Sidor som bilder

Tbere are several passages of a general meaning with respect to time, scattered throughout the book of Joshua, that carries the time in which the book was written to a distance from the time of Joshua, but without marking by exclusion any particular time, as in the passage above quoted.-In that passage, the time that intervened between the death of Joshua and the death of the elders i excluded descriptively and absolutely, and the evidence substan. tiites that the book could not have been written till after the death of the last.

But though the passages to which I allude, and wbich I am going to quote, do not designate any particular time by exclusion, they imply a time far more distant from the days of Joshua, than is contained between the death of Joshua and the death of the elders. Such is the passage, chap. X., ver. 14; where after giving an account that the sun stood still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, at the command of Joshua, [a tale only fit to amuse children,] the passage says—" And there was no day like that, before it, or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man.”

This tale of the sun standing still upon mount Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, is one of those fables that detects itself. Such a circumstance could not have happened without being known all over the world. One half would have wondered why the sun did not rise, and the other why it did not set, and the tradition of it would be universal; whereas there is not a nation in the world that knows any thing about it. But why must the moon stand still ? What occasion could there be for moon-light in the day-time, and that too whilst the sun shined ? As a poetical figure the whole is well enough; it is akin to that in the song of Deborah and Barak, The stars in their courses fought against Sisera ; but it is inferior to the figurative declaration of Mabomet, to the person who came to expostulate with him on his goings

Wert thou, said he, to come to me with the sun in thy right hand, and the moon in thy left, it should not alter my career.

For Joshua to have exceeded Mahomet, he should have put the sun and moon one in each pocket, and carried them as Guy Fawkes carried his dark lanthorn, and taken them out to shine as he might happen to want them.

The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again ; the account, however, abstracted from the poetical fancy, shows the ignorance of Joshua, for he should have commanded the earth to have stood still.

The time implied by the expression after it, that is, after that day, being put in comparison with all the time that passed before it, must, in order to give any expressive signification to the passage, mean a grea. length of time :--for example, it would have been

on :

ridiculous to have said to the next day, or the next week, or the next month, or the next year; to give therefore meaning to the passage, comparative with the wonder it relates, and the prior time it alludes to, it must mean centuries of years ; less, however, than one, would be trifling, and less than two would be barely admissible.

A distant, but general time, is also expressed in the 8th chapter ; wbere, after giving an account of the taking the city of Ai, it is said, ver. 28, “And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day ;” and again, ver. 29, where, speaking of the king of Ai, whom Joshua bad hanged, and buried at the entering of the gate, it is said, “ And be raised thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day;" that is, unto the day or time in which the writer of the book of Joshua lived. And again, in the 10th chapter, where, after speaking of the five kings whom Joshua had hanged on five trees, and then thrown in a cave, it is said, “And he laid great stones on the cave's mouth, which remain unto this very day."

In enumerating the several exploits of Joshua, and of the tribes, and of the places which they conquered or attempted, it is said, chap. XV., ver. 63, “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusitės dwell with the children of Judab at Jerusalem unto this day.The question upon this passage is, at what time did the Jebusites and the children of Judah dwell together at Jerusalem ? As this matter occurs again in the first chapter of Judges, I shall reserve my observations till I come to that part.

Having thus shown from the book of Joshua itself, without any auxiliary evidence whatever, that Joshua is not the author of that book, and that it is anonymous, and consequently without authority, I proceed, as before mentioned, to the book of Judges.

The book of Judges is anonymous on the face of it; and therefore even the pretence is wanting to call it the word of God; it has not so much as a nominal voucher; it is altogether fatherless.

This book begins with the same expression as the book of Joshua. That of Joshua begins, chap. i., ver. 1, Now after the death of Moses, &c.; and this of Judges begins, Now after the death of Joshua, &c. This, and the similarity of style between the two books, indicate that they are the work of the same author; but who he was, is altogether unknown; the only point that the book proves is, that the author lived long after the time of Joshua; for though it begins as if it followed immediately after his death the second chapter is an epitome, or abstract, of the whole book, which, according to the Bible chronology, extends its history through a space of 306 years; that is, from the death of Joshua, 1426 years before Christ, to the death of Sampson, 1120 years before ist, and only 25 years before Saul went to seek his


father's asses, and was made king. But there is good reason to believe, that it was not written till the time of David at least, and that the book of Joshua was not written before the same time.

In the 1st chapter of Judges, the writer, after announcing the death of Joshua, proceeds to tell what happened between the children of Judah and the native inhabitants of the land of Canaan. In this statement, the writer, baving abruptly mentioned Jerusalem in the 7th verse, says immediately after, in the 8th verse, by way of explanation, “Now the children of Judab had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it :" consequently, this book could not have been written before Jerusalem had been taken. The reader will recollect the quotation I have just before made from the 15th chapter of Joshua, ver. 63, where it is said, that the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day; meaning the time when the book of Joshua was written.

The evidence I have already produced, to prove that the books I have hitherto treated of were not written by the persons to whom they are ascribed, nor till many years after their death, if such persons ever lived, is already so abundant, that I can afford to admit this passage with less weight than I am entitled to draw from it. For the case is, that so far as the Bible can be credited as an history, the city of Jerusalem was not taken till the time of David; and consequently, that the books of Joshua and of Judges were not written till after the commencement of the reign of David, which was 370 years after the death of Joshua.

