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exemplified in the labours of bees; from which we may form a just idea of all that is passing in the world. Thousands of persons are employed, daily and hourly, to supply our wants. Little do we think of this. Were we placed for any length of time in a country uninhabited except by ourselves and our own domestic circle, we should soon feel how deeply we are indebted to God for innumerable comforts, which, through his good providence, we enjoy; and which, through a stimulus imparted by him, other persons are engaged in procuring for What their motives may be, is no concern of ours: it is sufficient for us to know, that, as God directed and overruled the ambition of Sennacherib to correct and chasten his people Israel, so he directs and overrules the selfish dispositions of mankind to administer to the wants of each other, and to provide for the comfort of the whole world. And the poorest person amongst us has thousands of persons at this very time engaged for him, to provide him with the comforts and conveniences of life.]
2. In relation to the concerns of our souls
[Has not God preserved to us, also, his word and ordinances; dispensed, too, by the same ministry for forty years? and may we not say, too, that God has, during the whole of that period, "sent his good Spirit to instruct you?" Yes; God has borne testimony to the word of his grace, and caused it to " come to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." I would not willingly speak of any thing relating to myself: that is the last subject that should ever be brought before you: but, having fulfilled the term that Moses and Aaron did before me; and being able to call to witness, that, during the whole of that time, I have lived for you, and laboured for you, and "declared unto you faithfully the whole counsel of God;" I cannot but remind you of God's dealings with you.in that particular, and make my appeal to you in the words of my text, "These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; ye have lacked nothing"."]
Whatever be the value of these mercies, it will be greatly heightened by considering,
d Isai. x. 5-7.
• In the year 1822, the Author had ministered at Trinity Church the precise time that Moses and Aaron had to Israel.
f 1 Thess. i. 5.
8 The example of St. Paul, in his address to the Elders of Ephesus (Acts xx. 17-27, 31.) must be the Author's apology for the foregoing observations; which, after forty years of labour in the same church, may well be allowed.
II. Under what circumstances they have been continued to us
If we look at Israel, they will serve as a mirror, to reflect our image to the very life. In them we may see, 1. How great our provocations have been
[Grievously neglectful of their duties were the Israelites, during the whole of their sojourning in the wilderness. Though commanded to circumcise their children, they never administered that rite in all that time1. Never but once had they held a Passover; and that was in the very first year after they had come out of Egypt. And during the whole forty years they offered no sacrifice to God; but, on the contrary, paid their devotions to senseless gods, and graven images. Such was their conduct in the wilderness. And what has been ours? Have not our most solemn duties been neglected, or performed only in such a way as to shew that our heart was not in them? Have we attained the true circumcision, even "the circumcision of the heart, which is not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; whose praise is not of men, but of God1?" Have we fed upon the Paschal Lamb, even on "Christ our Passover, who has been sacrificed for usm?" Have " we presented ourselves as living sacrifices to God, which has been our reasonable service"?" Have we not rather "set up idols in our hearts," even every heathenish abomination, and in ten thousand instances "loved and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for evermore P?" And do we "find these things by secret search?" No: your whole lives proclaim it. Must we go back to the Apostles' days to find that "covetousness which is idolatry," or the people "whose god is their belly," and who have no delight in any thing but the gratification of their sensual appetites? Let us look back through the whole time of our sojourning in this wilderness, and we shall find our whole lives to have been one continued series of provocations; as if we had determined to "weary out our God," and "break down his very Spirit with our whorish heart." Yes; "this has been our manner from our youth." God "has known this to be our walking through this great wilderness:" and our consciences also attest that these accusations are true.]
2. How entirely we have been under the influence of unbelief
[Notwithstanding all that God did for Israel, yet would they "never believe his word"." And it was this very thing which most of all provoked him to "swear, that they should never enter into his rest*." And what has been our state in this respect? We have had God's promises and threatenings set before us with all fidelity: but neither the one nor the other have been regarded: they have all appeared to us but as idle tales; and have had no more influence upon us, than if they had been unworthy of the smallest credit. Every earthly vanity has been able to excite a hope or fear: but God's word has been altogether despised. Say, Brethren, whether this be not true? Say whether the terrors of hell have been sufficient to keep you from sin, or the glories of heaven sufficient to stimulate you to a surrender of yourselves to God? With the exception of a few instances, wherein divine grace has wrought successfully upon this or that particular individual, the whole mass of us have lived as without God in the world," preferring our own will before his, and the gratification of ourselves before the honour of our God.
Such have been the circumstances under which our God has continued to load us with his benefits. "We have lacked nothing" that was conducive to our comfort: but he has lacked every thing that should promote his glory.]
SEE then, here—
1. What reason we have to admire the patience of our God
[He complains that he has been "pressed under us, even as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves:" yet has he borne with us even to the present hour; "many a time turning his anger away, and not stirring up all his wrath," to punish us, as we deserved". Can you look back upon no season, Brethren, when God might well have cut you off; and have "got honour to himself" in executing upon you the most signal vengeancea? I call upon you, then, to glorify his name; and to acknowledge from your inmost souls, that "it is of his mercies that you have not been long since consumed, even because his compassions fail not"."]
2. What need we have to humble ourselves before him
"His Spirit will be gracious unto impart the full
[God's patience will come to an end. not always strive with man." He waits to us; but it is to the penitent only that he will
blessings of salvation. His determination is, "Whoso covereth his sins, shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth, and forsaketh them, shall have mercy." Contend, then, with him no longer; but let "his goodness and long-suffering and forbearance lead you to repentance."]
3. What need professors of religion, in particular, have to fear and tremble
[The whole people of Israel had been brought out of Egypt, and been both blessed and honoured by God as his peculiar people and yet they perished in the wilderness. And this is recorded as an admonition to us. St. Jude, also, particularly labours to impress this warning on our minds. Let it sink, then, into all our hearts: for the very bounty of our God, in the bestowment of temporal and spiritual blessings upon us, will only aggravate our condemnation, if we do not make a suitable improvement of them. We may have "lacked nothing for forty years," and yet "lack a drop of water" to all eternity. I pray you, Brethren, see to it, that your "hearts be right with God;" and that the blessings bestowed on you in this life, be the means of preparing you for richer blessings in the world to come.]
d Rom. ii. 4.
f Jude, ver. 5.
e 1 Cor. x. 1-12.
g Heb. iii. 12. and iv. 1.
MOSES VIEWS CANAAN FROM PISGAH.
Deut. iii. 23-28. And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain and Lebanon! But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.
THE character of Moses, in whatever point of view it be considered, is worthy of admiration: his zeal and industry, his patience and meekness, his fidelity
and love, were never surpassed by any child of man. As an intercessor for the Lord's people, he stands unrivalled. Many were the occasions whereon he prevailed on God to spare that rebellious nation that had been committed to his charge. But behold, this eminent saint, who had so often succeeded in his applications for others, was now refused when praying for himself. And, though it might appear humiliating, and might lower him in the estimation of all future generations, he gives a faithful account of the whole matter, recording both the prayer that he offered, and the answer he received.
The points to which we would call your attention,
I. God's rejection of the prayer of Moses
Nothing could be more proper than this prayer of Moses
[He requested that he might be permitted to "go over Jordan, and see the promised land." It was with a view to the enjoyment of this land that he had laboured incessantly for forty years. He had held up the possession of it as the great inducement to the whole nation to come forth from Egypt, and to endure all the hardships of journeying in the wilderness, and the perils of protracted warfare against the inhabitants of the land. He knew that Canaan was "the glory of all lands." And now that the period for the full possession of it was arrived, yea, and God had given them an earnest of it in the subjugation of the kingdoms on the east of Jordan, who can wonder that Moses should be anxious to participate the promised happiness? The manner in which he sought it was most becoming. He did not complain of the sentence of exclusion that had been passed upon him; but only prayed that it might be reversed. Often had he urged similar petitions for others with success: and therefore he had reason to hope, that he might not plead in vain for himself. He did not certainly know that God's decree with respect to him differed from the threatenings that had been denounced against others: there might be a secret reserve of mercy in the one case as well as in the other: and therefore he was emboldened to offer his requests, but with a meekness and modesty peculiarly suited to the occasion.]
But God saw fit to reject his petition
[The refusal which God gave him on this occasion was most peremptory. When he had rejected his prayer for the offending nation, be said, "Let me alone;" and in that very expression