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apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings : so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.”
This inspired composition, called the Song of Moses, was written by the aged Lawgiver for the instruction of that people over whom he had so long presided, just before his death. It contains an historical account of their national origin, a narrative of the dangers through which they had passed, a prophecy of those which they were about to undergo, and closes with a reference to their future glory.
In speaking of the origin of the nation, Moses looks back into that far period when the limits of their various territories were appointed to the sons of Adam; and in figurative, but intelligible words, declares that those bounds were set with reference to the children of Abraham, a generation then only existing in the Divine foreknowledge: but this fact marks the importance of the position which this people were purposed to take among their brother nations. “ 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."
This was accomplished, when the ambition of the builders of Babel had been frustrated, and they were scattered over the surface of the earth, their link of union broken, and their medium of communication dissolved. Then the providence of God ordained that a portion of them should become the tenants of a land rich in every choice gift, and proportionate in extent and fertility to the numbers and the wants of his elect nation. This land they were to occupy for a season, until, having filled up the measure of their iniquities, and having fallen justly under the sweeping besom of the Divine vengeance, they should cede possession to the people for whom it was destined.
This arrangement of the wisdom of God may well demand our admiration, and yet it may at the same time excite surprise. Why, we may ask, should one nation bethus distinguished, and become the Lord's portion and the lot of his inheritance ? Was there anything peculiar in this family of Jacob, that they should claim special attention and regard from God? No: we are told that it was of the free favour of God, “ for he hath mercy upon whom he will have mercy.” But having set his seal upon them, they became for ever his people; “ the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” For “ the Lord's
portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance."
But we may press the inquiry still further, and ask, why should Jehovah select a portion, when the whole earth was his to its remotest corner, with its wide-spread human tenantry? To answer this question we must appeal to the revelation of the Divine plan as given in the Holy Scriptures.
From the beginning of time, it has been decreed that there shall be a Church, or body of men, selected out of the world which shall maintain the worship of the true God, in the midst of idolatry; this being its chief characteristic, that it is a protesting Church, lifting up its voice against “all that opposeth and calleth itself God.” This witness was maintained in the earliest patriarchal age in that branch of the family of Adam, which descended from Seth, and perpetuated through a long line of patriarchs, until, at length, it is found in the person and family of Abraham, who, separated from his nation and kindred, became a wanderer in the land of Canaan. Amongst this man's descendants the Church continued for nearly two thousand years, and during this period its existence is made plain and its history is easy to be traced. First the
family, and then, as it multiplied, the nation of Israel, became the depository of the Divine Word, and their land “the place where God's honour dwelt.” The sceptre of ecclesiastical, like that of civil power, not departing from Judah until
66 when the Church enlarged her borders, and gathered into her fold a portion of the hitherto outcast Gentile world." But God did not cast away his people utterly, for Jews and Gentiles, as individuals, were united in the new covenant, of which his blessed Son was the bearer to our rebellious world.
And, brethren, the true Church of God still exists: she stands forth“ as a light in the world,” “a city set upon a hill,” unscathed by her numerous foes,” undismayed by the virulence and duration of the opposition made to her, and looking forward patiently to the day in the which her enemies, as being her Lord's enemies, shall be subdued under her.
But it is necessary for us to distinguish between the literal and the spiritual Israel—the visible and the invisible Church. From the beginning there has been a portion of mankind selected by God as his owri, “predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son." As the visible Church consists of those who bear the outward marks of the call of God, impressed either in circumcision or in baptism, so these bear upon their foreheads the seal of the eternal covenant, unseen, indeed, of men, but which can never be effaced; it is their claim to protection in time of danger, and their passport at the appointed period into the heavenly Canaan.
This is that body of which the Bible speaks so much, and to which it makes so many promises——the Church mystical, “ which cometh up out of the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved;" which looketh forth as the morning, 6 fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners;” upon which the God of Jacob hath set his love, and concerning the members of it, he hath said, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” This is that body ecclesiastical, of which, in its present form we speak, when we use that language of our Communion Service,—“ We thank thee that thou dost assure us of thy favour and goodness towards us, and that we are very members incorporate of the mystical body of thy Son,” which is the blessed company of all faithful people. And this is that body, between the members of which there is an intimate union-a thrill of sympathy that knits them as with bands together. To this bond of sympathetic union we refer when