Page images

Christian friends to answer any secular purposes of his own. On the contrary, in this and in his other epistles, he discovers a most generous, disinterested regard for their welfare, expressly disclaiming any authority over their consciences, and appealing to them, that he had chosen to maintain himself by the labour of his own hands, rather than prove burdensome to the churches, or to give the least colour or suspicion, that, under zeal for the gospel, and concern for their improvement, he was carrying on any private sinister view. The discovery of so excellent a temper must be allowed to carry with it a strong presumptive argument in favour of the doctrines he taught. . . . And, indeed, whoever reads St. Paul's epistles with attention, and enters into the spirit with which they were written, will discern such intrinsic characters of their genuineness, and the divine authority of the doctrines they contain, as will, perhaps, produce in him a stronger conviction, than all the external evidence with which they are attended.'*


"ST. PETER'S style," as Dr. Blackwall justly observes, expresses the noble vehemence and fervour of his spirit, the full knowledge he had of Christianity, and the strong assurance he had of the truth and certainty of his doctrine; and he writes with the authority of the first man in the college of the Apostles. He writes with that quickness and rapidity of style, with that noble neglect of some of the formal consequences and niceties of grammar, still preserving its true reason, and natural analogy, (which are always marks of a sublime genius,) that you can scarcely perceive the pauses of his discourse, and distinction of his periods. The great Joseph Scaliger calls St. Peter's first Epistle majestic; and I hope he was more judicious than to exclude the second, though he did not name it. A noble majesty and becoming freedom is what distinguishes St. Peter; a devout and judicious person cannot read him without solemn attention and awful concern. The conflagration of this world, and future judgment of angels and men, in the third chapter of the second Epistle, is described in such strong and terrible terms, such awful circumstances, that in the description we see the planetary heavens and this our earth wrapped up with devouring flames; hear the groans of an expiring world, and the crashes of nature tumbling into universal ruin. And what a solemn and moving Epiphonema, or practical inference, is that! 'Since therefore all these things must be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in holy conversation and godliness,'-in all parts of holy and Christian life,-in all instances of justice and charity? 'The meanest soul, and lowest imagination,' says an ingenious man, 'cannot think of that time, and the awful descriptions we meet with of it in this place, and several others of Holy Writ, without the greatest emotion and deepest impressions." "+

(2.) By the use of certain expressions and foreign words in the Old * Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to the Epistles to the Romans and Thessalonians.

Testament. Thus not only the great simplicity of the style of the Pentateuch, but the use of antiquated expressions, prove its high antiquity; while the occurrence of pure Egyptian words, such as inx, achoo, a bullrush, reed, rendered Axe by the LXX. Gen xli. 2, in Coptic, with the article, piachi, (see Woidii Lex. Copt. p. 10. 53.); and 7×, avrech, Gen. xli. 43. rendered Bow the knee,' from the Coptic, ape, the head, and rek, to bow, (see Ign. Rossii, Etym. Ægypt. Rom. 1808.) proves that it was written by a man who, like Moses, was born and educated in Egypt; while the occurrence of Chaldee and Persian words (to say nothing of the Proper Names) in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, clearly fixes them to the epoch subsequent to the Babylonish captivity.*

(3.) By the mixture of Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Latin words and idioms with the Greek of the New Testament. Such as

Mauuwvas, mammon in Chaldee man, and in Syria,

which denotes money, riches, or wealth; and is beautifully personified Mat. vi. 24.†

Zičavia, rendered tares, in Syriac, ), zizono, Arabic,,j, zuwan, and Spanish, zizanion, which doubtless denotes darnel, the lolium temulentum of naturalists, a noxious weed which bears a strong resemblance to wheat. 6 It is well known, says Mr. Forskal, ، to the people of Aleppo. It grows among corn. If the seeds remain mixed with the meal, they occasion dizziness in those who eat of the bread. The reapers do not separate the plant; but, after the threshing, they reject the seeds by means of a van or sieve.' Other travellers say, that, in some parts of Syria, it is drawn up by the hand in harvest.

A legion, Xeyewv, from the Latin legio, from lego, to collect, or choose was a particular division, or battalion, of the Roman army, which at different times contained different numbers. In the time of our Saviour, it probably consisted of 6200 foot, and 300 horse, (see Livy, 1. xxix. c. 24. Veget. 1. ii. c. 2); twelve of which would amount to 78,000 men.

Sexowarwp, rendered executioner, in Latin speculator, from speculor, to look about, spy, properly denotes a sentinel; and as these sentinels kept guard at the palaces of kings, and the residences of Roman governors, so they were employed in other offices besides guarding, and usually performed that of executioners.-(See Josephus, Ant. 1. xvii. c. 7. Bel. l. i. c. 33. § 7.)||

Iparwptov, in Latin, pratorium, which was properly the tent or house of the prætor, a military, and sometimes a civil officer. This was a magnificent edifice in the upper part of the city, which had been formerly Herod's palace, and from which there was an approach to the citadel of Antonia, which adjoined the temple. Josephus, Ant. 1. xv. c. Bel. 1. i. c. 21. § 1; l. v. c. 4. § 3.¶

9. § 3.

t Idem, note

Idem, on Mark 15. 16.

Comprehensive Bible, General Introduction, p. 55. + Idem, note in loco. on Mat. xiii. 27. g Idem, on Matt. 25. 53.

Idem, on Mark 6. 27.

Iduv Tov lavatov, to see death, which is a Hebraism for to die, exactly corresponding to л, Ps. lxxxix. 49.*

Idwv udov, literally, 'Seeing I have seen;' a Hebraism for 'I have surely seen.'t

Appaẞwv, Heb. nay, árabon, from aw, árav, to be surety, a pledge, or earnest, of something promised.



Notwithstanding a few changes in letters, words, or syllables; such as when we read in 2 Sam. xv. 7, " And it came to pass after FORTY YEARS that Absalom said unto the King," &c. Now as David reigned in the whole only forty years, this reading is evidently corrupt, though supported by the commonly printed Vulgate, LXX. and Chaldee. But the Syriac, Arabic, Josephus, Theodoret, the Sixtine edition of the Vulgate, and several MSS. of the same version, read FOUR years; and it is highly probable that oy, arbaîm, FORTY, is an error for y, arba, Four, though not supported by any Hebrew MS. yet discovered. Two of those collated by Dr. Kennicott, however, have or, yom, day,' instead of mɔw, shanah, 'year,' i. e. forty DAYS, instead of forty YEARS; but this is not sufficient to outweigh the other authorities. §

[ocr errors]

Again, it is stated in 1 Chron. xix. 18, that “David slew of the Syrians seven THOUSAND men which fought in chariots;" while it is stated in the parallel passage, the men of seven hundred chariots;' which difference probably arose from mistaking 1, noon final, which stands for 700, for i, zayin, with a dot above, which denotes 7000, or vice versa: the great similarity of these letters might easily cause the one to be mistaken for the other.||

Notwithstanding these and other instances, the uncorrupted preservation of the Sacred Writings is proved by the following facts:

[blocks in formation]

By the long preservation of the originals, the multiplication of copies, and the extraordinary care taken by the Jews.-It appears from sufficient evidence, that copies of the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament were multiplied in abundance from the time of Ezra to the advent of our Saviour. When the Jewish church was established after the captivity, a

• Comprehensive Bible, note on Luke 2. 26.
Idem, on 2 Cor. 1. 22.

+ Idem, on Acts 7. 34.
Idem, on 2 Sam. 15. 7.

