And the LORD said to Moses, Why cry you to me? speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward:
And why were they to go forward? Not because there was less danger in the one path than in the other; there was much in both, and apparently more in the advancing than in the retreating path; but because to go forward was the path of duty and the command of God. Certainly advance is the great law of the Christian life, as well as of the universe. All things in nature and history go forward. The stream moves forward, not a wave of it turns back; its every eddy, even, is, in reality, advancing. The winds move forward, pausing, indeed, often on their journey, lingering amidst the locks of the pine, or in the cleft of the rock, but speedily resuming their onward sweep again. The stars — the earth included — move forward, "hasting not, resting not," seeking, it is said, some distant centre. Science, art, philosophy, literature, every species of knowledge, move forward; invention following invention, discovery, discovery; one man of genius eclipsing another, to be in his turn outshone. Time moves forward, oh, how rapidly! and how his vast wings seem to say, as they rush along, "I have an engagement at the judgment seat; I have an appointment in eternity, and I must fulfil it. My King's business requireth haste." Christ Himself never rested. He was never in a hurry, but He was always in haste. The difference between Him and many of His people is, His life was short, and He knew it, and did the most in it; theirs, too, is short, but they know it not, and do not with their might what their hand findeth to do. God Himself even, with all the leisure of eternity, is not losing an hour, but is carrying on His broad plans, with undeviating regularity and increasing swiftness, and surely men should aspire in this respect to be imitators of, and fellow-workers with, God. Christ's religion, too, has been active and progressive; sometimes frozen up for a time like a river, but, like a river, working under the ice, and when spring arrived making up for the time lost by the increased rapidity of its course. And so with the path of the individual; like the river, the winds, the stars, the Eternal Himself, it must advance. Our motto should be "Excelsior." The progress of the Christian, indeed, is often from one difficulty to another; and very idle for him, in this earth, to expect an unvaried course of even moderate peace and happiness. No, no! he only exchanges one difficulty for another. True, there is a difference between the character of the difficulties. In becoming a Christian, a man quits the path of destruction for the Hill Difficulty, midnight for morning twilight, the wrath of a judge for the discipline of a father, the brink of hell for the thorny road to heaven; Pharaoh, the devil's agent, for the Red Sea, which is God's ocean, and through which He cain provide a passage. We are urged forward alike by the command of God, the expectation of rest, and the hope of heaven, Ay! and even there the word of command is to be "Forward!" No more Red Seas, indeed, no wilderness, no battles to be fought, no enemies to be overcome; but still it is an onward course which shall be pursued for ever by the people of God. Heaven would cease to be heaven were this progress to stop. For what is heaven but the fire of the Infinite Mind for ever unfolding itself to the view and reception of God's creatures? We hear of people on earth whose "education is finished." Ah, Christian, thy education shall never be finished! There is only one Being whose education was ever finished, or, rather, whose education never began — God. All others, having entered on their future abode, are to go onwards, pressing toward the mark, punting, running, hoping, believing, loving more and more, throughout the ages of eternity. All difficulties, we should remember, will yield to faith, prayer, and perseverance.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: