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If an easily-irritated disposition; if yielding to anger for every trivial circumstance; if a desire to retaliate and avenge all real or supposed injuries, however insignificant; if an unforgiving spirit, which is so much denounced in the gospel, as being unworthy of a place in a truly magnanimous mind; if risking one's life in private disputes of no consequence; if taking the life of another, as an atonement for a mere word, spoken, perhaps, in an unguarded moment; if opposing wilfully the regulations of civil society; if rashly breaking the cords of affection and friendship; and if trampling with impunity upon the precepts of Scripture, be honorable—then does dueling bear this character likewise. As well might Cain, against whose crime the voice of a brother's blood came up from the ground, refer to the mark on his forehead, and call it the signet of honor, as the duelist thus denominate the red spots “ with which his unfortunate hands have been stained."
Do we think it dishonorable in one of the greatest generals of ancient Greece, that he did not challenge the person who threatened to cane him? Or in Pompey, that he did not require the “ satisfaction of a gentleman” from Cesar ? or Cesar from Cato, in consequence of the many mutual insults between them?
Is it an evidence of cowardice and disgrace, that the brare Colonel Gardiner, who lost his life in 1745 at the battle of Preston Pans, once rejected a challenge with this observation : "I fear sinning, though I do not fear fighting ?"
Was it against the honor of a celebrated gentleman in the literary world to return the following answer to a challenge couched in these words: “I have a life at your service, if you dare take it ;"viz., “I must confess to you that I dare not take it: I thank my God I have not the courage to do so. But, though I own I am afraid to deprive you of your life, yet, sir, permit me to assure you, that I am equally thankful to the Almighty Being for mercifully bestowing on me sufficient resolution, if attacked, to defend my own."
Was it dishonorable in the excellent Marquis de Renty, that illustrious nobleman, soldier, and Christian, to reply to a person of distinction, in the same service with himself, who insisted on meet-. ing him in single combat: “I am resolved not to do it, because God and the king have forbidden it; otherwise I would have you know, sir, that all my endeavors to pacify you proceed only from the fear of God, and not of man?" He also declared to this gentleman that he was ready to convince him that he was wrong; and, if he could not convince him, was as ready to ask his pardon. And when an attack was finally made on him by the same person and his second, he disarmed them both, with the assistance of his servant, led them to his tent, refreshed them with cordials, caused their wounds to be dressed, and their swords to be restored to them. He then dismissed them with Christian advice, and was never afterward heard to mention the affair to his nearest friends. Here were true courage, honorable conduct, and real generosity."
But enough has been said on this subject in the different periodicals of the day to render it unnecessary to say more in the present article. It remains yet to inquire by what means this infamous practice may be totally abolished :
of the press.
1. Let the most rigorous laws be enacted by every civil government in the world, declaring its criminality, and enforcing obedience by the most signal punishments, without respect to persons.
2. Let the inost full, plain, and unequivocal expression be given to public opinion, which is already against it, through the medium
3. Let no' poems, tales, anecdotes, or essays be published in its favor.
4. Let those who have in any way been engaged in it have no encouragement to associate with the higher and better classes of society, without strong proofs of repentance and reformation.
5. Let them be prevented from holding any office of profit or honor. And,
6. Let the Christian pulpit, that almost insuperable barrier in the pathway of crime, speak out, in a voice of mercy and justice, that the guilty may apply for pardon, and the yet innocent may be deterred from the perpetration of so great, so cowardly, so dishonorable, and so heinous an offense, as modern dueling; that relic of barbarism, that refined imitation of the judicial combats of past ages, which were founded in ignorance and superstition—that outrage on human nature—that presumptuous defiance of all authority of God and man—and that impious custom, through which unprepared mortals are often hurried into the presence of the infinite Judge, to receive the fruit of their doings !
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review. THE HISTORY OF THE HEBREW TEXT, WITH SOME CONSIDE
RATIONS FOR THE STUDY OF THE HEBREW.
