Joseph A. Benton Journal

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Joseph A. Benton came to California in 1849, during the gold rush. He first settled in Sacramento, where he founded the First Congregation Church in 1851. He was a pastor for many years as well as a professor of Biblical literature at Pacific Theological Seminary. This collection consists of a journal containing outlines of sermons preached on board of the Edward Everett and also in California. **Please note that historical materials in the Gold Rush Collections may include viewpoints and values that are not consistent with the values of the California State Library or the State of California and may be considered offensive. Materials must be viewed in the context of the relevant time period but views are in no way endorsed by the State Library. The California State Library’s mission is to provide credible information services to all Californians and, as such, the content of historical materials should be transcribed as it appears in the original document.

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2.

I now wish you to stretch your thoughts away back among the old centuries again.

I want you to imagine a great plain; one as large as you would see if you were on Mt. Diablo & looking over toward the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas; possibly larger. Rivers run through it. Lakes are in it. Thousands of people are gathered in it. The soil is wonderful. So fine a soil was rare. Never outdid Cal. Had, we was said, to drive their cattle away into poorer regions to prevent them from disease & death from too much fatness.

These people were all of one language. Not much like crowds on our shores - where 8 or 10 different languages will sometimes be heard. These people on this great plain, in the old days, got their living easily & had time & money to spare. What w'd they do with time & money? What do people in this great plain do with it? Spend them! Yes; sometimes how much in vain & foolishly!

Well those ancient men of the world were ambitious. Desired to do some great thing. What could they undertake? No factories - mills - colleges, or asylums to be built. No Railroads or Tele. No steamers & vessels of war. What then could they do - & when done, say - So, what great things our hands have done - see, how noble & splendid!

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They did build a great city; but when it was large enough for all their needs, they were not satisfied yet - but must have something grander & more prominent, that should throw itself up among the clouds. They fixed on something - not a spire or a great church; & they went to work on it, building of brick & mortar, the best they could find at hand.

Any of you know what they began to build - where it was - & whether they ever finished the great work? If not - what stopped them? Had materials, men, money, & time just as before why did the work cease? They thought to keep close together - & as they all would own the tower none would go out of sight of it. But they were not so wise as they supposed. Couldn't do as they pleased.

What was done to stop them? How simple was the method! All at once they could work together no longer. The structure was left unfinished. Then they began to go away, and to look for new homes in distant lands. Nothing was the matter excpt they couldn't take plain; & couldn't understand one another any more; & wouldnt stay with each other.

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To be of one language & one speech maybe a good or a bad thing. It was bad at [?].

We try to get a com. lang. in our Mathematics in Telegraphic signs - &c Possibly the English tongue will be spoken everywhere in 200 years, more or less.

There is another speech that is common - & will be universal we hope = the lang. of prayer.

The spread of Christianty will make all peoples one in feeling, then in voices of prayer & praise - approaching the one language of heaven.

The Bible, the Sab., the Sunday School can do what the town of Babel could not - can bring all to thinking, speaking, & doing alike.

And you learn that the way to build something that shall reach unto heaven is to build on Aposs., & Prophs., & J.C. himself chief [?]; for that will stand, & go high enough - & all will be more alike in speech, the higher they build & go - till, at least, there shall be the one lang. of heaven; from many tongues & kind[?].

No doubt there were many boys & girls that saw that tower of Babel, & went out into the world, to see it no more while they lived; & perhaps to forget it. Are you going to begin this spiritual tower on holy foundations - then leave it half-done - & go out into your coming years & forget to climb it??

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Jan. 16 : 1859. Sac.

Chiln. 15.

Gen. 9:23 ~

"And [Shan?] & Japheth took a garment & laid it on both their" shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father: and their faces were backward, and they saw "not their father's nakedness."

Wish you to think yourselves still further back toward the beginning of things, than the building of Babel.

What great structure does the Bible tell us about that was put up before the tower of Babel was?

Who built it? Who told him to build it? Who told him how large, & in what proportions to build it?

Where did he build it? How long was he building it? Did it have to be launched? Have any vessels been built since as large as that? Great Eastern?

Did Noah's vessel answer its purpose? How long was he in the ark? (375) Where did it touch bottom?

Where is Arrarat? Where is Armenia? What became of the things that were in the Ark? What became of the ark itself? What would happen to it if let alone? Do you think anyone would find any traces of it there now?

What did Noah find to do after he got out of the ark? Was it like going into a new country? Did he have to be farmer & mechanic, both?

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We read that after the deluge, "Noah began to be an husbandman, & planted a vineyard. Know what a vineyard is? Anything of that sort in California? What is it good for? What made from the grapes? What is wine for? What happens to those who drink a great deal of it at once? Was Noah's wine like this made in Cal.? How do we know? Did Noah drink his own wine, or sell it? Who were there then to buy?

Well it seems Noah drank his own wine, & was made drunk by it; for once - we hope never again. We trust he learned better by a sad expreience.

Having drank more than was beneficial; he felt heavy & drowsy - just as children do sometimes at supper-time, or some (without wine) after that - & he fell asleep in his tent, where he was alone at the time. In his sleep, by some moves & turns, he knew nothing of, he partly uncovered himself, & lay there partly naked.

How long he was there unseen we do not know. But Ham, one of the sons, must needs go & look into the private tent of his father. He saw him thus. He went away, & told his brothers. He seems to have made short of the matter; & to have laughed about it; & to have told his brothers to go & look & see what a sight there was within; & all that.

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