selfishness and indifference. Jordan was a kind of defence to them from the Canaanitish foe, and the cries of their oppressed brethren beyond the river, are drowned in the more interesting bleatings of their own flocks. The same spirit of selfishness is represented as pervading the tribes who inhabited the sea coasts, Dan and Asher, and who, subsisting by trade, and absorbed by the love of gain, steeled their hearts to the feelings of sympathy and humanity. Drawing their supplies from the ocean, they forget they have a country; and under the influence of one domineering lust, all the better claims of the human heart, are suppressed and silenced. They pursue their merchandize, as the others attended to their sheep farms, regardless what their wretched countrymen meanwhile endured. "For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart. Why abodest thou among the sheep-folds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea-shore, and abode in breaches," Verse 15-17.

Such is the general view of the state of Israel at this period, which the words of Deborah convey. The import of many of the expressions which the prophetess employs to convey her feelings on this occasion, we pretend not to understand or to explain. Is it any wonder that in a poetical composition upwards of three thousand years old, in a language so little studied, referring to a history of which the outline only is drawn, there should be many things difficult to be understood? This much is evident upon the face of it, that Israel at that unhappy period exhibited a spectacle, bearing but too near à resemblance to what our own times* have seen dreadfully realized. A whole host of foes, a world in arms, combined to work the downfall of a sinful de

* Great-Britain embroiled with France, Spain, Holland, America, and an armed neutrality.

voted country. Internal discord, the extinction of public virtue, the dominion of bare-faced iniquity-but, the arm of the Lord is revealed, and salvation is wrought.

The picture which the poetess draws of the desperate state of Israelitish affairs is truly affecting; and is a happy preparation for a display of that unexpected and astonishing relief, which had just turned their sorrow into gladness. Judah lulled asleep in listless inaction, without exertion, without existence; a fourth part of the national force, on the other side Jordan, careless, tending their flocks; another fourth devoted to their private traffic; the sword of judgment in the feeble hand of a female; confederated kings threatening their utter extirpation; enemies numerous, "strong and lively, and hating them with a cruel hatred;" what power can dissipate the gathered storm? That power which says to the roaring ocean, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." "They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera," Verse 20. Behold, all nature engaged in the cause of Israel's God. The heavenly host first take up the quarrel; angels, legions of "angels that excel in strength:" "the least of whom could wield these elements." The most powerful and splendid parts of inanimate nature feel the alarm, and join their influence; "the stars in their courses." The earth quickly hears the heaven; the waters swell and rage; Kishon increased, most probably, by the recent dreadful tempest which had fallen from the air, rises suddenly upon them, and, like the Red Sea of old, swallows up, as in a moment, the enemy and the avenger.

There is a singular force and beauty in the repetition of the name of the river, with the addition of the epithet "ancient." It is natural for men to value themselves on the antiquity of their country, and its cities. It is the fond term which, in the honest pride and exultation of our hearts, we affix to our own land; it seems to confer additional dignity and importance; we

associate in the idea, the valour and success of former times; we feel our hearts attracted as to a common parent; filial affection and brotherly love revive at the sound. In the enthusiasm of pious and poetical inspiration, she bestows animation and passion on the flood; she represents it as rising in pride and joy, and overflowing its banks, to serve the cause of ancient friends, lying under the rod of insolence and oppression. And the period pathetically closes, with the prophetess, in a single word, apostrophizing herself as the honoured, happy instrument of co-operating with intelligent and animated nature in trampling pride and cruelty into the dust. "O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength."

I have already anticipated much of what I had to say, on the subject of the glowing eulogium which Deborah pronounces on the conduct of "Jael, the wife of Heber." Permit me only to repeat, that in order to our fully adopting the sentiments of the Israelitish poetess, we must be acquainted with many circumstances of the case, which the conciseness of the sacred history enables us not to discover; that there is a singularity in the whole conduct and occasion of the business, which forbids it to be drawn into a precedent, and pleaded in ordinary cases as an example or an excuse; that we are to distinguish carefully betwixt the poetic ardour and enthusiasm of a female bard and patriot, and the calm, unimpassioned praise and censure of sound reason, or the deliberate approbation of the God of truth, mercy and justice. We know certainly that God cannot love nor commend perfidy, cruelty or revenge. But he justly may, and often does employ the outrageous passions of one great offender to punish those of another. And that through ignorance, prejudice, or wilful misconception, the wisest of men are very incompetent judges of the ways and works of the Almighty.

The winding up of this sacred poem, suggests the most satisfactory apology for the conduct of Jael, and accounts at the same time for the warmth of the strains


in which Deborah celebrates that conduct. It is the horrid use which conquerors usually made of victory, to which I allude. The wretched females of the vanquished people fell a prey to the brutal lust of the This was a case so common that "the mother of Sisera and her wise ladies" are represented as so lost to feminine delicacy and compassion as remorselessly to exult in the thought of portioning out the virgins of Israel to Sisera and his soldiers, as the mere instruments of a brutal pleasure; as an article of horrid booty for the lawless plunderer. "The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots? Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself, Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two? to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needle-work, of divers colours of needle-work on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?" Ver. 28, 29, 30. Now, may we not suppose both Jael and Deborah animated with a holy indignation against the intended violators of their sexes modesty and honour, and with a holy joy, on the defeat of their ungracious purpose? May we not innocently supposé a mixture of virtuous female spirit inspiring what the one acted and the other sung? Our pity for the fallen warrior and his untimely inglorious fate, must of course abate, when we consider that a righteous and merciful Providence, by whatever means, shortened a life, and stopped a career which threatened the life, the virtue, the happiness of thousands.

In personifying the character of Sisera's mother and her attendants, Deborah presents us with a happy imitation of a passage in the song of Moses on the triumphant passage of the Red Sea; where the poet insinuates himself, by a bold figure of eloquence, into the councils of Pharaoh, overhears their formidable reso

lutions, and in the close of the scene, rejoices in seeing their councils, once so much dreaded, turned into foolishness, by the grace and power of Heaven. "The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters," Exod. xv. 9, 10. So here, Deborah brings in the matrons of Canaan as anticipating the fruits of victory, prematurely enjoying the triumph of the subjection of the Israelitish damsels to their own pride, and the pleasure of their warriors; and she inspirits the gratitude and joy of her fair countrywomen, by gently hinting at the dreadful hazard which they had run. This too, of course, diminishes our concern for the cruel disappointment which the mother of Sisera endured, looking and looking, from her window, but still looking in vain for him who was never more to return; expecting and expecting that lingering chariot, which the ancient river Kishon had long ere now swept down its stream: flushed with hope, only to make calamity more bitter. And let that hope be for ever blasted, which could be accomplished only by what humanity shudders to think


Having thus enjoyed self-gratulation, and called forth the grateful congratulations of her delivered country, and with heroic ardour trampled on disappointed lust, insolence and ambition, she now aims a nobler flight. The world and its transitory interests and employments disappear. The throne of God meets her enraptured eye. Private, personal, national animosity are no more: all, all is lost in the higher unlimited, unchanging interest of the divine glory. "So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord." This is but a prophetic enunciation of what needs must be. After one revolution has obliterated another, one mortal interest swallowed another up-after the distinctions of Jew and Gentile, Greek

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