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several ages after him. It is with diffi- {mentators have written a prodigious numculty that the human understanding com- ber of volumes to justify Abraham's conprebends the reasons for such a journey. duct, and to explain away the errors in

Scarcely had he arrived in the little { chronology. To these commentaries we mountainous country of Sichem, when must refer the reader ; they are all comfamine compelled him to quit it. Heposed by men of nice and acute percepwent into Egypt with his wife Sarah, to {tions, excellent metaphysicians, and by seek a subsistence. The distance from no means pedants. Sichem to Memphis is two hundred For the rest, this name of Bram, or leagues. Is it natural that a man should } Abram, was famous in Judea and in go so far to ask for corn in a country, the Persia. Several of the learned even aslanguage of which he did not under-sert, that he was the same legislator whom stand? Truly these were strange journies, the Greeks called Zoroaster. Others say undertaken at the age of nearly a hundred that he was the Brama of the Indians; and forty years!

which is not demonstrated. But it apHe brought with him to Memphis his pears very reasonable to many, that this wife Sarah, who was extremely young, Abraham was a Chaldean or a Persian ; and almost an infant when compared from whom the Jews afterwards boasted with himse!f ; tur she was only sixty-five. of having descended, as the Franks did As she was very handsome, he resolved of their descent frorr Hector, and the to turn her beauty to account. Say, I Britons from Tubal. It cannot be denied pray thee, that thou art my sister, that it that the Jewish nation were a very modern may be well with me for thy sake.” He horde; that they did not establish themshould rather have said to her, “Say, I selves on the borders of Phænicia until a pray thee, that thou art my daughter." { very late period; that they were surroundThe king fell in love with the young {ed by ancient states, whose language they Sarah, and gave the pretended brother adopted, receiving from them even the abundance of sheep, oxen, he-asses, she- name of Israel, which is Chaldean, from asses, camels, men-servants and maid- the testimony of the Jew Flavius Josephus servants ; which proves that Egypt was himself. We know that they took the then a powerful, and well-regulated, aud { names of the Angels from the Babylonians, consequently an ancient kingdom, and and that they called God by the names of that those were magnificently rewarded | Eloi or Elod, Adonai, Jehovuk or Hiuo, who came and offered their sisters to the after the Phænicians. It is probable that kings of Memphis. The youthful Sarah ? they knew the name of Abraham or Ibrawas ninety years old when God promised him only through the Babylonians; for ber that, in the course of a year, she the ancient religion of all the countries should have a child by Abraham, who from the Euphrates to the Oxus was was then a hundred and sixty.

called K'ish İbrahim or Milat Ibrahim. Abraham, who was fond of travelling, This is confirmed by all the researches went into the horrible desert of Kadesh made on the spot by the learned Hyde. with his pregnant wife, ever young and The Jews, then, treat their history and ever pretty. A king of this desart was, ancient fable as their clothes-men treat of course, captivated by Sarah, as the their old coats—they turn them and selı king of Egypt had been. The father of them for new at as high a price as possithe faithful told the same lie as in Egypt, }ble. It is a singular instance of human making his wife pass for his sister; which stupidity, that we ! ave so long considered brought him more sheep, oxen, men-ser- the Jews as a n tion wh ch taught al: vants, and maid-servants. It might be others, while their historian Josephus said that this Abraham became rich prin- himself confesses the contrary. cipally by the means of his wife. Com- } It is difficult to penetrate the shacies of


antiquity; but it is evident that all the therefore less certain that Abraham exkingdoms of Asia were in a very flourish- isted. The Jews distinguished books ing state before the wandering horde of written by inspired men, from books comArabs, called Jews, had a small spot of { posed by particular inspiration. How, earth which they called their own,-when indeed, can it be believed that God dicthey had neither a town, nor laws, nortated false dates ? even a fixed religion. When, therefore, Philo the Jew of Suidas, relates that we see an ancient rite or an ancient opin- {Terah, the father or grand-father of Abraion established in Egypt or Asia, and ham, who dwelt at Ur in Chaldea, was a also amongst the Jews, it is very natural poor man who gained a livelihood by to suppose that this small, newly-formed, { making little idols, and that he was himignorant, stupid people, copied, as well self an idolater. If so, that ancient reas they were able, the ancieni, flourishing, { ligion of the Sabeans, who had no idols, and industrious nation,

but worshipped the heavens, had not It is on this principle that we must } then, perhaps, been established in Chaljudge of Judea, Biscay, Cornwall, &c. { dea ; or, if it prevailed in one part of the Most certainly triumphant Rome did not country, it is very probable that idolatry in any thing imitate Biscay or Cornwall; } was predominant in the rest. It seems, and he must be either very ignorant or a { that in those times each little horde had great knave, who would say that the Jews { its religion, as each family had its own taught anything to the Greeks.

peculiar customs; all were tolerated, and all were peaceably confounded. Laban,

the father-in-law of Jacob, had idols. It must not be thought that Abraham {Each clan was perfectly willing that the was known only to the Jews : on the con- neighbouring clan should have its gods, trary, he is renowned throughout Asia. and contented itself with believing that This name, which signifies father of a { its own were the mightiest: people in more Oriental languages than The Scripture says that the God of the one, was given to some inhabitant of Jews, who intended to give them the land Chaldea, from whom several nations have of Canaan, commanded Abraham to leave boasted of descending. The pains which } the fertile country of Chaldea, and go the Arabs and the Jews took to establish towards Palestine, promising him that in their descent from this patriarch, render it his seed all the nations of the earth should impossible for even the greatest Pyrrho-be blessed. It is for theologians to exneans to doubt of there having been an plain, by allegory and mystical sense, how Abraham.

all the nations of the earth were to be The Hebrew Scriptures make him the blessed in a seed from which they did not son of Terah, while the Arabs say that descend, since this much-lo-be-venerated Terah was his grand-father, and Azar his mystical sense cannot be made the object father, in which they have been followed of a research purely critical. A short time by several Christians. The interpreters after these promises, Abraham's family are of forty-two different opinions with was afflicted by famine, and went into respect to the year in which Abraham was Egypt for corn. It is singular that the brought into the world, and I shall not llebrews never went into Egypt, but hazard a forty-third. It also appears, by { when pressed by hunger; for Jacob afterthe dates, that Abraham lived sixty years wards sent his children on the same longer than the text allows him; but mis- errand. lakes in chronology do not destroy the Abraham, who was then very old, went truth of a fact. Supposing even that the this journey with his wife Sarah, aged Jak which speaks of Abraham had not sixty-Gve: 'she was very handsome, and been so sacred as was the law, it is not Abraham feared that the Egyptians,

smitten by her charms, would kill him in z mans, who, while they obeyed their priorder to enjoy her transcendent beauties : { mitive laws, were not obliged to believe he proposed to her that she should pass in the miracles of the sieve filled with for his sister, &c. Human nature must water, the ship drawn to the shore by a at that time have possessed a vigour which } vestal's girdle, the stone cut with a razor, time and luxury bave since very much and so forth. Therefore the historian weakened. This was the opinion of all } Josephus, though strongly attached to his the ancients; it has even been asserted form of worship, leaves his readers at that Helen was seventy when she was } liberty to believe just so much as they carried off by Paris. That which Abra- choose of the ancient prodigies which he ham had foreseen came to pass: the relates. For the same reason the SadduEgyptian youth found his wife charming, cees were permitted not to believe in the notwithstanding her sixty-five years; the Angels, although the Angels are so often king himself fell in love with her, and spoken of in the Old Testament; but placed her in his seraglio, though, pro- these same Sadducees were not allowed bably, he had younger females there; but { to neglect the prescribed seasts, fasts, and the Lord plagued the king and his seraglio ceremonies. This part of Abraham's hiswith very great sores. The text does not { tory (the journies into Egypt and Phænitell us how the king came to know that cia) proves that great kingdoms were this dangerous beauty was Abraham's already established, while the Jewish wife; but it seems that he did come to nation existed in a single family; that know it, and restored her.

