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Pharaoh and the Red Sea, and of selling himself peculiarly obnoxious to that stern, them to the foe. A high and responsible si- unrelenting tyrant, and must have been tuation is far from being an enviable one. If among the first victims of his resentment. things go well, the conductor of the under- But the pressing danger of Moses did not taking receives but a divided, a mutilated arise from Pharaoh, and the Egyptians, but praise. If an enterprise fail, the whole from an intimidated, distracted multitude, blame of the miscarriage is imputed to him. who were ready to wreak their vengeance The astonished multitude dare not directly on whoever might first meet their resentattack God himself. No: the cloudy pillar ment, or could be most plausibly charged as hangs over their heads, ready to burst, in the author of their misfortunes. The comthunder and fire, on the man who presumed posure of Moses, in such circumstances, is to aim his shafts so high. But their impiety therefore justly to be considered as an inseeks the pitiful shelter of a subterfuge; stance of uncommon heroism and magnanimithey murmur against Moses, because they ty. But why do we talk of heroisin ? the imagine they can do it with impunity; and man who fears God knows no other fear. In think to escape the resentment of the master, the confidence of faith, though he knew not though they are wounding him through the yet which way God was to work deliverance sides of his servant. Mark yet again the for Israel, he thus attempts to diffuse the folly and unreasonableness of fear. " Because hope, which he felt irradiating his own soul: there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvataken us away to die in the wilderness? tion of the Lord, which he will show to you Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to to-day, for the Egyptians which ye have carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyp- ye shall hold your peace.” tians? For it had been better for us to serve Let me entreat you to observe, that the the Egyptians, than that we should die in the agent in this great transaction is also the wilderness.” What were they afraid of now? historian of it; and that the resolution and A grave in the wilderness. What do they spirit of the one is to be equalled only by the put in comparison with, and prefer to it? A modesty and simplicity of the other. In the grave in Egypt. It was a grave at the worst. hands of one of the eloquent orators of Greece Their wretched lives had got at least a short or Rome, what a figure would this passage reprieve. If they died now, they died at of the life of the Jewish legislator have made, once; and died like men, defending their could we suppose them entering into the lives, liberty, and families: not pouring out situation of a stranger, with the warmth life, drop by drop, under the whip of a task- which they feel in delineating the characters master. But slavery has broken their spirit. and conduct of their own heroes, and embelThey are reduced to the lowest pitch of lishing the dignity of modest merit with the human wretchedness; for this, surely, is the glowing ornaments of rhetoric? But scriplast stage of it. “It had been better for us ture says much, by saying little. And the to serve the Egyptians, than that we should meek reserve, the unaffected conciseness of die in the wilderness."
the sacred historian, infinitely exceed the To this abject view of degeneracy and de- diffusive and laboured panegyrics of profane jection, two objects are placed in contrast-poetry or history. We have already, perthe calmness and intrepidity of Moses, and haps, deviated too far from that beautiful the majesty and power of God. In contem- simplicity; and diminished instead of magplating the former of these, as one great ob- nifying our object, by multiplying words. ject of these Lectures is to unfold human We hasten therefore, with our author to concharacter, and to hold up to imitation and template an object of infinitely higher conapplause praiseworthy conduct, let me en- sideration than himself; to which he condeavour to fix your attention upon the more stantly brings his own, and instructs us to obvious features of the great man, who is bring our tribute of praise. here drawing his own portrait.
Behold the obstructions, which nature, and All the great interests of Moses were em- art, and accident have assembled to distress, barked, with those of the commonwealth of to discourage, and to destroy the church of Israel. His lot was cast into the common God! An impassable ridge of mountains upon lap. He had made a sacrifice unspeakably the right hand and upon the left; the roargreater than any individual of the congrega- ing sea in front; a powerful, exasperated, tion had done. His prospects, for either revengeful enemy following close behind ; himself or his family, were neither brighter internal weakness, irresolution, and dissennor more flattering than those of the obscur-sion : the voice
of sedition loud; Moses on est Hebrew among them. If there were his face before God. In such a situation as danger from the pursuing host of Pharaoh, this
, Omnipotence alone can save. No voice his share, most assuredly, was not less than but that of a God, is worthy of being heard that of any other man.
