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left the sand so dry, as that the Israelites, being all foot, might pass through the oozy places and holes, which it must be supposed the sea left behind it : but, that the Egyptians being all horse and chariots, stuck in these holes, and were entangled, so as that they could not march so fast as the Israelites : and, that this was all the meaning of its being said, that God took off their (the Egygtians) chariot wheels, that they drove them heavily. So that they would make nothing extraordinary, at least not miraculous, in all this action.
This is advanced in Le Clerc's Dissertations upon Genesis, lately printed in Holland. And that part, with others of the like tendency, endeavoring to resolve other miracles ; as that of Sodom and Gomorrah, &c. into the mere natural causes, are put into English, by the well.. known T. Brown, for the edification of the Deists in England,
But these gentlemen have forgot, that the Is. raelites had great herds of many thousand cattle with them; which would be apter to stray, and fall into those holes and oozy places in the sand, than horses, with riders who might direct them.
But such precarious and silly suppositions, are not worth the answering. If there had been no more in this passage thro' the Red Sea, than that of a spring tide, &c. it had been impossible for Moses to have made the Israelites believe that relation given of it in Exodus ;with so many particulars, which themselves saw to be true,
And all those scriptures, which magnify this action, and appeal to it as a full demonstration of the miraculous power of God, must be reputed as romance, or legend.
I say this, for the fake of some Christians, who think it no prejudice to the truth of the Holy Bible, but rather an advantage, as rendering it more easy to be believed, if they can solve whatever seems miraculous in it; by the power of second causes; and so to make all, as they speak, natural and easy.' Wherein, if they could prevail, the natural and easy result would be, not to believe one word, in all those sacred oracles : for, if things be not as they are told in any relation, that relation must be false ; and if false in part, we cannot trust to it, either in whole or in part.
Here are to be excepted; mis-translations, and errors, either in the copy or press. But, where there is no room for supposing of these; as, where all copies do agree ; there, we must either receive all, or reject all : I mean, in any book that pretends to be written from the mouth of God; for, in other common histories, we may believe part, and reject part, as we see cause.
But to return. The passage of the Israelites over Jordan, in memory of which those stones at Gilgal were set up, is free from all those little carpings before-mentioned, that are made as to the passage through the Red Sea ; for, notice was given to the Israelites, the day before, of this great miracle to be done, Josh. iii. 5. It was done at noon-day, before the whole nation. And
when the waters of Jordan were divided, it was not at any low ebb, but at the time when that river overflowed all its banks, ver. 15. And it was done, not by winds, or in length of time, which winds must take to do it ; but all on the sudden: As soon “ as the feet of the priests that bare the ark, were dipped in the brim of the water ; (then) the waters which came down from above, stood and rose up upon an heap, very får from the city. Adam, that is beside Zaretan ; and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off : and the people passed over, right against Jericho.” The priests stood in the midst of Jordan, until all the armies of Israel had
passed over. ,66 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lift upon the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.
And the people came up out of Jordan,on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying; When your children shall ask their fathers, in time to come, saying, What mean these stones ? then ye shall let your children know ; saying, Israel came over this Jordan, on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea; which
he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty : that ye might fear the Lord your God, forever :" Ch. iv. from ver. 18.
If the passage over the Red Sea, had been only taking advantage of a spring-tide, or the like ; how would this teach all the people of the earth, that the hand of the Lord was migh. ty ! How would a thing to more remarkable, have been taken notice of through all the world! How would it have taught Israel to fear the Lord ; when, they must know, that, notwithstanding all these big words, there was so little in it! How could they have believed, or received a book as truth, which they knew told the matter so far otherwise from what it was !
But, as I said, this passage over Jorclan, which is here compared to that of the Red Sea, is free from all those cavils that are made as to the Red Sea; and is a further attestation to it, being said to be done in the same manner as was that of the Red Sea.
Now, to form our argument, let us suppose there never was any such thing as that passage over Jordan ; that these stones at Gilgal were set up on some other occasion, in some afterage ; and then that some designing man invented this book of Joshua, and said it was written by Joshua at that time ; and gave this stonage at Gilgal for a testimony of the truth of it: Would not every body say to him, We know the stonage at Gilgal; but we never heard before of
this reason for it, nor of this book of Joshua : Where has it been all this while ? and where, and how came you, after so many ages to find it? Besides, this book tells us, that this passage over Jordan was ordained to be taught to our children, from age to age; and therefore, that they were always to be instructed in the meaning of that stonage at Gilgal, as a memorial of it : but we were never taught it when we were children, nor did ever teach our children any such thing: and it is not likely that could have been forgotten, while so remarkable a stonage did continue, which was set up for that, and no other end.
And if, for the reasons before given, no such imposition could be put upon us as to the stonage in Salisbury Plain; how much less could it be as to the stonage at Gilgal.
And if, where we know not the reason of a bare naked monument, such a sham reason cannot be imposed; how much more is it impossible to impose upon us, in actions and observances which we celebrate in memory of particular passages ! How impossible to make us forget those passages which we daily commemorate, and persuade us, that we had always kept such institutions in memory of what we never heard of before; that is, that we knew it before we knew it!
And if we find it thus impossible for an imposition to be put upon us, even in some things which have not all the four marks before mentioned ; how much more impossible is it, that