BY WILLIAM M. WILLETT, TEACHER OF HEBREW IN THE WESLEYAN
The early history of the Hebrew text is obscure. As it respects the book of Genesis, distinguished as it is for the simplicity, the purity, the elegance, the true sublimity of its style, one would think, from its resemblance to the graver and more didactic parts of the other four books almost universally attributed to Moses, that even skepticism itself would accord it to him as the author. The period of the composition of the book of Genesis, and the circumstances under which it was written, it is indeed allowed are unknown. This 'venerable and sacred book, however, composed partly from traditionary records, and partly, as the other books of the Pentateuch, by direct inspiration, may have been written at the base of Sinai and Horeb, at intervals, during the long period that Moses passed in the desert, “keeping the flocks of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian.” The silence of the desert, the sweet retirement in which Moses spent his days, may have been animated by the composition of this oldest of all books. The solitariness of the
That Moses had been favored with divine communications before the remarkable appearance of God in the burning bush, is evident from Acts vii, 25: "For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them; but they understood not.”
desert,-its tendency to inspire contemplation in a reflecting and cultivated mind; to rouse genius, to elevate the thoughts,—the leisure and the freedom from disquietude which were here enjoyed, al} unite in our view, under the aid of the divine afflatus, to stamp upon this book that incomparable excellence by which it is distinguished. Here was room for the deepest reflection. Here was room for that unaffected sublimity of thought and language which arrested the attention of the celebrated heathen critic. Here was room for the composition of that story of him whom Jacob loved more than the rest of his brethren, which, for simplicity and sweetness of language, for the most natural and deep bursts of feeling, has never been sur. passed-has never been equalled. Here was room for the mind to expatiate on the beginning of all things; to trace all things to their proper cause; to contemplate man in his original brightness; to follow the dark and ever-deepening stream of sin and death; to describe the catastrophe which drowned the old world-old, even then, to the writer-how much older to us; and last, though not least, to depict the faith of the father of the faithful, the founder of that people of whom the writer of this book was to be the chosen deliverer.
But, though we have no absolute data to guide us as it respects the composition of Genesis, we have some glimmering of light as to at least parts of the other books of the Pentateuch. Moses appears to have recorded events which fell under his owneye as they occurred. Shortly after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, the ten commandments, together with various laws and ordinances,” were given, of which it is said, “ Moses wrote all the words of the Lord,” Exod. xxiv, 4. So Moses, a little before his death, was directed to write this song," Deut. xxxi, 19, referring to that highlywrought ode, beginning with, "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, 0 earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew,' as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass,” Ibid. chap. xxxii; an ode this, imbued with the spirit of poetry itself.
These passages sufficiently intimate to us that Moses, at different intervals, during the long peregrination of the Israelites in the wilderness, recorded events as they occurred, and as he was directed; and finally, as one of the last solemn acts of his eventful life, “ Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the 'covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee,” Deut. xxxi, 25, 26.
If it be objected to this statement, that the book of Exodus, for instance, was not written until after the manna ceased, because it is said " the children of Israel did eat manna forty years,” we reply, that this "supplementary” sentence was written afterward, most likely by Joshua. What is more common now in auto-biography than for a surviving hand to add some sentences to a work of this description, to complete what the hand that had now forgotten its cunning had left uncompleted! Is it any disparagement to the lives of Hume and Gibbon, written by themselves, that a few additional particulars have been appended after their death? So too, how
natural is it to suppose that a few supplementary sentences have been added to complete books which the sacred writers themselves neces. sarily left, in a small degree, unfinished.
That copies of the Pentateuch were multiplied in the time of Moses, there can, we think, be no reasonable doubt. Moses himself, besides the copy deposited in the ark, wrote either the whole or part of the same law for the use of the priests. “ And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel,” Deut. xxxi, 9. The directions of Moses to parents also show that copies of the Pentateuch were rapidly multiplied: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates," Deut. vi, 6, 7, 8, 9. To comply with these instructions presupposes on the part of parents such an acquaintance with the law as could result only from frequent and attentive perusal. It seems to follow from this, that at least every family had a copy of the Pentateuch, as well as the priests and the elders.
