Imatges de pÓgina

ically the same as respects their meaning, and their different etymological structure in the English language, being attributable to the simple fact, that one is translated from the Hebrew, and the other from the Greek: Joshua in the Old Testament ; Jesus in the New.

The book of Joshua, in its present form, was first written out in Hebrew-possibly, it was originally drafted in that language, though we have no tangible historic evidence, in relation to this particular, either pro

or con.

ALTIOUGII it hardly enters into the main purpose of these lectures, to attempt giving an exegesis of many separate portions of the Scriptural records that pass under our historical examination, yet there is contained within the book we are now specially considering, one narration, so remarkable, so prolific as a theme of discussion and one which, withal, has so vitally affected the interests of Science and the freedom of the human mind,----that I could not feel justified, were I to pass over it in silence. I refer to the account of the standing still of the sun and moon.* The amount of it is, that when Joshua was in the heat of a battle with the Amorites, (who marched against him because he had previously made an aggressive war upon one of their cities) he looked up, and directed both the sun and moon to stop in their respective journeyings, and they obeyed his command. Of what particular advantage the light of the moon could

* Joshua, x 12–14.

have been, while the sun was shining brightly, it is not easy to conceive! Such, however, is the substance of the narrative. It is a matter which has puzzled the wisest and best of our fellow men: a story which, if interpreted literally, cannot be reconciled with the sure demonstrations of well-established science; and so long as it is regarded as a historic relation of an actual occurrence, must keep alive a conflict between our veneration for the Bible and the insurmountable evidence of our own senses. O the curses entailed


mankind by a superstitious and blind reverence for mere tradition,-a reverence for a mere record, independently of its valid claims upon our credence! It is but a little more than two hundred


since Gallileo was threatened with the loss of his life, for asserting and endeavoring to prove, by the use of the telescope, and by fair, legitimate reasoning from the observations he had made, that the world moved instead of the sun! according to the theory which was broached, nearly one hundred years before, by Copernicus—a proposition which nearly every New-England school-boy can now demonstrate by a simple process and with the utmost ease.

Gallileo was arraigned twice before the Inquisition, on a charge of rank heresy, because his scientific principles were in opposition to the general notions of Astronomy entertained by the writers of the Old Testament, and especially obnoxious to the passage in Joshua to which I just now alluded.

The method of hushing inquiry on this subject, com

monly taken by Theologians,—at least, by the majority, who bow in cringing subverviency to the sanctified blunders of the past ages,-has been, to dismiss the whole matter by a reiteration of the truism, that “with God all things are possible,” and the remark that the very wonderful occurrence was the result, probably, of a stupendous miracle. By those who disbelieved the Copernican theory, it was supposed that the sun was miraculously arrested in his brilliant course through the heavens. But since the general adoption of the Astronomical system now in vogue in all civilized countries, it has been supposed that the earth paused in its revolutions upon its axis. Now I hesitate not to affirm that this conclusion, either in its primitive or its modified form, if ever fairly reached by a rational mind, was not arrived at without great reluctance---many struggles against reason and plain matter of fact having been previously endured. Though it is true, in a general sense, that all things are, to the Deity, possible of accomplishment, yet Paul thought it by no means impious to say that there was one thing which even He could not dohe could not falsify his own word. "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised,” &c.* We think it no sacrilegious declaration, when we aver that God cannot violate the essential principles of his own nature. Neither are we deficient of true veneration for the Almighty, when we feel within our minds an utter repugnancy to the idea, that He, who is the Father of all, especially favored one party in a desperate and cruel fight; and that, for the purpose of enabling one army to prove successful in obtaining a victory over its opposing force,—that Joshua and his followers might not be bewildered in carrying on their bloody quarrel,—He prolonged the usual period of day-light, by interrupting, and suspending for whole hours, the beautiful and harmonious operation of the heavenly bodies ! Think, for one moment, of the laws of motion, attraction and repulsion which must be contravened, before such an event could possibly transpire. Think, also, of the inevitable effect of such an interruption upon the spheres in our solar system, which would all be influenced, more or less; for we may apply to them—and, perhaps, with equal force, to the whole material universe--the lines of the essayist upon man:

* Titus, i, 2,

“In nature's chain, whatever link you strike,

Tenth or ten-thousandth, breaks the chain alike." Nay, think of the manifest unreasonableness of the whole supposition! Its absurdity is, like Falstaff's lies, “gross as a mountain-open, palpable.” It is believed by those who are deeply versed in scientific attainments, that the spherical shape of the globe we inhabit depends upon the continuance of its rotary motion and its revo lution in its orbit. Possibly, the inventor of the Shottower might have derived from the theory of the earth's motion, the suggestion (which forms the chief element of his discovery) that a molten substance rushing through the atmosphere, would gradually, by the influence of a natural law, assume a globular shape. Should the earth suddenly cease plying its energies in either of the two ways mentioned, it is impossible for us to tell what would be the consequence: though we may reasonably presume, that the regular process of the tides would be seriously interfered with ; and, for aught we know, the earth might become in shape, as the ancients supposed it to be, “flat, like a trencher,”—if, indeed, it would not be in danger of falling through space like a leaden weight, till it came in contact with some other planet; in which case, who but the renowned Miller or Elder Himes could predict the result?

There is one reference to the account of the sun pausing in his wonted career, in the Old Testament Apocrypha. It may be found in the book of Ecclesiasticus, where Joshua is called Jesus. The following is the language:-“Jesus the son of Nave was valiant in the wars, and was the successor of Moses in prophecies...... Did not the sun go back by his means,

and was not one day as long as two?"*

Some writers upon the subject, perceiving the difficulties attending the supposition that this globe actually ceased revolving, have had recourse to another method of accounting for the event recorded, without imagining any derangement of the earth's motion. They have advanced the idea, that the atmosphere may have been illuminated by lightning after the sun went down, as it

* Ecclesiasticus, xlvi. 1, 4,

+ See a statement of different modes of explanation, in the Univ. Expositor, Vol. jii. (New Series) Art. xxxvi.

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