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4. The historian writes like a man convinced of the truth of that which he advances. He appeals to things, at that time well known, which are now lost; and it is easy to conceive how the several facts which he relates were transmitted to him. Admitting that he could impose upon us, and upon succeeding generations, who will be still more removed from the era of his facts, and the scene of transactions which he has stated, he could not have imposed upon those with whom he lived, and who were themselves, by tradition, well acquainted with the facts which he relates. Should any man be disposed, after all that has been said, to determine that the whole is a fable, before he finally draws his conclusions, we entreat him once more to read over the history of Joseph, in all it's native simplicity, as recorded in the Bible; and we would be satisfied to rest our argument upon this alone: we think that no one could for a moment imagine that it is a fiction: we would even venture to appeal to scepticism itself to determine, whether any thing could so affect the heart, short of truth and nature.
5. The difference of style between the book of Genesis, and those which succeed, which some have alledged as an evidence that they had not the same author, may be accounted for on this principle : that in this he records things
which took place before he was born ; in those, he relates the transactions of his own day, to which he was an eye-witness. Those who have supposed, that if Moses had been the author of this part of the Bible, he would not have spoken of himself in the third person, appear to us to have pointed out one of his principal beauties, and to have confirmed his general character: for egotism would have ill become “the meek“est of men” - —But it is time that we retire to our respective habitations, for meditation and prayer.
NoT e 1. “ Minimus ætate inter fratresJoseph fuit: cujus excellens * ingenium veriti fratres, clàm interceptum peregrinis mercatoribus * vendiderunt. A quibus deportatus in AEgyptum, cùm magicas ibi * artes solerti ingenio percepisset, brevi ipsi regi percarus fuit. Nam “ et prodigiorum sagacissimus erat, et somniorum primus intelligen“ tiam condidit; nihil que divinijuris humanique ei incognitum vide“ batur : adeò, ut etiam sterilitatem agrorum ante multos annos pro“ viderit: perissétque omnis JEgyptus fame, nisi monitu ejus rex “ edicto servari per multos annos fruges jussisset: tantâque experi“ menta ejus fuerunt, ut non ab homine, sed à Deo responsa dari * viderehtur." Just. lib. rrrvi. cap. 2.
This passage from Justin is translated in page 261, ofthe preceding Lecture. -
. NoTe 2. It is impossible to read the account given by Moses of the meeting of Jacob and Joseph, without calling to mind the masterly description furnished by Homer, in his Odyssey, of the discovery of Ulysses to Telemachus; and a very slight parallel will shew the superiority of the sacred historiam over the genius of even Homner.
“One scene of woe; to endless cares consign'd,
“He spoke and sat. The prince with transport flew,
“And he wept aloud—And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am * Joseph. Doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not * answer him ; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph “ said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you; and they * came near: and he said, I am. Joseph, your brother, whom he sold “ into Egypt.”—“And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck “ and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.”
—“And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet “Israel his father to Goshen; and presented himself unto him; and “he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel “ said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, be“cause thou art yet alive.” See page 268, of the preceding Leeture.
Mr. Pope, in his notes on this beautiful passage in Homer, says— “This book (i.e. xvi) in general is very beautiful in the original; the “discovery of Ulysses to Telemaghus is particularly tender and * affecting. It has some resemblanco, with that of Joseph's disco“very of himself to his brethren, and it may not perhaps be dis“agreeable to see how too such authors describe the same passion.”
“And he fell on his brother's “And he wept aloud "
“But it must be owned that Homer falls infinitely short of Moses; “ the history of Joseph cannot be read without the utmost touches “of compassion and transport. There is a majestic. simplicity in the
“whole relation, and such an affecting portrait of human nature, “ that it overwhelms us with vicissitudes of joy and sorrow. This is “a pregnant instance how much the best of heathen writers is infe“ rior to the divine historian upon a parallel subject.”
In these just sentiments I most heartily concur. And it would most amply repay any reader capable of understanding the original, to compare the whole of Homer's narration in Odyss. lib. xvi. from line 172 to line 232, with that of Moses in Gen. xlv. throughout, and xlvi. 28-30. It will be soon seen to whom we must yield the palm of excellence.
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