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The question, then, here occurs-May not the followers of Jesus Christ assume the liberty of remonstrating, as if no deliverance had been made good to them? In answer to this, I will reply, that a man can have no right to complain, because a promise hath not been fulfilled, before the time for its fulfilment shall have gone by. Even Moses, after his first burst of impatience, appears to have discerned the truth of the matter. During the forty subsequent years which intervened, ere the Israelites were completely delivered, he appears not again speaking reproachfully unto God, as to one unmindful of His promise. Their condition, while wandering in the wilderness, was perhaps not outwardly better than that which they had left for it in Egypt; nay, it appears on sundry occasions to have been hardly so good, since the carnally-minded amongst them repeatedly expressed a mind to return thither. Yet, at no subsequent period is Moses described to have sanctioned, or to have taken any part in, their repinings. Never, except in the single instance under review, can we find him adopting, and transmitting to the Divine Majesty, the impatient murmurs continually repeated by his countrymen. Having, "by faith," a better land in view, he would not so much as allow a thought of returning unto that whence he had
come out with the people. Not all the perplexities and perils of their progress towards it, could materially shake the steadfastness of mind, which had succeeded in him to his previous mistrust. Laying aside every doubt and discontent, he persevered in the race which was set before him, under circumstances of the most discouraging aspect, and at length, like the patriarchs who had been gathered to their fathers in the former days, was prepared to die" in "faith, not having received the promises, but having only seen them afar off," (Heb. xi. 13.) and conceived a satisfactory persuasion of them in his mind.
No Christian, therefore, may presume to upbraid the Lord God in the words, or after the tenour, of One who should be indiscreet enough to do so, would surely betray a deficient apprehension-such as Moses was then probably possessing-of the general method of the Divine dealings with mankind.
Regarding principally the present world, a man might, it is true, almost see reason thus to complain. I have already allowed that our first attempts to forsake the service of sin, and to become followers of Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent to deliver our souls from bondage, are apt to have only the effect of making our chains more galling, and our burdens heavier
than before. The fact is, that, from having been born with the bands of sin about us, we do not feel ourselves intolerably straitened or incommoded by them, so long as we use no endeavours to break them off. But when, having learned to a full conviction, by the gospel, that the end of such bondage will be death, a man sets about to recover his freedom, then how fiercely, as it were, do they encircle and compel him! Every step which he takes, draws them tighter; and the corrupt principle, whence they originate, exercises its most oppressive severity on the revolting captive. Let us, however, suppose the cords of sin to have been broken-as, after a while, they certainly will be broken, through the power of the Spirit of Christ, by all who have a hearty desire to be rendered free-let us suppose this first step to have been attained, and upon that, into what state do men perceive themselves to have been delivered? Truly, into one, which may in many respects be likened unto that of the Israelites in the wilderness. Have not the redeemed of the Lord still to sojourn in a land, which may often seem to them spiritually desolate and dreary? Is it not so, even with those who have repented and believed the gospel, that the flesh yet lusteth against the Spirit, and will not, without much painful discipline, be sub
ject to the law of God? And, although our old sins, which aforetime held us in subjection, may have been cast (like Pharaoh and his host) into the depths of the sea, are not new ones continually besetting us on our pilgrimage, (as the children of Edom and of Moab, and the Amalekites, and the nations generally of Canaan opposed the progress of the Israelites,) and, at the least, grievously harassing us by their attacks? Yea, our great Deliverer Himself took occasion to forewarn His disciples, "in the world ye shall have tribulation." (John xvi. 33.) Likewise, St. Paul was moved by what he saw and had experience of, to declare, "We know that the whole creation groaneth " and travaileth in pain together until now; and "not only they"-i. e. not only mankind in general, who had not then been called unto salvation through the gospel-" but we ourselves, "which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even
we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting "for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of "our body." (Rom. viii. 22, 23.) With these passages for our authority, and remembering moreover, that the redemption of the body, to be accordingly waited for with groaning, cannot otherwise than by death be enjoyed, we may be strongly disposed by our natural infirmity to complain, that as to the present
state, God has not hitherto wrought any adequate deliverance for His people.
11. Nevertheless, except the apostle were doomed to groan and wait in vain, or (to speak more explicitly) if there hath been provided elsewhere, beyond the grave, a blessed and an -eternal dwelling-place, entirely free from all dangers and temptations, for those who will press resolutely toward the mark; if there be a promised land of rest, after the wilderness --which we are at the present traversing, and if, when we were lying naturally fast bound in misery and iron, God mercifully regarded our captivity, and brake in sunder our bonds, and hath conducted us within a hopeful reach of bit; in such case, though our paths were yet more difficult, our troubles more perplexing, and our perils more numerous than they really are, still to say" Neither hast Thou delivered "Thy people at all," were unwisely to reproach the God of our salvation. We may with truth remark, He has not perfectly delivered us; but He has given us a sufficient earnest of His intention finally to do so. God has made us, not indeed for the present possessors, but heirs - of His heavenly kingdom, and having brought us forth into the right way thitherward, is daily enabling us by His Holy Spirit to pursue it: in the which we should discern a satisfactory