صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

aid them in their journey through a country with which he was acquainted ; assuring him, that he should partake liberally of the good things they were going to receive; though the chosen people were at the same time enjoined to beware of imitating their impure manners or worship. But the propensity to this crime, which they had very naturally contracted in Egypt, betrayed them often into serious calamities. The aliens who had been induced, by seeing the stupendous power of their God, to unite their lot with that of the Hebrews, bad promised themselves the immediate enjoyment of a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Disappointed in this expectation, they repented of their hasty emigration, complained of their privations, and instigated the ungrateful Israelites—though daily fed by a visible miracle-to loathe their heavenly bread, and look back with regret to the flesh and herbs of Egypt—the scanty wages of their miserable servitude !

66 We remember," they exclaimed, while they wept at the doors of their tents, “ we remember, the fish and the cucumbers, and the melons, of which we ate freely; but now our soul is dried away, for there is nothing besides this manna before our

eyes !

66 Wherefore,” cried their afflicted chief, to the Hearer of Prayer, “ hast thou laid the burden of all this people upon me. I am not able to bear it alone. Whence should I have flesh to Cgive unto all this people ? Kill me, I pray thee~let me not see my wretchedness.” In answer to his complaint, seventy elders were graciously added to the magistracy, and imbued with the spirit of wisdom, to assist him in the management of his restless community; and quails were again sent in abundance to gratify their longing for flesh; but, with the gratification came the punishment. Whilst they yet feasted with thoughtless

[ocr errors]

avidity, the plague broke out amongst them, and swept off great numbers of the offending people !

From the bosom of his own family, where, if any where he might have looked for harmony and support, he was next distracted by dissention and humbled by resistance. Zipporah, the wife of Moses, had given some umbrage to his brother and sister; and he, perhaps, supposed it became him to interpose his good offices; but his mediation was entirely rejected, and he himself even accused of presumptuously laying claim to an exclusive degree of inspiration, not alike imparted to them. To silence for ever such ambitious pretensions, they were reproved by an awful voice from the Cloud, descending to the door of the tabernacle Were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses," inquired the Great Supreme. “To other prophets will I make myself known in visions and dreams, but to him will I speak mouth to mouth.” And the deluded Miriam was additionally punished by disease-she became leprous, and was banished seven days from the society of her brethren.

FANNY. What could possibly be meant by that mysterious expression—" With him will I speak mouth to mouth?"

Mrs. M. The mystery lies alone in the expressionthe meaning is plainly, to vindicate the disputed authority of Moses, by reminding the perverse people of that immediate communion with Deity to which this most favoured servant was admitted. Other prophets, He told them would be instructed “ in dreains and visions”-but to Moses, He would speak by a Voice-as the orignal words import, in conformity with our ideas of the most clear and intimate mode of intercourse. But the spirit of sedition had

got into the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


and refused to subinit even to the Voice of the Sovereign. A more violent and extensive opposition to his legation soon after appeared ;-Korah, one of the Levites, Dathan and Abiram, with two hundred and fifty other chiefs of the assembly, inflated with the high destiny to which, as a nation, they were called, yet envious of the transcendent preference bestowed on the two brothers, indignantly exclaimed, “ The whole congregation are holy-ye take too much upon you, Moses and Aaron.', “Ye have brought us up to kill us in this wilderness, and have not given us an inheritance in fields and vineyards.”

Hear, I pray you,” returned the meekest of men, ye sons of Levi! Seemeth it but a small thing to you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation, to bring you near to him, to do the service of the tabernacle, and seek ye the priesthood also ?” “ Bring your censers all of you prepared with fire and with incense, to-morrow, and let Aaron bring also his censer-and the Lord will shew whom He hath chosen"_But Dathan and Abiram not only refused to obey his summons to come and answer for their conduct, but vilified him to his messengers, reiterating the outrageous accusation. " Thou hast brought us up to kill us in this wilderness, and wilt thou altogether make thyself a prince over us?” Not at all intimidated, however, by the ominous offer of Moses to try their pretensions, the next morning the whole company of mutineers appeared at the door of the Tabernacle with incense and censers in their uphallowed hands. To the command to separate himself and Aaron from this perverse nation, that they might be consumed in a moment, their compassionate leader again interposed his supplications, that the innocent might not be involved with the guilty. “ Depart, said

he, to the assembled congregation, from the tents of these wicked men; and if they die the common death of all men, then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord inake a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, then ye shall understand that they have provoked the Lord; and hereby ye shall know that he hath sent me to do these works.” Scarcely had he ceased to speak, when the earth indeed opened, and of all those that had mutinied against Moses and Aaron, some fell down alive into the pit, and the rest were instantly consumed by fire ? The censers which Korah and his adherents had profaned, were converted into broad plates, and fixed permanently on the altar_a warning to all who should dare to invade the sacred province of Aaron and his family. Not yet admonished, but rather irritated by the chastening that should have subdued them, other undaunted spirits now cried against Moses and Aaron, “ Ye have killed the people of the Lord?”-Again they were threatened with instant extermination, and the plague broke out and made dreadful ravages in the camp. Fourteen thousand seven hundred became its victims, before Aaron could arrest its progress and obtain a remission of the penalty for their aggravated offences, by making a ceremonial atonement, in the manner prescribed by their humane legislator. To reduce, if possible, these aspiring pretensions, and settle the momentous question so daringly pursued, yet another confirmation was condescendingly given. At the con mand of Moses, twelve

. rods or twigs of the almond tree, one for each tribe of the house of Israel, were brought by their princes, and laid up in the tabernacle; and on the morrow, the rod of Aaron, for the house of Levi and his alone, was found to have “ budded, blossomed, and yielded almonds !" After this beautiful emblem of the divine appropriation of the tribe of Levi, and pre-eminently of the family of Aaron, had been displayed to the wondering congregation, and produced, at least, a momentary conviction of their guilt, it was laid up for a memorial “ beside the ark of the Covenant."

Thus did this inconsiderate nation go on, incurring and suffering the penalty of disobedience-repenting and returning again to their folly—till one act, pre-eminent in ingratitude, filled up the measure of their provocations, and excluded them for ever from the promised inheritance.

CATHERINE. Excluded for ever! Could that be without implicating the veracity of the Deity ?-Had he not promised ?-I ask the question, I assure you, with diffidence.

Mrs. M. You do right to inquire when you do not fully comprehend my meaning ; and especially every suspicion of the nature you now intimate, should be cleared up. Every act of the Deity can be vindicated; and no one with more certainty than that of the excision of the rebellious Israelites. The inheritance was promised to the posterity of Abraham, not to individuals ; and the generation we are accompanying through their probation, paid the just forfeit of their own infidelity.

At Kadesh-barnea they were in the neighbourhood of the Amorites, a branch of the family of Canaan, on whom the malediction had passed, and the Israelites were commanded to ascend the mountains and dispossess them. But having heard that this district was inhabited by men of gigantic stature and strength, they proposed that a few men might first be dispatched privately, to examine the resources of their adversaries and the quality of their soil. This request, apparently so reasonable, was acceded to, and twelve per

« السابقةمتابعة »