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in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people in the wilderness.' Leviathan, the same dragon, oppressing, persecuting Pharaoh, thou breakest his heads, his counsels, armies, power, and gavest him for meat, that the people for forty years together might be fed, sustained, and nourished with that wonderful mercy. 'Out of the eater came forth meat, out of the strong came
In this reciprocation God walketh with his people. Of free grace he bestoweth mercies and blessings on them; by grace works the returns of remembrance and thankfulness unto himself for them; then showers that down again in new mercies. The countries which send up no vapours, receive down no showers. Remembrance, with thankfulness of former mercies, is the matter, as it were, which by God's goodness is condensed into following blessings. For
1. Mercies have their proper end, when thankfully remembered. What more powerful motive to the obtaining of new, than to hold out that the old were not abused? We are encouraged to cast seed again into that ground, whose last crop witnesseth that it was not altogether barren. That sad spot of good Hezekiah, that he rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him, is set down as the opening a door of wrath against himself, Judah, and Jerusalem, 2 Chron. xxxii. 25. On the other side, suitable returns are a door of hope for farther mercies.
2. The remembrance of them strengthens faith, and keeps our hands from hanging down in the time of waiting for blessings. When faith is supported, the promise is engaged, and a mercy at any time more than half obtained. Faith is the substance of things hoped for; Heb. xi. 1. 'God,' saith the apostle, ' hath delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver.' Now what conclusion makes he of this experience? in whom we trust, that he will yet deliver us;' 2 Cor. i. 10. It was a particular mercy with its circumstances, as you may see ver. 9. which he made the bottom of his dependance. In the favours of men we cannot do so; they may be weary of helping, or be drawn dry, and grow helpless. Ponds may be exhausted, but the ocean never. The infinite fountains of the Deity cannot be sunk one hair's breadth by everlasting flowing blessings. Now circumstances of actions, time, place, and the like, ofttimes take deep impres
sions; mercies should be remembered with them. So doth the apostle again, 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18. He did deliver me from the mouth of the lion:' Nero, that lion-like tyrant. And what then? he will deliver me from every evil work.' David esteemed it very good logic, to argue from the victory God gave him over the lion and the bear, to a confidence of victory over Goliah, 1 Sam. xvii. 37.
Use. The use of this we are led unto, Isa. xliii. 16—18. 'Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; which bringeth forth the chariot and the horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow. Remember ye not the former things, nor consider the things of old.' Let former mercies be an anchor of hope in time of present distresses. Where is the God of Marstone Moor, and the God of Naseby? is an acceptable expostulation in a gloomy day. O what a catalogue of mercies hath this nation to plead by in a time of trouble? God came from Naseby, and the Holy One from the West. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.' He went forth in the North, and in the East he did not withhold his hand. I hope the poor town wherein I live, is more enriched with a store mercy of a few months, than with a full trade of many years. The snares
of death compassed us, and the floods of ungodly men made us afraid;' Psal. xviii. 4. but the Lord thundered from heaven, the highest gave his voice, hailstones and coals of fire: yea, he sent out his arrows and scattered them, and he shot out lightning and discomfited them: he sent from above, he took us, he drew us out of many waters, he delivered us from our strong enemy, and from them which hated us, for they were too strong for us;' ver. 13, 14. 16, 17. How may we say with the same psalmist in any other distress, 'O my God, my soul is cast down within me, therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar;' Psal. xlii. 6. Where is the God of Elijah, who divides anew the waters of Jordan?' 2 Kings ii. 14.
No place in the county so threatened; no place in the county so preserved; small undertakings there blessed; great opposition blasted. Non nobis, Domine, non nobis.
The following verses set forth the glory and power of God, in the accomplishment of that great work of bringing his people into the promised land, with those mighty things he performed in the wilderness.
Ver. 4. If I mistake not, sets out his glorious appearance on mount Sinai; of which the prophet affirms two things:
1. That his brightness was as the light.'
2. That he had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power.'
1. For the first. Is it not that brightness which appeared, when the mountain burnt with fire to the midst of heaven, Deut. iv. 11. a glorious fire in the midst of clouds and thick darkness? The like description you have of God's presence, Psal. xviii. 11, 12. He made darkness his secret place, and brightness was before him:' as the light, the sun, the fountain and cause of it, called 'light,' Job xxxi. 26. Now this glorious appearance holds out the kingly power and majesty of God in governing the world, which appeareth but unto few. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, clouds and darkness are round about him, a fire goeth before him, his lightnings enlightened the world;' Psal. xcvii. 1-3.