there already were laws, since without Sarah's beauty must have been unalter- } them a great kingdom cannot exist; and able ; for twenty-five years afterwards, consequently that the law of Moses, which when she was ninety years old, pregnant, } was posterior, was not the first law. It is and travelling with her husband through not necessary for a law to be divine, that the dominions of a king of Phænicia { it should be the most ancient of all. God named Abimelech, Abraham, who had is undoubtedly the master of time. It not yet corrected himself, made her a would, it is true, appear more conformsecond time pass for his sister. The able to the faint light of reason, that God, Phoenician king was as sensible to her having to give a law, should have given it attractions as the king of Egypt had been; at the first to all mankind; but if it be but God appeared to this Abimelech in as proved that he proceeds in a different dream, and threatened him with death if way, it is not for us to question him. he touched his new mistress. It must be The remainder of Abraham's history is confessed that Sarah's conduct was as subject to great difficulties. God, who extraordinary as the lasting nature of her } frequently appeared to and made several charms.

treaties with him, one day sent three The singularity of these adventures was } angels to him in the valley of Mamre. probably the reason why the Jews had The patriarch gave them bread, veal, not the same sort of faith in their his- butter, and milk, to eat. The three tories which they had in their Leviticus. spirits dined, and after dinner they sent There was not a single iota of their law {for Sarah, who liad baked the bread. One in which they did not believe ; but the of the angels, whom the text calls the historical part of their Scriptures did not { Lord, the Eternal, promised Sarah that, demand the same respect. Their con- } in the course of a year, she should have duct in regard to their ancient books may a son. Sarah, who was then ninety-four, be compared to that of the English, who while her husband was nearly a hundred, received the laws of St. Edward without laughed at the promise,-a proof that absolutely believing that St. Edward Sarah confessed her decrepitude,-a proof eured the scrofula; or to that of the Ro- that, according to the Scripture itself,

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human nature was not then very different powerful, and most extensive in the
from what it is now. Nevertheless, the world.
following year, as we have already seen, The Mussulmans have a great rever-
this aged woman, after becoming preg- {ence for Abraham, whom they call Ibra-
nant, captivated King Abimelech. Cer- } him. Those who believe him to have
les, to consider these stories as natural, { been buried at Hebron, make a pilgrim-
we must either have a species of under- age thither; wbile those who think that
standing quite different from that which his tomb is at Mecca, go and pay their
we have at present, or regard every trait homage to him there.
in the life of Abraham as a miracle, or Some of the ancient Persians believed
believe that it is only an allegory; but that Abraham was the same with Zoroas-
whichever way we turn, we cannot escape ter. It has been with him as with most
embarrassment. For instance, what are of the founders of the Eastern nations, to
we to make of God's promise to Abraham whom various names and various adven-
that he would give to him and his pos- tures have been attributed; but it appears
terity all the land of Canaan, which no by the Scripture text, that he was one of
Chaldean ever possessed? This is one those wandering Arabs who had no fixed
of the difficulties which it is impossible habitation. We see him born at Ur in
to solve.

Chaldea, going first to Haran, then into
It seems astonishing that God, after Palestine, then into Egypt, then into
causing Isaac to be born of a centenary } Phænicia, and lastly forced to buy a grave
father and a woman of ninety-five, should at Hebron.
afterwards have ordered that father to One of the most remarkable circum-
murder the son whom he had given him stances of his life was, that at the age of
contrary to every expectation. This strange { ninety, before he had begotten Isaac, he
order from God seems to show that, at the caused himself, his son Ishmael, and all
time when this history was written, the his servants, to be circumcised. It seems
sacrifice of human victims was customary that he had adopted this idea amongst
amongst the Jews, as afterwards be- } the Egyptians. It is difficult to deter-
came in other nations, as witness the vow mine the origin of such an operation ;
of Jephtha. But it may be said, that the but it appears most likely that it was per-
obedience of Abraham, who was ready to formed in order to prevent the abuses of
sacrifice his son to the God who had given puberty. But why should a man undergo
lim, is an allegory of the resignation this operation at the age of a hundred ?
which man owes to the orders of the On the other hand it is asserted, that
Supreme Being.

