« 上一頁繼續 »
born excluded.*In Josephus, and the Talmud, we learn some particulars, not so fully narrated in the scripture. We are there told, “ that Corah was ambitious of the priesthoood; and offended that it was conferred on Aaron ; and this, as he said, by the authority of Moses only, without the consent of the people. He accused Moses of having, by various artifices, fraudulently obtained the government, and deprived the people of their liberties; and of conspiring with Aaron to perpetuate the tyranny in their family. Thus, though Corai's real motive was the supplanting of Aaron, he persuaded the people he meant only the public good ; and they, moved by his insinuations, began to cry out-"Let us maintain the common liberty of our respective tribes; we have freed ourselves from the slavery imposed upon us by the Egyptians, and shall we suffer ourselves to be made slaves by Moses? If we must have a master, it were better to return to Pharaoh, who at least fed us with bread and onions, than to serve this new tyrant, who by his operations has brought us into danger or famine." Then they called in question the reality of his conference with God; and objected to the privacy of the meetings, and the preventing any of the people from being present at the colloques, or even approaching the place, as grounds of great suspicion. They accused Moses also of peculation ; as embazzling part of the golden spoons and the silver chargers, that the princes had offered at the dedication of the altar,t and the offering of the gold of the common people, as well as most of the poll-tax;% and Aaron they accused of pocketing
* Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 3. “And they gathered them. selves together against Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, ye take too much upon youl, seeing all the congregations are holy, every one of them wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation ?” + Numbers, chap. vi. Exodus, chan. xxxv. ver. 22.
§ Numbers, chap. iii. and Exodus, chap. xxx.
much of the gold of which he pretended to have made a molten calf. Besides peculation, they charged Moses with ambition ; to gratify which passion, he had, they said, deceived the people, by promising to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey ; instead of doing which, he had brought them from such a land ; and that he thought light of this mischief, provided he could make himself an absolute prince.* That, to support the new dignity with splendour in his family, the partial poll-tax already levied and given to Aaront was to be followed by a general onef which would probably be augmented from time to time, if he were suffered to go on promulgating new laws on pretence of new occasional revelations of the divine wiil, till their whole fortunes were devoured by that aristocracy."
Moses denied the charge of peculation ; and his accusers were destitute of proofs to support it ; though facts, if real, are in their nature capable of proof. “I have not,” said he, (with holy confidence in the presence of God) “ I have not taken from this people the value of an ass, nor done them any other injury." But his enemies had made the charge, and with some success among the populace, for no kind of accusation is so readily made, or easily believed, by knaves, as the accusation of knavery.
In fine, no less than two hundred and fifty of the principal men“ famous in the congregation, men of renown,” heading and exciting the mob, worked them up to such a pitch of phrensy, that they called out, stone 'em, stone 'em, and thereby secure our liberties; and let us choose other captains that may lead us back
* Numbers, chap xvi. ver. 13. “Is it a small thing that
Exodus, chap. XIX,
imto Egypt, in case we do not succeed in reducing the Canaanites.
On the whole, it appears that the Israelites were a people jealous of their newly acquired liberty, which jealousy was in itself no fault'; but that when they sufferect it to be worked upon by artful men, pretending public good, with nothing really in view but private interest, they were led to oppose the establishment of the new constitution, whereby they brought upon themselves much inconvenience and misfortune. It farther appears from the same inestimable history, that when, after many ages, the constitution had become old and much abused, that an amendment of it was proposed, the populace as they had accused Moses of the ambition of making himself a prince, and cried out, stone hin, stone him ; so, excited by their highpriests and scribes, they exclaimed against the Mes. siah, that he aimed at becoming king of the Jews, and cried, crucify him, crucify him. From all which we may gather, that popular opposition to a public measare is no proof of its impropriety, even though the opposition be excited and heated by men of distinction.
To conclude. I beg I may not be understood to in. fer, that our general convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreasonably and vehemently opposed : yet, I must own, I have so much faith in tile general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in soine degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and benificent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being.
THE INTERNAL STATE OF AMERICA. Being a true Description of the Interest and Policy of
that vasi Continent. THERE is a tradition, that, in the planting of New.
1 England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships ; as is generally the case when a civilized people attempt establisliing themselves, in a wilderness country. Being piously disposed, they sought reliet from heaven, by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord, in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discon. tented ; and, like the children of Israel, there were many disposed to return to that Egypt which persecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose, and remarked, that the inconveniencies they suffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthened ; that the earth began to reward their labour, and to furnish liberally for their subsist. ence ; that the seas and rivers were found full of fish, the air sweet, and the climate healthy ; and, above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious; he therefore thought, that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable, as tending more to make them contented with their situation ; and that it would be more becomirg the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, is, instead of a fıst, they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken and from that day to this they have, in every year, observed circumstances of public felicity suficient to furnish employnient for a thanksgiving day, which is therefore constantly order: ed and religiously observed.
I see in the public papers of different states frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, scarcity of money, &c. &c. It is not my intention to assert or maintain that these complaints are entirely without foundation. There can be no country or nation existo ing, in which there will not be some people so circumstanced as to find it hard to gain a livelihood ; people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is scarce, because they have nothing to give in exchange for it ; and it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamour. But let us take å cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined
The great business of the continent is agriculture. Tor one artisan, or merchant, I suppose, we have at least one hundred farmers, and by far the greatest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, from whence many of them draw not only food necessary for their subsistence, but the materials of their clothing, so as to need very few foreign supplies; while they have a surplus of productions to dispose of, whereby wealth is gradually accumulated. Such has been the goodness of Divine Providence to these regions, and so favourable the climate, that, since the three or four years of hardship in the first settlement of our fathers here, a famine or scarcity has never been heard amongst us ; on the contrary, though some years may have been more, and others less plentiful, there has always been provision enough for ourselves, and a quantity to spare for exportation. And although the crops of last year were generally good, never was the farmer better paid for the part he can spare commerce, as the published price currents abundantly testify. The lands he possesses are also continually rising in value with the increase of population ; and on the whole, he is enabled to give such good wages to those who work for him, that all who are acquainted with the old world must agree,