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opposition to the Dissenters' application for relief in subscription, and declaring their willingness that Dissenters should be capable of offices, enjoy the benefit of education in the universities, and the privilege of appropriating their tithes to the support of their own clergy. In all these points of toleration they appear far behind the present Dissenters of New England, and it may seem to some a step below the dignity of bishops to follow the example of such inferiors. I do not however despair of their doing it some time or other, since nothing of the kind is too hard for true Christian humility. I am, Sir, yours, &c.
A NEW ENGLAND MAN.
A PARABLE AGAINST PERSECUTION,
IN IMITATION OF SCRIPTURE LANGUAGE.
Tuis Parable was printed in the Boston Chronicle, 1768, and six years afterwards in Lord Kames's Sketches of the History of Man. Lord Kames introduced it with the following prefatory remark. “ It was communicated to me by Dr. Franklin of Philadelphia, a man who makes a great figure in the learned world ; and who would still make a greater figure for benevolence and candor, were virtue as much regarded in this declining age as knowledge.” From Lord Kames's work it was taken by Mr. Vaughan, and included in his edition of Franklin's writings. From that time it was repeatedly reprinted, and much admired, as illustrating a beautiful moral, and as being a remarkable imitation of Scripture language.
Although Lord Kames does not say, that Dr. Franklin was the author of the Parable, yet, from the manner in which he speaks of it, this inference was naturally drawn; and some degree of surprise was expressed, when the discovery was made, not long afterwards, that there was a similar story in Jeremy Taylor's LIBERTY OF PROPHESYING. Curiosity was then excited, as to its real origin, for Taylor vaguely says, that he found it in “the Jews' books." Upon this hint, however, the learned commenced their researches, and the storehouses of Talmudic, Cabalistic, and Rabbinical lore were explored in vain. No such story could be found in any Jewish writing. It was at length discovered in the dedication of a book, which was translated by George Gentius from a Jewish work, and which appeared at Amsterdam in the year 1651. This dedication is written in Latin. The part relating to the Parable was selected and published, without the name of the person who had made the discovery, in The Repository, a British periodical journal, which was issued monthly from the London press. The extract is contained in the number for May, 1788. Considering the importance, which has since been attached to the history of this Parable, it seems not amiss to insert the Latin version of Gentius in this place.
“ Illustre tradit nobilissimus autor Sadus venerandæ antiquitatis exemplum, Abrahamum patriarcham, hospitalitatis gloriâ celebratum, vix sibi felix faustumque credidisse hospitium, nisi externum aliquem, tanquam aliquod præsidium domi, excepisset hospitem, quem omni officiorum genere coleret. Aliquando, cùm hospitem domi non haberet, foris eum quæsiturus campestria petiit. Fortè virum quemdam, senectute gravem, itinere fessum, sub arbore recumbentem conspicit.
“Quem comiter exceptum, domum hospitem deducit, et omni officio colit. Cùm cænam appositam Abrahamus et familia ejus à precibus auspicarentur, senex manum ad cibum protendit, nullo religionis aut pietatis auspicio usus. Quo viso, Abrahamus eum ita affatur; 'Mi senex, vix decet canitiem tuam sine præviâ Numinis veneratione cibum sumere. Ad quæ senex; 'Ego ignicola sum, istiusmodi morum ignarus ; nostri enim majores nullam talem mo docuere pietatem.' Ad quam vocem horrescens Abrahamus rem sibi cum ignicolâ profano et à sui Numinis cultu alieno esse, eum è vestigio et à cenâ remotum, ut sui consortii pestem et religionis hostem, domo ejicit. Sed, ecce, Summus Deus Abrahamum statim monet; 'Quid agis, Abrahame ? Itane vero fecisse te decuit? Ego isti seni, quantumvis in me usque ingrato, et vitam et victum centum amplius annos dedi; tu homini nec unam cænam dare, unumque eum momentum ferre potes ?' Quâ Divinâ voce monitus, Abrahamus senem ex itinere revocatum domum reducit, et tantis officiis, pietate, et ratione colit, ut suo exemplo ad veri Numinis cultum eum perduxerit."
In the succeeding number of The Repository appeared a com
munication relating to this subject, evidently written by a person well acquainted with the character and habits of Dr. Franklin, the drift of which was to show, that he never pretended to have originated the idea of the Parable, that as an imitation it stood on the same ground as those of Pope and other writers, and that in this light it was eminently felicitous and successful.
