Imatges de pÓgina

the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man : for the Lord fought for Israel. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.”'*

Writers of the present time are accustomed not infrequently to indulge in a poetic flight as bold and as lofty as this : yet nobody misapprehends them-no one ever imagines that they intend to be understood literally. For illustration's sake, let us suppose an instance of this kind, exactly suited to our present purpose. One of us might write a description of the famous battle of Bunker-Hill, portraying the scene of that conflict in a very glowing manner, and making use of some strong hyperboles. And in depicting the thrilling interest and intense anxiety felt by the vast multitude who, from the roofs and windows of Boston and Charlestown, watched the progress of that deadly engagement, we might add, by way of heightening the graphic and poetic effect of our narrative, that even the surrounding objects of Nature—the glassy river, and the neighboring hills--were pervaded with sympathy. We might say, that so dread and awe-inspiring was the solemn stillness of the immense crowds, a few moments previous to the first onset, (when scarce any thing could be heard but the crackling of Charlestown in flames) that the winds were hushed to silence, and even the sun paused to look down upon the scene! Such an animated description would be interpreted by the mass of intelligent readers as the author meant it should be—not literally, but metaphorically, * Joshua, x. 1-15.

Dr. Young, in the opening scene of his “Night Thoughts,” has this fine passage, descriptive of the appearance of the earth and its objects, during the solemn hours of the night season:

«Silence how dread! and darkness how profound !
Nor eye nor listening car an object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse

Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause." In the triumphal lyric poem, chanted by Deborah and Barak, to celebrate the victory of the children of Israel over the king of Canaan, the stars are said to have participated in the warfare. Listen to the recital of a few brief selections from the song, and you will perceive therein some imagery almost (if not quite) as bold and startling as that which is contained in the tenth chapter of Joshua. “Then sang Deborah, and Barak the son of Abinoam, on that day, saying, Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves...... Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the carth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water. The mountains melted from before the Lord, even that Sinai from before the Lord God of Israel...... The kings came and fought; then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo 2 they took no gain of money. They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.”* Who believes that the mountains actually melted, or that the bright, harmonious stars really stooped from their high stations and engaged

* Judges, v. 1, 2, 4, 5, 19, 30,

in furious combat with one of the Canaanite battleleaders? The truth is, the author of the song expatiated upon the incidents of the battle, and revelled in the extravagance of a highly poetic imagination. And such we may rationally conceive to have been the case with the writer of the book of Joshua. He decorates his otherwise unadorned relation of the hostile engagement with the Amorites, by a choice extract from a grand heroic poem contained in the book of Jasher—a poem as beautiful, perhaps, (and just as literal, no doubt) as the fanciful creations of Shakspeare's "Tempest,” or his “Midsummer Night's Dream."

FURTHER elucidations of this subject might be brought forward; but I am inclined to think that those already offered will be satisfactory to almost every candid mind.

We will, therefore, pass to the consideration of the other writings specified by their titles, which we shall be obliged to review with some rapidity to keep within proper limits, as respects time.

The one next in order, in our Biblical arrangement, is the book of JUDGES. Who the author of it was, it is impossible for us to say. Some attribute it to Phineas, the grandson of Aaron, who is said, in the twentieth chapter of the book, to have stood before the ark of the covenant; others have ascribed it to Ezra, or to Hezekiah ; others still, to Samuel : while some suppose

that each of the Judges had a hand in writing it, as it contains a history of the judicial reign of each. The

Judges were the highest rulers among the Israelite people,—the authority they exercised being equal to that of a king They were regarded, by their subjects, (as the Pope of Rome is now considered by the devotees of the Papal Church) as the divinely appointed vicegerents of God upon the earth.

As to their being specially appointed by the Almighty, I doubt it very seriously. It is true, that God is the author of every thing, in one sense: as Paul avers, "of Him, and through him, and to him, are all things.” In this general sense, the ancient Judges may have been God-ordained; but no more so than Queen Victoria, or James K. Polk. The fact is, the majority of the Israelites were ignorant wanderers, whom it was not the most difficult thing for a shrewd and experienced man to deceive grossly by extraordinary pretensions. I say this on the authority of the account given of them in the Bible. But let no one take simply my word for it: let each read for himself, and become a judge of the history of the Judges.

The book of Ruth will now claim our attention, it being the next in course. I presume that but very few (if any) will be so fanatical in their homage to every thing which bears the name of Bible, as to contend that the writing of this book required any supernatural inspiration. Its contents are, principally, a relation of the romantic adventure of Ruth, the Moabitish young woman, when she went with Naomi, her mother-in-law, to glean in the fields of Boaz; and a brief account of the pre

liminary arrangements which led to her becoming the wife of that wealthy individual, and so the great-grandmother of King David, and the reputed early progenitor of Jesus Christ. The story is quite beautiful—tinged, as it is, with the colors of Eastern romance. I venture to suppose it familiar to nearly all of you : so I will not rehearse it in detail. Jerome testifies that the Jews added the book of Ruth to the book of Judges, considering that they should both be reckoned properly as parts of one work. Its origin is wrapped in about as much obscurity as the writings which precede it. In the opinion of some, it was composed by Samuel ; but when, or where, we are not informed.

It is followed by the two books bearing the name of SAMUEL ; only about twenty-four chapters of the first of which, are confidently supposed by the learned (both Catholics and Protestants) to have been written by him. Who composed the rest cannot be ascertained.

The twenty-eighth chapter of the first book contains the story of Saul's interview with a witch, or “woman that had a familiar spirit," at Endor. On account of its singularity, and the use which has often been made of it to sustain the ridiculous notion of witchcraft, it is worthy a moment's notice. The incident is related in these words:

“Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city.

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