« PreviousContinue »
"bition; to gratify which paffion, he had, they "faid, deeived the people, by promising to bring "them to a land flowing with milk and honey; "instead of doing which, he had brought them from fuch a land; and that he thought light of "all this mischief, provided he could make him"felf an abfolute prince*. That, to fupport the new dignity with fplendour in his family, the partial poll tax already levied and given to "Aaron was to be followed by a general one ‡, "which would probably be augmented from "time to time, if he were fuffered to go on pro
mulgating new laws, on pretence of new occa"fional revelations of the Divine Will, till their "whole fortunes were devoured by that arifto66 cracy.
Mofes 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 prefence of God), "I have not ta"ken from this people the value of an ass, nor "done them any other injury." But his enemies had made the charge, and with fome fuccefs among the populace; for no kind of accufation is fo readily made, or easily believed, by knaves, as the accufation of knavery.
In fine, no less than two hundred and fifty of the principal men "famous in the congregation, men of renown§," heading and exciting the mob, worked them up to fuch a pitch of phrenfy, that
* Numbers, chap. xvi. ver. 13. "Is it a small thing that "thou haft brought us up out of a land flowing with milk "and honey, to kill us in this wilderness, except thou make "thyself altogether a prince over us?"
+ Numbers. chap. iii.
Exodus, chap. xxx. f Numbers, chap. xvi.
they called out, ftone 'em, ftone 'em, and thereby fecure our liberties; and let us choose other captains that may lead us back into Egypt, in cafe we do not fucceed in reducing the Canaanites.
On the whole, it appears that the Ifraelites were a people jealous of their newly acquired liberty, which jealoufy was in itself no fault; but that, when they fuffered it to be worked upon by artful men, pretending public good, with nothing really in view but private intereft, they were led to oppose the establishment of the new conftitution, whereby they brought upon themselves much inconvenience and misfortune. It farther appears from the fame ineftimable hiftory, that when, after many ages, the conftitution had become old and much abused, and an amendment of it was propofed, the populace as they had accufed Mofes of the ambition of making himself a prince, and cried out, ftone him, ftone him; fo, excited by their high-priefts 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 oppofition to a public measure is no proof of its impropriety, even though the oppofition be excited and headed by men of dif tinction.
To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general convention was divinely infpired when it formed the new federal conftitution, merely because that conftitution has been unreasonably and vehemently oppofed: yet, I muft own, I have fo much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a tranfaction of fuch momentous importance to the welfare of millions now exifting, and to exift in the pofterity of a
great nation, fhould be fuffered to pass without being in fome degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omniprefent and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior fpirits live, and move, and have their be ing.
THE INTERNAL STATE OF AMERICA:
BEING A TRUE DESCRIPTION OF THE INTEREST AND POLICY OF THAT VAST CONTINENT.
THERE is a tradition, that, in the planting of New-England, the firft fettlers met with many difficulties and hardships; as is generally the cafe when a civilized people attempt establishing themfelves in a wilderness country. Being piouflý difpofed, they fought relief from Heaven, by laying their wants and diftreffes before the Lord, in frequent fet days of fafting and prayer. Conftant meditation and difcourfe on these fubjects kept their minds gloomy and difcontented; and, like the children of Ifrael, there were many dif posed to return to that Egypt which perfecution had induced them to abandon. At length, when it was proposed in the affembly to proclaim another faft, a farmer of plain fenfe rose, and remarked, that the inconveniencies they fuffered, and concerning which they had so often wearied Heaven with their complaints, were not fo great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony ftrengthened; that the earth began to reward their labour, and to furnish liberally for their fubfiftence; that the feas and rivers were found full of fifh, the air fweet, the climate healthy; and, above all, that they were there in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious: he therefore thought, that reflecting and converfing on these fubjects would be more comfortable, as tending more to make them contented with their fituation; and that it
would be more becoming the gratitude they owed to the Divine Being, if, inftead of a fast, they fhould proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken; and from that day to this they have, in every year, obferved circumftances of public felicity fufficient to furnifh employment for a thanksgiving day; which is therefore conftantly ordered and religiously obferved.
I fee in the public newspapers of different states frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, fcarcity of money, &c. It is not my intention to affert or maintain that these complaints are entirely without foundation. There can be no country or nation exifting, in which there will not be fome people fo circumftanced as to find it hard to gain a livelihood; people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is fcarce, because they have nothing to give in exchange for it; and it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamour. But let us take a cool view of the general ftate of our affairs, and perhaps the profpect will appear lefs gloomy than has been imagined.
The great business of the continent is agricul
For one artifan, or merchant, I fuppofe, we have at least one hundred farmers, by far the greatest part cultivators of their own fertile lands, from whence many of them draw not only food neceffary for their fubfiftence, but the materials of their clothing, fo as to need very few foreign fupplies; while they have a furplus of productions to difpofe of, whereby wealth is gradually accumulated. Such has been the goodness of Divine Providence to these regions, and fo favourable the climate, that, fince the three or four years of hardship in the firft fettlement of our fathers here, a famine or scarcity has never been heard of among us; on the contrary, though fome