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substantiation, as is well known, is desended by the catholics, on the ground of express declarations of scripture. “This is my body,” “this is my blood,” (Mark, xiv. 22, 24.) And when the Jews “strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat P” Jesus said to them, “Except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I willraise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” (John, vi. 52 &c.) The words of St. James are alleged as proof of the sacrament of extreme unction. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church ; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” (James, v. 14, 15.) It would be very easy to produce hundreds of similar texts, which, from a supposed literal import, are customarily referred to as proof passages: these, however, now quoted, will serve as a specimen. Yet of these few texts it may be safely asserted, that no man, whatever his other qualifications may be, can interpret them satisfactorily to those who would have clear views of christian faith and practice, without much knowledge of the use of language generally, nor without particular reference to the original language of the new testament, to the peculiarities of Hebrew phraseology, and to Jewish customs and manners. And it might be found convenient likewise, in interpreting this short list of passages, to question the integrity of the common Greek text. To erase criticism, then from the number ofrequisite qualifications of a religious instructor, is to separate things which ought to be indissolubly united. Undoubtedly much of the bible conveys the same meaning in our language, as in the original. It is an important part of the business of criticism to determine in what cases it is necessary to depart from the apparent literal
sense; and to establish such plain rules applicable to such cases, that a public expounder of the word of God, may make that word appear, as it in fact is, consistent with itself. It is not pretended that even the best critics agree in all cases in their explications of scripture. Human infirmity, prejudice, and passion, have here their influence, and produce too often their usual effects. It is, however, believed that whoever will look at the progress of biblical interpretation from the days of Origen to the present time, will be fully satisfied, that critical studies have done much in freeing the sacred writings from a load of absurd
‘commentaries, and in establishinggen
eral principles of exposition, which are producing a gradual approximation of opinion, among christians. Another objection to the utility of biblical criticism, as actually pursued at the present time, is, that it partakes too largely of the rules and methods adopted by the learned in settling the texts and ascertaining the meaning of other works of antiquity; when the truth is, as the objectors maintain, that the criticism of the sacred books is of a peculiar character, and ought not to be confounded with the criticism of profane writings. From the first view of this objection a suspicion might naturally arise in the mind of one, who had not particularly considered this subject, that the criticism of the Greek and Roman classics, is made up chiefly of the fancies and reveries of the learned ; and that reason and common sense have had little to do in settling the laws of the critical code. But what is the fact P Let the most approved edition of any one of the principal classics, as Cicelo, by Ernesti, or Virgil by Heyne, be taken as a specimen of what profane criticism is, and let a decision be formed of its nature and value, from what, on examination, actually appears. What then, is the general method adopted by each of these critics for revising the text, and elucidating the meaning of his author? It is no other than this;–the existing manuscripts are compared, and their value determined from their antiquity, and the care which appears to have been taken, in their execution. The earliest printed editions are next sought out, especially such as appear to have been copied from manuscripts; and if the manuscript used by any early editor is known to have been lost, the edition, according as it bears the marks of care and general circumspection, approximates, in its character, towards manuscript authority. The remarks of the ancient commentators are likewise consulted, and from their references and explanations, the correct reading of disputed passages is often ascertained. To all this is added a comparison of the opinions of preceding critics. Now in what respect does this process for obtaining a correct text of Cicero and Virgil, differ from that which ought to be pursued, or which is in fact pursued, by critics, in settling the text of the old and new testaments. The sacred writings have been transmitted to the present time, in the same way, as the writings of the chief orator and poet of Rome. These writings, indeed, differ in their import; but in the mode of communication from age to age, they exactly agree. The books of the bible, and the writings of Cicero and Virgil, were both preserved for ages in manuscript, both suffered from the unavoidable errors as well as carelessness ef transcribers; and in neither case by any other than human means, can it be now determined, when variations occur, what reading is to be preferred. So far is there from being a supposable difference, that the analogy is most exact: the difference of the subjects of the two classes of works, very evidently having no place here. If it should be said that a special divine superintendence is to be presumed in the preservation of the sacred writings, and that, therefore, they should not come under the same laws of revision, as the writings of profane authors;–it is replied, the
actual variations, in the copies of the scriptures, shew that no such superintendence as to preserve them from corruption, has been, in fact, exercised. Different readings exist, and the question is, how shall an uninspired critic determine among these which to follow P With this general view of the facts
