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of the chapter in which these words are contained is to be taken in a literal sense, and especially that there were a large number of the Israelites who could not be said to have drank in any other than a real sense; and though the Apostle uses the word spiritual, yet as in the Book of the Revelation,* and other places, that term is employed where it evidently means typical, we conclude that such is its import here. It is true, that the same inspired writer has the word was, but there is no more reason to consider him as intending to say that the spiritual drink of which the Israelites partook was not real water, than there is to believe that when our Lord said of the bread and the wine which he has appointed as the emblems of his death, “This is my body, and this is my blood," he did not mean those common commodities of life.
A considerable difficulty in the way to applying the words in a literal sense, would seem to arise from the circumstance of the rock being said to follow the Israelites, for how, it may be asked, could a rock follow them? We can conceive of the spiritual influence that flows from Christ following them, but not a rock. To which it may be answered, that though the idea maintained by some,t that this rock was actually carried with them, or was removed from place to place after their camp, is too absurd to be entertained, yet as the whole was miraculous, why may it not be supposed that, by the contrivance of those to whom it belonged to provide for the people, channels were made in the earth * Rev. xi. 8.
† Mather, p. 144.
for its streams to accompany them, and that the water of the rock, and not the rock itself, is intended ? In favour of this idea, it may be observed, that it is not said of it that it attended them through all their journey; and from the circumstance of their wanting water again, and an offer being made to purchase it from their surrounding neighbours, even after the second rock was smitten, * it would seem that its supplies had failed long before they came to the promised land.
Now, if by the terms spiritual drink-spiritual rock-and rock that followed them, the Apostle meant only the blessings flowing from Christ of which the Israelites partook, then these are nothing more than figurative expressions, and do not prove that either the rock in Rephidim or that in Kadesh was a type of Christ; but as it is presumed that the reasons above given are sufficient to show that such was the real character of what the Apostle alludes to, we shall consider it in that light.
It is not very difficult to trace many points of resemblance between the rock in Rephidim and Jesus Christ, whom it represented; consequently, much has been said by authors who have written on them. They have pointed out the particulars in which Christ was like the rock-in his person being strong and firm, affording a refuge to all who seek shelter in him. They have shown that the rock smitten represented the sufferings of the Saviour when he was smitten of God and afflicted, and that this was done through the law, as represented
* Numb. xx. 19; xxi. 16.
by the rod in the hand of Moses.* But as all these things, though they may be correct, do not appear to have been designed by the Almighty in instituting the type, they will not now be dwelt upon, but our attention will be confined to a few particulars which it is considered will include all that was intended to be typical in this remarkable incident in the history of Israel. This rock may be regarded as prefiguring three things:
1. The necessitous and helpless state to which the world was reduced, which rendered necessary the mediation and smiting of Jesus Christ.
To preserve the Jews a distinct nation did not embrace the whole design of the Almighty with respect to them, but it was his intention also to submit his people to a course of discipline, and show them, and the world by them, their entire dependence upon himself for security from enemies, daily support, and present and future happiness. For this purpose a series of difficulties constantly occurred, and miracles to meet them were as often wrought; but they had seldom, if ever, been in circumstances so straitened as at this time. They murmured against Moses, as if he were responsible for all their calamities, at a season when their very existence seemed to be threatened in a desert where no supplies were to be found. In the Divine mind, the method for their relief contained in the rock was already decided upon, but nothing of it was known to them until things approached a fearful crisis; but then it was, when all human help failed, or was denied them, and they were on the very borders of death, that God appeared on their behalf.
* See all these points of resemblance, and many others, dweit upon in M'Ewen, Mather, Burns, and others.
And who is not aware of the striking manner in which this sets forth the interposition of the Almighty in regard to our perishing world ? Nothing will have a greater tendency to reconcile us to an economy, and to induce us to adopt a measure of relief, than to be convinced of its necessity; and yet to believe the entire helplessness of the human race to recover itself, and the utter worthlessness of all its contrivances to reinstate itself in the Divine favour, man is most unwilling; and, therefore, so much has been done by God, and so many declarations are found in his holy word, to show the necessity for his free sovereign grace. The promise of a Redeemer, although given immediately after the fall, and sufficient to sustain the faith and hope of the earliest believers, was not immediately fulfilled ; but the world was left for four thousand years, that it might try every expedient of which it was able to conceive, to relieve itself; but so far from any real success being obtained, its moral character only became worse, until at last its inability to obtain solid happiness became a truth so clearly written that he who ran might read it; and when, "in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”* All that is included in the sovereign Divine interference, or wherein it consisted, is not revealed, nor is it in our power fully to understand it;
* 1 Cor. i. 21.
but we are assured of this, that the course pursued by the Eternal was rendered absolutely requisite by the nature of the case : “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good; no, not one.
Hence he said: “ And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold; therefore, mine own arm brought salvation, and my fury it upheld me." The Gospel is worthy of all acceptation. It reveals a method of salvation which accords with the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God, while it is every way suited to us; and therefore it is said to have “ become him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Neither is there salvation in any other: for “there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”ll It prefigured,
II. The unexpected and mysterious interposition on the part of the Almighty to save the world.
That the Divine Being having made known his purpose to preserve the posterity of Abraham, and the wonders which had been wrought for them, might lead the Israelites to expect that some method would be adopted for their * Psa. xiv. 2, 3. † Isa, lxiii. 5. I Heb. ii. 10.
§ 1 Cor. iii. 11. U Acts iv, 12.