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leading to the establishment of countless forms of error in opposition to divine truth, are we not warranted to affirm, that the evils which such a system has entailed, and is now entailing, are altogether incalculable ? " Thus saith the Lord, I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, till he come whose right it is!” - In another paper, we shall consider what are the claims of the voluntary principle on the church of God under the New Testament dispensation.
SHADOWS OF GOOD THINGS TO COME.--No. II.
The history of the children of Israel at Rephidim is a very interesting and instructive portion of their history. The narrative, as given by Moses in the seventeenth chapter of the book of Exodus, is as follows:
" And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim. And there was no water for the people to drink ; wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel, and thy rod wherewith thou smotest the river take in thine band, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb, and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.” This narrative, considered simply as a portion of literal history—the mere record of a remarkable transaction long since past, --is rich in varied lessons of instruction. We may learn from it, for example, a lesson of watchfulness against murmuring, when brought into straits and difficulties; and also a lesson of dependence upon God's power and goodness even in the greatest extremities. But the Apostle Paul teaches us that the history, while a literal, is also a typical history. Referring to it, he says, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, " They (the children of Israel) did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of the spiritual Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” In this portion of ancient history, therefore, as in a glass, we may see reflected, on the one hand, the extreme misery of man by nature; and, on the other, the wonderful provision that God has made for his happiness in Christ. :The condition of man by nature in regard to happiness, is a very melancholy and distressing one. There exists-implanted by the Crea. tor' in his very constitution a desire, an eager, intense, burning desire, fur happiness. It is a mental thirst, an insatiable craving for enjoyment; and which, unless satisfied, must consume the soul. Sin, indeed, has wrought a most disastrous change in the constitution of man's moral nature, but it has not extinguished the desire of happiness, while it has, however, dried up the springs of its legitimate gratification; nay, it has, on the contrary, aggravated and inflamed the desire. It
has superadded to the natnral thirst for enjoyment a diseased appetite, which, the more it is ministered to, becomes the more restless, craving, ánd insatiable. The universal question is, “ Who will show us any good ?" The universal cry is, “ Give us water that we may drink."
The world, that " world which lieth in wickedness," and which is all in all with unrenewed men,- does not furnish the means of satisfying this intense thirst for happiness. It is a wilderness, a dry, and thirsty land, like that in which the children of Israel journeyed. “ All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," are, as means of happiness, mere illusions, the mirage: of the desert, which glitters only to deceive, and deceives only to destroy. “ The laughter of fools is as the crackling of thorns under a pot.". “ The pleasures of sin are only for a season," being sweet merely in the mouth, and bitterness in the latter end.
“ This world is all'a fleeting show,
For man's illusion given,
There's nothing true but heaven." - Even the innocent gifts of nature and the sanctified bounties of Providence, the beauties and the sweets of holy friendship and domestic affection—those green palms and Elim springs of the waste howling wilderness—are not sufficient to gratify the longing desires of the soul after happiness. They are good while they last, and good as far as they go, but they want the principal qnalities which are requisite in order to pure, perfect, permanent enjoyment. “He that drinks of this water will thirst again." Those that drank and were refreshed at Marah, were like to perish of thirst at Replidim. The cistern, however full, can never be a substitute for the ever-flowing fountain.
But God has not left men to perish in their misery in this desolate wilderness. He has provided for them the means of happiness—means worthy of himself and suitable to them, in short, divine and all-sufficient means. He has for this purpose created a new thing upon the earth, wrought a iniracle, not of power merely, but of transcendant goodness, mercy, and grace. As he did not, at Rephidim, relieve the burning thirst of the Israelites by commanding, as in ordinary cases, the clouds to pour down“ their watery treasure," nor by showing them, as in the cases of Hagar and Ishmael, “ a well of water” in the desert, but by bringing water miraculously from a rock; so, in this case, he has provided for the happiness of men, not by nature, or reason, or philosophy, but by the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh-the Rock of salvation, which, having been smitten, yields refreshing streams of life, salvation, and happiness. Let us turn aside for a little, to contemplate this great sight of the Rock, Christ, turned into a fountain of happiness to the world; and while we look, let us drink and be happy for evermore. There are three points of view in which Christ, as the fountain of happiness, is here presented to us :-In his person, a Rock ; in his sufferings, a smitten Rock ; and in the blessings he bestows, living water from the smitten Rock.
