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and for the discussion of which no adequate amount of space can here be afforded-it becomes a matter of difficulty to approach the subjects under consideration in such a manner as to isolate them from the numerous questions by which they are surrounded, and 80 intimately involved. But the task has been most ably accom. plished by Dr. Colenso; who, while giving due credence to such statements and doctrines of the Pentateuch as commend themselves to the ear of reason and the eye of truth, when those faculties are honestly and intelligently exercised by that human mind to which they have been addressed for its enlightened acceptance, rejects as spurious or doubtful those records of circumstances which are both physically impossible in themselves, and in direct antagonism to the divine character. And the Pentateuch is full of these inconsistencies.
If there is one principle more indelibly impressed than another upon the broad universe above and around us, it is that of law-law unchangeable, eternal, and ever-acting. Even Omni. potence itself must be subject to law, — has voluntarily surrendered itself, when working at either its vast designs or most minute results, to those immutable laws which sprang into existence coeval with matter itself—" it knows no change or shadow of a turning." Effects and causes are indissolubly linked together, and those shallow superstitionists who would fain attempt to divorce the one from the other, and to place effect without its due natural cause, do but dupe themselves, and wrong the ever. lasting truth. The present, with all its multitudinous men, things, and circumstances, is as certainly and uniformly born of the past, as it is indubitable that the future will be the offspring of the present. A universal system of unvarying laws necessarily pervades all things, and has held its unvarying sway both in the past and present. The ceaseless rush of the millions of planets through infinite space is as assuredly the result of all-controlling law, as is the falling of an autumn leaf, which, in its gyration to the earth, obeys principles as inexorable as those which bind the universe together. And, therefore, to suppose that events have ever occurred, except in the natural order of cause and effect; that is to say, to assume that bona fide miracles bave ever been enacted, appears to us to be tantamount to accepting a dilemma, by which it must be assumed, on the one hand, that the laws of Nature are not invariable ; or, on the other hand, that Omnipotence itself is change. able. But, really, the evidence in support of genuine supernatural results, particularly those of the Old Testament, is so extremely unsatisfactory when rigidly examined by the light of science and history, that they may fairly be dismissed on this ground alone, and without appealing to general principles for their extinction.* For, even admitting that the alleged miracles detailed in the Pen. tateuch are substantially founded on fact, but with a large addition
. See Macall “On Miracles," in the Propagandist, and elsewhere.
of Oriental colouring and exaggeration, we believe that it would be both more reasonable and more conducive to a general acceptance of the Scripture narratives, to refer them to exceptional, but at the same time natural causes, than to declare that they are the result of supernatural interference. If miracles were wrought in the past, why are they not also wrought in the present day? And when did they authentically cease? And why?" Surely if miracles were required in order “to be a sign to a regenerate people" thou. sands of years ago, it cannot be pretended that we also in the nineteenth century do not equally require a “sign "! Truly we are more “civilized” now than then; though it is very questionable whether, on looking into it, it will not be found that the civilization has consisted simply of putting off one form of barbarism in order to make room for another. But certainly we have latterly advanced rapidly in that kind of civilization which makes us sceptical of "miracles." When will the effete and dying Church of Rome cease to manufacture miracles for the edification of its “dear children "? . Now, in application of these general observations to the particular case before us, we have first to inquire on what grounds it is alleged that Moses was the author of the five books in question ! This is a point which M. H., in his affirmative article, has entirely ignored; but E. H. K., on the contrary, has so far negatived it, that we shall now advert to it merely for the purpose of commenting upon the extreme improbability of an eye-witness committing so many glaring inconsistencies of statement as are to be found in the Mosaic narrative of even contemporary events. In fact, the whole history of the exodus and subsequent wanderings in the desert reads like a wonderful but ill-told romance, which is all the more unreal and inconsistent if it have emanated from an actual spectator and the chief actor in the events enumerated. The internal evidence against Moses having been the writer of this portion of the Pentateuch has thus been summed up by a recent reviewer in the Morning Post :
“ The exodus (says Dr. Colenso) seems to have been too gigantic to be true. There is a want of due proportion between the number of the sons of Jacob who went down to sojourn in Egypt, and the number of their posterity at the exodus. Not only could there not have been two millions of Israelites in the time of Pbarcab, but if there had been, they could not have been led by Moses, as it is said they were; could not have been provided with all the appliances that the case requires; could not have enough lambs for the Passover, nor the flocks which such lambs implies; nor could they have kept the Passover; por spoilt the Egyptians; nor have been marshalled out of Egypt; nor have been armed; NOT bave bad tents, por have carried them if they had; nor have been able to take their cattle, nor to feed them if they bad; nor have got across the Red Sea before they were overtaken by Pbaraoh's host; nor have been dismayed at that host, seeing that their own armed men were 600,000, while the chariots of Egypt that pursued them were but 600, so that they were to their enemies as 1,000 to 1. Dr. Colenso cannot accept the story of an exodus of such dimensions."
