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< it would nevertheless meet with violent oppofi. "tion."--He was reproved for the supposed extravagance of the sentiment; and he did not juftify 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 fecnis 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 having rescued them from bondage by mary miracles performed by his servant Moses, he perfonally delivered to that chosen fervant, in presence of the whole nation, a constitution and code of laws for their observance; accompanied and fanctioned with promises of great rewards, and threats of severe punishments, as the contequence of their cbedience or disobedience.
This constitution, though the Deity himself was to be at its head, (and it is therefore called ty political writers a Thcocracy) could not be carried into execution but by means of his ministers; Aaron and his sons were therefore commiflioned to be, with Moses, the first clablithel ministry of the new government.
One would have thought, that the appeintment of uren who had distinguished themselves in procuring the liberty of the nation, and had hazarded their lives in openly opposing the will of a poserful monarch who would have retained that batin in flavery, might have been an appointment acceptable to a grateful people; and that a conititution, famed for them by the D.ity himself, might on that account have been secure of an universal wel- . come reception. , Yet there were, in every one of thie thirteen tribes, some discontented reftlefs fpirits, 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 there, wlienever they felt any inconvenience or hardship, though the niatural and unavoidable effect of their change of fituation, exclaimed againit 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 conftitution might be injurious to their particular interests, that the profitable places would be engrossed by the families and friends of Moles and Aaron, and thers equally well-born excluded t.-In J fephus, and the Talmul, we learn fome particulars, not so fully narrated in the feripture. We are there told, “ that Corah 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 cor fent of the people. He accused Mofes of havinz, 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, Coral's real motive was the supplanting of Aaron, he peisurded the people that lie meant only the
4 Numbers, chats, xiv. † Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 3. " Aill they sathered themselves taustier again! Nincs and Aaroni, nad liit onto them, Yera too much epron soli
, feing at the con resatinns are buly, every one of theus.... where.cpc then lift ye uy yourtelic* above inse c'ngregation?"
public good; and they, moved by his infinuations, began to cry out" Let us maintain the common liberty of our respective tribes ; we have freed ourfelves from the llavery imposed upon us by the Egyptians, and shall we suffer ourselves to be made flaves by Moses? If we must have a master, it were better to return to Pharaoh, who at least fed us with 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 prevente ing any of the people from being present at the colloquies, or even approaching the place, as grounds of great fufpicion. They accused Moses also of peculation; as embezzling part of the golden spoons and the silver chargers, that the princes had offered at the dedication of the altar*, and the offerings of the gold of the common people t, as well as most of the poll tax 1; and Aaron they accused of pocketing much of the gold of which he pretended to have made a molten calf. Besides peculation, they charged Mofes with ambiion ; to gratify which passion, he had, they faid, deceived the people, by promising to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey ; instead of doing which, he had brought them from such a land; and that he thought light of this mischief, provided he could make himself an absolute prince . That, to fupport the new dignity with splendor in his family, the partial poll-tax already levied and given to Aa
* Numbers, chap. vii.
+ Exodus, chap. xxxv. ver. 22. Numbers, chap. iii. and Exodus, chay xxx. # Nombers, chap. xvi. ver. 13, “ Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up Out of a land fowing with mlk and lwner, to kill us in the wilderness, except thoa laike thyfelf altogeil.er a prince over u?"
ron* was to be followed by a general onet, which would probably be augmented from time to time, if he were suffered to go on promulgating nevi laws on pretence of new occasional revelations or the divine will, till their whole fortunes were devoured by that aristocracy."
Moses denied the charge of peculation; and his accusers were deftitute 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 afs, nor done them any other injury,” But his enemies had made the charge, and with some fuccess among the popu- . lace; for no kind of accusation is fo readily made, or eafily believed, by knaves, as the acculation of knavery.
- In fine, no less than two hundred and fifty oft he principal men, “famous in the congregation, men of renown I,” heading and exciting the mob, working them up to such a pitch of phrensy, that they called out, stone 'em, stone 'em, 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 fulfered it to be worked upon by artful nen, 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 mistortune. It farther appears from
* Numbers, chap. iji.
+ Exodus, chap. XXX;
# Numbers, chap. xvi.
the same inestimable history, that when, after many ages, the constitution had become old and much abused, and an amendment of it was propofed, the populace, as they had accused Moses of the ambition of making himself a prince, and cried out, stone him, stone him ; fo, excited by their highpriests and fcribes, they exclaimed against the Meffiah, that he aimed at becoming king of the Jews, and cried, crucify him, crucify him. From all which we may gather, that popular opposition to a public measure, is no proof of its impropriety, even though the opposition be excited and headed by men of distinction.
To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general convention was divinely inspirt when it formed the new federal constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreaonably and vehemently opposed : yet, I must own, I have fo 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 poterity of a great nation, thould 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 bcing.