spiritual
mind; it furnishes a theme on which we cannot meditate too profoundly.
The truth respecting Christ's humanity must be received with
scriptural accuracy, held with spiritual energy, guarded with holy
jealousy, and confessed with heavenly power. If we are wrong as to
this, we cannot be right as to any thing. It is a grand, vital,
fundamental truth; and if it be not received, held, guarded, and
confessed as God has revealed it in His holy Word, the entire
superstructure must be unsound. Nothing can be more deplorable than
the looseness of thought and expression which seems to prevail in
reference to this all-important doctrine. Were there more reverence
for the Word of God, there would be more accurate acquaintance with
it; and, in this way, we should happily avoid all those erroneous and
unguarded statements which surely must grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
whose province it is to testify of Jesus.

When the angel had announced to Mary the glad tidings of the Saviour's
birth, she said to him, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"
Her feeble mind was utterly incompetent to enter into, much less to
fathom, the stupendous mystery of "God manifest in the flesh." But
mark carefully the angelic reply--a reply, not to a sceptic mind, but
to a pious, though ignorant, heart.--"The Holy Ghost shall come upon
thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; wherefore,
also, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the
Son of God." (Luke i. 34, 35.) Mary, doubtless, imagined that this
birth was to be according to the principles of ordinary generation;
but the angel corrects her mistake, and, in correcting it, enunciates
one of the grandest truths of revelation. He declares to her that
divine power was about to form A REAL MAN--"the second Man--the Lord
from heaven"--One whose nature was divinely pure, utterly incapable
of receiving or communicating any taint. This holy One was made "_in
the likeness_ of sinful flesh," without sin in the flesh. He partook
of real _bona fide_ flesh and blood without a particle or shadow of
the evil thereto attaching.

This is a cardinal truth which cannot be too accurately laid hold of
or too tenaciously held. The incarnation of the Son, the second Person
in the eternal Trinity--His mysterious entrance into pure and spotless
flesh, formed, by the power of the Highest, in the virgin's womb, is
the foundation of the "great mystery of godliness," of which the
topstone is a glorified God-man in heaven, the Head, Representative,
and Model of the redeemed Church of God. The essential purity of His
manhood perfectly met the claims of God; the reality thereof met the
necessities of man. He was a Man, for none else would do to meet man's
ruin. But He was such a Man as could satisfy all the claims of the
throne of God. He was a spotless, real Man, in whom God could
perfectly delight, and on whom man could unreservedly lean.

I need not remind the enlightened reader that all this, if taken apart
from death and resurrection, is perfectly unavailable to us. We need
not only an incarnate, but a crucified and risen, Christ. True, He
should be incarnate to be crucified; but it is death and resurrection
which render incarnation available to us. It is nothing short of a
deadly error to suppose that in incarnation Christ was taking man into
union with Himself. This could not be. He Himself expressly teaches
the contrary. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat
fall into the ground and _die_, it abideth _alone_; but if it die, it
bringeth forth much fruit." (John xii. 24.) There could be no union
between sinful and holy flesh, pure and impure, corruptible and
incorruptible, mortal and immortal. Accomplished death is the only
base of a unity between Christ and His elect members. It is in
beautiful connection with the words, "Rise, let us go hence," that He
says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." "We have been planted
together in the likeness of His death." "Our old man is crucified with
Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed." "In whom also ye are
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off
the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through
the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead."
I would refer my reader to Romans vi. and Colossians ii. as a full and
comprehensive statement of the truth on this important subject. It was
only as dead and risen that Christ and His people could become one.
The true corn of wheat had to fall into the ground and die ere a full
ear could spring up and be gathered into the heavenly garner.

But while this is a plainly revealed truth of Scripture, it is equally
plain that incarnation formed, as it were, the first layer of the
glorious superstructure; and the curtains of "fine twined linen"
prefigure the moral purity of "the Man Christ Jesus." We have already
seen the manner of His conception; and, as we pass along the current
of His life here below, we meet with instance after instance of the
same spotless purity. He was forty days in the wilderness, tempted of
the devil, but there was no response in His pure nature to the
tempters foul suggestions. He could touch the leper and receive no
taint; He could touch the bier and not contract the smell of death; He
could pass unscathed through the most polluted atmosphere. He was, as
to His manhood, like a sunbeam emanating from the fountain of light,
which can pass without a soil through the most defiling medium. He was
perfectly unique in nature, constitution, and character. None but He
could say, "Thou wilt not suffer Thine holy One to see corruption."
This was in reference to His humanity, which, as being perfectly holy
and perfectly pure, was capable of being a sin-bearer. "His own self
bare our sins in His own body on the tree." Not _to_ the tree, as some
would teach us; but "_on_ the tree." It was on the cross that Christ
was our sin-bearer, and only there. "He hath made Him to be sin for us
who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in
Him." (2 Cor. v. 21.)

"_Blue_" is the ethereal color, and marks the heavenly character of
Christ, who, though He had come down into all the circumstances of
actual and true humanity (sin excepted), yet was He "the Lord from
heaven." Though He was "very man," yet He ever walked in the
uninterrupted consciousness of His proper dignity, as a heavenly
stranger. He never once forgot whence He had come, where He was, or
whither He was going. The spring of all His joys was on high. Earth
could neither make Him richer nor poorer. He found this world to be "a
dry and thirsty land, where no water is," and hence His spirit could
only find its refreshment above. It was entirely heavenly.--"No man
hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even
the Son of Man _who is in heaven_." (John iii. 13.)

"_Purple_" denotes royalty, and points us to Him who "was born King of
the Jews;" who offered Himself as such to the Jewish nation, and was
rejected; who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession,
avowing Himself a king, when, to mortal vision, there was not so much
as a single trace of royalty.--"Thou sayest that I am a king." And
"hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of
power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." And, finally, the
inscription upon His cross, "in letters of Hebrew, and Greek, and
Latin"--the language of religion, of science, and of government--declared
Him, to the whole known world, to be "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of
the Jews." Earth disowned His claims (so much the worse for it), but
not so heaven; there His claim was fully recognized. He was received
as a conqueror into the eternal mansions of light, crowned with glory
and honor, and seated, amid the acclamations of angelic hosts, on the
throne of the Majesty in the heavens, there to wait until His enemies
be made His footstool. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people
imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the
rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His
anointed, saying, 'Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away
their cords from us.' He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the
Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His
wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure. Yet have I set _My King_
upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath
said unto Me, 'Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of
Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the
uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them
with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's
vessel.' Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges
of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His
wrath is kindled but a little. BLESSED ARE ALL THEY THAT PUT THEIR
TRUST IN HIM." (Ps. ii.)

"_Scarlet_," when genuine, is produced by death; and this makes its
application to a suffering Christ safe and appropriate. "Christ hath
suffered for us in the flesh." Without death, all would have been
unavailing. We can admire "the blue" and "the purple," but without
"the scarlet" the tabernacle would have lacked an all-important
feature. It was by death that Christ destroyed him that had the power
of death. The Holy Ghost, in setting before us a striking figure of
Christ--the true tabernacle--could not possibly omit that phase of His
character which constitutes the ground-work of His connection with His
body the Church, of His claim to the throne of David, and the headship
of all creation. In a word, He not only unfolds the Lord Jesus to our
view, in these significant curtains, as a spotless Man, a royal Man,
but also a suffering Man,--One who, _by death_, should make good His
claims to all that to which, as man, He was entitled, in the divine
counsels.

But we have much more in the curtains of the tabernacle than the
varied and perfect phases of the character of Christ,--we have also
the unity and consistency of that character. Each phase is displayed
in its own proper perfectness; and one never interferes with, or mars
the exquisite beauty of, another. All was in perfect harmony beneath
the eye of God, and was so displayed in "the pattern which was showed
to Moses on the mount," and in the copy which was exhibited below.
"Every one of the curtains shall have one measure. The five curtains
shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains
shall be coupled one to another." Such was the fair proportion and
consistency in all the ways of Christ, as a perfect Man, walking on
the earth, in whatever aspect or relationship we view Him. When acting
in one character, we never find aught that is, in the very least
degree, inconsistent with the divine integrity of another. He was, at
all times, in all places, under all circumstances, the perfect Man.
There was nothing out of that fair and lovely proportion which
belonged to Him, in all His ways. "Every one of the curtains shall
have one measure."

The two sets of five curtains each may symbolize the two grand aspects
of Christ's character, as acting toward God and toward man. We have
the same two aspects in the law, namely, what was due to God, and what
was due to man; so that as to Christ, if we look in, we find "Thy law
is within My heart;" and if we look at His outward character and walk,
we see those two elements adjusted with perfect accuracy, and not only
adjusted, but inseparably linked together by the heavenly grace and
divine energy which dwelt in His most glorious Person.

"And thou shalt make _loops of blue_ upon the edge of the one curtain,
from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the
uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second....
And thou shalt make fifty _taches of gold_, and couple the curtains
together with the taches; and _it shall be one tabernacle_." We have
here displayed to us, in the "loops of blue," and "taches of _gold_,"
that _heavenly_ grace and _divine_ energy in Christ which enabled Him
to combine and perfectly adjust the claims of God and man; so that in
responding to both the one and the other, He never, for a moment,
marred the unity of His character. When crafty and hypocritical men
tempted Him with the inquiry, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar,
or not?" His wise reply was, "Render to Cæsar the things that are
Cæsar's, and to God the things that are God's."

Nor was it merely Cæsar, but man in every relation that had all his
claims perfectly met in Christ. As He united in His perfect Person the
nature of God and man, so He met in His perfect ways the claims of God
and man. Most interesting would it be to trace, through the gospel
narrative, the exemplification of the principle suggested by the
"loops of blue," and "taches of gold;" but I must leave my reader to
pursue this study under the immediate guidance of the Holy Ghost, who
delights to expatiate upon every feature and every phase of that
perfect One whom it is His unvarying purpose and undivided object to
exalt.

The curtains on which we have been dwelling were covered with other
"curtains of goats' hair." (Ver. 7-14.) Their beauty was hidden from
those without by that which bespoke roughness and severity. This
latter did not meet the view of those within. To all who were
privileged to enter the hallowed inclosure, nothing was visible save
"the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and fine twined linen," the varied
yet combined exhibition of the virtues and excellencies of that divine
Tabernacle in which God dwelt within the vail--that is, of Christ,
through whose flesh, the antitype of all these, the beams of the
divine nature shone so delicately that the sinner could behold without
being overwhelmed by their dazzling brightness.

As the Lord Jesus passed along this earth, how few really knew Him!
How few had eyes anointed with heavenly eye-salve to penetrate and
appreciate the deep mystery of His character! How few saw "the blue,
the purple, the scarlet, and fine twined linen"! It was only when
faith brought man into His presence that He ever allowed the
brightness of what He was to shine forth--ever allowed the glory to
break through the cloud. To nature's eye there would seem to have been
a reserve and a severity about Him which were aptly prefigured by the
"covering of goats' hair." All this was the result of His profound
separation and estrangement, not from sinners personally, but from the
thoughts and maxims of men. He had nothing in common with man as such,
nor was it within the compass of mere nature to comprehend or enjoy
Him. "No man," said He, "can come to Me, except the Father which hath
sent Me draw him;" and when one of those "drawn" ones confessed His
name, He declared that "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto
thee, but My Father which is in heaven." (Comp. John vi. 44; Matt.
xvi. 17.) He was "a root out of a dry ground," having neither "form
nor comeliness" to attract the eye or gratify the heart of man. The
popular current could never flow in the direction of of One who, as He
passed rapidly across the stage of this vain world, wrapped Himself up
in a "covering of goats' hair." Jesus was not popular. The multitude
might follow Him for a moment, because His ministry stood connected,
in their judgment, with "the loaves and fishes" which met their need;
but they were just as ready to cry, "Away with Him!" as "Hosanna to
the Son of David!" Oh, let Christians remember this! Let the servants
of Christ remember it! Let all preachers of the gospel remember it!
Let one and all of us ever seek to bear in mind the "_covering of
goats' hair_"!

But if the goats' skins expressed the severity of Christ's separation
from earth, "the rams' skins _dyed red_" exhibit His intense
consecration and devotedness to God, which was carried out even unto
_death_. He was the only perfect Servant that ever stood in God's
vineyard. He had one object, which He pursued with an undeviating
course from the manger to the cross, and that was, to glorify the
Father, and finish His work. "Wist ye not that I must be about My
Father's business?" was the language of His youth, and the
accomplishment of that "business" was the design of His life. "His
meat was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work."
"The rams' skins dyed red" formed as distinct a part of His ordinary
habit as the "goats' hair." His perfect devotion to God separated Him
from the habits of men.

"The badgers' skins" may exhibit to us the holy vigilance with which
the Lord Jesus guarded against the approach of every thing hostile to
the purpose which engrossed His whole soul. He took up His position
for God, and held it with a tenacity which no influence of men or
devils, earth or hell, could overcome. The covering of badger's skins
was "above" (ver. 14), teaching us that the most prominent feature in
the character of "the Man Christ Jesus" was an invincible
determination to stand as a witness for God on the earth. He was the
true Naboth, who gave up His life rather than surrender the truth of
God, or give up that for which He had taken His place in this world.

The goat, the ram, and the badger must be regarded as exhibiting
certain natural features, and also as symbolizing certain moral
qualities; and we must take both into account in our application of
these figures to the character of Christ. The human eye could only
discern the former. It could see none of the moral grace, beauty, and
dignity which lay beneath the outward form of the despised and humble
Jesus of Nazareth. When the treasures of heavenly wisdom flowed from
His lips, the inquiry was, "Is not this the carpenter?" or, "How
knoweth this Man letters, having never learned?" When He asserted His
eternal Sonship and Godhead, the word was, "Thou art not yet fifty
years old," or, "They took up stones to cast at Him." In short, the
acknowledgment of the Pharisees in John ix. was true in reference to
men in general.--"As for this fellow, we know not from whence He is."

It would be utterly impossible, in the compass of a volume like this,
to trace the unfoldings of those precious features of Christ's
character through the gospel narratives. Sufficient has been said to
open up springs of spiritual thought to my reader, and to furnish some
faint idea of the rich treasures which are wrapped up in the curtains
and coverings of the tabernacle. Christ's hidden being, secret
springs, and inherent excellencies--His outward and unattractive
form--what He was in Himself, what He was Godward, and what He was
manward--what He was in the judgment of faith, and what in the
judgment of nature--all is sweetly and impressively told out, to the
circumcised ear, in the "curtains of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine
twined linen," and the "coverings of skins."

"The boards for the tabernacle" were made of the same wood as was used
in constructing "the ark of the covenant." Moreover, they were upheld
by the sockets of silver formed out of the atonement; their hooks and
chapiters being of the same. (Compare attentively chap. xxx. 11-16,
with chap. xxxviii. 25-28.) The whole frame-work of the tent of the
tabernacle was based on that which spoke of atonement or ransom, while
the "hooks and chapiters" at the top set forth the same. The sockets
were buried in the sand, and the hooks and chapiters were above. It
matters not how deep you penetrate, or how high you rise, that
glorious and eternal truth is emblazoned before you, "I HAVE FOUND A
RANSOM." Blessed be God, "we are not redeemed with corruptible things,
as silver and gold, ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a
lamb without blemish and without spot."

The tabernacle was divided into three distinct parts, namely, "the
holy of holies," "the holy place," and "the court of the tabernacle."
The entrance into each of these was of the same materials--"blue,
purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen." (Compare chapter xxvi. 31,
36; xxvii. 16.) The interpretation of which is simply this: Christ
forms the only doorway into the varied fields of glory which are yet
to be displayed, whether on earth, in heaven, or in the heaven of
heavens. "Every family, in heaven and earth," will be ranged under His
headship, as all will be brought into everlasting felicity and glory
on the ground of His accomplished atonement. This is plain enough, and
needs no stretch of the imagination to grasp it. We know it to be
true; and when we know the truth which is shadowed forth, the shadow
is easily understood. If only our hearts be filled with Christ, we
shall not go far astray in our interpretations of the tabernacle and
its furniture. It is not a head full of learned criticism that will
avail us much here, but a heart full of affection for Jesus, and a
conscience at rest in the blood of His cross.

May the Spirit of God enable us to study these things with more
interest and intelligence. May He "open our eyes that we may behold
wondrous things out of His law."



CHAPTER XXVII.


We have now arrived at the brazen altar, which stood at the door of
the tabernacle; and I would call my reader's most particular attention
to the order of the Holy Ghost in this portion of our book. We have
already remarked that from chapter xxv. to the nineteenth verse of
chapter xxvii. forms a distinct division, in which we are furnished
with a description of the ark and mercy-seat, the table and
candlestick, the curtains and the vail; and, lastly, the brazen altar
and the court in which that altar stood. If my reader will turn to
chapter xxxv. 15, chapter xxxvii. 25, and chapter xl. 26, he will
remark that the golden altar of incense is noticed, in each of the
three instances, between the candlestick and the brazen altar;
whereas, when Jehovah is giving directions to Moses, the brazen altar
is introduced immediately after the candlestick and the curtains of
the tabernacle. Now, inasmuch as there must be a divine reason for
this difference, it is the privilege of every diligent and intelligent
student of the Word to inquire what that reason is.

Why, then, does the Lord, when giving directions about the furniture
of the "holy place," omit the altar of incense, and pass out to the
brazen altar which stood at the door of the tabernacle? The reason, I
believe, is simply this: He first describes the mode in which He would
manifest Himself to man, and then He describes the mode of man's
approach to Him. He took His seat upon the throne, as "the Lord of all
the earth." The beams of His glory were hidden behind the vail--type
of Christ's flesh (Heb. x. 20.); but there was the manifestation of
Himself in connection with man, as in "the pure table," and by the
light and power of the Holy Ghost, as in the candlestick. Then we
have the manifested character of Christ as a man down here on this
earth, as seen in the curtains and coverings of the tabernacle. And,
finally, we have the brazen altar as the grand exhibition of the
meeting-place between a holy God and a sinner. This conducts us, as it
were, to the extreme point, from which we return, in company with
Aaron and his sons, back to the holy place, the ordinary priestly
position, where stood the golden altar of incense. Thus the order is
strikingly beautiful. The golden altar is not spoken of until there is
a priest to burn incense thereon, for Jehovah showed Moses the
patterns of things in the heavens according to the order in which
these things are to be apprehended by faith. On the other hand, when
Moses gives directions to the congregation (chap. xxxv.), when he
records the labors of "Bezaleel and Aholiab" (chap. xxxvii. and
xxxviii.), and when he sets up the tabernacle (chap. xl.), he follows
the simple order in which the furniture was placed.

The prayerful investigation of this interesting subject, and a
comparison of the passages above referred to, will amply repay my
reader. We shall now examine the brazen altar.

This altar was the place where the sinner approached God, in the power
and efficacy of the blood of atonement. It stood "at the door of the
tabernacle of the tent of the congregation," and on it all the blood
was shed. It was composed of "shittim wood and brass." The wood was
the same as that of the golden altar of incense: but the metal was
different, and the reason of this difference is obvious. The altar of
brass was the place where sin was dealt with according to the divine
judgment concerning it. The altar of gold was the place from whence
the precious fragrance of Christ's acceptableness ascended to the
throne of God. The "shittim wood," as the figure of Christ's humanity,
must be the same in each case; but in the brazen altar we see Christ
meeting the fire of divine justice; in the golden altar we behold Him
feeding the divine affections. At the former, the fire of divine wrath
was quenched; at the latter, the fire of priestly worship is kindled.
The soul delights to find Christ in both; but the altar of brass is
what meets the need of a guilty conscience,--it is the very first
thing for a poor, helpless, needy, convicted sinner. There cannot be
settled peace, in reference to the question of sin, until the eye of
faith rests on Christ as the antitype of the brazen altar. I must see
my sin reduced to ashes in the pan of that altar ere I can enjoy rest
of conscience in the presence of God. It is when I know, by faith in
the record of God, that He Himself has dealt with my sin in the Person
of Christ, at the brazen altar--that He has satisfied all His own
righteous claims--that He has put away my sin out of His holy
presence, so that it can never come back again--it is then, but not
until then, that I can enjoy divine and everlasting peace.

I would here offer a remark as to the real meaning of the "gold" and
"brass" in the furniture of the tabernacle. "Gold" is the symbol of
divine righteousness, or the divine nature in "the Man Christ Jesus."
"Brass" is the symbol of righteousness, demanding judgment of sin, as
in the brazen altar; or the judgment of uncleanness, as in the brazen
laver. This will account for the fact that _inside_ the tent of the
tabernacle all was gold,--the ark, the mercy-seat, the table, the
candlestick, the altar of incense. All these were the symbols of the
divine nature--the inherent personal excellence of the Lord Jesus
Christ. On the other hand, _outside_ the tent of the tabernacle all
was brass,--the brazen altar and its vessels, the laver and its foot.

The claims of righteousness, as to sin and uncleanness, must be
divinely met ere there can be any enjoyment of the precious mysteries
of Christ's Person, as unfolded in the inner sanctuary of God. It is
when I see all sin and all uncleanness perfectly judged and washed
away that I can, as a priest, draw nigh and worship in the holy place,
and enjoy the full display of all the beauty and excellency of the
God-man, Christ Jesus.

