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tabernacle, in the sight of all the people, and expostulated, in the manner we have just read, with Moses. What a humiliating enquiry is that made by the Almighty! “How long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them ?” And yet such is the hardness of the human heart, that we fear a very similar question might be asked of many among ourselves, How long will it be ere they believe me, notwithstanding all the mercies that I have shewed among them? Long, indeed, is every child of Adam before he learns, unhesitatingly and habitually, to trust his best and dearest friend. Long, indeed, is every sinner in coming in faith and confidence to his only Saviour. So long, that were it not for the "grace of God preventing him that he might have this good will, and working with him ” when he has it, time would be far too short to attract the rebel beart of man to him who alone can change it, and lead the cold and carnally disposed affections cordially to cling to him, who is the God of all our mercies.
The anger of God was now mightily aroused, and while looking in terrible suspense for the awful result, Moses once more interposed, and in a strain of astonishing intercession is permitted thus to reason against the determination of the Almighty
13. And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them ;)
14. And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land : for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
15. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
16. Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
17. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18. The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
19. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
How beautiful an instance of intercession ! Moses reminds the Lord of all his unnumbered mercies, of all that he has already done for his people, and makes it a plea for still greater blessings, and still more abundant manifestations. Moses dares not say, “Pardon the iniquity of this people, for it is small ; he perhaps hesitated to say,
as David did, under a clearer revelation, “ Pardon my sin, for it is great." But he builds on a sure foundation, his experience of God's abounding mercy, “ Pardon, I beseech thee, according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people until now."
What a plea is this for the Christian! We dare not extenuate our sins, we dare hardly trust ourselves to think of their real magnitude and atrocity, even in the holiest of God's children. How merciful, then, that though they be “red like crimson," the promise is that they shall be “ white as snow;" though they “ be as scarlet, they shall be as wool,” in the case of every penitent believer who casts himself unreservedly upon God's infinite mercy in Christ Jesus. No exception is made, no distinction between“ venial sins," and “mortal sins," since all sins need, and need equally, the blood of Christ, which alone is declared to “cleanse from all sin;" whether before or after baptism, whether what men call small or great. How blessed, therefore, is it that we have a God of infinite mercy, at all times to be approached through a Saviour of infinite love! May we all seek grace thus to come in penitence and faith, and we may rest assured that neither the shame, nor the guilt of sin, shall be left to distress us here, or to condemn us hereafter.
NUMBERS xiv, 20-35.
20. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word :
21. But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
22. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to
voice ; 23. Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it :
24. But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went ; and his seed shall possess it.
25. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
Moses had, as we have seen, earnestly prayed that the Lord would restrain his fierce anger, and not cut off, at a blow, this great congregation, lest his enemies should blaspheme, and say that the Lord was not able to fulfil his promises to Israel. The Almighty here commences his answer to the prayer of Moses, with the striking
words, “ I have pardoned according to thy word.” The great, and terrible, and well-deserved punishment shall not be inflicted, but the Lord cannot permit the faithful and the unfaithful, the holy and the unholy, on so momentous an occasion as the present, to fare alike.
66 Those men that have tempted me,” are the words of Jehovah, “ shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers. But my servant Caleb, because he hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land and his seed shall
How unspeakable a blessing is it, where the heart of the young, for Caleb was a young man, is influenced by the same Spirit, which directed him, “ to follow the Lord fully.” Not wavering between God and the world, sometimes following the one and sometimes the other, but steadily and resolutely bent to follow only God, and to do this with all their heart and mind, and soul and strength. It was difficult, no doubt, for Caleb thus to oppose himself to the opinions of ten faithless companions; and no doubt equally difficult to resist the contempt, the hatred, the open enmity of the people; but all this he did, and by God's help effectually, and all this, if so tried, we may do, in the same cause and by the same Almighty helper; nay more, all this we must do, if we would be partakers, through grace, of the heavenly promises.