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under the cloud, and all passed through the sea ; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
Their being under the cloud denoted that during their journey through the wilderness, from the time of their leaving Egypt until their arrival in the land of Canaan, they had the benefit of Divine guidance and protection. So it is said in the sacred history: The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night from before the people.86 And again, When the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed; and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. Thus at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they rested.87 Another benefit which they derived from being under the cloud, was the protection it afforded them in the time of danger. When the Egyptians pursued after them to overtake them before they reached the Red Sea, the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them; and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them; but it gave light by night to these ; so that the
86 Exodus xiii. 21, 22; xiv. 19, 20.
87 Numbers ix, 17, 18.
one came not near the other all the night.86 Thus the Israelites, being under the cloud, were under the Divine guidance and protection. Their enemies were prevented from injuring them, and they were directed as to the way wherein they were to go. And if they had implicitly followed this guidance, they would have been led at once to the land which they were to have for their possession, instead of wandering forty years in the wilderness. But they were not satisfied to follow the leading of Divine Providence and to trust to His protection, notwithstanding the goodness of God which had been manifested to them. When they came to the borders of the land of promise, they refused to go up and take possession of it, notwithstanding the visible manifestation which they had of the Divine presence. As those who had been sent to search the land brought back an evil report, the people said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt:88 or as Nehemiah observes, They dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to Thy commandments; and refused to obey, neither were mindful of the wonders that Thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage.89 What ingratitude was this for the goodness which had been shown to them. God was evidently going before them, to lead them in the way that they should go; and yet they would not follow His
guidance, notwithstanding they were assured that with His presence they had almighty protection. It is next said, that they all passed through the
While they followed the cloud which directed them in their journey, they were carried in safety through the greatest dangers. Even an arm of the sea could not oppose a barrier to their progress; for the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong wind, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.90 Thus they were protected from the power of their enemies, who pursued after them; and when they had passed through in safety, the waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them ; there remained not so much as one of them. When they had experienced this wonderful deliverance, they sang praise to Him who had thus manifested His almighty power on their behalf. But on the first reverse in their circumstances, the first inconvenience to which they were subjected, they murmured in their tents, and were again disobedient unto the voice of the Lord.
The object however for which the apostle
88 Num. xiv. 4. 89 Neh. ix. 16, 17.
90 Exod. xiv. 21, 22, 28.
mentions that the Israelites, on leaving Egypt, all passed through the sea, seems to be that he might show that they had sacraments of the same description as those of the Christian church. He therefore speaks of their baptism in connexion with it; that they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They were initiated into the Mosaic dispensation, and induced to comply with its ordinances, in consequence of the goodness of God being manifested to them on this occasion; His cloud being over them to guide and protect them, and the waters being a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left, while they went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground, and passed in safety through its channel. It became them as the preserved and blessed people of God, who were so highly favoured by Him, to devote themselves to His service, to live in obedience to His laws. This baptism of the Israelites was an example or type of Christian baptism. As they were bound to be the servants of God, in consequence of having been brought out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and having been carried in safety under the Divine guidance through the Red Sea: so likewise the goodness and mercy of God in Christ Jesus should constrain us, who enjoy the benefits of the Christian dispensation, as those who are not our own, but are bought with a price, to glorify God in our body, and in our spirit, which are God's. 92
It becomes Christian parents, as those who have themselves been made partakers of the goodness and mercy of God in Christ Jesus, to present their children for baptism; that thus they may be outwardly devoted to the service of God, and laid under a formal obligation to be His servants in this world ; to “renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh; to believe all the articles of the Christian faith ; and to keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of their life.” This indeed we are all of us bound to do, as the creatures of God. But it is important that the obligations we are under should be brought before our eyes continually; that we may be led, , as those who have been devoted to the service of God, to live in humble obedience to Him; and may partake of His blessing, both in this life, and in that which is to come. As we have been baptized into the Christian faith, the vows of God are upon us.
We have been devoted to the service of God in baptism. Are we then mindful of our baptismal engagements and obligations? If we are living in sin, doing the works of the devil, or what God has forbidden in His holy law, we are self-condemned; because we profess to have renounced the dominion of Satan, and yet are following his evil suggestions, and are therefore in reality living in subjection to his