Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

have had, for some years, two abso- situation he held till 1755, being no lute engagements upon me for two of longer capable of discharging the dumy best livings, or such of a secondary ties annexed to it. He accordingly sort as will be accepted of till better gave in his resignation, both to the fall. And I am very sure, you are Dean and Chapter of Norwich, and not the man that would say a single also to the Mayor and corporation of word to me towards the immorality Lynn, early in the summer of that of falsehood or breach of promise. year. How his resignation to the forAnd I have the very same opinion of mer was worded we know not, but the goodness of heart of those worthy his resignation to the latter, of which persons who have entered into this we have obtained a copy, was exaffair with you. As to actual va- pressed in the following words, and cancies, it is our duty not to wish addressed to the elder Cary, then in for any by death. And they are very the second year of his mayoralty.uncertain, and improbable to happen.“ Sir, A long decline of life, and abduring the remainder of my life, solute incapacity of attending on such tho' my health is surprisingly better a ministry as that of Lynn, calls upon than it was in my younger days. me to resign it to some hands able in With all these considerations of my due manner to discharge it to the age, and the precarious condition of good-liking and satisfaction both of all human affairs, if you will take my the Dean and Chapter of Norwich · word, you will find me, if alive, as and of the mayor and corporation of sincere a friend, as you yourself can Lynn. But I cannot nor ought to do wish to find.

this, without paying my just and most Your affectionate, &c. grateful acknowledgments to yourself,

B. W.* Sir, with the former magistrates, and Mr. Pyle, as was said before, ob- the rest of the gentlemen of your botained the lectureship, and became dy, for the favours they have, for a the preacher at St. Nicholas' Chapel, long tract of time conferred upon me, and one of thic ministers of the town and in particular for their tender and in 1701. In that situation he continued generous indulgence towards me in till 1732, when he succeeded Dr. Lit- these last years of my age and infirmitel as vicar of St. Margaret's. This

ties. I request, Sir, you will please to make your hand the conveyor of

this only return left in my power of The same MS. volume, or Collection, thankfulness to them, accompanied from which the above has been taken, with the sincerest wishes of every contains the following curious fragment or kind of good that can finish the welP.S. of a letter of the date of 1742, from fare and prosperity of an ancient, gethe same respectable prelate, to the same correspondent, as we presume, for it has verous, and loyal society ; wishes no superscription.— I find by the direc from the heart of yours and theirs tion of one of your correspondents, whose most affectionate humble servant, hand and head I guess at, low great a “May 28th, 1755." Tho. PYLE." man a C-n of S- must be, that his

This letter is supposed to have been titles must follow him into all countries. dated from Swaffham, where, on acThe other, whose hand and head I pretty count of its healthy situation, he rewell know, has more sense than to adorn sided the two last years of his life ; the outside of his letters in that manner.I remember a story of a clergyman of

and where, if we are not mistaken,

great form in Surry, who directed a post letter he also died on the last day of the to Abp. Sancroft-To his Grace, my Lord ensuing year. He was buried in the Abp. of Canterbury, Primate of all Eng- Church of Lynn All-Saints, where land and Metropolitan :—which letter a a Latin epitaph honourable to their man famous for imitating hands happened memories, is inscribed on the stone to see brought to the post-office at Epsom, that covers the remains of him and and finding a little room left after the word his wife. She died the 14th of March, metropolitan, added the words to boot, 1748, aged 66: and he died the 31st which caused great wrath in old Sancroft, of December, 1756, aged 82. This and a thorough reprimand to the poor man next time he appeared at Lambeth, who was 58 years after the commencement could not distinguish the addition from his

of his ministry. uwu band.

B. W."

MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATIONS.

A Dissertation concerning the Power like knowledge of a whole nation,

and Authority by which Moses acted. or of their immediate predecessors ; (From the unpublished M.SS. of the Rev. not flattering or amusing them with Samuel Bourn, of Norwich.)

wonderful tales, but warmly exposT? (T may be thought an indispensable tulating with them, severely reproach.