He had rendered. Be silent then, o heavens, and listen, O
earth, it is God who speaks." And the Lord regular succession and change taking place! said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto Do the waters of the earth thus certainly feel, me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that or seem to feel the various appearances of they go forward !" What sublimity, sim- the moon? Then it cannot be without the plicity, and force was here ! “Go forward !" design and interposition of an intelligent and What, into the raging billows ? Great God, powerful cause, which never misses its aim, thy commands declare thy name and thy is never off its guard, is never thwarted or nature! What power except thine own, but defeated by unforeseen obstacles. Then, must have been exposed and disgraced, by that invisible, unknown, incomprehensible assuming such a high tone of authority! But power, may exercise a discretionary influwhat obstacle can oppose Him, who said, ence over the stream of a particular river, “Let there be light, and there was light ?" over the billows of a particular sea. He may, “ who spake, and it was done, who gave com- with or without apparent second causes, mandment, and it stood fast ?"
make the current overflow its banks, or the My heart is agitated with a mixture of channel to become dry. fear and joy as I proceed. • The Lord God Or, to make another appeal to common has given the word—Let the people go for- observation and experience, when the sun is ward.” When lo, the conducting pillar in- in such a certain position with respect to our stantly changes its position, and solemnly earth, and the wind blows in such a direcretreats to the rear of the Israelitish host. tion, the water in that lake will be liquid and The word given clears all the way before transparent, and the smallest, lightest pebble them, and "the glory of the Lord becomes will sink to the bottom. But let the elevatheir rere-ward." Now, behold the double tion of the sun be changed to an angle someeffect of this symbol of the divine presence! what more acute, and let the wind shift into To Israel, the cloud is all light and favour; the opposite quarter, then, beyond all doubt, to the Egyptians, all darkness and dismay. the selfsame water shall become solid as the To those, night shineth as the day—to these, rock, lose its transparency, and become cathere is obscurity at noonday! " And the pable of sustaining any weight that can be angel of God, which went before the camp put upon it. How easy had it been for Him, of Israel, removed, and went behind them; who produces regularly these changes in the and the pillar of the cloud went from before course of every changing year, to have given their face, and stood behind them. And it the globe such a position, as would have rencaine between the camp of the Egyptians, dered the hoary deep one vast mountain of and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud ice, all the year round, or have prevented of darkness to them, but it gave light by night a single drop of water from ever being to these : so that the one came not near the congealed. And “ wherefore should it be other all the night.” Awful distinction ! thought a thing incredible,” that such an Where shall we find the solution of the dif- one, willing to make his power known, and ficulty ? where, but in this, He will have his grace felt, should at his own time, and in mercy on whom he will have mercy; and his own way, do that in a particular instance, whom he will he hardeneth."
which he could have done perpetually and To prepare us for the history of the mira- universally. Grant me the usual appearances cle which follows, give your attention, for a and operations of nature, and I am prepared few moments, to what every man and woman for all the uncommon, miraculous phenomeamong you may have observed a thousand na, with which the God of nature may see and a thousand times. Go to the bank of meet to present me. We come, accordingly, the river, go to the shore of the sea, and to the history of dividing the Red Sea, pertwice in every twenty-four hours, as certain- fectly convinced that he who made it at first, ly as light proceeds from the sun, what is can inake of it whatever he pleases; and thonow dry land will be covered with water, roughly satisfied that the occasion of such a and what is now overflowed shall infallibly notable miracle, as it is related by Moses, become dry ground. Farther, when a little was entirely worthy of it. wandering star, called the moon, is in this If it be a just rule in criticism, that a Dedirection, or in this, the whole waters of the ity is never to be introduced but when his globe, in the ocean, in the seas, in the rivers, interposition is necessary, and on occasions are elevated or depressed to such a certain becoming his dignity, the Mosaic account of degree. Let that planet be in an eastern or this wonderful event stands fully justified in a western direction, the tide is precisely at point of taste as well as authenticity. The the same pitch of height or depth. After powerful rod is once more stretched out. we have made this remark, which is obvious The east wind blows: the sea retires; and a. to the notice and level to the understanding safe and easy passage is opened for Israel, of a child ; the question will naturally occur, through the channel of the deep. “This also What, does this never fail? May we de- cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, which pend and act upon the certainty of such a is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in
* Rom. ix. 18.
