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Thou, the eternal God, hast been our dwelling-place in all generations : the words “dwelling-place” and “refuge” being the same.

The Lord had been the help of Israel hitherto; He had preserved them in Egypt, had delivered them from its bondage, had overthrown Pharaoh and his army, had led them safely through the wilderness, and was about to plant them in the land of promise ; and here is the mighty master-thought to take possession of their minds as they begin their national history, “The eternal God thy refuge.” They did not know what lay before them—could not guess what unseen perils and terrors might emerge; but they are sent forward into the unknown future with this Thought in their hearts.

There is something in the very sound of the words that arrests the ear. What an idea of strength and infiniteness of resources they suggest! “The Eternal God,” who fills the infinite Past, within the measure of whose existence time, with all its changes, is included, who is and who was and who is to be, who endureth while

our ages waste,” the Inhabiter of Eternity—this is the Being spoken of. The revelation of what He is, in His nature and attributes, has gone on enlarging and brightening down successive ages. All that is good, and great, and lovely, and venerable, and holy, and majestic, gathers around His blessed name. Wisdom, power, truth, righteousness, compassion, grace, paternal love-these attributes have been in process of disclosure, in ever greater clearness and breadth, as His revelation of Himself has gone forward. And in all these attributes--on which the Gospel sheds such full and glorious light-He is eternal; without beginning, without end, without change. And this eternal God, Moses says to Israel, is thy "refuge,"—thy shelter, thy home, thy abiding-place, for so the word means. The expression is parallel to those others which say, “In Him," not merely by Him, but “ In Him we live and move and have our being." It is not merely that He hides His people in His pavilion, in the secret of His tabernacle ; it is not merely that He provides a refuge for us : He is our refuge and dwelling-place : He is so Himself. I am (so to speak) surrounded by Deity.

The thought, that God is the refuge of His people, is one that meets us again and again in Scripture. For example, in the thirty-second Psalm, forgiven David sings, “ Thou art my hiding-place; Thou shalt

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preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance;" not merely delivering, but giving song; not merely putting a new song into my own mouth, but inaking the air vocal around mea ring of song compassing me about. For example, again, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble : therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” And, once more, “ I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress ; my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence: He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust,” and so onwards. Round about the psalm-writer are dangers and enemies of every kind -snares and pestilence, the terror by night and the arrow that flieth hy day, the plague that does its work in darkness, and the destruction that wasteth at noonday, the lion and the adder, the young lion and the dragon-all forms of evil, temporal and spiritual, coming fortlı into daylight, or lurking unshaped and invisible in the dark. What can a poor, weak, helpless man, so environed, do? Just creep under the shadow of God, and say, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in Him will I trust.” And He will prove a refuge indeed: “Ile shall cover thee with His feathers ”—not clothing thee in a shirt of mail, that pains and burdens, while it defends, the wearer ; but “He shall cover thee with His feathers.”-could anything be softer and gentler ? "and under His wings shalt thou trust,” the great, sheltering wings of God spreading around and folding over us. All such passages are one in sense with the words before us, “The Eternal God thy Refuge."

The words might be illustrated from the history of Israel as a nation. Their national security and prosperity stood connected with their trust in God. When they forgot or forsook Him, it went ill with them. When they trusted in Him, and obeyed His voice, they prospered. Their strength lay, not in munitions of war, not in horses and chariots, not in alliances with powerful neighbouring nations, Assyria or Egypt_as men talk of Providence being on the side of the best park of artillery ;-their strength lay in the eternal God, who helped and saved them when they cast themselves upon Him and trusted sincerely in His name. It would be easy to go down the his

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tory of the nation, and to show how this, in every age, was the secret of the national well-being. Indeed, this one utterance might be taken as the very key of Jewish history.

But the words hold good, also, for all God's people, and for each individual believer, throughout all ages. They are words which every child of God living to-day has found true in their plainest meaning. It is in Jesus Christ that their full significance is disclosed—in Jesus Christ, who reveals the Father to us, and, by His sacrifice and mediation, brings us back to His bosom of eternal love. I do not stay at present to unfold this. Nor do I stay to justify the appropriation of the words by New Covenant believers, but merely name the great Christian disclosure that Gentile believers are of the same household with believers of the seed of Abraham, and that on them also the blessing of Abraham rests.

Not only do we find the words true for ourselves, as Christian believers, but true in a deepening sense. They are more to us than they could be to ancient Israel. The more our experience of God and of life grows, we are evermore finding a profounder and more blissful meaning in them. All the ages of the past have been filling them with significance; and to-day-in the presence of the work of the Redeemer-in the presence of His sacrifice and His intercession in the heavens—and under the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, they are fuller of meaning than they ever were before.