The reader can, with much profit, follow out the application of this
thought in detail, not merely in the study of the tabernacle and the
temple, but also in various passages of the Word; for example, in the
first chapter of Revelation, Christ is seen "girt about the paps with
a _golden_ girdle," and having "His feet like unto fine _brass_, as if
they burned in a furnace." The "golden girdle" is the symbol of His
intrinsic righteousness. The "feet like unto fine brass" express the
unmitigated judgment of evil (He cannot tolerate evil, but must crush
it beneath His feet).

Such is the Christ with whom we have to do. He judges sin, but He
saves the sinner. Faith sees sin reduced to ashes at the brazen altar;
it sees all uncleanness washed away at the brazen laver; and, finally,
it enjoys Christ as He is unfolded, in the secret of the divine
presence, by the light and power of the Holy Ghost. It finds Him at
the golden altar, in all the value of His intercession; it feeds on
Him at the pure table; it recognizes Him in the ark and mercy-seat, as
the One who answers all the claims of justice, and, at the same time,
meets all human need; it beholds Him in the vail, with all its mystic
figures; it reads His precious name on every thing. O, for a heart to
prize and praise this matchless, glorious Christ!

Nothing can be of more vital importance than a clear understanding of
the doctrine of the brazen altar; that is to say, of the doctrine
taught there. It is from the want of clearness as to this that so many
souls go mourning all their days. They have never had a clean,
thorough settlement of the whole matter of their guilt at the brazen
altar; they have never really beheld, by faith, God Himself settling,
on the cross, the entire question of their sins; they are seeking
peace for their uneasy consciences in regeneration and its
evidences,--the fruits of the Spirit, frames, feelings,
experiences,--things quite right and most valuable in themselves, but
they are not the ground of peace. What fills the soul with perfect
peace is the knowledge of what God hath wrought at the brazen altar.
The ashes in yonder pan tell me the peace-giving story that ALL IS
DONE. The believer's sins were all put away by God's own hand of
redeeming love. "He hath made Christ to be sin for us, who knew no
sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor.
v.) All sin must be judged: but the believer's sins have been already
judged in the cross; hence, he is perfectly justified. To suppose that
there could be any thing against the very feeblest believer, is to
deny the entire work of the cross. His sins and iniquities have been
_all_ put away by God Himself, and therefore they must needs be
perfectly put away. They all went with the outpoured life of the Lamb
of God.

Dear Christian reader, see that your heart is thoroughly established
in the peace which Jesus has made "by the blood of His cross."



CHAPTERS XXVIII. & XXIX.


These chapters unfold to us the priesthood, in all its value and
efficacy. They are full of deep interest. The very word "priesthood"
awakens in the heart feelings of the most profound thankfulness for
the grace which has not only provided a way for us to get into the
divine presence, but also the means of keeping us there, according to
the character and claims of that high and holy position.

The Aaronic priesthood was God's provision for a people who were, in
themselves, at a distance, and needed one to appear for them in His
presence continually. We are taught in Hebrews vii. that this order of
priesthood belonged to the law--that it was made "after the law of a
carnal commandment"--that it "could not continue by reason of
death"--that the priests belonging to it had infirmity. It could not,
therefore, impart perfection, and hence we have to bless God that it
was instituted "without an oath." The oath of God could only stand
connected with that which was to endure forever, even the perfect,
immortal, untransferable priesthood of our great and glorious
Melchisedek, who imparts both to His sacrifice and His priesthood all
the value, the dignity, and the glory of His own peerless Person. The
thought of having such a Sacrifice and such a Priest as He causes the
bosom to heave with emotions of the liveliest gratitude.

But we must proceed to the examination of the chapters which lie
before us.

In chapter xxviii. we have the robes, and in chapter xxix. we have the
sacrifices. The former have more especial reference to the need of the
people; the latter, on the other hand, to the claims of God. The robes
express the varied functions and qualities of the priestly office.
"The ephod" was the great priestly robe. It was inseparably connected
with the shoulder-pieces and the breastplate, teaching us, very
distinctly, that the _strength_ of the priest's shoulder, and the
_affection_ of the priest's heart, were wholly devoted to the
interests of those whom he represented, and on whose behalf he wore
the ephod--that special priestly robe. This, which was typified in
Aaron, is actualized in Christ. His omnipotent strength and infinite
love are ours--ours eternally--ours unquestionably. The shoulder which
sustains the universe upholds the feeblest and most obscure member of
the blood-bought congregation. The heart of Jesus beats with an
undying affection--with an everlasting and an all-enduring love for
the most neglected member of the redeemed assembly.

The names of the twelve tribes, engraven on precious stones, were
borne both on the shoulders and on the breast of the high-priest. (See
verses 9-12, 15-29.) The peculiar excellence of a precious stone is
seen in this, that the more intense the light which is brought to bear
upon it, the more brightly it shines. Light can never make a precious
stone look dim; it only increases and develops its lustre. The twelve
tribes--one as well as another, the smallest as well as the
greatest--were borne continually upon the breast and shoulders of
Aaron before the Lord. They were each and every one maintained in the
divine presence in all that undimmed lustre and unalterable beauty
which belonged to the position in which the perfect grace of the God
of Israel had set them. The people were represented before God by the
high-priest. Whatever might be their infirmities, their errors, or
their failures, yet their names glittered on the breastplate with
unfading brilliancy. Jehovah had set them there, and who could pluck
them thence? Jehovah had put them thus, and who could put them
otherwise? Who could penetrate into the holy place to snatch from
Aaron's breast the name of one of Israel's tribes? Who could sully the
lustre which gathered round those names, in the position which Jehovah
had placed them? Not one. They lay beyond the reach of every
enemy--beyond the influence of every evil.

How encouraging and consolatory it is for the tried, tempted,
buffeted, and self-abased children of God to remember that God only
sees them on the heart of Jesus! In His view, they ever shine in all
the effulgence of Christ--they are arrayed in divine comeliness. The
world cannot see them thus; but God does, and this makes all the
difference. Men, in looking at the people of God, see only their blots
and blemishes. They have no ability whatever to see further, and as a
consequence, their judgment is always wrong--always one-sided. They
cannot see the sparkling jewels, bearing the names of God's redeemed,
engraven by the hand of changeless love. True it is that Christians
should be most careful not to furnish the men of the world with any
just occasion to speak reproachfully. They should seek, "by patient
continuance in well-doing, to put to silence the ignorance of foolish
men." If only they entered, by the power of the Holy Ghost, into the
comeliness in which they ever shine, in God's vision, it would
assuredly lead to a walk of practical holiness, moral purity, and
elevation before the eyes of men. The more clearly we enter, by faith,
into objective truth, or what is true of us in Christ, the deeper,
more experimental and practical will be the subjective work in us, and
the more complete will be the exhibition of the moral effect in our
life and character.

But, thank God, our judgment is not with men, but with Himself; and He
graciously shows us our great High-Priest, "bearing our judgment on
His heart before the Lord continually." This imparts deep and settled
peace--a peace which nothing can shake. We may have to confess and
mourn over our constant failures and short-comings,--the eye may, at
times, be so dimmed with the tears of a genuine contrition as to be
but little able to catch the lustre of the precious stones on which
our names are engraven, yet there they are all the while. God sees
them, and that is enough. He is glorified by their brightness--a
brightness not of our attaining, but of His imparting. We had naught
save darkness, dullness, and deformity. He has imparted brightness,
lustre, and beauty. To Him be all the praise throughout the
everlasting ages!

"The girdle" is the well-known symbol of service; and Christ is the
perfect Servant--the Servant of the divine counsels and affections,
and of the deep and manifold need of His people. With an earnest
spirit of devotedness, which nothing could damp, He girded Himself
for His work; and when faith sees the Son of God thus girded, it
judges, assuredly, that no occasion can be too great for Him. We find,
from the type before us, that all the virtues, the dignities, and the
glories of Christ, in His divine and human nature, enter fully into
His servant-character.--"The curious girdle of the ephod, which is
upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of
gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen." (Verse
8.) The faith of this must meet every necessity of the soul, and
satisfy the most ardent longings of the heart. We not only see Christ
as the slain Victim at the brazen altar, but also as the girded
High-Priest over the house of God. Well, therefore, may the inspired
apostle say, "_Let us draw near_,"--"_Let us hold fast_,"--"_Let us
consider one another_." (Heb. x. 19-24.)

"And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the
Thummim ["lights and perfections"]; and they shall be upon Aaron's
heart, when he goeth in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the
judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord
continually." We learn, from various passages of the Word, that the
"Urim" stood connected with the communication of the mind of God in
reference to the various questions which arose in the details of
Israel's history. Thus, for example, in the appointment of Joshua, we
read, "And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask
counsel for him, _after the judgment of Urim before the Lord_."
(Numb. xxvii. 21.) "And of Levi he said, 'Let thy Thummim and thy Urim
[thy perfections and thy lights] be with thy holy one.... They shall
teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law.'" (Deut. xxxiii. 8-10.)
"And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not,
neither by dreams, _nor by Urim_, nor by prophets." (1 Sam. xxviii.
6.) "And Tirshatha said unto them that they should not eat of the most
holy things till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim."
(Ezra ii. 63.) Thus we learn that the high-priest not only bore the
judgment of the congregation before the Lord, but also communicated
the judgment of the Lord to the congregation. Solemn, weighty, and
most precious functions! All this we have, in divine perfectness, in
our "great High-Priest, who has passed into the heavens." He bears the
judgment of His people on His heart continually; and He, by the Holy
Ghost, communicates to us the counsel of God, in reference to the most
minute circumstances of our daily course. We do not want dreams or
visions; if only we walk in the Spirit, we shall enjoy all the
certainty which the perfect "Urim," on the breast of our High-Priest,
can afford.

"And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue.... And
beneath, upon the hem of it, thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and
of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of
gold between them round about: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a
golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.
And it shall be upon Aaron to minister; and his sound shall be heard
when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he
cometh out, that he die not." (Ver. 31-35.) The blue robe of the ephod
is expressive of the entirely heavenly character of our High-Priest.
He is gone into heaven,--He is beyond the range of mortal vision; but,
by the power of the Holy Ghost, there is divine testimony to the truth
of His being alive, in the presence of God; and not only testimony,
but fruit likewise. "A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell
and a pomegranate,"--such is the beauteous order. True testimony to
the great truth that Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us
will be inseparably connected with fruitfulness in His service. O, for
a deeper understanding of these precious and holy mysteries![13]

  [13] It is needless to remark that there is divine appropriateness, as
  well as significancy, in all the figures presented to us in the Word.
  Thus, the "pomegranate," when opened, is found to consist of a number
  of seeds, contained in a _red_ fluid. Surely this has a voice. Let
  spirituality, not imagination, judge.

