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Numerous and signal also have been the providences of God over those who have paid obedience to his will; and often and conspicuously were those providences vouchsafed in favour of the children of Israel, when they placed themselves under his protection. The oppressed shepherds of Goshen did as they were enjoined to do, and the Divine wrath passed over them. It entered not in where the blood of the lamb was sprinkled. Security and joy were in the dwellings where the sacred token was displayed. It pleased God to preserve his people, that they might know and feel his mercies, and learn by their experience of them, while all around was misery and doleful lamentation, to bless his holy name, and serve him with greater zeal and affection for the future. And it pleased him also to enjoin the annual commemoration throughout their generations of this special deliverance, that they might by duly keeping the feast worthily celebrate his praise and acknowledge their gratitude, and make a solemn sacrifice of their souls unto him as their Almighty Preserver in the night of his vengeance upon the Egyptians, and the sure rock of defence then and for ever to all that would serve him faithfully, according to his will. So that the passover was in
stituted that it might be both a memorial for the future of a saving mercy in time past, and an emblem of a still greater saving mercy when the blood of Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, should be shed for the redemption of the world.
Now man should reflect that with regard to the visitations and providences of God the same principle of perfect justice and mercy directs his dealings towards individuals as well as nations. A nation is individuals in the aggregate; and the sum of general depravation is made up of the accumulated items of particular transgressions. The same rule, therefore, that applies to and affects the amount, applies to and affects every thing of which it is composed. Hence every one is to consider himself as under the eye and governance of God, whose justice will not allow sin to go unpunished, and whose mercy will not fail to bless the upright and truly-penitent soul.
THE MOSAIC DISPENSATION -A PREPARATORY MOVEMENT OF THE COUNSEL OF GOD IN CHRIST-THE SERPENT OF BRASS ERECTED IN THE wildernesS, A TYPE OF CHRIST LIFTED UP ON CALVARY-THE PROPHECY OF BALAAMITS FULFILMENT IN CHRIST-THE PROPHECY OF MOSES RELATIVE TO THE GREAT PROPHET TO ARISE IN JUDEA ITS FULFILMENT IN CHRIST-REFLECTIONS.
THE MOSAIC DISPENSATION.
THE next important circumstance to be considered in the economy of preparation is, the, special revelation of God to the Israelites, called the Mosaic law or dispensation, because delivered to them through the ministry of Moses.
In the third month after their departure out of Egypt, the children of Israel came into the wilderness of Sinai, and encamped therein to the number of about 1,500,000; 600,000 of whom were men above the age of twenty, and fit for war. As the time was approaching when this chosen people, now become so considerable, were to take possession of Canaan, concerning which the Lord had said unto
Abraham, "Unto thy seed will I give this land,"* God, previously to the fulfilment of his promise, judged it meet to impart to them a special law, and to accompany the delivery of it with a manifestation of glory so plain and so awful, that there should be no possibility of their mistaking the source from which it flowed, or of their not feeling the obligation to observe and do it.
Accordingly he descended on Mount Sinai in the midst of thunderings, and lightnings, and smoke, and the sound of a trumpet exceeding loud; and with his own voice, speaking out of the Divine Glory, he delivered the Ten Commandments in the hearing of the people; and afterwards the rest of his laws and ordinances in the hearing of Moses only, who was permitted to "draw near unto the thick darkness where God was."+
This law, thus proclaimed from the cloud of great and holy terrors, was of so peculiar a nature as to bear evident marks of being a dispensation from God for particular purposes; and containing, amidst its various injunctions, something hidden, something mysterious, something which future time and events would elucidate.
* Genesis, xii. 7.
+ Exodus, xx. 21.
If we look at this dispensation in its three branches separately and with reference to the Hebrew commonwealth only, we behold in its civil economy laws suited to the circumstances, and calculated to promote the good government of the people-in its moral economy laws most just and holy, in every way worthy of God, and in a high degree beneficial to man—and in its ritual economy laws burdensome indeed and of a singular character, yet tending to advance the interests of true religion by leading the mind through outward and ceremonial observances to an inward and spiritual service, by impressing it with a conviction of its own unworthiness, and by keeping alive, through a daily and severe discipline, a sense of dependence upon God. But if we look at these three branches conjointly and with reference to other nations and to the mysterious designs of the Almighty, we see in the strong peculiarity of the whole the divine intention to make the Israelites a distinct, separate, and remarkable people, to prevent their falling into the idolatrous worship and customs of their neighbours, and to prefigure by a minor light, and by various types and shadows the coming of the day-spring from on high, and the good things to be brought to pass by his visitation.