part of the office of an historian, ing them, and denouncing dreadful to assist the reader's judgment, in dis- threatenings against them for their tinguishing real from fictitious events, ingratitude, stupidity, obstinacy and and to throw all the light he is able disobedience. As to the heathen miupon such periods of time, as seem racles, they come to us, not only like more obscure and uncertain in pro- Hamlet's ghost in a questionable shape, portion to their antiquity, and to the but in a shape so distorted and dewant of contemporary or subsequent formed, or so fantastic and ridiculous, authors, capable of refuting or con- as to surpass even the most foolish firming whatever have been related. vulgar tales of apparitions in our days, This will be more expected in the “ That the memory of such a present case, as the credibility of mie series of public and stupendous events racles in general, must be deeply af. would have been perpetuated among fected by deciding whether Moses the Egyptians, if not the Arabians, acted with the direction and assistance Phenicians or Syrians, by some lastof a supernatural power and wisdom ing signs or monuments, or written or not.

records, or at least by oral tradition. To the prevailing belief in all Chris. For the accounts of prodigies are the tian nations of the miracles said to most natural subjects of eager attenhave been performed in Egypt and in tion and curiosity, and most likely to the wilderness, the following objec- be delivered in substance though not tions and answers are offered for the without some variation from father reader's satisfaction.

to son through a long succession, yet It may be pleaded against such be- it does not appear that any such teslief (1) " that it hath been almost the timony was ever discovered of the universal s'actice of nations in former reality of those miracles." ages to magnify their antiquity, and To this we may answer—That there to deduce their origin and first set. are many places whose modern names tlement, from the interposition and in the Arabic language mentioned by assistance of some Deity or Deities; travellers have a significant reference such as were afterwards acknowledged to the miracles recorded in the Heand worshiped in each nation; and brew writings as performed at those that the writers in times long after, places; and (exclusive of those wrivainly pretending to give some ac- tings, and of those religious customs count of what had passed in remote of the Jews, at present, in which and obscure periods, and finding they profess to commemorate the most themselves in a painful want of ma. signal of those miracles) these may be terials for real history, have studied all the memorials we can reasonably to relieve themselves and amuse their expect to find, of events which hapreaders with fables, instead of facts, pened in such remote antiquity. For and to embellish their narration with it seems by no means probable that prodigious incredible events." those nations, especially

the Egyptian, The substance of this may be ad- who suffered such dreadful calamities, mitted, yet easily answered, if con- and to whom the Hebrews were both sidered as an objectiou. For it is in an abomination and a terror, would that view no better than merc flourish cver erect or preserve any public meor misrepresentatiou. The narrators morials of events so much to the hoof the Mosaic miracles, were not wri- nour of the Hebrews and of their ters of a late age, prying into a re- God; and to the disgrace of themmote and dark antiquity, and inyent- selves and to their own deities; or ing or adorning fables, for want of that they would wish to perpetuate facts; but were contemporaries, and any remembrance of them by trawitnesses from their own knowledge dition. It seems much more probable and experience, and appealing to the that the Egyptians, rather than con

