Deuteronomy 8:12
Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses in which to dwell,
Sermons
God Forgotten Amid Second CausesR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 8:7-20
Wealth Perilous to PietyD. Davies Deuteronomy 8:7-20
The Dangers of WealthJ. Orr Deuteronomy 8:10-19
Danger of RichesDeuteronomy 8:11-17
Forgetful of GodThos. le Blanc.Deuteronomy 8:11-17
Forgetfulness of GodJ. Bibb.Deuteronomy 8:11-17
God ForgottenDeuteronomy 8:11-17
National WealthC. Kingsley, M. A.Deuteronomy 8:11-17
Prosperity and Spiritual RuinJ. Halsey.Deuteronomy 8:11-17
The Christian Aspect and Use of PoliticsCanon D. J. Vaughan.Deuteronomy 8:11-17
The Journey Towards the Promised LandFrank Coulin, D. D.Deuteronomy 8:11-17
The Manna Which Humbled IsraelD. F. Jarman, M. A.Deuteronomy 8:11-17
The ScorpionR. Newton, D. D.Deuteronomy 8:11-17

I. WEALTH IS DANGEROUS WITHOUT THE PREVIOUS TRAINING OF ADVERSITY. Those who, cradled in the lap of luxury, have never known struggle and difficulty are rarely persons of meek, humble, chastened dispositions. As rarely are those whose schemes have been so uniformly prosperous as to give color to the thought, "My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth." The former class lack moral fiber, are seldom competent to grapple with the problems of earnest life, shrink from action, and consequently fall an easy prey to the temptations of their wealth. The others are bold, daring, self-sufficient, and superior to religious considerations. They waive God aside from their plans and schemes - "I do not need that hypothesis" - and refuse to worship, honor, pray to, or serve him. Adversity, to a certain extent, tends to correct these faults. It teaches humility and dependence, proves the heart, and forms it to habits which enable it to use wealth rightly.

II. WEALTH IS DANGEROUS, EVEN WITH THE TRAINING OF ADVERSITY, UNLESS THE LESSONS OF ADVERSITY HAVE BEEN IMPROVED. Adversity, unhappily, does not always produce in men's hearts the salutary effects which philosophy assigns to it. It may harden instead of softening and subduing. Multitudes pass through it and are none the better. They are unyielding, unsubmissive, impenitent. They grow bitter in spirit, and accuse the God of heaven. In such a case the return of prosperity, or the gift of it, is no blessing. The heart gets haughtier than ever, and God is defied (Obadiah 1:3, 4). It is a serious question for a nation to put to itself, after passing through a period of adversity, Is it morally the better for its sufferings? For, if not, the revival of prosperity will mean but the revival of the old follies, extravagances, and inflations - the very things which formerly led God to turn his frown upon it.

III. THERE IS A DANGER, WHEN WEALTH COMES, OF THE LESSONS LEARNED IN ADVERSITY BEING AGAIN FORGOTTEN. This is the peculiar danger apprehended in the text. Wealth has so subtle and ensnaring an influence, it draws the affections so stealthily away from God, that no temptation is to be compared with it in point of insidiousness. A threefold danger:

1. Undue elation of heart.

2. Forgetfulness of God.

3. A spirit of self-sufficiency and self-glorification.

The preventive lies in the cultivation of a thankful spirit (ver. 10), and in the recollection that the power to get wealth is not of ourselves, but from God (ver. 18). This is the root-error in the matter - stopping at second causes, putting nature and nature's laws, or our own wisdom, energy, and forethought, in place of him without whom we could not think a thought, move a muscle, or carry through to completion one of our purposes. Best preventive of all is the laying up of treasure in heaven; for, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-22). - J.O.







Beware that thou forget not the Lord.
Here we have Moses' answer to the first great question in politics — What makes a nation prosperous? To that wise men have already answered, as Moses answered, "Good government; government according to the laws of God." But the multitude, who are not wise men, give a different answer. They say, "What makes a nation prosperous is its wealth. If Britain be only rich, then she must be safe and right."