"Speak unto the children of Israel that, being far spent, this, together with an atthey go forward.” The word which com- tempt to solve some of the difficulties of the mands the progress, also prepares the way. dispensation, and to remove some of the obAs in latter times, by the effectual working jections which infidelity has raised to the of the same almighty power, the grace which credibility or miraculousness of the history, cured the father's unbelief, at the selfsame must make a constituent part of another instant likewise cast the devil out of the son. Lecture. It is the sensible language of the common In practically applying this subject, we proverb, “The king said, Sail; but the wind may consider the Red Sea, by which the arsaid, No.” The command of the King of mies of Israel were stopt short, as an emkings alone procures prompt obedience from blematical represertation of that great fight every creature; for all are his subjects in of affliction, that sea of trouble, through which fact, as well as of right. Thrones, principali- every believer must pass in his way to the ties, and powers are subject unto him; and heavenly Canaan. Through the furnaces of
a sparrow falleth not to the ground without Egypt, through the paths of the Red Sca, our heavenly Father.” When we behold our through the swellings of Jordan, God's anblessed Saviour, in the New Testament, say- cient people at length got possession of the ing to the stormy wind and the foaming bil-promised land. And it is "through manifold lows, “ Peace, be still," and a great calm tribulations that we must enter into the kinginstantly ensuing; and compare it with the dom of God.” It is of importance not only work of the great Jehovah under review, we that we be going forwards, but that we be are led directly to the conclusion of the Ro- making progress; that growth in grace man centurion who observed the wonders should keep pace with the uninterrupted attending the crucifixion, "Truly this was flux of human life. The course which Prothe Son of God.”
vidence leads us, though neither the shortest In the history of our own country, there is nor the most desirable, will be found, upon a passage, which the event we are consider the whole, the safest, the surest, and the ing suggests to our thoughts, and which does best. The possession of Canaan is not alhonour to the piety, modesty, and good sense ways the next step to our escape from Egypt, of the prince whom it concerns. Canute, one Justification by the grace of God puts us beof the early kings of the southern division of yond the reach of our enemies, and adoption England, justly disgusted at the gross and makes good our title to “the inheritance of impious adulation of some of his courtiers, the saints in light;" but it is sanctification who ascribed to him the attributes which that makes us meet for the enjoyment of the belong only to God, and called him “lord of purchased possession. The Red Sea seemed the earth and of the sea,” that he might to put an end to Israel's progress, but actucheck their folly by something more than ally shortened the distance. So affliction, a simple reproof, commanded his chair of while it appears intended to overwhelm, is state to be placed on the beach near South- accelerating the believer's speed to his Faampton, during the flowing of the tide. Ar- ther's house above." All these things are rayed in his royal robes, and attended by all against me," saith frail, faltering, erring the nobility and great men of his court, he man, in his haste. “We know that all things sat down with his face towards the sea, and work together for good to them that love thus addressed it: “I charge thee, upon thy God,” saith the better informed, the experiallegiance, O sea, to advance no farther. ence taught christian, on reviewing the mysHere I, thy lord, have thought proper to fix terious ways of Providence; and on having my station. Know thy distance; respect my attained “the end of his faith, even the sal authority, nor dare to touch the feet of thy vation of his soul.” If we look to the creasovereign, under pain of his highest displea- ture only, all is dark and comfortless; nosure.” The swelling billows, regardless of thing but cloud. When through the creature his command and threatenings, continued to we look to an invisible God, all is peace and rush in, advanced impetuously to the steps joy. We cannot remove mountains, nor turn of his throne, and speedily constrained the foods into dry ground. It is not meet we monarch and his train to retire. Upon which, should be trusted with such power. Obediturning round to his flatterers, he observed, ence is our proper province; submission to " that he only deserved to be acknowledge the will of God or truest wisdom; and when as Lord of the land and the sea, whose will we follow the direction of Providence, our the winds and the waves obeyed."
way cannot but be prosperous.
« Lord, we The breadth of the passage opened through will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” the Red Sea must have been very considera- Human conduct is a woful inversion of this ble, indeed, to have afforded to such a multi-rule. We torment ourselves about the event tude as four millions of people, for less there over which we have no power, and trifle could not be, space to get over in a single with the commandment with which alone night's time. T'o determine this, we must we have to do. We neglect our duty, and have recourse to calculation. But your time then foolishly and impiously complain that
we are unkindly dealt by, when Providence the miscarriage is not chargeable to our own promotes not, or crosses our inclinations. Let perverseness or folly. It is a dreadful, it is a us show cheerful and unreserved compliance; two-edged evil, at once to lose our aim, and and be the issue what it may, whether our incur the just displeasure of God by disobe. wishes be opposed or succeed, we shall at dience. “ Thy will," O Father, “ be done ou least have the consolation of reflecting, that I earth, as it is in heaven." Amen.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the
Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation : he is my God, and I will prepare him an habi. lation ; my Father's God, and I will exalt hiin.—Exodus xv. 1, 2.
To no one man has the world been so much the mind. We forget the distance of three indebted for rational pleasure and useful thousand years. We feel ourselves magicalknowledge, as to the inspired author of these ly conveyed to the banks of the Red Sea. sacred books. Moses, as he is the most an- We join in the acclamations of the redeem cient, so he is by far the best writer that ever ed of the Lord, as this song of Moses swells existed. Never in one and the same charac- upon our ear. “ Then sang Moses and the ter were united talents so various, so rare, children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and so valuable. He may without hesitation and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, be pronounced, the most eloquent of histori- for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse ans, the sublimest of poets, the profoundest and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. of
sages, the most sagacious of politicians, For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his the most acute of legislators, the most intre- chariots, and with his horsemen into the sea, pid of heroes, the clearest sighted of pro- and the Lord brought again the waters of phets, the most amiable of men. The qualities the sea upon them; but the children of Israel of his heart seem to strive for the mastery went on dry land in the midst of the sea. with those of the understanding: so that it is the depths have covered them: they sank difficult to determine whether, as the reputed into the bottom as a stone."* How wonderson of Pharaoh's daughter, as a voluntary fully suited to each other, the event and the exile from the splendour of a court, as the celebration of it! sympathizing friend of his afflicted brethren, In fulfilling the promise made in the conas the bold protector of virgin innocence, as clusion of the last Lecture, and executing the contented shepherd of Jethro's flock, as the business of the present, three objects are the magnanimous assertor of Israelitish liber- proposed. First, to attempt a vindication of ty, or finally, as king in Jeshurun, ruling the the history of the passage of the Red Sea, thousands of Israel with meekness and wis- from some objections which have been made dom-he most challenges our admiration and to the credibility or miraculousness of it. praise. Had the world never been favoured Secondly, to make a few criticisms on the with his works, or were it now to be deprived sacred hymn which was composed on the of that precious treasure, the loss were in- occasion, and now, in part, read in your hearconceivably great. Who does not shudder ing; in the view of pointing out a few of its at the thought? What a fearful gap in the more striking beauties. And, thirdly, to history of mankind! What a blow to take, make a few remarks on sacred poesy in gewhat a blank in science, what an impoverish- neral, tending to evince its superior exceling of the public stock of harmless pleasure, lercy; and to point out the delicacy and what an injury to the dearest, the best, the difficulty of attempting to amplify or imitate everlasting interests of mankind !
what the inspired poets have written, as helps The venerable man, who has for so many to devotion. In the first I shall, without evenings past condescended to delight and ceremony or apology, borrow the assistance instruct us by the relation of events the most of the pious and Icarned author of Dissertasingular, interesting, and important, assumes tinns, historical, critical, theological, and this night a new character; and in strains moral, on the most memorable events of the the sweetest and boldest that bard ever sung; OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT history,--James in verses the loftiest that the imagination of Saurin, late minister of the French church poet ever dictated, rouses, warms, transports
Exodus xv. 1. 19, 5.
