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arm, sensibly controlling the winds, the waves and the clouds; and subduing the most ungovernable elements to its purpose. Other parents are endued with transitory affections and attachments, suited to the transitory nature of the trust committed to them. The hen tends her unfledged brood with the vigilance of a dragon and the boldness of a lion. But maternal tenderness and anxiety diminish and expire with the occasion of them, namely, the weakness and inexperience of her young ones. When the son is become a man, paternal care relaxes, and parental authority is at an end. But as the authority of our heavenly Father never ceases, so his bowels of compassion are never restrained; his vigilance is never lulled to rest, his care never suspended; because his offspring is, to the last, impotent, improvident, imperfect.
In vain had Israel, by a series of miracles unparalleled in the annals of mankind, been rescued from Egyptian oppression, had not the same Almighty arm which delivered them at first, continued to protect and support them. The strength of Egypt, broken as it was, had been sufficient to force them back. The wilderness itself had been fatal to them, without a foe. How easily are the greatest deliverances forgotten; how soon are the most awful appearances familiarized to the mind! The very first threatening of danger effaces from the memory of these Israelites, all impression of the powerful wonders which had just passed before them, and eclipses the glory of that cloud which, at that very instant, presented itself to their eyes, and overshadowed their heads. But, let not self flattery impose upon us, as if we were more faithful and obedient than they were. It is the mere deception of vanity and self-love to suppose, that " if one were to arise from the dead, we would be persuaded;" that, if we saw a miracle wrought, we would believe; that, if we heard Christ teach in our streets, we would "forsake all and follow him." The man whom the usual appearances of nature do not move, would soon become insensible to more uncommon phenomena. For, extraordinary things frequently repeated, are extraordinary no longer, and consequently soon lose their force. If the daily miracles of God's mercy and loving-kindness fail to convince men, what reason is there to hope, that mere exertions of power would produce a happier effect? If Christ, speaking by his word and ministering servants, be treated with neglect, is it likely that his person would be held in veneration? If men "hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."* Is it not notorious, that Christ's personal ministrations were slighted, his miracles vilified, his character traduced?
Whose conduct is the more absurd and criminal, that of Pharaoh, in pursuing after and attempting to bring back a people who had been a snare and a curse to himself and his kingdom; or that of Israel, in trembling at the approach of an enemy whom God had so often subdued under them? Frail nature looks only to the creature; to surrounding mountains, opposing floods, persecuting foes: hence terror, confusion and astonishment. But faith eyes the pillar, the residence of divine majesty, and then mountains sink, seas divide, the chariot and horsemen are overthrown. Every passion. when it be comes predominant, renders us silly and unreasonable; and none more so than fear. In danger and distress it is natural, but it is foolish, to impute to another the evils which we fear or feel. It seems to be an alleviation of our own misery, if we can contrive to shift the blame of it upon the shoulders of our neighbour. Hence Moses is loaded with the imputation of a deliberate design of involving his nation in this dire dilemma, between Pharaoh and the Red Sea, and of selling them to the foe. A high and responsible situation is far from being an enviable one. If things go well, the conductor of the under
Luke xvi. 31.
taking receives but a divided, a mutilated praise. If an enterprise fail, the whole blame of the miscarriage is imputed to him. The astonished multitude dare not directly attack God himself. No: the cloudy pillar hangs over their heads, ready to burst, in thunder and fire, on the man who presumed to aim his shafts so high. But their impiety seeks the pitiful shelter of a subterfuge; they murmur against Moses, because they imagine they can do it with impunity and think to escape the resentment of the master, though they are wounding him through the sides of his servant. Mark yet again the folly and unreasonableness of fear. "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness." What were they afraid of now? A grave in the wilderness. What do they put in comparison with, and prefer to it? A grave in Egypt. It was a grave at the worst. Their wretched lives had got at least a short reprieve. If they died now, they died at once; and died like men, defending their lives, liberty, and families: not pouring out life, drop by drop, under the whip of a taskmaster. But slavery has broken their spirit. They are reduced to the lowest pitch of human wretchedness; for this, surely, is the last stage of it." It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness."
