You saw the oppression of our fathers in Egypt; You heard their cry at the Red Sea.
tabernacles, Ezra and eight Levites led the whole assembly in a reverent address and appeal to God. It is thought by some that the record of it in this chapter (vers. 6-38) is the exact copy of it as then written down for the use of the Levites; or it may be the leading topics of it as afterwards recollected and recorded. We have seen that confession of sin is the groundwork and substance of it. But it includes adoration and thanksgiving, for the grateful recital of the excellences of God's character and the graciousness of his dealings would be the very thing to deepen and to quicken penitence for their sin. A realisation of God's holiness and a remembrance of his kindness are inseparably connected with the sense of our own guilt. This recital of the goodness of God, both general and particular, contains reference to -
1. The essential greatness of God: as the one Lord; Creator and Preserver of men; Maker of heaven, "with all their host;"... whom "the host of heaven worshippeth" (ver. 6).
2. His distinguishing goodness to Israel: choosing Abraham (ver. 7), working great wonders on behalf of the race (vers. 10, 11), giving them a day of rest and a human leader (ver. 14), establishing and enriching them in the land of promise (vers. 22-25).
3. His miraculous and his abiding care for their wants: giving them "bread from heaven for their hunger," and bringing forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst (ver. 15); forty years sustaining them in the wilderness (ver. 21).
4. His faithfulness: "performing his words, for he is righteous" (ver. 8).
5. His pitifulness, and mercy, and patience: seeing their affliction and hearing their cry (ver. 9); "ready to pardon, slow to anger, and of great kindness" (ver. 17); "many times delivering them" in answer to their cry (ver. 28); "not utterly consuming nor forsaking them" (ver. 31).
6. His guidance and teaching: giving the cloudy pillar and the pillar of fire (ver. 12); speaking to them from heaven and giving them judgments and true laws, etc. (ver. 13), and his "good Spirit to instruct them" (ver. 20).
7. His chastening love (vers. 28-30). Let us consider -
I. THE ABUNDANT GROUND FOR GRATITUDE ON THE PART OF EVERY ONE OF US. We worship and bless God as
(1) our Creator: "it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;" it is he who breathed into us "the breath of life," and made us "living souls;" as
(2) our Divine Preserver and Sustainer, whose visitation has preserved our spirit; as
(3) One who has shown many peculiar and especial favours to us which he has not bestowed on others; as
(4) One who has been opening his band and satisfying our daily want - "daily loading us with benefits;" as
(5) One who has been faithful in all his dealings with us; who
(6) has borne much and long with our waywardness, our fruitlessness, our imperfection; as
(7) One who has been guiding us continually, "ordering our steps," leading us by a way we knew not, by a right and a wise way;
(8) teaching us his holy will, acting on us by his "good Spirit," and
(9) blessing us by that which we may have least appreciated, but which has been the truest instance of his love - by chastening us, correcting us, "leading us into the wilderness, humbling us," weakening us, impoverishing us, taking from us the "light of our eyes," "breaking our schemes of earthly joy," that we might return unto him, to find our rest in his love, our portion in his service.
II. GOOD REASONS WHY WE, AS ERRING BUT ENDEAVOURING SOULS, SHOULD RECALL AND RECOUNT IT. There are four very strong reasons why, in the presence of God and of one another, we should recall his past loving-kindness and his everlasting goodness.
1. It is in accordance with his will, and will give pleasure to him when we do so reverently and gratefully.
2. It will deepen our sense of sin; for we shall feel that it is against all this goodness and mercy we have rebelled.
3. It will give spirituality and intensity to the voice of our praise. Such recollections will constrain us to "make melody in our heart" when we make music with our voice.
4. It will give depth to our abiding gratitude - that sense of unbounded indebtedness which we carry with us from the sanctuary, and hold in our hearts everywhere. - C.
And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt.
Homilist.I. THAT THE PATH OF HUMAN DUTY HERE RUNS THROUGH GREAT TRIALS.
1. Sometimes it involves the sacrifice of endeared friendship. Lot had to separate from Abraham, Barnabas from Paul, Paul from Mark.
2. Sometimes it involves the sacrifice of worldly prospects.
3. Sometimes it involves the endangering of life itself.
4. Sometimes it involves an outrage on our tender sentiments. Abraham offering up Isaac.
II. THAT GREAT TRIALS THROUGH WHICH THE PATH OF DUTY HERE RUNS SERVE TO TEST THE PRINCIPLES OF THE PILGRIMS.
1. It reveals the bad principles of the heart. The Jews at the Red Sea revealed their ingratitude, meanness, aspostasy, cowardice,
2. It reveals the good principles of the heart.
III. THAT UNBOUNDED FAITH IN GOD IS ESSENTIAL TO CARRY US SAFELY 'THROUGH THE PATH OF DUTY WITH ALL ITS GREAT TRIALS.
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