rule was made to erect a synagogue in every place where there were ten persons of full age and free condition to attend its service; and when we consider that the Jews were dispersed in colonies at an early period not only in the East, but in Egypt, and in the numerous cities of Asia Minor, in each of which they had at least one synagogue, if not more, there must have been numberless Hebrew copies, long before the Greek version of the Septuagint was made. These were corrected by the standard copy which was carefully kept at Jerusalem, till that city was taken by Titus ; when it was carried in triumph to Rome, and laid up within the purple veil in the royal palace of Vespasian.* We may judge how generally the Sacred Volume was dispersed throughout Judea from the vain attempt made by Antiochus Epiphanes to destroy all the copies of it. After the advent of our Lord, the Christians as well as the Jews had various copies of the Hebrew Scriptures; which, as well as the subsequent universal dispersion of the Jews, became a double security for the uncorrupted preservation of a volume which they all held equally sacred. Though, after the final destruction of Jerusalem, there was no established standard of the Hebrew Scriptures, yet the various minute and apparently trifling regulations made for the guidance of transcribers, contributed in a great degree to preserve their purity. For this purpose the Masorah, no, that is, tradition, was also composed, which is a collection of criticisms on the sacred text by a set of men, hence called Masorites, whose profession it was to write out copies of the Hebrew Scriptures, to criticise upon them, and to teach the true readings; and who continued from the time of Ezra and the men of the great synagogue, to that of Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali. They marked the number of the greater and smaller sections, chapters, verses, words, and letters, in each book, placing the amount at the end of each in numeral letters, or some symbolical word which comprised them; noted the verses in which something appeared to be omitted, the words which they believed to be changed, the superfluous letters, the repetitions of the same verses, the different readings of the redundant or defective words, the number of times the same word is found at the beginning, middle, and end of a verse, the different significations of the same word, the agreement or conjunction of one word with another, and what letters are pronounced, inverted, and hung perpendicularly, with the number of each; and also reckoned which is the middle letter of the Pentateuch, the middle verse of each book, and how many times each letter of the alphabet occurred in the whole Hebrew Scriptures. To some this has appeared trifling and superstitious; while others have seen it in a different point of view; and applauded that pious zeal and industry which they exerted in so many tedious and vexatious researches, in order to preserve the integrity and honour of the Word of God, by putting a stop to the licentiousness, rashness, or carelessness of transcribers and critics. Į

Josephus, De Bell. Jud. 1. vii. c. 5. Compare Ant. Jud. I. iii. c. 1, and 1. v. c. 1.
+ Comprehensive Bible, Introd. p. 68.
Idem, Introd. p. 77.


From the substantial agreement of all the versions and MSS.-Notwithstanding all the care which the ancient copyists could bestow, it might rationally be expected, that, without the intervention of a continual miracle, various errors must have crept into some of the numerous transcripts of the Sacred Scriptures. But the Rabbins asserted, and it was implicitly believed, that the copies of the Hebrew text were perfectly uniform and immaculate, and that in all the manuscripts of the Old Testament not a single various reading of any importance could be produced. At length, the learned Morinus Capellus ventured to call in question this notion, from the various discrepancies observed between the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint version, and the Hebrew text. The result of this was, after an interval of many years, a careful examination of different manuscripts, and the discovery of some thousand various readings. The learned and laborious Dr. Kennicott, with the assistance of Mr. Bruns, and other learned men, collated about 630 manuscripts; and since the publication of Dr. Kennicott's work, M. De Rossi of Parma has published four volumes quarto, to which a supplementary volume has since been added, of various readings collected from 479 manuscripts, besides 288 printed editions. The major part of this immense collection,' says Professor Marsh, 'consists in mere variations of orthography, in the fulness, or defectiveness, of certain words, in the addition or subtraction of a mater lectionis,— of a vau or a yod. And if we further deduct the readings which are either manifest errata, or in other respects are of no value, the important deviations will be confined within a very narrow compass.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2. With regard to the New Testament, from the agreement of all the manuscripts examined.

There are some hundred ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament which are still extant, many of which have been examined and diligently collated by learned and laborious men. They are written either on vellum or paper, of various descriptions; and either in uncial or capital letters, or in cursive or small characters. They are of course of various ages, and of different authority. Some are mutilated and very imperfect; some have been interpolated and corrupted; others consist of only particular books: and many contain only select parts, under the denomination of Lectionaries and Evangelistaries.†

The total number of manuscripts of the New Testament which are known to have been wholly or partially collated, amounts nearly to five hundred, which forms only a small part of the manuscripts found in public and private libraries. The result of these collations has shewn, that certain manuscripts have an affinity with each other, which has been denominated familia, or family, by Bengel, recensio, or edition, by Gries

* Comprehensive Bible, Introd. p. 69.-See also Remarks on Hosea, p. 39.

« PreviousContinue »