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[The Letters, Essays, &c. contained in this section, were chiefly written by Dr. Franklin for the amusement of his intimate society in London and Paris; and were by himself actually collected in a small port-folio, endorsed as above. Several of the pieces were either originally written in French, or afterwards translated by him into that language, by way of exercises.]
In the first chapter of Job we have an account of a transaction said to have arisen in the court, or at the levée, of the best of all possible princes, or of governments by a single person, viz. that of God himself.
At this levée, in which the sons of God were assembled, Satan also appeared.
It is probable the writer of that ancient book took his idea of this levée from those of the eastern monarchs of the age he lived in.
It is to this day usual at the levées of princes, to have persons assembled who are enemies to each other, who seek to obtain favor by whispering calumny and detraction, and thereby ruining those that distinguish themselves by their virtue and merit. And kings frequently ask a familiar question or two, of every one in the circle, merely to show their benignity. These circumstances are particularly exemplified in this relation.
If a modern king, for instance, finds a person in the circle who has not lately been there, he naturally asks him how he has passed his time since he last had the pleasure of seeing him ? the gentleman perhaps replies that he has been in the country to view his estates, and visit some friends. Thus Satan being asked whence he cometh ? answers, “ From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.” And being further asked,
whether he had considered the uprightness and · fidelity of the prince's servant Job, he immediately
displays all the malignance of the designing courtier, by answering with another question : “ Doth Job serve God for naught? Hast thou not given him immense wealth, and protected him in the possession of it? Deprive him of that, and be will curse thee to thy face.” In modern phrase, Take away his places and his pensions, and your Majesty will soon find him in the opposition.
This whisper against Job had its effect. He was delivered into the power of his adversary, who deprived him of his fortune, destroyed his family, and completely ruined him.
The book of Job is called by divines a sacred
poem, and with the rest of the Holy Scriptures, is understood to be written for our instruction.
What then is the instruction to be gathered from this supposed transaction?
Trust not a single person with the government of your state. For if the Deity himself, being the monarch, may for a time give way to calumny, and suffer it to operate the destruction of the best of subjects; what mischief may you not expect from such power in a mere man, though the best of men, from whom the truth is often industriously hidden, and to whom falsehood is often presented in its place, by artful, interested, and malicious courtiers !
And be cautious in trusting him even with limited powers, lest sooner or later he sap and destroy those limits, and render himself absolute.
For by the disposal of places, he attaches to himself all the placeholders, with their numerous connexions, and also all the expecters and hopers of places, which will form a strong party in promoting his views. By various political engagements for the interest of neighboring states or princes, he procures their aid in establishing his own personal power. So that, through the hopes of emolument in one part of his subjects, and the fear of his resentment in the other, all opposition falls before him.
PROPOSED NEW VERSION OF THE BIBLE.
To the PRINTER OF * * * *
It is now more than 170 years since the translation of our common English Bible. The language in that time is much changed, and the stile being obsolete, and thence less agreeable, is perhaps one reason why the reading of that excellent book is of late so much neglected. I have therefore thought it would be well to procure a new version, in which, preserving the sense, the turn of phrase and manner of expression should be modern. I do not pretend to have the necessary abilities for such a work myself; I throw out the hint for the consideration of the learned : and only venture to send you a few verses of the first chapter of Job, which may serve as a sample of the kind of version I would recommend.
PART OF THE FIRST CHAPTER OF JOB MODERNISED. OLD TEXT.
NEW VERSION. Verse 6. Now there was a day Verse 6. And it being levée when the sons of God came to day in heaven, all God's nobility present themselves before the came to court, to present themLord, and Satan came among selves before him; and Satan them.
also appeared in the circle, as
one of the ministry. 7. And the Lord said unto Sa. 7. And God said to Satan, You tan, Wbence comest thou! Then have been some time absent ; Satan answered the Lord, and where were you? And Satan ansaid, From going to and fro in swered, I have been at my counthe earth, and from walking up try-seat, and in differeut places and down in it.
visiting my friends.
8. And the Lord said unto Sa- 8. And God said, Well, what tan, Hast thou considered my think you of Lord Job? You see servant Job, that there is none he is my best friend, a perfectly like him in the earth, a perfect honest man, full of respect for and an upright man, one that me, and avoiding every thing feareth God, and escheweth e. that might offend me. vil ?
9. Then Satan answered the 9. And Satan answered, Does Lord, and said, Doth Job fear your majesty imagine that his God for naught?
good conduct is the effect of mere personal attachment and
affection? 10. Hast thou not made an 10. Have you not protected hedge about his house, and him, and heaped your benefits about all that he hath on every upon him, till he is grown enor: side? Thou hast blessed the mously rich ? work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land :
11. But put forth thine hand 11. Try him ;-only withdraw now, and touch all that he hath, your favor, turn him out of his and he will curse thee to thy places, and with-hold his penface.
sions, and you will soon find him in the opposition.
APOLOGUE.' Lion, king of a certain forest, had among his subjects a body of faithful dogs, in principle and affection strongly attached to his person and government, but through whose assistance he had extended his dominions, and had become the terror of his enemies.
Lion, however, influenced by evil counsellors, took an aversion to the dogs, condemned them
- Written at the period of, and in allusion to, the claims of the American Royalists on the British Government.