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lusts and a condemned conscience.* These, and other things equally questionable, have been held to be traceable in the manna; but as they do not appear to have been principal things in the design of God in meeting the wants of the Israelites in this way, if in that design at all, our attention will be directed to what may be regarded as the more obvious lessons of the Holy Ghost in this interposition. It appears to have set forth Christ and the salvation of the Gospel in two respects.
I. Its unprecedented and mysterious character.
God had often produced common effects in an unusual way, and unnatural things by means of an ordinary character, but the manna was the first thing of the kind that had ever appeared. Various efforts have been made to show that it was not now produced for the first time, but was common to the wilderness through which the Israelites were passing; and that the vegetable substance at present found about Mount Sinai, known by the same name, is identical with that on which the Israelites were fed ; and that all that was miraculous in their being sustained, was the regularity of the supply during the week and its cessation on the Sabbath. Not to insist, however, upon the imperfect resemblance which this vegetable, judging from the description we have of it, bears to the manna of Scripture, it is evident, from the conduct of the Israelites with respect to it, and the way in
* See M'Ewen, p. 126–129. + See Taylor's Calmet, Art. “Manna," and Clarke on Exod. xvi. 15.
which it was spoken of in the Scriptures, that it was altogether a new production, created for the special purpose of supplying the wants of the people of God on this occasion, and during the remainder of their journey to the promised land. The very name by which they called it was expressive of their ignorance of its nature and properties.* A portion was laid up in the ark for the inspection of future generations, which would have been scarcely necessary if it had been known before; besides which, Moses expressly told the Jews, Deut. viii. 3—16, that the Lord had fed them with manna which neither they nor their fathers had known.
It was not only mysterious in its nature, but equally so in the manner in which its supply was regulated. For six days in the week it might be obtained, but not on the Sabbath; and while that which was kept from the evening until the morning at any other time of the week was unfit for use, this was not the case with respect to the gatherings of the sixth day, when provision was to be made for the Sabbath.
It appears to have answered every purpose of support to the Israelites; for, admitting that their sacrifices were still offered during the time that the manna fell, the partaking of them seems to have been restricted to the priests, for whom the manna was not intended.
In this its novel and wonderful character, the manna was a type of Christ. God had often raised up extraordinary persons, with whose history his people were familiar; and while some were distinguished by their own natural
• Exod. xvi. 15.
or acquired abilities and attainments, others were remarkable for the peculiar providences which had attended their birth or history. Few of them had united in themselves both classes of these distinctions, and many of them had discovered great defects in the very things for which they were most celebrated. But in Jesus Christ, all that was wonderful and mysterious in others was excelled; and while he had all their excellences, he was perfectly free from the least taint of their defects. His person, his character, and his work were altogether original and unique. He was God and ran wonderfully united,-possessing the essence of the Godhead in himself, with all the sinless infirmities of human nature; and such was the manner in which these two natures were united, that it is sometimes impossible to tell what acts are to be ascribed to one or the other. He descended from Adam not by ordinary generation, being begotten by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. The Lord created a new thing in the earth. *
His origin, his mediatorial character, his sufferings, and the effect of his undertaking, were all wonderful and surprising. The manna was a type of Christ,
II. In the way by which its benefits were received, and the effects produced by it.
There were certain directions given and conditions stated which it was absolutely necessary to regard, in order to partake of the provision God had made.
1. The first of these was contentment, or confidence in the Divine goodness and benevolence.
* Jer. xxxi. 22.
We can very easily conceive that in the circumstances in which the Israelites were placed, no sooner had they partaken of this heavenly provision, but they felt an anxious concern that it should be continued until the end of their journey, and very probably they were made acquainted with the fact of the Divine intention to perpetuate it until that period; but still its continuance so long rested alone upon the promise of God, and was a matter with which their faith and not their senses had to do.
No covetous feeling was at any time to be gratified, either as to the quantity a man felt disposed to collect, or the provision he might wish to make for the future. An omer for each man was all that was allowed; and if in spite of the Divine prohibition, and in distrust of the faithfulness of God, any one should exceed this, he was taught by the perishing of that which he had hoarded, his folly and sin. On the sixth day only was a greater portion than usual to be obtained, and that was a provision that the sanctity of the sabbath might not be infringed. Thus the Lord proved them, and in this way they were taught that “ man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Now how forcibly does this bring before us the Gospel way of salvation. We are saved by Christ, through faith and hope. Our implicit confidence is to be placed in the word which the Lord hath spoken-the promises which he has given. Whatever men may think before their minds are enlightened by the Spirit of God,
* Matt. iv. 4.
they no sooner become the partakers of his Divine influences, than they are solicitous as to the continuance of that grace of which they have tasted, and “He who has begun a good work in them will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;"* but its continuance is a subject for their faith and hope. There is an infinite supply provided still, it is at the Divine disposal, and we are to be taught that “a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth,” † that as his day so his strength shall be. For “the just shall live by faith.”# So Paul declared that the life which he lived in the flesh, he lived by the faith of the Son of God, who loved him, and gave himself for him.
2. Another property connected with our salvation by Christ which was brought out in this type was, the union existing among them by whom it is enjoyed.
The constant design of the Almighty being to keep the Israelites united, to promote their harmony was the intention and tendency of many of the miracles wrought for them, and the supplies of which they partook, as well as the general character of the Dispensation under which they were placed; but in few things was it seen more than in the collecting and use of the manna. All—however they differed in agein whatever circumstances they might be placed, and in every varied condition of life, were obliged to come to one common source, and partake of a general stock; and if, through ignorance of the proscription, or the precise * Phil. i. 6.
† Luke xii. 15. Heb. x. 38.
§ Gal. ii. 20.