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rate and corrupt tendencies which prevail, with a successive and lamentable ascendancy, over one race after another of the fallen and short-lived generations of men. The modes in which sin developes itself, under different circumstances and at different times, may, to a certain extent, vary-one vice, or one phasis of evil, may give way to make room for another-every age may have its own distinctive character; still, beneath all this diversity of external ap-, pearance, there exists a singular uniformity in the principles which govern the human mind: and the same causes which operated in producing those instances of memorable depravity and ungodliness which the page of ancient history records, may still be traced, acting with undecayed vigour, and unshackled in fluence, over the men who at present occupy the theatre of human life, and who fill its various scenes, whether of luxurious opulence, frivolous dissipation, engrossing business, or sordid poverty.
A striking illustration of the truth of this observa. tion may be found, by attentively examining the history of the people of Israel, and viewing all its varied aspects and bearings in connection with those principles that gave rise to their ever-recurring declensions, from a state of occasional piety and reformation, into the habitual practice of idolatry, rebellion, and every species of wickedness. They are discovered to be, in all respects, the appropriate representatives of that fallen and sinful nature which all mankind equally inherit. In them, we may see, as in a glass, the image of ourselves. However distorted the appearance, or however unattractive the features of the representation may be, truth requires, that we acknowledge it for our own. Their inconsistency, their ingratitude under the enjoyment of so many mercies, their incessant proneness to murmur and rebel, their readiness to turn aside and adopt the corrupt customs of the gentiles, instead of abiding by their own pure and holy laws; their neglect of God in circumstances of prosperity, and their forced return to him, when adversity compelled them to seek his favour and to
rely upon his aid: all these constitute the outlines of a character, not.peculiar to them alone, but revived with a powerful accuracy and truth, and with a melancholy fidelity, in the history of every nation, community, family, and individual of the human race, so long as they are left to the operation of those principles which prevail in their naturally deceitful and desperately wicked hearts.
In the 106th Psalm, the inspired psalmist recounts, in a most interesting and instructive manner, all the wonders and mighty works connected with their deliverance from Egypt, their passage through the great and terrible wilderness, and their introduction into and establishment in the land of promise. In this beautiful song of praise, so rich in memorials of the Divine power and goodness to Israel, and through them to the human race at large, there is interspersed many a darker line, in deep and humiliating contrast, commemorative of the many unworthy returns of that people, and of the grievous sins which marked their conduct at the very time when they were so largely and eminently distinguished as the objects of the Divine care and beneficence. “Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies, but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known. He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies; there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord. The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. And a fire was kindled in their company: the flame burnt up the wicked. They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgat God their Saviour, which had done great things in Egypt-wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.”
That portion of the history of the Israelites to which more immediate reference is made in this place, you find recorded in the 32d chapter of the book of Exodus. Moses having been called to go up to meet God in the mount, and receive the law, remained there forty days, a period corresponding to the length of time during which Christ was tempted in the wilderness: and also the same with that which again elapsed between his resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, during which he repeatedly discovered himself to his disciples, and taught them, as God now did Moses, the things pertaining to that spiritual dispensation, which they were to be his instruments in establishing. Impatient of the prolonged absence of their leader, the fickle and inconstant Israelites resolved to continue no longer in a state of calm expectation; but conceiving, perhaps, that Moses had perished, and that the object of his mission had thereby become frustrated, they resolved on falling back into the practices of Egyptian idolatry, and of participating in those sinful excesses and pleasures which the appointment of an idolatrous festival permitted them to indulge. Hence they went to Aaron, and with the insolence and impetuosity characteristic of a people broken loose from every restraint of religion and authority, and determined on evil, they said unto him," Up, make us gods which shall go before us, for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him." The sinful facility with which the consecrated high priest of God yielded himself on this occasion, to be the instrument of executing the sinful wishes of a clamoroụs and rebellious people, affords a memora
ble instance of weakness and timidity: very far from what might have been anticipated from his office and character. We need not enlarge upon the guilty scene which speedily ensued. Those voices which had recently been lifted up on the banks of the Red Sea, in celebration of the high praises of God, in strains of the loftiest exultation, are now again - awakened, but in how different a manner, and on how opposite a theme! The lewd excesses and the wild chantings of a Bacchanalian carnival at once defile and degenerate a people, who had so recently dedicated themselves, both publicly, in their collective capacity, and also privately, as individuals, to serve the living and true God, and him only, all the days of their lives! It was no small evil, that they could so easily forget a distinguished servant of God, who had shown so deep an interest in their cause, and who had so often exposed his life to imminent danger in their behalf-and who had been the honoured instrument of working out so great and honourable a deliverance for them, as had been the case with Moses. But, all other considerations are swallowed up, in the amazement and the indignation which their conduct is fitted to excite, from the circumstance that they forgot even God, their Saviour; him whose love had been set upon them of old, even before the days of their fathers, and who never ceased to remember the covenant which he had made to distinguish them above all other people; him whose praises they had been taught from their earliest infancy, and whose worship their oppressed parents would not be persuaded altogether to forego for all the terrors of Egypt; him, in short, who had wrought signs and wonders before their eyes, miracles of power and goodness, which, in point of number, magnitude, and interest, exceeded all that had ever taken place since the creation of the world.
Whilst the expression “God the Saviour” may apply with equal propriety to the Godhead generally, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and whilst it is actually given to the Father, 1 Tim. i. l, where Paul announces himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;" still, there can be no doubt, that it serves more particularly to designate the Son, who is emphatically and preeminently styled Jesus, or the Saviour, because the office of saving our sinfúl race was devolved upon him more immediately as his work. We are in danger, perhaps, of entertaining too inadequate ideas of the extent of knowledge which the patriarchs, and generations of men who lived under the former dispensation, were allowed to possess concerning the work of redemption in general, and the character and person of Christ in particular. There are several intimations in the New Testament, which would seem to make it appear, that Christ was spiritually made known and revealed to the Israelites during this period of miracles, in a manner the most interesting; and that the means appointed for their bodily sustentation were in truth types of that spiritual nourishment which they who receive him in faith derive from believing upon him. “For Egypt was glad at their departing, for they were afraid of them, and he filled them with the bread of heaven. He opened the rock of stone, and waters flowed out. And they did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. And God brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness. For why? he remembered his promise. But they forgat God their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt.”
The sin of the Israelites, then, we feel warranted in concluding, whilst it consisted in renouncing that pure worship of Jehovah which is incompatible with the use of images or any other sensible representation whatever of the Most High, implied more particularly, the rejection of Christ, who is in a special manner the Saviour and the Shepherd of Israel, and who in the wilderness had shown in an eminent degree this to be his character, by making seasonable and mira