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The book of Judges, as we have seen, has an essential connexion, both with the books of Moses, and that of Joshua. The sufferings and captivities of Israel, were a natural consequence of their idolatries and corruptions. Nor is the sacred history of those remote ages left unsupported by the evidence of Pagan writers. Their testimony is sufficiently ample to confound the unblushing assertions of the boasted friends of infidelity in this age of reason. The fall and deluge are recognized among all the ancient nations. The memory of Joshua and his conquests, was preserved among the heathen; and there are ancient monuments still extant, which prove that the Carthaginians were a colony of the Tyrians who escaped from him. The storm of hail recorded in the eleventh chapter of Joshua, was transformed by the poets into a tempest of stones, with which, as they say, Jupiter assailed the enemies of Hercules in Arim, which is exactly the country where Joshua fought with the children of Anak. The actions of Gideon are preserved by Sanchoniathon, a Tyrian writer, who lived soon after him, and whose antiquity is attested by Porphyry, one of the most violent enemies of Christianity. We shall add but one more, out of many that may be adduced in corroboration of the great events of these early ages, recorded in Jewish history.

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*The great General of the Israelites says before his army, SOLAR LIGHT stay upon Gibeon; and LUNAR "LIGHT in the valley of Ajalon." The inacuracy of our translation makes it, "Sun and moon stand still." It is evident from the original that Joshua neither meant nor addressed the bodies of the sun and moon, and yet Infidelity affects a foolish triumph, as if all the planetary system must have been thrown into confusion had such an event taken place as the cessation of motion in the earth and moon, whereas nothing can be more evident from the original, than that he addressed the Solar light and Lunar light, to remain above the horizon, until Israel was avenged of its

enemies.

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* See Pike's Philosophia Sacra, p. 44. and the late learned and Rev. Julius Bate, on Joshua, ch. x. v. 12, 13.

The History of China contains a tradition, that in the sixty-seventh year of the reign of their eighth Emperor YAU, about five hundred and forty-seven years after the decease of FоHI the first Emperor, and one thousand four hundred and fifty-one years before our Saviour's incarna tion (corresponding with the miracle recorded in Joshua) the sun did not set for a considerable time. They add, that it was declining toward the west when the light of it was suspended in the heavens. China being so far to the Eastward of Palestine, the sun would set five hours earlier at Pekin, the capital of China, than at Jerusalem, which makes the evidence from the Chinese account still stronger. The difference of longitude in time is 5h 1'36'. or 81° 36 in distance. The Hebrew text says, "The Solar light stayed in the DIVISION of the heavens (the horizon) "and hasted not to go off ABOUT a whole day." The corrected Chinese account makes it stationary about ten hours, arising probably from their not having noticed the beginning of this extraordinary phænomenon. We also learn from Herodotus (Lib. 2. Chap. 142.) that the Egyp tians and their priests gave that historian some account of

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this miracle.

In the fall of Samson, we see the natural consequence of fatal passions, attaching the wise and good to women destitute of virtue, and at last becoming the victims of sensuality. Instead of remaining the judge and avenger of his injured people, he sacrifices his duty to God and his country to a treacherous Delilah, who sells him into his enemies' hands, where, deserted of his almighty Defender, his lamentable death leaves us an awful and instructive lesson, that God is not to be deserted with impunity, and that no departure from the paths of rectitude can escape the eye of Him that seeth all things.

The History of Ruth displays a specimen of Patriarchal simplicity, as well in language as manners, hardly any where else to be parallelled in ancient history. The heroine of the piece deserves the highest praise. Like the great Lawgiver, she prefers affliction with the people of God to all the enjoyments of worldly wealth; and adopts the wise resolution that the God of Israel shall be her only

portion. And how is she rewarded? The Moabitish damsel, the poor but faithful attendant of the forlorn Naomi, becomes the mother in Israel of a long and illustrious race of kings, and the distinguished ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ.

