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Joseph Stennett.

The Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 28)
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delivered from the noife of archers in the places
of drawing water, there fhall they rehearfe
the righteous aBs of the Lord ". It feems
they were continually liable to the excurfions
and infults of the Canaanites, who ravaged
and fpoil'd their pofTeflions ; fo that they
could not ftep abroad without running the
risk of falling into their cruel hands. War,
and the fatal train of miferies that attended

' Chap. 4. ver. 5. I "> Vcr. 6, 7, 8.

k Deut. J I. j{0. I " Ver. 11.

! Judges 4. 1,2. I

2 the



Serm. V. for the vi&ory at Hochfter. 219

the conquefts their enemies had made, had de-
populated the villages of that fertile country,
had ftopp d the courfe of their commerce,
had render'd their publick roads defolate,
and carry'd terror into the very gates of their
fortified places. Multitudes of Ifraelltes were
intirely difarm'd ; and that warlike people,
whofe diftant fame when they came out of
Egypt made the inhabitants of Palejiine trem-
ble °, were now become fo weak and defenfe-
lefs, that fcarce a fword or (hield was to be
found among 40000 of them. Nor could
they go out to draw water for themfelves or
cattle without the peril of their lives, being
conftantly infefted with the tumultuous noife
of archers that lay in wait to oppofe them.

This mifery was the lefs tolerable to all
who had any fenfe of religion and honour,
in that they were abandoned to the fury of a
heathen prince of one of thofe nations that
had been conquered by tHeir anceflors, and
made to ferve under tribute p \ and whom,
by a fupine negligence, added to the reft of
their fins and follies, they had fuffered to
grow to this exorbitant power : fo that the
people they had formerly fubdued, were now
become fnares and traps to them, fcourges in
their fdes, and thorm in their eyes 'i, as Jofhua
had foretold them. The Canaanites who
formerly ferved them, were now become
their maflers j they who were once tributary

» Exod. 1$. 14. 1 "^ Jolh, 23. 13.

P Jofhf 17. 13. I

to



2 20 A thankfgtvtng fermon

to them, were now their infolent governors.
The worfhippers of idols trampled on the
people, who were introduced into this country
by the tnighty hand and out-firetched arm of
the li'uing God ; who made way for them by
a long train of miraculous fucceffes, fubduing
all that oppofed them by his [word and by his
bow.

Under thefe unhappy circumftances, there
was, humanly fpeaking, no appearance of
regaining their liberty : for what could be
expeded from a people whofe fpirits had
been long enfeebled and dejedled by a tedious
ftate of fervitude, and who were moreover
naked and defenfelefs, againft a powerful
monarch, who had a very numerous army
and nine hundred chariots of iron in the field ?
An army that had been fo flefh'd with re^
peated victories, and fo us'd to fuccefs, that
the mother of Sifera their general, as well
as the reft of the ladies of king Jabin's court,
could by no means entertain a thought that
they had fail'd in their prefent expedition,
while yet they could not but wonder at their
unufual ftay in the field. They knew not
how to imagine, that the Ifraelites could ever
have afiembled troops enough to make head
againft them, or could have been furniihed
with arms and infpired with courage fuffi-
cient to defeat an army, fo great and fo well
appointed as that under the command of
Silera j and are therefore well defcribed in
this excellent fong to have exprefled them-

felves



Serm. V. for the vi^ory at Ho chRct, 12 1

felves after the following manner : The mo^
ther of Sifera looked out at a window^ a?id
cried thro the lattice, Why is his chariot fo
long in coming ? why tarry the wheels of his
chariots f Her wife ladies anfwered her^ yea
fhe returned aiifwer to herfelf-. Have they not
fped ? have they not divided the prey ? to
every man a damfel or two ; to Sifera a prey
of divers colours of needle-work on both fideSy
meet for the necks of them that take thefpoil ' ?

The troops of Jabin were the more formi-
dable, in that they appear to have been join-
ed by fome other princes of Canaan. 'The
kings came and fought^ then fought the kings
of Canaan in Taanach, by the waters of Me-
giddo ^ Thefe kings were confederate with
Jabin, and perhaps tributary to him : for
he reigned in Hazor *, which was the head
of many kingdoms ^ j and a prince of the fame
name was king of Hazor, and affembled di-
vers other princes together to oppofe Jofhua
when he invaded Canaan, and received an
overthrow as fatal by his hand, as this mo-
narch, with whom our text is concerned,
did from the hands of Deborah and Barak.