connected with this discussion, it seems hardly possible, that any one unacquainted with the doubts and alarms, which in this case have troubled the timid, should hesitate to say, not only that the general laws of criticism are applicable to the text of the scriptures; but that it is of incalculable importance that there are so many other works of antiquity to be corrected by the same common rule. If the scriptures were the only ancient book remaining which needed correction, we might indeed with the same means we now possess, arrive substantially at the same result; but our conclusions would have much less authority. The case would be peculiar, and resting on rules of judging, drawn exclusively from itself, like all other insulated investigations, it would be from this circumstance, if from no other, the subject of doubt. But as the fact is, we can appeal to a code of critical law, formed by the labours of the most eminent scholars, in very different departments, where no sectarian bias can be supposed to have influenced them. We can now say with confidence, that we have the scriptures revised according to the same laws, which have served to direct the ablest critics, in every department of ancient literature; principles which have been derived from very long and laborious inquiry, and are evidently founded on reason and common sense. It may be still farther maintained respecting these books, that the proof that they have come down to us generally unimpaired, rises higher than that which can be brought in favour of any other work of antiquity; and whatever reasons exist for believing that Cicero and Virgil, for instance, were really the authors of the works now ascribed to them; the same reasons exist in a much higher degree, that the writings attributed to the evangelists and apostles, are genuine and authentic. But it is urged that writers on the classical authors of Greece and Rome indulge in conjectural emendations, which in the sacred texts are inadmissible. That conjectures have been carried to an extreme by some critics, is not denied ; but the remedy is ever at hand. If their conjectures are without sufficient soundation; succeeding critics soon discover their weakness. The grounds of their decisions remain, and are at all times subject to revision: and the same common sense, which brings men back from their vagaries in other pursuits, exercises here an equal control. Conjectural criticism, however, so far from deserving unqualifiedcondemnation, is oftentimes allowable, and sometimes our only resource. For example; in cases where the comparison of manuscripts, and the use of the other common helps, give a doubtful result; there may be something in the style of the writer, in the general current of his story or argument, or in what is said on the same subject by some other writer, which will furnish satisfactory ground for conjectural emendation. And why not admit it in such cases P. There is doubt according to the supposition ; and the conjecture, if it do no good, can hardly do hurt; or, at most, it rests on its own inherent probability, and will be judged of accordingly. This is conjectural criticism as it is found in the classics. If the same mode of correcting the text is not applicable to the Greek testament, it is not on account of the nature of the subject; but because of the very ample means for correction, which we possess in manuscripts, versions, and quotations of the ancient fathers. It is well known, that the earliest printed editions of the Greek testament, contain numerous corrections, which had, when they were introdu
ced, no other authority than the conjectures of the editors. Many of these conjectures have been confirmed by subsequent investigation, while others have not, and ought to be removed from the common copy of the Greek testament, if critical conjecture is wholly inadmissible. There are still passages in the new testament which might be made more consistent with the general context, by such conjectural emendations as no one would think of rejecting in a work of classical antiquity. To discard these emendations entirely from the Greek of the new testament, seems hardly the result of sober judgment, or of a real regard for the divine word. To admit them is said to be presumption; but, to allow them no consideration, is in reality to treat the sacred books, with less respect, than the works of profane antiquity; it is to neglect to do that, which the circumstances of the case clearly shew ought to be done; and the very charge of presumption which is so carefully avoided, is voluntarily incurred. It is well known that critical conjecture is much more common in the Hebrew than in the Greek scriptures. The reason for this is obvious. Our materials for correcting the Hebrew text of the old testament are comparatively few and imperfect: hence there is more room for rational conjecture. In proportion as these materials increase in number and value, the necessity for conjecture is diminished. But as long as no reason exists for believing that the copy of an ancient book is perfect; conjecture is not of course excluded : and it is on this ground maintained, that conjecture may be still lawfully employed on the original text of the new testament. It is, however, fully admitted, that great care should be exercised in correcting from conjecture; that is, critical conjecture should not be arbitrary, but founded on plain and substantial reasons. It only remains to notice in a few words, the remarks so often repeated, and adopted by the reviewer; that critical inquiries are attended with peculiar danger. Whence this great danger is to be apprehended, does not so readily appear. If it arises from the fact, that any inquiry is necessary in arriving at the true meaning of the scriptures, and that we are not, in every instance, to take the first meaning that strikes the mind, without examination of the exact import of words, or comparison of different parts of the same writer, or different writers with each other; then it is a danger which criticism shares in common with every other kind of theological speculation, by whatever name it is called. Why is criticism more dangerous that metaphysics o That some knowledge of the latter science is requisite to a theologian, will not be denied; yet not even critical speculations have been the subject of more clamour as useless and dangerous, than metaphysical. How often has it been replied to an unanswerable argument, the whole reasoning is made up of scholastic distinctions, and abstruse metaphysical subtilties, which, in its legitimate consequences, leads to scepticism, infidelity, and even atheism. To all such language, the following remarks of President Edwards