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sons, all rulers of tribes, were commissioned to make a careful survey of the country. After forty days absence they returned, bringing with them specimens of its fruits, figs and pomegranates, and grapes of an extraordinary size, and acknowledged that they had, indeed, beheld a country of superior excellence; but" the cities,” they said, “were walled, and the people were tall, and some places were even inhabited by giants, the sons of Anak, the giant !"-50 that their hearts failed, and they saw nothing but defeat and disgrace in the projected enterprise. Caleb and Joshua, two of the deputies, men of faith and fortitude, interrupted this discouraging harangue, by entreating eagerly, that they might go up at once, and drive out these formidable natives—mere spectres of the imagination to them, who would be led on by him who was able to conquer! But this pious recollection, which should have unfurled the banners of hope and joy, availed them nothing ! The terrified messengers had spread dismay throughout the
camp, and they were ready to put Caleb and Joshua to death. “ Would to God,” said they, we had died in the wilderness. We are brought here, our wives and our children, to fall by the sword of the Canaanites ;-rather let us make us a captain and return into Egypt.”
CATHERINE. Surely, mother, nothing less than the word of inspiration could persuade us, that this people could thus seriously withdraw their confidence from a Power so magnificently-so unceasingly displayed in their preservation,
Mrs. M. Self-love, my daughter, believe me, suggests your indignant doubt. The same power preserves us ; the same beneficence bestows our daily bread; and if we forget our obligațions, surrounded as we are by all the comforts
of social life, shall we question the existence of unbelief in the poor Israelites, detained in a barren desert? Yet let us not think lightly of their glaring derelictions. They had seen the Egyptians severely afflicted, and themselves exempted--they had seen the rolling waves divided to make a path for them, and the pursuing host of Pharaoh overwhelmed—they had been sheltered from the sun by day, and guided by a supernatural light by night bread had fallen from heaven into their hands, and water had burst from the rock for them ; yet they refused to believe that the same Almighty arm would carry them through ! Disinheritance and extirpation had often been threatened, and promises and repentance had hitherto found mercybut now the dread decree sounded terribly in their ears*. “ Because all those men which have seen my glory and my miracles in the wilderness, have tempted me now these ten times, and have not harkened to my voice-surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers; your carcases shall fall in this wilderness-all that were numbered of you from twenty years old and upwards, which have murmured against me.” " But Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun, and your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land ye have despised. Your children shall wander in this wilderness for forty years-after the number of the days that ye searched the land, each day for a year. But as for you-turn ye, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.” This sentence filled them with consternation, and they came weeping and confessing their sins to their governor, and professing their readiness to attack the mountains of the Amorites : but their day of
* Numbers, 14, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31.
grace was gone, and Moses discouraged them from the vain attempt. Yet trusting in the lenity they had so often experienced, they presumptuously persisted, although neither led by Moses nor the ark of the Covenant, which always went with them to battle, and were deservedly defeated; while the timid spies, which had been chiefly instrumental in the sad catastrophe, were all cut off by the plague.
The occurrencés I have been relating, took place at a very early period of the migration of the Israelites. Time and correction had somewhat allayed their restless temper ; and thirty-seven years had wasted away and swept off many of the principal offenders-when, encompassing the highlands of mount Seir, they found themselves bereft of the refreshing stream, which, like their tutelary cloud, had accompanied their devious way. Again the smothered flame of rebellion burst out—again they returned to their former accusation against Moses and Aaron-- Ye have brought us to die in this wilderness !” The wisdom that had determined to make that people the monuments of his long-suffering mercy, again directed Moses to take Aaron, and, with his rod in his hand, to speak to the rock at Meribah, and, at his word, water should flow in the presence of the whole congregation.
Several scriptures concur in bestowing on Moses the apa pellation of the meekest of men. With unwearied patience he had firmly conducted his administration till this fatal moment, when he suffered one unhappy doubt to interrupt his duty. The Great Supreme bad, perhaps, imparted to his miraculous rod an influence which he would fail to extend to his word: and instead of speaking to the
rock* as he had been commanded to do, he raised his arm and smote it twice! Water, indeed, flowed abundantly at the stroke; but his disobedience, and that of his brother, who had participated in his crime, received this reproof:“ Because ye believe me not, ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them !"
In the first month of the fortieth year, they came, after seventeen encampments, to the wilderness of Zin, in the vicinity of the Edomites.
CHARLES. I think you told us, mother, that mount Seir, the dwelling of Esau, was also called Edom.
Mrs. M. I did. And because it was the possession of their brethren, the Israelites were not suffered to invade it, nor do them any injury. But the most convenient way to their place of destination being through that country, they sent a respectful request to the Edomites, that they might pass by the king's high-way, not touching their fields or their vineyards, or even drinking of their wells, without compensation.
CHARLES. Not drink of their wells !--surely water is cheap—who would refuse that to a traveller ?
MRS. M. Very cheap to us. In our favourable cli. mate all the luxuries of nature abound; but in the deserts of Arabia, a well is a treasure : and, perhaps, besides being rare, they contain so little water, that the supply of an army, and a multitude of cattle, might occasion great distress to the inhabitants. In the days of Abraham and Isaac, we know that wells of water were objects of strife
* The Rock of Meribah of mount Sinai, is still seen, bearing the striking marks of a supernatural event. The holes and the channels of the miraculous stream are its indelible inscription.See Shaw's Travels.
between the herdsmen. Yet it seemed not likely that the Edomites would refuse the refreshment of water, and the use of the high-way to a nation descended from the same stock with themselves. They did, however, refuse; and the weary travellers were obliged to reach mount Hor, on the opposite border of the king of Edom's dominions, by a circuitous road. At mount Hor, Aaron died; and Eleazer, his son, was arrayed in the holy garments, and anointed in his stead. At Kadesh they had buried Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, who is called the prophetess.
After thirty days of mourning for their venerable high priest, the Israelites prosecuted their journey ; but vexed and retarded, by the contiguous princes, when they imagined themselves almost on the threshold of the land of promise—the reward of their sufferings ;-although, after their defeat by the Amorites, successful in every contest, they once more relapsed into impatience, “and spoke against God, and against Moses.”. Once more they were chastised—a species of venomous reptile, by the historian called “ fiery serpents,” was sent among them, and
many died of the sting which was inflicted.
FANNY. Mother, I cannot pardon this incorrigible people, so often forgiven, yet still offending-I am quite wearied of their obstinacy!
MRS. M. I am sensible, my dear, that the frequent recurrence of similar incidents is not calculated to entertain you : but a few instances of the criminal distrust of the Israelites, were necessary to vindicate to you the justice of that decree which had gone out against them The remedy applied to their disease, in this last case, was especially designed to remind them, that neither the