In the first place, let us contemplate Christ as the fountain of happiness, in his person. He is a rock. The fountain 'was not opened in
the earth. From such a source troubled waters alone could have proceeded. What was of the earth would have been earthy. A divine source alone could supply the happiness which man's spiritual and immortal nature needed and craved. And such a divine source was Christ. “Who is God save the Lord, and who is a Rock save our God ?" Christ is a rock-a divine person-really, truly divine. He possesses divine perfections, is called by divine naines, performs divine works, receives divine worship. He is thus qualified, and alone qualified, to be the fountain of life to a miserable and perishing world. Many attempts have, indeed, been made by men to draw their happiness from mere creature sources. But these attempts have all ended, not merely in disappointment, but in felt and acknowledged disappointment. « Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” It must be observed, however, here, that though Christ was a rock, he was a rock on the earth. He was not only in the world, but of the human race. "Though in the form of God, and thinking it not robbery to be equal with God-be made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and appeared in the likeness of men.” The Word was made flesh. God became man. The Rock of Ages appeared a stone newly cut out of the mountain without hands. But such a Rock of salvation became us; in which the finite and the infinite-eternity and time-heaven and earth-divinity and humanity, were united and blended. “Without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness God manifest in the flesh-justified in the Spirit-seen of angels--preached unto the Gentiles- believed on in the world-received up into glory.
But let us, secondly, contemplate Christ as the fountain of happiness in his sufferings. He is not only a rock, but a smitten rock. To constitute Christ, the second Person in the adorable Trinity, a fountain of happiness to the world, we might have naturally anticipated, as most in accordance with his divine rank and character, some wonderful display of glory and majesty, We might have expected, for example, that he would have appeared arrayed in the robes of visible Godhead, seated on the throne, and wearing the crown, and wielding the sceptre of universal dominion, and in this character royally dispensing blessings to mankind. But God's thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor his ways as our ways. As at the rock in Horeb, there were none of those awful displays which signalized Sinai-as God did not bring the miraculous water as he gave his fiery law, amid the tokens of a present deity “ blackness and darkness and tem pest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words," so on Calvary, unlike what took place in Eden, there was humiliation instead of glory, and the shame, and curse, and pain of a malefactor, instead of the majesty of a God. Strange as it seens, the Rock must be smitten that it may yield water. Christ must suffer and die that we may be happy. 6 Thus it was written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer.” Respecting the sufferings of Christ in this point of view, there are several things suggested by the typical representation. First they were by divine appointment. It was God that appointed the rock to be smitten. Without this the smiting would have been of no avail. Well might our Lord say to Pilate, “Thou couldst have had no power at all against me, except it had been
given thee from above." It was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God that he was crucified and slain." But, secondly, the sufferings of Christ were externally through the instrumentality of men. Gud commands, but Moses smites. “Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatsoever God's hand and purpose determined before to be done." The instrumentality was indeed a wicked instrumentality. “ With wicked hands," the Jews crucified and slew himn. But it was not on this account the less real, or the less in accordance with the divine will. Farther, Christ's sufferings were judicial. Moses would have been nothing without his rod. He must smite, but it must be with the rod that he must smite. As Christ was made under the law, so he suffered under the law. It was its curse which, lighting upon him with its dividing stroke, rent him asunder. The Jews were really the unconscious but wicked executioners of the sentence of the law. In short, the sufferings of Christ were severe sufferings. The rock was cleft by the stroke. Not only was Christ's body grievously tormented, but his soul was inconceivably agonized. Indeed, that which at first sight might have seemed to secure exemption from suffering altogether, namely, his divine nature, actually rendered it more severe. The stroke which