While Israel is bowing its neck to the yoke of bondage before the nations of Canaan, and the Philistines, possessed of the coasts, are laying the foundation of their commercial grandeur, God is raising up, in his faithful servant SAMUEL, a defender of his people, and the preserver of his worship. Eli's age and infirmities, but above all, the criminality of his sons, and the unpopularity of his family, rendered it highly expedient that some one should take the lead in the government, in whom the people should place an entire confidence. Such was Samuel, whose courage and integrity could only be ex ceeded by his zeal for the honour of God, and an anxious desire to fee his people from corrupt manners and servile bondage. He is particularly distinguished as the great founder of the Schools of the Prophets, which subsisted under various revolutions and persecutions to the time of the Babylonish Captivity. They were seminaries for the instruction of youth in the law; in the duties of religion; the exercises of piety, and the praises of God.* Samuel was the first head or governor of these schools, and many of the greatest characters in the following ages were his successors, among whom we shall have occasion to notice particularly Elijah and Elisha. As an historian, the books of Ruth, Judges, and twenty-four first chapters of the first Book which bears the Prophet's name, appear to be his composition, and are distinguishable among the books of Scripture for perspicuity in the narrative and conciseness of style. This truly great and good man, in the whole tenor of his life and conduct, seems uniformly to have aimed at no other object, than the promotion of religion and literature, and the glory of God.

* See 1 Sam. x. 5. 1 Chron. xxv. 1, 2.

His efforts appear to have been attended with con siderable success, and retarded the progress of idolatry, or perhaps its introduction among the Jews, for a consider able time. With respect to the surrounding nations, they seem to have lost all ideas of the great Jehovah, were enslaved to the most contemptible superstitions, as well as corruption of manners, and were fast ripening for that destruction, which in the succeeding volume we shall see rapidly overwhelming them.

In the early ages of the world, and for some years subsequent to the deluge, the patriarchal government, in which every parent was the king, priest, and prophet of his own family, appears to have subsisted universally, till Nimrod, 114 years after the flood, built Nineveh, assumed kingly powers, and laid the foundation of the Assyrian or Babylonian Empire. This empire continued to grow in strength and extent, till its dominion reached from the river Indus to the Mediterranean Sea; and is aptly described by the prophet Daniel, as a tree whose boughs reached to heaven, and under whose branches all the feathered tribes might repose. In the just retributions of Providence, the Assyrian kings became scourges to the idolatrous nations of the East; and, among others, to the kingdom and people of Judea. Edom had changed its Aristocratic dukes, recorded in the Book of Genesis, for a king; and Moab had followed the example, as we shall soon have occasion to see, when her monarch imbrues his hands in the blood of his own son, whom he offered as a sacrifice to avert a threatened calamity; and the Philistines had adopted a monarchical government instead of that under their five lords, so often mentioned in the Books of Judges and Samuel. The Carthaginians had extended, by means of colonies and commerce, the bloody and abhorred rites of an abominable superstition over all the coasts of the Mediterranean; and the shores of Britain were polluted, under the influence of the Druids, with human sacrifices!

Egypt was besotted with the most contemptible superstitions, and adored numberless gods in the form of every brute animal. Their Apis, under the semblance of a calf,

becomes, at no distant period, the ensnaring sin of Israel, and that unhappy nation is punished with a destruction from the Almighty, as just as it is terrible. Syria, another of the scourges of Israel, under its restless and enterprizing monarchs, sinks beneath the arm of the Assyrian kings. Her boasted divinities lose a leper, but gain a king in Ahaz; and we see in this degrading act a signal and lamentable instance of human folly and base ingratitude to the insulted God of Israel.

We cannot but remark that all the great empires of an. tiquity noticed in Scripture were infected with idolatry; that they have all perished from off the earth, and have now no other existence than as a tale that is told in the faithful and instructive page of history. God punishes nations in the present life, and individuals in the next: and hence history becomes a faithful mirror to mankind, and the most useful philosophy, that of teaching by example. In the greatest solemnities and most sacred and revered mysteries of the Pagan religion, far from perceiving any thing to recommend virtue, piety, or the practice of the most essential duties of ordinary life, we find the authority of laws, the imperious power of custom, the presence of magistrates, the assembly of all orders of the state, the example of fathers and mothers, all conspiring to train up a whole nation from their infancy, in an impure and sacrilegious worship, under the sacred name of religion. Shall we wonder, after viewing this just picture of human depravity, that the four great empires of the world have been razed by the stroke of Om nipotence from their foundations-that the Egyptians, Carthaginians, and the nations of Canaan have disappeared

or that the Jewish monarchy, its sacred worship, and once-revered and far-famed temple, all lie buried under their own ruins?

Amidst this universal degeneracy and corruption, the people of Israel suddenly demand of Samuel to make them a king. Hitherto God had been their sovereign. Under

* 2 Kings v. 18.

VOL. I.

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† 2 Chron. xxviii. 23.

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