I. MOSES DOES NOT DENY THAT WEALTH IS A GOOD THING. He takes for granted that they will grow rich; but he warns them that their riches, like all other earthly things, may be a curse or a blessing to them. Nay, that they are not good in them. selves, but mere tools which may be used for good or for evil.

II. AND HEREIN HE SHOWS HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN HEART; for it is a certain fact that whenever any nation has prospered, then they have, as Moses warned the Jews, forgotten the Lord their God, and said, "My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth." And it is true, also, that whenever any nation has begun to say that, they have fallen into confusion and misery, and sometimes into utter ruin, till they repented and remembered the Lord their God, and found out that the strength of a nation did not consist in riches, but in virtue. For it is He that giveth the power to get wealth. He gives it in two ways. First, God gives the raw material; secondly, He gives the wit to use it. This, then, was what Moses commanded — to remember that they owed all to God. What they had, they had of God's free gift. What they were, they were by God's free grace. Therefore they were not to boast of themselves, their numbers, their wealth, their armies, their fair and fertile land. They were to make their boast of God and of God's goodness. This they were to remember, because it was true. And this we are to remember, because it is more or less true of us. God has made of us a great nation; God has discovered to us the immense riches of this land. It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.

III. YOU WILL SEE THAT MOSES WARNS THEM THAT IF THEY FORGOT GOD THE LORD, WHO BROUGHT THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, THEY WOULD GO AFTER OTHER GODS. He cannot part the two things. If they forget that God brought them out of Egypt, they will turn to idolatry, and so end in ruin. And so shall we. If we forget that God is the living God, who brought our forefathers into this land, who has revealed to us the wealth of it step by step as we needed it, who is helping and blessing us now, every day, and all the year round — then we shall begin worshipping other gods, worshipping the so-called laws of nature, instead of God who made the laws, and so honouring the creature above the Creator; or else we shall worship the pomps and vanities of this world — pride and power, money and pleasure — and say in our hearts, "These are our only gods which can help us, these must we obey." Which if we do, this land of England will come to ruin and shame, as surely as did the land of Israel in old time.

(C. Kingsley, M. A.)

"Forget not." God hates forgetfulness of His blessings —

1. Because He has commanded that we should not forget them (Deuteronomy 4:9).

2. Because forgetfulness is a sign of contempt.

3. It is the peculiarity of singular carelessness.

4. It springs from unbelief.

5. It is the greatest mark of ingratitude.

(Thos. le Blanc.)

Mr. Cecil had a hearer who, when a young man, had solicited his advice, but who had not for some time had an interview with him. Mr. C— one day went to his house on horseback, being unable to walk, and after his usual salutations, addressed him thus: "I understand you are very dangerously situated." Here he paused, and his friend replied, "I am not aware of it, sir." "I thought it was probable you were not, and therefore I have called on you. I hear you are getting rich; take care, for it is the road by which the devil leads thousands to destruction!" This was spoken with such solemnity and earnestness, that it made a deep and lasting impression.

A friend recently told me of a beautiful elm in his garden that for centuries had withstood the fury of winter's storms. On one still summer's morning, however, he was startled by a crash, followed by the rustling fall of a huge limb. The thing was unaccountable, for not a breath of air was stirring, and the broken branch was perfectly sound. At length the gardener gave the explanation. It was the calm itself that had wrought or occasioned the mischief. All through the tranquil night copious dews had fallen, and every leaf had caught and held as in a closed chalice the copious deposit, whose countless drops bore with an oppressive weight upon the branches until the one in question could no longer endure the strain, Had the slightest breath of air been stirring, so as to disturb the leaves and empty their tiny reservoirs, they would have rained their riches of moisture upon the soil beneath, and the elm would have continued to flourish in unmutilated majesty. Prosperity often accomplishes the spiritual ruin that adversity failed to effect.

(J. Halsey.)