To this abject view of degeneracy and dejection, two objects are placed in contrast-the calmness and intrepidity of Moses, and the majesty and power of God. In contemplating the former of these, as one great object of these Lectures is to unfold human character, and to hold up to imitation and applause praiseworthy conduct, let me endeavour to fix your attention upon the more obvious features of the great man, who is here drawing his own por
All the great interests of Moses were embarked, with those of the commonwealth of Israel. His lot was cast into the common lap. He had made a sacrifice unspeakably greater than any individual of the congregation had done. His prospects, for either himself or his family, were neither brighter nor more flattering than those of the obscurest Hebrew among them. If there were danger from the pursuing host of Pharaoh, his share, most assuredly, was not less than that of any other man. He had rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious to that stern, unrelenting tyrant, and must have been among the first victims of his resentment. But the pressing danger of Moses did not arise from Pharaoh, and the Egyptians, but from an intimidated, distracted multitude, who were ready to wreak their vengeance on whoever might first meet their resentment, or could be most plausibly charged as the author of their misfortunes. The composure of Moses, in such circumstances, is therefore justly to be considered as an instance of uncommon heroism and magnanimity. But why do we talk of heroism? the man who fears God knows no other fear. In the confidence of faith, though he knew not yet which way God was to work deliverance for Israel, he thus attempts to diffuse the hope, which he felt irradiating his own soul: "Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to-day for the Egyptians which ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
Let me entreat you to observe, that the agent in this great transaction is also the historian of it; and that the resolution and spirit of the one is to be equalled only by the modesty and simplicity of the other. In the hands of one of the eloquent orators of Greece or Rome, what a figure would this passage of the life of the Jewish legislator have made, could we suppose them enterVol. III. 10
ing into the situation of a stranger, with the warmth which they feel in delineating the characters and conduct of their own heroes, and embellishing the diguity of modest merit with the glowing ornaments of rhetoric? But scripture says much, by saying little. And the meek reserve, the unaffected conciseness of the sacred historian, infinitely exceed the diffusive and laboured panegyrics of profane poetry or history. We have already, perhaps, deviated too far from that beautiful simplicity; and diminished instead of magnifying our object, by multiplying words. We hasten therefore, with our author to contemplate an object of infinitely higher consideration than himself; to which he constantly brings his own, and instructs us to bring our tribute of praise.
Behold the obstructions, which nature, and art, and accident have assembled to distress, to discourage, and to destroy the church of God! An impassable ridge of mountains upon the right hand and upon the left; the roaring sea in front; a powerful, exasperated, revengeful enemy following close behind; interual weakness, irresolution and dissension: the voice of sedition loud; Moses on his face before God. In such a situation as this, Omnipotence alone can save. No voice but that of a God, is worthy of being heard. Be silent then, O heavens, and listen, O earth, it is God who speaks. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward!" What sublimity, simplicity, and force was here! "Go forward!" What, into the raging billows? Great God, thy commands declare thy name and thy nature! What power except thine own, but must have been exposed and disgraced, by, assuming such a high tone of authority! But what obstacle can oppose Him, who said, “Let there be light, and there was light?" "who spake, and it was done, who gave commandment, and it stood fast ?" My heart is agitated with a mixture of fear and joy as I proceed. "The Lord God has given the word-Let the people go forward." When lo, the conducting pillar instantly changes its position, and solemnly retreats to the rear of the Israelitish host. The word given clears all the way before them, and the glory of the Lord becomes their rere-ward." Now, behold the double effect of this symbol of the divine presence! To Israel, the cloud is all light and favour; to the Egyptians, all darkness and dismay. To those, night shineth as the day-to these, there is obscurity at noonday! "And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed, and went behind them; and 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 of darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night." Awful distinction! Where shall we find the solution of the difficulty? where, but in this, 66 He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy; and whom he will he hardeneth."*
To prepare us for the history of the miracle which follows, give your attention, for a few moments, to what every man and woman among you may have observed a thousand and a thousand times. Go to the bank of the river, go to the shore of the sea, and twice in every twenty-four hours, as certainly as light proceeds from the sun, what is now dry land will be covered with water, and what is now overflowed shall infallibly become dry ground. Farther, when a little wandering star, called the moon, is in this direction, or in this, the whole waters of the globe, in the ocean, in the seas, in the rivers, are elevated or depressed to such a certain degree. Let that planet be in an eastern or a western direction, the tide is precisely at the same pitch of height or depth.
* Rom. ix. 18,
After we have made this remark, which is obvious to the notice and level to the understanding of a child; the question will naturally occur, What, does this never fail? May we depend and act upon the certainty of such a regular succession and change taking place? Do the waters of the earth thus certainly feel, or seem to feel the various appearances of the moon? Then it cannot be without the design and interposition of an intelligent and powerful cause, which never misses its aim, is never off its guard, is never thwarted or defeated by unforeseen obstacles. Then, that invisible, unknown, incomprehensible power, may exercise a discretionary influence over the stream of a particular river, over the billows of a particular sea. He may, with or without apparent second causes, make the current overflow its banks, or the channel to become dry.