only the priests were anciently distinThere is one remark which it is parti- guished in Egypt by this custom. It was cularly important to make on the history an usage of great antiquity in Africa and of this Patriarch regarded as the father of part of Asia, for the most holy personages the Jews and the Arabs. His principal s to present their virile member to be kissed children were Isauc, born of his wife by a by the women whom they met. The ormiraculous favour of Providence, and gans of generation were looked upon as Ishmael, born of his servant. It was in something noble and sacred—as a symbol Isaac that the race of the Patriarch was of divine power: it was customary to blessed ; yet Isaac was father only of an swear by them; and, when taking an oath unfortunate and contemptible nation, who { to another person, to lay the hand on his were for a long period slaves, and have į testicles. It was perhaps from this anfor a still longer been dispersed. Ishmael, j cient custom that they afterwards received on the contrary, was the father of the their name, which signities witnesses, beArabs, who, in course of time, established { cause they were thus made a testimony the empire of the Caliphs, one of the most and a pledge. When Abraham sent his

servant to ask Rebecca for his son Isaac,;

ABUSE OF WORDS, the servant placed his hand on Abraham's genitals, which has been translated by the Books, like conversation, rarely give word thigh.

us any precise ideas: nothing is so comBy this we see how much the manners mon as to read and converse unprofitably. of remote antiquity differed from ours. We must here repeat what Locke has In the eyes of a philosopher, it is no more so strongly urged- Define your terms. astonishing that men should formerly have A jurisconsult, in his criminal institute, sworn by that part, than by the head; nor announces that the non-observance of is it astonishing that those who wished to Sundays and holidays is treason against distinguish themselves from other men, the Divine Majesty. Treason against the should have testified by this venerated Divine Majesty gives an idea of the most portion of the human person.

enormous of crimes, and the most dreadThe Book of Genesis tells us, that cir- ful of chastisements. But what consticumcision was a covenant between God į tutes the offence? To have missed vesand Abraham; and expressly adds, that pers—a thing which may happen to the whosoever shall not be circumcised in his best man in the world. house, shall be put to death. Yet we are In all disputes on liberty, one reasoner not told that Isaac was circumcised; nor generally understands one thing, and his is circumcision again spoken of, until the adversary another. A third comes in who time of Moses.

understands neither the one nor the other, We shall conclude this article with one nor is himself understood. In these dismore observation, which is, that Abra-putes, one has in his head the power of ham, after having hy Sarah and Hagar acting; a second, the power of willing; two sons, who became each the father of a third, the desire of executing; each rea great nation, had six sons by Keturah, { volves in his own circle, and they never who settled in Arabia ; but their posterity meet. were not famous.

It is the same with quarrels about ABUSE.

grace. Who can understand its nature,

its operations, the sufficiency which is not A vice attached to all the customs, to sufficient, and the efficacy which is inall the laws, to all the institutions of man: effectual. the detail is too vast to be contained in The words substantial form were proany library.

nounced for two thousand years without States are governed by abuses. Maxi- } suggesting the least notion. For these, mus ille est qui minimis urgetur. It might { plastic natures have been substituted, but be said to the Chinese, to the Japanese, still without any thing being gained. to the English-Your gnvernment swarms A traveller, stopped in his way by a with abuses, which you do not correct! { torrent, asks a villager on the opposite The Chinese will reply-We have existed bank to show him the ford :-" Go to as a people for five thousand years, and the right,” shouts the countryman :-He at this day are perhaps the most fortunate { takes the right and is drowned. The nation on earth, because we are the most other runs up crying :—“Oh! how untranquil. The Japanese will say nearly fortunate! I did not tell him to go to his the same. The English will answer-We right, but to mine.” are powerful at sea, and prosperous on The world is full of these misunderland; perhaps in ten thousand years we standings. How will a Norwegian, when shall bring our usages to perfection. The reading this formula, Servant of the Sergrand secret is, to be in a better condi- { vunts of God, discover that it is the tion than others, even with enormous > Bishop of Bishops, und King of Kings abuses.

who speaks?

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