Nor can we believe that the chief participator in the events thus detailed could have perpetrated such conflicting statements regarding them. But, moreover, the evidence respecting the authorship of the first of the fire books is entirely negative; and it is as reasonable to suppose that the Pentateuch was compiled by the chronicler of the death of Moses, as that it was written by Moses himself. Indeed, as it appears that the balance of evidence is unfavourable to the assumption that this so-called historian was the recorder of bis alleged contemporary history, the supposition, that he was the author of anything at all prior to that of his own era, is still more improbable.
But with reference to the historical authenticity of the Pentateuch, the Bishop thus qualifies his remarks, a qualification which we do not wholly endorse, but which we here append, as M. H. has wholly confined himself to a narrow and unscrupulous attack upon the Bishop's “Critical Examination," without advancing any independent defence of his own orthodox position as affirmator :
" I wish to repeat here most distinctly that my reason for no longer receiving the Pentateuch as bistorically true, is not that I find insuperable difficulties with regard to the miracles, or supernatural revelations of Almighty God, recorded in it, but solely that I cannot, as a true man, consent any longer to shut my eyes to the absolute, palpable self-contradiction of the narrative. The notion of miraculous or supernatural interference does not present to my own mind the difficulties which it seems to present to some. I could believe and receive the miracles of Scripture heartily, if only they were authenticated by a veracious history; though, if this is not the case with the Pentateuch, any miracles which rest upon such unstable support must necessarily fall to the ground with it.”—P. 10.
And the Doctor thus further epitomises the result of his investigation regarding the historical character of the Pentateuch generally:
“The result of my inquiry is this, that I have arrived at the conviction as painful to myself at first as it may be to my, reader, though painful now no longer under the clear shining of the Light of Truth-that the Pentateuch, as a whole, cannot possibly have been written by Moses, or by any one acquainted personally with the Mosaic narrative, by whomsoever written, and though imparting to us, as I fully believe it does, revelations of divine will and character, cannot be regarded as historically true.
"Let it be observed that I am not here speaking of a number of petty variations and contradictions, such as, on closer examination, are found to exist throughout the books, but which may be in many cases sufficiently explained, by alleging our ignorance of all the circumstances of the case, or by supposing some misplacement, or loss, or corruption, of the original manuscript, or by suggesting that a later writer has inserted his own gloss here and there, or even whole pasages, which may contain facts or expressions at variance with the true Mosaic Books, and throwing an udmerited suspicion upon them. However perplexing such contradictions are, when found in a book which is believed to be divinely infallible, yet a humble and pious faith will gladly welcome the aid of a friendly criticism, to relieve it in this way of its doubts. I can truly say that I would do so heartily myself. Nor are the difficulties, to which I am now referring, of the same kind as those which arise from considering the accounts of the Creation and the Deluge (though these of themselves are very formidable), or the stupendous character of certain miracles, as that of the sun and moon standing still -- or the waters of the river Jordan standing in heaps as solid walls, while the stream, we must suppose, was still running, -or the ass speaking with human voice,-- or the miracles wrought by the magicians of Egypt, such as the conversion of a rod into a snake, and the latter being endowed with life. They are not such, even, as are raised, when we regard the trivial nature of a vast number of conversations and commands, aseribed directly to Jehovah, especially the multiplied ceremonial minutiæ, laid down in the Levitical Law. They are not such, even, as must be started at once in most pious minds, when such words as these are read, professedly coming from the Holy and Blessed One, the Father and · Faithful Creator' of all mankind :
* If the master (of a Hebraw servant) have given him a wife, and she have borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out free by himself,' Exod. xxi. 4.
"The wife and children in such a case being placed ander the protection of such other words as these:
" "If a man smite his servant, or his maid with a rod, and he die ander his hand, he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, be shall not be punisted for he is his money,' Exod. xxi. 20, 21.”—Pp. 8, 9.
