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Ifraelitifh liberty, or finally, as king in Jefhurun, ruling the thousands of Ifrael with meeknefs and wifdomhe most challenges our admiration and praife. Had the world never been favoured with his works, or were it now to be deprived of that precious treasure, the lofs were inconceivably great. Who does not fhudder at the thought? What a fearful gap in the history of mankind! What a blow to take, what a blank in fcience, what an impoverishing of the public stock of harmless pleasure, what an injury to the deareft, the best, the everlasting interefts of mankind!

The venerable man, who has for fo many evenings paft condescended to delight and inftruct us by the relation of events the most fingular, interefting and important, affumes this night a new character; and in ftrains the fweeteft and boldeft that bard ever fung; in verfes the loftiest that the imagination of poet ever dictated, roufes, warms, tranfports the mind. We forget the diftance of three thousand years. We feel ourselves magically conveyed to the banks of the Red Sea. We join in the acclamations of the redeemed of the Lord, as this fong of Mofes fwells upon our ear. "Then fang Mofes and the children of Ifrael this fong unto the Lord, and spake, faying, I will fing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the fea. For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots, and with his horfemen into the fea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the fea upon them; but the children of Ifrael went on dry land in the midft of the fea. The depths have covered them they fank into the bottom as a stone."* How wonderfully fuited to each other, the event and the celebration of it!

In fulfilling the promise made in the conclufion of the laft Lecture, and executing the business of the prefent, three objects are propofed. First, to attempt a vindication of the hiftory of the paffage of the Red

* Verfes 1, 19, 5.


Sea, from fomé objections which have been made to the credibility or miraculoufnefs of it. Secondly, to make a few criticisms on the facred hymn which was composed on the occafion, and now, in part, read in your hearing; in the view of pointing out a few of its more striking beauties. And, thirdly, to make a few remarks on facred poefy in general, tending to evince its fuperior excellency; and to point out the delicacy and difficulty of attempting to amplify or imitate what the inspired poets have written, as helps to devotion. In the first I fhall, without ceremony or apology, borrow the affiftance of the pious and learned author of Differtations, hiftorical, critical, theological and moral, on the most memorable events of the OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT hiftory,-James Saurin, late minifter of the French church at the Hague.* In the fec ond, I fhall fubmit to be inftructed by an ingenious, pious and eloquent profeffor of rhetoric in the univerfi ty of Paris, who has made choice of this paffage, exprefsly for the purpose of exemplifying the majefty, beauty and fimplicity of the fcripture ftyle. And in the third, I fhall do little more than tranfcribe from an elegant, penetrating and inftructive moralift of our own age and country. To return:

If we collect the feveral circumftances of this wonderful piece of hiftory, it will readily be acknowledged, that there is here presented to the mind one of the greatest, or rather a feries of the greatest miracles, which the hand of Omnipotence ever wrought in behalf of any nation. It is not therefore to be wondered at if the enemies of revelation have endeavoured to fully their luftre, and impeach their credibility.

Three methods have been employed for this purpofe-To afcribe thefe events to natural caufes-To put them on a footing with others related in profane history, and to represent them as contradictory and VOL. III. K inconfiftent.

*Tom. i. Difc. xlix.

Rollin Bel. Let. Tom. ii. Eloq. de Liv. Sacr.
Johnfon's Life of the poet Waller.

LECT. XI. inconfiftent. Three bulwarks of infidelity; as many grounds of triumph for truth.

First, these events, which we ascribe entirely to the almighty power of God, have been accounted for from the common and natural operation of caufe and effect. Eufebius has preferved and tranfmitted to us a fragment from an ancient author, Artapanes,* to this purpose: "Thofe of Memphis, one of the chief cities of ancient Egypt, allege, that Mofes perfectly understood the country; that he had accurately obferved the ebbing and flowing of the fea, and took advantage of the retreat of the tide to lead the people over. But they of Heliopolis relate the matter differently, faying, that while the king was pursuing the Israelites, Mofes, by the command of Heaven, ftruck the waters with a rod, upon which they immediately feparated, and left a fpacious and fafe paffage for that great multitude; and, that the Egyptians attempting to follow them the fame way, were dazzled and confounded by preternatural fires, loft their way, and by the reflux of the fea, were overtaken in the midst of the channel, and thus all perished either by water or by fire."

