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

. (page 19 of 28)
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 19 of 28)
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haft put to Jhame them that hated us. In God
we boaji all the day long : and praife thy name
for ever ".

When Mofes declares that their enemies
Jhould be found liars unto them^ or Jhould lie
unto them ; it may either fignify the fraud
and perfidioufnefs of their enemies, which
yet fhould not fecure them from the forces
of the conquering tribes, who fhould execute
juft vengeance upon them for their treachery
by treading on their high places j or that

« Pfal.44. 4 ?.


ayo A thankfgiviug fermon for the

their enemies would make ufe of lying arti-
fices and pretences of friendOiip to engage
them to accept terms of peace, as the Gi-
beonites afterwards did in the time of Joiliua
at the approach of the Ifraelites ° : or that
they fhould fubmit themfelves to Ifrael, for
io the fame word is elfewhere rendered — 'The
Jirangers Jhall fubmit themfelves unto me p, fays
the pfalmift, or, fall lie unto me j that is,
fhall feign themfelves pleafed with my go-
vernment, when their fear fhall oblige them
to fubmit. Or, laftly, it may be tranflated,
they fall fail or be fruf rated : to which pur-
poie this word is ufed by the prophet Hofea,
when he fays, The wine fall fail i ; and by
Habakkuk, when he fays, The labour of the
olive fall fail \ And a like phrafe is ufed
in the Latin tongue, Spem 7nentita feges ^^ to
fignify a crop failing mens expecftation. So
that the fenfe may be, " Thy enemies fliall
" be utterly difappointed, their big hopes
" fliall become abortive, and their vain
" boafts fhall prove but idle dreams and
*' fictions."

As for the phrafe of treading upon theif
high places, it feems defcriptive of the moun-
tainous country that Ifrael was to conquer %
fome of which mountains were poffelTed by
the Anakim, who were men of a gigantick

• Jofh. 9. I "■ Habak. 3.17.

» Pfal. 18. 44. I ' Horat.

s Hof. 9. 2. I ' iNlic. I. 5.


Serm. VI. vi&ory at RamiWks, ^c, 271

flature, and had cities well fortified therein ^;
which agrees with what Mofes iays to the
tribes in the foregoing chapter, when he
fpeaks of God's fpecial favour to them : He
made him ride on the high places of the earthy
that he might eat the increafe of the fields : and
he made him fuck honey out of the rock, mid oil
out of the flinty rock ". Or, to tread on high
places, may fignify the indignation God
commanded this people to exprefs againft
idolatry, in breaking down and tramplino^
upon the images of the Canaanites, which
were ordinarily fet up on the tops of hills " ;
•and therefore the places of idolatrous wor-
fhip are fo often term'd high places in the
holy fcripmre. Tho fome are of opinion,
that this fentence fhouid be tranflated, T^hou
Jhalt tread upon their necks, or, according to
the Chaldee paraphrafe, on the ?iecks of kings-,
that is, thou fl^alt triumph over thetrK This
was literally fulfilled on fome of the kings of
Canaan, who were fubdued by Jofhua, and
thus treated by his order ; who, when he
had made them prifoners, called for all the
men of Ifrael, and f aid to the captains of the
men of war, who went with him. Come near ;
put your feet upon the necks of thefe kings^
And they came near, and put their feet upon
the necks of them '\ After which they were
put to death. And it is not unlikely that
the royal pfalmift alludes to this, when he

* Jofij. 11. 21. 1 V Deut. 12. 2,3.

• Deut.32. 12. Ifa.^8. 14. | w jo(h. 10. 24, 26.


272 A thank/giving fermon for the

acknowledges the honour God had done him,
in ghing him the nech of his enemies ^ ; and
in his prophecy of the glorious kingdom of
the Meffiah, T^he Lord f aid unto my Lord^ Sit
thou at my right hand^ until I make thine ene-
mies thy footfiool ^. However, 'tis certain the
holy fcripture often fpeaks of treading upon
enemies, to fignify their intire overthrow,
and the contemptible condition to which
they are reduced, as well as to exprefs the
triumph of the conquerors : nrd God we
fhall do ^oaliantly, fays king David ; for he if
is that fiall tread down our enemies ^ And
the pfalmift feems to prophefy the triumph
of Jefus Chrifl over his enemies, when he
fays, T'houfialt tread upon the lion ajid adder ;
the young lion and the dragon fialt thou tram-
ple under feet \

Upon the whole it appears, that as our
text contains the lafl words of Mofes, the
expiring prophet, in an ecflafy of joy and
wonder, therein reprefents the great and pe-
culiar happinefs of the Ifraelitifh nation, in
that they were under the fpecial care and
prote 55. ] ' i Chron. 5. lo^ 8I, 22.


