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in safety, to acknowledge the good providence of God, which has been over us. Many, I apprehend, pray for protection, who do not think to thank God for it, when it has been most kindly extended to them. Let those, however, who are so fearful, lest they should meet some Amalekite in the way, and, because of such fears, are quite ready to bespeak the divine protection—let them not fail, when, in the sequel, they have either avoided such a foe; or, having met, have vanquished him—to return, and give thanks to God.

Ten are preserved, where one traveler is even in danger; but, as our Savior asked, in respect to the lepers, whom he had healed, it

may be asked of ten travelers preserved, “Where are the nine?

SO

NUMBERS.

FIRE QUENCHED THROUGH PRAYER.

And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; and the Lord heard it;

and his anger was kindled ; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. And the people cried unto Moses: and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.Numb. xi. 1, 2.

The Israelites are again "journeying unto the place which the Lord hath given them." What pleasure must they feel, in seeing their encampment broken up!

“ The solitary place,” for such it was, where they had long abode, must be "glad." I seem to myself to hear the song of the young, as the standards are raised, and the banners stream on the breeze. I seem to hear the aged sire addressing his consort in terms of gratulation at the prospect, that even they may yet see the land of promise, and lay their bones where their children, and children's children, may watch over their sepulchres.

But the day whose morning is bright, is often beclouded before noon; the journey, whose outset is pleasant and aus

picious, may soon become painful and distressing. So it proved with the Israelites. Not three days elapse, before countenances, which were happy, are sad ; and hearts, which were bounding with joy, are filled with consternation and dismay.

But why? What has befallen them? What has so suddenly changed the aspect of the people of God ? Has their Divine Protector forsaken them? No; there is the “pillar of cloud” still going before them. There is the ark of the covenant, borne by the Levites, and God between the cherubim. Manna descends, as usual, and water follows their pathway. Their feet swell not, and their garments wax not old. Are they threatened by hostile tribes, hanging upon their skirts ? No such foe has yet made his appearance; or, if he has,

Israel, a name divinely blest,
May rise secure, securely rest;
Their holy guardian's watchful eyes,
Admit no slumber, nor surprise.

What, then, ails the people of God? They are already complaining. Complaining! Not openly, as Moses seems not to have known it, but in secret; perhaps, in low murmurings, one to another—so, however, that “the Lord hears it."

But why complain? The sacred narrative gives no explanation, and, therefore, we are left to conjecture. But it seems most probable, that they were too fond of their ease, and too indifferent about the promised land, to make the effort necessary to reach it. Or, if they desired to enjoy so noble an inheritance, may be they thought that God, whose miracles in their behalf had been wonderful, and even stupendous, might convert the barren and inhospitable desert into a fruitful and delightful way, which would avert many evils, now seemingly besetting their path.

But, whatever may have been the cause of their complainings, they were highly offensive to God, and his anger was kindled. Suddenly, flashes of fire were seen darting forth from the “cloudy pillar," reaching to the very extremity of the camp, and laying many a rebellious Israelite low in death.

It was a sudden judgment, and fearful as it was sudden. Nor were they at a loss for the reason of it. Conscience would bring home the guilt of ingratitude and rebellion to their bosoms; and, as one after another fell before the consuming fires of the Almighty, the spared would stand trembling, lest a similar judgment should overtake them. God is sometimes so rapid and fearful in his rebukes, as to excite men to immediate measures to avert his wrath. It was so in the present case.

Consternation sat on every countenance; dismay filled every bosom. They hasten to Moses. They implore his intervention. On a former occasion, they were indifferent about him; "they wot not,” cared not what had become of him; but now, how important to their cause ! how exalted he appears, as a mediator for the thousands of Israel! Moses addresses himself to the solemn emergency. And, while yet the lightnings of God are still destructively at work, he bows in supplication, and beseeches the God of his people to quench those appalling fires, and stay his work of destruction. Again Moses is heard ; and, from that hour, the “pillar of cloud” assumes its milder form; the lightnings cease; mercy smiles; the rebels are safe. Such, sometimes, are the effects of unreasonable complaints against God. Such, sometimes, the effects of the humble, fervent prayer of a righteous man, in behalf of the ungrateful and rebellious.

Some children of God, at the present day, are quite as unreasonable in their murmurings as were the Israelites in the desert. They are journeying towards a spiritual Canaan--a far better inheritance than that of the temporal Canaan, valuable as that was. And, in order to reach it,

some deserts are to be passed; some trials are to be sustained.

The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown;
No traveler e'er reached that blest abode,
Who found not thorns and briars in his road.

Shall the children of God therefore murmur? Must their spiritual voyage always be across smooth waters ? their spiritual journey in some splendid car, moved on without care and effort on their part—they, meanwhile, singing:

My willing soul would stay

In such a frame as this,
And bear myself away

To everlasting bliss ?

Ah! does the child of God look for such ease? He will find himself disappointed. His Heavenly Father knows better than to permit him thus to

dance along the flowery plain.

sional sorrow,

Bright skies, without clouds; worldly joy, without occa

would

prove the ruin of every child of God on earth. They cannot bear it. Well did God know this ; and, therefore, as the poet has beautifully expressed it:

In pity to the souls His grace design'd
To rescue from the ruins of mankind,
Call'd for a cloud to darken all their years,
And said, “Go, spend them in a vale of tears.”

Fortunate were the children of Israel, that they had an advocate at hand-one who had power with God, and who was willing to step into the “breach." Christian! you are more fortunate still. You have an Almighty Intercessorone more willing ; one whom the Father always hears. He has trod the desert before you. He is acquainted with all its

difficulties and discouragements; and he invites your confidence. He solicits the favor of helping you on with your burden. What

says

he? 6 Cast all your cares upon me, for I care for thee.Not only those cares, which spring up in the providence of God—which will come, must come; but cares-deep, corroding cares, the result of your own folly; your ill-timed conduct; your peevishness; your fretfulness. No matter from what cause—innocent or guilty ; providential or self-inflicted—come, and cry unto Jesus, and ask him to ward off the “fiery darts ;" ask him, and he has promised to pray the Father for you. And the “fire will be quenched;" the hand of rebuke will be removed, if God deems it wise; if love and kindness to you so decide. But, perhaps, your present safety, and your final joy, would be perilled, were the troubles, under which you groan, removed. If so, they will be suffered to remain. Paul could not do without that “thorn in the flesh.” It was essential to his success as an apostle of Jesus Christ; essential to his “victory” in his “fight of faith.” But there was an antidote to the daily, hourly sting of that thorn; a counterpoise to the burden, which the loving kindness of God decided he must continue to bear. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” That promise was enough. It poured more joy and contentment into his bosom, than the thorn did shame or disquietude. Said this same apostle, who has given us a catalogue of his sufferings and trials in his second epistle to the Corinthians, to which, aside from the sufferings and sorrows of Jesus, I know of no parallel, —“these light afflictions, which are but for a moment!" Paul! I thank thee for helping me to such an estimate of afflictions, which have so much troubled my soul. But more I thank thee, my gracious God, who hath told me how, through prayer and faith, I may obtain the victory, now and finally: through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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