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BY REV. W. THISTLETHWAITE, M.A.

Exodus xvi. 15.

And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, it is Manna, for they wist not what it was. And Moses said, this is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. The history of Israel is a history of God's providential care over his people. The last two sermons shewed each a most extraordinary instance of it : the former setdnG; befZyou hi, gracioo, guidance of .h». b' the cloud and pillar of fire ; and the latter describing their miraculous deliverance from their pursuing enemies beautifully and sublimely celebrated in the song of Moses recorded in the preceding chapter. Another

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instance of his care is also thus related in the xylose of the same chapter. The Israelites had travelled three days in the wilderness without meeting with any water, and were consequently much oppressed by faintness and thkst. At length they arrived at a place (afterwards called Marah) and were transported with joy by the sight of water ; but they found it so bitter that they could not drink it; and stung with their disappointment they began to murmur against Moses. Then God was pleased, in answer to the cry of his servant, to shew him a tree, which being cast into the water rendered it perfectly sweet, not from any peculiar medicinal or corrective qualities in the tree, but through the gracious appointment of God himself.

And well are we taught by the circumstance that he can sweeten every bitter potion which the Christian may at any time have to drink. A further instance of God's providential care, and that also by miracle, is recorded in the chapter which is now before us. In the course of their journey, exactly a month from n2

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their leaving Egypt, they came into the Wilderness of Sin, not far from the Mount Sinai, and there their provisions began to fail. And now see them forgetful of all the former mercies of the Lord, and as ready to look for their safety and supplies to common and ordinary methods, as if they had never had any special interpositions in their behalf. Hear the account of them with surprise. " The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness : and the children of Israel said unto them. Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots^ and when we did eat bread to the full.'' It is scarcely possible to conceive any thing more ungrateful or perverse. The very people who had seen all the first-bom slain in Egypt in one night on their account, now wish that they themselves had perished in like manner ; the veiy people, that had sighed and cried by reason of their bondage in that country, now magnify its plenty, because they sat by the flesbpots and ate bread to the full. Alas!

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what see we here but a picture, too faithful

to the likeness, of our fallen nature ? How prone are we to fret and murmur under every present inconvenience ! That which troubles us for the moment is considered the greatest of all troubles. Past dangers and deliverances, past supports and comforts, are all forgotten by us \ our minds dwell upon the present evil, and our tempers are irritable, fretful, and impatient ; we quarrel openly with our friends, and murmur, though perhaps we dare not express our murmurs, against God. The Scriptures are profitable for reproof and correction, as well as for doctrine and instruction in righteousness. Oh! that we may learn to correct our own faults by the exhibition which we so often have of the faults of others. Justly might God have forsaken this unworthy people. But if all unworthy persons should be forsaken and punished for their deserts, what alas would be the case with any of ourselves? But he magnifies his mercy ; and therefore by another miracle he supplies their present need, and not only so,

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but he provides them with a constant means of subsistence for years to come. ** The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the chfldren of Israel : speak unto them saying. At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread, and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. And it came to pass that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp : and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another. It is Manna, for they wist not what it was." Thus for

the immediate satisfying of their hunger an immense number of quails, (some species of wild-fowl,) were made to come and settle upon and about the camp so as easily to be taken, and during the night a quantity of Manna was produced in the regions of the air, and fell like dew, which being dried by the morning sun, became a nutritious and

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palatable food. In size and shape it was small and rounds like coriander seed, its colour was white, and its taste as wafers made with honey. The Israelites knew not what it was when they saw it, so they called it Manna, which seems to mean, prepared food; as though they said one to another, here is the food which God hath prepared for us. Different substances, some eatable, and others medicinal, have since been called by the same name, but they none of them are produced as this was. This, I am persuaded, was not a natural, but a miraculous production, formed expressly for the occasion, continued during the time of the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness, and then made to cease. There were moreover several other extraordinary circumstances attending upon this miraculous appointment of their food. In the first place the Israelites were directed to go and gather it every morning in the quantity of an omer, that is, about three quarts for each individual, and it seems that those who gathered more than that quantil^

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were to impart the oyerplus to those who had not been able to gather so mnch, and wh^i measured, it was found that, upon the wiide,

they had collected as much as made up Ihis specified quantity for each, so that ^' he dial gathered much had nothing oyer, and he that gathered litUe had no lack." — ^They found however on the sixth day that the quantity gathered was as much as two omers for a man, and when in surprise they informed Moses of this circumstance, he told them that this was to preserve the rest of the Sabbath and prevent the necessity of their going out to gather it on that holy day, as has been already noticed in a previous sermon. Moreover they were directed to use what they gathered every day, and to reserve none until the morrow, and those who did reserve any, found that it universally bred worms and stank, except such as was gathered on the sixth day, for that kept perfectly sweet and wholesome over the Sabbath. Such was this miraculous supply, such the express and extraordinary appointments made respecting it.

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I shall now endeavour to present you with some useful instruction^ hoth direct and implied, which I think may be gathered from it. 1 . First, we may see the necessity of industry and diligence in our several callings to provide food convenient for ourselves and our households. While God, in this case, miraculously supplied the food^ he yet compelled the people to go and gather it. The Manna was rained down from heaven for them, but it was not sent into their houses. All our temporal supplies are truly the gifts of God. His providence fills the earth with fertility ; he giveth the green herb and com for the use of man ; but in the morning man must " go forth to his work and to his labour until the evening.'* otwithstanding we are assured that although

*^ the young ravens may want and suffer hunger, they who fear the Lord shall want no manner of thing that is good," yet still the gospel precepts and admonitions are, '' Be not slothful in business ;" " if anv man provide not for his own house, he hath 5

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denied the faith and is worse than an infidel;^ " if any one will not work, neither should he eat/' 2. Secondly, we have here a striking illustration of that saying of our Lord, " A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." The Manna was the chief, if not the entire, food of the Israelites. umbers are ever anxious to pamper themselves with a variety of food, with delicacies and luxuries of every kind, prepared in the most skilful manner, and at immoderate expence. But health of body and peace of mind may well be preserved without such things, which rather tend to injure both than to increase any of the comforts or happiness of life. Temperance and moderation in the use of meats and drinks is what we should follow if we were as wise for ourselves, and as really careful of both our bodies and our souls, as God is for us. Let us be content then with such things as we have, and shew moderation in the use of them all. Oh ! let the Christian ever beware of giving occasion to the enemies of the Lord

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to speak reproachfully of him as being given to self-indulgence in the pleasures of the table, or to any other sensual gratifications.

3. Thirdly, we may also learn a daily dependance upon the good providence of God. The Manna was provided for them every morning : their bread was given them day by day. For the constant supply of our own necessities we should be thankful as we receive it, and in the way of faith and prayer and duty should trust for a continuance of it. So far from being disturbed in mind as to provision for the future, be content with even the little which you may gather for the present : eat your daily bread, as day by day it is supplied you, with thankfulness of heart, and for the remainder " cast your care upon God for he careth for you." — Trust him, as I said before, in the way of faith and prayer and duty, that he will supply all your need according to his own riches in glory. 4. Fourthly, we may also address you from this history, thus, " Take heed and beware of covetousness." The unbelieving

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and covetous Israelite^ who hoarded up his Mauna till the mornings found that it bred worms and stank. Hear St. James speaking on this same subject. " Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten." Therefore " lay not up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves trea^ sures in heaven where rust and moth doth not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal." " Let your conversation be without covetousness," for " they who will be rich fall into temptation and a suai*e, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown meuvin destruction

and perdition ; for the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 5. Fifthly, the last thing which I notice as bding a part of the direct instruction to be

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gathered from this miracle, is the careful attention to sanctify the Sabhath, which it so expressly teaches. Besides the express command that they should not go out to gather the Manna on that day of rest^ here were three separate miracles wrought every week to put an honour upon it, and to allow for, or enforce, the due observance of it: twice as much was found on every sixth morning as on any other day of the week ; none whatever was sent them on the seventh ; and during that holy day it remained fresh, while it could not be kept over any of the others. All this is a plain proof of God's determination to hallow the Sabbath day, and we are hereby taught, that whatever diligence we use in our worldly business on other days, we are to abstain from it upon this: we are to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, and do no work thereon. It is the Lord's day and is to be given to him. He instituted it in remembrance of his own re^t from all his works which he had created and made, and has appointed it to be consecrated to his own worship and service.

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I proceed now to set before you some instruction which I think may be gathered hy implication from this miraculous history. It may remind aud admonish us of many

things respecting the food of our souls for the life which is spiritual. 1. First, you will remember that this use of it was made by our Lord himself. On oae occasion, as we read in the sixth chapter of St. John's gospel, our Saviour was taunted with this miracle by the unbelieving Jews, when they enquired of him, " what sign shewest thou that we may see and believe ? What dost thou work ? Our fathers," said they, ^^ did eat Manna in the desert, as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat." In reply he shewed them that here was a representation of the manner of living by faith upon himself. " Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the bread of life : he that cometh to me shaU

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never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. Your fathers did eat Manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread that cometh down from heaven that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven, if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Thus the Manna may be considered as a representation of Christ, the spiritual food which giveth life to our souls. It is by virtue of that sacrifice which he oflered up in a human body upon the cross that we obtain pardon and peace with God; by this also he purchased that grace of the Holy Spirit, which puts a spiritual life within our souls, and quickens those who otherwise were dead in

trespasses and sins. It is thus that he gave his flesh for the life of the world. And if the Manna was an undeserved bounty of God to the Israelites when murmuring, does not God yet more commend " his love to us in that, even while we were yet sinners,

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Christ died for ns ?*' Was the Manna given to them when famishing through hunger, and is not Christ sent to us when ready to perish ? We were dying through sin, and he came and died in our stead and on oiv behalf, that we might live for ever through him. 2. Secondly, since God has now in mercy prepared for us diis heavenly bread, let us earnestly and diligently go forth to gather it. Let us strive to win Christ and be found in him. Herein the duty of the Israelites represents our own. Hiey were to gather the Manna ; we are to gain an interest in Christ. As when the sun waxed hot the Manna melted away, so is your day of grace passing speedily along, and the night is coming, in which no man can work. The spiritual blessings which are prepared for us in Christ are only to be had by our seeking them with care and zeal. In enquiries after the way of life, in prayer for divine teaching and guidance, in study of the holy scriptures, in a diligent attendance upon all the means of grace, we must seek

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the salvation of our souls through the blessed Redeemer. The gift is God's, but it is our imperative duty to use every possible care and exertion to obtain it. And hence the blessed Jesus himself charges us to labour

not so much for the bread vrhich perisheth, as for that which endureth to everlasting life. 3. Thirdly, we must feed upon this bread of life. Here again the representation holds. As our natural food must be eaten that it may nourish our bodies and preserve life, so the faith of the soul must be in lively exercise upon Christ. The truths of his sacred gospel must not be mere barren notions in our heads, but life-giving principles in our hearts. We must take them to our use and for our own benefit. This is the mystery of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. The doctrines of the gospel must be ^ received through faith, digested in humble meditation, and converted into nutriment to hope, love, and other holy aflfections.' The ordinance of the Lord's supper is strikingly significant of these spiritual acts of the soul.

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We there eat the bread, the appointed representation of the body of Christ ; we drink the wine, the appointed representation of his blood ; and we are at once instmcted in the meaning of these acts, and exhorted to make the right application of them, in the words addressed by the officiating ministei when he delivers the consecrated elements, ^ feed on him in thine heart hj faith with thanksgiving.' 4. Lastly, we must gather this our spiritual food daily. The compulsion laid upon the Israelites in this respect is again instructive to us. They could make no hoards ; we can never lay up any stock of merits or graces on which we can live without application to Christ. Let us not think that we do enough and can gather enough on a Sabbath or in a sacrament only; not a day must pass without prayer and love

and service. We shall daily need pardon for our daily offences, and daily supplies of strength for our daily necessities. As our bodies faint if without their food for a single day, so our souls will have no vigour but as

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they constantly go to Christ for a continual supply of their spiritual life and strength out of his fulness. Oh ! then live upon him daily. Fancy not that any hoard of merits is possessed by you, or even of grace bestowed upon you, on which you may subsist for even the shortest space of time. Depend not on any attainments already made, on any past experiences already enjoyed, as if they could carry on the life of your souls, and afford them nutriment for time to come. Oh ! no. In those respects they are only sufficient for present need, comfort, and strength. But be ever applying to Jesus, in whom are all your fresh springs, for fresh communica^ tions of grace and mercy. So shall your souls continually renew that strength. So shall they be nourished to life eternal.

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