A Glasgow minister was sitting on a coach beside the driver on a lonely Highland road, and saw in the distance an old woman, who looked wistfully towards the coach. As it came near her face showed by turns anxiety, hope, and fear, and as the coach passed, the driver, with downcast eyes and sad expression, shook his head, and she returned disappointed to her cottage. Being much affected by what he saw, the minister asked an explanation of the driver. The driver said that for several years she had watched daily for the coach, expecting either to see her son or to receive a letter from him. The son had gone to one of our great cities, and had forgotten the mother who loved him so dearly. But the mother went every day to meet the coach, trusting that one day her son would return to her. Such a tale makes our heart bleed for the parent who was cruelly forsaken, but many forget how badly they are treating their heavenly Father when they forsake Him and refuse to return to Him.

Among the legends of Hindostan is this: — Rawana, a Brahmin, was offered by his god anything that lie might name. Rawana prayed his god to bestow upon him the government of the world. His god immediately granted his wish. Then he prayed for ten heads with which to see and rule the world. After Rawana had well fortified himself, and was surrounded by riches, honours, and praise, he forgot his god Ixora, and bade all the people worship him, an act which greatly angered the god Ixora, and he destroyed Rawana. How true to human nature was the course of Rawana! and how many we find today that have forgotten the God that gave them all they possess!

(J. Bibb.)

Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness
It is a common saying in these days that politics, as the phrase is, "run high," and are likely to continue to run high for some years to come. And this is perfectly true, so far as the present is concerned, and is likely to prove true in the future also. Great issues have to be fought out. The area, too, over which the interest in politics is felt has been, widened by the spread of education and the extension of political rights. Men's convictions and affections and prejudices and passions are deeply engaged in the questions of the day. They feel and speak warmly on one side and on the other. And the result is what we see, and perhaps, to a certain extent, suffer from. The Christian ministry would stand self-condemned if it had not a word in season to say at a time like the present. To bring the whole subject to the purest light, which is the light of Christ; to lift our thoughts to the highest point of view; to connect present trials and difficulties with our life as men, and as Christian men, so that they may become no longer injurious to us, but a wholesome discipline — this is the object of the present discourse.

1. A time of political stir and agitation, when great questions are being discussed and settled, is in many ways much better than a time of apathy and stagnation. If it calls out some of the fiercer passions of our nature, it calls out also the nobler qualities. It helps to make the political atmosphere, if more stormy, yet less liable to become venal, corrupt, and impure. A recent traveller in America, an observer of much acuteness, has remarked upon the gravity, the seriousness, the seeming melancholy of the American character. Can it be matter of surprise that it should be so? Could a nation pass through a tremendous crisis like that of the still recent civil war without bearing the mark of it upon its brow for many a long year afterwards? Is it the dream of a visionary or of an enthusiast to hope that the critical times through which our own beloved country is passing may leave a permanent impress for good upon the national character?

2. But this view of the gain which may accrue to all true manliness of character, through the demand at present made upon it, requires to be extended and modified by an additional consideration. We must not forget that what we want is not a heathen, but a Christian manliness. And this involves higher qualities, such as gentleness, considerateness, courtesy, sympathy, as well as the sterner stuff of truth and courage and endurance. England's great need at the present day is of wise counsels and of gentle hands, to heal the wounds of society, to interpret the various sections and classes to each other, and to unite them together, so that all may seek the common good and feel that they are all members of one commonwealth. Those wounds of society are deep and many. Pauperism, drunkenness, crime, ignorance, vice, misery; who can reflect on these giant evils, these horrible sores, of our social state, without feeling that the triumph of a party is not worth a moment's thought compared with the removal of such evils and the cure of such diseases?

3. If I were to look for a motto, which I might take it upon me to recommend to all those who are in any way engaged or interested in politics, I should select that noble Christian rule which St. Peter gives us, "Honour all men." No three words that I know of cut more decisively at the root, whether of the false Toryism which delights in patronising and domineering, or of the false Liberalism which hates all that is above itself and longs to pull it down to its own level, but has no wish to raise what is below, and whose ruling spring is not a genuine human sympathy, but pure selfishness and scorn. Yes, "honour all men"; not the few only who are above us, but the many who are below us. The grounds of this noble Christian motto lie deep in the Gospel of Christ. That common human nature, which Christ Himself, the Son of God, has condescended to wear, cannot but be a sacred thing in the eyes of all His followers. But more than this, it stands in such close fundamental connection with Him, and He with it, that in honouring it we are in fact honouring Him.