fess the truth of such facts, would populous and powerful than most studiously conceal or misrepresent other countries. Accordingly, so earthem, and would infuse an opinion ly as in the time of Moses, it appears into all foreigners who visited their to have been a great and flourishing country in after times, that the He. kingdom, though not arrived perhaps brews were forcibly expelled for their to any high ambition of making conseditious and criminal behaviour ; or quests. It seems unaccountable then, for other reasons. To allege, that if how it should remain for five centuthere were now extant literary re- ries after that time in so low, weak, cords of other nations, equally or al- and inactive a condition that neither most as ancient, they might have the Hebrews, nor Philistines, nor any served to refute the Hebrew History, of the neighbouring princes or states, is a mere supposition deserving con- seem ever to have had any apprehentempt. But the late invention and sion of danger from thence, or to have slow progress of letters in those ages coveted any assistance or alliance seem to preclude the use of manu- there, till the time of Solomon, who scripts in all nations, except by a few married an Egyptian princess ; and persons of superior rank. The gene- that no mention should ever be made rality of the Hebrews themselves con- of the shipping and commerce of tinued strangers to it, for a vast length Egypt, though Sidon and Tyre are of time. The Arabians were divided noted as commercial cities; and So. into a great number of small inde- lomon carried on a gainful traffic with pendent tribes or hordes, at a distance some parts of the East Indies, from from each other; and therefore build- two ports on the Coast of the Red ings or other places of safety for the Sea. Yet soon after his time the inpurpose of depositing and preserving terference of Egypt became of mighty their manuscripts could hardly be in consequence in the affairs of the He. use among them, supposing them brews, though Syria was a nearer ever so ingenious and free a people, and more troublesome neighbour to If the use of letters had been at all the kingdom of Israel. At length the common in Egypt it may be naturally Babylonian and Assyrian Empires inferred that the use of hieroglyphic arose to conquest and dominion. But characters would have been wholly the weakness and insignificance of the neglected in no long course of time. kingdom of Egypt for so long a period, Yet the use of them was most pre- notwithstanding the natural fertility valent many centuries afterward. Let- of the country is easily and clearly ters were not known in Greece, at explained, if we allow that it suffered Jeast the alphabet was very imperfect, such a series of dreadful calamities as till Cadmus imported into it sixteen are described in the Mosaic history; letters, together with a colony from which must have reduced it to such Phenicia; which happened according desolation that a rest of several cen to the Newtonian chronology, in the turies would be necessary to restore reign of David. It was not till at, or it. During this interval of weakness after, the same time, that Egypt rose and distress, it was scarcely possible to great power, began to make con- that the arts and sciences should be quests, and during the reign of Re. cultivated, or any work of ingevuity hoboham, King of Judah, erected a executed fit to perpetuate the mevery extensive empire, though of short mory of past transactions. duration. Yet the country was the (3) “That in the sacred record itself most fertile and easy to be cultivated some circumstances are related which of any in the world. The first set- have an appearance of inconsistency tlers had no occasion for labour and or contradiction. For instance, that expense in cutting down forests, and all the cattle of Egypt are said to be digging up a stubborn soil. As it is destroyed three times—that the whole watered by the annual overflowing of Egyptian army to a man is said to be the River Nile, they had little to do drowned--that the magicians of the but to wait the recess, and then lodge Court of Pharoah are said to work their seeds and plants in the rich miracles of the same kind with those mud. Such advantages would natu- which Moses wrought, and that the rally tempt mankind to settle there Hebrews are said to be divinely au. in great numbers; and it would be thorized to pillage and rob the Egypcome of course, at an early date, more tians, and to destroy or exterminate

inations who had neither done nor racles like his, might' be current offered to do them any injury or in- among the Hebrews as well as the sult." sa wa

Egyptians. For the notion of local, It is a strong presumption that an national and peculiar deities, rivals author has no intention to deceive to each other is dominion, seems to when he uses anr unguarded style, or have been common to the Hebrews a simplicity and looseness of expres- with other nations. It was a work sion, and takes no care to stop the of long time and great difficulty to avenues, by which a suspicion might train them to the ackuowledgment of enter either of fraud or error. This one only living and true God, till appears to be the character of the which time, it was easy and natural writer or writers of the Hebrew his. in them to believe or suspect that the tory. They relate the most extraor- god or gods of the Egyptians might dinary events with the greatest sim- be able to work some miracles, though plicity; and apply terms in such loose the God of Moses proved himself to and general meaning, as is usual and be far more powerful. They, or at familiar. It will not then be a stum- least a party among them, were so bling-block, or matter of surprise, to deeply tinctured with the religious a judicious reader, when he perceives notions and customs of Egypt, that and remarks, that a great destruction we find them making a bold and of the cattle or produce of Egypt, or zealous attempt to revive the Egypof the Egyptian army is expressed in tian worship in the wilderness. The words which strictly and literally author, therefore, of the Book of Exunderstood, would imply, that not a odus, was prudently content with living creature or blade of corn es- shewing the vast superiority of the caped; and that in like manner the power by which Moses acted, to all slaughter, made by the Hebrews in the efforts of the magicians ; leaving the invasion of Canaan, and the cap- it to the readers to judge of the artiture of cities or towns, is often ex- fice and fraud of those enchanters; pressed as if not a single person was yet discovering his own opinion with left alive; though many must cer- sufficient clearness by styling their tainly have escaped, by flight or other works enchantments. methods, and many spared from mo- As to their being divinely authotives of humanity and compassion. rized to pillage and rob the EgypTugme but one instance. The Amale- tians, which has been the language kites of ail the nations were the most of some unbelievers, it scarcely merits expressly doomed to utter destruc- any serious attention or answer. For tion, and King Saul declares to Sa- without pleading the tyranny, with muel that he had executed the sen- which they had been treated as a tence with the utmost rigor ; yet we sufficient vindication or excuse for fiud afterward that the young man them, if they had taken all advanwho brought Saul's crown and brace- tages to make reprisals; the fact aplet to David, was an Amalekite. pears to be, that the Egyptians wheWhat is related of the magicians of ther from motives of fear or

