Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

#

effary, and on occafions becoming his dignity, the Mofaic account of this wonderful event, ftands fully justified in point of taste as well as authenticity. The powerful rod is once more stretched out. The east wind blows: the fea retires; and a fafe and easy pasfage is opened for Ifrael through the channel of the deep. "This alfo cometh forth from the Lord of hofts, which is wonderful in counfel, and excellent in working."

"Speak unto the children of Ifrael that they go forward." The word which commands the progress alfo prepares the way. way. As in latter times, by the effectual working of the fame almighty power, the grace which cured the father's unbelief, at the felffame inftant likewife caft the devil out of the fon. It is the sensible language of the common proverb, "The king faid, Sail; but the wind faid, No." The command of the King of kings alone procures prompt obedience from every creature; for all are his fubjects in fact, as well as of right. Thrones, principalities and powers are fubject unto him; and "a fparrow falleth not to the ground without our heavenly Fa ther." When we behold our blessed Saviour, in the New Teftament, faying to the ftormy wind and the foaming billows, "Peace, be ftill," and a great calm inftantly enfuing; and compare it with the work of the great Jehovah under review, we are led directly to the conclufion of the Roman centurion who obferved the wonders attending the crucifixion, “Truly this was the Son of God."

In the history of our own country there is a paffage, which the event we are confidering fuggefts to our thoughts, and which does honour to the piety, modefty and good fenfe of the prince whom it concerns. Canute, one of the early kings of the fouthern divifion of England, juftly difgufted at the grofs and impious adulation of fome of his courtiers, who ascribed to him the attributes which belong.only to God, and called him "lord of the earth and of the fea," that

he

he might check their folly by fomething more than a fimple reproof, commanded his chair of ftate 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 fat down with his face towards the fea, and thus addreffed it; "I charge thee upon thy allegiance, O fea, to advance no farther. Here I, thy lord, have thought proper to fix my ftation. Know thy dif tance; refpect my authority, nor dare to touch the feet of thy fovereign, under pain of his higheft dif pleasure." The fwelling billows, regardless of his command and threatenings, continued to rufh in, advanced impetuoufly to the fteps of his throne, and speedily constrained the monarch and his train to retire. Upon which, turning round to his flatterers, he obferved, "that he only deserved to be acknowledged as Lord of the land and the fea, whofe will the winds and the waves obeyed."

The breadth of the paffage opened through the Red Sea must have been very confiderable indeed, to have afforded to fuch a multitude as four millions of people, for lefs there could not be, fpace to get over in a fingle night's time. To determine this we must have recourfe to calculation. But your time being far fpent, this, together with an attempt to folve fome of the difficulties of the difpenfation, and to remove fome of the objections which infidelity has raised to the credibility or miraculoufnefs of the history, muft make a conftituent part of another Lecture.

In practically applying this fubject, we may confider the Red Sea, by which the armies of Ifrael were ftopt fhort, as an emblematical reprefentation of that great fight of affliction, that fea of trouble, through which every believer muft pafs in his way to the heavenly Canaan. Through the furnaces of Egypt, through the paths of the Red Sea, through the fwellings of Jordan, Cod's ancient people at length got poffeffion of the promised land. And it is " through

manifold

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 progrefs; that growth in grace fhould keep pace with the uninterrupted flux of human life. The courfe which Providence leads us, though neither the shortest nor the most defirable, will be found upon the whole the safest, the surest and the best. The poffeffion of Canaan is not always the next step to our escape from Egypt. Juftification by the grace of God puts us beyond the reach of our enemies, and adoption makes good our title to "the inheritance of the faints in light;" but it is fanctification that makes us meet for the enjoyment of the purchafed poffeffion. The Red Sea feemed to put an end to Ifrael's progrefs, 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," faith frail, faltering, erring man, in his hafte. "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God," faith the better informed, the experience-taught christian, on reviewing the myfterious ways of Providence; and on having attained" the end of his faith, even the falvation of his foul." If we look to the creature only, all is dark and comfortless; nothing but cloud. When through the creature we look to an invifible God, all is peace and joy. We cannot remove mountains, nor turn floods into dry ground. It is not meet we fhould be trufted with fuch power. Obedience is our proper province; fubmiffion to the will of God our trueft wisdom; and when we follow the direction of Providence, our way cannot but be profperous. "Lord, we will follow thee whitherfoever thou goeft." Human conduct is a woeful inverfion of this rule. We torment ourselves about the event over which we have no power, and trifle with the commandment with which alone we have to do. We neglect our duty, and then foolishly and impioufly complain that we

are

are unkindly dealt by, when Providence promotes not, or croffes our inclinations. Let us fhew cheerful and unreferved compliance; and be the iffue what it may, whether our wishes be oppofed or fucceed, we fhall at least have the confolation of reflecting, that the miscarriage is not chargeable to our own perverfenefs or folly. It is a dreadful, it is a two-edged evil, at once to lofe our aim, and incur the juft difpleasure of God by difobedience. "Thy will," O Father, "be done on earth, as it is in heaven." Amen.

History

[blocks in formation]

EXODUS XV. 1, 2.

Then fang Mofes and the children of Ifrael this fong unto the Lord, and fpake, faying, I will fing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the fea. The Lord is my strength and fong, and he is become my falvation : he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my Father's God, and I will exalt him.

To no one man has the world been fo much indebted for rational pleasure and useful knowledge, as to the inspired author of these facred books. Mofes, as he is the most ancient, fo he is by far the best writer that ever exifted. Never in one and the fame character were united talents fo various, fo rare, and fo valuable. He may without hesitation be pronounced, the most eloquent of hiftorians, the fublimeft of poets, the profoundest of fages, the moft fagacious of politicians, the most acute of legiflators, the most intrepid of heroes, the cleareft fighted of prophets, the most amiable of men. The qualities of his heart feem to ftrive for the maftery with thofe of the understanding: fo that it is difficult to determine whether, as the reputed fon of Pharaoh's daughter, as a voluntary exile from the fplendour of a court, as the fympathizing friend of his afflicted brethren, as the bold protector of virgin innocence, as the contented fhepherd of Jethro's flock, as the magnanimous affertor of Ifraelitish

« PreviousContinue »