4. In sober truth and earnest, the responsibility which attaches to every citizen, even the humblest, of our common country at a time like this, is a heavy one, and might well avail to call out all the dignity, honour, and manliness that are in each, though too often, it may be, latent there. Each contributes something by word, by influence, by sympathy, to present tendencies. Each contributes some drop, as it were, to the mighty tide, which is bearing us onwards into the future. Each is therefore helping now to determine what that future shall be; our own future, our children's future, our country's future. Act neither from fear nor favour. Act as in the sight of God, looking to Him to purify our motives, to inspire us with wisdom and courage, to make us tolerant, too, and conciliatory, as well as steadfast and resolute. Then we shall be blessed ourselves, and our country will be blessed also.

5. Lastly, let it never be forgotten by us that, come what may, God's kingdom is over all.

(Canon D. J. Vaughan.)

These words were addressed by Moses to the Israelites when, having at length reached the end of their protracted wanderings through the wilderness, they were on the point of taking possession of the promised land. The veteran leader exhorts his companions in toil and suffering to cast a retrospective glance on the memorable period of their existence which is now drawing to its close, and to consider it as a time of humiliation, of trial, of providential education, necessary to fit them for the possession of Canaan after the thraldom of Egypt. The application of this text is simple: Israel is the people of God. Egypt, that house of bondage, is sin; the slavery of the prince of darkness. Canaan, that promised land, is heaven. The wilderness, the great and howling wilderness through which God leads us, is the world of sin and suffering, in which He leaves us yet awhile. Let us consider these words in relation to our past, present, and future, and endeavour to understand the solemn significance and sublime end of our earthly pilgrimage.

I. THE PAST. The time which immediately followed the rescue of Israel from Egypt was undoubtedly one of the grandest epochs in the history of that people. With one voice they sang that magnificent song, the most ancient and one of the finest monuments of that noblest of all poetry — Hebrew poetry (Exodus 15). But alas! how short-lived was this enthusiasm! Deliverance was followed by protracted trial. Instead of the gates of Canaan open to receive them, the Israelites found only a great and terrible wilderness through which God led them, against their will, towards the ultimate good He had in view for them. Is not this an image of ourselves? Who is there that has not felt similar emotions to those experienced by the Israelites on the morrow of the passage of the Red Sea? On the high road to the promised land, with the foretaste of eternal life in our hearts, in the fervour of our first love, in the outburst of our gratitude, we gladly exclaim with Simeon: "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." And it is from the very depths of our heart that, as we take our first step towards the fatherland, we renew the engagement of the Israelites of old, and promise that, "All the Lord hath spoken we will do." But the descent from these sublime heights soon commences. To what may our experience at such times be compared? You have seen, after a dark night, the sun begin its daily course in more than ordinary radiance, the sky is a glowing canopy of gold and purple, the earth revels in floods of light;...then, by degrees, this brightness dims; clouds, at first almost imperceptible, thicken and condense in the atmosphere; the sky becomes overcast, and the horizon is dull and cold; the rain begins to fall, thin, uninterrupted, penetrating, and the heart grows heavy and chill. Such, in most cases, is the long day of human life after the transient dawn which announces or precedes conversion, and from the depths of your soul do you not call this a great and terrible wilderness? Have you never murmured or asked yourself the question: "Wherefore this long journey through this barren land?"

