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THE SIMPLICITY OF FAITH; OR, A LITTLE CHILD A TRUE PROPHET.
Ar a recent meeting of a Young Men's Association, held in London, and reported in the City Press, of the 14th inst., the following striking anecdote was related by Dr. SPENCE.
ultimately decided by a few godly men to meet for prayer to ask God to send them rain. Accordingly one morning early, accompanied by their pastor, they met in the little vestry adjoining the He did not (said the speaker) profess chapel; and among the number came to understand the signs of the times; a little girl bearing a large umbrella. but he did know the value of earnest, The worthy pastor accosted her, and united, fervent prayer to God and de- said, "Mary, what have you brought votedness to His cause. The prayers that for?" "Sir," she replied, with all of such an assembly as the present might the simplicity of a child's look, “are we lead to a glorious issue, and redound to not met to ask God to send us rain? the honour of Him whose throne was and sure He will send it; so I brought above the starry sky. God always my umbrella to keep me dry." (Loud dealt with nations as nations. In the cheering.) The rain did come, but that days of Abraham he would save a nation child was the only one who had faith for the sake of the righteous inhabitants; enough to believe in God. There might and he had no hesitation in declaring be some outside the building, or inside, that the righteous men of England would save her from ultimate ruin. Touching the value of prayer, he would relate one simple incident. Some years ago there prevailed, in one of our northern districts, for several weeks, a drought, which, it was anticipated, would result in fearful consequences, when it was
who would say that God might have sent rain if they had not met. With this He had nothing to do. His object was simply to show the spirit of childlike faith in God which should accompany our prayers. God had been an answerer of prayer in the past, and He would be in the future.
COMPOSED WHEN THE WRITER WAS IN DOUBT AS TO HIS FUTURE PROSPECTS IN LIFE.
How truly blest is he who can
With brilliant faith confide
He lives by faith and prayer;
And settled peace adorns his brow
With an unfading crown;
But this I know-that as thou hast
Or health, or wealth, be mine);
Should brightsome days my path bestrew
And murm'ring thoughts to shun;
C. H. N.
"Comfort ye, comfort ye, my People, saith your God."
"Endeavouring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace."
Jesus Christ, the same Yesterday, and To-day, and for Ever. Whom to know is Life
"And the Lord descended in a cloud, and stood with him there.”
Exod. xxxiv. 5.
BELOVED, in order to enter somewhat into the mercy, and condescension, and blessedness that are couched in this fact, we must take a brief review of the occurrences mentioned in the two preceding chapters. Moses had been called up into the mount; and, by a reference to the 19th chapter, you will see under what a fearfully-solemn display of the power and majesty of Jehovah he was called up there. The apostle, in the 12th of the Hebrews, declares, "So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.” In the 16th verse of the chapter before referred to, we read that “all the people that were in the camp trembled," when they heard the thunders, and saw the lightnings, and the thick cloud on the mount, and when the voice of the trumpet was exceeding loud. Again, in the next chapter, we read, that when "all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou unto us, and we will hear; but let not God speak unto us, lest we die."
Now we pray the reader to keep these facts steadily in mind, in order that the contrast may be the more striking.
We find afterwards that Moses not only received the two tables of the law at the hand of God, but also sundry laws and directions to be carefully observed by Israel, in contrast to all the idolatry and God-dishonouring practices of the nations whom they were about to displace.
Upon proceeding to the opening of the 32nd chapter, we discover, to our amazement, that, "when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this
Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him."
Reader, think of this.
What language could have been more awful, and in what way could Israel have possibly shown equal indifference-yea, contempt for the man whom God had so signally raised up and honoured as their leader and deliverer ? Moreover, this provocation was offered immediately under Sinai, and ere yet the thunderings had scarce died away, or the lightnings ceased; whilst Moses was yet in the thick cloud and darkness that covered him, and shrouded Jehovah from the gaze of the people.
We find, moreover, that Aaron fell in with their guilty proposals, and rendered himself a party to them, for he said, " Break off the golden ear-rings which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me." Again, he "built an altar before it, and made proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to the Lord," intimating, as we conceive, that that feast-day was a notable one, on which to offer their first devotions to this their new deity, or assuming such a thing, in mockery and defiance of that God who had brought them forth out of Egypt with a high hand, and with an outstretched arm. Let the language be viewed in any light whatever, we can but conceive that both it and the act of which Aaron was guilty, clearly indicate that he not only drank into the spirit of ungrateful and idolatrous Israel, but that, considering the high and holy position he sustained, he was the most responsible, and consequently the most guilty of the whole. We believe that this opinion receives a further confirmation from the 24th verse, where we find that Moses, having remonstrated with Aaron, saying, "What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?" he said, respecting the gold which they had brought unto him, and which he had expressly asked for (but which fact he does not mention), "So they gave it me; then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf;" as though the gold's assuming that particular form or shape was by sheer accident; whereas, we learn expressly from the 4th verse, that "he fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf.”