Or, to make another appeal to common observation and experience, when the sun is in such a certain position with respect to our earth, and the wind blows in such a direction, the water in that lake will be liquid and transparent, and the smallest, lightest pebble will sink to the bottom. But let the elevation of the sun be changed to an angle somewhat more acute, and let the wind shift into the opposite quarter, then, beyond all doubt, the selisame water shall become solid as the rock, lose its transparency, and become capable of sustaining any weight that can be put upon it. How easy had it been for Him, who produces regularly these changes in the course of every changing year, to have given the globe such a position, as would have rendered the hoary deep one vast mountain of ice, all the year round, or have prevented a single drop of water from ever being congealed. And "wherefore should it be thought a thing incredible," that such an one, willing to make his power known, and his grace felt, should at his own time, and in his own way, do that in a particular instance, which he could have done perpetually and universally. Grant me the usual appearances and operations of nature, and I am prepared for all the uncommon, miraculous phenomena, with which the God of nature may see meet to present me. We come, accordingly, to the history of dividing the Red Sea, perfectly convinced that he who made it at first, can make of it whatever he pleases; and thoroughly satisfied that the occasion of such a notable miracle, as it is related by Moses, was entirely worthy of it.
If it be a just rule in criticism, that a Deity is never to be introduced but when his interposition is necessary, and on occasions becoming his dignity, the Mosaic account of this wonderful event, stands fully justified in point of taste as well as authenticity. The powerful rod is once more stretched out. The east wind blows: the sea retires; and a safe and easy passage is opened for Israel through the channel of the deep." This also cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward." The word which commands the progress also prepares the way. As in latter times, by the effectual working of the same almighty power, the grace which cured the father's unbelief, at the selfsame instant likewise cast the devil out of the son. It is the sensible language of the common proverb, "The king said, Sail; but the wind said, No." The command of the King of kings alone procures prompt obedience from every creature; for all are his subjects in fact, as well as of right. Thrones, principalities and powers are subject unto him; and "a sparrow falleth not to the ground without our heavenly Father." When we behold our blessed Saviour, in the New Testament, saying to the stormy wind and the foaming billows, Peace, be still," and a great calm instantly ensuing; and compare it with the work of the great Jehovah under review, we are led directly to the conclusion of the Roman centurion who observed the wonders attending the crucifixion, "Truly this was the Son of
In the history of our own country there is a passage, which the event we are considering suggests to our thoughts, and which does honour to the piety, modesty and good sense of the prince whom it concerns. Canute, one of the early kings of the southern division of England, justly disgusted at the gross and impious adulation of some of his courtiers, who ascribed to him the attributes which belong only to God, and called him "lord of the earth and of the sea," that he might check their folly by something more than a simple reproof, commanded his chair of state to be placed on the beach near Southampton, during the flowing of the tide. Arrayed in his royal robes, and attended by all the nobility and great men of his court, he sat down with his face towards the sea, and thus addressed it: "I charge thee upon thy allegiance, O sea, to advance no farther. Here I, thy lord, have thought proper to fix my station. Know thy distance; respect my authority, nor dare to touch the feet of thy sovereign, under pain of his highest displeasure." The swelling billows, regardless of his command and threatenings, continued to rush in, advanced impetuously to the steps of his throne, and speedily constrained the monarch and his train to retire. Upon which, turning round to his flatterers, he observed, "that he only deserved to be acknowledged as Lord of the land and the sea, whose will the winds and the waves obeyed."
The breadth of the passage opened through the Red Sea must have been very considerable indeed, to have afforded to such a multitude as four millions of people, for less there could not be, space to get over in a single night's time. To determine this we must have recourse to calculation. But your time being far spent, this, together with an attempt to solve some of the difficulties of the dispensation, and to remove some of the objections which infidelity has raised to the credibility or miraculousness of the history, must make a constituent part of another Lecture.
In practically applying this subject, we may consider the Red Sea, by which the armies of Israel were stopt short, as an emblematical representation of that great fight of affliction, that sea of trouble, through which every believer must pass in his way to the heavenly Canaan. Through the furnaces of Egypt, through the paths of the Red Sea, through the swellings of Jordan, God's ancient people at length got possession of the promised land. And it is "through manifold tribulations that we must enter into the kingdom of God." It is of importance not only that we be going forwards, but that we be making progress; that growth in grace should keep pace with the uninterrupted flux of human life. The course which Providence leads us, though neither the shortest nor the most desirable, will be found upon the whole the safest, the surest and the best. The possession of Canaan is not always the next step to our escape from Egypt. Justification by the grace of God puts us beyond the reach of our enemies, and adoption makes good our title to "the inheritance of the saints in light;" but it is sanctification that makes us meet for the enjoyment of the purchased possession. The Red Sea seemed to put an end to Israel's progress, but actually shortened the distance. So affliction, while it appears intended to overwhelm, is accelerating the believer's speed to his Father's house above. All these things are against me," saith frail, faltering, erring man, in his haste. "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God," saith the better informed, the experience taught christian, on reviewing the mysterious ways of Providence; and on having attained" the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul." If we look to the creature only, all is dark and comfortless; nothing but cloud. When through the creature we look to an invisible God, all is peace and joy. We cannot remove mountains, nor turn floods into dry ground. It is not meet we should be trusted with such power. Obedience is our proper province; submission to the will of God our truest wisdom; and when we follow the direc