II. THE PRESENT. "The Lord thy God hath led thee." What memories were these words calculated to awaken in the mind of the Israelites? If God ever manifested the providence of Omnipotence in a striking manner upon earth, it certainly was during the wanderings of His people through the desert. And though the Divine providence that leads us on in our turn be not miraculous, as during the journey of the Hebrews, it is, however, none the less real and marvellous. That which the people of God witnessed by the eye of the body may yet be manifest to the eye of faith. The mercies of former days are pledges of those we are permitted to expect in the present. But wherefore this wilderness? Why not immediate peace, triumph, and glory? Hear the answer of Him whose every act tends to an excellent end: "That He might humble thee, to prove thee." The purpose of the Lord was to bring the will of His people into subjection, to train them to obedience, to sanctify them in the highest and noblest sense of the word. And everything down to the minutest details was chosen, ordained, calculated with a view to the ultimate result. Thus it is with us. We are placed, here below, in presence of a maturity to be attained; and no fruit can ripen unless it has felt the burning rays of the sun. We are being educated, and there can be no thorough education without stern discipline. We are going towards a promised land, but the path to it lies through a valley of tears. Between this conception, which is that of faith and a blind fatalism, the very thought of which is bewildering, there is no middle course. It is good for us to be tried. If we knew naught of "the sufferings of this present time," should we know "the weight of glory which shall be revealed to usward" which they are meant to bring forth? Let us beware, however, lest by our folly we add to our measure of affliction, and thus constrain the Lord to humble and chasten us beyond His own purpose.

III. THE FUTURE. "To do thee good at thy latter end." The constant end of God is good. Faith reveals to us and the Scriptures declare that "all things work together for good," etc. Even upon earth, whoever remembers all the way which the Lord his God hath led him, finds at the end of each trial a mature fruit, "the peaceable fruit of righteousness," to be received ultimately. And what shall it be when the fashion of this world hath passed away, and all the ends of the Lord with a view to the final good of His saints shall be manifested? These forty years of pilgrimage through the wilderness were a sore trial for Israel. But how glorious was the day when at length they reached the end, and obtained the reward of so much toil and suffering! Who, then, remembered the weariness of the road save to praise Jehovah, who had led them to so goodly an inheritance? For us also there shall be a crossing of Jordan and an entrance into the heavenly Canaan, of which the earthly was but a feeble type. We, too, shall have our day of triumph, a day when the sun, which marks the stages of our journey, shall set amid the shadows of a last eventide, to rise again for us radiant and cloudless for evermore. God's purpose is to do us good at our latter end! Forward, then, in peace and hope! Soon all things shall become new! Faith today; sight tomorrow! Weariness now; rest by and by! Here the desert; beyond the promised land! Forward! Excelsior!

(Frank Coulin, D. D.)

Scorpions
Our subject is the scorpion — a dreadful insect which is as full of lessons as it is of venom. The scorpion is in reality a terrible kind of spider, and has the venom claw at the end of its body, not in its jaw. Scorpions do not look unlike lobsters, as we see them collected in a basket on their way to the market. These uncomfortable creatures, the scorpions, manage in some way to secrete themselves in hidden nooks and corners, and one experienced in travelling in the East — where scorpions abound — will be careful where he takes his seat until he has discovered whether there are any scorpions or venomous spiders hidden under the rocks near where he may happen to be. The scorpion has a peculiar venom, some of the larger scorpions being able to make a man very ill, and even to kill him if he should be one subject to inflammation. The scorpions were so much feared by the early Christians and the apostles of our Lord, that we find tie promised them safety from their stings, and the bite of poisonous reptiles. So much, then, for the scorpion. Let us now learn the lessons which this venomous creature teaches us.

I. First of all, we learn from the scorpion — THE LESSON OF THE HIDDEN POWER OF VENOM. Venomous thoughts are thoughts of malice, and spite, and malignity; that is why we always want to kill a viper, or a snake, or a black spider, because we know that it is filled with venom, or poison, or some noxious material, which will give us pain or perhaps cause our death. A venomous writer is one who is malignant and mischievous. A venomous neighbour is one who is spiteful, and has evil designs upon us. We don't know how it is that we have this evil within us; but it is very evident that in some way venom is within us, just as truly as it is within the poisonous scorpion. Let us beware of this hidden power of venom within us, for the poison as "of asps" is indeed under our lips.

