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by another hardened. A miracle in the difference of the fall; that (as if it knew times, and would teach them as well as feed them) it fell double in the even of the Sabbath, and on the Sabbath fell not. A miracle in the putrefaction and preservation; that it was full of worms, when it was kept beyond the due hour for distrust; full of sweetness when it was kept a day longer for religion; yea, many ages, in the ark, for a monument of the power and mercy of the Giver. A miracle in the continuance and ceasing; that this shower of bread followed their camp in all their removals, till they came to taste of the bread of Canaan; and then withdrew itself, as if it should have said, Ye need no miracles, now ye have means.
They had the types, we have the substance. In this wilderness of the world, the true manna is rained upon the tents of our hearts. He that sent the manna, was the manna which he sent. He hath said, "I am the manna that came down from heaven." Behold, their whole meals were sacramental. Every morsel they did eat was spiritual. We eat still of their manna: still he comes down from heaven. He hath substance enough for worlds of souls, yet only is to be found in the lists of the true church; he hath more sweetness than the honey, and the honey-comb. Happy are we, if we can find him so sweet as he is.
The same hand that rained manna upon their tents, could have rained it into their mouths, or laps. God loves we should take pains for our spiritual food. Little would it have availed them, that the manna lay about their tents, if they had not gone forth and gathered it, beaten it, baked it. Let salvation be never so plentiful, if we bring it not home, and make it ours by faith, we are no whit the better. If the work done, and means used, had been enough to give life, no Israelite had died. Their bellies were full of that bread, whereof one crumb gives life; yet they died many of them in displeasure. As in natural, so in spiritual things, we may not trust to means. The carcass of the sacrament cannot give life, but the soul of it, which is the thing represented. I see each man gather, and take his just measure out of the common heap. We must be industrious, and helpful each to other; but, when we have done, Christ is not partial. If our sanctification differ, yet our justification is equal in all.
He that gave a homer to each, could have given an ephah. As easily could he have rained down enough for a month, or
a year at once, as for a day. God delights to have us live in a continual dependence upon his providence, and each day renew the acts of our faith and thankfulness. But what a covetous Israelite was that, which, in a foolish distrust, would be sparing the charges of God, and reserving that for morning, which he should have spent upon his supper! He shall know, that even the bread that came down from heaven can corrupt. The manna was from above, the worms and stink from his diffidence. Nothing is so sovereign, which, being perverted, may not annoy instead of benefiting us.
Yet I see some difference between the true and typical manna; God never meant that the shadow and the body should agree in all things. The outward manna reserved was poison: the spiritual manna is to us, as it was to the ark, not good, unless it be kept perpetually. If we keep it, it shall keep us from putrefaction. The outward manna fell not at all on the Sabbath. The spiritual manna, though it balks no day, yet it falls double on God's day; and if we gather it not then, we famish. In that true Sabbath of our glorious rest, we shall for ever feed on that manna which we have gathered in this, even of our life.
BEFORE, Israel thirsted and was satisfied; after that, they hungered and were filled; now they thirst again. They have bread and meat, but want drink. It is a marvel if God do not evermore hold us short of something, because he would keep us still in exercise. We should forget at whose cost we live, if we wanted nothing. Still God observes a vicissitude of evil and good; and the same evils that we have passed return upon us in their courses. Crosses are not of the nature of those diseases which they say a man can have but once. Their first leisure doth but make way for their re-entry. None but our last enemy comes once for all: and I know not if that; for even in living, we die daily. So must we take our leaves of all afflictions, that we reserve a lodging for them and expect their return.
All Israel murmured when they wanted bread, meat, water; and yet all Israel departed from the wilderness of Sin to
Rephidim, at God's command. The very worst men will obey God in something; none but the good, in all. He is rarely desperate, that makes an universal opposition to God. It is
an unsound praise that is given a man for one good action. It may be safely said of the very devils themselves, that they do something well: they know and believe, and tremble. If we follow God and murmur, it is all one as if we had staid behind.
Those distrust his providence in their necessity, that are ready to follow his guidance in their welfare. It is an harder matter to endure an extreme want, than to obey an hard commandment. Sufferings are greater trials than actions. How many have we seen jeopard their lives, with cheerful resolution, which cannot endure in cold blood to lose a limb with patience? Because God will have his thoroughly tried, he puts them to both; and if we cannot endure both to follow him from Sin and to thirst in Rephidim, we are not sound Israelites.
God led them on purpose to this dry Rephidim. He could as well have conducted them to another Elim, to convenient waterings. Or he, that gives the waters of all their channels, could as well have derived them to meet Israel: but God doth purposely carry them to thirst. It is not for necessity that we fare ill, but out of choice. It were all one with God to give us health, as sickness; abundance, as poverty. The treasury of his riches hath more store than his creature can be capable of. We should not complain, if it were not good for us to want.
