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that ye may win Christ, and be found in him, not having your own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness that is of God by faith?
THE BRAZEN SERPENT.
NUMBERS XXI. 8, 9.
The Lord said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived.
In that important conversation which opened the secrets of the kingdom of heaven to the astonished mind of Nicodemus, two subjects were especially pressed upon his attention :— the necessity of a new birth unto holiness, by water and the Spirit of God, and the appointed method of salvation through faith in a crucified Redeemer. He who subsequently said, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of
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me," addressed a similar reference to the master of Israel. He directed his attention to the brazen serpent, as a remarkable type of himself, and of the deliverance which he should effect for a dying world, by his suffering on the cross. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.1 We have now arrived at this significant event in the history of Israel: and with the plain unequivocal appropriation made of it by our blessed Lord to himself, we are not only permitted, but in mere consistency obliged, to compare the type with the antitype —the transaction with its spiritual application, by noticing
I. The Malady With Which The Israelites
II. The Remedy With Which They Were
After the sin of Israel had been rebuked by the sentence of exclusion from the promised land, pronounced against Moses and Aaron, and already executed upon the latter, the people had requested permission to pass through the country of their kinsmen the Edomites, as the nearest way to Canaan. The favour however, was churlishly denied them; aud they were thus obliged to return from mount Hor, by the way of the Red Sea, in order to compass the land of Edom. By this carnal, impatient, discontented people, such a necessity would be regarded as a harsh dealing on the part of God. "The soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way." In addition to this trial, the scarcity of water seems not to have been removed. They grew weary also of the food which descended from heaven. "There is no bread, neither is there any water, and our soul loatheth this light bread." In this perverse and daring spirit they spake against God, and against Moses, saying, " Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness." But even the forbearance of divine mercy has its limit. Even the long suffering of a gracious God towards sinners may be wearied; and he may be provoked to visit them with his strange, though dreadful work of judgment. The honour of his character, the vindication of his moral government, the interests of his church, may unite to call for wrath and justice upon impenitent offenders. In this manner do sinners now "despise the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth them to repentancc: but after their hardness and impenitent heart treasure up unto themselves wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." Such then, were the circumstances under which an awful visitation befel the guilty people of the Most High. The particular character of the judgment is full of warning and instruction. "The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died." No doubt these terrible destroyers had infested the wilderness long before the Israelites passed through it: but the protecting arm of God had restrained them from entering the-camp. The pillar of the cloud and of fire had defended the Israelites from their venom, and even from their approach. That protection was now withdrawn; and the serpents were sent by God to do their work of death amidst the guilty thousands of the congregation. Their terrible character is briefly, but emphatically described—the Lord sent fiery serpents. Their very aspect resembled the fierceness of a devouring flame. The poison with which they were filled appeared in their outward form: and the effects produced by their bite, made the wretched sufferer feel as though the current of his blood were changed into tides of fire in his veins, producing the anguish of intolerable thirst and fever. This min
'Johniii. 14, 15.