Now, granting to this quotation all the force that unbelief can give it, this evidently appears upon the face of it, that Mofes has vouchers of his divine legation, even in Egypt, even among the idolaters themfelves. If the Memphites accufe our hiftorian of endeavouring to make a natural pafs for a miraculous event, the Heliopolitans acknowledge that it was preternatural, and ascribe it to an immediate interpofition of Heaven. And this conceffion is important, when we confider that it comes from the mouth of an enemy.

Again, the fuppofition of the Memphites must be rejected by all thofe who pay any regard to the authority of Mofes, and of the other facred writers. He himself indeed admits, that the effect was forwarded by

* Eufeb. Prepar. Lib. ix. Cap. xxvii.


the affistance of a strong east wind. And whatever he ascribes to that, may seem so far to derogate from the greatness of the miracle. But it is no lefs true, that he throws out nothing like an infinuation that the paffage of the vaft hoft of Ifrael was produced by the intervention of fecond caufes. And all the infpired authors, who, after him, have mentioned it or alluded to it, acknowledge only a fupernatural agency. Thus Jofhua, who was an eye-witnefs and a party deeply concerned in the event. "For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were paffed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God forever."* Thus, Pfalm lxvi. 6. "He turned the fea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot; there did we rejoice in him." And lxxviii. 13. "He divided the sea, and caufed them to pass through, and he made the waters to stand as an heap." And cvi. 9. "He rebuked the Red Sea alfo, and it was dried up: fo he led them through the depths as through the wildernefs." And Heb. xi. 29. "By faith they paffed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians affaying to do were drowned." So that Mofes, Joshua, David, and Paul, have but one and the fame opinion on this fubject.

But farther, the effence of a miracle does not always confist in counteracting or fufpending the laws of nature. One of the most contemptible of the adversaries of religion has weakly imagined,† that by a fingle objection he was able to invalidate one of the bulwarks, and shake one of the pillars of revelation. miraculous effects," fays he, "are referred, by the confeffion of fcripture hiftorians themselves, to the operation of second causes. It was by warming the K2 body

* Josh. iv. 23, 24.

Spinofa Tract. Theol. Polit. Cap. vi.


body of a child, that Elijah brought him to life again. It was by applying clay, or duft mingled with fpittle, to the eyes of a blind man, that Jefus Chrift restored him to fight. It was by a wind, that Mofes brought lecufts upon Egypt, and obtained a paffage through the Red Sea." To this it is replied-That the most common and natural things become miracles, when they present themselves precifely at the time and in the manner prefcribed by Him who commands their appearance, for the confirmation and establishment of a certain doctrine. What fo natural and common, for example, as to see the fun fhining one moment in full and unobstructed glory, and the next darkened and concealed by clouds? But, if a perfon publishing a new doctrine as divine, fhould undertake to prove his miflion by changing the appearance of the bright orb of day, at his pleafure, and by fhewing him either in unclouded majefty, or eclipfed and thorn of his beams, according as he gave the word; and fhould. we behold this very ordinary, natural phenomenon actually and uniformly obeying the mandate, would not fuch an event, however natural in itself, become. preternatural and miraculous from its circumstances? Ts, there might be occafion for the influence of the wind, to favour and facilitate the paffage of Ifrael.. But, how was it poffible for their leader, by mere human fagacity, to difcover that a wind from fuch a quarter, fpringing up exactly at such an hour, fhould harden the bottom of the deep?

But, fuppofing the philofophy of Mofes fufficiently accurate to affure him, that at fuch a time he might in fafety march over his cumberfome retinue; could it inform him alfo that Pharaoh and his captains would certainly be mad enough to follow them through that dangerous route? Could it affure him that the rafhnefs of the tyrant, and the law which regulated the flowing of the fea, would exactly keep time, fo as effectually to produce the deftruction of his whole army? The flux and reflux of the tide were known


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