"And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the
engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And thou shall put it on
a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre, upon the forefront of the
mitre it shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron
may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel
shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon
_his_ forehead, that _they_ may be accepted before the Lord." (Ver.
36-38.) Here is a weighty truth for the soul. The golden plate on
Aaron's forehead was the type of the essential holiness of the Lord
Jesus Christ. "It shall be ALWAYS upon HIS forehead, that THEY may be
accepted before the Lord." What rest for the heart amid all the
fluctuations of one's experience! Our High-Priest is "always" in the
presence of God for us. We are represented by, and accepted in, Him.
His holiness is ours. The more deeply we become acquainted with our
own personal vileness and infirmity, the more we enter into the
humiliating truth that in us dwelleth no good thing, the more
fervently shall we bless the God of all grace for the soul-sustaining
truth contained in these words, "It shall be always upon _his_
forehead, that _they_ may be accepted before the Lord."

If my reader should happen to be one who is frequently tempted and
harassed with doubts and fears, ups and downs in his spiritual
condition, with a constant tendency to look inward upon his poor,
cold, wandering, wayward heart,--if he be tried with an excessive
vagueness and want of holy reality, oh, let him stay his whole soul
upon the precious truth that this great High-Priest represents him
before the throne of God. Let him fix his eye upon the golden plate,
and read in the inscription thereon the measure of his eternal
acceptance with God. May the Holy Ghost enable him to taste the
peculiar sweetness and sustaining power of this divine and heavenly
doctrine.

"And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for
them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for
beauty.... And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their
nakedness; ... and they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when
they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they
come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear
not iniquity and die." Here we have Aaron and his sons, typifying
Christ and the Church, standing in the power of one divine and
everlasting righteousness. Aaron's priestly robes express those
inherent, essential, personal, and eternal qualities in Christ; while
the "coats" and "bonnets" of Aaron's sons represent those graces with
which the Church is endowed, in virtue of its association with the
great Head of the priestly family.

Thus, in all that has passed before us in this chapter, we may see
with what gracious care Jehovah made provision for the need of His
people, in that He allowed them to see the one who was about to act on
their behalf, and to represent them in His presence, clothed with all
those robes which directly met their actual condition, as known to
Him. Nothing was left out which the heart could possibly need or
desire. They might survey him from head to foot and see that all was
complete. From the holy mitre that wreathed his brow, to the bells and
pomegranates on the hem of his garment, all was as it should be,
because all was according to the pattern shown in the mount--all was
according to Jehovah's estimate of the people's need and of His own
requirements.

But there is yet one point connected with Aaron's robes which demands
the reader's special attention, and that is the mode in which the gold
was introduced in the making of them. This is presented to us in
chapter xxxix, but the interpretation comes in suitably enough in this
place. "And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into
wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet,
and in the fine linen, with cunning work." (Ver. 3.) We have already
remarked that "the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and fine twined
linen" exhibit the various phases of Christ's manhood, and the gold
represents his divine nature. The wire of gold was curiously
insinuated into all the other materials, so as to be inseparably
connected with, and yet perfectly distinct from, them.

The application of this striking figure to the character of the Lord
Jesus is full of interest. In various scenes throughout the gospel
narrative, we can easily discern this rare and beauteous union of
manhood and Godhead, and, at the same time, their mysterious
distinctness.

Look, for example, at Christ on the sea of Galilee. In the midst of
the storm "He was asleep on a pillow" (precious exhibition of His
perfect manhood!); but in a moment He rises from the attitude of real
humanity into all the dignity and majesty of Godhead, and, as the
supreme Governor of the universe, He hushes the storm and calms the
sea. There is no effort, no haste, no girding Himself up for an
occasion. With perfect ease, He rises from the condition of positive
humanity into the sphere of essential deity. The repose of the former
is not more natural than the activity of the latter. He is as
perfectly at home in the one as in the other.

Again, see Him in the case of the collectors of tribute, at the close
of Matthew xvii. As the "Most High God, possessor of heaven and
earth," He lays His hand upon the treasures of the ocean, and says,
"They are Mine;" and, having declared that "the sea is His, and He
made it," He turns round and, in the exhibition of perfect humanity,
He links Himself with His poor servant by those touching words, "That
take, and give unto them _for Me and thee_." Gracious words!--peculiarly
gracious, when taken in connection with the miracle so entirely
expressive of the Godhead of the One who was thus linking Himself, in
infinite condescension, with a poor, feeble worm.

Once more, see Him at the grave of Lazarus. (John xi.) He groans and
weeps, and those groans and tears issue from the profound depths of a
perfect manhood--from that perfect human heart which felt, as no other
heart could feel, what it was to stand in the midst of a scene in
which sin had produced such terrible fruits. But then, as the
Resurrection and the Life, as the One who held in His omnipotent grasp
"the keys of hell and of death," He cries, "Lazarus, come forth!" and
death and the grave, responsive to His authoritative voice, throw
open their massy doors and let go their captive.

My reader's mind will easily recur to other scenes, in the gospels,
illustrative of the beautiful combination of the wire of gold with
"the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and the fine-twined linen;" that
is to say, the union of the Godhead with the manhood, in the
mysterious Person of the Son of God. There is nothing new in the
thought; it has often been noticed by those who have studied, with any
amount of care, the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

It is, however, always edifying to have the blessed Lord Jesus
introduced to our thoughts as "very God and very man." The Holy Ghost
has, with "cunning workmanship," wrought the two together and
presented them to the renewed mind of the believer to be enjoyed and
admired. May we have hearts to appreciate such teaching!

Let us now, ere we close this section, look for a moment at chapter
xxix.

It has been already remarked that Aaron and his sons represent Christ
and the Church, but in the opening verses of this chapter Aaron gets
the precedency.--"And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the
door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with
water." The washing of water rendered Aaron typically what Christ is
intrinsically--holy. The Church is holy in virtue of her being linked
with Christ in resurrection life. He is the perfect definition of what
she is before God. The ceremonial act of washing with water expresses
the action of the Word of God. (See Eph. v. 26.)

"Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon _his_ head,
and anoint _him_." (Ver. 7.) Here we have the Spirit; but let it be
noted that Aaron was anointed _before the blood was shed_, because he
stands before us as the type of Christ, who, in virtue of what He was
in His own Person, was anointed with the Holy Ghost, long before the
work of the cross was accomplished. The sons of Aaron, on the other
hand, were not anointed until after the blood was shed.--"Then shalt
thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of
the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons,
and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of
their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round
about.[14] And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar,
and of _the anointing oil_, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his
garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with
him." (Ver. 20, 21.) As regards the Church, the blood of the cross
lies at the foundation of every thing. She could not be anointed with
the Holy Ghost until her risen Head had gone into heaven, and laid
upon the throne of the divine Majesty the record of His accomplished
sacrifice. "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are
witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and
having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath
shed forth this which ye now see and hear." (Acts ii. 32, 33. Comp.
also John vii. 39; Acts xix. 1-6.) From the days of Abel downward,
souls had been regenerated, influenced, acted upon, and qualified for
office by the Holy Ghost; but the Church could not be anointed with
the Holy Ghost until her victorious Lord had entered heaven and
received, on her behalf, the promise of the Father. The truth of this
doctrine is taught, in the most direct and absolute manner, throughout
the New Testament; and its strict integrity is maintained, in the type
before us, by the obvious fact that though Aaron was anointed before
the blood was shed (ver. 7.), yet his sons were not, and could not be,
anointed till after (ver. 21.).

  [14] The ear, the hand, and the foot, are all consecrated to God in
  the power of accomplished atonement, and by the energy of the Holy
  Ghost.

But we learn more from the order of anointing in our chapter than the
important truth with respect to the work of the Spirit and the
position of the Church; we have also set before us the personal
pre-eminence of the Son.--"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated
iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil
of gladness _above_ Thy fellows." (Ps. xlv. 7; Heb. i. 9.) This must
ever be held fast in the convictions and experience of the people of
God. True, the infinite grace of God is set forth in the marvelous
fact that guilty, hell-deserving sinners should ever be spoken of in
such terms--should ever be styled the "_fellows_" of the Son of God;
but let us never for a moment forget the word "_above_." No matter
how close the union (and it is as close as God's eternal counsels of
redeeming love could make it), yet "in all things" Christ must "have
the pre-eminence." It could not be otherwise. He is Head over
all,--Head of the Church, Head of creation, Head of angels, Lord of
the universe. There is not a single orb that rolls along the heavens
that does not belong to Him, and move under His control; there is not
a single worm that crawls along the earth which is not under His
sleepless eye. He is "high over all," "the first-begotten from the
dead," and "of all creation," "the beginning of the creation of God."
"Every family in heaven and earth" must range itself, in the divine
category, under Christ. All this will ever be thankfully owned by
every spiritual mind; yea, the very enunciation of it sends a thrill
through the Christian's heart. All who are led of the Spirit will
rejoice in every unfolding of the personal glories of the Son; nor can
they tolerate, for a single instant, any thing derogatory thereto. Let
the Church be raised to the loftiest heights of glory, it will be her
joy to bow at the feet of Him who stooped to raise her, by virtue of
His completed sacrifice, into union with Himself; who, having
satisfied, in the fullest way, all the claims of divine justice, can
gratify all the divine affections by making her inseparably one with
Himself, in all His infinite acceptableness with the Father, and in
His eternal glory. "He is not _ashamed_ to call them brethren."

     NOTE.--I purposely forbear entering upon the subject of the
     offerings in chapter xxix, inasmuch as we shall have the
     various classes of offerings, in all their minute detail,
     fully before us in the book of Leviticus, if the Lord will.



CHAPTER XXX.


The priesthood being instituted, as in the two preceding chapters, we
are here introduced to the position of true priestly worship and
communion. The order is marked and instructive, and, moreover,
precisely corresponds with the order of the believer's experience. At
the brazen altar, he sees the ashes of his sins; he then sees himself
linked with One who, though personally pure and spotless, so that He
could be anointed without blood, has, nevertheless, associated us with
Himself in life, righteousness, and favor; and, finally, he beholds,
in the golden altar, the preciousness of Christ, as the material on
which the divine affections feed.

Thus it is ever; there must be a brazen altar and a priest before
there can be a golden altar and incense. Very many of the children of
God have never passed the brazen altar; they have never yet, in
spirit, entered into the power and reality of true priestly worship.
They do not rejoice in a full, clear, divine sense of pardon and
righteousness,--they have never reached the golden altar. They hope to
reach it when they die; but it is their privilege to be at it _now_.
The work of the cross has removed out of the way every thing which
would act as a barrier to their free and intelligent worship. The
present position of all true believers is at the golden altar of
incense.

