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of book-making brings in part its own apology, since any one who now ventures before the public needs not even say that he is no candidate for reputation or even for remembrance. Every reasonable writer should be content if his production succeed only as the summer fruit, which is refreshing and nutritious to some persons for a single season, and may leave a few seeds to germinate in a not unfriendly soil.
The author cannot close this Preface without referring affectionately to a most estimable parishioner, that high-minded merchant and consistent Christian, Edward Wight of New York, — who requested, some time before his lamented decease, that these papers might be laid before the public, from his own convictions of their probable usefulness.
NEW YORK, September 7, 1853.
ABRAHAM AND THE EMPIRE OF FAITH.
WESTERN Asia is well called, not only the geographical centre of the human race, but also the
spiritual centre,” the “ cradle of man's moral nature." The history of civilization is little more than the narrative of the tribes who have started from the table-lands beyond the Euphrates, and carried empire with them in their march towards the West. All in turn have been called to contribute their portion to the heritage now becoming the common property of mankind; and we are graceless heirs if we are forgetful of our ancestry. The Phænicians became the representatives of the commercial spirit, the Greeks, of taste in literature and the beautiful arts, — the Romans, of law and dominion, and the Northern or Germanic tribes, of the spirit of individual liberty. But the magnificent drama of civilization would be sadly incomplete, if these races, with their peculiar heroes, had been left to work out the future of humanity alone. There is an empire in the world that rests upon far other agencies than Grecian arts or Roman arms, - an empire of faith, whose triumph every age has in some measure illustrated. In this, the Hebrew race has from the first borne the palm, and its proph
ets are the leaders of the hopes of mankind. The founder of the Hebrew people deserves his name, “father of the faithful,” and his posterity are already as the stars of heaven.
It was probably no very strange spectacle to the nomad tribes who roamed the rich plains around the Euphrates, when they caught sight of the migrating party headed by the father of nations. To all appearance, the same thing had been of frequent occurrence, as want or enterprise tempted the residents of old settlements towards less populous lands. Most conspicuous was the line of camels who bore the tents and goods of the party, whilst around them, a less distinguishable mass, moved the flocks. The venerable emir who conducts the march, in company with his wife and nephew, might be easily singled out, as he sits upon his dromedary in quiet thought, or converses with his relatives, or gives orders to the servants who have charge of the flocks. It must soon have appeared, however, that no slight or capricious purpose dictated the movement. Forward, day after day, and week after week, the party proceeded, and found no permanent rest until they encamped in Canaan, the land to which, by a providential impulse, the leader had been called.
Pause a moment, and consider the significance of this man's entrance into that country. All that was in his own mind we cannot know, nor is there good reason to believe that, at the time, he had a very clear idea of the extent of his mission. He was a man of very devout convictions, but by no means indifferent to worldly prosperity; and the double purpose of rescuing his family from the rising idolatry of his Chal