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corded in the Book of Joshua. The two passages now considered are the only ones in the whole Bible which have been supposed to imply, or allude to, the wonderful event related in Jos. x. 12-15. The quotation from the Book of Jasher must, therefore, be interpreted as a poetical fragment standing alone. No inspired writer has asserted or denied its literal truth. No one has referred to it in the remotest way.
But while we think it unsafe to affirm, that the verse under examination must be understood literally as so much simple history, we find one or two expressions in them which indicate a real transaction as the foundation of the account. In v. 14, the day of this conflict is distinguished from other days, in that “ Jehovah hearkened unto the voice of a man.” And in v. 12, we read, “ Then spake Joshua-and said in the sight of Israel.” These statements seem to imply an actual and authoritative address of Joshua, whatever may have been the words, to the effect that the sun should not go down “ until they had avenged themselves upon their enemies.” Both the language ascribed to Joshua and the peculiar emphasis laid upon the fact that God hearkened to the voice of a man, lead to the conclusion that Joshua's words were remarkable for their boldness and commanding tone. They were no doubt a prayer, so far as the heart of the leader of Israel was concerned, but, perhaps, a prayer uttered in rather military language. This address was most likely made during the conflict in the valley of Gibeon. After having passed westward from Gibeon, in the pursuit, it would not have been natural to refer back to that city in an address to the sun, making that the place over which it was to remain. Besides, if the mention of the moon be anything more than a poetic embellishment, that luminary must have been visible in the southwest over Ajalon. The sun must have been in the east and the moon in the west to have been at the same time visible, and to have given rise to any expression similar to that attributed to Joshua by the poet. His address was therefore made in the early part of the day and of the conflict, or, it is more probable, of the pursuit. The real import of his words must have been a prayer, that the day might not end before the overthrow of his enemies was complete. And such a prayer would have been as really answered by sending a storm of great hailstones upon the Amorites and aiding the army of Israel to do the work of two days in one, as by prolonging one day to twice the ordinary length. Accordingly, it is said, v. 11, “They were more which died with hail-stones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.” Certainly here was a very satisfactory answer to the prayer of Joshua.
Art. VII.-PHILOSOPHIC THEOLOGY.
PHILOSOPHIC THEOLOGY; or, Ultimate Grounds of all Religious
Belief based in Reason. By James W. Miles. Charleston : John Russel. 1849.
We feel a very decided repugnance to the use of the terms “philosophy ” and “ philosophic," in connexion with revealed religion. When a preacher advertises us from the pulpit, that he is about to give us the philosophy of a particular doctrine or text, we can scarcely repress a rising sentiment of disgust at the announcement, while all expectations of edification from his labors are at once dispelled. In like manner, when we take up a book which treats of the Christian faith, and which threatens to expound to us the philosophy of the gospel, we invariably find ourselves possessed of a violent presumption against its merits. Certain unfavorable ideas of its character are at once involuntarily formed. We expect to find it mystifying subjects that are plain, making clear, at least to the author's mind, those that are unfathomable, and treating, with irreverent familiarity, others that should be shielded from such audacious tampering, by their peculiar solemnity. We prepare our minds to see the Bible handled with small ceremony by our Christian philosopher, very much as a modern gentleman uses his travelling cap.
This may be a foolish prejudice of our own, indicating ignorance rather than wisdom, and more superstition than piety; but we own to its existence, nevertheless. It is possibly a prejudice which we have contracted from reading certain expressions in the writings of the Apostle Paul, who was accustomed to speak very slightingly of the philosophical teachers of his day. All philosopher as he was, he was satisfied with leaving thegreat revelations which he announced in their naked force, neither weakened nor strengthened by the addition of his metaphysics.
In addition to this, the books which we have read professing to handle divine truth philosophically, have served rather to confirm and exasperate, than to remove our prejudices. We have derived the smallest possible benefits from the pompous and abstruse treatises, whose design has been to illuminate the Bible with the conjectures of human wisdom, and present its doctrines in the drapery of scientific technicalities. The whole
tribe of speculatists, from the primitive Gnostics down to the German Rationalists and their timid English imitators, have inflicted upon Christianity a succession of serious injuries, the more serious because coming from those who professed to be its friends and supporters.
We do not intend to assert that Christianity disdains all connexion with philosophy, and urges its pretensions in contempt and denial of the laws of the human mind. It must harmonize with these laws, or be rejected as absurd. Nor do we object to efforts attempting an adjustment of Revelation to a correct system of mental science; but what we do mean to say is, that the more ambitious of these attempts have, in general, proved signal failures, either from ignorance of Christianity on the part of those who made them, or from their bringing a false philosophy, and an improper spirit, to the work of adjustment.