Serm. VI. viS^ory af KamWHeSy ^c. 275-

The paffages jufl now mentioned fhew,
that as the occalion of their going to war
ought to be lawful and jufl:, fo it was re-
quifite to implore the divine affiftance, by
offering up folemn prayers for the fucceis
of their arms j otherwife they could not
reafonably promife themfelves that the good-
nefs of their caufe would fecure them, but
might juflly fear a defeat, as the puniflv
ment of their felf-confidence and impiety.

Another condition to qualify them for
vidory, was their flrid: adherence to the true
religion, and their obfervance of the com-
mands of God, without which they had
reafon to exped: that all their prayers would
be rejeded as mere formality and hypocrify,
and themfelves feverely chaflifed by the
hands of thofe pagan nations whofe idols
they adopted, and whofe manners they imi-
tated. Therefore Mofes often foretels the
many calamities which would befal them,
whenever they fhould revolt from the true
religion, and particularly in his. fong in the
foregoing chapter : But JeJJourun waxed fat

and kicked He forfbok God wko made hirriy

and lightly ejleemed the rock of his Jdlvation,
They provoked him to jealoiify with fi range
Gods } with abominations provoked they him
to a7iger "^, &c. And when the Lord Jaw it^
he abhorred them^ becaufe of the provoking of
his fons and of his daughters : and he Jdid,
I will hide my face from them^ >-! will

I. To confider how well the terms in our
text fuit the antient flate of the Ifraelites.

But here it can't be expeded that I fhould
give any other than a general account of this
matter : the holy fcripture is full of inftan-
ces which verify thefe words of Mofes. As
this people were eminently faved by the
Lord, he is called their faviour^ and the
rock of their fahation. How often did he
appear to be the Jhield of their help 1 They
were wonderfully preferved from the cruel
defign^ of the king of Egypt, notwithftand-

T 4 ing

28o A thankfgivlng fermon for the

ing the ftrid: orders he had given for the
maiTacre of all their male infants, that fo the
whole race of them might be extirpated ;
and from the fury of the Egyptian army,
which hotly purfued them when they left
that country at the command of God, where
they had been in a flate of tedious fervitude.
How well were they guarded by the pro-
vidence of God during their pilgrimage in
the defart, and when they took pofTeffion of
the promis'd land ! How well defended from
the infults of their neighbouring enemies,
who envied their fettlement in Canaan !
When all the men of Ifrael repaired to Je-
rufalem at the three annual feafts, their
frontiers were miraculoufly prote(5led ^ and
thofe enemies who at other times attempted
to difpoffefs them, were fo reftrain'd by a
fecret influence of God's power on their
minds, that they did not fo much as defire
their land ', while they were engaged in the
fervice of God on thofe feftivals. How
wonderfully was the plot of Ha man fruf-
trated, when he had form'd a defign to ex-
tirpate the whole Jewifli nation ! And how
remarkably was his malice return'd with
vengeance on his own head, while the Jews
had their Jorrow turnd into joy\ and their
mourning into a good day "" ! And how emi-
nently were they defended both from the
calumnies and forces of their enemies,

J Exod. 54. >j, ) • jfth. 9. 22.


Serm. VI. 'z;i 15.

" I Sam. 27. 2 Sam. 5. and
2 Sam. dMp. 8, 9.

» 2 Chron. 14,

* Chap. 20.
'^ Chap. 1^.
y Chap. 27.

* i Kings 19.


Serm. VI. vi^ory at K^miWks, ^c. 283

his laws, and depended on the conduft of
his providence. To all which may be added
the wonderful atchievements of this people,
recorded in the two books of the Macca-
bees, and by Jofephus.

The aftonifhing, and fometimes miracu-
lous manner in which the Ifraelites were
often preferved, and their enemies deftroyed,
could not but convince the world that the
great God was on their fide. Sometimes
an unaccountable fear and confternation fei-
zed the hearts of their enemies, as Mofes
. foretold in his triumphant fong : The people
fiall hear and be afraid ; forrow Jhall take
hold of the i?thabitants of Palefiina, Then
the dukes of Edom Jhall be amazed -, the migh^
ty men of Moab, tremblings Jhall take hold
upon them : all the inhabitants of Canaan
Jhall melt away. Fear and dread Jhall fall
upon them : by the greatnefs of thy arm they
jhall be as fill as a Jlone % &c. And in ano-
ther place — Te Jhall chaje your enemies, and
they Jhall fall before you by the Jword : and
f'ue of you Jhall chafe a hundred , and a hun-
dred of you Jhall put ten thoujdnd to flight ^
Thus the prodigious army of the Midianites
fled before Gideon's three hundred men, and
in their confternation madly turned every
man his fword againft his fellow. Some-
times the fierceft attacks made by the beft
difciplin'd troops of the enemies of Ifrael,

« Exod. 1$. 14, 15, If. I ^Ley. ttf, 7*8.