II. The second lesson we learn from the scorpion is — THE LESSON OF THE POISONING POWER OF SIN. The following illustrates what we mean. In the chemical laboratories of our colleges there are many experiments made which show us the wonderful power of a single drop of poison. A great bottle of colourless water will become a thick and clouded white in an instant by the addition of a single drop of the prepared chemical; and one drop of poison, such as strychnia, will paralyse in an instant a living being, such as the goldfish, turtles, and tadpoles which we see in a vase of water. But none of these poisons is so powerful as the poison of sin (James 1:15). I was reading, some time ago, a story which shows us the poisoning power of sin. A man who wished to buy a handsome ring went into a jeweller's in Paris. The jeweller showed him a very ancient gold ring, remarkably fine, and curious on this account, that on the inside of it were two little lion's claws. The buyer, while looking at the others, was playing with this. At last he purchased another, and went away. But he had scarcely reached home, when first his hand, then his side, then his whole body became numb and without feeling, as if he had a stroke of palsy; and it grew worse and worse, till the physician, who came in haste, thought him dying. "You must have somehow taken poison," he said. The sick man protested that he had not. At length someone remembered this ring; and it was then discovered to be what used to be called a death ring, and which was often employed in those wicked Italian States three or four hundred years ago. If a man hated another, and desired to murder him, he would present him with one of them. In the inside was a drop of deadly poison, and a very small hole out of which it would not make its way except when squeezed. When the poor man was wearing it, the murderer would come and shake his hand violently, the lion's claw would give his finger a little scratch, and in a few hours he was a dead man.

