When Israel went out of Egypt.
Homilist.God has a will. He doeth all things after the "counsel of His own will." The universe is but His will in form and action. It is the primordial, the propelling and presiding force of all forces and motions. The psalm leads us to look at this Eternal will in two aspects —
I. As acting on MORAL MIND. In the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian bondage, it acted both on the Egyptian mind and on the Hebrew mind.
1. This will acted on the Egyptian mind disastrously. Whose fault was this? Not God's.(1) Man can resist the Divine will. Herein is his distinguishing power. This binds him to moral government, and renders him accountable for his conduct.(2) His resistance is his ruin. To go against the Eternal will is to go against the laws of nature, the current of the universe, the eternal conditions of well-being. Acquiescence to the Divine will is heaven, resistance to the Divine will is hell.
2. This will acted on the Hebrew mind remedially.(1) It brought Israel out of Egypt,(2) Into blessed relationship with God.
II. As acting on MATERIAL NATURE.
1. Its action on matter is always effective. God has only to will a material phenomenon, and it occurs. "He spake, and it was done." Nothing in material nature comes between His will and the result purposed. Not so in moral mind.
2. Its action on matter is philosophically exciting (vers. 5, 6). The motions of matter are constantly exciting the philosophic inquiry. Would that philosophy would not pause in its inquiries until it traced all the forms and motions of matter to the Eternal will! It was that will that.was now working in the mountains, in the hills, and the rocks.
3. Its action on matter is sometimes terrific (ver. 7).
The sea saw it, and fled.I. ANTAGONISMS ARE QUELLED. Wherever the Church has advanced —
1. Sin and Satan have receded. Where it has not been so the Church is to blame. The promise depends on the proper spirit, and the use of proper means.
2. Idolatry has receded. Christianity simply annihilated the classical, Druidical, Saxon, Tartar, and Scandinavian mythologies, the bloody rites of the South Seas, and is now doing the same for the debasing superstitions of Africa and the foul abominations of Hindostan.
3. Infidelity has receded. For all the ancient philosophies she proved an overmatch.
II. BOUNDARIES ARE REMOVED. "Jordan was driven back."
1. Christianity levels all class distinctions. To all castes, Jewish, Roman, Indian, etc., it is a formidable foe. It reduces all mankind to one common level of crying need, for which but one provision has been made.
2. Christianity obliterates all physical barriers. It goes into all the world and preaches the Gospel to every creature. It was not made for home consumption, but is the property of all nations.
3. Christianity fills up all intellectual chasms. No greater remove could possibly be than that between the old philosopher and the common people. Christianity appeals to both. Its truths are The food of the scholar and the refreshment of the slave.
III. DIFFICULTIES ARE OVERCOME. "The mountains skipped," etc.
1. All difficulties of nature. Wherever Christianity has appeared "the valleys have been exalted," etc. Crooked ways have been made straight. No mountain has been too high, no sea too broad, no continent too wide, for the pioneers and missionaries of the faith.
2. All difficulties of human prejudice. Armies have been levied to extirpate it. Fires have been kindled to burn it. Learning has been accumulated to refute it, but in vain. IN CONCLUSION. This history is prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy in some instances. It holds good through the ages. Let the Church in the strength of it redouble her efforts, brighten her hope, perfect her faith, and go on conquering and to conquer.
(J. W. Burn.).