This should have been a contentment able to quench any thirst; "God hath led us hither." If Moses, out of ignorance, had misguided us, or we by chance had fallen upon these dry desarts, though this were no remedy of our grief, yet it might be some ground of our complaint. But now the counsel of so wise and merciful a God hath drawn into this want; and shall not he as easily find the way out? "It is the Lord, let him do what he will." There can be no more forcible motive to patience, than the acknowledgment of a divine hand that strikes us. It is fearful to be in the hand of an adversary; but who would not be confident of a father? Yet, in our frail humanity, choler may transport a man from the remembrance of nature; but when we feel ourselves under the disciple of a wise God (that can temper our afflictions to our
strength, to our benefit), who would not rather murmur at himself that he should swerve towards impatience? Yet these sturdy Israelites wilfully murmur, and will not have their thirst quenched with faith, but with water; "Give us water."
I looked to hear when they would have entreated Moses to pray for them; but, instead of entreating, they contend; and, instead of prayers, I find commands; "Give us water." If they had gone to God without Moses, I should have praised their faith but now they go to Moses without God, I hate their stubborn faithlessness. To seek to the second means,
with neglect of the first, is the fruit of a false faith.
The answer of Moses is, like himself, mild and sweet. Why contend ye with me? "Why tempt ye the Lord?" in the first expostulation condemning them of injustice; since not he, but the Lord, hath afflicted them in the second, of presumption; that since it was God that tempted them by want, they should tempt him by murmuring. In the one he would have them see their wrong; in the other, their danger. As the act came not from him, but from God, so he puts it off to God from himself. 66 Why tempt ye the Lord?" The opposition which is made to the instruments of God, redounds ever to his person. He holds himself smitten through the sides of his ministers. So hath God incorporated these respects, that our subtilty cannot divide them.
But what temptation is this?" Is the Lord among us, or no?" Infidelity is crafty and yet foolish; crafty in her insinuations, foolish in her conceits. They imply, "If we were sure the Lord were with us, we would not distrust." They conceive doubts of his presence, after such confirmations. What could God do more to make them know him present, unless every moment should have renewed miracles? The plagues of Egypt, and the division of the sea were so famous, that the very inns of Jericho rang of them. Their waters were lately sweetened; the quails were yet in their teeth; the manna was yet in their eye; yea, they saw God in the pillar of the cloud, and yet they say, "Is the Lord amongst us ?" No argument is enough to an incredulous heart; not reason, sense, nor experience. How much better was that faith of Thomas, that would believe his eyes and hands, though his ears he would not? O the deep infidelity of these Israelites, that saw and believed not!
And how will they know if God be amongst them? as if he could not be with them, and they be athirst. Either God must humour carnal minds, or be distrusted. If they prosper, though it be with wickedness, God is with them. If they be thwarted in their own designs, straight "Is God with us?" It was the way to put God from them, to distrust and murmur. If he had not been with them, they had not lived. If he had been in them, they had not mutinied. They can think him absent in their want, and cannot see him absent in their sin; and yet wickedness, not affliction, argues him gone: yet then is he most present, when he most chastises.
Who would not have looked, that this answer of Moses should have appeased their fury? As what can still him, that will not be quiet to think he hath God for his adversary? But, as if they would wilfully war against heaven, they proceed; yet with no less craft than violence, bending their exception to one part of the answer, and smoothly omitting what they could not except against. They will not hear of tempting God; they maintain their strife with Moses, both with words and stones. How malicious, how heady is impatience! The act was God's, they cast it upon Moses; "Wherefore hast thou brought us?" The act of God was merciful, they make it cruel," To kill us and our children;" as if God and Moses meant nothing but their ruin, who intended nothing but their life and liberty. Foolish men! what needed this journey to death? Were they not as obnoxious to God in Egypt? Could not God by Moses as easily have killed them in Egypt, or in the sea, as their enemies? Impatience is full of misconstruction. If it be possible to find out any gloss, to corrupt the text of God's actions, they shall be sure not to escape untainted.
It was no expostulating with an unreasonable multitude. Moses runs straight to him that was able at once to quench their thirst, and their fury; "What shall I do to this people?" It is the best way to trust God with his own causes. When
men will be intermeddling with his affairs, they undo themselves in vain. We shall find difficulties in all great enterprizes; if we be sure we have begun them from God, we may securely cast all events upon his providence, which knows how to dispose, and how to end them.
Moses perceived rage, not in the tongues only, but in the hands of the Israelites; "Yet a while longer, and they will