Book 4 - Chapter 10: Of the Extraordinary Sacraments in the Wilderness - by Herman WitsiusThe Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man by Herman Witsius
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Herman Witsius (1636-1708)
Arguably known for the best work on Covenant Theology in print (at least in the top 5).
Herman Witsius (1636-1708) was Professor of Divinity in the Universities of Franeker, Utrecht, and Leyden. A brilliant and devout student, he was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew by the age of fifteen, when he entered the University of Utrecht. He was ordained at twenty-one and served in several pastorates, filling both the pulpit and the academic chair over the course of his life.
This, his magnum opus, is a reflection of some of the most fruitful and mature thinking on federal theology during the seventeenth century, and still holds a preeminent place in our own day.
Chapter X: Of the extraordinary Sacraments in the Wilderness
I. BESIDES the ordinary and universal sacraments of circumcision and the passover, some extraordinary symbols of divine grace were granted to the Israelites in the wilderness, which, in the New Testament are applied to Christ and his benefits, and said to have the same signification with our sacraments. And they are in order these: 1st, The passage in the cloud through the Red Sea. 2ndly, The manna which was rained from heaven. 3dly, The water issuing out of the rock. 4thly, The brazen serpent erected by Moses for the cure of the Israelites.
II. The sacred history, Exod. 14. very particularly relates, how Pharaoh with mad rage at the head of a vast army, pursued the Israelites who were just departed from Egypt, and as he imagined, were entangled on every hand through a mistake of the way in impassable deserts; how in the first place, a miraculous cloud, interposing between them and the Egyptians protected the Israelites, who were trembling with fear and calling out to heaven for help; next, how the channel of the weedy or Red Sea, was made passable as on dry land by the waters giving way on each hand, being divided by the rod of Moses and by a strong east wind. How, in fine, the Egyptian monarch did not delay to pursue them close as they retreated, entered the sea as it opened a way for them, and was destroyed with all his army, the waters immediately returning upon them. For the better understanding of all this, we shall briefly explain these five heads. 1st, Why that sea, which Moses, Exod. 13:18, and 14:4, called ים סוף, or the weedy sea, is by Paul, Heb. 11:29, and generally by writers, called ἡ ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα, the red sea? 2dly, Whether that drying up of the waters was natural, or altogether miraculous? 3dly, Whether the Israelites passed over the whole breadth of the sea, and landed on the Arabian shore over against Egypt, or only marched as far through it as was enough to overwhelm the Egyptians, and returned again on foot, by taking a semicircular compass to the same shore? 4thly, In what sense the apostle might say, the “Israelites were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea?” 5thly, What may be the mystical signification of these things?
III. The reason is obvious why this is called the weedy sea; namely, because of the plenty of sea weeds with which it abounds, heaps of which being raised like mountains near the shore, and laid close together by the continual heat of the sun, afford the convenience of houses to the inhabitants there, who, from their eating of fish, are called Ichthyophagi. And Agatharcides says, that some of them live “under the ribs of fish, covered over with sea-weed”. Bochart in Phaleg. Lib. 4. c. 22. may be consulted on this subject.
IV. Why it is called the red or Erythrean Sea was formerly not so well known. The ancients generally referred it to the colour of the water, which some think was derived from the reflection of the solar rays; others from the circumjacent mountains being made red by the scorching heat, from which waters impetuously descended into the sea and tinged it of a like colour; others, in fine, from the red sand that lay on its shore, or channel; not to mention any thing now about the fable of Perseus, who, after having killed the sea-monster, to which the daughter of Cepheus had been exposed, is said there to have washed away the blood with which he was all over stained. But the undoubted experience of mariners shows the falsehood of all this. Ludovicus Vartomannus, who sailed over the whole of it almost from its extremity to the mouth of the straits, says, “It is a thing sufficiently confessed by all, that the said sea is not red, but like other seas,” Navig. lib. 1. c. 21. The same thing, Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, an eye witness, testifies, who says the waters are clear, transparent, and blue, and the sand of the usual colour, nay, whiter than ours, Itiner. p. 1. c. 30. Diodorus Siculus writes, that “in colour it is altogether green”. Not that such is the nature of the water, but on account of the quantity of moss and sea-weed floating thereon. What is therefore said of the red colour is all fable, this prejudice having arisen from an erroneous interpretation of the name.
V. They come nearer the truth, who derive its name from king Erythras or Erythrus, who had this sea within the bounds of his empire. But who this Erythras was, all the profane writers are absolutely ignorant. The Scriptures alone inform us of this, from which Nic. Fuller, Miscellan. lib. iv. c. 20, boasts that he made the first discovery: namely, that this Erythras was Esau, surnamed Edom or Red, both from the hairy redness, with which he was born, Gen. 25:25; and from that red pottage, for which he sold his birth right, ver. 30. This Edom, who, according to the genius of those times having the whole authority in those parts, gave name to the country reduced under his dominion and power, so that it was also called the land of Edom, and even simply Edom, namely, of the feminine gender, Jer. 49:17. His posterity, proud of so great an original of their nation, lived on the borders of the sea we are now treating of; and hence it had its name, the Hebrew Edomi or Idumean Sea, the Greek ἐρυθραῖον, and the Latin, Mare rubrum, differ therefore only in language. See among others Vossius de Idololat. lib. i. c. 34.
VI. We are on no account to imagine that what, as we are here told, befell the waters of the Red Sea, was either altogether, or for the greatest part, natural: as if Moses, who had great skill in the knowledge of nature, taking the opportunity of an ordinary reflux, which, on the blowing of an east wind, was both more impetuous and lasting than usual, ventured in the present imminent danger, to attempt the passage, and persuaded the Israelites to follow his example: but Pharaoh, who was ignorant of these things, and delaying too long, was drowned on the return of the flood. For the whole of this history is full of miracles, which none but the enemies of the Scripture, as Scaliger, de Subtilitat. Exercit. 52, justly calls them, can doubt of. 1st. It was a miracle, that the extraordinary cloud, which went before, and pointed out the way to the Hebrews, should now place itself in the middle, between them and the Egyptians, Exod. 14:19. 2dly. It was a miracle, that when Moses lifted up his rod, and stretched out his hand, the sea should not only go back, but was also divided; and giving way on each hand, yield a safe passage to Israel amidst the waters, ver. 16, 21, which never was, nor could be done, by any natural reflux. 3dly. It is a miracle, that the waters, naturally fluid, should be collected together into very high heaps, and stand like a wall on the right and left of the Israelites, ver. 22. 4thly. It was a miracle of miracles, that when Moses again stretched out his hand and rod towards that part of the sea, where the Egyptians were pursuing them, the waters should return to their natural force, and drown all the Egyptians; while the children of Israel had now either almost finished, or were still prosecuting their journey on dry land, through the midst of the sea, ver. 26, 27, 29. Can any mortal have so much impudence, as to dare to compare these things with the daily flux and reflux of the sea? It is indeed true, that God here made use of the wind, but it is also evident, that the same God exerted an extraordinary power, both by raising the wind so seasonably, and by executing such things by it, as could not be effected by any natural cause, by its own virtue. And therefore the Israelites deservedly admired in this work, את היד הנדולה, that great hand of their God, ver. 31.
VII. The inhabitants on the coast of the Arabian gulf, though barbarous to the highest degree, preserved the memory of this prodigy for many ages after; as Diodorus Siculus vouches, lib. iii. where he writes as follows: “The neighbouring Ichthyophagi have an ancient tradition handed down to them by their ancestors, that upon a certain great recess of the sea, all the parts of this bay being dried up, and the sea falling back to opposite parts, the channel appeared of a green colour, and that again the sea, returning with a strong tide, was restored to its former place.” In these words, who does not see that this miracle of Moses is described, the memory of which these barbarians did, though somewhat obscurely, propagate to their posterity.
VIII. But it is a more intricate point, which is even at this day made the subject of debate among the learned, whether the Hebrews passed the sea straight forward, from the shore of Egypt to the opposite coast of Arabia; or whether they fetched a semicircular compass in the midst of the sea, and returned to the same shore from which they set out? The former opinion is by far more commonly received, and rests on those arguments, collected by Rivet, in Exod. 14:21. 1st. The words of the history seem to bear this meaning, and it tends very much to show the greatness of the miracle. The Scripture says, that the Israelites passed through the Red Sea; but that which others allege, was not a transit or passage, but a circuit. 2dly. It appears from the map of the country, try that it must have been so; for, in order to come from Egypt to Mount Sinai, as the Red Sea lies between that mountain and Egypt, it must of necessity be passed over. For, though the foot passage from Rameses to Sinai is direct, leaving the Red Sea on one side, yet it so blocked up, and everywhere so rough on account of rocks, as not to be fit for the journeying of so great a people. 3dly. The same is concluded from Numb. 33:8, and they departed from before Pi-hahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness; which seems to denote quite a different thing from their returning by a circuit, or compass, to the wilderness. 4thly. Add the authority of Josephus, who declares that the Israelites passed over to the opposite shore, Antiq. lib. ii. c. ult.