very aptly apply; and the same remarks are equally applicable to similar language when used against criticism. “If the reasoning be good, it is as frivolous to inquire what science it is properly reduced to, as what language it is delivered in: and for a man to go about to confute the arguments of his opponent, by telling him, his arguments are metaphysical, [or it may be added, critical] would be as weak as to tell him, his arguments could not be substantial, because they were written in French or Latin. The question is not, whether what is said be metaphysics, physics, logic, or mathematics, Latin, French, English, or Mohawk but whether the rea. soning be, good, and the arguments truly conclusive P’” If we inquire into the matter of fact mistress of all other churches, was founded, almost entirely, on certain passages of scripture. That if every one had the liberty of inquiring into the correctness of the common version, either by comparing it with other versions, or by a critical examination into the import of the Greek and Hebrew originals; the critics would soon become judges of faith. Next, these philological pedants would be candidates for ecclesiastical preferments, and would be elevated to bishoprics and decorated with cardinal's hats, to the exclusion of school divines and canonists. Moreover, that the inquisition would be unable to proceed against the Lutherans, unless the members of that tribunal were adepts in Greek and Hebrew ; as these heretics would always have a ready defence, alleging that the original was in their favor, and the translation incorrect. That this would be to yield to the whims and presumptuous speculations of everyphilologist, who, through malice or realignorance of divinity, should contradict the received doctrines, by critically refining on Greek and Hebrew words. That the translation of the scriptures by Luther had been the fruitful source of many others, all wortly to be consigned to eternal darkmess. That Martin himself had so often retouched his own translation, that every new edition contained variations from all preceding, by the hundred. That if this licentiousness were indulged to others, things would soon come to such a pass, that no one could know what to believe. To these reasons, which received the plaudits ofthecouncil,others were added&c.”
* Freedom of the will, Pt. 4-Sect. 13.
as to “extravagant opinions” in interpreting the bible, which have been advanced by critics who have been overdone by their favorite science; no doubt, for every such opinion which could be brought on any one passage, at least ten opinions on the same passage equally extravagant, could be instanced, which have originated, notina superabundance, but in a deficiency of critical knowledge. Perhaps it is the nature of all investigation on subjects of religion, to produce evil as well as good. Imperfect information, overheated zeal, and an undue estimation of one's own course of study, mislead the attention and pervert the judgment: nor does there appear any other remedy for the evil, in our present state of imperfection, than to revert to implicit faith; a remedy worse than the disease. It is well known, that at the commencement of the Reformation, the same objections, in substance, which are now made against inquiry into the correctness of the common copies of the origiual text of the scriptures, were urged against referring to the original at all. It was said, that by such reference, the faith of christians would be shaken, and no one could know what to believe. The account by Father Paul of the discussions in the council of Trent, on decreeing the authenticity of the Latin vulgate, is full of interesting matter. The whole is'much'too long for insertion—the following paragraph will give some notion of the views entertained by that body, of the dangers to be apprehended from Greek and Hebrew.— “A great majority of the school divines maintained that it was necessary to hold the common version of the scriptures [the Latin vulgate] as divine and authentic, as it has been for ages read in the churches, and used as a manual in places of instruction; that otherwise they should give up the cause to the Lutherans, and pave the way for the admission of innumerable heresies,
Yet the catholic divines, notwithstanding the decree of the council of Trent, have never been able to advance, in their controversies with the protestants,without constant reference to the original scriptures; nor have they in theirgeneral course of commenting on the bible, paid any more than a cold deference to the vulgate version. The same will be the result of all attempts to decry the use of critic
*1storia del concilio Tridentino, Lib. II.
al inquiries in theological studies. A sagacious enemy will suspect, that he has found the point most open to attack, and shape his measures accordingly. If there is much erroneous and shallow criticism afloat in the world, the way to correct the procedure, is not to condemn all criticism, but against that which is bad to array that which is good. Every evil has its appropriate remedy; and philological ills are best cured with philological prescriptions. *
2 Cor. vii, 10.—Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of.
All men regret, first or last, that they have sinned, but all do not become truly penitent and receive forgiveness. There is a sorrow for sin which is unto salvation, and there is a sorrow which is unto death; and not unfrequently those who perish, go through more tribulation to destruction, than those experience whose godly sorrow prepares them for heaven. The difference between godly and worldly sorrow, consists not in the degree, but in the nature of the sorrow. The object of this discourse is to explain the nature, and illustrate the evidences of godly sorrow. The nature of godly sorrow may be discovered in the following particulars. 1. It is sorrow for sin. The sicknesses, disappointments, and deaths, which mingle wormwood in our cup, and make us desolate, do not of themselves produce godly sorrow. It is sin which inflicts the wound, creates the anguish of spirit, extorts the tear, and causes the exclamation, O wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death P 2. It is sorrow of heart for having sinned against God. It presupposes an apprehension of the divine excellence, a sense of obligation violated, of injustice done, of ingratitude exhibited. The consid