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tary.* With great regard, I have the honour to be, my lord, your lordship's most obedient and most humble servant,
A COMPARISON OF THE CONDUCT OF THE
ANCIENT JEWS, AND OF THE ANTIFE.
AMERICA. A Zealous advocate for the proposed federal constitution, in a certain public assembly, said, that "the repugnance of a great part of mankind to good government was such, that he believed, that if an angel from heaven was to bring down a constitution, form. ed 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 imme. diately 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, till it became a great people : and ha.
• It was a fever in which the earl of Buchan, then Lord Cadross, lay sick at St. Andrew's; and the advice was, not to blister, according to the old practice, and the opinion of the learned Dr. Simson, brother of the celebrated geometrician at Glasgow,
ving 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 disobedience.
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 the 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 proçuring the liberty of their nation, and had hazarded 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 an universal welcome reception. Yet there were, in every one of the thira teen tribes, some discontented, restless spirits, who were continually exciting them to reject the proposed new government, and this from various motives,
Mapy still retained an affection for Egypt, the land of their nativity; and these, whenever they felt any inconvenience or hardship, though the patural 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 parti. cular interests, that the profitable places would be engrossed by the families and friends of Moses and Aaron, and others, equally well born, excluded.tIn Josephus, and the Talmud, we learn some parti. culars, not so fully parrated 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 motive was the supplanting of Aaron, he persuaded the people that he meant only the public good; and they, moved by his insinua. tions, began to cry out, “ Let us maintain the con. mon 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
• 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 congregations are holy, every one of them wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation?"
bread 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 conference with God, and objected to the privacy of the meetings, and the preventing any of the people from being present at the colloquies, or even approaching tlie place, as grounds of great suspicion. They accused Moses also of peculation, as embezzling part of the golden spoons aud the silver chargers, that the princes had offered at the dedication of the altar, * and the offerings of gold by the conimon people, t as well as most of the poll tas; I and Aaron' they accused of pocketing much of the gold of which he pretended to have inade 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; in. stead of doing which, he had brought them from such a land ; and that he thought light of all 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 Aaron,ll was to be followed by a general one, ** which would probably be augmented
• Numbers, chap. vii.
§ Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 13. “ Is it 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 thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?"
0 Numbers, cháp. iii. ** Exodus, chap. XXX,
from time to time, if 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 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 wob, worked them up to such a pitch of phrensy, that they called out, “ Stone them, stone them, and thereby secure our liberties; and let us choose other captains, that 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 newly 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
* Numbers, chap. xvi.