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Professor Wines' Lectures.


Mr. E. C. Wines, whose lectures on the government of the Hebrews we noticed at length in our first and second numbers, repeated them during the spring and summer at New York and Westchester, Pa., and in both places elicited the approbation of the audience. In the latter town, second to none in this state for intelligence, as we learn, the following proceedings took place:

At the conclusion of the course of lectures delivered by Professor E. C. Wines, at the hall of the Chester County Cabinet, on the subject of the Mosaic Institutions, on the evening of the 17th day of August, 1843, the class desirous of giving a public expression of their sentiments and feelings, called W. Williamson to the chair, and requested William P. Townsend to act as secretary.

Whereupon, on motion of Joseph J. Lewis, Esq., it was

Resolved, That the lectures of Professor Wines, just closed, furnish most interesting and striking illustrations of this subject, and exhibit thorough learning, profound research, and great strength of reasoning.

Resolved, That while edified by the strain of just sentiment, and the exalted tone of moral feeling which pervade the lectures, we are especially grateful for the new argument which they furnish in support of the divine right "of the people to govern themselves, and in favour of republican institutions."

Resolved, That the class, in parting with Mr. Wines, beg him to accept this assurance of their respect and regard for him personally as a man and a gentleman.

On motion of Mr. Smith, it was

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to communicate the foregoing resolutions to Mr. Wines. Whereupon the chair appointed P. Frazer Smith, Esq., Rev. John Crowell, and Joseph J. Lewis, Esq., to perform that duty.

On motion, the meeting adjourned.


Wm. P. Townsend, Secretary.

It is the intention of Mr. W. to repeat, during the ensuing winter, his course, which he has extended to eight instead of four lectures, both in Philadelphia and New York; and to enable our readers to judge beforehand the nature of the entertainment which the learned lecturer has prepared for them, we offer the following programme for their perusal and judgment:

Programme of a Course of Eight Lectures

on the

Civil Government of the Hebrews.

Wherein the superiority of those venerable Institutions over all other Ancient Politics is shown; their many close and remarkable Analogies with our Constitution are pointed out; the wisdom, justice, and humanity of the Lawgiver vindicated against the sneers and sophistries of infidel Philosophers; and the fact demonstrated that it is to the admirable legislative policy of Moses the world is indebted for its first ideas of Republican Government,—ideas which, in truth, were never fully developed in any ancient Political System, other than the Jewish.

Review and Analysis of Several of the Leading Governments of Antiquity.

Uncertain and contradictory nature of most early historical records.—Contrast between the fabulous legends of the first profane historians and the writings of Moses.—Value of these in an historical point of view.—General subject of the lectures announced, and the course of discussion briefly sketched.—Claims of the Hebrew law to the study of the philosopher, the statesman, the jurist, and the friend of popular liberty—Its high antiquity—Thoroughly impregnated with the principles of constitutional freedom—This is not true of ANY other ancient government.—Despotic character of the Asiatic governments.—Despotism of Egypt evinced by many facts in the history of monuments.—Analysis of the Spartan institutions—Many of their principles most horrid and revolting, and utterly subversive of all true liberty, &c., &c.

LECTURE 2.—War Laws and Slavery of Ancient Times—Portraiture of Moses as a Historian, Poet, and Lawgiver.

A knowledge of the laws and usages of ancient wars necessary to a just appreciation of the Mosaic institutes.—Their excessive barbarity.—Illustrations from the history of Sesostris, Adonibezek, the Greeks, and the Romans.—War laws of Moses.—Definition of Slavery.—Its antiquity.—Probable origin.—Extent.—Excessive rigours.—Mitigation of these under the Mosaic System.—Wisdom of God in the administration of providence.—Illustrated from the History of Babylon, of Joseph, and of Moses.—Pre-eminent qualifications of Moses to be the chief magistrate of a great nation—parallel between Moses and Washington.—Influence of his genius and writings co-extensive with the civilized world.—Sublimity of the closing scene of his life.

LECTURE 3.—Fundamental Principles on Which Moses Founded His Civil Polity.

These were six. 1. The absolute political equality of the whole body of citizens. Proved from the distribution of landed property, and the laws relating to its transfer and descent.—Great wisdom of the agrarian law of Moses.—2. Agriculture. The whole spirit of his laws in favour of it.—Testimony of Josephus on this point.—Distinction between internal and foreign commerce.—The former, which is most important, abundantly provided for by Moses in the national festivals.—Circumstances of the world different now, yet the value of foreign commerce to a nation often overrated, and why.—England the most commercial nation on the globe, yet the value of her commerce bears no proportion to that of her agriculture.—Some striking facts illustrative of this position—Comparative with the commerce and agriculture of the United States.—3. The discouragement of a military spirit. Moses no friend of war.—Various proofs of this.—His preference for peace a remarkable circumstance, considering the age in which he lived.—4. Universal Education. Moses extremely careful on this point.—His wisdom strikingly evinced in this part of his constitution.—"Schools of the prophets."—Their probably nature and object.—5. A firm union of hearts and opinions. This object secured in part by the agrarian law, the system of education, and the incessant inculcation of kindness and charity; but chiefly by the national festivals.—6. A just equipoise between the several powers of the government. Admirable provisions of the Mosaic constitution to secure this great desideratum.

LECTURE 4.—The Fundamental Design of the Mosaic Institutes.

This was to suppress and supplant idolatry.—Examination into the properties, tendencies, and results of polytheism.—The wisdom and goodness of God concerned to put a stop to so dire an evil.—A main instrument employed for this end was the theocracy.—The nature, design, and limit of this feature of the government.

LECTURE 5.—Analysis of the National Constitution.

Separate government of the tribes.—Extent of their powers.—Occasional collisions.—Nullification sometimes practised.—A remarkable instance of it.—General government—Four departments of the central government, viz.: the chief magistrate, the Senate of Israel, the Oracle, and the congregation of Israel, or great National Diet, composed of deputies truly representing the popular will, and faithfully embodying and carrying out its decrees.—Powers and functions of these several departments.—Eminently popular character of the Hebrew government.—Its close and remarkable analogies with our own.

LECTURE 6.—Jurisprudence of Moses.

Most things human come to perfection by degrees.—This law of progress as applicable to government and jurisprudence as to the other sciences.—The Mosaic jurisprudence an exception.—Political relations and bearings of the moral law.—Constitution of courts.—Forms of judicial procedure.—Advocates.—Witnesses.—Testimony always given under oath.—Nature and morality of oaths.—Range of subjects embraced in a system of jurisprudence.—Mosaic regulations respecting property.—The law of the jubilee—Of the Sabbatic year.—The law of inheritance.—Fathers could devise their property by will under certain restrictions.—Parental authority.—Mosaic laws respecting debt, pledges, and usury.—Notice of the marriage laws of Moses.—These the most interesting part of his jurisprudence to us, because, so far as they are prohibitory of certain matrimonial unions, they are now in force in most Christian countries.—The question considered, "Does Moses, or does he not, prohibit marriage with a deceased wife's sister?"

LECTURE 7.—Jurisprudence of Moses Continued.

Laws relating to injuries done to the property of others, either through design or carelessness.—Deposits.—Things found.—Laws respecting the poor, the aged, labourers, animals, &c.—Civil police.—Military police.—Criminal laws of Moses.—Great advance which civil liberty made in this part of the Mosaic code.—Informers not countenanced.—The true design of punishment clearly and beautifully stated by Moses.—No sympathy with certain modern refinements of wisdom, nor with a pseudo-philanthropy, extensive prevalent in our day.—His penalties.—Number of capital crimes in his system often greatly overstated.—Admitted no cruel or ignominious punishments.—Imprisonment, why not employed—Expediency and necessity of capital punishment considered.—Beautiful eulogy of Josephus on the laws of his country.—Inestimable benefits of law to the whole creation.

LECTURE 8.—Divine Legation of Moses.

Genuineness and authenticity of his writings prove the divinity of his mission.—Arguments from testimony.—From commemorative rites and festivals—From the nature of his laws.—From miracles.—Examination and refutation of several leading objections of infidels against the divine mission of Moses; those, to wit, grounded on the alleged trivial and absurd nature of some of his laws, on his toleration of certain acknowledged social evils, on the want of absolute, intrinsic perfection in everyone of his civil enactments, on his recognition of the principle of retaliation, on the omission of future rewards and punishments as sanctions of his laws, on the cruel and sanguinary character of his laws, and on the pretended violation of the plainest principles of justice in the extermination of the Canaanites.—Influence of the laws and writings of Moses on the legislation, philosophy, morals, and literature of mankind.—Conclusion.