Let us try to bring them into connection with our own experience. We all know how human life goes on repeating itself century after century—how the great, elementary facts of our humanity are substan

lly the same with those of three thousand years ago-birth, childhood, boyhood, manhood, hoary hairs, and death ; and how the experience we pass through is substantially the same as that of the ancient patriarchs, and may be set over against it. In looking at one or two facts of our experience in the light of these words, let us remember that the true conception of our life is, that we should abide in God-not driven to Him by storm and tempest, but finding in Him our spirit's home and rest.

Take, by way of example, our experience of earthly change. I am a pilgrim and a stranger on earth. I have no home, no portion, in the present world. It cannot make me happy. Even if it could, I must

soon leave it. But my home is in God-my creature-finiteness comprehended in His infiniteness—my creature-blessedness in His Divine and eternal blessedness. And so, when I wander in the wilderness, my soul fainting within me for thirst and hunger, I am comforted and gladdened because I can join in with the countless multitude, who sing, “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations,”— the sense of weariness passes away, and I say to my heart, “ Return again unto thy rest.”

Or, take the aiflictions of our human life-fears, sorrows, pains, the windy storm and tempest that beat upon our head. No one altogether escapes these afflictions. It would not be good for us if we did. Through God's grace they are the making of many of us. They take all various forms. One has to come through broken health, bodily trouble, weariness, and distress. Another suffers in his worldly circumstances. He knows what hard times mean, and pinching, and the struggle to keep the wolf from the door, and the slings and arrows of adversity. Another has heart-bitterness, that for many reasons he cannot speak about—a wound concealed which no one suspects-a pain carried silently in the bosom, which the husband never tells to his wife nor the wife to her husband. Another has suffering to endure, amounting even to anguish, through the misconduct of loved ones for whom he would willingly lay down his life, but whose heart he cannot touch or melt. Another knows of bread steeped in tears and drink mingled with weeping—of the horrible pit and miry clayof cries from the depths of the waters coming in unto the soul. It is needless, however, to go on enumerating cases—how some great fear overtakes us—some sorrow touches us—some cold, cruel disappointnient comes creeping upon us, making all earth’s treasure seem like a child's broken toy-some terrible stroke comes down with a sudden crash, and almost stuns us-we pass out of the pleasant sunshine into the darkness and chill of the valley of death-shadow.

No one but knows how large an element these afflictions are in our human experience. Well, what is the man, on whom these afflictions come, to do? Just let him take refuge in the Eternal God. Just let him trust in God, as the lover and friend of souls, who makes all things work together for our good, and creep in under His shadow, and abide there; and he will find, in God's good time, that fear, sorrow, disappointment, grief, the dark and chill shadow, are but the disguise behind which Love is hid, and that

“Loss, woe, weariness, all pain, each want, each earthly load,

Are in the many-linked chain that draws earth up to God."

It does not make affliction joyous—no chemistry can do that, but it enables us to bear it in calm patience, retaining the deep assurance of God's love. With the eternal God for the refuge and home of his spirit, the friendless feels no longer desolate; the man struggling with poverty feels, I am an heir of God; the poor, fainting sufferer says, Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy, at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore; the man whose earthly things are overthrown as by an earthquake-shock, burying his hopes in the ruin, hears the whisper, The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee;' the man who is persecuted for righteousness' sake, surrounded by the strife of tongues, draws down the curtains of the eyelids, and feels himself in the pavilion and secret place of Him who is the Almighty, for asylum, and sanctuary, and defence. I need not say more to indicate how our experience of affliction is met by this thought, spoken within our hearts by the Holy Spirit, The eternal God thy Refuge.“This thought," as Luther says, “is the medicine even against death.

Or, take those disquietudes and distresses in which conscience is concerned. They press much more sorely, and are more torturous, than any accumulation of mere bodily troubles. A wounded spirit who can bear? It is no unknown or rare experience. Temptation assails us.

We are brought through an experience that sheds a terrible light on the words, “O wretched man that I am !” A sense of worthlessness, guilt, vileness, is wakened up afresh in the bosom. Old sins rise again from the graves of forgetfulness in which we had buried them. The whole guilty past comes back again into the souls view. Curses, as if unrepealed, are shot in upon us out of the dark. The terrors of the fiery law are heard afresh, and we seem to be come again to blackness, and darkness, and tempest. Night brings out the silver-shining moon and sapphire stars, but neither moon nor stars are here. What is to be done? Let the soul take refuge anew (as in

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