IX. But the contrary opinion has also great names, and no mean arguments to support it. 1st. They desire us to take notice of the intent of the passage through the sea; which was the drowning of the Egyptians, and by that means to manifest the glory of God to the people all around. And, therefore, it is probable the Egyptians were thrown out on that part of the shore which was nearest to Egypt, that the judgment of God might be manifested to that kingdom. 2dly. They observe, that the part of the Red Sea which the Israelites passed over, is distant from the opposite shore at least six, others say, fifteen leagues; which journey, it seems, could not possibly be accomplished by so great an army, together with their children, women, and luggage, in the compass of a short night, as was done here, ver. 21, 23. 3dly. It appears from Exod. 13:20, that before the Israelites entered into the sea, they encamped in the wilderness of Etham, in the border of the wilderness. And yet after their coming out of the sea, they again proceeded to the wilderness of Etham, Numb. 23:8; they consequently returned to the same shore, but at a greater distance from the place from which they set out. This argument cannot be answered but by saying, either that there were two wildernesses of the same name, on each side of the Red Sea, which Lyranus does; or, that the whole country, quite to Mount Sinai, went under the same appellation, according to Rivet: but whether this can be proved, is matter of inquiry. 4thly. They add, that the Red Sea does not lie between Egypt and mount Sinai, but that the journey by land is directly performed with camels and other cattle. Of this may be seen the Itinerarium of della Valle, p. 1. c. 27, 28. 5thly. The argument for the contrary sentiment, taken from its being said that the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, seems to be of little weight. For, the sacred history uses very general terms, ויבואו, and they went into the midst of the sea, Exod. 14:22; הלכו, they walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea, ver. 29; it is, indeed said, Numb. 33:8, ויעברו, and they passed through. But besides that, עבר sometimes simply signifies to go on before, as Gen. 33:3, והוא עבר לפניחם and he passed over (went on) before; the Israelites may very properly be said to have passed through the waters of the sea, though by taking a semicircular compass they returned to the same shore; for, in every journey there is an intermediate passage from the term from which, to the term to which. Nor is it necessary that every passage should be in a direct line. 6thly. Nor is it more convincing, that they are said to have walked in the midst of the sea, though others oppose this very reason; for certainly they, who had the sea both on their right and left, must have walked in the midst of the sea by what way soever, or whithersoever they went. So that it appears nothing certain can be brought from Scripture for the opposite opinion. The decision of the question depends principally on an exact plan or map of the country. Whoever wants more on this head, may consult Fagius in Exod. 4.; and Christian. Schotanus, my honoured predecessor in the chair at Franeker, Biblioth. Sacr. T. ii. p. 142: add Genebrardus in Chron. p. 66. Gregor. Turon. Hist. lib. 1. c. 10; Abulensis, and Grotius on the place, and who is more full on the subject, Ludovicus de Tena ad Heb. 11; Difficult. 19; and lastly, Usher, Epist. 105.
X. The Apostle alluding, 1 Cor. 10:1, 2, to this history, says, that all the fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses, in the cloud, and in the sea. Here are three difficulties to be cleared up: first, it is inquired, how the apostle could write that they were under the cloud, since the sacred history declares, that the cloud went behind them, Exod. 14:19. But this is of little weight, for it was behind them in such a manner, that it hung a great way over them, and extending to a vast breadth and height, encompassed them under its protection, as there is an allusion to this, Isa. 4:5: “And Jehovah will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies a cloud by day.”
XI. The other difficulty is something more considerable, namely, how the Israelites could be baptized in the cloud and in the sea, since they were not dipped in the water of the sea, nor wetted by the cloud. But we are to know: 1st. That the apostle uses the term baptism, here, in a figurative sense. For, because the Corinthians gloried of baptism, the apostle applies the name of baptism to those things, of which the Israelites might glory as much as the Corinthians would of baptism, and which were to them instead of baptism. 2dly. There is also some sort of agreement in the external sign: a cloud differs very little from water, and the sea is water indeed: the cloud hung over their heads, so also water hangs over baptized persons. Compare this with what we shall presently advance from Gregory of Nyssa, concerning the cloud. The sea surrounded them on all sides; so does water also those that are baptized. 3dly. This sign signifies the same that baptism does: and so baptism is the antitype of it, as, on a like subject, Peter said, 1 Pet. 3:21. See Cameron in 1 Cor. 10. And the ancient Jews have observed that, in the baptism of the Israelites, there was indeed a peculiar respect had to the pillar of cloud. In Pirke R. Eliez. c. 44, R. Zacharias speaks thus: “The pillar of cloud surrounded the camp of the Israelites, as a wall surrounds a town: nor could an enemy or foe approach to them.” But, the cloud preserved those who wanted true baptism, even without the camp, which was holy.” Gul. Vorstius has ingeniously compared this passage with this place of the apostle. But what we have said concerning the passage of the Israelites through the sea, and the baptism therein, appears much more probable to us than the judgment of Selden, in other respects a learned man, who, by the sea, understands here any receptacle of water, and will have the passing through the sea to be the same as to be dipped in water, de Synedr. lib. i. c. 3. But this intricate way of speaking, seems not to agree with the simplicity of the apostle.
XII. Thirdly, it is proper to inquire, in what sense they may be said to be baptized unto Moses; since that seems to be too great an honour to be conferred on a servant, or any mere man? 1 Cor. 1:13. I answer, It is one thing to be baptized unto a person; another, to be baptized in the name of a person. In whose name soever we are baptized, we are baptized by his authority and command; we acknowledge him for our king, who alone can institute public seals; we devote our obedience and worship to him, so as for the future to be called by his name; from him we, by faith, expect that spiritual grace which is sealed by baptism. Paul carefully disclaimed this honour, because it was greater than became a man. To be baptized unto any person, is by far of a lower degree: for either it signifies simply to be baptized by the ministry of any one; or thus, that by receiving baptism, we acknowledge such a person to be a faithful servant of God. Both may be here with propriety joined together. They were baptized unto Moses, that is, according to the Syriac, by the hand of Moses; or, as Augustine reads, on Psa. 77, by Moses. For Moses, by his prayers, obtained for them this protection of the cloud, and this passage through the sea. Moses, by stretching out his rod, divided the water. Moses first entered the channel of the sea, and both led and encouraged the rest to venture with him; and thus they were baptized by the means of Moses. But there is more implied in this manner of speaking. As these miracles were sacraments of divine grace to the true and spiritual Israel, so they were also symbols, by which God confirmed the ministry of Moses, and proved him to be a typical deliverer and mediator. And therefore, in the place where we read of their passing through the sea, the people is said “to have believed Jehovah and his servant Moses,” Exod. 14:31; and in so far the people did well, for, Exod. 19:9, when God himself set forth the authority he had bestowed on Moses, he says, “Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.” And thus they were baptized unto Moses, because by this sign God taught them to acknowledge Moses for a faithful prophet, and an eminent type of the Messiah, by whose intervention those benefits should be conferred upon them, which were both great in themselves, and earnests of the greatest blessings to be conferred by the Messiah. And in this respect, Moses had something peculiar above other ministers.
XIII. This very passage of Paul leads us to meditate on the mystery of this sign; for it teaches us that, in its signification, it answers to our baptism. Tertullian, lib. de Baptismo says, “First, when the people went out of Egypt, and, by passing through the water, escaped the tyranny of the king of Egypt, who with all his hosts was overwhelmed. Which figure is more evident in the sacrament of baptism. The nations are delivered from the world, namely by the water, and leave the devil, their old tyrant, sunk in the water.” But let us descend to particulars.
XIV. This miraculous cloud was: 1st. A symbol of God’s gracious presence; for, God was in the cloud, Exod. 13:21 and the angel of God, Exod. 14:19: namely, the angel of the covenant, the angel of his presence, who had appeared to Moses in the bush, and led the Israelites through the wilderness, Isa. 63:9. 2dly. It prefigured the future incarnation of the Son of God: for, as the Son of God veiled the infinite glory of his majesty in this cloud, spoke from it, wrought miracles, and protected his people, so in like manner he was, in due time, to conceal his majesty under the assumed form of a servant, Phil. 2:7, but in such a manner, that the rays of his glory might, at times, shine forth in his divine discourses and miracles, which no age ever saw either like them, or equal to them, John 1:14. 3dly. It signified God’s protection towards the elect, and his pointing out the way, through the wilderness of this world, to the heavenly Canaan. For, as Gregory of Nyssa finely says of this cloud, de Vita Mosis: “It was such a miracle, that, while the shining rays of the sun were hot and scorching, it defended the people like an interposing screen, and tempered, with its shade and the gentle drops of dew that were diffused, the heat of the air; but, in the night, it became a fire, and by its own light afforded the Israelites, as it were, a torch or flambeau, from evening till the rising of the sun.” Such is the protection and guidance that we have in Christ, who, by his shadow screens us from the heat of divine wrath, Isa. 4:5, 6, and enlightens us by his Word and Spirit, “as the light of the world which, whoever followeth, shall not walk in darkness,” John 8:12; who, in a word, is the “author and finisher of our faith,” Heb. 12:2. 4thly. As this cloud placed itself in the middle between Israel and the Egyptians; so Christ takes upon himself those evils which threaten his people, and “the glory of the Lord is their reward,” Isa. 58:8.
