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claimed that all the people were holy, and ought to be permitted to share in the privileges of the priesthood. Now they go to the other extreme, and, either seriously, or as is most probable with a petulancy of affected dread, utter these fears in the hearing of Moses. His reply, if indeed he made any, is not given to us. We may well imagine how it grieved him, to witness so much discontent and perverseness still prevailing among his countrymen, and what his forebodings were of the continued displeasure of God which their disobedient spirit must draw down upon them.

Such is the nature of sin wherever it is found ;self-willed ; restless under law and discipline; finding fault with rightful authority ; urging the strangest inconsistencies; and when forbidden one course of conduct, rushing, in the mere spirit of opposition, into the furthest, contrary extreme. Such it showed itself to be among the Israelites. Such it is in your breast, my young friend, if it still retains there its ascendancy.

Look at it, as some of its most revolting features are exhibited, in the language and conduct of that perverse people who were led by Moses through the wilderness. Do you turn from it, under this aspect, with disgust ? Is it less odious in your own case ? You have more light than they had. You enjoy greater privileges. You have experienced richer blessings. Above all, the way of salvation, and of deliverance from the power of sin, through the sacrifice and intercession of Christ, has been fully revealed to you. Every motive has been addressed to your conscience, to your hopes, and to your fears, to lead you in the paths of holiness and peace.

Do
you

still resist them all ? Does sin, unrepented of and unforsaken, still retain its ascendancy in your breust ? If so, will not the Israelites who journeyed in the wilderness, obstinate and rebellious as they were, rise up in the day of judgment and condemn you ?

CHAPTER LI.

The Israelites arrive again at Kadesh. Death of Miriam.

Sin of Moses and Aaron. Its punishment.

We have no record of any other events, until the children of Israel came once more, through the route which has been described as the probable one, to their former station at Kadesh. This was in the desert of Zin, the north-east part of the great desert of Paran; and they reached it in the first month of the fortieth year after their departure out of Egypt.

For more than thirty-seven years they had been

wandering from one encampment to another, under the discipline of an offended though still merciful Sovereign. We infer from several passages of Scripture that, during this period, besides the instances which have been mentioned, they abandoned themselves at times to the commission of the most grievous sins, and especially to the practice of idolatry. What punishments they endured in consequence of this we are not informed. Doubtless their sufferings were often very great, and deservedly so; while vast numbers of them died, and were buried on the

way

before they arrived again at Kadesh.

And here, too, a death took place of no common interest. It was that of Miriam, the sister of Moses, distinguished alike for the force of her personal character, and for the high rank which she held among

her countrywomen. She died at the advanced age probably of one hundred and thirty years ; while her epitaph is contained in this short and simple sentence :

Miriam died there, and was buried there." We have reason to believe that she was one who, like her brothers, loved and obeyed God. But like them, also, she had remaining sins to struggle with ; and, on account of some peculiar offences, among which her treatment of Moses at Hazeroth was conspicuous, she was not permitted to enter the promised land.

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Another event took place at Kadesh, affecting deeply the prospects of Moses and Aaron, and subjecting them to a severe expression of the divine displeasure. It deserves, on this account, a particular notice.

There was an entire want of water. The last remains of it had been exhausted ; nor could any fresh supplies be found. Thirst made the people impatient; and like their fathers at Rephidim, they exercised no faith in the providence of God, nor raised the voice of their supplications to him for relief. They assembled with strong feelings of discontent against Moses and Aaron, whom they affected to regard as the authors of their sufferings, and uttered their complaints in the most reproachful language." Would God," said they, addressing Moses, that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there ? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place ? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates ; neither is there any water to drink.”

On hearing this, Moses and Aaron immediately left the assembly, and went to the door of the tabernacle, where they prostrated themselves on the ground; and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them. They sought the divine direction in this cri

tical emergency, and it was afforded them. " Take the rod," said the voice that proceeded from the glory, "and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock : so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.”

Moses took the rod, as he was commanded, from the tabernacle, (where it seems to have been deposited,) and bearing it in his hand, as the symbol of the divine power which would be manifested through his instrumentality, he and Aaron convened the people.

They all stood in anxious expectation before the rock; when Moses, instead of that reverential awe which he should have felt while being about to perform a miracle in the name of Jehovah, gave way to a sudden burst of passion. The people "provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips." "Hear now, ye rebels ;” said he, "must we fetch you water out of this rock ?" as if they were demanding an impossibility; or if it could be done, that to himself and Aaron would belong the honor of doing it.

What disrespect to God, and want of confidence in him, was thus manifested in the presence of the people. Unbelief and pride appear strangely to have got possession, for a season, of one who

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