This altar typifies a position of wondrous blessedness. There we enjoy
the reality and efficacy of Christ's intercession. Forever done with
self and all pertaining thereto, so far as any expectation of good is
concerned, we are to be occupied with what He is before God. We shall
find nothing in self but defilement. Every exhibition of it is
defiling; it has been condemned and set aside in the judgment of God,
and not a shred or particle thereof is to be found in the pure incense
and pure fire, on the altar of pure gold: it could not be. We have
been introduced, "by the blood of Jesus," into the sanctuary--a
sanctuary of priestly service and worship, in which there is not so
much as a trace of sin. We see the pure table, the pure candlestick,
and the pure altar; but there is nothing to remind us of self and its
wretchedness. Were it possible for aught of that to meet our view, it
could but prove the death-knell of our worship, mar our priestly food,
and dim our light. Nature can have no place in the sanctuary of God.
It, together with all its belongings, has been consumed to ashes; and
we are now to have before our souls the fragrant odor of Christ,
ascending in grateful incense to God: this is what God delights in.
Every thing that presents Christ in His own proper excellence is sweet
and acceptable to God. Even the feeblest expression or exhibition of
Him, in the life or worship of a saint, is an odor of a sweet smell in
which God is well pleased.

Too often, alas! we have to be occupied with our failures and
infirmities. If ever the workings of indwelling sin be suffered to
rise to the surface, we must deal with our God about them, for He
cannot go on with sin. He can forgive it, and cleanse us from it; He
can restore our souls by the gracious ministry of our great
High-Priest; but He cannot go on in company with a single sinful
thought. A light or foolish thought, as well as an unclean or covetous
one, is amply sufficient to mar a Christian's communion, and interrupt
his worship. Should any such thought spring up, it must be judged and
confessed, ere the elevated joys of the sanctuary can be known afresh.
A heart in which lust is working is not enjoying the proper
occupations of the sanctuary. When we are in our proper priestly
condition, nature is as though it had no existence; then we can feed
upon Christ: we can taste the divine luxury of being wholly at leisure
from ourselves, and wholly engrossed with Christ.

All this can only be produced by the power of the Spirit. There is no
need of seeking to work up nature's devotional feelings, by the
various appliances of systematic religion; there must be pure fire as
well as pure incense. (Comp. Lev. x. 1, with xvi. 12.) All efforts at
worshiping God by the unhallowed powers of nature come under the head
of "strange fire." God is the object of worship; Christ the ground
and the material of worship; and the Holy Ghost the power of worship.

Properly speaking, then, as in the brazen altar we have Christ in the
value of His sacrifice, so in the golden altar we have Christ in the
value of His intercession. This will furnish my reader with a still
clearer sense of the reason why the priestly office is introduced
between the two altars. There is, as might be expected, an intimate
connection between the two, for Christ's intercession is founded upon
His sacrifice. "And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it
once in a year with the blood of the sin-offering of atonements: once
in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your
generations: it is most holy unto the Lord." All rests upon the
immovable foundation of SHED BLOOD. "Almost all things are by the law
purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It
was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens
should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with
better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy
places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into
heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Heb. ix.
22-24.)

From verse 11-16 we have the atonement money for the congregation. All
were to pay alike.--"The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall
not give less, than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the
Lord, to make an atonement for your souls." In the matter of
atonement, all must stand on one common platform. There may be a vast
difference in knowledge, in experience, in capacity, in attainment, in
zeal, in devotedness, but the ground of atonement is alike to all. The
great apostle of the Gentiles and the feeblest lamb in all the flock
of Christ stand on the same level as regards atonement. This is a very
simple and a very blessed truth. All may not be alike devoted and
fruitful; but "the precious blood of Christ," and not devotedness or
fruitfulness, is the solid and everlasting ground of the believer's
rest. The more we enter into the truth and power of this, the more
fruitful shall we be.

In the last chapter of Leviticus we find another kind of valuation.
When any one made "a singular vow," Moses valued him according to his
age. In other words, when any one ventured to assume the ground of
capacity, Moses, as the representative of _the claims_ of God,
estimated him "after the shekel of the sanctuary." If he were "poorer"
than Moses' estimation, then he was to "present himself before the
priest," the representative of _the grace_ of God, who was to value
him "according to his ability that vowed."

Blessed be God, we know that all His claims have been answered, and
all our vows discharged, by One who was at once the Representative of
His claims and the Exponent of His grace, who finished the work of
atonement upon the cross, and is now at the right hand of God. Here is
sweet rest for the heart and conscience. Atonement is the first thing
to get hold of, and we shall never lose sight of it. Let our range of
intelligence be ever so wide, our fund of experience ever so rich, our
tone of devotion ever so elevated, we shall always have to fall back
upon the one simple, divine, unalterable, soul-sustaining doctrine of
THE BLOOD. Thus it has ever been in the history of God's people, thus
it is, and thus it ever will be. The most deeply-taught and gifted
servants of Christ have always rejoiced to come back to "that one
well-spring of delight," at which their thirsty spirits drank when
first they knew the Lord; and the eternal song of the Church in glory
will be, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His
own blood." The courts of heaven will ever resound with the glorious
doctrine of the blood.

From verse 17-21 we are presented with "the brazen laver and its
foot"--the vessel of washing and the basis thereof. These two are
always presented together. (See chap. xxx. 28; xxxviii. 8; xl. 11.) In
this laver the priests washed their hands and feet, and thus
maintained that purity which was essential to the proper discharge of
their priestly functions. It was not, by any means, a question of a
fresh presentation of blood; but simply that action by which they were
preserved in fitness for priestly service and worship.--"When they go
into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water,
that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister,
to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: so they shall wash their
hands and their feet, that they die not."

There can be no true communion with God, save as personal holiness is
diligently maintained. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him,
and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." (1 John i. 6.)
This personal holiness can only flow from the action of the Word of
God on our works and ways.--"By the words of Thy lips I have kept me
from the paths of the destroyer." Our constant failure in priestly
ministry may be accounted for by our neglecting the due use of the
laver. If our ways are not submitted to the purgative action of the
Word--if we continue in the pursuit or practice of that which,
according to the testimony of our own consciences, the Word distinctly
condemns, the energy of our priestly character will assuredly be
lacking. Deliberate continuance in evil and true priestly worship are
wholly incompatible. "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is
truth." If we have any uncleanness upon us, we cannot enjoy the
presence of God. The effect of His presence would then be to convict
us by its holy light. But when we are enabled, through grace, to
cleanse our way, by taking heed thereto according to God's Word, we
are then morally capacitated for the enjoyment of His presence.

My reader will at once perceive what a vast field of practical truth
is here laid open to him, and also how largely the doctrine of the
brazen laver is brought out in the New Testament. Oh that all those
who are privileged to tread the courts of the sanctuary, in priestly
robes, and to approach the altar of God, in priestly worship, may keep
their hands and feet clean by the use of the true laver.

It may be interesting to note that the laver, with its foot, was made
"of the looking-glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at
the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." (See chap. xxxviii.
8.) This fact is full of meaning. We are ever prone to be "like a man
beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself and
goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."
Nature's looking-glass can never furnish a clear and permanent view of
our true condition. "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of
liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but
a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James i.
23-25.) The man who has constant recourse to the Word of God, and who
allows that Word to tell upon his heart and conscience, will be
maintained in the holy activities of the divine life.

Intimately connected with the searching and cleansing action of the
Word is the efficacy of the priestly ministry of Christ. "For the Word
of God is quick and powerful [_i.e._, _living_ and _energetic_], and
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing
asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; neither is there
any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are
naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Then
the inspired apostle immediately adds, "Seeing then that we have a
great High-Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of
God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high-priest
which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was
in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.[15] Let us
therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. iv. 12-16.)

  [15] Literally, "sin excepted" (χωρις αμαρτιας); _i.e._, He was
  tempted--tested and tried--in every way from without, sin excepted,
  for sin was not in Him.

The more keenly we feel the edge of the Word, the more we shall prize
the merciful and gracious ministry of our High-Priest. The two things
go together. They are the inseparable companions of the Christian's
path. Hence, it is only as I am making use of the laver that I can
approach the altar. Worship must ever be presented in the power of
holiness. We must lose sight of nature, as reflected in a
looking-glass, and be wholly occupied with Christ, as presented in the
Word. In this way only shall the "hands and feet"--the works and
ways--be cleansed, according to the purification of the sanctuary.

From verse 22-33 we have the "holy anointing oil," with which the
priests, together with all the furniture of the tabernacle, were
anointed. In this we discern a type of the varied graces of the Holy
Ghost, which were found, in all their divine fullness, in Christ. "All
thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory
palaces, whereby they have made thee glad." (Ps. xlv. 8.) "God
anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power." (Acts
x. 38.) All the graces of the Spirit, in their perfect fragrance,
centred in Christ; and it is from Him alone they can flow. He, as to
His humanity, was conceived of the Holy Ghost; and, ere He entered
upon His public ministry, He was anointed with the Holy Ghost; and
finally, when He had taken His seat on high, in token of an
accomplished redemption, He shed forth upon His body, the Church, the
precious gifts of the Holy Ghost. (See Matt. i. 20; iii. 16, 17; Luke
iv. 18, 19; Acts ii. 33; x. 45, 46; Eph. iv. 8-13.)

It is as those who are associated with this ever-blessed and
highly-exalted Christ that believers are partakers of the gifts and
graces of the Holy Ghost; and, moreover, it is as they walk in
habitual nearness to Him that they either enjoy or emit the fragrance
thereof. The unrenewed man knows nothing of this. "Upon man's flesh it
shall not be poured." The graces of the Spirit can never be connected
with man's flesh, for the Holy Ghost cannot own nature. Not one of the
fruits of the Spirit was ever yet produced "in nature's barren soil."
We "must be born again." It is only as connected with the new man, as
being part of "the new creation," that we can know any thing of the
fruits of the Holy Ghost. It is of no possible value to seek to
imitate those fruits and graces. The fairest fruits that ever grew in
nature's fields, in their highest state of cultivation--the most
amiable traits which nature can exhibit--must be utterly disowned in
the sanctuary of God. "Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured;
neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it:
it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. Whosoever compoundeth any
like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be
cut off from his people." There must be no counterfeit of the Spirit's
work; all must be of the Spirit--wholly, really of the Spirit.
Moreover, that which is of the Spirit must not be attributed to man.
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for
they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they
are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. ii. 14.)

There is a very beautiful allusion to this "holy anointing oil" in one
of the "songs of degrees."--"Behold," says the Psalmist, "how good and
how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like
the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard,
even Aaron's beard; that went down to the skirts of his garments."
(Psalms cxxxiii. 1, 2.) The head of the priestly house being anointed
with the holy oil, the very "skirts of his garments" must exhibit the
precious effects. May my reader experience the power of this
anointing! May he know the value of having "an unction from the Holy
One," and of being "sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise"! Nothing
is of any value in the divine estimation save that which connects
itself immediately with Christ, and whatever is so connected can
receive the holy anointing.