XV. We may observe in the passage through the Red Sea, the following things. Pharaoh and the Egyptians are the figure or emblem of the devil and sin, who use the utmost endeavour to keep the elect under their yoke of bondage, and whenever, with a generous mind, they aspire to liberty, to pull them back again. But they shall lose their labour, and in the end, dearly pay for their wickedness, in a way answerable to their crimes. Because Pharaoh commanded the young children of the Israelites to be drowned in the river, Exod. 1:22, himself with all his hosts is, by the law of retaliation, drowned in the sea. The angel of the waters publishes a similar procedure of divine justice, Rev. 16:6, “because they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy.”
XVI. Moses was a type of Christ, our deliverer and Saviour. 1. Moses, by his prayers, interceded for the people, and obtained for them this great salvation. Christ is our advocate with the Father, and all the good that befalls us is owing to his intercession. 2. Moses, with his rod, as a moral instrument, divided the waters: Christ, with the wood of his cross, hath opened a new and living way to heaven. 3. Moses was the leader of the people, and went before them, through a way by which none ever went before. Christ also went before us in the road of sufferings, “leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps,” 1 Pet. 2:21. 4. Moses, with the rod with which he divided the waters, that the Israelites might go through, caused the waters to return and drown the Egyptians. The same cross of Christ, which, “unto them which are called, is the power of God, is unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,” 1 Cor. 1:23, 24: “to these the savour of death unto death; but to those the savour of life unto life,” 2 Cor. 2:16.
XVII. The waters of the Red Sea signify afflictions, and even death itself; so likewise do the waters of baptism, the fellowship in the sufferings, death, and burial of Christ, Rom. 6:3, 4. But as the Israelites marched to their deliverance through the midst of the waters, as through the midst of death; so, in like manner, the sufferings which we undergo for Christ, work for us a far more exceeding weight of glory, 2 Cor. 4:17, and death itself is the passage to eternal life, John. 5:24. The waters which saved Israel, destroyed the Egyptians. The death of our body, which presents our souls pure before God, as a flock of sheep newly shorn, which come up from the washing, Cant. 4:2, entirely destroys in us all the remains of the devil and of sin, insomuch that our eyes shall never more behold those enemies, to whose troublesome and malicious assaults we have been exposed even to the very last.
XVIII. That strong east wind, which by its violence drove the waters before it, for the benefit of the Israelites, was an emblem of the Spirit of Christ, John 3:8, of Christ, I say, who is “the dawning, day-spring* from on high,” Luke 1:78, and applies to us, by the efficacy of his Spirit, the virtue of his merits, by removing all hinderances, nay directing them to the salvation of his people: “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts,” Zech. 4:6. By the same Spirit of his mouth, he will hereafter consume that wicked one, who opposes his kingdom, 2 Thess. 2:8.
XIX. The Israelites, when just come out of Egypt, are a figure of believers, who, having no sooner renounced the devil, and by the power of Christ, recovered their liberty, are immediately exposed to the persecution of Satan and the world, who endeavour to bring them back again to bondage. And though they have now happily surmounted the first danger, yet they have still a wide sea to cross, lofty tops of mountains to pass over, and in fine, an impassable wilderness to go through, before they obtain that full salvation, which is the mark they aim at and desire. When every thing seemed to be given up for lost, and no way of escape appeared, then God came to Israel’s help, and opened a way through the midst of the sea. So, in an especial manner, he comes by his grace to the relief of his church, when she is destitute of all human assistance, and nothing but the most certain destruction seems to hang over her. Isa. 43:2. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” This deliverance happened to Israel, when they did nothing at all towards it, Exod. 14:14, “Jehovah shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace;” but only believed, and behold the mighty hand of God: Heb. 11:29, “by faith they passed through the Red Sea.” It is thus also, that God works out eternal salvation for us; for us, I say, not working, but believing in him, that justifieth the ungodly, Rom. 4:5. The Israelites, after their passage through the sea, and the destruction of their enemies, sung a joyful song or triumph to the praise of God their deliverer: thus also John, in the revelation, chap. 15:2, 3, saw the saints, who, having got over the sea of glass which was mixed with fire, sung the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. And thus far of the passage through the Red Sea.
XX. We are next to speak of the manna, where we are to consider: 1. The name. 2. The thing itself. 3. Its origin. 4. Its adjuncts. 5. The duties of the Israelites concerning it. 6. Their sin. 7. The mystery of it.
XXI. The surprise of the Israelites gave rise to the name. When they first saw it, they said to one another, Exod. 16:15, מן הוא כי לא ידש מה תוא, man hu, it is manna; for they wist not ma hu, what it was, and v. 31, and the house of Israel called the name thereof manna. We can on no account assent to those who render מן הרא what is this? For מן never signifies in Hebrew, what, and here it is very expressly distinguished from מח: nay, it is not very commonly taken in that sense in Chaldee, as they usually say מן of a person, not of a thing. I will not however conceal it, that they speak with greater freedom than they ought, who absolutely deny that מן in Chaldee is applied to a thing. Drusius ad Joh. 6:31, hath given some examples to the contrary. But the Israelites spoke then in Hebrew, not in Chaldee. I know not whether they are in the right who affirm that מן is an Egyptian word, and is equivalent to an interrogative pronoun; but though they are, yet it does not seem probable that the Israelites would express a thing so sacred by a term borrowed from a nation so odious, not only in that first surprise, but also ever after. And then it is altogether trifling to say that the food, which God gave to the Israelites, was always called what, only because when at first they did not know it, they asked, what is this?
XXII. It is much more agreeable to derive the word from נזנח, he prepared, appointed, determined; and hence the name מנה, manna, portion, even of the food allotted for any person, 1 Sam. 1:4, 5: Neh. 8:10, 12, and generally elsewhere. But from manna it is easy to form man by an apocope,* especially in the exclamation of persons under a surprise, and when he is the next letter that begins the following word. And this is the more probable, as such an apocope is often to be met with in the word manna: once in the imperative, חסד ואמח מו “prepare (or appoint) mercy and truth,” Psa. 61:7; and again in the preterite, Jonas 1:17, וימן, “and Jehovah prepared a great fish;” and what comes nearest to the point in hand is, when an allotment of food is spoken of, as in Dan. 1:5, וימן, “and the king appointed them a daily provision.” As therefore both the form of the term agrees to it, and the signification is very suitable, what remains, but that we say with the most learned of the Jews, that man signifies the food appointed, prepared for, and given to Israel as their portion? Such a name became this miraculous food. And what is added is no objection, namely, that the Israelites knew not what it was. For, in general, they knew from the prediction of Moses, that they were to be satisfied with bread, ver. 12, from which they conjectured, that what they saw, was the portion which was intended for them from heaven, and this they expressed by the name, man. But they did not distinctly know what it would be, nor had they any peculiar name by which to express it. To this the author of the Book of Wisdom seems to have alluded, when c. 16:20, he calls “manna, bread prepared from heaven.” And therefore this name has so far prevailed, that it has remained unvaried in all languages, and is even given also to things which have any similitude with that food of the Israelites.
XXIII. As to the thing itself, naturalists well know there are three things reckoned among watry meteors, namely, dew, honey, and manna. But the learned are not agreed about the original of manna. Christophorus Vega apud Jonstonum de admirandis Meteororum, c. x. is of opinion, that the manna of the shops is the work of certain small bees, like thick-bodied gnats, from which, as they sit in clusters on trees, something flows down in drops like a kind of sweat. Vossius Physiolog. Christanæ, lib. v. c. xxi. says, it is the sap of the larch-tree, or of the ash, and that Matthias Lobelius was the very first who said so. The more common opinion is, that it is a kind of aërial honey sprinkled with dew, which, in the summer months, during the scorching heat of the sun in the day-time, runs togther by the nocturnal cold into clusters, and is rounded into grains from the flowing down of the dewy humour, and from the moisture of the air, and generally settles on trees, herbs, and stones, as Lemnius de herbis Biblicis, c. iii. describes it. But it has a kind of medicinal virtue, by which it loosens and gently purges.
XXIV. Now the question is, whether the manna of the Israelites was of the same species and nature with the common? It is sufficiently agreed on, that some miraculous circumstances attended the manna of the Hebrews, but there is no solid reason to conclude from this, that the thing itself was altogether new, and was never produced by natural causes at any time or in other places, since God could so multiply the dew conveyed in great plenty from some other quarter, to be matter fit for the production of manna, as to be sufficient for the daily supply of that great multitude; and so dispose it, as to be endowed with those wonderful adjuncts we are hereafter to speak of. It is certain, Josephus thought it was a natural manna, and relates, that in his time, it still continued to be plentifully rained down about Mount Sinai,* Antiq. lib. iii. c. i. And Franciscus Vallesius Philosoph. Sacr. c. lvii. insists at large, that the manna of the Israelites was altogether the same with the common. Cardan also, de Subtilitate, lib. xxi. relates, that in the desert of Traga in Lybia, there is so much of it gathered in a day, especially about the town Agadez, as that a pound of 28 ounces, is sold for two pence; and adds, the inhabitants by eating it live sound and healthy though the air be pestilential. They who are of this opinion likewise observe, that they do not undervalue the favour granted to the Israelites in such an extraordinary manner, when they search into the natural causes of things, but praise the infinite wisdom of God, who disposes all things in such a way that even the most extraordinary, may, in a good measure, seem to have happened according to the ordinary course of nature, as Vallesius speaks in the place above quoted. Others again think, that the manna of the Israelites was something extraordinary, never seen before, and after it ceased was never after to be met with; and when it is called angels’ food, and every where spoke of in the Holy Scripture, as prepared by the special hand of God, they think a natural cause ought piously and religiously to be excluded in this case. Thus Rivet in Exod. 16:13.
