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titled to explain, to justify, or to arraign the more dark and mysterious ways of Providence? And which is the greater pride and presumption, that which is for ever charging God foolishly," or that which sets itself up as the bold interpreter and assistant of eternal wisdom and justice? Observe,
II. An obvious reason why these difficulties are permitted in the frame of nature, the conduct of Providence, and the revelation of the grace of God. It is, to form us to submission, to exercise our patience, to fix our attention, to whet our industry, to repress our boldness, to increase and confirm our confidence in God. It is a mark of respect to superior wisdom and virtue, not always to require an explanation, but to repose implicit trust in known goodness and integrity. A wise man, in the consciousness of his own rectitude, disdains to acknowledge the obligation of clearing up his conduct to every prating meddler who may think proper to call him to account; and who has neither a right nor a capacity to judge of his motives. And shali we withhold from our Maker, that decent respect which we so cheerfully pay to a fallible, imperfect fellow creature? Shall we refuse to take the God of truth upon his word? Shall we think it much if in some cases he exact belief without his vouchsafing to assign a reason? "Why dost thou strive against him? He giveth not account of any of his matters," Job xxxiii. 13. Our sacred bard has sublimely expressed this noble sentiment, drawn from the volume of inspiration. Considering the divine Providence under the image of a vast sealed up book, chained to the eternal throne, containing the character, the revolutions, the destination of angels and men, but closed to the inspection of every created eye. We observe,
III. That it is doing the grossest injustice to the wise and righteous Governor of the world, to suppose him in every point approving the person or the conduct by which he carries on his great. designs. Cyrus
and Nebuchadnezzar are styled the servants of God, though the one knew him not, and the other openly defied him. The rod which he condescendeth to use, for the chastisement of disobedient and gainsaying children, when their reformation is accomplished, he often breaks and dashes on the ground. Every instrument he employs must necessarily partake of human imperfection; but it follows not that he is pleased with imperfection. The devices of Satan himself shall in the issue redound to the glory of God, as "the wrath of man must praise him;" but that wrath is hateful to his nature, and those devices his wisdom counteracts, and his justice condemns. We are not therefore to mistake the patriotie ardour of a female Israelitish bard, for the calm, the merited applause of the God of mercy and truth. I can easily conceive the person, whom national partiality, resentment or gratitude would celebrate in strains of admiration, to be regarded with adhorrence by the Father of mercies, the avenger of falsehood, the refuge of the miserable. And while Israelitish Deborah, in the heat of her zeal, makes the eulogium of a woman so unlike herself, and styles Jael, the wife of Heber, who murdered her sleeping guest, "blessed above women," why may not a christain Dorcas, a woman of mercy and humanity, "a woman full of good works, and alms deeds," under the mild and gentle influence of that religion which she believes, feels and practises, reprobate the cruel and prefidious act, and its author, in terms of the severest indignation? Indeed, the conduct of Jael, considered by itself, is a horrid complication of all that is base and detestable in human nature; an infamous violation of sacred truth; a daring infringement of the law of nature and nations; a flagrant breach of the laws of hospitality, which the most savage natures and nations have respected as sacred; the vilest degradation of her character as a woman; the most barbarous exhibition of a little mind, enjoying the triumph
over unsuspecting credulity, and defenceless misery. "Cursed be her anger, for it was fierce, and her wrath, for it was cruel." Observe,
IV. Into what dreadful extremes we impetuously rush, when the radical principles of our nature are once subdued. Time must have been, that the idea of shedding the blood of another, would have chilled the blood in Jael's veins. What must it have cost her, to overcome the timidity, the tenderness, the compassion of her sex? But being overcome, lo, each gentle, feminine passion is lulled asleep; and frantic zeal, or demoniac revenge alone is awake. Ah me, what beast of prey so savage and unrelenting, as a human being destitute of pity! Ah me, how easily the best things degenerate into the worst! Of what importance is it, to guard against the first deviation from the simple and direct path! Who can promise for himself, that he shall stop, return, and regain the right road, when he pleases? Observe,
V. That the rarity of the instances, the peculiarity of the situations, and the singularity of the spirit and conduct, apparent in the female characters here brought into public view, forbid, by more than a positive law, female interference in matters of business and of government. Believe me, my fair friends, it is not stripping you of your just importance, it is increasing and securing it, to say, the shade is your native, your proper station: it is there you shine, it is there you are useful, it is there you are respectable. Your heart and your understanding assent to the truth of it. Is there a woman among you, who would not prefer in obscurity, the affection of her husband, the attachment and gratitude of her children, the estimation and respect of her friends, to all the public splendour of Deborah's magisterial power, and prophetic spirit; to all the blushing, empurpled honours of Jael's more than masculine resentment? It is not your want of talents for government we dispute; it is the suitableness of goverment to your talents, yournatural dispositions, your real honour and happiness.
A wise and good woman never can desire to become the object of universal admiration, nor the subject of every one's discourse. If you aim at so much, depend upon it, you will lose something of what you have, and what is infinitely better than all the incense of flattery, than all the sonnets of a thousand poetic swains. In the history of our own country, the reigns of two female sovereigns shine with conspicuous lustre. They were periods of great national prosperity and glory. But the weakest of women would not surely thence infer, that the sceptre ought always to be committed to female hands. With all due deference to the memory of an Elizabeth and an Anne, and the general felicity which their administration diffused over the land; Great Britain can look with pride and exultation to a Queen, whose personal glory and virtues far exceed theirs. Not a sovereign indeed, but a partner of the throne: who shines in reason's eye, because she affects not to shine; reigns over willing hearts, because she disclaims all rule; is great and blessed among women, because she nobly sinks the princess in the woman, the wife, the mother, and the friend.
We encroach no further on your patience, by extending our observations on the subject. And the rather, as a review of the song of Deborah, composed on this mememorable occasion, will, if God permit, bring it again before us, and place female genius in our eye, in a new, and not unpleasing point of light; uniting poetic and musical skill to fervent devotion, heroic intrepidity, and prophetic inspiration. A combination how rare, how instructive, how respectable!
HISTORY OF DEBORAH.
Then sang Deborah, and Barak the son of Abinoam, on that day, saying, Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel. Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water. The mountains melted from before the Lord, even that Sinai from before the Lord God of Israel.JUDGES V. 1-5.
To some it is the gift of Heaven, to perform actions worthy of being recorded; to others it is given, to preserve the memory of illustrious actions, in writings worthy of being read. To both, the world is under great obligations, and gratefully permits the historian or the poet, to divide the palm with the hero, or the sage, whom they celebrate. To the writer, perhaps, the more ample share of praise is due. The atchievements of valour and strength are local and temporary. They benefit but a few, and quickly spend their force. But the historic and poetic page, more durable, more diffused, and more conspicuous than monuments of brass and marble, is an universal and a perpetual