But time went on. Joshua succeeded Moses; and he doubtless pursued the same course as Moses in recording prominent events as they occurred. There is, indeed, evidence to this effect. Who can doubt, for instance, but that so important a transaction as the division of the land among the tribes, as detailed in the book of Joshua, “ whích," says Dr. Alexander,* makes this book " serve as a 'national deed of conveyance," was committed to writing at the time as we now find it, each tribe and family being settled with the most minute exactness on its appropriated spot. Besides this, it is expressly said, that “ Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there, under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord,” Joshua xxiv, 26. From which it seems that not only was this book written by Joshua, but it “was annexed to the volume of the Pentateuch.”
That the view we have taken is a natural one appears from the corroborating circumstance, that the writers of the New Testament were either cotemporary with, or themselves conspicuous actors in, the scenes they describe. Who more likely to describe accurately the events recorded in the Gospels than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? They either saw what they describe, or received their account from eye-witnesses. These accounts were written at the time, on the spot; they were open to public investigation at the very time and place when false statements could be most readily exposed. That, under these circumstances, they were beyond the reach of successful contra. diction, is an evidence of their
genuineness. So with the earlier his. torical writings of the Old Testament. Who more competent to describe the scenes they saw, and in which they were the most prominent actors, than Moses, Joshua, and Samuel ? How important too that they should do it! that transactions so weighty, involving
• See Dr. Alexander on the Canon of Scripture, p. 25.
truths and doctrines of surpassing moment to the whole human race, should flow from the most correct sources! Why defer records of this description to a later period? What advantages could result from this? Would it be possible to find a more unprejudiced historian than Moses; or one of superior mental endowments; or one who had a better opportunity to give us facts as they were ? In ordinary historical compilations, with what eagerness do we examine the works of cotemporary writers! How refreshing therefore is it to the mind of a sincere inquirer after truth to find, in reading the oldest and most important of all records, that we have the facts warm from the pens / of those who, with the Evangelist St. John, tell us what they have seen, what their ears have heard, and their hands have handled of the word of life.
It is hardly necessary to add, that the greater part of the writings of the Old Testament were written previously to the captivity. Book after book of history was written, as materials accumulated; and as for the prophetical writings, in these historical references are so numerous, as well as so necessarily interwoven in their details, as to show at least about the time when they were written. The order in which they were written may be stated as follows, including what is denomi. nated the golden age of the Hebrew : “ The Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Samuel
, Kings ; of the poetical, Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs ; and the older prophets in the following order—Jonah, Amos, Joel, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Obadiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. The two last, with several of the Psalms, and perhaps some parts of Isaiah, are of a period bordering upon the next, or silver age.”*—Bush's Introduction to his new Hebrew Grammar.
As to the place where these books were deposited, and the persons to whose care they were intrusted, we need hardly observe that the priests had the charge of them; and the ark which contained, by the express direction of Moses, (Deut. xxxi, 25, 26,) the Pentateuch, contained also the other books.
The ark, which was the only sacred vessel within the holy of holies, and over which the wings of the cherubim were spread, was of all other things the most sacred to the Jews. Why? Because, in addi. tion to its being the symbol of the divine presence, it contained the most striking memorials of the hand that led them from Egypt, and from the house of bondage, and which fed them in the wilderness. In this “ark of the covenant, overlaid round about with gold,” says St. Paul, “ was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant,” Heb. ix, 4. Here too, as we have seen, Moses, as one of the last acts of his life, directed the Penta. teuch to be deposited; and here too, in all probability, the autographs of the other sacred writings were placed, the writers following the example of their venerated leader, while apographs, or copies made from the originals, were designed for common use. What place so proper, what so safe, as this ? Could a securer, or more hallowed repository be found for these, of all others, most precious records ? Was the uncorrupted manna, or the still budding rod of Aaron, of more
We take the liberty to add to the above list Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's Song—dissenting from those German critics who consider these books, with a few Pealms, as belonging to the later period of Hebrew literature.