III. The third, and last, lesson that we learn from the scorpion is — THE LESSON OF THE MISERY OF SPITEFULNESS. There is nothing in life so miserable and contemptible as the spirit of spitefulness; that is, the spirit of envy at another's success. There is something spiteful and venomous about the bite of an insect or reptile: a bite from a mosquito, a spider, or a snake will always make us think of the spitefulness of the creature that has bitten us.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna
What was there in God's gift of manna to humble Israel? We should rather think it placed them in a high and distinguished rank among nations. Whom else did God feed thus? It did exalt Israel; it did point him out and distinguish him far above the Hittites or Jebusites, or even the voluptuous and powerful Egyptians; and yet it humbled him. To humble is not to humiliate; humility is not humiliation. When shall humility be at its height? When tears and sighs and sickness and poverty have brought you down to the very grave? No such thing. When death has paralysed every power of body, and perhaps shaken the mind itself into a wreck? No such thing. When the world sneers and contemns your piety, and calls you the filth and offscouring of all things? No such thing. But look onward! look upward! Who are they falling down before Him that sitteth upon the throne, and casting their crowns at His feet? They are redeemed, and crowned, and glorified spirits; they are the most humble of our race; humility is made perfect, not in sorrows and scoffs, but there, midst harps and crowns and palms and songs. And since the Lord will thus perfect your humility by crowning you and receiving you to heaven, it is no hard matter to suppose that God might give Israel manna "to humble" them. The fact, then, is certain; but how is it brought about? by what process did the manna humble Israel? First of all it did so by the mystery of its dispensation; and thus Moses distinctly calls it "manna which thy fathers knew not." Neither Abraham nor Isaac nor Jacob had seen such a thing; the oldest Israelite had never eaten such food; it was "manna which thy fathers knew not." And the Israelites then alive were equally ignorant of its nature; with the manna actually before them it was still a mystery to them. They could not tell how it came, or whence it came, they simply could say they gathered it. And then there was the gathering, equally unaccountable. It was gathered in the morning, yet if any man should grudge his daily labour of collecting it, and his daily recognition of Him who gave it — if any man should try to make one morning's collection do for two days' food, behold on the morrow his pot of manna is a pot of corruption, and instead of food he finds worms. And then if any Israelite should dare to forget or to outrage the Sabbath by not collecting a double portion on the sixth day, he finds the ground all bare; the wilderness is arid and fruitless as ever; for bread he finds stones. But how did all this mystery humble them Why, it taught them, and made them feel their own ignorance. Let the Jew take up that "small round thing as small as the hoar frost on the ground," and let him tell me how it is made or whence it came. Not all the subtle learning of Egypt, which some of them doubtlessly possessed, could teach them this lesson; that grain of food is a puzzle for 603,000 men besides the Levites; the manna tended to humble them. And so with you. True, you have no food sent and gathered in a most incomprehensible manner; but every mercy you have which you do not understand takes its place side by side with the manna, and on the self-same principle ought to humble you. How, Christian, wast thou born again?, "The wind bloweth where it listeth," etc. And what is every step in the believer's career but a mystery of love — a mystery of grace? "Great is the mystery of godliness" great in the work of redemption by Christ — great in the application of that work by His Spirit — all, all, a great mystery from first to last. And shall we, standing as we do amidst the crowd of deep and awful truths — shall we, feeling in our own hearts that love "which passeth knowledge," and that power which like a hidden magnet draws us to holiness and God — shall we, surrounded by the "deep things of God" — shall we be aught else than nothing in our own sight? But, again, the gift of manna tended to produce this humbling effect by its greatness. I am not disposed to elevate the importance of the meat which perisheth, or to prove the vastness of God's gift to Israel by the fact that myriads of lives depended on the regular supply of this food. Neither will I dwell on the abundance in which manna strewed the spot of Israel's encampment; there was no lack in any tent of Jacob; the patriarch of a large family fared as well as though he had been childless and alone. Want was unknown in that mighty camp; all was plenty. Now this abundance alone would prove the greatness of God's gift; but we may rest our proof on higher grounds, and assert that whatever the nature of the manna, and whether sparingly or profusely given, the simple fact that God gave it makes it at once a great and unspeakable gift. A present from a great man is esteemed great from the very greatness of the donor. If the King were to give you some token of his regard, let it be trifling as it will — a mere bauble — yet how highly would you prize it! a case of gold is not too precious a casket for it. What, then, must be a gift from God! The greatness therefore of Him who gave Israel manna, and the love which the provision displayed, made it a great gift. But how did its magnitude tend to humble Israel? Why, by calling to Israel's continual remembrance their own unworthiness, and God's matchless and free mercy. And, surely the bounty of your Lord affects you in the same way; it must teach you your unworthiness. "The goodness of God leadeth you to repentance;" and thus Paul entreats the Romans, "I beseech you by the mercies of God." It must be a callous and a dead heart which does not feel its baseness whilst filling itself with new and full supplies of Divine goodness. The son may be hardened by rebuke or by punishment; he may be callous to recollections of past affection and care; but often as he holds out his hand to receive some gift of his pardoning father, that seared conscience speaks, that hard heart breaks, that rebellious arm trembles, and he who could dare a father's curse shrinks and quails before a father's gift, his unworthiness pressing on him with a weight he never felt before, and mercy accusing him more powerfully than all the reproaches which lips could utter. And in spirituals you will find there is nothing which impresses the soul with so deep a sense of guilt as a sense of Divine mercy. I may reckon up a long catalogue of your sins; I may tell you of all the guilty deeds you have done since childhood; but if I can, by the grace and power of the Spirit, put into your heart one evidence of Christ's love for sinners, I have done more towards your conviction of guilt than if I had opened the two tables of law, and tried your every act by the light of judgment. Sins will strike a man low, but God's mercies will gently lay him lower still. The penitent often sinks deeply and more deeply in the slough of despond; but there is a place where his position is lower still — it is the Cross of Christ; and when we need to learn or teach a lesson of self-renunciation, you may depend upon it the best subject for study is not the magnitude and the multitude of your sins alone, but the magnitude and the multitude of the Lord's mercies.

(D. F. Jarman, M. A.)

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Deuteronomy 8:12 Commentaries

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Deuteronomy 8:11
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