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occupies two chapters of the history. In the third is described

In the fourth,


I. As objects in the natural world assume different modifications of form and colour, according to the lights in which they stand, and the positions in which they are viewed, so do the instructive histories of the word of God, and, not least, the incident under our consideration.

(1.) It may be viewed as a subject for moral and religious reflection. Hitherto the marches of Israel had been conducted by the pillar of cloud, and of fire. They were now to follow another guide. The officers went through the host; and they commanded the people, saying, “When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites bearing it, then shall ye remove from your place, and go after it.” Thus were the people to be guided through Jordan, into the borders of Canaan.

Difficulties exist in the Christian life, like those of the Israelites, when they stood by the swollen river. There are moments of doubt and darkness, in which the servants of God are compelled to cry, to their Saviour, as he in

Dothan to the prophet, “ Alas, Master, how shall we do!” Is such the state, and such the pleading of any here? Follow the ark of God. Go to that word which he hath given, as “a light to your feet and a lantern to your paths.” Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, as a guide, not less than a propitiation. Exclaim with Moses,

If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence;” and expect to receive the promise made to prayer, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and he will bring it to pass. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths. Hath he not said, “ Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world?” Is not his declaration sure, “I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee ? " Take no step in life without a presiding aim to magnify the riches of providential and redeeming mercy. The ark of God will then precede you, his written word and unerring Spirit will give you a right judgment, and lead you to a right decision in all things. If you tread the dark mountains, your feet shall not stumble; if you walk through the trackless depths of the river, even there will the right hand of God lead you. Keep your eye upon the ark; and if

your way be pointed out by the gospel of Christ, and recommended to you by the influences of the Holy Ghost, fear not to pursue it. God will lead the blind by a way that they know not: he will make darkness light, and crooked things straight before them.

In this transaction however, the Israelites were to follow the symbol of God's power and presence, at a suitable distance. “There sliall be a space between you and the ark, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near it.” We need, we greatly need the same salutary caution impressed upon our hearts, by the renewing and transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Surely the man who fears God, and trembles at his word, must observe with pain the careless levity with which so many approach the secrets of his throne, and the profane familiarity with which they explore the depths of his hidden counsels. Was the presumption of Uzzah punished with death, when he put forth his hand, in well meant, but unbidden zeal to support the ark? Did the men of Bethshemesh perish, because they presumed to look into it without permission? Shall we then approach it with unhallowed boldness? Would it be more easy to dry up the waters of the ocean, and to examine the secrets of its depths, than to understand those mysteries of God for the salvation of a condemned and dying world, into which angels desire to look ? If so, it should suffice our inquiries into the unsearchable riches of Christ, that we know the way to his cross, that we are renewed by his Spirit, that we are transformed into his likeness, that we delight in the holy way of his commandments, and rejoice in hope of the bliss of his eternal rest. Be contented and grateful. Follow the ark at reverential distance, and walk humbly with your God. So shall the darkness pass away, and the true light shine upon you; until, become new creatures in Christ Jesus, you have each obtained that experimental wisdom, which, on this side heaven is man's best and dearest possession ; One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.

If the Israelites had crowded round the ark, their very nearness would have concealed it, and thus defeated its office of guiding their march according to the intention of the Most High. The caution was therefore issued with reference to this particular danger.

" Come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore." As he who affects to look upon the sun with a steadfast eye will be dazzled with its excessive effulgence, and be unable to see his way, so will the eyes of that man's mind be darkened, who endeavours to be wise above what is written, and to fathom

the depths of an incomprehensible God, with the scanty line of his own reason.

He will not discover his character and danger as a transgressor-nor the requirements of God-nor the provisions of eternal love for his salvation-nor the way of holy duty-nor the path of life and blessedness. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. There is a point, beyond which human wisdom cannot pierce. We have nothing wherewith to draw, and the well is deep. Learn then, to walk by faith, not by sight. Secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children. Pray for spiritual knowledge, with fervour becoming your need of the gift. If ye would succeed at the mercy-seat, “be not wise in your own conceits." “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread :” and many who seek knowledge in the spirit of profane and daring cavil, instead of discovering the truth as it is in Jesus, wrest the scriptures to their own destruction. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will he teach his way. I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so Futher, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Ye are passing

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