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vast deal of slumbering fire within; witness our Washington, whose natural temper was harder to govern than his army. It would seem as if, without this warmth, they could not sustain themselves through all their labors and trials. When the Israelites at Meribah called on him to supply them with water, forgetting the divine promise, he reproved them for asking an impossibility, – that he should supply them with water among those burning rocks and sands. It was of the utmost importance that he should manifest a perfect confidence in the Almighty, and, standing as he did in the highest station, his example of unbelief might have proved fatal; the crime under the circumstances was such, that it deprived him of the glory of entering the promised land. But, instead of repining or imploring to be spared, he prayed that God would raise up another in his stead, who would be equally devoted to his people.
Indeed, it was this very devotion to the welfare of his people, which sometimes caused his offending. When he had dashed in pieces the tables of stone, in his wrath at witnessing their relapse into Egyptian idolatry, the moment God threatens the people, his whole feeling changes, and he says, passionately and without reverence, “If thou wilt, forgive their sin ; and if not, blot me out of the book which thou hast written.” There is nothing in the Scripture more calmly majestic than the divine reply, “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my
book." It should be remembered that there was never the least taint of selfishness in his passion; from the time when he slew the Egyptian, in his anger at seeing a countryman basely oppressed, there were several such instances of impatience; but it was always for others, not for himself, that he encountered the divine displeasure.
In the great work which Moses was to do, moral energy was at least as important as intellectual power; but in this gift also he abounded. His historical writings have always been admired for their simplicity; much is said in few words; and a perfect idea is given of all the ground which philosophical history ought to cover, including not only the course of events, but of society, manners, government, and religion, which prevailed in the early ages. His poetical talent, which in its perfection is one of the noblest gifts of God, is one of the best proofs of his mental superiority. Read the noble lyric ode in which he celebrates the passage of the Red Sea ; or the one, more powerful yet, in which he blest the people and bade them a last farewell. Among the Psalms, the plaintive elegy, beginning “Lord! thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations,” is ascribed to bim; and no one of the whole number exceeds it in mournful and affecting beauty.
And yet, after all, the work which he accomplished was the greatest in which intellect can possibly be exerted. He had determined to redeem his people from the most powerful of all nations. The Hebrews were slaves, feeble, unwarlike, and spirit-broken by their bondage ; he was to brace them up to bold and decisive action, to force their way through the desert and seize the land of promise, and, what was still more, to subdue their ungovernable spirits to the peace and order required by the law. He had the mental gifts which eloquence requires, because he was a poet, and dealt in the living images and passionate sentiment, which fire the hearts of thousands at once ; but an imperfection in his speech deprived him of this means of influence; in addressing the people, he was obliged to employ the peaceful oratory of his brother. He pretended to no military skill, the talent most dazzling in the eyes of an uncultivated people; but he had a clear and powerful understanding to plan, and a mighty heart to bear him through, the enterprise, which was perhaps the most difficult ever undertaken by man. And it was planned and executed by him, not when the fire of youth was burning within him, but when eighty years had passed over and whitened his head.
But, without saying more at present of the difficulty of that enterprise, we will take a survey of the principles of that Constitution by which he hoped to secure the happiness of his people.
Ii was the opinion of Mr. Jefferson, - we believe it is a general opinion, - that the pursuit of agriculture is the best foundation for the safety and happiness of a free people. Such was the judgment of the Hebrew statesman.
Such was the employment by which he designed to support the great body of the people. He knew that commerce would only tend to make the nation a temptation and a prey to invaders, while it would destroy the spirit which would enable the Hebrews to resist them. Therefore it was, that he took so much pains to impress upon his people, that their country was most favorable to these pursuits, and that these pursuits were most favorable to the prosperity and happiness of the country. It
was a land of rivers and fountains, - a land of valleys and hills, - a land which drank liberally of the rain of heaven, and the blessing of God was upon it from the beginning to the end of the year. As for commerce, they could have all its benefits without engaging in it theinselves. The great Phenician cities, Tyre and Sidon, were on their borders, and ready to supply them with all they wanted in return for their agricultural productions ; the rich caravans of the desert continually swept along their borders, so that, if they chose, they could enjoy the benefit of the enterprise of other nations without expense to themselves. He endeavoured then to make them content under their vines and fig-trees, and to convince them, that, in these unambitious cares, they might not find wealth nor fame indeed, but they would find the best happiness which this world could bestow.
