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I pass by.” Verse 22. An inspired apostle tells us that “this rock was Christ,” 1 Cor. x. 4. And it sheds a pleasing light on the subject. What afforded safety to Moses in the tremendous hour, when the glory of God appeared? A cleft of that rock from whence the living stream issued forth for the refreshment of God’s heritage when it was weary, and which was the type of that wonderful “Man” who is an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as a shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” Isaiah xxxii. 2. Did Moses flee thither for shelter, did he foresee his danger, and provide a covering for his defenceless head? §. the refuge was of God's providing. “I will put thee in a cleft of the rock.” Not human sagacity, but divine mercy discovers, and prepares a retreat for the miserable. Observe the solid foundation on which that man is established who rests on the word of God; “thou shalt stand upon a rock.” Remove the promise of him who is faithful, of him who is true, and we immediately sink into an horrible pit, and stick fast in the miry clay; but “Behold,” says God, “I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste,” Isaiah xxviii. 16. Moses is now directed to make all needful preparation for this important visit. In his haste he had thrown the two tables, which contained the law, on the ground, and had broken them in pieces under the mount: but no act of man can disannul the law of God. The loss, though great, was not irreparable. But God will not entirely repair it, that Moses may have somewhat to regret in the effects of his impatience. The former two tables were wholly of God— the substance, the form, the writing, the subject; but the last must partake of human ignorance and imperfection. The choice of the stone, and the hewing it into form, are of Moses; the writing and the words
are still of God. And these were the tables which were laid up in the ark of the testimony for preservation, and were transmitted to posterity. And it is thus that the precious things of God are still conveyed to men. The casket is human, the jewel which it contains is divine. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us,” 2 Cor. iv. 7. And thus though a merciful God express not displeasure at our rashness and folly, they become in the end their own punishment. Moses is commanded to be ready in the morning. The operations of human state loiter and linger, and seek to acquire importance from expectation and delay; but the movements of Deity prevent the dawning, and derive all their importance from themselves. Unless prayer be followed out by vigour and exertion, men pray in vain. One hour lost in slumber had rendered ten thousand petitions fruitless and ineffectual: but Moses, like a man in earnest, like a man who knew the valour of what he had so ardently desired, is ready betimes; he is at the appointed place at the appointed hour; with the tablets prepared to receive the impress of God. He carried them with him, a dead, vacant, useless lump of stone; he brings them back turned into spirit and life, clothed with meaning, speaking to the eye, to the heart, to the conscience; for if God breathe on dry bones, they instantly live, and stand up a great army. If we can conceive a situation more awfully solemn than another, it was that of Moses on this occasion. Consider the stillness of the morning, the elevation of the mountain, the pleasing gloom of solitude, the expected display of a §. which he could not behold but as it departed. Every circumstance is great and affecting, but altogether suitable to the glory that followed: for “the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord,” Chap. xxxiv. 5. At the inauguration of kings it is customary to proclaim their name and titles, and to bid defiance to every challenger or usurper of their rights. This is the mere pride of state, the mere insolence of possession. But the names of God are his nature, peculiar to himself, inapplicable, incommunicable to any other. And mark how the tide of mercy flows and swells till it has overcome every barrier; from. “the soles of the feet to the ancles, from the ancles to the knees, till it becomes a river, wherein a man may swim;” and from an overflowing river converted into a boundless ocean, without bottom, without shore. “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,” Chap. xxxiv. 6, 7. While justice is confined in one steady, deep, awful stream, threatening destruction only to the impenitent and unbelieving; expressed in these awful words, “and that will by no means clear the guilty.” This was the commencement of an interview “which lasted forty days and forty nights,” and which contained a repetition of the instructions formerly given respecting the tabernacle and its service. But this merits a separate and distinct consideration; as likewise does the alteration of the external appearance of Moses, on coming down from the mount; of which we mean to discourse next Lord's day. “Moses wist not that the shin of his face shone, while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him,” Chap. xxxiv. 29, 30.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
And it came to pass when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (with the two tables of testimony (in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount) that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone, while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the chil. dren of Israel saw Moses, behold the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him.— ExoDUs xxxiv. 29, 30.
THE sun, the great light of the natural world, eommunicates to all bodies a portion of his own splendour, and thereby confers upon them whatever lustre they possess. In his absence, all things assume the same dismal sable hue. The verdure of the meadow; the varied glory of the garden; the brightness of the moon’s resplendent orb; the sweet attractions of “the human face divine,” pronounce in so many different forms of expression, “The light of yonder celestial globe has arisen upon me: If I have any beauty or loveliness, with him it comes, and with him it departs.” The whole order and system of nature is designed to be a constant witness to the God of grace—“the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.” If there be in angels any beauty of holiness, any fervour of love, any elevation of wisdom, any excellency of strength; if there be in man any bowels of mercies, any kindness of affection, any gen
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tleness of spirit, any endearment of charity, any humbleness of mind, any meekness, patience, long-suffering, it is a glory reflected from “the Father of lights.” It neither exists nor can be seen, but as it is supplied and discovered by the eternal Source of light and joy. Say to that tulip, at the gloomy solstice of the year, or at the dusky midnight hour, “Array thyself in all those beautiful tints of thine wherewith thou charmest the eye of every beholder;” it hears thee not, it exhibits no colour but one. But with the return of the vernal breeze, and the genial influence of the sun, and the moment the dawning has arisen upon it, unbidden, unobserved, it puts on its beautiful garments, and stands irstantly clothed in all the freshness of the spring. Why is that face clouded with sorrow, why grovels that spirit in the dust, why lacks that heart the glow of benevolence, the meltings of sympathy? The genial current of the soul is frozen up, it is the dreary winter season of grace. The sun, the sun of righteousness has withdrawn; but, lo, after a little while, the winter is past, cheerful spring returns, the voice of joy and gladness is heard, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee,” Isaiah lx. 1. We naturally assume the tone of those with whom we frequently converse, and whom we dearly love. “He who walketh with wise men shall become wise; but the companion of fools shall be destroyed.” At the social, friendly banquet, the eye sparkles with delight, the heart expands, the brow is smoothed, the tongue is inspired by the law of kindness; every look is the reception or communication of pleasure. In the house of mourning, we speedily feel ourselves in unison with the afflicted; our eyes stand corrected, our words are few, our heads droop. In the cell of melancholy, the blood runs cold, the features relax, our powers of thought and reflection are suspended, with those of the moping wretches whose misery we