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A few scattered lessons may be added.
1. It is a good thing to contemplate the works of God. 2. If God saw all things to be very good, we may surely wait for further knowledge when we do not see the wisdom or the goodness. 3. God rested from his work, not from his government thereof and interest therein. 4. The day of rest will be a day of contemplation. 5. The day of rest must then be a day of praise. 6. God has his sabbath, man has his heaven. 7. He who had such care, such
approbation of his creation, will never allow it finally to be detiled by what is contrary to his will.
LLEWELYN D. Bevan, LL.B.
Germs of Tbought.
SUBJECT : Difficulty in Duty. "And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid : and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness ? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians ? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said into the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to day; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord. shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the Lord said anto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”—Exod. xiv. 10–15.
Analysis of Homily the Seven Hundred and Forty-Fourth. HYSICAL facts are the symbols of spiritual truths.
The material is everywhere the mirror of the mental. The scene is not only the effect and the organ, but the symbol of the unseen. The temporal facts of human history also illustrate spiritual ideas. This was especially the case in the exodus of the Jews. That event resembled the exodus of the soul in several respects. (1.) It was deliverance from bondage. Great as was the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, it is only a dim shadow of the slavery of a depraved soul. The slavery of the soul is the slavery of the man, and is the slavery that death cannot destroy. (2.) It was deliverance from bondage by Divine interposition. It was God that broke the iron rod of the oppressor, and delivered the chosen people. God alone can emancipate souls. (3.) It was deliverance from bondage in connection with the agency of man. Moses was employed to go down to Egypt to overwhelm the despot, and lead all Israel forth. God converts man by man. We have the treasure in earthen vessels. (4.) It was deliverance from bondage that involved new difficulties. From the moment the chosen people started from Egypt, until they entered the promised land, they had to contend with difficulties. It is so with emancipated souls. So long as they remain on earth they have difficulties to contend with. Our subject is difficulty in duty-difficulty in duty deeply felt-difficulty in duty testing character-difficulty in duty divinely overcome.
I. DIFFICULTY IN DUTY DEEPLY FELT. The children of Israel, in marching toward the Red Sea, were in the path of duty, but see the difficulty they met with-the sea rolling before them, mountains towering high on both sides, Pharaoh and his host in the rear burning with ire and determined on their destruction. “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid : and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord,” &c.
It is ever thus. Difficulty with us ever lies in the path of duty. Duty conducted Daniel to the lions' den, the Hebrew youths to the burning furnace, Paul to prison,
martyrs to the stake, Christ to the cross. The experience of the good in all ages supplies examples. In heaven the path of duty has no difficulty. It is strewn with immortal flowers, and shone on by a cloudless sky. Three facts may explain the reason why duty in this life should be so invariably connected with difficulty.
First: Our temporary well-being here greatly depends upon the conduct of our contemporaries toward us. Providence has so woven the tie of mutual dependance between us and our contemporaries, that our feelings and conditions are greatly influenced by each other. We cannot get on without the help of our contemporaries.
Secondly: The majority of our contemporaries are governed by corrupt principle. Few, perhaps, will doubt this -fewer still deny it. The maxims, spirit, habits of society are, alas ! in the main, wrong.
“ All flesh has corrupted it.” Why," there is none that doeth good.”
Thirdly: The man therefore who carries out in his daily life the principles of uuty must more or less excite the anger and create the antagonism of his contemporaries. The man who is loyal to the everlasting principles of duty will be speaking things in the ear of society, and be working things before the eyes of society, that will bring on him persecution in some form or other. Christ knew this, and He told his disciples that “in the world they should have tribulation.” When society gets holier, the path of duty will get easier. Meanwhile, there is difficulty in every step. "Through much tribulation," &c.
Here we have,
II. DIFFICULTY IN DUTY TESTING CHARACTER.
First: Look at the influence of this difficulty upon the Israelites. “They were sore afraid ; and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.” How this difficulty showed the state of their hearts.
Observe (1) their cowardice. “They were sore afraid.” The great difference between a true and false man is this, the one loves duty supremely, the other loves self; the one will sacrifice life for duty, the other duty for life. The reason of their cowardice was want of faith in God who had promised to deliver them: had they believed his word they would not have been afraid. The disciples in the storm of old were afraid because they did not believe. “How is it that ye
have no faith ?” Observe (2) their ingratitude. “And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thon taken us away to die in the wilderness ?" Is this spiteful taunting and bitter reproof a suitable return to Moses for the wonders he had achieved for them under God? Observe (3) their apostacy. “It would be better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.” They show a disposition here to give up all that had been gained for them, to throw away all that had been done for them, and to go back into their miserable state of vassalage. Thus the difficulty brought out into sunlight the miserable disposition of these people.
Secondly: Look at the influences of difficulty upon Moses. “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to day.” In the presence of the difficulty he rises into the majesty of the hero. Amidst the tauntings of the men for whom he had hazarded his life, the rattlings of the chariots and the furious shouts of Pharaoh and his hosts, with the frowning mountain on either side and the rolling ocean before him, he stands before them with sublime firmness, and says, "Fear ye not,” &c. He might have taunted them ; he might have said, why are ye such mean cowards, why do yo not believe in Jehovah, why taunt me who have risked my all for you? But not a word. Thus difficulty always tests and exposes character—the false and the true come out to the light.
Here we have
III. DIFFICULTY IN DUTY DIVINELY OVERCOME. “ The Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” It was so. They were delivered, a3 we find from the subsequent verses. At the command of Moses the tribes move onward, his brave words inspired them with a temporary courage. They approach the margin of the sea. It is a critical moment. The suspense is intense. The mystic pillar, which had hitherto gone before them, recedes, and goes between Israel and the Egyptian hosts. The dark side mantles their enemies in midnight. The bright side throws its radiance over Moses and his charge, and gleams on the billows through which they have to pass. Moses now stretches out his hand, and the waters divide, and a dry path is formed. The Israelites advance, the waters divide, and on each side consolidate as walls. The Egyptians, with a fatal recklessness, still pursue them. On they go, until the whole are between the mighty waters. For a short time all seems favourable; the waters retain their wall-like position. But now the chariot wheels begin to move heavily; slower and slower they move. At length they stand still. Terror strikes into their hearts : they would retrace their steps, but cannot. “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.” This is their cry, but it is too late. Their doom is sealed. Israel's heroic leader stretches forth his hand, and the piled mountains of water fall back into their channel, and Pharaoh and his host are engulfed. One loud shriek of mortal agony rises from the drowning millions, and all is over. The morning dawns, the chosen people are safe on the other side, the waters roll as usual, and the waves, as they break upon the shoro, bear one Egyptian corpse after another, clutching in their stiffened hands the implements by which they sought to destroy the men of God. “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously : the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea," &c. (Exod. xv. 1-19.)