Nay, fome of the tribes of Ifrael, whether
thro' defpair of ever recovering their antient
liberty, or a fervile fear of aggravating their
bondage, or a ftupid negled: of their own
true intereit, or a fpirit of fadlion, and un-
reafonable difaffedtion to the good government

' Ver. 28, 29, 30. I ' Chap. 4. z.

^ Vcr. 19. I « Jofh. U. 10.

and



2 2 2 A thankfgiving fermon

and wile condud of Deborah, declined the
necelTary fervice of that memorable day, and
gave the prophetefs jufl reafon in the midfl
of her triumph to upbraid them with the lofs
of fo glorious an occafion of Hgnalizing their
valour, and of teftifying their affedion to

their country. For the divijions of Reuben

there were great thoughts of heart. Why abo-
deft thou among the fieepfolds, to hear the
bleatings of the flocks f For the divifions of
Reuben there were great fearchings of heart.
Gilead abode beyond Jordan^ and why did Dan
retnain in Jhips ^ Jlfier continued on the fea-
Jhore, and abode in his breaches ^.

And that which added a very great weight
to all the other difcouragements under which
this miferable people laboured, was the great-
nefs of their fin, in having abandoned the
fervice of the true God. They cried to him
indeed when they were in diflrefs, but their
frequent revolts fliew that their praj^ers and
tears often proceeded rather from the fenfe of
their fufferings, than that of their fins. Was
it likely that that God who had been fo often
provoked by them and their fathers, who re-
turned as conftantly to their former tranf-
greffions as he repeated his wonted favours,
would now again deliver them ? Might they
not juftly expedt that he would now be as
deaf to their prayers, as they had before been
to his commands ? Yet fo gracious and in-
dulgent was the great God to this perverfe

^ Ver. 15, 16, 17.

and



Serm. V. for the viEiory at Hochftet. 523

and ungrateful people who had dealt trea-
cheroufly with him, by violating his cove-
nant and forfaking his worfhip, that when
they feemed in the leafl fenfible of their ini-
quity and folly, he heard their fupplication,
and wrought deliverance for them. And tho
it appears not from the context that there
was fo great and general a reformation a-
mong them, as might have been expected,
both from the facred authority and fhining
example of that great prophetefs, who then
judged the tribes of Ifrael ; yet God was
pleafed to crown her government with a glo-
rious vidtory, as a reward to her extraordina-
ry zeal, and a return to the fervent prayers
of thofe pious Ifraelites, who ftgUd for the
abo?mnatio7is that had been committed^ and
ufed their utmoll endeavours to reform the
manners of the people.

A viiftory to a nation under fo great op-
preffion, and living in fear of being loaded
with yet heavier chains, was a kind of re-
furredlion. The revival of the glorious caufe
of their religion and liberty, that feemed to
be expiring together, furnifhed an occafion
of joy and thankfgiving fit to be celebrated
by the tongue and pen of that prophete^,
who had, under God, the chief hand in the
work, and the principal fhare in the honour
of that happy day, which at once brought
deftrudtion on the forces of Jabin, and re-
turned liberty and peace to the tribes of
lirael.

•A



1 24 -^ thank/giving fermon

A vl(ftory very glorious to Deborah and
Barak, in that at the head of ten thoufand
IfraeUtes they gave an intire defeat to an ar-
my much fuperior in number. And Deborah
faid to Barak^ U/>, for this is the day in which
the Lord hath delivered Sifera into thy hand :
Is ?iot the Lord gone out before thee ? So Barak
went down from mount 'labor, and ten thou-
fand men after him ; and the Lord difcomfited
Sifera, and all his chariots, and all his hofi^
with the edge of the fword before Barak : fo
that Sifera lighted down of his chariot, and
fled away on his feet. But Barak purfu^d af-
ter the chariots and after the hoji to Harojheth
of the Gentiles : and all the hojl of Sifera fell
on the edge of the fword, and there was not a
man left ".

