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“ water to drink.” And, depend upon it, they found some, or it had been very bad with them indeed. But the truth is, that nothing is more common among writers, both sacred and profane, than the use of the word all, not in an absolute, but a relative, or comparative sense, as implying many, some of all sorts, &c, By adverting to this simple and obvious consideration, you might have spared yourselves the trouble of labouring in vain, through three or four pages, to be witty on the subject of Pharaoh's cattle being killed more than once, and such like pleasant conceits. These are poor peddling doings; but we shall have some flashing, by and by, to make amends. Page 15.
“Some weak believers are in doubt, “ whether so mean, so ungenerous, and so dishonest "an act, as borrowing the jewels of the Egyptians, “ without any intention of returning them, did not “ rather originate in that disposition, which charac“terizes the Jews to this day, than in the command “ of the just God, who certainly could need no such " tricks to accomplish his intentions.
Much reason have we to wish, that some one among the unbelievers would take the pains to acquire a moderate stock of Hebrew, that so he “ might have to give," upon such occasions as these
to him that needeth.”. For that the Isralites, in the proper sense of the English word, borrowed these jewels, or gave the Egyptians reason to expect a return of them, does by no means appear from the original, to which a man, when he is disposed to play the critic upon an author, should always have recourse, if he be solicitous to deserve the character of an honest man and a scholar. The general signification of the word " is to ask, to require, to demand. In the three texts relative to this transaction, the Seventy', and in the two former, the Vulgate, render it by a term of similar import. It is said, “the Israelites spoiled the Egyptians;" they took these jewels, vessels, &c. and the Egyptians gave them, as the spoil of a conquered enemy, glad to escape with life, and to dismiss a much injured people; they took these spoils, as wages due, and withholden, for immense labour undergone; as a recompense for long and cruel oppression; some of them, probably, as insignia of the vanquished Egyptian deities, to be afterwards employed in the service of the true God, whom Egypt, as well as Israel, ought to have acknowledged and adored; who, as the great Lord and Proprietor of all things in heaven and earth, taketh from one, and giveth to another, according to his good pleasure, founded evermore in wisdom, truth, and righteousness; who at the beginning foretold that the Egyptians should be spoiled, and when the time came, directed his people so to spoil them. “God gave them favour:” the act was his, and the Israelites were instruments only in his hands. If men are pleased to concern themselves at all with the history, they must take the whole as it stands, neither blaming those on whom no blame can properly fall, nor accusing their Maker of iniquity, who can be guilty of none, but at a future day, to the confusion of all his blasphemers, will be fully “ justified in his saying, and clear when he is
One cannot but bless oneself to see how ready these writers are, at every turn, to give sentence against the people of God, in favour of their enemies; as if they emulated the fame of a set of worthies in the fifth century, called Cainites ; who, having reprobated the Saviour of the world, his prophets, and apostles, are said to have adopted into the catalogue of their saints, and paid especial honours to the memories of-Cain, Korab, Dathan, Esau, the Sodoinites, and Judas Iscariot.
As to their intiination, at page 17, that, because Egypt was a country intersected by canals, there never were any horses or chariots in it; they ought for this to take their part in the next general flogging at Westminster school. During the operation, perhaps, the captain of the school will be enjoined by the master to read aloud the following short passage from Rollin's Ancient History: “ Foot, Horse,
and Chariot-races were performed in Egypt with " wonderful ayility, and the world could not show
better horseinen thay the Egyptians'."
In the next letter we shall proceed to the consideration of a topic entirely new-BALAAM's Ass.
The first difficulty here is, “Why God should be
angry with Balaam for going, when he had given " himn leave to go?”
To be sure, all circumstances continuing the same, it would be strangemit would be passing strange. But if circumstances varied, the divine conduct might vary too. “Go," says God, “but” -observe" the word which I shall say unto thee, , " that shalt thou dok." Balaam seems to have set out with a resolution to obey; for like a man, and like an honest man, he had boldly and nobly said, “ If Balak would give me his house-full of silver “ and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the “Lord my God, to do less or more!.” However, it is possible that, upon the road, either by the persuasive arguments of the princes of Moab who accompanied him, or by the wicked suggestions of his own deceitful heart, an alteration had taken place in his mind, and interest had gained the ascendant over duty. I say, this is possible : considering his character, it is probable: but a passage in the history itself seems to make it certain. “I went “ out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse
k Numb. xxii. 20.
1 Ibid. xxii. 18.
before me".” But what way? Not merely his journey, for he had leave to take it conditionally. Way must necessarily be understood in its moral acceptation. Something was wrong in the course of his thoughts, his imaginations, in his design and intention, now changed from what they were at setting out. “ The foolishness (or wickedness) of
man PERVERTETH his WAY"." Therefore God was angry, not, as it is in our translation, “because “ he wento;” but “ as he was going—while he was “ on the road P." Up Balaam's humbling himself, and offering to return, leave of proceeding is again granted, but with a significant repetition of the original proviso: “Only the word that I shals “speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak 9"-"
-"Go, on; but remember, to me your heart is open, your “ desires are known. If you betray your trust, the “ drawn sword of the angel waits to punish your
duplicity as it ought to be punished.” This appears to be a fair and reasonable solution of the first difficulty.
As to the second, it is observed, page 17, that “ the ass exhibited a specimen of penetration and “ prudence, of which the asses of modern times “ seem to be divested."
The observation brings to my mind one made upon the subject some years ago, by that father of the faithless, Dr. Tindal. " What a number of ideas
1 Prov. xix. 3.
m Numb. xxii. 32.
כי חולך •