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Glimpses and Foretastes of the Better Land.

Glimpses and Foretastes of the Better Land.

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Published by glennpease

BY THE REV. ISLAY BURNS, DUNDEE.

" And the Lord spakeunto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land
Of Canaan, which 1 gave unto the children of Israel : of every tribe of their Fathers shall ye
send a man, every one a ruler among them."— Numbers xiii, 1, 2, tie., to the end of chapter.

BY THE REV. ISLAY BURNS, DUNDEE.

" And the Lord spakeunto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land
Of Canaan, which 1 gave unto the children of Israel : of every tribe of their Fathers shall ye
send a man, every one a ruler among them."— Numbers xiii, 1, 2, tie., to the end of chapter.

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Published by: glennpease on May 08, 2013
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01/12/2014

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GLIMPSES AD FORETASTES OF THE BETTER LAD.BY THE REV. ISLAY BURS, DUDEE.
" And the Lord spakeunto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the landOf Canaan, which 1 gave unto the children of Israel : of every tribe of their Fathers shall yesend a man, every one a ruler among them."— umbers xiii, 1, 2, tie., to the end of chapter.
The children of Israel are now on the very confines of the pro-mised land. Encamped at Kadesh-barnea, the last resting placein the desert, they are probably as near the country whither theyare travelling as they possibly can be, without being actually with-in its bounds. Probably from the summits of the neighbouring hillsthey can already descry in the distance the vine-clad hills and shadyvalleys of " the land flowing with milk and honey," and can almostfeel the fragrance of its spicy breezes wafted down into the desert.Their weary journeyings then seem well nigh done, and their hearts,wistfully following their eyes to the blue landscape before them, arealready at home in the land of rest. Yet how far are they, afterall, from the end of their pilgrimage ! How far have they yet to wander,how much to suffer, how much to learn, before they set foot on the wishedfor soil. Even from the confines of Canaan must they turn back to thedesert, and not till nine and thirty summers and winters have passedover them, shall they step down at last into the dry bed of Jordan, andenter in and possess the land !So is it, brethren, with the people of God in their eventful journeythrough grace to glory. At first — in the early days of fresh experienceand warm first love — the believer shoots up like the palm tree, and in alittle time seems almost ripe for glory. His joyful steps, " like hinds'feet," carry him swiftly on, and before he has almost entered on theheavenly pilgrimage, he seems already on the very confines of Canaan.He breathes after heaven. He longs to be with Jesus. Heaven,though still future, seems already begun within him. His peace is as ariver — his joy unspeakable and full of glory. The fountain of lifeeternal gushes up within his heart. It is a very Beulah of holy peace, and130 FREE CHURCH PULPIT.love, and gladness, and the breezes of heaven are around hiin. He is al-ready almost in glory ! — Thus he fondly dreams — but, alas ! it is but adream. He is yet far from home. He is not " meet for the inheri-tance of the saints in light." His experience, joyful and blessed as it is,is yet superficial, in many points deceitful and unreal. His faith, thoughardent and sanguine, is as yet little tried. His joy, so exulting and so full,
 
is yet sadly mixed up with presumption and vain fleshly feeling. Hislove, though warm, is selfish — joying in the Lord for his gifts, ratherthan for himself. The old man is yet strong within him. There are un-lathomed depths of corruption within, of which he knows nothing. Self,that oldest and foulest idol, still lurks within, and hns scarce as yet gotone deadly wound. He has, thus, much to learn, much to suffer, andmuch to do, before he can overcome and be crowned. Hence he mustgo back to the wilderness again, and, like the redeemed flock in everyage, pass "through great tribulation" — that, being refined by the furnace,and moulded and fashioned under Jehovah's hand as a vessel of mercy,he maybe found at last unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the ap-pearing of Jesus Christ.Such is the general subject to which our attention is now called, inconnection with the simple and touching narrative before us. It isan interesting and important passage in the experience of the saints,and of every gracious soul, and is well worthy of an attentive and prayer-ful consideration. May the great Shepherd himself direct us and leadus into all truth, while we thus try to trace out the footsteps of the flock,and to be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit thepromises.There are two leading topics which manifestly lie on the surface of thenarrative, and to which accordingly we shall successively direct your at-tention. These are — 1st, the Search; 2d, the Retreat.I. The Search. — The story is simple, and is soon told. " And theLord spake unto Moses saying, send thou men, that they may search theland of Canaan which I give unto the children of Israel ; of every tribeof their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. AndMoses, by the commandment of the Lord, sent them from the wilder-ness of Paran. And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan,and said, get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain,and see the land what it is, and the people that dwell therein, whetherthey be strong or weak, few or many ; and what the land is that theydwell in, whether it be good or bad, and what cities they be that theydwell in, whether in tents or in strongholds. ow the time was thetime of the first ripe grapes. So they went up, and searched the landREV. ISLAY BURS. 131from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come from HamathAnd they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron. And they cameunto the brook of Eschol, and cut down from thence a branch with onecluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff ; and they
 
brought of the pomegranates and of the figs. And they returned aftersearching of the land after forty days." It is plain, then, from theabove narrative, that the spies made a thorough search of the land of pro-mise. They traversed it in all its extent, from north to south, and fromeast to west ; and during a long survey of forty days, viewed that lovelyand delightful land in all its length and breadth. This was of unspeak-able importance. ot only was it necessary in reference to the im-mediate object they had in view — in enabling them intelligently andsuccessfully to lay their plans for going up and possessing the land, hadit been the Lord's will that they should then " enter into his rest ;" but itwas necessary, for another purpose of which they then knew nothing. Itwas the Lord's gracious plan thus to give the people a vivid idea of the glorious land itself, and thus prepare them for the toils and theconflicts that were yet before them. Hitherto their ideas of the pro-mised Canaan had been but vague and shadowy. They knew it onlyby hearsay. They scarce really believed in its existence. It was asweet vision, indeed, often in the thoughts, and very near the hearts of the faithful, but still but a vision, and it had often proved but a poor coun-terpoise to the real toils and sufferings they had to contend with. Theyfelt as though they were leaving behind them solid comforts, and passingthrough " a great fight" of real privations and sufferings, in search of aheritage they knew not of — which existed to them as yet only in the fancy,and which seemed to them often as but a dream. How different must ithave been with them now — now that, through the medium of their ownmessengers, they had, as with their own eyes, seen the far-off country — traversed its length and breadth, wandered amidst its shady hills andvalleys, and slept beneath its stately palms ! The whole land now wasbefore their eyes and in their heart. It is now a living, blessed reality.They now know the country to which they are travelling. They have seenthe heritage of which the Lord had said, " I will give it you ;" and theyhave found that all his words were true. — True, they did not then enter.That unbelieving and rebellious race were not judged then meet to enterinto his rest. But that far off sight was not in vain. That lovelyvision, once seen, could never be forgotten again. Its image lived inthem ; and doubtless, when they returned again to the wild and desolatewilderness, their hearts would often recur to that goodly land which theyhad once almost entered ; and in times of despondency and sorrow, dur-ing the long nine and thirty years of their restless wanderings, would132 FREE CHURCH PULPIT.its glory and beauty rise in vision before them, and rouse them to newardour and activity and perseverance, in pressing on through faith andpatience to inherit the promises. But for this, we need scarcely doubt,lhat that carnal and unbelieving people, who, notwithstanding Jeho-

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