All things concurred to give the Canaanites
a mortal blow. T^ hey fought from heaven, fays
the prophetefs, the far s in their courfes fought
againji Sifera "^. Some interpreters tliink
thunder and lightning, with great (howers
of rain or hail, which God is faid to referve
againji the time of trouble, againji the day of
battle and war '', were fent from heaven to
the affiftance of the Ifraelites. Others fup-
pofe that expreflion denotes that the flars con-
tributed to compleat the victory, in furnifh-
ing light to the troops of Ifrael to purfue the
routed enemy. 'Tis the opinion of others,
that it relates to the miniftry of angels, who

" Chap. 4. 14, 15, K. I « Job J 8. 22, 23, OV.

* Chap. 5. 20. I

arc



Serm. V. for the vi&ory at Hochflet. 21$

are called ftars in the book of Job ^, and
have been often employed to execute the
divine juftice on the enemies of the church.
And others imagine it to be a poetical allu-
fion, reprefenting the higher ground from
' which the Ifraelites fought, the good order
and difcipline obferved among them, and
■ the courage and refolution with which they
maintained their ground and beat the enemy
from his : fo that they feemed to fight from
heaven, and appeared regular in all their
motions, like the ftars in their courfe.

Thofe of the enemy who were not over-
taken by the fword were driven into the river
Kifhon J and their horfe were as intirely
broken and deflroyed as their foot, as appears
by Deborah's fong : T'he river Kijhon Jwept
them away^ that antient river the river Ki^
JJ:>on. O my foul, thou haji trodden down
Jirength. 'Then were the horje-hoofs broke?i by
means of the prancings^ the prancings of their
mighty ones ^.

This adion was the more memorable, in
that it was firft concerted and afterwards car-
ried on by the prudent management and
good conduct of a woman. It was Deborah
who fent Barak on this glorious expedition %
and rouzed the courage of the people to
make a brave attempt to fhake off the fervile
yoke that had fo long gall'd them, to vindi-
cate their antient rights, and recover their

y Job 28. 7. I » tee chap. 4.

^ Judges 5. 21,22. J

Vol. I. Q_ lofl



2 26 ^ thankfgiving ferrnon

loft honour. And as Sifera, the general of
king Jabin's troops, inglorioufly fled from
the fword of one woman, the divine provi-
dence fo ordered it that he (hould fall into
the hands of another ; and inftead of dying
in the bed of honour, he fell by no other
weapon than a nail driven thro' his temples
with a hammer.

So vain was the confident expectation of
viftory in Sifera's mother, and the other
court-ladies who flatter'd her empty hopes,
when the great God thought fit to confound
their pride and ftain their glory, to make the
world know that there is no king faved by the
multitude of a hoft : a mighty man is not deli-
vered by much firength. A horfe is a vain
thing for fafety ; neither fiall he deliver any
by his great firength. But that, T^he eye of the
Lord is upon them that fear him^ upon them
that hope in his mercy **.

To conclude this head : The confequence
of this wonderful victory was not only the
re-ellablifliment of the liberty of the Ifrae-
iites, but the difiipation of all their fears ;
the enemy being overthrown beyond a pofii-
bility of rallying again. And as a peace of
forty years enfued upon it, fo at the expira-
tion of that time, when their fins provoked
God again to fend them a fcourge, it was by
another hand that he challifed them *". So
that this battel at the river Kiflion proved a
decifive ftroke in favour of Ifrael ; and happy
•» Pfal. 3 J. i6, 17, 18. [ i.

great*



Serin. V. for the 'victory at Hochflet. 235

great, T'hou haft enlarged my Jieps tinder me^
that my feet did not flip. I have piirfued mine
enemies^ and overtaken them : neither did I
turn again till they were confumed. I have
wounded them that they were not able to rife ;
they are fallen under my feet. For thou haft gird-
ed me with flrength mito battle : thou hajifub-
dued under me thofe that rofe up againft me:
T!hou hajl alfo given me the necks of mine enenties^
that I might deflroy them that hate me *", 6cc.
We will rejoice in thy falvation, and in the
name of our God we will fet up our banners :
the Lord fulfil all thy petitions. Now know I
that the Lord faveth his anointed : he will hear
him from his holy heaven with the faving


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Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 28)