XXV. Our judgment is, that there is no reason why we may not conclude, that God in the production of this manna made use of natural causes, as he had before used the wind in drying up the Red Sea; and it is very probable, this manna took its rise from the same or the like causes from which the ordinary is produced, and so far it may be called natural. Yet the continued and daily concurrence of those natural causes for the production of it in such quantities, was miraculous and altogether extraordinary; thus far then I say, it was miraculous. We add, that at this day, no manna is known which in every respect is of the same nature with the manna of the Israelites. For, to omit other things, the manna of the Israelites was of a consistent substance, supplied the place of corn, and was given to the people for food. The common manna is a medicine, not a food; and cannot be the ordinary food of any people without a miracle.
XXVI. To the manna of the Israelites the Polish comes nearest, which was not long ago found strewed in the fields; it was small and like sugar, and when it is boiled up with butter and a little sugar, may easily vie with the most delicate Italian jellies or dainties, as Keckerman describes it, Physic. lib. vi. c. x. A Lapide in Exod. 16:21. treats more largely on this, and declares that from the constant accounts of the Poles, it rains down in the nights of the months of June and July, and settles on the herbs like a dew; that, before the sun is up, it is gathered in sieves, sifted, pounded, mixed with water, and made into a kind of hasty-pudding. But if the sun begins to be hot, the husk of it dissolves, and the grain of the manna inclosed therein is lost. He adds, that he had seen the grains, and that they resembled millet, only longer and of a ruddy colour, and found the taste of it like that of pannick.* But even this manna is different from that of the Israelites. 1st, In figure, for it is oblong; whereas that of the Israelites was round like coriander-seed. 2dly, In colour, being ruddy; whereas the other was white. 3dly, The Polish is included in a husk; whereas the other had none. 4thly, The manna of the Hebrews melted before the sun and vanished; the husk of the other is dissolved, but the grain is hard and falls to the ground.
XXVII. However, there are many concurring circumstances which here proclaim that a miracle must by all means be admitted. For, 1st, The manna which is commonly known, is gathered only at certain seasons of the year, but this came down daily. 2dly, During so long a time none fell on the sabbath, but in a double quantity on the day before. 3dly, It was found daily in such quantities as to suffice to feed so many thousands. 4thly, If it was kept till the next day it spoiled, except that which was the portion of the sabbath. 5thly, And yet that part of it, which God commanded to be laid up, remained untainted for some ages after. 6th, It fell in all places wherever the Israelites encamped, but was not known among the neighbouring people, at least not used for food, much less for their daily food. 7thly, It ceased after they passed over Jordan, and they had got a full supply of ordinary bread, and perhaps there are more circumstanecs to the same purpose.
XXVIII. The origin of the manna was from God, as the principal cause. It is every where ascribed to him as a singular privilege which he bestowed on his people Israel, Exod. 16:4, 8, 16; Deut. 8:3, 16; Neh. 9:15, 20, 21. But God formed this bread in the air, from the vapours or exhalations properly prepared by the sun and by the other stars, if they contributed any thing towards it. Whence it is said, “That he commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, and gave them of the corn of heaven, Psa. 78:23, 24. But the air which is the seat of meteors, is called heaven, as “the fowls of heaven,” and in Lucretius, “the air which is called heaven.” And as the angels are ministering spirits, Heb. 1:14, whose ministry God very frequently used in the whole economy of the Old Testament, and who upon other occasions supplied God’s servants with food, 1 Kings 19:5, 6, 7, I see not why a celebrated expositor of our day, who in other things makes the church of that age subject to angels, can deny that this food was prepared by angels. Suidas says, “Manna is a food supplied from above; and is called the bread of angels, because they supplied them with it.”
XXIX. And yet I doubt whether any sufficient argument can be formed from Psa. 78:25, for the ministry of angels in this particular. We there indeed find לחם אבירים, which the Septuagint translate, “ἄρτον ἀγγέλων, the bread of angels;” just as the author of the Book of Wisdom calls it τροφὴν ἀγγέλων, c. 16:20, “angels’ food.” And R. Solomon in like manner, לחם מלאכם. But first, we are under no necessity to understand angels by אבירים, which signifies the strong. For that is a general name, and is applied to men of valour, or heroes among men, Jer. 46:13; Lam. 1:15. Let it therefore be called the bread of the strong, because it made the Israelites robust and strong; as supplying the place of ordinary bread, by which the heart is supported, though at first sight and taste it might seem light; or, what I would choose, the bread of Heroes, that is, such as even the greatest nobles would reckon delicious. God is also called אביד, “the [Hero] mighty one of Jacob, or of Israel,” Gen. 49:24; Isa. 49:26. Nor is it unusual in Scripture, when speaking of God, to use the plural number; of which they who have but a small share of learning are not ignorant. Why may we not therefore be allowed to explain it of the bread of God, which the Hero of Jacob gave them, and which also spiritually was a representation of himself? Drusius also has observed this on John 6:31. Again, should we grant that angels are meant, yet I do not recollect that they are called אבירים in Scripture, though I well remember, that they are represented as נבורי כוח, “excelling in strength,” Psa. 103:20; yet the matter would still remain undecided, since it might be called the bread of angels, because of its excellence and spiritual signification; for, it signified that God who is the life and joy of angels, was to descend from heaven in order in like manner to become the food, that is, the joy and life of men.
XXX. Moses here also acted his part, who, it is very probable, interceded with God by prayer that he would give food to the starving people. Josephus says, his prayers were poured forth on a high rock, adding of his own fancy, that the manna first fell and thickened on the palms of his hands, as they were stretched out to heaven when he returned thanks to God; and that Moses, suspecting what it was, tasted it, and joyfully upon the discovery, showed the people the favour God had bestowed on them. That the people, having seen their food rained down from heaven, imagined it snowed, the season of the year comporting with this. But these things neither agree with reason (for it is beyond all probability, it should in that hot climate in the month of May, when these things happened) nor with Scripture, which speaks expressly of some persons who went out of the camp at break of day, and first observed the manna, Exod. 16:15.
XXXI. The Gemarists go too far, when they say in Taanith, fol. 9, col. 1: “That the Israelites had three good shepherds, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam; and three benefits given them by their hands; the fountain, the cloud, and the manna. The fountain, for the merits of Miriam; the pillar of cloud, for the merits of Aaron; and the manna, for the merits of Moses.” But what Christ says, contradicts this assertion, John 5:32. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gaveth you the true bread from heaven.” Nor was the typical bread from Moses, but from God. Moses was only the messenger, not the meritorious cause of the divine gift; and much less did the antitype Christ, with his grace, the bread which came down from the third heavens, proceed from Moses. This however Moses did, having by his prayers obtained the favour of God, he told the people in God’s name, what should happen with respect to their food, and explained the whole design of the manna. Philo has prudently observed, that God indeed gave his people comfort, but discovered it first to Moses: “The one, indeed, on account of his natural benignity and affection towards men, but the other because he would put honour on the leader whom he himself had appointed.”
XXXII. The adjuncts of the manna are either internal or external. To the former belong the figure, colour, taste. Of the figure it is said, 1st, That it was “a small thing, as hoar-frost on the ground,” Exod. 16:14: small indeed at first sight, yet precious in itself, and of the greatest efficacy; as God usually displays his wonderful power in the smallest things. 2dly, That it was מחספס, a word which we nowhere else meet with in Scripture, and therefore diversely explained. The Vulgate has, “quasi pilo tusum, as if pounded by a pestle,” that is, of such minuteness, that it seemed to be brought to that smallness by some art, and as in a mortar. Others translate it, decorticatum, peeled; Junius, rotundum, round, as also Erpenius, Arabic interpreter; and Kimchi says, it signifies the same thing as ענול, round. Other Jews translate it retectum, disclosed; and imagine, the manna was shut up in the dew, which was over and under it as in a coffer, and the upper dew ascending, by the more advanced elevation of the sun above the horizon, the manna appeared in sight. But all this, to speak in the softest manner, is uncertain. 3dly, That “it was like coriander-seed,” ver. 31. Not in colour, since coriander-seed is black, but because it was small and round. Well say the Talmudists in Joma, chap. viii. fol. 73. col. a, “round as coriander and white as pearl.”
