« ZurückWeiter »
ment of England will finally abandon its present pretensions, and leave us to the peaceable enjoyment of our rights and privileges.
A COMPARISON OF THE CONDUCT OF THE ANCIENT JEWS, AND OF
THE ANTI-FEDERALISTS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
A ZEALOUS advocate for the proposed Federal Constitution in a certain public assembly said, that “the repugnance of great part of mankind to good government was such, that he believed that if an angel from heaven was to bring down a constitution formed there for our use, it would nevertheless meet with violent opposition."—He was reproved for the supposed extravagance of the sentiment; and he did not justify it. Probably it might not have immediately occurred to him, that the experiment had been tried, and that the event was recorded in the most faithful of all histories, the. Holy Bible; otherwise he might, as it seems to me, have supported his opinion by that unexceptionable authority.
The Supreme Being had been pleased to nourish up a single family, by continued acts of his attentive providence, until it became a great people: and having rescued them from bondage by many miracles performed by his servant Moses, he personally delivered to that chosen servant, in presence of the whole nation, a constitution and code of laws for their observance; accompanied and sanctioned with promises of great rewards, and threats of severe punishments, as the consequence of their obedience or disobedia
This constitution, though the Deity himself was to be at its head (and it is therefore called by political writers a theocracy) could not be carried into execution but by means of his ministers: Aaron and his sons were therefore commissioned to be, with Moses, the first established ministry of the new government.
One would have thought, that the appointment of men, who had distinguished themselves in procuring the liberty
of their nation, and had nazarded their lives in openly opposing the will of a powerful monarch who would have retained that nation in slavery, might have been an appointment acceptable to a grateful people; and that a constitution framed for them by the Deity himself, might on that account have been secure of a universal welcome reception. Yet there were, in every one of the thirteen tribes, some discontented, restless spirits, who were continually exciting them to reject the proposed new government, and this from various motives.
Many still retained an affection for Egypt, the land of their nativity; and these, whenever they felt any inconvenjence or hardship, though the natural and unavoidable effect of their change of situation, exclaimed against their leaders as the authors of their trouble; and were not only for returning into Egypt, but for stoning their deliverers.* Those inclined to idolatry were displeased that their golden calf was destroyed. Many of the chiefs thought the new constitution might be injurious to their particular interests, that the profitable places would be engrossed by the families and friends of Moses and Aaron, and others equally well born excluded.t-In Josephus, and the Talmud, we earn some particulars, not so fully narrated in the Scripture. We are there told, “that Korah was ambitious of the priesthood;
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 Korah's real inotive was the supplanting of Aaron, he persuaded the people that 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
* Numbers, chap. xiv.
† Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 3. “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, ev. ery one of them, -wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation?”
to be made slaves by Moses? If we must have a master, it were better to return to Pharaoh, who at least sed us with Dread and onions, than to serve this new tyrant, who by his operations has brought us into danger of famine.' Then they called in question the reality of his conferences with God; and objected to the privacy of the meeting, and the preventing any of the people from being present at the colloquies, or even approaching the place, as grounds of great suspicion. They accused Moses also of peculation; as em
zling part of the golden spoons and the silver chargers, that the princes had offered at the dedication of the altar, * and the offerings of gold by the common peoplc,t as well as most of the poll-tax;f and Aaron they accused of pocketing much of ihe gold, of which he pretended to have made a molter calf. Besides peculation, they charged Moses with ambition; to gratify which passion, he narl, they said, deceived the people, by promising to bring them to a ļand flowing with milk and honey: instead of doing which, he had brought them from such a land; and that he thought light of all this mischief, provided he could inake himself an absolute prince. That, to support the new dignity with splendor in his family, the partial poll-tax already levier and given to Aaron, was to be followed by a general one which would probably be augmented from time to time, he were suffered to go on promulgating new laws, on pretence of new occasional revelations of the Divine will, 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 kuaves, as the accusation of knavery. * Nuinbers, chap. vii. † Exodus, coap. xxxv. ver. 22.
Numbers, chap. iii. and Exodus, chap. XXX.
Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 13. "It is a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in this wilderness, except that thou make thyself altogether a prince over us!" Ihid, clap. iii
4 Exodus, clap. XXX.
In fine, no less than two hundréd and fifty of the principal men, “famous in the congregation, ineu of renown,""* heading and exciting the mob, worked them up to such'a pitch of phrenzy, that they called out, Stone 'em, stone 'em, and thereby secure our liberties; and let us choose other captains, that they may lead us back into 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 new-acquired liberty, which jealousy was in itself no fault; but that, when they suffered 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, and 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 him, stone him; so, excited by their high priests and scribes, they exelaimed against the Messiah, that he aimed at becoining King of the Jews, and cried, Crucify him, crucify him. From all which we inay gather, that popular oppositiou to a public measure is no proof of its impropriety, even though the opposition be excited and headed hy men of distinction.
To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, 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 the 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 some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being.
* Numbers, chap. xvi.
NAUTICAL AFFAIRS. Though Britain bestows more attention to trade than any other nation, and though it be the general opinion, that the safety of their state depends upon her navy alone; yet it seems not a little extraordinary, that most of the great improvements in ship-building have originated abroad. The best sailing vessels in the royal navy have in general been French prizes. This, though it may admit of exceptions, cannot be upon the whole disputed.
Nor is Britain entirely inattentive to naval architecture; though it is no where scientifically taught, and those who devise improvements have seldom an opportunity of bringing them into practice. What a pity it is, that no contrivance should be adopted, for concentrating the knowledge that different individuals attain in this art, into one common focus, if the expression may be admitted. Our endeavors shall not be wanting to collect together, in the best way we can, the scattered hints that shall occur under this head, not doubting but the public will receive with favor this humble attempt to waken the attention 10 a subject of suc: great national importance.
Dr. Franklin, among the other inquiries that had engaged his attention, during a long life spent in the uninterrupted pursuit of useful improvenients, did not let this escape his notice; and many useful hints, tending to perfect the art of navigation, and to meliorate the condition of seafaring people, occur in his work. In France, the art of constructing ships has long been a favorite study, and many improvements in that branch have originated with them. Among the last of the Frenchnien, who have made any considerable improvement in this respect, is M. Le Roy, who has constructed a vessel well adapted to sail in rivers, where the depth of water is inconsiderable, and that yet was capable of being navigated at sea with great ease.
This he effected in a great measure by the particular mode of rigging, which gave the mariners much greater power over the vessel than they could have when of the usual construction.
I do not hear that this improvement has in any case been adopted in Britain. But the advantages that would result from having a vessel of small draught of water to sail with