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THE PEOPLE'S EDITION.
In this edition of my work on the Pentateuch, I have desired to place, in a clear and intelligible form, before the eyes of the general reader, the main arguments which have been advanced in my first four Parts, as proving the unhistorical character, the later origin, and the compound authorship, of the five books usually attributed to Moses.
Hitherto I have addressed myself only to the Clergy and to the more highly-educated among the Laity; and the difficulties, connected with the strict scientific treatment of the subject, have confined, of course, the study of my work to a comparatively limited, though still in itself extensive, circle. But now I address the general public. I should feel, indeed, that, unless I had first stated at length, for the consideration and examination of the learned, the grounds on which my conclusions are based, I should not be justified in bringing the discussion of these questions in this form within the reach of the People at large. But a long interval has now elapsed, since my First Part was published ; and I have sufficiently tested the validity of my arguments by the character of the answers, which have been given to some of them. Being thus satisfied of the soundness of my position, and the general truth of the main results of my critical labours, I here lay my work before the many, corrected and condensed, without any loss of real substance, but stripped of the Hebrew quotations and some more difficult details, for which reference may be made to the larger volumes. And I have the less hesitation in doing this, inasmuch as the subjects here treated of have been of late, and are still, discussed freely in the public journals; so that no thoughtful person can fail to see that we have here before us one of the great questions of the time, of which this generation must give account to future ages.
Further, the violent denunciations which in so many instances have taken the place of argument, and the course adopted by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, in circulating a
• People's Edition of the late Dr. M'Caul's "Reply,' which has been commended by the Bishop (BICKERSTETI) of RIPon in his recent Charge as having given to my work a decisive and complete refutation,' have made it the more desirable that the • People’ themselves, – that is, all persons of common sense, whether learned or otherwise,-should have the opportunity of seeing with their own eyes what is the real state of the case. And especially I must desire that the inhabitants of Natal and of South Africa, generally, who have heard me condemned in very violent terms by the Metropolitan Bishop of CAPETOWN, and who cannot be expected to have made much acquaintance with my books in their larger form, should be able to judge for themselves as to the contents, and as to the whole tone and spirit, of my work.
Lastly, when I find the Bishop of Ripon, urging his Clergy to impress upon their flocks that the whole Bible is the infallible record of the Mind and Will of God. ...
The Bible, like its Author, is pure unchangeable truth--truth, without admixture of error, when I find the Bishop (HAMPDEN) of HEREFORD asserting in like manner (Guardian, June 15th, 1864) that, to deny the infallible authority of the Bible, that is, I presume, of every line and letter of the Bible, is to 'depart from the faith,'—and the Bishop of CAPETOWN maintaining, in his Judgment on my (so called) . Trial,' that in the belief of the Church'the whole Bible is the unerring Word of the Living God, p.382– the Church regards, and expects all its officers to regard, the Holy Scriptures as teaching pure and simple truth-it is nothing to reply that they teach what is true in all things necessary to salvation, p.390 I hold it to be my duty, as a servant of God and a lover of the souls of men, to do my utmost to counteract a system of teaching, which I believe to be erroneous and mischievous, and one of the greatest hindrances to the progress of true Religion in the land.
J. W. NATAL.
LONDON : August 18, 1864.
PREFACE TO PART I.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES, under which this book has been written, will be best indicated by the following extracts from a letter, which I addressed some time ago, (though I did not forward it,) to a Professor of Divinity in one of our English Universities, (Prof. HAROLD BROWNE, now Bishop of Elv.)
'My remembrance of the friendly intercourse, which I have enjoyed with you in former days, would be enough to assure me that
you will excuse my troubling you on the present occasion, were I not also certain that, on far higher grounds, you will gladly lend what aid you can to a brother in distress, and in very great need of advice and assistance, such as few are better able to give than yourself. You will easily understand that, in this distant colony, I am far removed from the possibility of converse with those, who would be capable of appreciating my difficulties, and helping me with friendly sympathy and counsel. I have many friends in England; but tbere are few, to whom I would look more readily#than to yourself, for the help which I need, from regard both to your public position and private character; and you have given evidence, moreover, in your published works, of that extensive reading and sound judgment, the aid of which I specially require under my present circumstances.
*You will, of course, expect that, since I have had the charge of this Diocese, I have been closely occupied in the study of the Zulu tongue, and in translating the Scriptures into it. Through the blessing of God, I have now translated the New Testament completely, and several parts of the Old, among the rest the books of Genesis and Exodus. In this work I have been aided by intelligent natives; and, having also published a Zulu Grammar and Dictionary, I have acquired sufficient knowledge of the language, to be able to have intimate communion with the native mind, while thus engaged with them, so as not only to avail myself freely of their criticisms, but to appreciate fully their objections and difficulties. Thus, however, it has happened that I have been brought again face to face with questions, which caused me some uneasiness in former days, but with respect to which I was then enabled to satisfy my mind sufficiently for practical purposes, and I had fondly hoped to have laid the ghosts of them at last for ever. Engrossed with parochial and other work in England, I did what, probably, many other clergymen have done under similar circumstances, I contented myself with silencing, by means of the specious explanations, which are given in most commentaries, the ordinary objections against the historical character of the early portions of the Old Testament, and settled down into a willing acquiescence in the general truth of the narrative, whatever difficulties might still hang about particular parts of it. In short, the doctrinal and devotional portions of the Bible were what were needed most in parochial duty. And, if a passage of the Old Testament formed at any time the subject of a sermon, it was easy to draw from it practical lessons of daily life, without examining closely into the historical truth of the narrative. It is true, there were one or two stories, which presented great difficulties, too prominent not to be noticed, and which were brought every now and then before us in the Lessons of the Church, such, for instance, as the account of the Creation and the Deluge. But, on the whole, I found so much of Divine Light and Life in these and other parts of the Sacred Book, so much wherewith to feed my own soul and the souls of others, that I was content to take all this for granted, as being true in the main, however wonderful, and as being at least capable, in an extreme case, of some sufficient explanation.
“Here, however, as I have said, amidst my work in this land, I have been brought face to face with the very questions which I then put by. While translating the story of the Flood, I have had a simple-minded, but intelligent, native,-one with the docility of a child, but the reasoning powers of mature age,-look up, and ask, 'Is all that true ? Do you really believe that all this happened thus,—that all the beasts, and birds, and creeping things, upon the earth, large and small, from hot countries and cold, came thus by pairs, and entered into the ark with Noah? And did Noah gather food for them all, for the beasts and birds of prey, as well as the rest?' My heart answered in the words of the Prophet, 'Shall a man speak lies in the name of the LORD ?' Zech.xiii.3. I dared not do so. My own knowledge of some branches of science, of Geology in particular, had been much increased since I left England; and I now knew 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 have 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, that volcanic hills of immense extent exist 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 having ever been so disturbed. Of course, I am well aware that some have attempted to show that Noah's Deluge was only a partial one. But such attempts 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 own 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. Knowing this, I felt that I dared not, as a servant of the God of Truth, urge my brother man to believe that, which I did not myself believe, which I knew to be untrue, as a matter-of-fact, historical, narrative. I gave him, however, such a reply as satisfied him for the time, without throwing any discredit upon the general veracity of the Bible history.
But I was thus driven,—against my will at first, I may truly say,—to search more deeply into these questions; and I have since done so, to the best of my power, with the means at my disposal in this colony. And now I tremble at the result of my enquiries,-rather, I should do so, were it not that I believe firmly in a God of Righteousness and Truth and Love, who both ‘IS, and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.' Should all else give way beneath me, I feel that His Everlasting Arms are still under me. I am sure that the solid ground is there, on which my feet can rest, in the knowledge of Him, 'in whom I live, and move, and have my being,' who is my faithful Creator,' my • Almighty and most Merciful Father.' That Truth I see with my spirit's eyes, once opened to the light of it, as plainly as I see the Sun in the heavens. And that Truth, I know, more or less distinctly apprehended, has been the food of living men, the strength of brave souls that 'yearn for light,' and battle for the right and the true, the support of struggling and sorrowstricken hearts, in all ages of the world, in all climes, under all religions.
[The letter then proceeded to state some of the principal difficulties in the account of the Exodus, which are set forth at full length in the present work, and concluded as follows.]
“Will you oblige me by telling me if you know of any books,