2. 'He had horns coming out of his hand.' So the words most properly, though by some, otherwise rendered. That horns in Scripture are taken for strength and power,' needs no proving. The mighty power of God, which he made appear to his people, in that glorious representation of his majesty on mount Sinai, is by this phrase expressed. 'There his chariots were seen to be twenty thousands, even many thousands of angels, and the Lord among them in that holy place;' Psal. Ixviii. 19. There they perceived that he had horns in his hand;' an almighty power to do what he pleased. Whence it is added; 'And there was the hiding of his power.' Though the appearance of it was very great and glorious, yet it was but small to the everlasting hidden depths of his omnipotency. The most glorious appearance of God comes infinitely short of his own eternal majesty as he is in himself: it is but a discovery, that there is the hiding of infinite perfection; or, there his power appeared to us, which was hidden from the rest of the world.
• Deut. xxxiii. 17. Psal. lxxv. 10. Zech. i. 18.
VIII. Observation, When God is doing great things, he gives glorious manifestations of his excellencies to his secret
The appearance on Sinai goes before his passage into Canaan. Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets;' Amos iii. 7. When he is to send Moses for the deliverance of his people, he appears to him in a burning, unconsumed bush, Exod. iii. 2. a sign manifesting the presence of his power, to preserve his church unconsumed in the midst of burning, fiery afflictions. Unto this very end were all the visions that are recorded in the Scripture, all of them accommodated to the things which God was presently doing. And this he doth,
1. That they may thereby be prepared to follow him, and serve him in the great works he hath for them to do. Great works are not to be done without great encouragements. If God appears not in light, who can expect he should appear in operation? He that is called to serve Providence in high things, without some especial discovery of God, works in the dark, and knows not whither he goes, nor what he doth. Such a one travels in the wilderness without a directing cloud. Clear shining from God must be at the bottom of deep labouring with God. What is the reason that so many in our days set their hands to the plough, and look back again? begin to serve Providence in great things, but cannot finish? give over in the heat of the day? They never had any such revelation of the mind of God upon their spirits, such a discovery of his excellencies, as might serve for a bottom of such undertakings. Men must know that if God hath not appeared to them in brightness, and shewed them the horns in his hand,' hid from others, though they think highly of themselves, they'll deny God twice and thrice, before the close of the work of this age. If you have no great discoveries, you will wax vain in great undertakings. New workings on old bottoms, are like new wine in old bottles, both are spoiled and lost. The day is the time of work, and that because of the light thereof: those who have not light may be spared to go to bed.
2. That they may be the better enabled to give him glory,
John xii. 35. Rev. xvi. 10.
when they shall see the sweet harmony that is between his manifestations and his operations: when they can say with the psalmist, As we have heard, so have we seen;' Psal. xlviii. 8. As he revealeth himself, so he worketh. When his power and mercy answer his appearance in the bush, it is a foundation to a prayer: The good will of him that dwelt in the bush, bless thee.' When a soul shall find God calling him forth to employments, perhaps great and high, yet every way suiting that light and gracious discovery which he hath given of himself, one thing answering another, it sets him in a frame of honouring God aright.
This might be of rich consideration could we attend it. For,
Use 1. Hence, as I said before, is apostacy from God's work. He appears not unto men, how can they go upon his employment? Men that have no vision of God, are in the dark, and know not what to do. I speak not of visions beyond the word; but answers of prayers, gracious applications of providences, with wise considerations of times and seasons. Some drop off every day, some hang by the eyelids, and know not what to do: the light of God is not sent forth to lead and guide them; Psal. xliii. 3. Wonder not at the strange backslidings of our days, many acted upon by engagements, and for want of light, know not to the last what they were a doing.
Use 2. Hence also is the suiting of great light, and great work, in our days. Let new light be derided whilst men please, he will never serve the will of God in this generation, who sees not beyond the line of foregoing ages.
Use 3. And this thirdly may put all those, whom God is pleased to employ in his service, upon a diligent inquiry into his mind. Can a servant do his master's work, without knowing his pleasure? We live for the most part from hand to mouth, and do what comes next; few are acquainted with the designs of God.
The going forth of the Lord with his people towards their rest, with reference to his harbingers, is described, ver. 5.
Ver. 5. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.'
'Before him,' at his face. The pestilence:' this is often