We cannot wonder tbat a South American enthusiast, preaching from such a text as this, is able logically to show that "slavery is a divine institution.” The above quotation will abundantly show on what broad and tangible grounds the Bishop takes his stand, and will completely refute the sarcasm of M. H. and others, that he is & petty caviller who goes grovelling about with a rule and tape in one pocket, and a book of population statistics in the other, seeking to detect paltry flaws in the facts of Holy Writ. It is true, that a considerable portion of his criticism consists of a rigorous logical examination and comparison of facts and dates derived from various sources, and of arithmetical investigation of the numbers given ; but this, instead of militating against the value of his deductions, rather adds to it, since" figures cannot err"; and where the data are patent to every investigator, the process by which the result so arrived at is open to verification by all. We give M. H. due credit for the logical acumen he has displayed in testing the Bishop's data and deductions; but, at the same time, a careful examination of the facts and arguments adduced hare not sufficed to shake our faith in the stability of Dr. Colenso's position. But the detailed exposure of M. H.'s fallacies properly rests with E. H. K., and to him we confidently leave the task.
There is now space only for a brief allusion to the following three events, respecting which we acknowledge, with unfeigned sincerity, that we cannot accept the Scriptural account without allowing blind faith to usurp the office of discriminating reason.
We refer, first, to the Mosaic story of the Creation ; the date at which the commentators state that it took place, versus geological calculations ; the literal time it occupied; and the order in which it
was effected. The second great difficulty is that of the Flood; the - capacity of the ark to contain pairs of every animal, bird, reptile,
and insect, with food for them all; how they could possibly have been gathered together from every climate, both in the time stated, and by the limited number of persons named; how they could have
existed in health, without deadly enmity to each other, in this changed and artificial state ; and, lastly, as to the extent and duration of the Flood, respecting which Dr. Colenso thus argues :
“My own knowledge of some branches of science, and of geology in particular, bas been much increased since I left England; and I now know for certain, on geological grounds, a fact of which I had only had misgivings before, viz., that a universal deluge, such as the Bible manifestly speaks of, could not possibly bave taken place in the way described in the Book of Genesis, not to mention other difficulties which the story contains. I refer especially to the circumstance, well known to all geologists (see Lyell's “ Elementary Geology," pp. 197, 198), that volcanic hills exist of immense extent in Auvergne and Languedoc, which must have been formed ages before the Noachian deluge, and which are covered with light and loose substances, pumice-stone, &c., that must have been swept away by a flood, but do not exhibit the slightest sign of ever baving been disturbed. Of course I am aware that some have attempted to show that Noah's deluge was only a partial one; but such events have ever seemed to me to be made in the very teeth of the Scripture statements, which are as plain and explicit as words can possibly be. Nor is anything really gained by supposing the deluge to have been partial; for, as waters must find their level on the earth's surface, without a special miracle, of which the Bible says nothing, a flood which should begin by covering the top of Ararat (if that were conceivable), or a much lower mountain, must necessarily become universal, and in due time sweep over the hills of Auvergne.”—Preface, pp. vii. and viii.
The above needs no comment. We now refer to the case of “the sun standing still” at the command of Joshua, on the physical impossibility of which the Bishop thus comments :
“Every natural pbilosopher will know [the fact of the sun staying in the heavens] it to be wholly untenable. For, not to speak of the fact that, if the earth's motion were suddenly stopped, a man's feet would be arrested, while his body was moving at the rate (at the equator) of 1,000 miles an hour (or, rather, 1,000 miles a minute ; since not only must the earth's diurnal rotation on its axis be stopped, but its annual rotation also through space), so that every human being and animal would be dashed to pieces in a moment, and a mighty delage overwhelm the earth, unless all this were prevented by a profusion of miraculous interferences. One point is at once fatal to the above solution. Archdeacon Pratt quotes only the words, 'So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day; and although, surely, this is one of the most prominent questions in respect of which it is asserted that 'Scripture and science are at variance,' he dismisses the whole subject in a short pote, and never even mentions the moon. But the Bible says, 'The sun stood still, and the moon stayed,' Josh. x. 13; and the arresting of the earth's motion, while it might cause the appearance of the sun 'standing still,” would not account for the moon staying."" - Note to Preface, pp. X., xi.
This is, perhaps, one of the most pointed and conclusive criticisms in the whole of the Bishop's work; for by whatever neologianism the difficulty (of the fact narrated being a physical impossibility) be explained away, there still remains a clear impeachment of the correctness of the historian's description of the phenomena, which impeachment cannot be glossed over, even should our opponents fall back upon the bare assertion that the whole series