Exodus 13:21


The visible pillar is no longer beheld, but God's fiery-cloudy presence still attends the Church in her wanderings, and confers upon her benefits analogous to those enjoyed by the ancient people. God's presence, as manifested in the pillar of cloud and fire, was -

I. HOLY. -

1. God is holy. Holiness is the principle which guards the distinction between the Creator and the creature. It eternally excludes everything evil and impure from the Divine nature (Martensen). It is the "zeal of the Lord of Hosts" for his own honour, and for the maintenance of the interests of truth, purity, and righteousness. The fire in the cloud was a symbol of it.

2. It is as the Holy One that God dwells in his Church. "The Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee" (Isaiah 12:6). Holiness, accordingly, becomes those who would serve him (Psalm 93:5).

3. The privilege is great, but perilous.

(1) Sin leads to the withdrawal of God's presence. When Israel sinned in the matter of the golden calf, God withdrew beyond the precincts of the camp. The cloudy pillar removed to a distance (Exodus 33:7-10).

(2) Rebellion provokes God to anger. On more than one occasion fire came out from the midst of the pillar and destroyed the rebels (Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 16:22; Numbers 17:10). "Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Holiness turned against sin is wrath. God tempers the vision of his holiness, which otherwise would be unendurable to man, by shrouding it in the cloud.

II. ENLIGHTENING. "A pillar of fire to give them light." God's presence in his Church is illuminating.

1. Whence the light shines. The light shines in the Word, in Divine providence, and in the teaching of the Spirit which illuminates both.

2. What the light does. It shows us spiritual truth. It reveals duty. It guides (see below). It cheers in the night of affliction.

3. Light with attendant mystery. The light is in the cloud. At best, we know but "in part" (1 Corinthians 13:12). Even revealed truth has its side of mystery, HI. SHELTERING. The allusion in Isaiah 4:6 would suggest that the cloud spread itself over the camp in the daytime, and so formed a canopy or shadow from the heat. God's presence is a grateful shelter to his people. They feel the need of it when temptations fiercely assail, or when tribulation and persecution ariseth because of the Word. "In the time of trouble shall he hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me" (Psalm 27:5).

IV. GUIDING. The pillar went before the camp of Israel "to lead them the way" (cf. Deuteronomy 1:33). The cloud pointed the way in the daytime, the fire by night. The Church and the individual believer are similarly guided. He who seeks to know the will of God will not fail of direction. Providence opens the road. The light that streams from the Word shows the path of duty. "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way: walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and to the left" (Isaiah 30:21).

V. ADAPTIVE. The pillar adapted itself to the circumstances of the people. In the daytime, when the sky was light, it took the form of cloud; in the night season, it shone as bright fire. Now it moved in front as a guiding beacon; again, it was spread as a grateful awning over the camp; at another time, it went behind, intercepting the enemy (Exodus 14:19). Thus does God vary the aspects of his presence and the modes of his help with unfailing adaptation to the special needs of his people. He is the All-sufficient.

VI. HOSTILE TO THE ENEMY. - He intercepts their pursuit; he hides his people from their fury; he makes their way dark to them; he frowns upon them, and discomfits them (Exodus 14:19-26). - J.O.









By day in a pillar of a cloud.
"The Lord went before them in a cloud." So God ever goes before His people, and standing as we do now on the threshold of a new year, we may recall this truth to our great comfort. The future, unknown to us, is not unknown to Him; He has gone before us, and is evermore delicately adjusting things to our discipline, our perfecting, our utmost salvation and bliss.

I. We find an illustration of the text IN THE PREPARATION OF THE WORLD AS A DWELLING-PLACE FOR MAN. Ages before man appeared on this planet, God was preparing it as a habitation for us to dwell in. You talk of "getting the house ready" for some newly married pair; but consider the getting ready of this globe as the scene for humanity to dwell in, and in which to work out its fortunes. What vast ages! What complex and far-seeing adjustments! And so we find to-day that the world has been provisioned for ages, the storehouses of nature are full, we do not lack any good thing. And God also anticipated the moral exigencies of the race.