is necessary to rend the rock in sunder must be vastly greater than that which is requisite merely to cleave the yielding earth. See then in the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ the fountain opened.” The smiting of the rock-Christ was the wonderful expèdient, through which those “ rivers of pleasure, which are at God's right hand,” found vent, and flowed forth to refresh and bless this barren wilderness. -Lastly, let us contemplate Christ as the fountain of happiness, in the blessings which flow to men from his sufferings and death. When the rock was smitten, water flowed forth in abundance. And when the fountain was opened in the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, there issued forth streams of salvation. The sufferings of Christ furuished the means of justification and the means of sanctifica. tion, and these in a boundless measure and to a boundless extent. They were not only sufficient for the expiation of human guilt, and the removal of human pollution to the multitudes, who lived at the time they were endured, but they are sufficient still, and will remain suffi. cient to the end of time. The waters from the spiritual smitten rock, blessed in God, follow all the generations of men, and to all ages. The sufferings of Christ have all the merit and the virtue which they ever had. . .
“The dying thief rejoiced to see
This fountain in his day,
. Wash all my sins away." : ..Praeseniais Now, the cross of Christ, as a source of pardon and of holiness, is: a fountain of happiness. There can be no happiness where there is not · pardon and holiness. The unpardoned and the unsanctified, like the unclean spirit in the parable, is constantly going through dry places, seeking rest and refreshment and finding none." There is no peacegai there can be no peace to the wicked. r-With much more reason night we look for water springs in the wilderness, than look for true happiness in the regions of guilt and pollution. But in pardon and in holiness, we have all the elements of true felicity—a pardoned man must be a happy man, for his conscience is pacified, and instead of accusing, approves. “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered : blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." A sanctified man must be a happy man, for his heart, delivered from the bondage of evil lusts and passions, is calm, and serene, and satisfied. “Blessed are the pure in heart, fur they shall see God. But if we would take the full measures and dimensions of those streams that flow from the smitten Rock, span their breadth, fathom their depth, estimate their length, we must not only look at the direct blessings of justification, adoption, and sancti. fication, but at the several benefits which accompany and flow from them, both in this life and that which is to come. And when we do this, what a river of felicity will they seein-a river which cannot fail to make glad the city of God. “Surely," may we exclaim, in contemplating this rich provision,“ surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!"
SCHEME FOR THE LIQUIDATION OF CONGREGATIONAL DEBT.
Tae United Secession Church has been, in the hand of God, a valuable instrunient of good to our country. There can be no doubt, however, that by proper management it might be made incalculably more useful both at home and abroad. From the number of its congregations the activity of many of its office-bearers--the public spiritedness of the great mass of its people and the known liberality of many in its communion, it ought to be putting forth a large amount of evangelizing effort. But, in this respect, it has been greatly hindered by the pecuniary incumbrances resting on many of the congregations. There has not been in their congregational arrangements any thing that savours of profuse or needless expense. On the contrary, the salaries of the ministers, and other branches of expenditure, have been on a narrow scale. A most injurious parsimony rather than profusion has necessarily been the order of the times. And yet they have got into debt, that presses on many of them like a heavy load. They are apt to sink into despondency and inefficiency, while they are actually raising as much money every year, as would allow them to get on easily and comfortably, if it were not for that debt which is so distressing to themselves, and which hinders others from casting in their lot with them. A considerable number of congregations have to pay from fifty to one hundred pounds a-year as interest on their debt; and it will probably be found that at least five or six thousand pounds are annually expended in this way throughout our church.
i . de 9. It is well that something be done as contemplated to supplement inadequate stipends. This measure is more closely connected with the prosperity of the church than might at first be supposed. - But the