In the concluding paragraph of this most comprehensive chapter, we
have the "sweet spices tempered together, pure and holy." This
surpassingly precious perfume presents to us the unmeasured and
unmeasurable perfections of Christ. There was no special quantity of
each ingredient prescribed, because the graces that dwell in Christ,
the beauties and excellencies that are concentrated in His adorable
Person, are without limit. Naught save the infinite mind of Deity
could scan the infinite perfections of Him in whom all the fullness of
Deity dwelleth; and as eternity rolls along its course of everlasting
ages, those glorious perfections will ever be unfolding themselves in
the view of worshiping saints and angels. Ever and anon, as some fresh
beams of light shall burst forth from that central Sun of divine
glory, the courts of heaven above, and the wide fields of creation
beneath, shall resound with thrilling Alleluiahs to Him who was, who
is, and who ever shall be the object of praise to all the ranks of
created intelligence.

But not only was there no prescribed quantity of the ingredients; we
also read, "Of each there shall be a like weight." Every feature of
moral excellence found its due place and proper proportions in Christ.
No one quality ever displaced or interfered with another; all was
"tempered together, pure and holy," and emitted an odor so fragrant
that none but God could appreciate it.

"And thou shalt beat some of it _very small_, and put of it before the
testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet
with thee: it shall be unto you most holy." There is uncommon depth
and power in the expression "very small." It teaches us that every
little movement in the life of Christ, every minute circumstance,
every act, every word, every look, every feature, every trait, every
lineament, emits an odor produced by an equal proportion--"a like
weight" of all the divine graces that compose His character. The
smaller the perfume was beaten, the more its rare and exquisite temper
was manifested.

"And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to
yourselves according to the composition thereof; it shall be unto thee
holy for the Lord. Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell
thereto, shall even be cut off from his people." This fragrant perfume
was designed exclusively for Jehovah. Its place was "before the
testimony." There is that in Jesus which only God could appreciate.
True, every believing heart can draw nigh to His matchless Person, and
more than satisfy its deepest and most intense longings; still, after
all God's redeemed have drunk to the utmost of their capacity, after
angels have gazed on the peerless glories of the Man Christ Jesus as
earnestly as their vision is capable of,--after all, there will be
that in Him which God alone can fathom and enjoy. No human or angelic
eye could duly trace the exquisitely minute parts of that holy perfume
"beaten very small," nor could earth afford a proper sphere in which
to emit its divine and heavenly odor.

Thus, then, we have, in our rapid sketch, reached the close of a
clearly marked division of our book. We began at "the ark of the
covenant," and traveled out to "the altar of brass;" we returned from
"the altar of brass," and have come to the "holy perfume;" and, oh,
what a journey is this, if only it be traveled, not in company with
the false and flickering light of human imagination, but by the
infallible lamp of the Holy Ghost! What a journey, if only it be
traveled, not amid the shadows of a by-gone dispensation, but amid the
personal glories and powerful attractions of the Son which are there
portrayed! If my reader has so traveled it, he will find his
affections more drawn to Christ than ever; he will have a loftier
conception of His glory, His beauty, His preciousness, His excellency,
His ability to heal a wounded conscience and satisfy a longing heart;
he will have his eyes more thoroughly closed to all earth's
attractions, and his ears closed to all earth's pretensions and
promises;--in one word, he will be prepared to utter a deeper and more
fervent Amen to the words of the inspired apostle when he says, "IF
ANY MAN LOVE NOT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA
MARAN-ATHA."[16] (1 Cor. xvi. 22.)

  [16] It is interesting to note the position of this most solemn and
  startling denunciation. It occurs at the close of a long epistle in
  the progress of which the apostle had to rebuke some of the grossest
  practical evils and doctrinal errors. How solemn, therefore, how full
  of meaning the fact, that when he comes to pronounce his anathema, it
  is not hurled at those who had introduced those errors and evils, but
  at the man who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ! Why is this? Is it
  because the Spirit of God makes little of errors and evils? Surely
  not: the entire epistle unfolds His thoughts as to these. But the
  truth is, when the heart is filled with love to the Lord Jesus Christ,
  there is an effectual safeguard against all manner of false doctrine
  and evil practice. If a man does not love Christ, there is no
  accounting for the notions he may adopt, or the course he may pursue.
  Hence the form and the position of the apostolic anathema.



CHAPTER XXXI.


The opening of this brief chapter records the divine call and the
divine qualification of "Bezaleel and Aholiab" to do the work of the
tabernacle of the congregation. "And the Lord spake unto Moses,
saying, 'See, _I have called_ by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the
son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and _I have filled_ him with the
spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and
in all manner of workmanship.... And I, behold, _I have given_ with
him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the
hearts of all that are wise-hearted _I have put_ wisdom, that they may
make all that _I have commanded_." Whether for "the work of the
tabernacle" of old, or "the work of the ministry" now, there should be
the divine selection, the divine call, the divine qualification, the
divine appointment, and all must be done according to the divine
commandment. Man could not select, call, qualify, or appoint to do the
work of the tabernacle; neither can he to do the work of the ministry.
Furthermore, no man could presume to appoint himself to do the work of
the tabernacle; neither can he to do the work of the ministry. It was,
it is, it must be, wholly and absolutely divine. Men may run as sent
of their fellow, or men may run of themselves; but let it be
remembered that all who run without being sent of God shall one day or
other be covered with shame and confusion of face. Such is the plain
and wholesome doctrine suggested by the words, "I have called," "I
have filled," "I have given," "I have put," "I have commanded." The
words of the Baptist must ever hold good--"A man can receive nothing
except it be given him from heaven." (John iii. 27.) He can therefore
have but little room to boast of himself, and just as little to be
jealous of his fellow.

There is a profitable lesson to be learnt from a comparison of this
chapter with Genesis iv. "Tubal-cain was an instructor of every
artificer in brass and iron." The descendants of Cain were endowed
with unhallowed skill to make a cursed and groaning earth a delectable
spot, without the presence of God: "Bezaleel and Aholiab," on the
contrary, were endowed with divine skill to beautify a sanctuary which
was to be hallowed and blessed by the presence and glory of the God of
Israel.

Reader, let me ask you just to pause and put this solemn question to
your conscience,--Whether am I devoting whatever of skill or energy I
possess to the interests of the Church which is God's dwelling-place,
or to beautify an ungodly, Christless world? Say not in thine heart, I
am not divinely called or divinely qualified for the work of the
ministry. Remember that though all Israel were not Bezaleels or
Aholiabs, yet all could serve the interests of the sanctuary. There
was an open door for all to communicate. Thus it is now. Each one has
a place to occupy, a ministry to fulfill, a responsibility to
discharge; and you and I are at this moment either promoting the
interests of the house of God--the body of Christ--the Church, or
helping on the Godless schemes of a world yet stained with the blood
of Christ and the blood of all His martyred saints. Oh, let us deeply
ponder this, as in the presence of the great Searcher of hearts, whom
none can deceive--to whom all are known.

Our chapter closes with a special reference to the institution of the
Sabbath. It was referred to in chapter xvi, in connection with the
manna; it was distinctly enjoined in chapter xx, when the people were
formally put under law; and here we have it again, in connection with
the setting up of the tabernacle. Whenever the nation of Israel is
presented in some special position, or recognized as a people in
special responsibility, then the Sabbath is introduced. And let my
reader carefully note both the day and the mode in which it was to be
observed, and also the object for which it was instituted in Israel.
"Ye shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy unto you: _every
one that defileth it shall surely be put to death_; for whosoever
doeth _any work_ therein, that soul shall be _cut off_ from among his
people. Six days may work be done; but _in the seventh_ is the Sabbath
of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth _any work_ in the Sabbath
day, _he shall surely be put to death_." This is as explicit and
absolute as any thing can be. It fixes "the seventh day" and none
other; and it positively forbids, on pain of death, all manner of
work. There can be no avoiding the plain sense of this. And be it
remembered that there is not so much as a single line of Scripture to
prove that the Sabbath has been changed, or the strict principles of
its observance in the smallest degree relaxed. If there be any
Scripture proof, let my reader look it out for his own satisfaction.

Now, let us inquire if indeed professing Christians do keep God's
Sabbath on the day and after the manner which He commanded. It were
idle to lose time in proving that they do not. Well, what are the
consequences of a single breach of the Sabbath? "_Cut off_"--"_put to
death_."

But, it will be said, we "are not under law, but under grace." Blessed
be God for the sweet assurance! Were we under law, there is not one
throughout the wide range of Christendom who should not long since
have fallen beneath the stone of judgment, even upon the one solitary
point of the Sabbath. But, if we are under grace, what is the day
which belongs to us? Assuredly, "the first day of the week"--"the
Lord's day." This is the Church's day--the resurrection day of Jesus,
who, having spent the Sabbath in the tomb, rose triumphant over all
the powers of darkness; thus leading His people out of the old
creation, and all that pertains thereto, into the new creation, of
which He is the Head, and of which the first day of the week is the
apt expression.

This distinction is worthy of the serious attention of the reader. Let
him examine it prayerfully in the light of Scripture. There may be
nothing and there may be a great deal in a mere name. In the present
instance, there is a great deal more involved in the distinction
between "the Sabbath" and "the Lord's day" than many Christians seem
to be aware of. It is very evident that the first day of the week gets
a place in the Word of God which no other day gets. No other day is
ever called by that majestic and elevated title, "The Lord's day."
Some, I am aware, deny that Rev. i. 10 refers to the first day of the
week; but I feel most fully assured that sound criticism and sound
exegesis do both warrant--yea, demand the application of that passage,
not to the day of Christ's advent in glory, but to the day of His
resurrection from the dead.

But most assuredly, the Lord's day is never once called the Sabbath.
So far from this, the two days are again and again spoken of in their
proper distinctness. Hence, therefore, my reader will have to keep
clear of two extremes. In the first place, he will have to avoid the
legalism which one finds so much linked with the term "Sabbath;" and,
in the second place, he will need to bear a very decided testimony
against every attempt to dishonor the Lord's day, or lower it to the
level of an ordinary day. The believer is delivered, most completely,
from the observance of "days, and months, and times, and years."
Association with a risen Christ has taken him clean out of all such
superstitious observances. But, while this is most blessedly true, we
see that "the first day of the week" has a place assigned to it in the
New Testament which no other has. Let the Christian give it that
place. It is a sweet and happy privilege, not a grievous yoke.

Space forbids my further entrance upon this interesting subject. It
has been gone into elsewhere, as already intimated, in the earlier
pages of this volume. I shall close these remarks by pointing out, in
one or two particulars, the contrast between "the Sabbath" and "the
Lord's day."

