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LINES TO THE MEMORY OF A YOUNG FRIEND.
WOULD I call thee back? No, never-unless
its green head high,
And the mourned and the mourner will part no more. Crediton,
ON THE COMMAND OF JOSHUA.
August 3, 1827. When I confess my utter ignorance of the Hebrew tongue, I shall perhaps be accused of presumption in attempting a reply to the objections of your correspondent “ Jarchi,” to the common rendering of Joshua x. 12, 13. But those of his objections which I am about to notice have no connexion with verbal criticism, and are therefore open to the strictures of the mere English reader of the Bible.
Your correspondent, quoting from an author “no ways favourable (as he admits) to the Sacred Scriptures,” objects to the place which the incident (of the sun and moon standing still) occupies in the narrative. “ It is absurd,” says he,“ to suppose, that after the battle and conquest are described, and the remaining part of the Amorites had fled, the writer should return to give an account of the same transactions, or that there was a necessity for a miracle to be wrought to conquer the Amorites, when the account states that it was already done before the sun and moon are said to have stood still.” Now, Sir, I see no absurdity' at all in an author's first relating the event of a contest, and then "returning,” not, as the objecter has it, to give a fresh account of the same transactions, but to mention a circumstance which had taken place during the contest, and which he had not previously mentioned. As to the supposition that the miracle was wrought after the defeat of the Amorites, there is no need to resort to it.
The presumption of Joshua, in daring to act "proprio marte, by his own sole power, and independent of the authority of the Almighty Jehovah,” requires proof. In fact, we have an intimation that, previously to performing the miracle, he addressed the Supreme Being, though the words of hó address are not given. “ Then spake Joshua to the Lord, in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of the children of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon,'" &c.
The “ unphilosophical” manner in which the historian describes the miracle, cannot surely be urged as an objection. The account is in conformity with the astronomical system of that day, and it is too much to dispute the record of a fact, because the writer was unacquainted with the discoveries of later ages, and therefore described it according to its apparent rather than its real nature.
That the moon also is said to have stood still, furnishes, I think, one argument for the reality of the miracle. For although there was, I admit, no occasion for this when the sun was shining, it was according to the mordern and true theory of the motions of the celestial bodies) a necessary consequence of the cessation of the earth's diurnal rotation, in which, I presume, the miracle consisted.
But the grand objection of your correspondent (stated in a note) is one which, if sincere in “not wishing to do away with the miracles in the Sacred Scripture indiscriminately," he cannot consistently use. “I take my stand," he says, “ on the immutability of God, and the consequent immutability of those laws by which he governs the universe, and am, therefore, imperiously led to consider any assertion by which this primary principle is either wholly or in part impugned, as an open insult to the majesty of the Divine Being.” Now, Sir, if this argument has any force, it affects ail other miracles as much as the one in question, since all are departures
from the laws by which God governs the universe, and therefore must (according to the reasoning of Jarchi) " wholly or in part impugn the primary principle of his immutability.” I do not see, however, that the supposition of God's occasional departure from the usual mode in which he conducts the operations of his providence, for the accomplishment of some wise and beneficent end, militates against the immutability of his character or purposes, or can be “an open insult” to him. Indeed, it does not derogate from his glory so much as that hypothesis which would limit his omnipotence by making him the slave of his own decrees.
I am aware that the above reasonings vindicate the correctness of the received translation only so far as they disprove your correspondent's assertion, that in abandoning it “we get rid of a miracle for which there was no necessity,* and which, when considered according to the narrative, as the performance of a mere mortal, outstrips, in point of possibility, all that has ever been told in the tales of the Talmud or the legends of the Koran.” It would have been as well if he had confined himself to the simple question of the conformity of either version to the original; or, at any rate, have expressed his objections to the common account of the transaction in more guarded and moderate language.
The received version possesses one merit of which Mr. Bellainy's seems to me to be destitute—it is intelligible; and I should be glad to know how Mr. Bellamy renders the context, in which (according to the received version) we are told, “ that the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day; and there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man."
J. C. M.
THE BOODHIST AND BRAHMINICAL RELIGIONS.
[From the Sphinx.] “ The two great classes into which the pagan religion of Eastern Asia is divided, are the Brahminical and the Boodhist. The first is the religion of nearly all the Hindoos—a hundred millions at least—and the latter the religion of all China, part of Tartary, Cochin-China, Japan, Ava, Siam, Ceylon, and many other parts of the East, probably embracing from three to four hundred millions of believers, and unquestionably the most numerically popular belief of any that exists upon the face of the globe. It may seem strange that, except as connected with the late Burmese war, we should have heard so little of this widely-spread faith until now. But, while we English laugh at the vanity of the Chinese Emperor (who has 300,000,000 of beings under his sway) for fancying his nation to be the greatest in the world, we are not unfrequently quite as egotistical, in believing that not merely the great Christian faith, which nearly all Europe professes, but the little subdivision of it by which we swear, as sectarians or dissenters from the Church of Rome, is the most widely spread and most universally popular of all the faiths entertained by men. The Boodbist religion, of which millions in England have never yet even heard, counts nearly as many believers as any two other of the great classes of believers put together, while they are much
* We should regard this miracle as one of a series by which the Lord wrought out the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and their settlement in the promised land,
more numerous than either the Christians, Jews, Mohammedans, or Idolators, taken separately.
“ The history and monumental remains of such a religion, are not, therefore, wholly insignificant as objects of rational inquiry; and, without professing the least veneration for that which is ancient, or even extensive, merely because of its antiquity or universality, we think we shall not altogether waste our space or time in devoting a portion of each to their inves. tigation.