II. We find another illustration of the text IN GOD'S GOVERNMENT OF THE RACE. We are not moving at random, the world is full of design, the law is progress, we are always entering into our inheritance. The races of man form a vast motley multitude, and the Lord goes before us preparing for us paths, resting places, wells, palm-trees. "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant" (Psalm 105:17). "He sent a man before them." And this was not some exceptional thing; God is always sending out pioneers, outriders, heralds to prepare the way for the general host in its march through the ages. They come in science, they come in politics, they come in philosophy, they come in religion: men full of the prophetic instinct, men who anticipate a new world, and who prepare us for it. So these Josephs, these dreamers, go before us, making possible to us new creations, new redemptions, We ought all of us, as God's people, to have a bit of this prophetic instinct in us, helping to usher in a new and better state of things — God's messengers preparing the way. God has gone before us; He is preparing happier things for our race; and although He works mysteriously, He works certainly to His glorious purpose. And all this is true in relation to our universal life. In our worldly life God is ever providing for us new blessings, glad surprises. Some do not see God because of the cloud, but He is in it nevertheless, working out His gracious purpose. And as to our spiritual life and need, God goes before us. We believe in "prevenient" grace — the grace that goes before. Grace that comes before our trials, preparing us for them, so that they do not overwhelm us. Grace that comes before our temptations, warning us of them, strengthening us against them. Grace that comes before our duties, so that we no sooner hear the call than we feel the strength to obey. We may enter a new year with tranquil confidence. Sydney Smith recommended people to take "short views," and we can afford to do that, because God on our behalf takes long views.

III. We find our last illustration of the text in the fact THAT CHRIST HAS GONE BEFORE US INTO THE HEAVENLY PLACES. "A cloud received Him out of their sight." In that cloud He has gone before us to make ready for us once more.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Homilist.
I. THE MYSTIC PILLAR RESEMBLED THE BIBLE IN THE ENDS IT ANSWERED.

1. The mystic pillar promoted their emancipation. So the Bible opens the soul's prison doors, snaps its chains, delivers it from the despotism of sin, and makes its way clear into the kingdom of God.

2. The mystic pillar guided them through the wilderness. So does the Bible show us the path of life. It is ever in advance of humanity, etc.

3. The mystic pillar protected them from all that would injure. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit; the armour of the soul.

II. THE MYSTIC PILLAR RESEMBLED THE BIBLE IN THE ATTRIBUTES IT DISPLAYED.

1. Supernaturalness.

2. Adaptation.

3. Many-sidedness.

III. THE MYSTIC PILLAR RESEMBLED THE BIBLE IN THE CONDITIONS IT REQUIRED.

1. It required a constant observance of its movements. Bible of no service unless studied.

2. It required a constant following of its movements. You must go as the Bible goes in relation to sin. Satan, holiness, and God; life and death, time and eternity.

(Homilist.)

I. THAT THE GOOD ARE DIVINELY LED IN THE WANDERINGS OF LIFE. "The Lord went before them."

1. A visible Guide.

2. A competent Guide.

3. A faithful Guide.

II. THAT THE GOOD ARE OFTEN DIVINELY LED DURING THE WANDERINGS OF LIFE INTO VARIED AND UNSUSPECTED PATHS. "The edge of the wilderness."

1. God sometimes leads His people contrary to their expectations.

2. God sometimes leads His people contrary to the dictates of their reason.

3. God always leads His people into those paths which shall yield the most sacred and safe discipline to them.

III. THAT THE METHOD OF THE DIVINE LEADERSHIP IS ADAPTED TO THE CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE GOOD. "By day in a pillar of cloud," etc.

IV. THAT THE DIVINE LEADERSHIP SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE ORDINARY AGENCIES OF LIFE.

V. THAT THE DIVINE LEADERSHIP IS SOLICITOUS TO LEAD THE GOOD TO THEIR PROMISED AND PEACEFUL DESTINY.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. AS THE PILLAR OF CLOUD WAS GIVEN TO GUIDE AND COMFORT, SO THE BIBLE IS DESIGNED TO LEAD THE THOUGHT AND CONSOLE THE SORROW OF MAN. Without the Bible man would be lost in the wide waste of error. It is also intended to console the human heart in all the troubled moods of life, when its joys grow dim, when it is rendered lonely by bereavement, and when it comes to death. At such times the Bible is our chief consolation, it enables us to sorrow in hope, it shows us One who is the Resurrection and the Life.

