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prophesy evil, provided he did it according to the principles of just retribution. It was calculated, in their rude mode of viewing it, to help stem the torrent-like recklessness of youth, which is always especially prone to sins of omission, and needs the terrors of the Lord to arrest its heedlessness and inattention. The prerogative of cursing, moreover, which was given to parents, was one not liable to be carried to excess by them. The parental instinct is infinitely stronger than the filial, and would and did restrain all abuses. There is no other recorded curse of a father so severe as this of Noah's upon the son who forgot his personal duty to the immediate author of his earthly existence. The other patriarchs cursed conditionally, which is not so difficult to explain.
The other postdiluvian tradition, which is the last we shall at present consider, is the famous one of the building of Babel and the confusion of tongues. This has challenged the ingenuity of various commentators. look at it in our own simple way, as a picture of some facts which are presented in this lively manner, in order to produce a moral lesson; and then inquire what that lesson is.
In the first place, as to matter of fact; some years have elapsed since the deluge, and still there is but one nation with one language;
6. And the whole earth was of one language and one speech.
Secondly, there is an emigration from the East into the country between the Tigris and Euphrates; “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the East, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar."
Thirdly, they had advanced somewhat in the arts of civilization ; “And they said one to another; 'Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly;' and they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
Fourthly, a national spirit seems to have arisen, with a wish to consolidate society; “Go to, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven : is not this a graphic manner of representing the great and gradual work of founding social institutions, which should give to men a sense of power in the sight of the powers
above : a process that may have begun with the building of a city and citadel ?
Lastly, do not the words that immediately follow, imply that these social institutions were founded on a wrong princi
ple? “ And let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.” Whether this be so or not, the fact is evident, that the project did not prosper. Might it not be that they were setting up a system which would eventuate in a false religion ?
But there were some eternal principles of things which operated to confound their plan. Moses puts the expression of this idea into his usual form for general ideas.
He first indicates the presence of these eternal principles amidst their finite operations; 66 And THE LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men builded.” - He goes on to imply that they were doing
— something without reference to the will of God; “ And The LORD said, “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language, and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.'" Does not all this mean, that when men act from any other principles, than the eternal ones, — which are simple, and hang together, and produce harmony, they necessarily differ, and understand one another no longer, the paths of error being individual, and therefore numberless ? The consequence of difference in objects of desire and pursuit is separation into different communities, and the ultimate consequence of this separation is a difference of dialect. In Moses' arbitrary style, all this comes out thus: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So THE LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth : and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel, &c."
Such are the facts, and what now is to be considered as the moral use of this picture to the Hebrews ?
Let us recur to the design of Moses. He was on the eve of forming a new government and establishing new institutions. In the book in which he records these new institutions, it was especially natural that he should speak of the society from which the progenitor of his race was set apart, as founded on principles which involved decay as a necessity, and that he should account for the variety and hostility of the surrounding nations. It was perhaps particularly useful, that he should hang about the origin of Babylon associations which would diminish the attractions its external prosperity and splendor might give to it in the eyes of the Hebrews. For this he had the materials in this tradition, which he has therefore made part of the poetical exordium to bis history of a theocracy; and a better introduction can hardly be conceived, than just such a statement of the effect of going to work to form a society without reference to the moral ends of society as the will of God.*
* Herder, in his work on the Poetry of the Hebrews, to which I referred in the first part of the first of these Essays, as sanctioning by his learned authority the views of the language which I had derived from a different source than a study of the Hebrew, also coincides with me in this latter opinion. He shows that a parallelism of the theocracy with the government of Babylon, forms the predominant imagery of the Hebrew poetry from the tradition of Babel, recorded by Moses, even to the Revelation of St. John in Patmos. The reader is strongly recommended to the perusal of Herder's work, lately translated by one of our distinguished scholars. I will take this opportunity, however, to remark, that these Essays were written before I had any knowledge of Herder. When preparing them for the press, there happened to fall into my hands a manuscript translation of the first chapter of Herder's work, and I therefore took the advantage of his name as giving authority to the speculations with which the first Essay began. But the Essays, with the exception of that one passage, retain the form into which they were put when they were first written, several years since. I am happy to have the advantage of coincidences with Herder, when I can feel that there could not have been any plagiarism, voluntary or involuntary ; and therefore I received peculiar delight from reading this contribution of President Marsh to our sacred literature.
