Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

59. And thou shalt be near me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast, and there will I nourish thee, left thou and thy houshold and all that thou hast come to poy.

-erty.”

60. Joseph was persuaded that a life of pastoral fimplicity would be much more agreeable to his father and brethren, who had always followed the occupation of shepherds; 'than the artificial clegancies and ceremonies of the court ; he therefore fixed their residence in one of the most fertile and pleasant provinces of Egypt, the land of Goshen.

61. When Jacob' received the welcome news that his son Jofeph was Itill living, and the kind meflage which he had commissioned his brethren to deliver, his heart fainted for joy ; and on his revival he exclaimed, “ It is enough ! my son Jofeph is yet alive! I will go and see him before I die."

62. He immediately executed his purpose, and met with the most affectionate reception from his son. “ Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet his father, and prefented himself unto him, and he fell upon his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.”

63. The first tender interview being over, Joseph, nei. ther ashamed of his relations, nor afraid that their occupa. tion, which was esteemed dishonorable by the Egyptians, should expose them to difficulties, or subject himself to obloquy, introduced his father and his brethren into the prefence of the king. As if proud of his connection with the venerable old man, “ he brought in Jacob his father, and fet him before Pharaoh.”

64. Let those who are so much the slaves of vanity, as to be capable of despising their poor relations and aged parents, read this part of the history of Joseph, and blush.

05. There is so much contemptible folly in being ashamed to own a father or brother, because fortune has not raised him to the same point of distinction, or decked him with the same ornaments, with ourselves ; that, without any other evidence, we may certainly pronouuce the understanding of the man who is capable of such conduct weak and defective.

66. And this behavior withal implies fo much ingrati. tude and insensibility, that we need not hesitate to deter

mine, that such a man is, in a great measure at leaft, a stranger to the nobler and more generous virtues, and under the dominion of base and fordid paflions.

67. If there be a person in the world entitled to our res. pectful attention, our affectionate esteem, and our active fer. vices, it must surely be the tender and faithful parent, who has been the protector of our infant years, and the guide of our youth.

68. Can any accidental distinctions we may have acquir. ed, cancel our debt of gratitude, for the affiduous attentions and unceafing attentions of a fond mother, or for the early and unwearied endeavors of a kind father to render us wise, virtuous and happy ? : * 64. Rather, ought not every increase of our fortune and consequence to furnish us with an additional motive, as it affords us new opportunities, to contribute to the ease and happiness of our parents in their advancing years ? Can any thing be more persuasive than the reasoning of the Son of Sirach on this head?

70.“ Honor thy father with thy whole heart, and for. get not the sorrows of thy mother ; for how canst thou re. compense them the things that they have done for thee ?”.

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH, FROM THE TIME OF

ABRAHAM, TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 1. MANKIND had not long been united into societies before they set themselves to opprefs and destroy one another. Chaderlaomer, king of the Elamites, or Persians, was already become a robber and a conqueror. His force, however, must not have been very considerable, since, in one of thèse expeditions, Abraham, affisted only by his houshold, fet on him in his retreat, and, after a fierce engagement, Tecovered all the fpoil that had been taken.

2. Abraham was soon after obliged by a famine to leave Canaan, the country where God had commanded him to fettle, and to go into Egypt. This journey gives occasion

to Mofes to mention some particulars with regard to the E. gyptians, and every stroke discovers the characters of an im. proved and powerful nation.

3. The court of the Egyptian monarch is described in the most brilliant colors. He is surrounded with a crowd of courtiers, solely occupied in gratifying his passions. The particular governments into which this country was divided, are now united under one powerful prince ; and Ham, who led the colony into Egypt, is become the founder of a mighty empire.

4. We are not, however, to imagine, that all the laws which took place in Egypt, and which have been so justly admired for their wisdom, were the work of this early age. Diodorus Siculus, a Greek writer, mentions many successive princes, who labored for their establishment and perfection. But in the time of Jacob, two centuries after, the first principles of civil order and regular government seem to have been tolerably understood among the Egyptians.

5. The country was divided into several districts or separate departments ; councils, composed of experienced and select persons, were established for the management of pub. lic affairs ; granaries for preserving corn were erected ; and, in fine, the Egyptians in this age, enjoyed a commerce far from inconfiderable. These facts, though of an ancient date, deserve our particular attention..