“ This great man, who at the same time that he was desirous of disseminating an amiable sentiment, was an extreme lover of pleasantry, often endeavoured to put off the parable in question upon his acquaintance, as a portion of Scripture, and probably thought this one of the most successful modes of circulating its moral. This object would certainly have been defeated, had he prefixed to the printed copies of the Parable, which he was fond of dispersing, an intimation of its author. He therefore gave no name whatever to it, much less his own. And often as I have heard of his amusing himself on this occasion, I never could learn that he ascribed to himself the merit of the invention. His good humor constantly led him into a train of amusing stories concerning the persons, who had mistaken it for Scripture, (for he had bound it up as a leaf in his Bible, the better to impose upon them,) which, perhaps, made the point of authorship forgotten.
Indeed, to a man of his magnitude, the accession of fame from this circumstance was too small to make it worth any risk. Artifice must rob him of more than it could yield him; and the gain was temporary, while the injury, from any undue pretension, was as permanent as his own immortal character. He was too wise to think, that the actions of a man like himself could be hid; or that the accidental researches of literary men would suffer a plagiarism of this sort to pass undiscovered, or the good nature or busy turn of mankind permit it to be unnoticed after its discovery. I am told that the Parable referred to is quoted or mentioned by Jeremy Taylor, in his Liberty of Prophesying. Possibly Dr. Franklin heard, from some quarter or other, some general and vague account of what has thus repeatedly appeared in print, and improved the idea in the way we have seen; without being able to give it back to its proper parent, and without knowing perhaps that it claimed a parent so learned, as that your erudite correspondent has pointed out.”
More recently it has been found out, that the Parable is of eastern origin. Sadus, quoted by Gentius, is the celebrated Persian poet, Saadi ; and in the second book of his “ Bostàn” this story is contained substantially the same as in Gentius's Dedication. This fact was made known to Bishop Heber by Lord Teignmouth, who furnished him with a translation from the Persian into English, which is inserted among the notes to Heber's Life of Jeremy Taylor. It is worthy of notice, that Saadi relates the story not as his own, but as having been told to him. Thus its fountain remains yet to be ascertained.
Franklin's version was imperfectly printed from Lord Kames's copy, whether designedly or by mistake is not known. The division into verses was not observed, and all that follows the eleventh verse was omitted. Mr. Vaughan restored the deficient verses in the CORRIGENDA to his edition, since which the Parable has usually been printed entire, although there are slight verbal differences in several of the impressions. - EDITOR.
1. And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent, about the going down of the sun.
2. And behold a man, bowed with age, came from the way of the wilderness, leaning on a staff.
3. And Abraham arose and met him, and said unto him, “Turn in, I pray thee, and wash thy feet, and tarry all night, and thou shalt arise early on the morrow, and go on thy way.”
4. But the man said, “Nay, for I will abide under this tree.”
5. And Abraham pressed him greatly; so he turned, and they went into the tent, and Abraham baked unleavened bread, and they did eat.
6. And when Abraham saw that the man blessed not God, he said unto him, “ Wherefore dost thou not worship the most high God, Creator of heaven and earth ?"
7. And the man answered and said, “I do not worship the God thou speakest of, neither do I call upon his name; for I have made to myself a god, which abideth alway in mine house, and provideth me with all things.”
8. And Abraham's zeal was kindled against the man, and he arose and fell upon him, and drove him forth with blows into the wilderness.
9. And at midnight God called unto Abraham, saying, “Abraham, where is the stranger ?”
10. And Abraham answered and said, “Lord, he would not worship thee, neither would he call upon thy name; therefore have I driven him out from before my face into the wilderness.”
11. And God said, “ Have I borne with him these hundred ninety and eight years, and nourished him, and clothed him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me; and couldst not thou, that art thyself a sinner, bear with him one night?”
12. And Abraham said, “Let not the anger of the Lord wax hot against his servant; lo, I have sinned; lo, I have sinned; forgive me, I pray thee.”
13. And Abraham arose, and went forth into the wilderness, and sought diligently for the man, and found him, and returned with him to the tent; and when he had entreated him kindly, he sent him away on the morrow with gifts.
14. And God spake again unto Abraham, saying, “For this thy sin shall thy seed be afflicted four hundred years in a strange land;
15. “But for thy repentance will I deliver them; and they shall come forth with power, and with gladness of heart, and with much substance.” *
* On the subject of this Parable, see also a letter from Dr. Franklin to Mr. Vaughan, dated November 2d, 1789, in which the author says, that he never published it, "nor claimed any other credit from it, than what related to the style, and the addition of the concluding threatening and promise.” – EDITOR.