at the Hague.* In the second, I shall sub-| And this concession is important, when we mit to be instructed by an ingenious, pious, consider that it comes from the mouth of an and eloquent professor of rhetoric in the uni- | enemy: versity of Paris, who has made choice of this Again the supposition of the Memphites passage, expressly for the purpose of exem- must be rejected by all those who pay any plifying the majesty, beauty, and simplicity regard to the authority of Moses, and of the of the scripture style. And in the third, I other sacred writers. He himself indeed adshall do little more than transcribe from an mits, that the effect was forwarded by the elegant, penetrating, and instructive moralist assistance of a strong east wind. And whatof our own age and country. I To return: ever he ascribes to that, may seem so far to
If we collect the several circumstances of derogate from the greatness of the miracle. this wonderful piece of history, it will readi- But it is no less true, that he throws out noly be acknowledged, that there is here pre- thing like an insindation that the passage of sented to the mind, one of the greatest, or the vast host of Israel was produced by the rather a series of the greatest miracles, which intervention of second causes. And all the the hand of Omnipotence ever wrought in inspired authors, who, after him, have menbehalf of any nation. It is not therefore to tioned it or alluded to it, acknowledge only be wondered at if the enemies of revelation a supernatural agency. Thus Joshua, who have endeavoured to sully their lustre, and was an eye-witness and a party deeply conimpeach their credibility.
cerned in the event. “For the Lord your Three methods have been employed for God dried up the waters of Jordan from before this purpose-To ascribe these events to you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord natural causes—To put them on a footing your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried with others related in profane history, and to up from before us, until we were gone over: represent them as contradictory and incon- that all the people of the earth might know sistent. Three bulwarks of infidelity; as the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty : that many grounds of triumph for truth.
ye might fear the Lord your God forever."* First, these events, which we ascribe en-Thus, Psalm lxvi. 6,—- He turned the sea tirely to the almighty power of God, have into dry land ; they went through the flood been accounted for from the cominon and on foot; there did we rejoice in him.” And natural operation of cause and effect. Euse- lxxviii. 13,—" He divided the sea, and causbius has preserved and transmitted to us a ed them to pass through, and he made the fragment from an ancient author, Artapanes, waters to stand as an heap.” And cvi. 9,to this purpose : “ Those of Memphis, one of “ He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was the chief cities of ancient Egypt, allege, that dried up: so he led them through the depths Moses perfectly understood the country; that as through the wilderness.". And Heb. xi. he had accurately observed the ebbing and 29,4" By faith they passed through the Red flowing of the sea, and took advantage of Sea as by dry land : which the Egyptians esthe retreat of the tide to lead the people over. saying to do were drowned.” So that Moses, But they of Heliopolis relate the matter dif- Joshua, David, and Paul, have but one and ferently, saying, that while the king was the same opinion on this subject. pursuing the Israelites, Moses, by the com But farther, the essence of a miracle does mand of Heaven, struck the waters with a not always consist in counteracting or susrod, upon which they immediately separated, pending the laws of nature. One of the most and left a spacious and safe passage for that contemptible of the adversaries of religion great multitude; and, that the Egyptians at- has weakly imagined,t that by a single objectempting to follow them the same way, were tion he was able to invalidate one of the bul. dazzled and confounded by preternatural warks, and shake one of the pillars of revelafires, lost their way, and by the reflux of the tion. “ These miraculous effects,” says he, sea, were overtaken in the midst of the chan- " are referred, by the confession of scripture nel, and thus all perished either by water or historians themselves, to the operation of se
cond causes. It was by warming the body Now, granting to this quotation all the of a child, that Elijah brought him to life force that unbelief can give it, this evidently again. It was by applying clay, or dust minappears upon the face of it, that Moses has gled with spittle, to the eyes of a blind man, vouchers of his divine legation, even in that Jesus Christ restored him to sight. It Egypt, even among the idolators themselves. was by a wind, that Moses brought locusts If the Memphites accuse our historian of en- upon Égypt, and obtained a passage through deavouring to make a natural pass for a mi- the Red Sea.” To this it is replied–That raculous event, the Heliopolitans acknow- the most common and natural things become ledge that it was preternatural, and ascribe miracles, when they present themselves preit to an immediate interposition of Heaven. cisely at the time and in the manner prescri
bed by Him who commands their appear* Tom. i. Disc. xlix. + Rollin Bel
. Lot. Tom. ii. Eləq. ance, for the confirmation and establishment de Liv. Sacr. 1 Johnson's life of the pet Waller. $ Euseb. Prepar. ib. ix. chap. xxvii.
* Josh. iv. 23, 24. Spinosa Tract. Thcol. Polit. cap vi