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in so great an army, led by the sovereign in person, in a land renowned for natural knowledge, was there no man astronomer enough to know, that the difference of a few hours is every thing in a case of this sort; that to be in such a spot, at such a time, was inevitable destruction? Incredible! impossible! Finally, it is altogether inconceivable that the space of three or four hours, the utmost that an ebb merely natural could have afforded them, was sufficient for the transition of such an astonishing multitude as that which Moses conducted. The learned Calmet has so fully demonstrated this point,” as to enforce the eon. clusion, that no degree of human knowledge could have disclosed to Moses a foresight of the events which proved so propitious to him. Not therefore to the superiority of genius, but to a power divine, the praise is to be ascribed. And to the same principle we must recur in order to explain the mighty difference which Providence puts between the Israelites and the Egyp. tians, in the midst of the Red Sea. Attempts have been made to debase the dignity of this great event, by reducing it to the level of similar appearances recorded by profane historians. That deenerate son of Israel, Josephus, first started this ob. jection. These are his words; “This,” speaking of the passage of the Red Sea, “I have related with all the circumstances, as I find them in our sacred authors. Nobody ought to think it an incredible thing, that a people which lived in the innocence and simplicity of the first ages, might have found a way through the sea to save themselves. Whether it was that the sea itself opened it for them, or whether it was done by the will of God: since the same thing happened long after to the Macedonians, when they passed through the sea of Pamphylia, under the conduct of Alexander, when God thought fit to make use of that people for the destruction of the Persian empire, as it is affirmed by all the historians who have written the life of that prince. However, I leave all men to judge of this matter as they think fit.” Thus far Josephus.* The other instances which some presume to be put in competition with this, are the approach of Scipio with his army to the attack of New Carthage, by means of an extraordinary ebb at the change of the moon, recorded by Livy:f a similar ebb of the river Euphrates, related by Plutarch, in his life of Lucullus; and, a flood altogether as singular, upon the coast of Holland, in the year 1672; which kept up for twelve whole hours, and was apparently the means of preserving that republic from the consequences of a joint attack of the fleets of England and France. It is handed down to us in the life of the famous admiral De Ruyter, who had the command of the Dutch squadron at that time. Neither your time nor patience admitting of an inquiry into the truth of these several facts, we satisfy ourselves with observing, that admitting them to be true, not one of them is any way worthy to be compared with the Mosaic account of the passage across the Red Sea. The pointed and particular prediction of Moses; the rod employed, and the instantaneousness of the effect; the facility and speed of the passage; the rashness of the Egyptians; their tragical end; every thing in short concurs to render this an unparalleled event. And nothing but an immoderate desire of depreciating the miracles of the sacred history, could have attempted to diminish this celebrated transit into a comparison with any of the other events which are alluded to. The third objection is, to the truth of the history; pretended to be taken from the history itself. The time allotted by Moses, by his own account, for the congregation, consisting of so many myriads, to pass over, is considered by the objectors as much too short for the purpose. But in order to support it, they are obliged to go into uncertain, fanciful and unsupported conjectures, about the breadth of the Red Sea at the place where the passage was opened. They make the breadth of that passage just what it suits their own arbitrary conjecture and calculation. They must needs constrain a great multitude, in very peculiar circumstances, unaccustomed to discipline, stimulated by fear, and borne on the wings of hope, to move with the leisure and deliberation of a regular army. They will not deign to acknowledge the power and grace of the Most High in every part of the transaction. They overlook the description given of that people, Psalm cv. 37. as a people full of strength and vigour, and “not one sickly among them.” They forget what God himself soon after says of them, “You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle's wings, and brought you unto myself.” We conclude, that as the case taken altogether was singular, unprecedented, and followed by nothing like it; so the particular circumstances of it are likewise singular and unexampled, and will, with every candid person, bear out Moses, the sacred historian, against the charge of being inconsistant with himself. We proceed to the second object which we proposed, namely, to point out a few of the more striking beauties of the sacred song, which was composed j sung in grateful acknowledgment of that great deliverance which we have been contemplating. What will undoubtedly give it a high value in the estimation of many is, that it is the most ancient morsel of poetry which the world is in possession of being three thousand three hundred and thirty-seven years old, that is, six hundred and forty-seven years before Homer, the most ancient and the best of heathen bards, lived or sung. But its antiquity is its slightest excellency. The general turn of it is great, the thoughts nobly
* Desert. sur le passage de la Mer Rouge.
simple, the style sublime, the expression strong, the pathos sweet, the figures natural and bold. It abounds throughout with images which at once strike, warm, astonish and delight. The occasion of it you well know. The poet's view is to indulge himself in transports of joy, admiration and gratitude, and to inspire the people with the same sentiments. Accordingly he thus impetuously breaks out, Verse 1. “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Here the tremendous majesty of God the deliverer, and the lively gratitude of the people saved, the leading object of the piece, are placed instantly and powerfully in sight; and they are never dropt for one moment, to the end. I, in the singular number, is much more energetic and affecting than we in the plural would have been. The triumph of Israel over the Egyptians did not resemble the usual triumphs of nation over nation; where the individual is overlooked and lost in the general. No; every thing here is peculiar and personal. Every Israelite for himself reflects with joy on his own chains now for ever broken in pieces. He seems to exult over his own tyrantmaster now subdued under him, and hails his personal liberty now effectually secured. For it is natural to the heart of man, in extreme danger, to refer every thing to himself, and to consider himself as all in all. “The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea:” for the same reason the horse is much more forcible than horses would have been; it marks strongly the suddenness, the universality, the completeness of the destruction. The Egyptian cavalry, numerous, for. midable, covering the face of the ground, is represented in a moment, by a single effort, at one blow, overthrown, overwhelmed, as if they had been but one horse and one rider. Verse 2. “Jehov AH is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.” It is lawful to say, that the poet employs the most exquisite art, in representing this great deliverance, in every part and every view of it, as the work of JF Hov Ah: the great “I AM THAT I AM:” that name of God, by which he chose to be known to Israel through the whole of those memorable transactions. My strength, that is, the source or cause of my strength: and it points out the great God as the courage and force of Israel, without the necessity of their exerting any of their own. “My song,” that is, the subject of it. No instrument divides the praise with him. No power, no wisdom is employed but his own. He planned, arranged, executed everything by himself. “HE is become my salvation.” The fine writers of Greece or Rome would probably have said, “He hath saved me.” But Moses says much more; The Lord hath undertaken himself to work deliverance for me: he hath made my salvation his own, his personal concern, and is become to me every thing I Can Want.
“He is My God.” Every word is emphatical. “He,” in opposition to the gods of Egypt, which cannot hear, nor see, nor save. “My God:” all attentive to my interest and safety, as if he had no creature but me to take care for: and therefore my God: for I acknowledge not, I never will acknowledge, any other. “My father's God.” This repetition is most beautifully tender and pathetic. He whose greatness I adore, is not a strange God, unknown till now; a protector for a moment. No, he is the ancient patron of my family, his goodness is from generation to generation. I have a thousand domestic proofs of his constant, undiminished affection; and he is now making good to me only that which he solemnly promised to my forefathers. And how has he effected this?
“The Lo R D is a man of war.”
An ordinary writer would probably have represented