6. It is from the Egyptians, that many of the arts, both of elegance and utility, have been handed down in an uninterrupted chain to the modern nations of Europe. The Egyptians communicated their arts to the Greeks '; the Greeks taught the Romans many improvements both in the arts of peace and war ; and to the Romans, the present inhabitants of Europe, are indebted for their civility and refinement. :

7. The kingdoms of Babylon and Nineveh remained separate for several centuries : but we know not even the names of the kings who governed them, unless it be Ninus, the successor of Assur, who, fired by the spirit of conquest, extends the bounds of his kingdom, adds Babylon to his - dominions, and lays the foundation of that monarchy, af

sisted by his enterprising successor Semiramis, which, under the name of the Assyrian empire, kept Asia under the yoke for many ages.

3.8., Javan, son of Japhet, and grand-fon cf Noah, is the flock from whom all the people known by the name of Greeks are descended. Javan established himself in the illands in the western coast of Asia Minor, from whence it was impossible that some wanderers should not pass over in to Europe.

9. The kingdom of Sicyon near Corinth, founded by the Pelasgi, is generally supposed to have commenced in the year before Christ two thousand and ninety. To these first inhabitants succeed a colony from Egypt, who, about two thousand years before the christian æra, penetrated into Greece, and, under the name of Tirans, endeavored to ef. tablish monarchy in this country, and to introduce into it the laws and civil policy of the Egyptians.

10. But the empire of the Titans foon fell asunder ; and the ancient Greeks, who seem at this time to be as rude and barbarous as any people in the world, again fell back into their lawless and favage manner of life, Several colonies, however, soon after passed over froni Asia into Greece, and by remaining in that country, produced a more considera. ble alteration in the manner of its inhabitants. :11. The most ancient of these were the colonies of Ina. chus and Ogyges ; of whom the former fettled in Argos, and the latter in Attica. We know very little of Ogyges or his successors. Those of Inachus endeavored to unite the dispersed and wandering Greeks ; and their endeavors for this purpose were not altogether unsuccessful..

12. But the history of God's chosen people, the Israel. ites, is the only one with which we are much acquainted during those ages. The train of curious events, which oce casioned the settling of Jacob and his family in that part of Egypt of which Tanis was the capital, are universally known. That patriarch died, according to the Septuagint version, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four years before Christ, but according to the Hebrew chronology, only one thousand fix hundred and eighty-nine years, and in the year of the world two thousand three hundred and fifteen.

13. This is a remarkable æra with respect to the nations of heatlien antiquity, and concludes that period of time which the Greeks considered as altogether unknown, and which they have greatly disfigured by their fabulous narrations. Let us regard this period then in another point of view, and confi der what we can learn from the sacred wri. tings, with respect to the arts, manners, and laws of ancient nationis.

14. It is a common error among writers on this subject, to consider all the nations of antiquity as being on the fame footing with regard to those matters. They find some nations extremely rude and barbarous, and hence they conclude, that all' were in that situation. They discover-others acquainted with many arts, and hence they infer the wisdom of the first ages.

15. There appears, however, to have been as much dif. ference between the inhabitants of the ancient world, in points of art and refinement, as between the civilized king. doms of modern Europe and the indians in America, or the negroes on the coast of Africa.

16. Noah was undoubtedly acquainted with all the arts of the antediluvian world : these he would communicate to his children, and they again would hand, them down to their posterity. ..

17. Those nations therefore who settled nearest the orig. inal seat of mankind, and who had the best opportunities to arail themselves of the knowledge of which their great ancestor was pofleted, early formed themselves into regular focieties, and made considerable improvements in the arts which are most subservient to human life.

18. Agriculture appears to have been known in the first ages of the world. Noah cultivated the vine ; in the time of Jacob, the fig-tree and the almond were weil known in the land of Canaan'; and the instruments of husbandry, long before the discovery of them in Greece, are often mentioned in the sacred writings.

19. It is hardly to be supposed, that the ancient cities, both in Asia and Egypt, whole foundation, as we have already mentioned, ascends to the remotest antiquity, could have been built, unless the culture of the ground had been practised at that time. ' Nations who live by hunting or par. turage only, lead a wandering life, and feldom fix their residence in cities.

20. Commerce naturally follows agriculture : and though we cannot trace the steps by which it was introduced among

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »