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fulla." “For the wickedness of these nations did the Lord drive them out b.” This is the declaration of Moses himself, and, consequently he is so far from representing the curse of destruction upon some of the descendants of Canaan, and the subjection of others, (as for instance the Gibeonites",) to the posterity of Shem, as originating in the denunciation of Noah, that he actually lays down a cause for their misfortunes which is altogether independent of Noah's words, and which would have produced those misfortunes even if Noah had never spoken of them at all. The true statement of the case is therefore this: not that the Patriarch's curse was the efficient cause of the slavery of the Canaanites, but that his curse conveyed a prediction of that misery which in the spirit of prophecy he foresaw would, in the latter days, befal a certain portion of the posterity of Ham. Is it not then a plain perversion of Scripture to suppose, that the son was punished for the transgression of the father? For would not the posterity of Canaan have proved wicked, and have been visited with the same vengeance, whether there had, or had not, been found iniquity in Ham? And is it not also an equal misapprehension of the truth to maintain that Ham himself was not punished by the prediction of Canaan's slavery. Surely, if there was any thing which could torture his parental feelings, and wound his parental pride, it was to be told of the humiliation and wretchedness which would overtake his children in some yet future generation. And surely, if there was any mode of convincing him of the irreverence of which he had been guilty, and of the merit of the superior tenderness of his brethren towards their father's infirmities, it was to learn that the humiliation and wretchedness of his descendants, would consist in their subjection to the posterity of those who had exceeded him in the duties of filial piety. From these considerations, it is evident, that Noah's curse was a prediction, and that the prediction inflicted a direct and immediate penalty upon the fault of Ham. He was punished by that melancholy knowledge, which the kindness of a benevolent Providence has almost universally withheld from man, the knowledge of that evil the future is to bring. Nor is this a solitary instance in Scripture of the spirit of prophecy being made subservient to the purposes of retributive justice. We have a parallel case in the rebuke of Isaiah the prophet to Hezekiah the king. Hezekiah in the pride of his heart, displayed before the ambassadors of Babylon "all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all
a Gen. xv. 16.
b Deut. ix. 4.
c Josh. x.
the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures. There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them noto.” Thus did he betray the vanity of his mind, and shew that the wonders of the Lord which had been wrought for his deliverance, instead of humbling him before the Almighty hand of God, had, through the natural infirmity of the flesh, but served to lift him up in his own opinion and esteem. What then was the method which the Lord took to correct and punish his pride? It was the very method which had been already adopted by Noah towards Ham. He sent unto him Isaiah the prophet, and Isaiah the prophet said, “Behold the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon. Nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon 0.” It was for the crimes of Judah, that Judah was spoiled and led into a captivity in a foreign land ; and all these predicted evils would have followed whether Isaiah had prophesied or no.
But Isaiah prophesied like Noah, because Hezekiah had erred, and
Compare this chapter with 2 Chron.
b 2 Kings xx. 17, 18.
Hezekiah, because he had erred, was punished, like Ham, with the foreknowledge of the misfortunes which should befal his posterity ; misfortunes of which, but for his error, he would have been permitted to live and die in a most blissful ignorance.
To confirm the conclusion we have thus drawn, the conclusion that Noah's curse was but a prophecy of evil to come, and that, consequently, Ham was sufficiently punished by being thus made acquainted with the future evil which would have otherwise remained concealed from his view, we may add that this opinion gives a satisfactory account of the mention of Canaan only as being doomed to slavery. For we shall find by examining the history of the children of Ham that for the posterity of Canaan principally, if not exclusively, was the doom of servitude reserved. All the other descendants of Ham were equal if not superior to those of Japheth and Shem. In Egypt more especially, we know that, for ages, the Israelites were in bondage to their brethren the children of Ham. But all this glory of his race was withheld from the view of Ham, and the degradation of the Canaanites was alone revealed, in order to punish him for his want of reverence in the character of a child, by the contemplation of the
misery which awaited him in the character of a father.
4. Shem and Japheth were free from this want of filial reverence. To them, therefore, there was communicated the blessing of being told the glory, and spared the knowledge of the miseries of their race. But the glory of the race of each differed in some respect from that of the other, and therefore, also did the blessings which were severally pronounced upon each. Shem was to be the father of the Messiah according to the flesh; and hence we read that Noah declared that “ blessed should be the Lord God of Shem." Japheth inherited a large portion of the earth, and his posterity embraced the faith and possessions of his brother; and hence we read that the prediction of Noah was, that “God should enlarge Japheth, and that he should dwell in the tents of Shem.” Thus does the principle of interpretation we have assumed solve every difficulty as it arises to view, and explains, not only the cause of the curse upon Canaan, but the reason also of the distinction between the blessing pronounced upon
pronounced upon Japheth and Shem.
5. I know, indeed, but of one difficulty more which can be supposed to attend the opinion we