XXXIII. With respect to its colour it is said, Exod. 16:31, that it was white, and Numb. 11:7, “the colour thereof as the colour of bedola;” but what that was interpreters are not agreed. The Jews insist it was a kind of precious stone, but are opposed by Junius and Marcus Marinus Brixianus, because, Gen. 2:12, it is said, “there is bedola and the onyx-stone;” wherefore, as the name stone is, by way of distinction, added to the word onyx, they conclude that bedola cannot be a stone. Others imagine it was crystal, and consequently the colour of the manna was bright and transparent. Most of the moderns, following Josephus, from the affinity of the word, contend that it was bdellium; concerning which, Serapion, quoted by Drusius, says, that “the Jewish bdellium is the gum of a tree that grows in Arabia, and that the better sort is that of a good flavour, tough within, and soon dissolving, inclining to white, not having any bits of wood or other impurities in it,” &c. Pliny adds, “it is transparent and like to wax,” lib. xii. 9. See Salmas. Exercit. Plinian, p. 806, and de homonymis hyles Iatrecq. c. cxix. From this they conclude, that the grains of the manna were transparent and of a whitish cast, which is a sign of its great purity and perfect digestion. But I must not conceal, that Bochart in Hierozoic. p. 2, lib. v. c. 5, has by his arguments convinced me, that bedola is a pearl, for which they still very frequently fish in that place which Moses has described, Gen. 2:12; as Petrus Texeira, an eye-witness; and Benjamin in Itinerar. p. 105, testify. Besides, both the manna and the pearl are of the same colour, namely, white, and both of them are round; nor is the observation of Junius or Brixiamus to the contrary of any weight. Since it does not follow, that because the onyx is called a stone, bedola is not a stone likewise. Not to mention now, that the lawyer also excepts pearls from the class of stone and gems, lege, quum aurum, 19. §. Gemma autem, 17 and seq. ff. De auro et argento legato. And though pearls are usually called stones by the Hebrews, yet they are of a quite different kind from those stones produced in the earth, such as gems properly so called. They who contend for bdellium, have scarce any other argument but the affinity of the appellation, which is often fallacious; in other respects, bdellium and manna have no such agreement.
XXXIV. Its savour or taste is likewise highly commended, Exod. 16:31, כצפיחת בדבש, Sicut epichyti exmelle,” as Junius translates, “as of a wafer made of honey,” or, according to the Vulgate, “quasi similæ in melle, as of fine flour in honey.” And, Numb. 11:8, “כטעם לשד חשמן, as the taste of fresh oil.” As the Scripture thus determines the taste, the fictions of the Jews are very trifling, which the papists too greedily catch at the better to put a varnish on their monster of transubstantiation; as that the manna had all kinds of tastes, and that every individual Israelite tasted in it whatever he pleased; young men, bread; old men, honey; young children, oil; as the Jewish masters trifle in Schemoth Rabba, § 25, with whom the author of the Book of Wisdom, c. 16:20, seems to agree. It is astonishing with what nicety the papists dispute on this matter; namely, whether this was only the privilege of the pious, or common to them with the wicked; Tirinus, after Augustine, Abulensis, and Hugo Cardinalis, stands up for the former, but is opposed by Corn. a Lapide. This being observed, there are other questions also started, and among the rest, whether the manna changed not only its taste, but also its substance, at the desire of those who eat of it, so as to be turned into an egg, a pullet, or lamb, as often as such things were longed for, or whether a change only was made in the qualities? In either of these ways, they find something in the manna to support their doctrine of transubstantiation. For if the former, as has seemed good to doctors of great reputation, we have an evident example of a transubstantiation. If the latter, with the jesuit a Lapide, hence at least may be concluded, that accidents may remain without their substance; because, as a different taste usually accompanies a different substance, the substance of the manna remaining, the taste was changed at will and proved nourishing; whence it follows, that the accidents of bread may also remain, and prove nourishing in the transubstantiated wafer. But these are the dotages and fond sportings of men, who shamefully abuse their wit and are overturned by three arguments from Scripture. 1st, As it accurately describes the peculiar taste of the manna. 2dly, As it mentions the industry of the Israelites in the different ways by which they prepared it for their more convenient use. 3dly, As it gives an account of their loathing it, Numb. 11:6, which could not happen did the manna yield the palate any taste at pleasure.
XXXV. However, we have not yet got over all the difficulty; for, as the taste of honey differs from the taste of oil, we may inquire how manna can be compared to both in taste? But this difficulty may be obviated three ways; if we say first, that the taste of the manna was somewhat different, when it was eaten in a plain manner, from what it was when differently dressed and prepared by the Israelites; the one may therefore be understood of manna undressed, the other of that which was boiled. And again, which I would prefer, it might, in a different respect, be compared both with honey and with oil, not that in all respects the taste of it resembled either oil or honey, but partook of something of both, the sweetness of honey and the fatness of oil, in general a taste mixed of both. It might be added, as honey is the chief of sweet things,* as the son of Syrach speaks, whatever things are sweet to the taste may be compared with honey. And so manna may be said to have the taste of honey, that is, in general to be very sweet. Wherefore the author of the Book of Wisdom, c. 19:21. calls it a “kind of ambrosial food that could easily melt, ἐύτηκτον γένος ἁμβροστας τροφῆς.”†
XXXVI. The external adjuncts or circumstances are place and time. The place where God fed the Israelites with manna was the wilderness. The favour of heaven supplied them with what the barrenness of the soil denied; and when they were destitute of ordinary bread produced from the earth, they were satisfied with bread which came down from heaven. Still, says Josephus, “so divine and admirable was this wood, that it supplied the want of all others to those that partook of it;” and truly believers may go every where with safety, when God leads the way, even through the wilderness and a land not sown, Jer. 2:2. “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they who seek Jehovah, shall not want any good thing,” Psa. 34:10.
XXXVII. We are to observe the following things concerning the time when the manna was given. As, 1st, That the Israelites had none, before they left Egypt. Then they happily exchanged their cucumbers, pompions, garlick, and every servile food, for the bread of heaven, and the dainties of angels. 2dly, That this bread was for the first time rained down from heaven, when there was nothing in the land to stay their hunger. Thus God usually provides for his own people in due season, and where ordinary means fail, employs extraordinary. While a famine raged in all places, the rapacious ravens carry a daily portion to Elias, 1 Kings 17:6. 3dly, That the manna was rained every day, except on the sabbath, when none was to be seen on the ground; but a double portion was gathered the day before, for the supply of the following. Thus the goodness of God is new every day; neither will the observance of his commands, especially that of the sabbath, prove detrimental to any. 4thly, That the manna continued forty years, till the Israelites came into Canaan, where they could eat of the fruits of the land, Jos. 5:12; for where ordinary means are within our reach, we are not to desire or expect extraordinary.
XXXVIII. The Israelites were to perform the following duties with respect to the manna. First, They were to gather it very early, because it would melt when the sun was more advanced. So hateful to God is sloth, that when raining down bread from heaven upon his people without their labour, he commands them to rise with the sun to gather it. Man was not suffered to be idle even in paradise.
XXXIX. Secondly, They were to gather it by certain measure, an homer for each: a quantity, it is probable, sufficient to satisfy even the most robust, and those of the largest appetite. For an homer was a large measure, concerning which may be seen Waserus de Antiq. Mensur. lib. ii. c. 3, where he shows that an homer contains as much as forty three shells of eggs and a half. Tirinus has computed the allowance of each to have been about fifty of our ounces. God stinted them to a certain measure, to set bounds to their excessive appetite: but indulged them in such a measure, as would show the riches of his bounty.
XL. But the account here given by Moses, deserves particular consideration, namely that some of the Israelites gathered more, others less: but that afterwards, when it was measured by the homer, he who had gathered more, had nothing over, and he who had gathered less, had no lack, Exod. 16:17. Some have conceived a twofold miracle here; one about the gathering of the manna; the other about the consuming it. They imagine, if any had gathered less than the appointed quantity, before it came to be measured, what was lacking was miraculously added by an angel; but if more, the overplus was taken away by an angel, and invisibly added to what others gathered. They also imagine, that every one consumed an entire homer of manna a day: but as this was not possible in such a diversity of ages and health without a miracle, they boldly pronounce, God very unequally attempered the nutritive efficacy of the manna in equal quantities to the strength and appetite of every person: and, besides, heaped the manna closer in the homer for the more voracious, but looser for the weaker and the young.
XLI. But all these things are framed at pleasure; nor are we to multiply miracles without necessity. As to the gathering, the manner of it seems to have been thus. Every one gathered as much as he could: and, as is usual in such cases, some gathered more, others less, as some were more diligent than others. But what was collected by all, who lived under the same tent, seems to have been thrown into one heap; from which the master of the family taking the appointed measure, so distributed to each his portion, without paying any regard to the labour or diligence employed, but to the divine appointment, so that each had an equal portion. For, so much could with ease be jointly gathered, as that every one might have an equal portion. These thoughts have, in my opinion, been judiciously suggested by the most excellent Rivet, and may be confirmed from 2 Cor. 8:14, 15, where Paul exhorts the rich to supply the wants of the poor out of their abundance, by this argument: because “It is written, he that had gathered much, had nothing over; and he that had gathered little, had no lack.” As if he had said, “As formerly it was the will of God, that, among the Israelites, they who had gathered much manna, should supply the wants of those who had gathered less, that there might be an equality; so among Christians, it is but just that those who, by the bounty of God, are possessed of an affluence of good things, should supply the wants of those, for whom a more scanty provision is made.”
XLII. I am also of Rivet’s opinion with respect to their eating the manna; namely, that every one had really such a quantity allowed him, as was sufficient even for the largest appetite, yet that each was at liberty to eat as much as he pleased: and, therefore, that most of them had more food than either necessity required, or than they could well eat. But that, as they were not allowed to keep what was over till the next day, they might throw it away towards evening; that so they might profess their faith and confidence in God, who, they were persuaded, would grant them a fresh supply the following day. And the throwing away the superfluous manna was no sign of contempt, any more than the burning what was left of the paschal lamb; but rather an evidence of a sincere trust and confidence in God.
