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THE GIVING OF THE LAW.
DEUTERONOMY v. 22.
These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly
in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick darkness, with a great voice : and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
The deliverance of Israel from bondage was now accomplished; the Red Sea had been divided to make a way for them to pass over, and had closed again upon the host of Pharaoh, overwhelming his chariots and his horsemen in the mighty waters. After the song of praise and thanksgiving had been lifted up, Moses, under the command of Jehovah, leads the people—still with the pillar of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, not northward, immediately to the land of promise, but in an opposite direction, into the southern part of Arabia. This appears to be done for two rea
In the first place, the long oppression endured in Egypt had so completely broken and subdued their spirit, that they were quite unequal to the task of contending with the warlike nations, the Philistines, the Amorites, and the Amalekites, whom they must have encountered in their march. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.". Thus carefully does the Lord apportion the burden which he imposes, to the strength of man; the temptation, to the power of endurance : thus uniformly, under all his dispensations, is he a God “who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are
able ?.” In the second place, the Israelites were to serve God in Horeb, for this was the token which he himself had given unto Moses, saying, “ When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.”
No reasons are assigned in Scripture for so singular an appointment, and therefore we cannot know, with any certainty, why this particular spot was selected for the delivery of the Holy Law, and for the awful manifestation of the Godhead in his power and righteousness, in his majesty and glory. Yet, if we may be permitted, with all humility, to use conjecture on a subject so sacred, and so fearful—what place could be found more suitable to all the awe-inspiring accompaniments of such a manifestation, than the vast and boundless desert, in whose immense expanse and perfect solitude, and intensity of silence-shut out from the world, its idolatries, its wickednesses, its corruptionsthe chosen people might hold communion with their Creator and their God ? No tumult was heard there, no voice of mankind, to interrupt that blessed conference. No noise of waters, no sound from a bird of the air, no rustling even of a leaf, to break the awful stillness, to lessen the deep impression of that holy quietude, or to cause one heavenly accent to be lost to the ears and hearts of his prostrate and adoring people.
11 Cor. x. 13.
From the shores of the Red Sea, the Israelites march, in three days, to a place afterwards called Marah, from the bitterness of its waters. Here commences that astonishing display of miracle and wonder, designed by the Almighty for the support or the punishment of his people-of long-suffering and forbearance with the waywardness and the sinfulness of man; that surprising exhibition of mercies vouchsafed only to be forgotten, warnings given only to be disregarded, covenants made only to be broken. At the intercession of Moses, the bitter waters become sweet; the rock in Horeb is struck by his rod, and the floods gush out