II. AS THE PILLAR COMBINED BOTH CLOUD AND FIRE, SO THE BIBLE UNITES ILLUMINATION AND MYSTERY. There is mystery in it which the finest genius cannot attain, which angelic intelligence cannot interpret, and which eternity may not simplify. Deity dwells in the volume, and we expect that clouds and darkness will be round about Him. But there is fire in the Book which illumines the doctrines and morality of the Christian life.

III. AS THE PILLAR OF CLOUD AIDED THE OUTGOING OF ISRAEL FROM BONDAGE TO REST, SO THE BIBLE IS THE BEST HELP MAN CAN HAVE IN WALKING THROUGH THIS LIFE TO THE NEXT. They walk the best in the wilderness of life who pay the most heed to the Word of God (Psalm 119:105). Lessons:

1. Be thankful for the Bible.

2. Follow the directions of the Bible.

3. Seek the consolation of the Bible.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. EXPLAIN THE TEXT.

1. We may observe that God's people in every age stand in need of a guide, and without it they would miss the path of duty and of happiness.

2. The Lord Himself graciously condescends to become the guide of His people, and He alone is fit to be so. He only has a perfect knowledge of the way, and of all the difficulties that may befall them in it; and He only is able to support and defend them against the designs of all their enemies.

3. The Lord guides His people in different ages of the world, by various means adapted to their circumstances, and to the peculiar dispensations under which they live.

(1)By His Providence.

(2)By His Word.

(3)By His Spirit.

II. SYMBOLIC MEANING.

1. It was altogether miraculous, and a symbol of the Divine presence. It was called the cloud of the Lord; there it was He dwelt in the midst of His people, and spake with them face to face (Numbers 19:14).

2. This mysterious cloud was intended to direct the Israelites in their journey, and by it the Lord communicated to them His will.

3. The cloudy pillar in the wilderness afforded refreshment by its shade, as well as guidance by its light. And is not Jesus both our sun and shield, our light and shade, as our different necessities require? In a season of darkness, He sends forth His cheering beams; and when our soul is ready to faint within us, He ministers to our refreshment and relief.

4. The cloudy pillar was designed for safety and defence, as well as for a guide through the wilderness.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

General Hill says: "In many of the battles the great want with the Confederates, strange as it may seem, was accurate knowledge of the country in their front. The map furnished me (and I suppose the six other major-generals had no better) was very full in regard to everything within our own lines, but a red line without any points marked on it was our only guide to the route on which our march was to be made."

(H. O. Mackey.)

Christian Journal.
The other day I was walking across the Northumbrian fells to call at a shepherd's house that lay distinctly enough before me on the Fell side. The directions I received from a Fellsider whom I had just left, after the manner of those who live every day in the midst of ample space, were vague indeed. The rutty, half-formed road on which I was walking was distinct enough immediately before me, but when I strove to trace the course of the road a greater distance ahead it became blended with the frowsy bracken and bronzed heather, and was utterly lost to view. To have struck boldly out across country to reach my destination by what seemed the shortest route would have entangled me among the spongy bogs and numerous streams with which the hillside was intersected. However, by carefully following the road that was visible before me I managed to pick my way and reached my calling-place in safety. So is it in our daily search after the knowledge of the Divine will. When in our impatient eagerness we wish to look too far into the future, all is indistinct and hazy; but, if we carefully note what is near and sufficiently revealed, we shall be led up infallibly to safety and to rest.

(Christian Journal.)

There was an old fisherman who got converted in his old age. He was not able to read, and therefore had to do his own thinking, not being able to catch up all ideas aired in our newspapers. A friend of mine visited him, and. knowing how he loved the Word of God, said to him, "Now, John, shall I read you a chapter?" "Yes, if you please, I should so much like to hear a chapter. I do dearly love to hear the Word read." "And what part shall I read to you?" "About. the Lizard Lights, please. Do read about them, for when I see them I always think I am near my heavenly home. I have often been out on the Atlantic on dark stormy nights, and when I caught sight of the Lizard Lights I knew I was near Falmouth harbour, and would soon be safely moored." "I am afraid," ventured my friend, "that I do not know about the Lizard Lights!" "Not know about them! Well, I thought you a gentleman, and had Scripture knowledge, but if you don't know about the Lizard Lights, you must just wait until Mary comes in." In a short; time Mary, who was his daughter, came in, and the old man said, "Mary, where is that in the Book about the Lizard Lights? You know you were reading about them last Sunday night." "Oh, father," she said, "that was not the Lizard Lights. It was the Israelites." That old man had made a mistake in the apprehension but not in the application. The story of the Israelites told of the guidance of God, in their wanderings, and the Lizard Lights had frequently been the beacon that had guided the fisherman to his desired haven.

