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DESCRIPTION OF SINAI,
Our road now lay between wild and rugged mountains, and the valley itself was stony, broken, and gullied by the washing of the winter torrents; and a few straggling thorn-bushes were all that grew in that region of desolation. I had remarked for some time, and every moment impressed it more and more forcibly upon my mind, that every thing around me seemed old and in decay. The valley was barren, and devastated by torrents; the rocks were rent; the mountains cracked, broken, and crumbling into thousands of pieces; and we encamped at night between rocks which seemed to have been torn asunder by some violent convulsion, where the stones had been washed down into the valley, and the drifted sand almost choked
passage. At every step the scene became more solemn and impressive. The mountains became more and more striking, venerable, and interesting. Not a shrub, nor blade of grass grew on their naked sides, deformed with gaps and fissures; and they looked as if by a slight jar or shake they would crumble into millions of pieces. It is impossible to describe correctly the singularly interesting appearance of these mountains. Age, hoary and venerable, is the predominant character. They looked as if their Creator had made them higher than they are, and their summits, worn and weakened by the action of the elements for thousands of years, had cracked and fallen.
The last was by far the most interesting day of my journey to Mount Sinai. We were moving along a broad valley, bounded by ranges of lofty and crumbling mountains, forming an immense rocky rampart on each side of us.
We were moving, the whole day, between parallel ranges of mountains, receding in some places, and then again contracting, and about mid-day, entered a narrow and rugged defile, bounded on each side with precipitous granite rocks more than a thousand feet high. We entered at the very bottom of this defile, moving for a time along the dry bed of a torrent, now obstructed with sand and stones, the rocks on every side shivered and torn, and the whole scene wild to sublimity. Our camels stumbled
among the rocky fragments to such a degree, that we dismounted, and passed through the wild defile on foot. At the other end, we came suddenly upon a plain table of ground, and before us towered in awful grandeur, so huge and dark that it seemed close to us, and barring all further progress, the end of my pilgrimage—the holy mountain of Sinai.
Among all the stupendous works of nature, not a place can be selected more fitted for the exhibition of Almighty power. I have stood upon the summit of the giant Etna, and, over the clouds floating beneath it, have surveyed the bold scenery of Sicily, and the distant mountains of Calabria; I have stood upon the top of Vesuvius, and looked down upon the waves of lava, and the ruined and half-recovered cities at its feet; but they are nothing, compared with the terrific solitude and bleak majesty of Sinai.
An observing traveler has well called it a perfect sea of desolation. Not a tree, nor shrub, nor blade of grass is to be seen upon the bare and rugged sides of innumerable mountains, heaving their naked summits to the skies; while the crumbling masses of granite all around, and the distant view of the Syrian desert, with its boundless waste of sands, form the wildest and most dreary, the most terrific and desolate picture that imagination can conceive.
J. L. STEPHENS
SONG OF MOSES AT THE RED SEA.
Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying,
I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously :
The Lord is a man of war: Jehovah is his name. Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea ; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
The depths have covered them :
The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil ; My lust shall be satisfied upon them ; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow upon them with thy wind, The sea covered them: They sank as lead in the mighty waters. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ? Who is like thee, Glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ? Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast re
deemed; Thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
The people shall hear, and be afraid : Sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed ; The mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; All the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; By the greatness of thine arm they shall be still as a stone, Till thy people pass over, O Lord, Till thy people pass over, which thou hast purchased,
Thou shalt bring them in, And plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, In the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for them to dwell in, In the sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. Jehovah shall reign forever and ever.
HYMN OF NATURE.
God of the earth's extended plains !
The dark, green fields contented lie: The mountains rise like holy towers,
Where earth holds commune with the sky: The tall cliff challenges the storm
That lowers upon the vale below, Where shaded fountains send their streams,
With joyous music in their flow.
God of the dark and heavy deep!
The waves lie sleeping on the sands, Till the fierce trumpet of the storm
Hath summoned up their thundering bands; Then the white sails are dashed like foam,
Or hurry, trembling o'er the seas, Till,calmed by thee, the sinking gale
Serenely breathes, “ Depart in peace.”
God of the forest's solemn shade!
The grandeur of the lonely tree, That wrestles singly with the gale,
Lifts up admiring eyes to thee; But more majestic far they stand,
When, side by side, their ranks they form, To wave on high their plumes of green,
And fight their battles with the storm.
God of the fair and open sky!
How gloriously above us springs The tented dome, of heavenly blue,
Suspended on the rainbow's rings ! Each brilliant star that sparkles through,
Each gilded cloud that wanders free In evening's purple radiance, gives
The beauty of its praise to thee.
God of the world! the hour must come,
And Nature's self to dust return; Her crumbling altars must decay ;
Her incense fires shall cease to burn;
But still her grand and lovely scenes
Have made man's warmest praises flow; For hearts grow holier as they trace
The beauty of the world below, W.0. P. PEABODY.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
O, thou who fling'st so fair a robe
Of clouds around the hills untrod; Those mountain-pillars of the globe
Whose peaks sustain thy throne, O God! All glittering round the sunset skies,
Their fleecy wings are lightly furled,
The glories of yon upper world ;
The summer-flowers, the fair, the sweet,
Up-springing freely from the sod,
At every step, thy smiles, O God!
They bloom in palace-hall, or cot.
Contented with my lowly lot.
The birds, among the summer blooms,
Pour forth to Thee their hymns of love, When, trembling on uplifted plumes,
They leave the earth and soar above; We hear their sweet familiar airs,
Where'er a sunny spot is found : How lovely is a life like theirs,
Diffusing sweetness all around !