ART. VII. — The Claims of Harvard College upon its
Sons. A Sermon, preached in the Chapel of that Institution on Lord's Day Afternoon, July 13, 1834. By John G. PALFREY, A. M., Professor of Biblical Literature. Cambridge. James Munroe & Co. pp. 20.
THERE is good meaning, we apprehend, in the title of this sermon. Of course, whoever thinks that the diffusion of knowledge has something to do with social welfare, and that intellectual accomplishments make an element in the efficiency of public men, regards a place of education in the higher departments, which has tolerably well done its office, as having established a substantial claim on a whole community's good will. But to those who have enjoyed its discipline, such an institution makes an appeal, resting on other grounds. They stand directly indebted to it for personal services of the most important nature. It has put them in possession of valuable powers of action, and sources of enjoyment. It has introduced them to places, where, promoting on a large scale the well-being of others, they find themselves most effectually securing their own; or it has helped them to a selfish satisfaction in intellectual pleasures, which are well worth having, when there is no taste for what is better; or, at all events, it has given them added capacities for pushing their way in the world. And the sentiment of gratitude, so natural and well grounded, will scarcely fail of being excited to greater strength, by the force of associations in the mind, unavoidably attaching themselves to the scene of one's intellectual experience during the most impressible and imaginative years of life.
If any one imagines that Harvard College has not deserved well on an extensive scale, there is nothing better to do in his behalf, than to commend him to the study of the history of English North America. For more than fifty years from its establishment, that is, for nearly twenty years after the safety of the northern colonies was secured by the issue of Philip's war, it was the only seat of higher instruction on this side the water; and the only two other institutions of the same class during the first century of the settlements, date from a period so nearly approaching to its close, that all the educated men, who had arrived at the most prominent stations within that eventful time, had either studied abroad, or were formed under the tuition of this college. How good that tuition was, might be inferred from the fact that youth were often sent from the parent country to enjoy it, if it were not better shown by the well ascertained competency of those, whom it had reared, to all duties expected of the wise and learned. So, with a like exception for the youth of Virginia and Carolina, who were sent to foreign schools, the educated men, of an age to take any considerable part in the revolutionary contest of argument or arms, were necessarily furnished by Harvard College, or by some one of two smaller institutions of the same character in New England, and four in the southern states; and, in fact, the former school was the mother of far the greater portion of this race, of which Otis, Warren, Quincy, and the Adamses, were only most distinguished specimens.
If any one thinks that, individually, he has carried nothing away from this college which he has occasion to think of with pleasure and gratitude, he will naturally wish to keep the opinion to himself, and will save us the pain of agreeing, and the trouble of disputing, with him. And those of us, who are sensible or vain enough to be of another mind, find much, of an accessory sort, to heighten the interest, which could not fail to attach in our thoughts to the scene of early study. If the English taste of our fathers for locating the great houses of religion and learning in a plain by a river's side, or if, otherwise, (which is a pretty old theory on the subject) the desire of securing for their learned youth “the orthodox and soul-flourishing ministery of Mr. Thomas Shepheard” determined them to a spot which we might not have selected from the whole beautiful vicinity, yet it is one by no means destitute of natural attractions, and time and art' have built up around it one of the most agreeable villages which the country has to show. 6 The scituation of this colledg is very pleasant," writes old Johnson in 1651,
at the end of a spacious plain, more like a bowling-green than a wilderness, neer a fair navigable river, environed with many neighbouring towns of note, the building thought by some to be too gorgeous for a wilderness, and yet too mean in others' apprehensions for a colledg.” The “fair navigable river" still “wanders along its silver-winding way," worth a dozen, as nature made it, of either Seine or Tiber,