1. The Sabbath was the _seventh_ day; the Lord's day is the _first_.

2. The Sabbath was a _test_ of Israel's condition; the Lord's day is
the _proof_ of the Church's acceptance, on wholly unconditional
grounds.

S. The Sabbath belonged to the old creation; the Lord's day belongs to
the new.

4. The Sabbath was a day of _bodily_ rest for the Jew; the Lord's day
is a day of _spiritual_ rest for the Christian.

5. If the Jew worked on the Sabbath, he was to be put to _death_: if
the Christian does not work on the Lord's day, he gives little proof
of _life_;--that is to say, if he does not work for the benefit of the
souls of men, the extension of Christ's glory, and the spread of His
truth. In point of fact, the devoted Christian who possesses any gift
is generally more fatigued on the evening of the Lord's day than on
any other in the week, for how can he rest while souls are perishing
around him?

6. The Jew was _commanded_ by the _law_ to abide in his tent; the
Christian is _led_ by the spirit of the _gospel_ to go forth, whether
it be to attend the public assembly or to minister to the souls of
perishing sinners.

The Lord enable us, beloved reader, to rest more artlessly _in_, and
labor more vigorously _for_, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! We
should _rest_ in the spirit of a _child_, and _labor_ with the energy
of a _man_.



CHAPTER XXXII.


We have now to contemplate something very different from that which
has hitherto engaged our attention. "The patterns of things in the
heavens" has been before us--Christ in His glorious Person, gracious
offices, and perfect work, as set forth in the tabernacle and all its
mystic furniture. We have been, in spirit, on the mount, hearkening to
God's own words--the sweet utterances of Heaven's thoughts,
affections, and counsels, of which Jesus is "the Alpha and Omega--the
beginning and the ending--the first and the last."

Now, however, we are called down to earth, to behold the melancholy
wreck which man makes of every thing to which he puts his hand. "And
when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount,
the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him,
'Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses,
the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what
is become of him.'" What degradation is here! _Make us gods!_ They
were abandoning Jehovah, and placing themselves under the conduct of
manufactured gods--gods of man's making. Dark clouds and heavy mists
had gathered round the mount. They grew weary of waiting for the
absent one, and of hanging on an unseen but real arm. They imagined
that a god formed by "graving tool" was better than Jehovah,--that a
calf which they could _see_ was better than the invisible, yet
every-where-present, God,--a visible counterfeit, than an invisible
reality.

Alas! alas! it has ever been thus in man's history. The human heart
loves something that can be seen; it loves that which meets and
gratifies the senses. It is only faith that can "endure as seeing Him
who is invisible." Hence, in every age, men have been forward to set
up and lean upon human imitations of divine realities. Thus it is we
see the counterfeits of corrupt religion multiplied before our eyes.
Those things which we know, upon the authority of God's Word, to be
divine and heavenly realities, the professing Church has transformed
into human and earthly imitations. Having become weary of hanging upon
an invisible arm, of trusting in an invisible sacrifice, of having
recourse to an invisible Priest, of committing herself to the guidance
of an invisible Head, she has set about "making" these things; and
thus, from age to age, she has been busily at work, with "graving
tool" in hand, graving and fashioning one thing after another, until
we can at length recognize as little similarity between much that we
see around us and what we _read_ in the Word, as between "a molten
calf" and the God of Israel.

"_Make us gods!_" What a thought! Man called upon to make gods, and
people willing to put their trust in such! My reader, let us look
within, and look around, and see if we cannot detect something of all
this. We read, in 1 Cor. x., in reference to Israel's history, that
"all these things happened unto them for ensamples [or types]; and
they are written _for our admonition_, upon whom the ends of the world
are come" (ver. 11.). Let us, then, seek to profit by the
"admonition." Let us remember that although we may not just form and
bow down before "a molten calf," yet that Israel's sin is a "type" of
something into which we are in danger of falling. Whenever we turn
away in heart from leaning exclusively upon God Himself, whether in
the matter of salvation or the necessities of the path, we are, in
principle, saying, "Up, make us gods." It is needless to say we are
not, in ourselves, a whit better than Aaron or the children of Israel;
and if they acknowledge a calf instead of Jehovah, we are in danger of
acting on the same principle, and manifesting the same spirit. Our
only safeguard is to be much in the presence of God. Moses knew that
the "molten calf" was not Jehovah, and therefore he did not
acknowledge it. But when we get out of the divine presence, there is
no accounting for the gross errors and evils into which we may be
betrayed.

We are called to live by faith; we can see nothing with the eye of
sense. Jesus is gone up on high, and we are told to wait patiently for
His appearing. God's word, carried home to the heart in the energy of
the Holy Ghost, is the ground of confidence in all things--temporal
and spiritual, present and future. He tells us of Christ's completed
sacrifice; we, by grace, believe, and commit our souls to the efficacy
thereof, and know we shall never be confounded. He tells us of a great
High-Priest, passed into the heavens--Jesus, the Son of God, whose
intercession is all-prevailing; we, by grace, believe, and confidingly
lean upon His ability, and know we shall be saved to the uttermost. He
tells us of the living Head to whom we are linked, in the power of
resurrection life, and from whom we can never be severed by any
influence, angelic, human, or diabolical; we, by grace, believe, and
cling to that blessed Head in simple faith, and know we shall never
perish. He tells us of the glorious appearing of the Son from heaven;
we, through grace, believe, and seek to prove the purifying and
elevating power of "that blessed hope," and know we shall not be
disappointed. He tells us of "an inheritance, incorruptible,
undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who
are kept by the power of God," for entrance thereinto in due time; we,
through grace, believe, and know we shall never be confounded. He
tells us the hairs of our head are all numbered, and that we shall
never want any good thing; we, through grace, believe, and enjoy a
sweetly tranquilized heart.

Thus it is, or, at least, thus our God would have it. But then the
enemy is ever active in seeking to make us cast away these divine
realities, take up the "graving tool" of unbelief, and "make gods" for
ourselves. Let us watch against him, pray against him, believe against
him, testify against him, act against him: thus he shall be
confounded, God glorified, and we ourselves abundantly blessed.

As to Israel, in the chapter before us, their rejection of God was
most complete. "And Aaron said unto them, 'Break off the golden
earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of
your daughters, and bring them unto me.'... And he received them at
their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it
a molten calf; and they said, '_These be thy gods_, O Israel, which
brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.' And when Aaron saw it, he
built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said,
'To-morrow is _a feast unto the Lord_.'" This was entirely setting
aside God, and putting a calf in His stead. When they could say that a
calf had brought them up out of Egypt, they had evidently abandoned
all idea of the presence and character of the true God. How
"_quickly_" they must "have turned aside out of the way," to have made
such a gross and terrible mistake! And Aaron, the brother and
yoke-fellow of Moses, led them on in this; and, with a calf before
him, he could say, "To-morrow is a feast unto Jehovah"! How sad! How
deeply humbling! God was displaced by an idol. A thing "graven by art
and man's device" was set in the place of "the Lord of all the earth."

All this involved, on Israel's part, a deliberate abandonment of their
connection with Jehovah. They had given Him up; and, accordingly, we
find Him, as it were, taking them on their own ground. "And the Lord
said unto Moses, 'Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou
broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: they
have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them.... I
have seen this people, it is a stiff-necked people: now therefore let
Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may
consume them: and I will make of _thee_ a great nation.'" Here was an
open door for Moses; and here he displays uncommon grace, and
similarity of spirit to that Prophet whom the Lord was to raise up
like unto him. He refuses to be or to have any thing without the
people. He pleads with God on the ground of His own glory, and puts
the people back upon Him in these touching words, "Lord, why doth Thy
wrath wax hot against _Thy people_, which _Thou_ hast brought up out
of the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Wherefore
should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did He bring them
out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face
of the earth? Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil
against _Thy_ people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy
servants, to whom Thou swarest by Thine own self, and saidst unto
them, 'I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this
land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall
inherit it forever.'" This was powerful pleading. The glory of God,
the vindication of His holy name, the accomplishment of His
oath,--these are the grounds on which Moses entreats the Lord to turn
from His fierce wrath. He could not find in Israel's conduct or
character any plea or ground to go upon; he found it all in God
Himself.

The Lord hath said unto Moses, "_Thy_ people which _thou_ broughtest
up;" but Moses replies to the Lord, "_Thy_ people which _Thou_ hast
brought up." They were the Lord's people notwithstanding all; and His
name, His glory, His oath, were all involved in their destiny. The
moment the Lord links Himself with a people, His character is
involved, and faith will ever look at Him upon this solid ground.
Moses loses sight of himself entirely His whole soul is engrossed
with thoughts of the Lord's glory and the Lord's people. Blessed
servant! How few like him! And yet when we contemplate him in all this
scene, we perceive how infinitely he is below the blessed Master. He
came down from the mount, and when he saw the calf and the dancing,
his "anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and
break them beneath the mount." The covenant was broken, and the
memorials thereof shattered to pieces; and then, having executed
judgment in righteous indignation, he "said unto the people, 'Ye have
sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; _peradventure_
I shall make an atonement for your sin.'"

How different is this from what we see in Christ! He came down from
the bosom of the Father, not with the tables in His hands, but with
the law in His heart. He came down, not to be made acquainted with the
condition of the people, but with a perfect knowledge of what that
condition was. Moreover, instead of destroying the memorials of the
covenant and executing judgment, He magnified the law and made it
honorable, and bore the judgment of His people, in His own blessed
Person, on the cross; and, having done all, He went back to heaven,
not with a "_peradventure_ I shall make an atonement for your sin,"
but to lay upon the throne of the Majesty in the highest the
imperishable memorials of an atonement already accomplished. This
makes a vast and truly glorious difference. Thank God, we need not
anxiously gaze after our Mediator, to know if haply He shall
accomplish redemption for us, and reconcile offended Justice. No; He
has done it all. His presence on high declares that the whole work is
finished. He could stand upon the confines of this world, ready to
take His departure, and, in all the calmness of a conscious Victor
(though He had yet to encounter the darkest scene of all), say, "I
have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou
gavest Me to do." (John xvii.) Blessed Saviour! we may well adore
Thee, and well exult in the place of dignity and glory in which
eternal justice has set Thee. The highest place in heaven belongs to
Thee; and Thy saints only wait for the time when "every knee shall
bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory
of God the Father." May that time speedily arrive!

At the close of this chapter, Jehovah asserts His rights, in moral
government, in the following words: "Whosoever hath sinned against Me,
him will I blot out of My book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto
the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, Mine Angel shall
go before thee: nevertheless, in the day when I visit I will visit
their sin upon them." This is God _in government_, not God _in the
gospel_. Here He speaks of blotting out _the sinner_; in the gospel He
is seen blotting out _sin_. A wide difference!

