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acknowledged as at once just and merciful: just, in recompencing tribulation to them that troubled his covenanted church and people; merciful in giving his troubled people rest.
Vengeance; the vengeance of God! Fearful thought! but oh, it is sweetly relieved, by the reflection, that the right of executing vengeance, is claimed by the God of mercy, with awful propriety, as bis own, This dreadful thunder no arm but his own must presume to wield; Vengeance is mine, I will repay, 'saith the Lord." If I must be punished, "let me fall now into the hand of the LORD, for his mercies are great and let me not fall into the hands of man." The only vengeance permitted to man is a vengeance of kindness and forgiveness; the only coals which he must scatter, are the coals of the fire of love. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink : ...." Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you: that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust," Matt. v. 44, 45.
The voluntary actions of the people, in" offering themselves" to fight their own battles, are with singuJar beauty ascribed to the wisdom and goodness of God who has the "hearts of all in his hand," and can "turn them which way soever he will." He who could have saved by miracles, will save by means. If there be a spirit of concord to resist the common enemy, it is of the LORD. If internal dissension and the enemy without, we behold a righteous God infatuating those whom he means to destroy.
Having thus simply proposed the glorious subject of her praise, "the sweet enthusiast" prepares to unfold and amplify it. She throws her eyes over the face of
the whole earth views all nations and their potentates, as interested in the glowing theme; and summons an admiring world to her song. "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," Verse 3. What so delightful to a grateful and affectionate heart, as the enumeration of benefits received! What benefactor once to be compared with the Giver of all good, "the Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good gift, and every perfect!"
Having proposed her theme and summoned her august audience, the divine poetess seems to pause for a moment, as if awed by the presence of such a splendid audience, and overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task she has undertaken, and with renovated strength, aims her flight, like the eagle, up to her native skies. The deliverance of that day, brings former wonders of mercy to mind; and "God, the same yesterday, to-day and forever," is seen and adored in all Instead of expatiating on the goodness of the Most High in strains addressed to the "kings and princes" whom she had called to attend, she rises at once to
JEHOVAH'S awful throne," loses all sense of created majesty, and loses herself in the contemplation of infinite perfection. "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," Verse 4, 5.
The former part of this animated address probably refers to that passage in the history of Israel which we have in the book of Numbers, chap. xx. relating to the passage of Israel through the land of kumea, which was humbly and peaceably solicited, and unkindly refused. Of this, some particulars might have been preserved by tradition to the times of Deborah, though not admitted into the sacred canon, and suggested to
her the lofty expressions which she here employs in celebrating the praises of Israel's God. Though he would not permit them to force a passage by the sword, through the country given to the posterity of Esau their brother, yet in guiding them round the confines, of Idumea, in the majestic symbol of his presence, the pillar of cloud and fire, the great God might, by some sensible tokens, make Edom to know, it was not from want of power, but of inclination, that he led his people in a circuitous course. The language of the prophetess, divested of its bold figurative dress, is simply this, "The wonders of this day, O Lord, recall and equal the greatest wonders of ages past. We have seen the stars in their courses fighting against our enemies, as our fathers of old saw mountain and plain, heaven and earth, giving testimony to the presence and favor of the God of Israel. The field of Edom and the vale of Kishon are equally filled with the glory of the Lord. We recognize in the hand which has discomfited the host of Sisera, the same almighty power which restrained the Idumean, and conducted our ancestors, if not the nearest, certainly the best road to Canaan."
The latter part of the address evidently refers to the awful solemnity with which the law was given from Mount Sinai; in which all nature, without a figure, bare witness to the presence and power of nature's God." The earth trembled, the hills melted like wax," the face of heaven was covered with blackness of darkness, lightning flashed, the hoarse thunder roared, the louder and more dreadful voice of the Eternal drowned its tremendous sound, men's hearts fail them for fear, Moses quakes.
What matter of joy to Israel, that he who of old had thus revealed his fiery law, that day, that very day had come riding ou the swift wings of the wind for their salvation! To fix these emotions of rising gratitude and wonder, the bard dexterously and imperceptibly slides into a review of the recent distress and mi
sery of her unhappy country; distress yet fresh in every one's memory, misery out of which they were just beginning to emerge: and she takes occasion to pay a just tribute of respect to the memory of a great man, whom God had honored to be the instrument of redemption to an oppressed people.
Those who are themselves the most deserving of praise, are ever the most liberal in bestowing it, where it is due. It is a slender and contemptible merit which seeks to shine by obscuring, concealing, or diminishing the worth of another. Deborah is but the more estimable, for the frank and unreserved commendation which she confers on departed or contemporary virtue and talents. "In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the high ways were unoc'cupied, and the travellers walked through by-ways. The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel," Verse 6, 7. What a melancholy picture have we here of a ruined, wretched country? By means of oppression, all intercourse is interrupted; commerce is languishing to death; life and property have become insecure: every thing dear to man is at the mercy of a haughty tyrant; ever exposed to the ravages of a lawless band of armed ruffians: the scauty and dejected inhabitants tremble at the sound of their own feet, at the sight of their own shadow; behold them skulking from place to place, stealing through by-ways, to carry on a starved and precarious traffic; suffering much, and fearing worse.
Ah, little do we reflect, living at our ease, enjoying the blessings of mild and equitable government, "sitting every one under his vine, and under his fig-tree, while there is none to make us afraid :" little do we reflect on the misery and tears of myriads of our fellowcreatures oppressed, and there is none to help them; whose cry incessantly rises up to heaven, but rises in despair. Think what multitudes of the bold and har
dy Africans are yearly driven or trepanned into servitude, through the violence or craft of their own countrymen, or, through the more fierce and unrelenting principle of European avarice, which has reduced slavery to a system, has invented an article of commerce which God and nature abhor, and concur to prohibit; and what is the subject of the infamous, impious traffic? the souls and bodies of men.
Who can turn his eyes, without weeping tears of blood, to the fertile soil, the clement air, and the simple, harmless inhabitants of the eastern world, and observe the gifts of nature perverted into a curse, the goodness of Providence thwarted by the cursed lust of power, or more cursed lust of wealth, and the patient, uncomplaining Asiatic, perishing for hunger, in his own luxuriant domain: and the Ganges disgorging millions of fetid corpses into the ocean, the corpses of wretches who died for lack of food, to purchase for a still greater wretch an empty title, and a seat among the lawgivers of the wisest, most polished and humane of the nations of the western world.
Look to the thin and scanty remains of the populous and prosperous nations of the southern hemisphere, and a land whose veins are gold, and its mountains silver, of which Spanish cruelty and avarice have been constrained to make a desert, in order to secure the possession of it. Behold the sullen, dejected native trampling under his feet gold and diamonds, which he dare not put forth his hand to touch; and reproaching Heaven with heaping upon him, in its anger, treasures which have attracted, not the pious zeal and attention, but the infernal rage, of men who nevertheless dare to call themselves christians.
Behold, yet again-No, I sicken at the horrid prospect and will no longer encroach upon the feelings of humanity, by exhibiting the more than savage barbarity of systematic cruelty and oppression. God of mercy, put a speedy end to these horrors! assert thy