“It has been a question among scholars and antiquaries, whether the religion and mythology of Egypt and India were so closely connected as for one to have been the source of the other; and if so, which preceded and which followed. The points of resemblance are many and striking, but not more so than the points of dissimilarity. The antiquity of the monuments of Egypt is undoubtedly much greater than that of the monuments of India. The dry climate and barten soil of the one country is eminently favourable to the duration of architectural edifices; the moist climate and exuberant vegetation of the other is destructive even of its cavernous excavations, the most durable form, not even excepting the pyramids, in which human labour can be transmitted to remote posterity. There is in Egypt historical as well as local evidence of the antiquity of some of its temples exceeding the age of three thousand years; and yet on some of these, the colouring of the painter and the red ochre pencil-tracings of the sculptor are as fresh as when they were first put on, there never having been sufficient moisture in the atmosphere (where rain never falls, and where dew is unknown) to dim the lustre of the one or obliterate the faintest lines of the other, through thirty centuries of time! In India, on the contrary, where for half the year the sky pours down floods of rain, and for the other half the sun exhales it in steam and vapour, a building of a single year old would require repairing, and repainting, and half a century of neglect (as in the splendid ruins of Dacca) is sufficient to cause the most colossal monuments of the country, caverns and hewn rocks alone excepted, to be toppled down and overturned by the united powers of destructive vegetation, and decaying heat and moisture. In the monuments that remain in each country, however, there are very striking differences: first, in those of Egypt the outline is always peculiarly chaste and simple; in India the outline is grotesque, labonred, and fantastic. In those of Egypt the sculptured representations do not, in any instance, exhibit beings with many heads, arms, or legs-Briaræus alone excepted, and he has a hundred; in India, however, this multiplication of heads and limbs attached to one body is frequent.
In Egypt the sculptures are all in low relief; in India they are in very high relief, amounting almost to statuary. In India the dead were burned, and scattered to the winds; in Egypt they were embalmed and carefully preserved in stone sarcophagi. These are the points of difference. The points of resemblance are, in both, colossal dimensions--in both, human bodies with heads of animalsin both, representations of offerings in fruits and flowers-in both, a numerous and privileged priesthood-in both, the worship of the serpent and the veneration of the lotus--in both, the doctrine of the metempsychosis, and consequent abstinence from animal food. On the whole, indeed, although the differences are considerable, the resemblances must be copsidered most striking : for when, during the occupation of Egypt by the French army, detachment of our Indian
sepoys was sent from India by the Red Sea, under General Sir David Baird, and the men were landed at Cosseir to march across the Desert to the Nile, they had no sooner reached the banks of that sacred stream, and entered one of the ruined temples of Isis, at Tentyra,
near Thebes, than they all spontaneously fell on their faces to worship, avowing to each other their belief that they were then in one of the pagodas or temples of their ancestors, and saw around them their own ceremonies and their own gods.
“ Though the opinion of the learned is in favour of the Brahminical religion having originally passed from Egypt into Hindoostan, and of the Boodhist religion being again a branch of this last, there is this peculiarity belonging to Boodhism which raises it much in dignity above the other two, and makes it more nearly accord both with the earliest notions of the unity of God, and with the later opinions that prevail on the same sublime point of faith. The Boodhists have only one sculptured representation of a living being in their temples; this is a sitting figure, generally of a colossal size, but always strictly human, without any of the monstrous combinations which disfigure the Egyptian and Hindoo mythology. He is generally seated on a lotus, is always thick-lipped and woolly-headed, which would indicate an African origin, and is certainly not Asiatic; and is always in the benevolent act of narration, demonstration, or instruction. The Boodhists believe in one God, of whom Boodh, himself a mortal, was merely the last and the purest of the prophets, resembling in this respect the Mohammedans and Unitarian Christians. The Hindoos have three hundred and thirty-three millions of gods, besides their great trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the creator, preserver, and destroyer, all emanating from the great quiescent source, Bruhm; besides incarnations in the shape of cows, fishes, pigeons, geese, and other undignified animals. The Boodhists believe in no incarnations whatever, regarding God as God, and man as man, and assigning to their prophet only the province to teach the will of their common Lord and Creator.
“ Between two religions so opposed in their genius and character as these, it can hardly be a matter of wonder that violent antipathies should exist : and as that faith which is most superstitious is generally most powerful in its hold on the zeal of the people, and most cordially supported by all the means necessary to organize a force for its protection; so, whenever the two have come in conflict, the gross superstitions of the Brahmins have beaten the simpler tenets of the Boodhists out of the field : and the latter have almost entirely disappeared in India, though they still spread over the immense empire of China, and the countries already enumerated in conjunction with it.
“ About ten centuries ago, indeed, (which is as yesterday in an Indian history,) they occupied several cave-temples in the Island of Salsette, near Bombay, while the Brahmins held the great cave-temple of Elephanta in the same quarter. In the able and learned account of this cave, given by Mr. Erskine, (the joint-translator with the late Dr. Leyden of the interesting • Memoirs of the Emperor Baber,') in the Transactions of the Literary Society of Bombay,' there is a very full and satisfactory account of both religions and their professors at this period; since which they have existed only in the Eastern parts of India."
Colonel Francklin has lately published a volume, entitled “Researches into the Tenets and Doctrines of the Jeynes and Boodhists,” in which he has collected a great mass of information, acquired by him during his residence in India, with regard to the history and tenets of their remarkable religion. He has also added a curious dissertation on the worship of the Serpent, which he traced not only throughout the East, but in various other quarters of the globe.