(Mark G. Pearse.)

Xenophon mentions, in his Spartan republic, in describing the military expedition of a Spartan king, that a servant, or officer, who was called "firebearer," preceded the king with the fire, which had been taken from the altar, on which he had just before sacrificed at the frontier of the Spartan territory. After they had sacrificed once more, and the march had commenced, s fire which was lighted at the second sacrifice preceded the lines, without ever extinguishing. In Curtius we read, "He (Alexander the Great) ordered a lofty pole, visible from all sides, to be raised over the general's tent, and from the top of this pole streamed a signal conspicuous everywhere to every one, smoke by day and fire by night. Alexander had in this, as in many other points, imitated the custom of the Persians, who, in common with most of the eastern nations, on their mashes through deserted regions, bear before the army high poles, on which iron pots are affixed, filled with lighted combustibles; so that, the smoke by day, and the flame by night, signalized the way to the troops. Thus we cannot but acknowledge a certain curious similarity between the Biblical miracle and a general military custom prevailing in the East. Under these circumstances we entirely approve of Faber's remarks: Both the miracle and the custom, collated and compared, give light to each other. The custom effects, that we find the miracle dignified and worthy of God; and the miracle shows, that that very custom cannot have been quite unknown to the Israelites."

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

The pillar of cloud and of fire was certainly

(1)sacramental (1 Corinthians 10:1, 2);

(2)of a typical character (Isaiah 4:5; Numbers 14:42).He whom the cloudy and fiery pillar typified was the same Almighty Being who hath said to the faithful members of his militant Church, in every age of its warfare, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." The cloud was manifestly intended —

I. TO GUIDE THE ISRAELITES THROUGH THE WILDERNESS.

1. The pillar of cloud guided the children of Israel with infallible certainty. God Himself was in it; and unless He could err, their way could not be mistaken. Mark here, the glorious character of the Bible, — that light to our feet with which the unsearchable compassion of our Saviour's love has provided us. It testifies of Christ. It embodies His teaching and salvation, as the pillar contained them in the.wilderness.

2. This wondrous appearance in the heavens was a constant director to Israel. In every emergency the page of divine truth may be consulted.

II. The cloudy and fiery pillar afforded not merely guidance, but PROTECTION to the Israelites in their eventful march. Sin invades, temptation threatens, and every spiritual enemy seems permitted to assail with a fierceness which might well gather gloom and despondency around the heart; but the fainting Christian is encouraged by that voice which speaks as from the cloud between him and his enemies. "Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God." His life is hid with Christ in God; and amidst every trial and seduction by which his salvation is endangered, he may lay bold upon One who walks with him, and has promised to uphold him with the sufficiency of an Almighty arm.

III. The pillar of cloud and of fire had yet another office to perform for the children of Israel. IT GAVE THEM REFRESHMENT AND COMFORT IN THE WILDERNESS. Now say, O Christian, is it not thus with thee in the hour of thy most oppressive trial?

(R. P. Buddicom.)

I. THE WAY ALONG WHICH GOD LED HIS PEOPLE.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH GOD GUIDED AND PROTECTED THEM.

1. Pillar of cloud and fire only means: Jehovah Himself their true guide. God is with His people. What decision, blended with humility, will the realization of this great truth give us! What calmness in the midst of excitement; submission under trial; perseverance under difficulties.

2. Mark the adaptation of God's method of guidance to the condition and necessities of the Israelites. Gradual progress.

(G. Wagner.)

The fiery cloudy pillar performed many friendly offices to the Israelites, It was —

1. A guide. To lead was its main mission. It was a striking illustration of the longsuffering kindness of God. Neither murmurings, nor rebellion, nor idolatry, ever drove away the angel of His presence. The guidance vouchsafed, too, was of the most gracious kind — that of a shepherd (Psalm 78:52), and that of a loving and affectionate parent (Deuteronomy 1:31).

2. A light (see Nehemiah 9:19).

3. A shade (see Psalm 105:39).

4. A shield (see Deuteronomy 1:30; Exodus 14:19).

5. An oracle (see Psalm 119:7). He who opened His mouth in the burning bush at Horeb, opened His mouth in the cloudy pillar, and frequently spake to Israel's leader for Israel's benefit.