XLIII. The third duty was, to reserve none of the manna for the morrow, ver. 19. Not that every person was obliged to consume their measure daily, and force it upon their loathing stomach beyond their appetite: for this, as I have just hinted, was inconsistent with the holiness, wisdom, and goodness of God. It was enough, if nothing was reserved for the use of the following day. What remained might either be burnt in the fire, or buried in the earth, or given to the cattle, or destroyed some other way. But God, by this method, was pleased to try their obedience, Exod. 16:4, and to exercise their diligence every day, and teach them contentment, and to inculcate faith and trust upon them; that, depending alone on his providence, they might wholly commit to him the care for the morrow, Matt. 6:25, 31.
XLIV. Fourthly, the day before the sabbath, they were to gather a double quantity, ver. 7. And were allowed to lay up whatever was left of that till the next day, ver. 25; which neither stunk, as what was reserved on other days, nor had any worm therein, ver. 26. By this God intended, that, on the sabbath, they should desist from every work that regards the care of this animal life, and devote themselves to him alone. And, in fact, he showed that he would add other things to those that seek his kingdom and righteousness; and that it would prove no detriment to any, if laying aside the care of the body, they at stated times laid themselves out for God: as also, that during the six days of this life, we are to gather those things which may be of service on the sabbath; for, on the seventh day, that is, after this life, there will be no longer time for working: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest,” Eccles. 9:10. We are far from thinking that this here was the first institution of the sabbath, but rather that it was a solemn renovation of what was instituted from the beginning of the world, but had been interrupted by the bondage in Egypt, and a confirmation of it by the miracle of the manna. For Moses, ver. 3, speaks of the sabbath, as a thing formerly known by the Israelites, “this is that which Jehovah hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto Jehovah, &c.” We are not ignorant of what the great Selden, de jure nat. and Gent., &c. lib. iii. c. 9, seqq. has largely and learnedly indeed opposed to this, but it is not of that weight as to sway with us.
XLV. Fifthly and lastly, God commanded an homer of manna to be laid up in a golden urn or pot, for a perpetual memorial thereof, and placed before his face through all the generations of Israel. Aaron did this accordingly; namely, at the due time, when the tabernacle and ark were reared up. For these things are related here by an evident prolepsis or anticipation, on occasion of this history, ver. 33, though, as is very plain, it was not done till afterwards. God, indeed, would not have the memory of so great a miracle die away among the Israelites; and, therefore, he not only took care to have these prodigies recorded, but the remains of the miracle, great beyond all exception, and adapted to strike every one with amazement, to survive. Nevertheless, to prevent their being made an occasion of superstition or idolatry, wisely ordered them to be laid up in the most holy place, and removed from the use of the common people.
XLVI. We must here, by the way, remove an apparent contradiction. Moses says, Exod. 16:34, that a pot with manna, agreeably to the divine command, was by Aaron laid up before the testimony to be kept. But the testimony is either the ark, so called, because the testimonial tables of the covenant were laid up in it, or the tables themselves that were in the ark: but Paul writes, Heb. 9:4, “in which (the ark) was the golden pot, that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant,” where he places the pot with the manna in the ark as well as the tables of the covenant. This difficulty is so much the greater, if we compare 1 Kings 8:9, and 2 Chron. 5:10, where it is expressly said, that there was nothing in the ark, but the two tables of the law. Many things have been ingeniously devised, by the learned, to take off this apparent contradiction. I own I am best pleased with the observation of Drusius, on Exod. 16:34, that the particle in with the Hebrews, and those that adopt their way of speaking, sometimes denotes at, near, by. To prove this, he quotes Josh. 10:11, and Judges 18:12. Another learned author has very properly added Josh. 5:13; 1 Kings 17:3; Jer. 13:5; Col. 3:1. And therefore, in which, here denotes, at or near the ark. Yet Drusius himself starts a difficulty, which he owns he is not able to remove: “Every thing would answer well,” says he, “unless there followed the tables of the covenant; for these were within the ark. But that the preposition in should signify two different things in the same place, is not very probable: take care, therefore, how you believe this.” But we are not so soon to lose heart. We have, at least, found this, that in sometimes denotes such a latitude of place, that it even comprehends those things which are near and by. Moreover the ark was so framed that some things might be placed on the sides of it without, as appears in the case of the volume of the law written by Moses, which was placed “in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord,” Deut. 31:26. All the things, therefore, mentioned by Paul, were in the ark, that is, within the compass of the ark, though some of them were within it more than others. Nor could Paul speak less properly thus, than we do when, for instance, we say, in the human body there are skin, and flesh, and bones and bowels; where in is used in the same sense, and yet with some latitude.
XLVII. There are three sins of the Israelites recorded, with respect to the manna. 1st. That several of them, contrary to the express command of God, reserved some of it for the morrow, Exod. 16:20. With such insolence does the wisdom of the flesh set itself in direct opposition to God, though, by his astonishing goodness, he renders himself amiable, and at the same time, venerable. And this obstinacy of corrupt nature, is not to be subdued by any miracles. But what was reserved began to swarm with worms, and was putrified. To teach us, that whatever is unjustly and covetously reserved, contrary to the command of God, stinks before God and men; and hence worms arise, that is, various kinds of evils, especially the worm of conscience; whereas, on the contrary, what was reserved against the future sabbath proved permanent and incorruptible, Matt. 6:20; 1 Tim. 6:19. 2dly. That they went forth on the very sabbath to seek for it; however then they found nothing, ver. 27. God justly frustrates the desires of those and renders their labours abortive, who undertake any thing contrary to his command. Nor have such any reason to expect the divine blessing on their labours, who, on the day of the Lord’s rest, are employed in things that regard their own subsistence, while they omit the worship of God, Isa. 58:13, 14. 3dly. That, at last, they loathed and disdained the manna, though it was the sweetest and most wholesome of all food, especially in comparison of the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, Numb. 11:5, 6. Thus men usually prefer the carnal refuse of this world to the treasures of heaven; the husks of the earth to the dainties of angels: and, that nothing on this earth is so delightful, but that, one time or other, it begets a loathing: even the most excellent gifts of God, natural as well as spiritual, on account of this perverseness of our minds, lose, through custom, their value in our esteem.
XLVIII. Now let us consider the mystery of the manna. Paul teacheth us, that this food was sacramental, 1 Cor. 10:3, where he calls it spiritual meat; but it was so, not in its own nature, for it was appointed for the support of the animal life, but in signification, wherein it answers to our mystical supper. Angustine on Psa. 77:1, says, “it was spiritual, that is, it signified something spiritual.” And Christ declares, John. 6:32, himself was that true bread which came down from heaven, and was prefigured by the manna. The Jews however, blind, promise to themselves a new manna by the Messiah. For thus in Midras Cohelet, fol. lxxxvi. col. 4, “The first redeemer caused the manna to descend, so also the latter redeemer will make the manna to descend; as it is written, And there shall be an handful of corn in the earth, Psa. 72:16.” Though their expectations were really carnal and corrupt, yet they are the remains of ancient and spiritual instruction. So likewise in Midras cantici, fol. xvi. c. 4: “The last redeemer shall be revealed to them. And whither will he lead them? some say, to the wilderness of Judah: others, to the wilderness of Sihon, and Og: and he will cause the manna to descend to them.” But it is to be observed, that Christ frequently fed the multitude in the deserts of Judea, and in the wilderness of Og, with the food of his word, which is more excellent than any manna; and, when there was occasion for it, stayed the hunger of the body with bread, which he multiplied no less miraculously than the manna formerly was. See other testimonies of the Jews in Viega on Rev. 2:17. But, according to the method prescribed, let us come to particulars.
XLIX. Manna denotes that food which was appointed, prepared by God, and given to the Israelites, for their portion, in order to the support of life. So Christ is the gift of God, John 4:10. That excellent gift, foreordained by God, 1 Pet. 1:20, and by his unspeakable goodness bestowed on the true Israel, for their portion, Pet. 10:16, by which they should live: thus Jesus himself declares, John 6:51. “I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” The manna was given to the Israelites, when they were least concerned about the blessings of God, and put a greater value on the good things of Egypt, and had again tempted God. Christ came into the world when it was most corrupted, and offered his spiritual blessings, at a time when the very best could scarce ascend above earthly and carnal things.—
Israel did not know the manna when it was first given, though promised by Moses. Though Christ was so often promised by Moses and all the holy prophets, and described to the life, yet when he came into the world, the world knew him not, John 1:10.
L. Though the origin of the manna was from heaven, yet the vapours or exhalations from which it was congealed together, were raised from the earth by the efficacy of the sun. Christ several times repeats it, that he came down from heaven, to give life to the world, John 6. He, who is the day-spring from on high, Luke 1:78, is also the fruit of the earth, Isa. 4:2.—We have already observed, that angels were employed about the descending manna. A great multitude of the heavenly host sung the birth-day song, when Christ first came into the world, Luke 2:13.—Moses, indeed, could not give the manna, yet he promised it, and explained the nature of it. So neither was he the author of true salvation, but testified of Christ, and taught that the life of the soul consists in communion with him, John 5:46.
