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NUMBERS.

MOSES COMPLAINS OF HIS CHARGE.

And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of

Israel also wept again, and said, who shall give us flesh to eat? Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased. And Moses said unto the Lord, wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant ? and wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? &c. &c.-Numb. xi. 4. 10-15. 23. 31-34.

A Few days only have elapsed, since God sent forth his fires against the Israelites, in token of his displeasure, at their unreasonable murmuring. That rebuke might have sufficed to subdue and humble them. But again they are engaged in a similar way. And, at this time, we are not left in doubt as to the cause. A “mixed multitude," some from various nations, had attached themselves to the Israélites, on leaving Egypt, and were now proceeding with them to Canaan. These, becoming dissatisfied with the food pro vided, are loud in their demands for flesh. The spirit of discontent becomes contagious; and soon all Israel are weeping, and inquiring: “who shall give us flesh to eat ?" They "remember the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlicks," which they had in Egypt. “Yes," says an old divine, “they remember all These; but they forget the brick-kilns, and the task-masters, the voice of the oppressor, and the smart of the whip." And they regard with loathing the food rained down from heaven ; “there is nothing at all besides this manna before our eyes,” say they ; “this manna! poor miserable food, which only serves to dry up our souls !"

The manna, like a morning shower,

Lay thick around their feet:
The corn of heaven, so light, so pure,

As though 'twere angel's meat.

But they in murmuring language saia,

“Manna is all our feast,
“We loathe this light, this airy bread;

“We must have flesh to taste."

The discontent is deep; is universal. As he goes through the camp, Moses hears the loud lamentation in every tent, and sees every man at his door in tears.

Ungrateful people! who delivered you from a bondage, in which groans and tears were daily mingled ? Who saved you from the wrath of Pharaoh, and his horsemen ? Who has hitherto fed and clothed you? Alas! that you

should murmur in the midst of plenty; and almost in sight of “a land flowing with milk and honey!” No marvel that God is angry; no marvel that Moses is displeased.

It would seem, that the cares and trials of Moses had for some time been accumulating. The people whom he was conducting were numerous, sensitive, and restless. Moses is wearied and discouraged. His patience is put to the test; and, under a provocation not light, he complains.

But with every kind explanation and apology, Moses is still in fault. 6 Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant ?" he inquires, as if God were wrong. 66 Have I conceived all this people ?" “Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people ?” “. And if thou deal thus with me,

kill me, I pray thee."

Strange language for the divinely commissioned leader of the people of God! ill advised ! intemperate!

But the condescension and grace of God are still more remarkable. Not a single word by way of rebuke is heard. No notice appears to be taken of-his servant's inconsistent and complaining speech. Moses is burdened; God admits it, and provides for his relief, by directing the organization of a council of seventy Elders, to share with him the responsibility of government.

Nor is this the end of the divine kindness. Even the hu.

mor of this ungrateful people shall be gratified. “Let them sanctify themselves,” i.e. put themselves into a fi ting frame to receive such a token of God's power, as shall be a token both of mercy and judgment. They shall have flesh; not one day, nor two days; but a month.

Moses replies; but his reply does honor neither to his faith nor humility. 66 Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them to suffice them ?" Has Moses forgotten the many, the stupendous miracles of God in Egypt? Has he forgotten that day when, in the midst of tempest and lightning and hail, he walked forth from the palace of Pharaoh unharmed ? Has he forgotten the summit of Horeb; the glory of God, which he there saw in the cleft ? Surprising, that with all the array of divine power, which had passed before him, he should now inquire, “can God furnish a table in the wilderness ?"

6. But what saith the answer of God ?It contained a rebuke, which must have filled Moses with shame and confusion: “Is the Lord's hand shortened ?

Thou shalt see, whether.my word shall come to pass unto thee, or not.”

The sequel may be told in few words. The Elders of Israel are gathered, and the spirit promised is poured out upon them, by which they are qualified for their new and responsible station.

In respect to flesh for the people, the promise of God is most signally fulfilled. On the day following, an innumerable number of quails make their appearance in and around the camp; of which every one is permitted to gather, as he pleases. The food thus bestowed, had it been used with moderation, might have proved a comfort and a blessing. But, under an excited and inordinate appetite, it is converted into a curse. A plague ensues, by which so many are destroyed, as to justify the significant name given to the place, Kibroth-hattaavah, or the graves of lusters.

It is a remark of some importance, suggested by the language employed by Moses, in his address to God, that great illuminations, and exalted divine favors, do not always prevent the children of God from doing wrong.

Who had enjoyed such divine manifestations as Moses? Or who had such power at a throne of grace ? He had often prayed, and, in no recorded instance, had his request been denied. He had sought signal blessings, both for himself and people, and these blessings had been granted. And, hitherto, he had appeared humble, reverential, and confiding. But a surprising change comes over him. He appears arrogant, distrustful, impatient and peevish. To what cause shall this change be referred? Is God less kind ? Has the divine aid been in any measure withheld ?

It must be admitted that Moses had in charge a restless people. They were continually murmuring; and, so far, the trial of Moses was real and severe. But at this time he bears his trial with less fortitude and patience than usual. He complains : “ Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant ?" He magnifies his own performances : “ Thou layest all the burden of this people on me.” He takes too much to himself when he asks : “ Whence should I have flesh to give them ?" He speaks distrustfully : “I am not able to bear all this people.” And, “ worst of all, he passionately wishes for death, and prays to be killed, because his life was at that time a little uneasy to him.”

“ The best,” says Henry, “have their infirmities, and sometimes fail to exercise that grace, for which they are eminent.” Happy was it for Moses, that God did not “ severely mark his fault.” Happy for other children of the Most High, that he can "bear long with them.” Oh! how often are their prayers any thing but the humble supplications of humble, grateful, and obedient children! How much of that which passes for prayer is only murinuring and complaining! the result of a proud and arrogant spirit! The plain

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import of which is, that God's dealings are unequal and unkind; that more favor is merited than is shown; that less trouble and trial are deserved than are inflicted.

Said the disciples, “Whence can a man satisfy these men ?" as they looked round upon the thousands, which were gathered to hear our Lord in a desert place. God spread a table in the wilderness?” asks Moses: the man who had seen more of the miracles of God than any other since the fall. What distrust! what unbelief in the power and ability of Him, who measures the waters of the ocean and metes out the heavens. Well did God inquire, “Is the Lord's hand waxed short ?":

Let us do more justice to the power and kindness of God; especially when we approach Him by prayer and supplication; let us reflect that the everlasting God never fainteth, nor groweth weary.

Lord, I forbid this hopeless thought,

This dark, despairing frame,
Rememb’ring what thy hand hath wrought;

Thy hand is still the same.

NUMBERS.

PRAYER OF MOSES FOR MIRIAM.

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses, because of the Ethiopian woman,

whom he had married ; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us ?--And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow.—And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Ileal her now,

O God, 1 beseech thee.-Numb. xii. 1, 2, 10, 13. We have just seen the whole nation of Israel leagued together in murmuring against God, for not administering to the full enjoyment of their carnal appetites. Murmuring is

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