r conipasEgypt may justly be thought another sion, or both, were as willing to asspecimen of the like popular and un- sist them in their departure, and even defined expression; for when they to bestow useful and valuable preare represented as working some mi- sents upon them, as they were to so. racles of the same kind with some licit their assisiance and bounty; and which Moses had performed, the wri- it is evident that the situation ter may be properly considered as not admit, either one party, to prochoosing rather to adopt the popular mise, or the other to expect any relanguage and opinion of the Hebrews turn; though the Hebrew word is concerning thicse pretended miracles, improperly translated borrow, * than to express his own sentiments, stead of beg from them, or ask them and deny the reality of them. Espe- to give the cially, as those magicians soon thought That the Hebrews were empowered fit to desist from their attempts of and directed by a divine commission mimickry and to confess a superior to destroy or exterminate certain napower on the side of Moses. Yet a belief that they did not only imitate See the word iu Taylor's ConMoses but really performed some mi. cordance. No. 1848.

would

in

tions, inhabiting Canaan or Palestine, representation of the facts and circummay be thought to require a greater stances related, which the author, notstretch of belief, as it seems difficult withstanding his great penetration, to reconcile such a commission with might not clearly comprehend. our best ideas 'of Divine Providence Moses, as the visible deliverer, and justice. But it is to be presumed protector, legislator and governor, that the objector will not dispute the civil and religious, of his own, the right or justice of the Deity, in au- Hebrew nation, was impelled by every thorizing mankind to kill for their motive of duty and affection, to proown support, benefit or convenience, vide, in the most effectual manner, the inferior creatures, though per- for the national safety, support and fectly innocent, or to exterminate or prosperity, and consequently for the utterly destroy wolves or other beasts preservation of the excellent laws and of prey, for the preservation of their religion, which he had given them. flocks and herds. No man hath any If he thought himself under indispenscruple concerning the lawfulness or sable obligations to obtain a country justice of such a procedure; or if he for their settlement, sufficient for the find a divine commission to this effect maintenance of them and their in. recorded in the books of Moses, will creasing prosperity ; he would think turn it into an objection to the credit himself under equal if not superior of those books. Now to a philosophic, obligations to provide the strongest mind it is not taking an enormous security for their morals. With these stride, but only advancing one gentle just and elevated views he pointed out step farther, if we admit that a divine to them those nations or tribes of peocommission was once given to one ple whom he knew to be most cor. nation to destroy or exterminate some rupt and ripe for destruction, with other nation, at a time when the lat- express orders to destroy or extermiter, far from being as innocent as the nate them. Because he was most fullower animals, were hecome the most ly convinced, whether by divine innoxious, wicked and detestable of the struction or otherwise, that any in whole human species. Will it be tercourse with such idolatrous and pretended that the Deity or his angel debauched people would be of the had no right to give such a commis- worst consequence to his own peosion, or that the Hebrews were wrong ple; by alienating their hearts from in executing it, as the instruments of the worship of God, seducing them justice in punishing a most profligate to the most detestable vices, and inpeople? This would be a very strange structing them in the most horrid acts argument in the mouths of those, at of cruelty. His design was to form i least, who are so ready to accept a them into a virtuous and religious bohuman commission to make war and dy of people, and to preserve them as destroy, without ever examining the such to future ages ; in the first part justice of the cause or the moral cha- of his design he succeeded; but failed racter of the nation they are preparing in the latter. His plan was wise, just to invade or attack; and without be. and necessary, and therefore approved ing able to plead any colour of neces- by heaven : but his success in the sity to obtain a settlement and sup; latter part of his design depended upon port for themselves, their families, and the excision of the nations whom he their posterity; as was the case of had proscribed. Through a perverse the Hebrews. If heaven was just in humanity of temper, or rather through destroying Sodom and Gomorrah by a greedy design of the profits arising an earthquake and explosion of a vol. from the tribute and service they cano, might it not with equal justice could exact from them, and a fond.

destroy a people equally wicked by ness for the women who were in ge, another method of procedure? But neral prostitutes, (a character scarcely there is, says a late able and elegant known among the Hebrew women,)* writer,* a perverse humanity in us which resists the Divine Commission, be of The term Solomon uses continually it ever so clearly revealed. The best for a harlot or prostitute, in the Book of answer to this may consist in a just Proverbs, is stranger or strange woman,

in contrast to a Hebrew woman. The

first instance of the prevalence of this speShaftsb. Charact.

cies of debauchery in the Hebrew nation VOL. X

2 N

« VorigeDoorgaan »