We would ask now if he was not right in his judgment both as to private happiness and public security? Is it not the impression of the most enlightened statesmen of the present day, not that commerce should be discouraged indeed, but that agriculture is the best pursuit for the great body of a free people? The circumstances of the world are altered now; our country is more favorably situated than his, because our rampart is the sea, while his was exposed on every side; and yet it is admitted that this maxim of political wisdom will apply to every free nation at the present day. It is true that his hopes were disappointed; this unaspiring pursuit was too quiet for the taste of his countrymen, when war was the business of all the rest of the world.' But the event proved the truth of his principles and predictions. We find that some of the tribes were constantly engaged in commercial pursuits. Solomon laid Opbir and Tarshish, — the East and West Indies of the day, — indeed he laid all the known world, under contribution; he had bis harbours in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea; he built Tadmor in the desert,- now a marble waste, -as a station for his caravans. Wealth flowed in through a thousand channels, and, as the prophetic eye of Moses foresaw, it proved the ruin of the country; it became a golden weight which ground its free institutions to the dust.
The second great principle of the Hebrew constitution was the discouragement, and the exclusion as far as possible of a military taste among the people; we mean a taste for conquest, and all the passions which it implies and inspires. 30 s. VOL. III. NO. I.
Here, too, there is something wonderful in his discernment of the true elements of prosperity in a commonwealth. He lived in an age when war was the business and delight of man; when hardly any thing was respected in nations, or in men, in comparison with military fame; when public virtue and civil wisdom dwindled into nothing before the splendid sins of war. In such an age he saw the hollowness of such glory; he saw, and the verdict of our republic has confirmed his wisdom, that the greatness of a nation consisted not in its memorable victories, or its extended bounds, but in the amount of individual prosperity and happiness spread through the dwellings and hearts of the land.
His object was to make all citizens soldiers sufficiently trained for all purposes of defensive war, and he anticipated no other. This militia system was more efficient in his age than it is in ours, for then every man bad more or less of the hardy qualifications of the soldier. These were to be drawn out by an impartial system of conscription, and thus a force could be gathered at once upon any point exposed to invasion. His principle in these respects was the same with ours. But all his calculations were defeated, as the best designs are often defeated, by those whom they were meant to serve. ducted the Israelites in a direct path to the promised land, intending to take peaceable possession, if possible, of the land of their fathers. But the spirit of the nation had sunk so low during their long period of bondage, that they dared not enter the land; and, bad they entered it, would not have had vigor and virtue enough to be free. He was compelled to withdraw them in disappointment and sorrow; and to wait till a generation had been formed by the hardships of the wilderness, energetic enough to enter and take possession of the land. But the very process by which they were prepared for this service, unfitted them in about the same proportion for the arts of
peace, which were essential to their prosperity in the land when they had once possessed it.
Much fault has been found with the treatment of the Canaanites under his directions, and with the severity of his war laws. They were not his; they were the customs of the age, to which every statesman must of necessity conform. Suppose that a Christian statesman feels obliged, under all the circumstances, to consent to a declaration of war. What shall he do? Shall he order the troops to strike soft in battle, and be care
ful not to hurt any body with their arms? The idea of conducting such operations in a mild and pleasant manner, — such as shall be agreeable to all parties, – is absurd. The least reflection on the subject shows, that, whatever a statesman's private feelings may be, his military operations must be carried on after the fashion of the day. He did not consider the vagrant tribes, who happened to be upon the soil, as established tenants of the country. It does not appear that he ever meant to dislodge them ; for it is certain that many Canaanites remained and were protected long after the Hebrews took possession. Whenever he had occasion, in his wanderings, to pass through a settled couðtry, he asked permission; if it was not granted, he took some other way, except in cases of great insult and outrage, and then for the sake of example he avenged his wrongs. These things were forced upon him; any one can see, that they were against his policy, against bis maxims of civil wisdom. He saw, that when a taste for conquest gained possession of a republic, that moment it was undone; it had no longer any claiin to existence. If the merchant vessel becomes a pirate, she cannot founder or become a wreck too soon. He foresaw all that actually happened in succeeding times. David, a gallant and successful warrior, extended his dominions from the Euphrates to the Red Sea, and bound all the subject nations into as firm and vigorous an empire as the world ever saw. But it could only be ruled by a hand as vigorous as his own; and its fate was like that of the Roman Empire. The oppressed barbarians rose at last, and not only reclaimed their own, but bore down and overwhelmed their masters. Moreover, while it existed, the property of individuals was sacrificed to the glory of the whole; the empire was great, but no member of it was happy. It was an unnatural state; and, by a common retribution, no one suffered more than he whose ambition overthrew the institutions of that wise statesman, who thought that an hour of freedom was worth an eternity of fame.
Another maxim of his policy was that of giving every citizen a right and interest in the soil. Nobles and landlords there were none; every other country had its privileged orders; but in order to give to his commonwealth as proper a character as was possible, he made every man a landholder. When the soil of Canaan was first appropriated, it was parcelled out among the families of every tribe ; genealogies and