6. An avenger. When God wished to mark His displeasure, the cloud assumed a very wrathful appearance. The Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire, and troubled the host of the Egyptians. What a dreadful visage it must have worn when flashes went forth from it and devoured Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:2), and also when fire came out from it and consumed two hundred and fifty men! (Numbers 21:35). If the aspect of the cloud was thus at times such as to trouble those with whom God was angry, it would, no doubt, have a very pleasing one when He desired to manifest His favour to the congregation. As they looked up, they would behold the smiling face of their Divine leader cheering and encouraging them to go on in the path of duty.

(W. Brown.)

The consciousness of the Divine presence is in proportion to the circumstances in which we are placed. In other words, our circumstances determine our consciousness of the Divine nearness. Sometimes life is all day — almost a summer day with great spans of blue sky overhead, and where the clouds gather they gather in beautiful whiteness, as of purity akin to the holiness of the inner and upper cities of the universe. Then what do we want with fiery displays of God? — they would be out of keeping, out of reason and out of proportion. There are days that are themselves so bright, so hospitable, so long ending, and so poetic in all their breezes, and suggestions, and ministries, that we seem not to want any dogmatic teaching about the personality and nearness of God. All beauty represents Him. Any more emphatic demonstration would be out of harmony with the splendid serenity of the occasion. Then there are periods in life all night, all darkness, all storm or weariness. We cannot say where the door of liberty is, nor dare we step out lest we fall over a precipice; all is dark, all is trouble; friends are as absent as if they were dead, and all the sanctuaries to which we have hitherto resorted are concealed by the infinite darkness. What do we want then? A bird to sing to us? That would be helpful. A little tiny voice to break the troubled silence? That would net be amiss. But what do we really want? A column of fire, a pillar of glory, an emphatic incarnation and vision of Providence; and the soul gets both these manifestations of God according to the circumstances under which the soul is living. Take it, therefore, simply as an analogy, and then it is a rational analogy; it is true to every man's experience. And if the pillar of cloud and fire should drop off, there will remain the eternal truth, that according to the soul's circumstances is the Divine revelation of itself. Where the visible is enough, why add more? A man should not want much theology of a formal sort on a bright summer day. Some little tuft of cloud will represent the Infinite. Some almost invisible wing in the air — more a thought than a thing — hardly to be identified by the bodily eye, will symbolize the all-embracing power and the all-brooding love. Then at night we want what is called dogmatic teaching, broad emphasis, piercing declaration, vividness that cannot be mistaken, God almost within the clasping of the poor arms, God almost in sight of the eyes of the body. Thus God deals with us. This is true to our history. The mere cloud may go, the pillar of fire may be accepted as figurative; but the eternal truth that God comes to us in different ways under different circumstances — now as a cloud, now as a fire, now as a judgment, now as without mercy, now a roaring tempest, now a still small voice, — is a truth that remains, whatever havoc may be wrought amid the mere figurativeness by which that truth is symbolized.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

How does this remarkable narrative exhibit to us in every variety the picture of God's daily guidance of His people!

1. The guidance is as indispensable, and at the same time as obvious now as it was then. God still leads His people, through the voice of the purified conscience, through the evident suggestions of His exalted Providence, through the utterances especially of His infallible Word; and all these indications differ sufficiently from what flesh and blood make known to us in order to preserve us from wandering.

2. The guidance now is indeed as mysterious, but yet as well adapted to its purpose, as that of which the history of Israel tells us. Our countless whys and wherefores are still as little answered as the questions concerning the peculiar nature and essence of the pillar of fire and of cloud which probably disturbed the minds of the ancient Israelites. But as regards the question whither, the answer, God be praised, has not remained unknown to us; all God's guidance of His people, we know, has one good — to bring us out of disquietude into rest, out of bondage to liberty, along the path of faith to the land of sight.