LI. The manna was, in its form and figure, small and minute, promising nothing great at first sight: thus also Christ, when he was seen only with the eyes of flesh, had neither form nor comeliness, that we should desire him, Isa. 53:2.—Yet the white colour of the manna, and usually that of pearls too, represented the most excellent purity of the Lord Jesus, and the glory of the divine majesty shining forth in the assumed form of a servant. The taste of the manna that was so very sweet, like honey, and the most excellent oil, signifies the unspeakable delights of that grace we obtain by Christ, whose sweetness none understand but they who taste it, Psa. 34:8. In order to be a more proper food for Israel, it was ground in mills, or pounded with pestles, or baked in pans, Numb. 11:8. Christ was also prepared by various sufferings, that he might be most sweet and wholesome food to our soul.
LII. The manna was rained down in the wilderness, and Christ came into the world, and to the people of Israel, when, like a wilderness, it was overgrown with thistles and thorns, and most barren of good fruit: and by his coming “comforted all the waste places of Zion, and made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert, like the garden of Jehovah,” Isa. 51:3. It was then that the Israelites obtained the manna, when all that they had brought out of Egypt was spent, and they saw they must inevitably perish by famine, unless they were relieved by the unexpected favour of heaven. Christ bestows his grace only on those who, sensible of their want, and rejecting every worldly comfort, choose to owe their salvation to him alone, Luke 1:53, “he filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich empty away.” Nor can any one hope for the consolations of divine grace, unless he first quit the Egypt of this world, and the prison of sin, and passing through the red sea of sorrowful repentance, give himself up to be led and directed by the Holy Spirit, in the way to the heavenly Canaan, Isa. 32:16, 17.
LIII. The manna came down every day, and whenever the morning dawned, presented itself fresh to the Israelites. Thus also, the grace and tender mercies of the Lord are new every morning, Lam. 3:23. Yet this bread was in such manner given, for six days, as none of it was to be seen on the seventh. This seems to signify, that Christ would, in his appointed time, appear among the Israelites, and converse daily with them; but afterwards would neither be seen, nor sought for, anywhere on earth, nor be imagined to be either in this or in the other place. But because that day was the seventh of the week, this set forth, he should cease to be seen by men on the seventh; but on the first day of the week, when he returned from the grave, he would present himself to the view of his people, almost as early as the sun.—When the Israelites were come into Canaan, the manna ceased; every thing which regards the state of the church, wandering in the wilderness of this world, consequently every healing grace, and every thing which flows to us from Christ, as mediator, and supposes any defect shall cease after the last day, when God himself shall be all in all to his church, when introduced into the heavenly country, 1 Cor. 15:28.
LIV. The manna was not bestowed on the Israelites as the effect of their sowing or culture, or of any human industry, but by the gratuitous gift of the divine goodness and bounty alone; the only thing required of them was to receive, to gather, and make use of, that gift of God. Thus, in like manner, the life and salvation we have in Christ the Lord, “is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,” Rom. 9:16. And his grace is “as a dew from Jehovah, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men,” Mic. 5:7. It is however our duty by faith to receive and apply to ourselves the offered grace. And this was what our Saviour meant, when he said, John 9:27, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”—And this, indeed, was to be done early in the morning, not letting slip the opportunity, Isa. 55:6. “seek ye the Lord, while he is near;” Psa. 63:1. “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee.”—The Israelites were to go without the camp, in order to have the manna. Whosoever labours to find Christ, must not indulge too much the ease of the flesh. When the spouse sought her beloved in her bed, she found him not, Cant. 3:1; but when she had gone a little further, she found him,” ver. 4.
LV. Though God gave the manna in a certain stinted measure, yet in a quantity sufficient for those of the largest appetite; Christ deals out a portion of his grace to each, in such a manner, as nothing may be wanting to their salvation, 2 Cor. 12:9. His grace however, is equally set before all the elect, that each may take of it to his full satisfaction, Cant. 5:9. If they open their mouths wide, they shall be filled with the goodness of the Lord, Psa. 81:20; Psa. 36:8, 9.—Our esteem and longing for the divine grace can, indeed, never be to excess; nor are we forbidden to strive after more; let each account it said to himself, 2 Cor. 12:32. “covet earnestly the best gifts.” But yet every one ought to be content with the most free and wise dispensation of our Father, humbly confessing ourselves unworthy even of the least. But if any, by the blessing of God, is found to have gathered more than others, his duty is to lay out his abundance for the common benefit, and supply the wants of others from the plenty of his gifts.
LVI. The manna that was kept to the following day, became tainted, and ceased any longer to be either the usual, much less the sacramental bread. Thus also the eucharistical bread, the antitype of the manna, after the time is over when it is distributed to be eaten, loses the virtue of a sacrament; and if it be kept, contrary to the command of God, instead of being a spiritual food, will be found tainted with the maggots of a base superstition.—A double quantity was gathered the day before the sabbath, for the use of that day of rest: on the same day of the week, the labour of Christ’s soul being redoubled, such an abundance of grace was purchased for the elect, even enough to satiate, and make them happy through an eternal sabbath.—Nor are we to apprehend the spiritual gifts, laid up for that day, can be tainted by any corruption.—In a word, the keeping the manna in a golden pot, and the laying it up in the tabernacle before Jehovah, and the testimony set forth, that he who came down from heaven, to be the bread of life to sinful man, should again be taken up into heaven, and continue in the sanctuary not made with hands, and in a state of uninterrupted life before God; whence also the communion with Christ in glory is called the “hidden manna,” Rev. 2:27.—Moreover, we are, above all things, to be on our guard, lest, with the ungrateful Israelites, we loathe the incomparable delights of the heavenly grace, and prefer the husks of this world before them, and so incur the justest vengeance of a despised Deity.
LVII. But for as much as “the savour of meat is nothing, if there be no drink,” as Josephus introduces Moses speaking to God; and because the superbundant fulness, which is in Christ, was to be shadowed forth to the ancient people, as well as to us, the divine goodness indulged the murmuring Israelites likewise with drink, which was as miraculous as their meat. For the people being parched with thirst, and finding no water either for themselves or children, much less their cattle in the parched wilderness, Moses at God’s command, striking with his rod the rock which was in Horeb, on whose summit the glorious majesty of the divine presence was seen, opened large veins of water, Exod. 17:1–6. This miracle is celebrated in many places of Scripture, Psal. 78:15, 16. “He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink, as out of the great depths; he brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.” Some imagine the rock itself was turned to streams of water, from Psa. 114:8, where the Vulgate translates, “qui convertit petram in stagna aquarum, et rupem in fontes aquarum,” which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters; the Septuagint, τοῦ τρέψαντος. But this is a poetical hyperbole, as if we should say, heaven itself was dissolved into showers. Nothing is more ridiculous, than to bring this in support of the monster of transubstantiation. But whether God first miraculously produced the water in that place, or whether, when Moses smote the rock with his rod, he suddenly set open the veins of water, which had been there before, but had been shut up till then, is not for us to determine, since the scripture is silent. What the Jews feign, that the rod of Moses was made of adamant, and hence penetrated the rock by the stroke; and that therefore Moses is said not to have struck, “על צור upon the rock,” but, “בצור, in the rock,” ver. 6, is trifling to the highest degree.
LVIII. As there is no great difficulty in this historical account, we hasten to the consideration of the mystery; set forth 1 Cor. 10:4, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink.” Spiritual, not surely in its own nature, but in its signification, as we have intimated concerning the meat, “For they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them,” that is, the water of the rock which followed them in a plentiful stream in the wilderness. “And that rock was Christ,” that is, as Tertullian, de Patientia, says well, “signified Christ;” with whom Augustine agrees, Quæst. 57, in Leviticum, “the rock was Christ, not in substance, but signification.” Let us take a survey of the similitude.
LIX. It is certain, Christ is often called a rock in Scripture; on account of his eternal duration, Isa. 26:4, and impregnable strength, Psa. 31:2, and, which is the consequence of that, a most safe habitation, Psa. 71:3. Yet I imagine these respects do not come under our present consideration. Christ is here represented by a rock only, as that gave water to quench the thirst of the Israelites.
LX. The true similitude is this. 1. This rock, hath its name from a parched dry waste (for this is the meaning of Horeb in Hebrew,) and seemed to promise nothing less than what it produced, namely streams for giving water to such a number of people with their cattle. Is not Christ also “as a root out of a dry ground,” Isa. 53:2. And is it not something above a prodigy, that he, who complained of thirst on the cross, should call out to others, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters,” John 7:37, 38. 2. The rock did not produce water till it was smitten. Thus also “it became God to make the captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings,” Heb. 2:10. When his side was pierced with the spear, immediately there issued out blood and water, John 19:34. And by this means he became “a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin, and for uncleanness,” Zech. 13:1. 3. Nor was it lawful to smite the rock with any other instrument than the rod of the Law-giver; to intimate, that Christ was to undergo the same suffering and the same curse, threatened by the law to the sinner man, Gal. 3:13. 4. The smiting of the rock was performed in the sight of the Elders of the murmuring people. At the loud clamour of an enraged multitude, and at the desire of the Elders, many of them also standing by, Christ was nailed to the cross, Matt. 27:41. 5. The majesty of the Supreme Being displayed itself on the top of the rock. When Christ suffered, did he not, even at that time, so veil himself as if he was void of divine glory? But they who were most unwilling to own it, were obliged to confess it. Matt. 27:54. 6. Such a quantity of water flowed from the rock, that was sufficient not only to quench the thirst of the Israelites, but also to follow them in streams, whithersoever they travelled in the wilderness, Psa. 77:15–20. Psal. 105:41. Thus also the abundance of grace that is in Christ makes “our cup to overflow, and goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our life,” Psa. 23:5, 6.