284 -^ thankfgtvmg fernion for the

proved unfuccefsful ; nor could their great
numbers of horfes and of iron chariots, pre-
ferve them from falling a prey to the prof-
perous arms of God's peculiar people. Thefe
fometimes were commanded to itand ftili to
fee the falvation of God, while he delivered
them by his own arm alone ; as when he
parted the Red-fea to open a road for their
efcape, and to prepare a grave for their
enemies, who were foon overwhelm'd by
the returning waters : and in the time of
Jehofhaphat, when the confederate forces
which came to attack that prince quarrelled
among themfelves, and (heath'd their fwords
in each other's bowels ; fo that his troops
had nothing to do but to fmg the praifes of
God, and then load themfelves with the
fpoil, according to the predidlion of Matta-
niah : Te fiall not need, fays he, to fight in
this battle j Jet yourfehes, fiafid ye ftill^ and
fee the falvation of the Lord with you, O fu-
dah and ferufalem : fear not, nor be dif-
7nayed ; to morrow go out againft them^ for
the Lord will be with you ^

The fall of the walls of Jericho at the
found of rams-horns, the lamps and trum-
pets of Gideon's handful of men, fliew thofe
fucceffes were more owing to the fword of
the Lord, than to that of Jofhua or Gideon.
The rcfledion of the fun on the waters ^,
which occafion'd a vid:ory to Jehofhaphat

5 I Chron. ZQi 17* | < i Kings j.


Serm. VI. vi^ory at 'R^umWies, ^c. 285

and the king in confederacy with him, by
drawing their forces into an ambufliment,
ferves to let us know that the divine pro-
vidence fometimes accomplifhes its ends by
the moft unthought of means, and can make
any remote accident fubferve to the ruin of
one army and the triumph of another :
whereas at other times the power of God
has been eminently difplayed in miracles,
to render his people fafe, and to make them
victorious. Thus the waters of the Red-fea
were feparated to preferve Ifrael, and fwal-
low up the power of Egypt : the fun ftands
ftill to favour Jofhua in the purfuit of his
enemies, while the artillery of heaven is
difcharged againft them, and hailftones of
an extraordinary weight kill more than the
fword of the conquerors ^ And an angel is
fent to raife the fiege of Jerufalem, by cut-
ting off 185000 of the Aflyrian army in one
night, which obliged the reft immediately
to retire from the walls of that city.

As thefe inftances fhew what reafon Ifrael
had to glory in the fword of the Lord, which
was lifted up in their defence, and rendered
them conquerors j fo they diicover the va-
nity of the blafphemous boafts of their ene-
mies, who were found liars to them, and
often faw their vain-glorious threatenings
come to nothing. Thus Mofes, in his fong
at the Red-fea, obferves, ^he enemy faid, I
will purfue^ I will overtake^ I will divide the

f Jo(h, 10,


iS6 A thankfgtvtng fermon for the

Jpoih fny lujl fiall be fatisfied upon them ;
/ will draw my fword^ my hand fiall dejlroy
them ^ But what follows ! T^hou didji blow
with thy windy the fea co'-jered them : they
fank as lead in the mighty waters. Who is
like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ! Who
is like thee, glorious in holinefs, fearful in
fraifeSy doing wonders ^ I After the like man-
ner were the hopes of Zeba and Zalmunna,
the princes of Midian, fruftrated ; who faid.
Let us take to ourfehes the houfes of God in
•poffejfion ^. How infolent were the words of
Rabfhakeh to the Jews, when he faid, Let
not Hezekiah deceive you, for he /hall not be
able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah
make you truft in the Lord, faying, the Lord
will furely deliver us '\ Beware leji He-
zekiah perfuade you, faying, 'The Lord will
deliver us. Have any of the gods of the na-
tions delivered his land out of the hand of the
king of Affyria ? Where are the gods of Ha-
math and Arphad? Where are the gods of
Sepharvaim ? And have they delivered Sa~
maria out of my hand ? Who are they, amongjl
all the gods of thefe lands, that have delivered
their land out of my hand f that the Lord
Jhould deliver Jerufalem out of my hand ^ ?
And the inftrudions given by that general

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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 19 of 28)