We dwell upon these facts, beloved, in order, on the one hand, to open out the desperate deceit and wickedness of the human heart, and, on the other, the astonishing forbearance and marvellous long-suffering of Jehovah. It helps to remind us of the God with whom we have to do, and cheers and animates us with the hope that if He were so kind, and tender, and gracious with sinners in olden day, there is reason to hope He will deal with us poor, guilty, ungrateful, rebellious worms, with the like mercy, grace, and compassion: He being "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." Nor would we, beloved, in dwelling upon the conduct of Israel, attempt to disguise the fact, that had any one of us been in their stead, we should have acted precisely as they did. Their sin, great as it was, was only a true but at the same time most lamentable specimen of human nature. Our sin may have varied a little in character; but could we look at it in the light of divine truth, and view it through the glass of God's law, we should find that our conduct had been equally vile-equally base-equally as deserving of Jehovah's summary indignation as Israel's was; and it is in His restraining and forbearing hand that Jehovah's pitifulness, and compassion, and boundless long-suffering are to be seen.
We dare not overlook nor withhold these facts,
know most of your own hearts, know that, humbling as these facts are, they are, notwithstanding, verily true.
But to proceed.
It appears by the 7th verse of the 32nd chapter, that "The Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Then the Lord adds, "I have seen this people; and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now, therefore, let me alone-[Oh, beloved, how awful this word always appears to us-what if God had allowed Himself to be "let alone ?"-let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation."
Now see the pitifulness, and the condescension, and the mercy of our God. Was what followed of Moses merely? Was not God's hand in the arguments and in the remonstrances which he was about to bring forward? Unquestionably. The Lord knew all, and He foresaw all; and He thus spoke, for the express purpose of awakening in the heart of Moses certain pleadings; and having pledged Himself to yield to those pleadings, He then permitted Moses to have an insight into the whole matter, which, had he had beforehand, would have prevented his pleading on behalf of Israel, as God had designed and ordered that he should plead.
How merciful it is, beloved, that the Lord permits us only to see our sin by little and little! how gracious that He allows us to know it is forgiven and put away, before we know its extent and its heinousness.
Now see how Moses pleads with the Lord. Mark how his mouth is filled with arguments; and by whom? Could he, where he was, and as he was, and what he was, have thus pleaded, but for the Lord putting forth this pleading power in him? Beloyed, do you know anything of this pleading power, operating as independently and as distinctively of yourself as possible, by which you realize at the moment you are arguing and entreating in and by a power as little your own inherently or naturally as the very deliverance after which you are seeking? How thus we see that prayer is as much of God as its answer. How by these means can we understand the declaration, "It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." Thus and thus do we practically know, that it is all of grace-free gracefrom first to last.
"And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.'
What precious pleadings-what powerful arguments! and mark how they prevailed! We speak it with reverence, it was as though the Lord
allowed Himself to be put to silence, by the very arguments which so closely
"And the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people." As much as to say, Moses' reasoning was so cogent, and his arguments so unanswerable, that even the Lord made no reply. His heart was so touched, and, speaking after the manner of men, He so saw the force of Moses' words, that He said no more, but at once gave way, and granted His servant what he asked for. But it was not until after all this, and when Moses came down from the mount, that he really knew the amount of Israel's provocation, or the amount of Jehovah's forbearance and forgiving love; for it was then his anger "waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands [even those tables which were written by the finger of God], and brake them beneath the mount."
We next see Moses in a sweet position. His anger has somewhat subsided; his wrath is appeased; pity takes possession of his heart, and he says, on the morrow, to Israel, "Ye have sinned a great sin;" but he adds, "and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin." Then how sweet are his entreaties, but how completely changed his tone," Oh, this people have sinned a great sin [I did not know how great, yesterday; I had no thought of the extent of their wickedness; it was base indeed; I don't wonder at thy indignation] yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; [mark the pause, reader, it is very significant] and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." It is astonishing the lengths to which the Lord's servants will go, in their jealousy for the Lord's honour, and in their identity with His people and cause. How completely are all selfish considerations waived. What a singleness of heart and eye they possess when immediately under the Spirit's power and influence.
Immediately after this, the Lord gives that sweet promise, "Behold, mine angel shall go before thee!" And who could this be but the Angel of the covenant, Jehovah-Jesus? and what so blessed as that assurance?
In the next chapter we find the most blessed openings out upon the part of the Lord, and the most endearing communion between Him and Moses. "The Lord talked with Moses." He spake unto him, we are told, " face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." There is a holy familiarity. "And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people; and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. [Surely these were aspirations on the part of Moses, after a clearer sight and apprehension of Christ.] Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way [show me how it is-whence it is -through whom it is I have found this grace in thy sight (it is remarkable that the expression is used three times in these two verses); be pleased to open out and explain to me the mystery.] Show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight; and consider that this