LXI. What we have recorded, Num. 20:8, is different from this history, and is likewise mystical. There Moses is commanded, indeed not to smite the rock with his rod, but only to speak unto the rock, before the eyes of the Israelites, in order to its producing water. By which it seems was signified, that Christ ought to suffer but once, and that his one offering was sufficient for perfecting believers, Heb. 9:27, 28. Heb. 10:14. The efficacy of which was to be dispensed to the elect by the preaching of the gospel. But Moses, contrary to the will of the precept, though according to the will of the divine decree, in smiting the rock twice, was a type of those who, wickedly indeed, but by the determinate counsel of God, persecute over and over again, and evil entreat Christ, after once suffering on the cross, in his mystical body, Acts 9:4. Col. 1:26. As out of the rock, which was smitten twice, there issued out much water, and the congregation drank, Num. 20:11; so in like manner, even the afflictions of believers have turned out to the advantage of the church, Phil. 1:12; the blood of the Martyrs, like a fructifying rain, has watered the paradise of God; and the sparks, flying every way from their funeral piles, have kindled far and near a new light of faith, and new flames of love: so that the church never experienced a greater abundance of divine consolations, than when she was forced to endure the heaviest strokes of persecution. Yet as Moses himself, who was so faithful, so dear to God, was for this very thing excluded the land of Canaan, Numb. 20:11, so none of these persecutors shall go unpunished for this their rash presumption, Psa. 105:24. 2 Thess. 1:6.
LXII. There now remains the sacrament of the brazen serpent, whose history recorded, Numb. 21:6. Bochart has distinctly explained, Hicrozoic. p. ii. lib. 3, c. 13. The sum of which is this. The Israelites, for murmuring against God, and against Moses, and speaking with contempt of the heavenly manna, incurred the heavy displeasure of the Deity. And therefore serpents were sent among them, to bite the people, and immediately cut off many by an infectious calamity. The Scripture call these serpents שרפים. Seraphim; which name they have in common with the most exalted angels, and is derived from burning; but are so called, because they send a flame out of their mouth, and burn by their venomous breath. The Greeks call some serpents, from their heat, πρηστηρας and καυσανας. But whether Seraph here denotes a water-serpent, or an amphibious serpent, which is Bochart’s opinion, or any other species of serpents, is neither so very certain, nor much our concern to, know. It is more profitable to consider how the divine mercy, importuned by the complaints of the people, and the confession of their sin, and the prayers of Moses, afforded a present remedy for so great an evil. At the direction of God a brazen serpent was framed by Moses, and put upon a pole; that whosoever looked upon it, when it was thus erected, might find a most infallible cure for the mortal bites of the serpents: which also the event plainly proved. Three things are here distinctly to be observed. (1.) The misery of the people. (2.) God’s favour and goodness. (3.) The duty required of man, in order to his partaking of that goodness.
LXIII. In the misery of the people, we are to consider both the sin and the punishment of it. It was a sin, to throw contempt upon the manna, and to murmur against God and against Moses. The depraved corruption of nature scarce any where more plainly shows itself than in the people of Israel; who, though loaded with so many benefits by God, so often chastised with paternal rods, yet incessantly returned to their natural disposition. Nor do they rise up against Moses alone by whose means they had escaped so many dangers, but against God himself, who was present among them, by such extraordinary signs of his majesty; and with a frantic wantonness loathe the manna, even the heavenly manna, which they had lately received with so much eagerness. Does not this plainly argue the inconquerable depravity of our nature, and the incredible abuse of the divine beneficence in man, when left to himself? And as we are all of the same frame, we may behold a specimen of our own perverseness in the Israelites.
LXIV. The punishment, consequent on the sin, was the bites of fiery serpents; by which it is not improperly imagined, are shadowed forth the suggestions of the devil, when he tempts to despair, and which Paul calls “the fiery darts of Satan,” Eph. 6:16, and which spread their poison through every part. For the devils are truly Seraphim; who, as in their first creation, they shone fair with the flames of divine love, so after their sin, became horrid and scorching serpents. As themselves are scorched with the fire of divine vengeance, so they burn with rage against God and his people. And indeed they are justly given up to the vexations of Satan, who contemptuously rejected the word of the Gospel, and the grace of God in Christ, which is sweeter than any manna; or blaspheme against God himself, as Hymeneus and Alexander, 1 Tim. 1:20.
LXV. But as those Israelites who found the bites of the serpents mortal, not being careful to obtain a cure, are an emblem of the impenitent, who, despise the grace of God, and so die in their sins; so they, who had recourse to Moses, confessing their sins, and imploring the grace of God, plainly signify those whom a sense of sin, and dread of divine judgment, excite to wiser resolutions; such as those who were pricked in the heart, and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37, and the Jailer, Acts 16:29, 30. But for their sake God commanded Moses to put a brazen serpent on a pole, and promised, that as many as were bitten, should, by looking to it, be cured. Indeed I make no manner of doubt, but this serpent was a representation of Christ; for he himself asserts, John 3:14. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” This type represents the antitype several ways.
LXVI. First, as to the form. That the serpent was a type of the devil, not of Christ, is asserted by a learned author without any probable reason. Though the serpents which destroyed the Israelites by their venomous bites were a figure of the devil, yet all circumstances loudly declare the brazen serpent, which was made at God’s command, and ordained to cure the bites of the other serpents, was a sacrament of Christ. Nor is it more improper to represent Christ by the figure of a serpent, than, what the learned author so often inculcates, by that of a wanton goat. The similitude consists in the following things. 1st, That Christ, though himself free from sin, came “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Rom. 8:3. 2dly, That by a voluntary covenant-engagement he substituted himself in the room of those, who by nature, like all others, are a “generation of vipers,” Matt. 3:7. 3dly, That by virtue of that engagement, by bearing their sins, he was made “sin and the curse,” 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13. And so had truly the figure of a serpent without its poison.
LXVII. Secondly, As to the matter of it, whereby in different respects, were represented both the vileness of the human nature, the excellence of the divine, and the efficacy of the Gospel, as the learned have observed. 1st, The serpent was not of gold, but of brass, which is a meaner metal, to hold forth Christ to us, as one “in whom there is no form, nor comeliness, no beauty, that we should desire him,” Isa. 53:2. 2dly, To signify the divine power of Christ by the firmness and durableness of brass. Whence Job 6:12 “Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass?” And in the Poet, “a monument” is said to be “more lasting than brass.” 3dly, As among metals brass is the most sounding. Whence Paul, 1 Cor. 13:1: “I am become as a sounding brass.” Thus Christ crucified seems to be rightly set forth by brass, as also the preaching of the cross, “whose sound went into all the earth,” Rom. 10:18.
LXVIII. Thirdly, As to the lifting up. This lifting up of the serpent on a pole, prefigured the lifting up of Christ, not his glorious exaltation in heaven, but his ignominious lifting up on the cross, John 3:14. As John himself explains that phrase, John 12:32, 33. For, according to the Syriac and the language of the Targum, to lift up, signifies to hang up on a tree. Both actions are denoted by the same term זקף. And as Bochart has learnedly observed, that manner of speaking seems to have taken its rise from the decree of king Darius, at least it may be confirmed by that, Ezra 6:11: “Whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, זקיף יתפחא עלוהי, and being set up, let him be hanged (put to death) thereon;” set up, that is hanged up. But holocausts, or whole burnt offerings, called in Hebrew עולות, that is, elevations, because they were carried upwards, signified that Christ, when offering himself for sin, should be lifted upon the cross. Nor is it for nothing that God would have the serpent lifted up by Moses; because it was in consequence of the curse thundered out by the law given by Moses, that Christ was nailed to the cross.
LXIX. Fourthly, With respect to the benefit. As from the serpent the Israelites obtained the cure of their mortal bites, so “in the wings of Christ there is healing,” Mal. 4:2. “He healeth all our diseases,” Psa. 103:3. Wherefore as the Jews, depending on such a present help, little dreaded the bites and stings of the other serpents, so the believer who relies upon Christ, and makes nothing of the assaults of devils, cries out with full assurance, “O death, where is thy sting?” 1 Cor. 15:55.
LXX. In order to partake in so great a benefit, God required nothing of the Israelites, but to look to the brazen serpent; just so a bare look to Christ lifted up on the cross, perfectly cures the wounds given by the devil; namely, a look of faith, by which Moses saw him who is invisible, Heb. 11:27. Thus Christ himself explains it, John 3:14, 15: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life.” If therefore any among the Israelites were blind, or voluntarily turned away their eyes, there remained no hope of salvation for them; so neither at this day for unbelievers, or for “those that rebel against the light,” Job 24:13; or for those, “whose minds the God of this world hath blinded, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine unto them,” 2 Cor. 4:4. Yet as even a weak sight might be saving; so a faith still in a state of weakness, if it be genuine and sincere, rescues us from death: and as whoever was once bit and cured by the sight of the serpent, if again bit, he was to have recourse to the same remedy; so if after our restoration we fall again into sin, the same faith succours as before.