We regret being obliged to add that the book whose title we have spread before our readers, has in nowise contributed to convince us of the erroneousness of these views. It is a clear, neatly printed, handsomely bound volume, the production of the Rev. J. W. Miles, an Episcopal clergyman, of Charleston, S. C., and Professor of Belles Lettres, in the Charleston College. Mr. Miles, we are informed, is comparatively a young man, making with this book his first venture in authorship; and in many respects we cordially acknowledge it a most respectable and creditable venture. It proves very convincingly that Mr. Miles is a man of talent. He has evidently read pretty extensively, and reflected with no little attention on the subjects of which he hère treats. Like many of the younger class of scholars of our day, he is smitten with a violent admiration of Germany, and has familiarized himself, to some extent, with German philosophy. The spirit in which he writes is, upon the whole, amiable and conciliatory. He seems animated with a genuine love of the gospel, and with really benevolent solicitude for the enlightenment and conversion of the skeptical. His style, though somewhat hard and cramped, especially when compared with the flowing sentences of his master, Morell, is vigorous, and presents occasional striking excellences. However the readers of this book may fall out with its sentiments, and question the prudence that allowed its publication, they will all rise from its perusal impressed with respect for its author's intellect-with the conviction that he who can produce this work, has ability enough to produce a much better one.
In his “ Advertisement," and " Address to the Reader,"
Mr. Miles informs us, that this volume has sprung from the necessity which the mind of the writer has fest, for rendering to itself a sufficient reason respecting religious belief, and that its object is “to suggest the philosophic grounds involved in the chief points of Christian theology." We do not think the plan by which this important object is attempted to be accomplished a fortunate one. The book opens with several letters from a supposed skeptic, with replies by the author, and a final invitation to the skeptic to give a “candid perusal of the following discussion in which the subjects of the letters will be more fully treated.” Then follows the body of the work. This arrangement strikes us as awkward. It leads to much unnecessary and tedious repetition, and introduces confusion into the whole treatise. It would have been a simpler and happier method of managing the subject, if the author had dispensed with the preliminary letters altogether, or given an epistolary form to the entire discussion.
But our objections to this introductory correspondence between the imaginary skeptic and the author are of a graver nature than this. There is a sad want of clearness in it all. He does not well see what are the troubles and difficulties of the inquiring unbeliever. He complains of being oppressed with unaccountable lowness of spirits; asks a great many transcendental questions about God, man, truth, time, eternity and the universe, such as nearly any moderately intelligent child puts to himself; darkly intimates that he is wandering in doubt and perplexity between Atheism and Pantheism; and then, after the author's first letter, brightens up wonderfully, and turns out to be nearly as good a Christian as the “ friend” who kindly undertakes the office of his religious Mentor. He does not indicate clearly the precise grounds of his anxiety and unbelief, and “the friend,” in his responses, is equally unsuccessful in defining his position; so that we are obliged to enter upon the perusal of the main argument under a haze. The objection which we urge against this preliminary portion of the volume holds, to some extent, against the remaining parts. There is, all through, a want of precise statement and lucid views.
But dismissing these minor points, we propose briefly to consider the principles on which
this work is constructed, and its alleged claims as a defense of the Christian faith. It sets out, in our judgment, with a most hazardous purpose, and is based, in all its reasonings, upon no more than a half-truth. Its object, as already intimated, is to find some ground of absolute certainty on which to rest the belief of Christianity. It makes the false and dangerous concession to all “ earnestspirited, deep-thinking, serious inquirers,” (as, in a sort of fashionable cant, it is now common to style skeptics,) that the old arguments by which Christianity has been defended, are obsolete and untenable, or at least, if good for anything, are not sufficient to satisfy these “ deep-thinkers.” It is unsparing in its denunciations of the narrow, untenable, dogmatic views which have characterized the former supporters of Christianity, and it confidently declares, “their grounds of defence cannot stand.” New reasons, it is asserted, must be brought forth; loftier and profounder views of man and truth attained, or the “earnest and philosophic” will repudiate Christianity with something like a feeling of sovereign contempt. Now, these concessions are equally unjust, rash and foolish. The old “grounds of defence” have stood for some time, and are yet serving a valuable purpose with many minds, possessing respectable claims both to sincerity and sagacity. Before a professed champion of Christianity should consent to show them so cavalier a respect, and thus lead multitudes to suspect the truth of revealed religion, he should be absolutely certain that he has something of undeniable authority and overpowering cogency to offer as a substitute for them.
Our deliberate opinion is, that Mr. Miles's denunciations of the ancient methods of defending Christianity, so liberally and confidently dispensed, will cause his book (if it has any effect at all) to operate injuriously; while it may thus unmoor some minds from their former safe and fast anchorage, it will furnish no new demonstrations to arrest their wanderings and fix again their unsettled faith. If our author had contented himself with simply advancing his own theories, his work would have proved quite a harmless affair. It is the easy contempt which he expresses for the “old paths,” that will give it any power for mischief.
Mr. Miles seeks, as we have seen, to discover some ground of certitude on which to rest Christianity, and, unless this can be discovered, he admits that it "fails to fulfil the necessary conditions of an imperative revelation.” We think no better of this admission, than of the concessions already mentioned. It involves an unfounded and pernicious principle. We are far from saying that Christianity does not rest upon such ground as is here demanded; but we would be equally far from granting, that the infidel is justified in its rejection, unless it can be brought home to him with the force of an axiom, or mathematical demonstration. This we regard as the Apwrov fevdos—the fatal assumption-which makes the whole