The name of the city that was afterwards called Jerusalem, was originally Jebus or Jebusi, and was the capital of the Jebusites. The account of David's taking this city is given in 2 Samuel, chap. v., ver. 4, &c.; also in 1 Chron., chap. xiv., ver. 4, &c. There is no mention in any part of the Bible, that it was ever taken before, nor any account that favours such an opinion. It is not said, either in Samuel or in the Chronicles, that they utterly destroyed men, women, and children; that they left not a soul to breathe, as is said of their other conquests ; and the silence here observed implies that it was taken by capitulation, and that the Jebusites, the native inhabitants, continued to live in the place after it was taken. The account, therefore, given in Joshua, that the Jebu sites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day, corresponds to no other time than after the taking the city by David.

Having now shown, that every book in the Bible, from Genesis to Judges, is without authenticity, I come to the book of Ruth, an idle, bungling story, foolishly told, nobody knows by whom, about a strolling country girl creeping slily to bed to her cousin Boaz. Pretty stuff indeed to be called the word of God! It is, however, one of the best books in the Bible, for it is free from murder and japine.

I come next to the two books of Samuel, and to show that those buoks were not written by Samuel, nor till a great length of time

after the death of Samuel; and that they are, like all the former books, anonymous, and without authority.

To be convinced that these books have been written much later than the time of Samuel, and consequently not by him, it is only necessary to read the account wbich the writer gives of Saul going to seek his father's asses, and of his interview with Samuel, of whom Saul went to inquire about those lost asses, as foolish people now-a-days go to a conjuror to inquire after lost things.

The writer, in relating this story of Saul, Samuel, and the asses, does not tell it as a thing that had just then happened, but as an ancient story in the time this writer lived ; for he tells it in the language or terms used at the time that Samuel lived, which obliges the writer to explain the story in the terms or language used in the time the writer lived.

Samuel, in the account given of him in the first of those books, chap. ix., is called the seer; and it is by this term that Saul inquires after him. Ver. 11, “ And as they (Saul and his servant] went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?” Saul then went according to the direction of these maidens, and met Samuel without knowing him, and said unto him, ver. 18, “Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is. And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer.'

As the writer of the book of Samuel relates these questions and answers, in the language or manner of speaking used in the time they are said to have been spoken, and as that manner of speaking' was out of use when this author wrote, he found it necessary, in order to make the story understood, to explain the terms in which these questions and answers are spoken : and he does this in the 9th verse, where he says, “Before-time, in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spakuj Come, and let us go to the seer; for he that is now called a prophet, was before-time called a seer.” This proves, as I have before said, that this story of Saul, Samuel, and the asses, was an ancient story at the time the book of Samuel was written, and consequently that Samuel did not write it, and that that book is without authenticity.

But if we go further into those books, the evidence is still more positive that Samuel is not the writer of them ; for they relate ihings that did not happen till several years after the death of Samuel. Samuel died before Saul; for the 1st Samuel, chap. xxviii., tells, that Saul and the witch of Endor conjured Samuel up after he was dead; yet the history of the matters contained in those books is extended through the remaining part of Saul's life, and to the latter end of the life of David, who succeeded Saul. The account of the death and burial of Samuel, (a thing which he could not write bimself,) is related in the 25th chapter of the first book of Samuel; and the ology affixed to this chapter makes

this to be 1060 years before Christ; yet the history of this first book is brought down to 1056 years before Christ; that is, to the death of Saul, which was not till four years after the death of Samuel.

The second book of Samuel begins with an account of things that did not happen till four years after Samuel was dead; for it begins with the reign of David, who succeeded Saul, and it goes on to the end of David's reign, wbich was forty-three years after the death of Samuel ; and therefore the books are in themselves positive evidence that they were not written by Samuel.

I have now gone through all the books in the first part of the Bible, to which the names of persons are affixed, as being the authors of those books, and which the church, styling itself the Christian church, have imposed upon the world as the writings ot Moses, Joshua, and Samuel; and I have detected and proved the falsehood of this imposition. And now, ye priests of every description, who have preached and written against the former part of the Age of Reason, what have ye to say ? Will ye, with all this mass of evidence against you, and staring you in the face, still have the assurance to march into your pulpits, and continue to impose these books on your congregations as the works of inspired penmen, and the word of God, when it is as evident as demonstration can make truth appear, that the persons who, ye say, are the authors, are not the authors, and that ye know not who the authors are ? What shadow of pretence have ye now to produce, for continuing the blasphemous fraud ? What have ye still to offer against the pure and moral religion of Deism, in support of your system of falsehood, idolatry, and pretended revelation ? Had the cruel and murderous orders with which the Bible is filled, and the number less torturing executions, of men, women, and children, in col. sequence of those orders, been ascribed to some friend, whose memory you revered, you would have glowed with satisfaction at detecting the falsehood of the charge, and gloried in defending his injured fame. Is it because ye are sunk in the cruelty of super. stition, or feel no interest in the honour of your Creator, that ye listen to the horrid tales of the Bible, or hear them with callous indifference? The evidence I bave produced, and shall still produce in the course of this work, to prove that the Bible is without authority, will, whilst it wounds the stubbornness of a priest, relieve and tranquillise the minds of millions; it will free them from all those bard thoughts of the Almighty, which priestcraft and the Bible bad infused into their minds, and which stood in everlasting opposition to all their ideas of his moral justice and benevolence.

I come now to the two books of Kings and the two books of Chronicles. Those books are altogether historical, and are chieiy confined to the lives and actions of the Jewish kings, who in general were a parcel of rascals: but these are matters with which we have no more concern, than we have with the Roman emperors,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »