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Wilderness they went to Mattanah; and from Mattanah to Nahaliel; and from Nahaliel to Bamoth." Numb. xxi. 16-19.
BEER was a pleasing station to the Jews; and it is a very instructive one to us. They here came into a dry place; but they neither rebelled nor murmured against God, or his servant Moses.
See, first, How easily the Lord can supply the wants of his people-" Gather the people together, and I will give them water." Not only is every good gift and every perfect gift from above; but all our temporal comforts come from the hand of God. We are not to look for miracles; but then we may be assured that his word can be accomplished without them: "For sooner all Nature shall change, than one of God's promises fail." And He has said, "Thy bread shall be given thee; and thy water shall be sure." And what he has promised, he is able also to perform. Let us not limit the Holy One of Israel. Nothing is too hard for him. He can turn the shadow of death into the morning. Jehovah-jireh! The Lord will provide. "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water."
Secondly. See how want endears our blessings. "Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it." We feel unthankful for this precious fluid, because it is so common, and we have never been deprived of it. But had we gone several days in a wilderness without it, how should we have exulted and praised God at the sight of a refreshing supply. It is thus, by their removal or suspension, we are taught the worth of our comforts. How is
liberty prized and enjoyed, after bondage? and health, after sickness? and spring, after winter? and morning, after night? We become indifferent to the means of grace.-By a change of residence, or by accident, or disease, we are deprived of the privileges of the Sanctuary-then, ah! then we remember these things, and pour out our souls in us: for we had gone with the multitude; we went with them to the House of God, with the voice of joy and gladness, with a multitude that kept holy day.
Oh, says David, when he was faint, Oh that one would give me to drink of the water of the well that is by the gate of Bethlehem !-And were we equally athirst, spiritually, how should we long for the well of salvation, and say,
"Thou, of life the fountain art;
Thirdly. His agency does not exclude or supersede our instrumentality. "The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it by the direction of the Lawgiver with their staves"-God filled it; but they digged it. This was their part. This they could do-and why should God have exempted them from it? He gives the increase; but He furnishes Paul must plant and Apollos water. the wind; but we are to spread the sails. He gives; but we gather. Prayer and diligence, dependence and activity, harmonize in the Scripture, and are only inconsistent in the crudeness of ignorant and foolish men. Paul makes Divine influence, not an excuse for the neglect of means, but a motive and encouragement to the use of them-"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Fourthly. However pleasing any of our present stations are, we must, if we are the Israel of God, leave them. "And from the Wilderness they went to Mattanah; and from Mattanah to Nahaliel; and from Nahaliel to Bamoth." The part they left, is called, indeed, the Wilderness; and so it was-but it was good for them to be there. There they had witnessed proofs of the power and goodness of God; and there they had enjoyed a time of refreshing from his presence. But they had compassed the place long enough; and, decamping from this loved scene, had to journey on in the Desert. Here, also, Christians have their indulgences. But these are designed, not to induce them to tarry, but to encourage them to advance. In the midst of their enjoyments a voice cries, Arise ye, and depart hence; for this is not your
These people would have been the more willing to move because they knew they were moving towards Canaan, a better country, the end and aim of their journey; and-because they were under the direction of God, as their guide, and who would never leave them nor forsake them. So it should be with us.
JULY 3.-" Faint-."
Judges viii. 4.
WHAT war is there that has nothing to depress? nothing to animate? and that does not furnish diversity of feelings in those who carry it on?
Christians resemble these followers of Gideon and subduers of the Amalekites-Faint, yet pursuing. Yes-while engaged in this good fight of faith, they may be faint. We need not wonder at this, if we consider the enemies they have to vanquish
bodily appetites; filthiness of spirit; a depraved nature; all sin and error; the present evil world; the Devil, and his angels. If we also consider the qualities of their adversaries-their number-their malignity-their power-their policy-their success : for they have cast down many mighty; yea, many strong men have been slain by them-Oh! when we think of the heroes, the statesmen, the princes, the philosophers, the divines-and all the myriads they have enslaved and destroyed, who is not ready to tremble, and exclaim,-"I shall one day perish!"
There is also the length of the service. It is not for a season only; but for life. We are not allowed to receive any proposals of peace. We cannot enter into a truce-no, not even to bury the dead-Let the dead bury their dead. We are to fight on through summer and winter-by day and night-in every situation and condition. He that endureth to the end, the same only shall be saved. In conversion we throw away the scabbard; in death only we lay down the sword. While we are here, something is still to be done; something still to be avoided-in company-in solitude-in health-in sickness. And is it nothing to watch in all things! To pray without ceasing! In every thing to give thanks! To be always abounding in the work of the Lord!
There are also occasional difficulties too common to be overlooked. It is easy to suppose a few of them. What marvel if the soldier is faint-when the road is rough and thorny-and the weather is warm and oppressive-and he hungers and thirsts for want of seasonable refreshments and supplies, which are interrupted, if not cut off and he feels a loss of strength, occasioned by a wound from without, or an indisposition from within. Is this talking parables? There is not a Christian on earth whose religious experience will not easily explain it.
And if this, therefore, be my experience-let me remember that there is nothing ominous, nor even
peculiar, in it. Every subject of Divine grace is well acquainted with this heart's bitterness-and must be or much of the Scripture could not be applied to him, either in a way of description, or comfort.
And let me be thankful that to will is present with me, though how to perform that which is good I find not. If I faint, I do not flee-Faint -yet PURSUING.
JULY 4.-"Yet pursuing."
Judges viii. 4.
THE life and experience of the Christian are full of contrasts. He resembles the bush of Moses, which was seen burning, but not consumed. And his language is, Cast down, but not destroyed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live. We are now viewing him as a soldier. In our last page, we saw him faint: but we shall now find him, amidst all that is grievous, feeling no disposition to give up-Faint, yet pursuing.
-And there is much to encourage and animate him. There is something in himself, and which is nothing less than a principle of Divine grace. Every thing else will decline when it meets with its proper temptation. Natural and merely moral resources, are as the morning cloud, and the early dew, which soon passeth away. But we are confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in us, will perform it. That which is Divine is durable and invincible-That which is born of God, overcometh the world.
There is also much to encourage him in his cause. It is a good warfare. It will bear examination. Conscience entirely approves of it. Angels