The people are to be sent forward, under the mediatorship of Moses, by
the hand of an angel. This was very unlike the condition of things
which obtained from Egypt to Sinai. They had forfeited all claim on
the ground of law, and hence it only remained for God to fall back
upon His own sovereignty and say, "I will be gracious to whom I will
be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy."



CHAPTERS XXXIII. & XXXIV.


Jehovah refuses to accompany Israel to the land of promise.--"I will
not go up in the midst of thee, (for thou art a stiff-necked people,)
lest I consume thee in the way." At the opening of this book, when the
people were in the furnace of Egypt, the Lord could say, "I have
surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have
heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their
sorrows." But now He has to say, "I have seen this people, and,
behold, it is a stiff-necked people." An afflicted people is an object
of grace; but a stiff-necked people must be humbled. The cry of
oppressed Israel had been answered by the exhibition of grace; but the
song of idolatrous Israel must be answered by the voice of stern
rebuke.

"Ye are a stiff-necked people: I will come up into the midst of thee
in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments
from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee." It is only when we
are really stripped of all nature's ornaments that God can deal with
us. A naked sinner can be clothed; but a sinner decked with ornaments
must be stripped. This is always true. We must be stripped of all
that pertains to self ere we can be clothed with that which pertains
to God.

"And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by
the mount Horeb." There they stood, beneath that memorable mount,
their feasting and singing changed into bitter lamentations, their
ornaments gone, the tables of testimony in fragments. Such was their
condition, and Moses at once proceeds to act according to it. He could
no longer own the people in their corporate character. The assembly
had become entirely defiled, having set up an idol of their own making
in the place of God--a calf instead of Jehovah. "And Moses took the
tabernacle, and pitched it _without the camp_, afar off from the camp,
and called it 'The tabernacle of the congregation.'" Thus the camp was
disowned as the place of the divine presence. God was not, could not,
be there. He had been displaced by a human invention. A new
gathering-point was therefore set up. "And it came to pass, that every
one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the
congregation, which was without the camp."

There is here a fine principle of truth, which the spiritual mind will
readily apprehend. The place which Christ now occupies is "without the
camp," and we are called upon to "go forth unto Him." It demands much
subjection to the Word to be able, with accuracy, to know what "the
camp" really is, and much spiritual power to be able to go forth from
it: and still more to be able, while "far off from it," to act
towards those in it in the combined power of holiness and
grace;--holiness, which separates from the defilement of the camp;
grace, which enables us to act toward those who are involved therein.

"And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto
his friend. And he turned again into the camp; but his servant Joshua,
the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle."
Moses exhibits a higher degree of spiritual energy than his servant
Joshua. It is much easier to assume a position of separation from the
camp than to act aright towards those within.

"And Moses said unto the Lord, 'See, Thou sayest unto me. Bring up
this people; and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with
me; yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found
grace in My sight.'" Moses entreats the accompanying presence of
Jehovah, as a proof of their having found _grace_ in His sight. Were
it a question of mere _justice_, He could only consume them by coming
in their midst, because they were "a stiff-necked people;" but
directly He speaks of grace, in connection with the mediator, the very
stiff-neckedness of the people is made a plea for demanding His
presence.--"If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord, let my
Lord, I pray Thee, go among us; _for it is a stiff-necked people_; and
pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance."
This is touchingly beautiful. A "stiff-necked people" demanded the
boundless grace and exhaustless patience of God. None but He could
bear with them.

"And He said, 'My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee
rest.'" Precious portion! Precious hope! The presence of God with us,
all the desert through, and everlasting rest at the end! Grace to meet
our present need, and glory as our future portion! Well may our
satisfied hearts exclaim, "It is enough, my precious Lord."

In chapter xxxiv. the second set of tables is given, not to be broken,
like the first, but to be hidden in the ark, above which, as already
noticed, Jehovah was to take His place, as Lord of all the earth, in
moral government. "And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the
first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount
Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two
tables of stone. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with
him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by
before him, and proclaimed, 'The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and
gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping
mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and
that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the
third and to the fourth generation.'" This, be it remembered, is God
as seen in His moral government of the world, and not as He is seen in
the cross--not as He shines in the face of Jesus Christ--not as He is
proclaimed in the gospel of His grace. The following is an exhibition
of God in the gospel: "And all things are of God, _who hath reconciled
us to Himself by Jesus Christ_, and hath given to us the ministry of
reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, _reconciling the world
unto Himself_, NOT IMPUTING their trespasses unto them; and hath
committed unto us _the word of reconciliation_." (2 Cor. v. 18, 19.)
"Not clearing" and "not imputing" present two totally different ideas
of God. "Visiting iniquities" and canceling them are not the same
thing. The former is God in government, the latter is God in the
gospel. In 2 Cor. iii. the apostle contrasts the "ministration"
recorded in Exodus xxxiv. with "the ministration" of the gospel. My
reader would do well to study that chapter with care. From it he will
learn that any one who regards the view of God's character given to
Moses on Mount Horeb as unfolding the gospel, must have a very
defective apprehension indeed of what the gospel is. Neither in
creation nor yet in moral government do I or can I read the deep
secrets of the Father's bosom. Could the prodigal have found his place
in the arms of the One revealed on Mount Sinai? Could John have leaned
his head on the bosom of that One? Surely not. But God has revealed
Himself in the face of Jesus Christ. He has told out, in divine
harmony, all His attributes in the work of the cross. There "Mercy and
Truth have met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each
other." Sin is perfectly put away, and the believing sinner perfectly
justified, "BY THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS." When we get a view of God as
thus unfolded, we have only, like Moses, to "bow our head toward the
earth and worship;"--suited attitude for a pardoned and accepted
sinner in the presence of God!



CHAPTERS XXXV.-XL.


These chapters contain a recapitulation of the various parts of the
tabernacle and its furniture; and inasmuch as I have already given
what I believe to be the import of the more prominent parts, I will
not add more. There are, however, two things in this section from
which we may deduce most profitable instruction, and these are,
(first) _the voluntary devotedness_ and (secondly) _the implicit
obedience_ of the people with respect to the work of the tabernacle of
the congregation.

And first, as to their voluntary devotedness, we read, "And all the
congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of
Moses. And they came, every one _whose heart stirred him up_, and
every one whom _his spirit made willing_, and they brought _the Lord's
offering_ to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for
all His service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men
and women, _as many as were willing-hearted_, and brought bracelets,
and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every
man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the Lord. And every
man with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen,
and goats' hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers' skins, brought
them. Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass,
brought the Lord's offering: and every man with whom was found shittim
wood, for any work of the service, brought it. And all the women that
were wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which
they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of
fine linen. And all the women _whose heart stirred them up_ in wisdom
spun goats' hair. And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be
set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; and spice, and oil for
the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. The
children of Israel brought _a willing offering_ unto _the Lord_, every
man and woman, _whose heart made them willing_ to bring, for all
manner of work which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of
Moses." (Chap. xxxv. 20-29.) And, again, we read, "And all the wise
men that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from
his work which they made; and they spake unto Moses, saying, 'The
people bring _much more than enough_ for the service of the work,
which the Lord commanded to make.'... For the stuff they had was
sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much." (Ver. 4-7.)

A lovely picture this of devotedness to the work of the sanctuary! It
needed no effort to move the hearts of the people to give, no earnest
appeals, no impressive arguments. Oh, no! their "_hearts_ stirred
them up." This was the true way. The streams of voluntary devotedness
flowed from within. "Rulers," "men," "women,"--all felt it to be their
sweet privilege to give to the Lord, not with a narrow heart or
niggard hand, but after such a princely fashion that they had
"_enough, and too much_."

Then, as to _their implicit obedience_, we read, "_According to all
that the Lord commanded Moses_, so the children of Israel made all the
work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, _they had
done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it_: and
Moses blessed them." (Chap. xxxix. 42, 43.) The Lord had given the
most minute instructions concerning the entire work of the tabernacle.
Every pin, every socket, every loop, every tach, was accurately set
forth. There was no room left for man's expediency, his reason, or his
common sense. Jehovah did not give a great outline and leave man to
fill it up. He left no margin whatever in which man might enter his
regulations. By no means. "'See,' saith He, 'that thou make _all
things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount_.'" (Exod.
xxv. 40; xxvi. 30; Heb. viii. 5.) This left no room for human device.
If man had been allowed to make a single pin, that pin would most
assuredly have been out of place in the judgment of God. We can see
what man's "graving tool" produces in chapter xxxii. Thank God, it had
no place in the tabernacle. They did, in this matter, just what they
were told--nothing more, nothing less. Salutary lesson this for the
professing church! There are many things in the history of Israel
which we should earnestly seek to avoid,--their impatient murmurings,
their legal vows, and their idolatry; but in those two things may we
imitate them. May our devotedness be more whole-hearted, and our
obedience more implicit! We may safely assert that if all had not been
done "according to the pattern showed in the mount," we should not
have to read, "then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and
the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to
enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode
thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." (Chap. xl.
34, 35.) The tabernacle was in all respects according to _the divine
pattern_, and therefore it could be filled with _the divine glory_.

There is a volume of instruction in this. We are too prone to regard
the Word of God as insufficient for the most minute details connected
with His worship and service. This is a great mistake--a mistake which
has proved the fruitful source of evils and errors in the professing
church. The Word of God is amply sufficient for every thing, whether
as regards personal salvation and walk, or the order and rule of the
assembly. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness, that the man of God may be _perfect, thoroughly
furnished_ unto _all good works_." (2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.) This settles
the question. If the Word of God furnishes a man _thoroughly_ unto
"_all_ good works," it follows, as a necessary consequence, that
whatever I find not in its pages cannot possibly be a good work. And,
further, be it remembered, that the divine glory cannot connect itself
with aught that is not according to the divine pattern.

       *       *       *       *       *

Beloved reader, we have now traveled together through this most
precious book. We have, I fondly hope, reaped some profit from our
study. I trust we have gathered up some refreshing thoughts of Jesus
and His sacrifice as we passed along. Feeble, indeed, must be our most
vigorous thoughts, and shallow our deepest apprehensions, as to the
mind of God in all that this book contains. It is happy to remember
that, through grace, we are on our way to that glory where we shall
know even as we are known, and where we shall bask in the sunshine of
His countenance who is the beginning and ending of the ways of God,
whether in creation, in providence, or redemption. To Him I do most
affectionately commend you, in body, soul, and spirit. May you know
the deep blessedness of having your portion in Christ, and be kept in
patient waiting for His glorious advent. Amen.

                                                       _C. H. M._


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's note:

Variations in spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been retained
except in obvious cases of typographical error.





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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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