3. Also in our case God's guidance is as varied, but still as faithful, as was the promise to the ancient people. In the day of prosperity He goes before us as in the cloudy pillar, in order to temper the glow of our joy through the remembrance of His close neighbourhood; in the night of adversity the word of His promise beams on us in as friendly and consoling a manner as did the fiery pillar on Israel in midst of the darkness. But as Moses beheld in the fortieth year of his pilgrimage the same sign in the heavens which had guided and encouraged him in the first, so God's presence is never lost to His redeemed ones in Christ, whatever else around may faint or fail. Neither by day nor by night does He take from us the tokens of His nearness; and even when He seems to hide His face from us, new thoughts of mercy and of peace are in His heart.

4. Who does not perceive how such a guidance promises as much, but also claims as much return as that of Israel? It guarantees us the entrance into Canaan, but only along the path of believing perseverance and obedience. When the way indicated through the wilderness was despised, the pillar of cloud and fire rose above many a grave, and yet there is no single promise of God to him who chooses his own path.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

I have called it a mystic pillar — that cloud in the desert; and so to them who saw it, and to us who read of it, it was. Of what it was composed; by what means it was kept pillar-like and intact while all other clouds were carried and scattered by the winds of heaven; by what strange secret force the cloud-pillar was nightly transformed to a column of bright flame? — these are questions that no doubt often exercised the minds of the spectators, only to be dismissed again as a baffling mystery that could not be explored. And not only its nature and changes, but its direction, its movements as to time and place — they had no knowledge, could make no sure prediction. Whether it would bend to the right, turn to the left, or move straight onward; whether it would remain stationary, or begin to move night or morning, or at noon — all this, and all concerning it, was above and beyond their knowledge; the laws that governed it and the will that led it was as entirely outside their information as it was beyond their control. What they did know was that Jehovah was the God of the cloud; what they could do was to trust it implicitly, follow it constantly, seeing in it all the while the good hand of their God over them for good. In all this, for my learning and for yours, I see a picture — a true and instructive picture — of the providence of God. From the beginning until now, the ways of God to man have been shrouded in mystery, have exercised inquiring but baffled minds, have furnished material for the sneer of the infidel, the sophistry of the sceptic, and the logic of the merely scientific mind; ay, and have strained and tested the faith of the pious, and placed stumblingblocks before his faith, on which his foot hath well-nigh slipped. All this arises from the fact that men will strive to be equal with God; that their mind will cope with that of Deity, and by their finite feebleness gauge the plans and purposes of the Infinite and Eternal Lord of all.

(J. J. Wray.)

A clergyman who, with some others, had escaped in a boat from a burning ship, was discoursing in a large company of the marvellous favour of Divine Providence, that had so specially watched over and preserved him. A wonderful providence! A special intervention of God's goodness! "That was a very great mercy, sir," said Archbishop Whately, seriously, "but I can record a greater in my own experience. I once sailed across the sea in just such a ship, and bound for just the same port, and — would you believe it? — the vessel never caught fire at all!" My friends, that is the way I would have you think of, and trust in Providence, as being ever present, ever wise and watchful, and, like the cloud-pillar of Israel, ever for your real good — pursuing its Divine and gracious path. Good and bad, light and shade, joy and sorrow, prosperity and adversity, things present and things to come, all are proceeding on precisely the same plan, — namely, the working of the soul and mind of God for His glory in the true well-being of His creatures, and for the ultimate advancement and elevation of mankind. Wherever the pillar went, with whatever seemingly reasonless vagaries the pillar moved, and however widely experiences and opinions differed about its moving, we know now that it led them safe enough and sure enough to the Canaan which was the longing desire of every heart. The mind of a pious and thoughtful artisan named Albert Thierney was much occupied with the ways of God. which seemed to him to be full of inscrutable mysteries. The two questions, "How?" and "Why?" were constantly in his thoughts, both as to the events of his own life and the government of the world. One day, in visiting a large ribbon manufactory, his attention was attracted by a large and extraordinary piece of machinery. His eye was that of a cultivated artisan, and he was immensely interested. Countless wheels were revolving in intricate motions, and thousands of threads were twirling and twisting in all directions. He could not understand its movements, and closer study only deepened his interest and increased the mystery. He was informed that all this work and motion was connected with a common centre where there was a large chest which was kept shut. Anxious to understand the principle of the machine, he asked permission to look inside the chest. "The master holds the key," was the reply. The words came to him like a flash of light. Here was the answer to all his perplexing thoughts — his anxious questionings about Providence. "Yes," thought he, "the Master holds the key; He knows, He governs, He directs all — God! That is enough! what need I more?"

(J. J. Wray.).

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