Imágenes de páginas

profession of Christianity, as to a course of action in conformity with its doctrines and spirit. So long as an assent to the Christian faith is of so vague and general a character, as to cause no decided difference between the conduct of those who profess to believe it, and of those who discard it, Christianity will not be reproached; but when its power becomes evident by the transformation of the character of those who receive it into the likeness of its great Author, when every stage of advancement in spiritual knowledge is followed by a correspondent conformity in practice, the spirit of the world will rise in opposition to it, and the truth of the declaration of our Lord will be rendered evident, That as the world despised him, so it would despise his followers.

To enter fairly into the charac. ter of the objection in question, it is necessary first to consider an assumption contained in it; namely, that science and literature are objects of the first interest to mankind. That they are of very high importance to his temporal welfare will not be denied; and every true philanthropist must rejoice in the effects of general literature as connected with the higher degrees of civilization, the refinements of taste, and the enlargement of the human mind; and must acknowledge with delight the benefits of science in various circumstances of life. A man who thus forms a large and sober estimate, will not detract from the just praise of literature by dwelling on the morbid sensibility which sometimes accompanies an excessive indulgence in works of mere sentiment and imagination; which result is but an abuse of literature: nor will he urge the unamiable dispositions and habits which occasionally accompany an acquaintance with science; for such effects are not by any means a necessary consequence of intellectual improvement, and examples of an opposite

kind are not few in number. The general benefit of science and literature he will perceive to be very great, even though in some unhappy instances they should be associated with vice or infidelity itself; and he will look forward with anxious expectation to the time when they shall occupy their proper stations, as handmaids to religion.

But whatever conveniences or luxuries may be derived from science and literature, it is certainly not yet shewn, that the interests which they more directly promote are emphatically our best interests. The best interests of a being composed of an immaterial as well as a material part, must be viewed in relation to this composition of his nature. As far as spirit excels matter, so far must the interests of the soul be considered as of more importance than the interests of the body; and the interests of the soul, from the nature of that principle, must ever have relation to moral acquirements. Now, the great object of Christianity is to raise the soul to the highest enjoyments of which it is susceptible; and, in thus preparing it for blessedness hereafter, by the purifying influence of its doctrines, it elevates it to those sublime heights which, in figurative language, are called the "very gates of heaven." While it promises immortal pleasure in the world to come, it affords present pleasure by the enjoyment of that prospect, and by the means it uses to attain so exalted a state. It dissipates the anxiety which a reflecting spirit must otherwise feel in the contemplation of eternity. It yields that "peace which the world can neither give nor take away," that "peace which passeth understanding." It bestows the purest and most solid happiness in this world, and promises, on the surest grounds, an accession of joy in an immeasurable degree hereafter.

But if we consider Christianity even in its relation to the secular interests of mankind, so far from

abridging the rational enjoyments of life, it regulates and establishes, and therefore improves, them. It directs to the pursuit of whatever conduces to the welfare of man, in connexion with his intellectual improvement, his enjoyment of virtuous liberty, and the grateful use of providential blessings. In forbidding all dubious and inordinate gratification, it promotes essentially the temporal as well as the eternal interests of men. It is in this respect a doctrine advantageous to this life, as well as to the life to come.

But is it a fact that Christianity has militated, as is alleged, against the advancement of science and literature? That science has flourished, and that the arts have risen to a high degree of eminence in countries where the knowledge of the true God has been lost, is indeed certain both from historical evidence and from the existence of works of art which have outlived their authors; but that the promulgation of the Gospel has checked the arts and sciences, either there or elsewhere, is contrary to the testimony of facts.

If we examine the principles of the Christian revelation relatively to this objection, we shall perceive that they were established on truly rational grounds. The miracles performed by the great Author of this doctrine, were directed immediately to the judgment of men, and called on them for a strict investigation and philosophical inquiry into the subject. Christianity did not, like the delusive religion of Mohammed, forbid in quiry, but courted it. One of the first effects it produced on the minds of men, was to excite a spirit of investigation on the strictest grounds of inductive philosophy.

The history of Christianity bears the same testimony. St. Paul directed Timothy to be diligent in his attention to study; and has incidentally evinced that he him self was a literary man, by his quo

tations from the heathen poets. He did not reject the learning he had acquired, but used it to the glory of God; though he accounted it nothing in comparison with the Divine truths he was commissioned to preach. And if we trace Christianity from the primitive ages to the present time, we shall find that many of the greatest promoters of science and literature have been zealous and conscientious Christians. The works of many of the fathers of the church, and the philosophical manner in which they defended their doctrine, prove them to have been well acquainted with all the learning of their day.

From the time that Rome was pillaged by the barbarians, who with presumptuous hands destroyed almost every vestige of art and literature within their reach, learning was preserved among the Christians in Constantinople. This appears to have been the retreat to which philosophy was driven, while the unsparing cruelty of unlettered heathens overran the other parts of Europe. Here literature found protection in the company of Christianity; and the philosopher and Christian were frequently identified in the same person. From this seat of learning, England received many of those rudiments of knowledge, which she afterwards cultivated so successfully. The crusaders who frequented Constantinople perceived the excellency and utility of science and literature, and took back with them to their own country, not only works of learning, but the spirit of research to profit by them.

If we pass through the dark ages, we shall occasionally see men who made great advances in learning; and we almost invariably perceive, that they were persons professionally connected with the Christian church. We are indebted for the history of the times to these men ; having but little knowledge of those ages but what was furnished by monks and priests. The learned

languages, though but little known, were still cultivated by a few, who were induced to study them in order to be enabled to examine the holy Scriptures as originally writ. ten. As far as the true spirit of Christianity prevailed, so far was learning promoted: and the intellectual darkness of these ages was in proportion as the Divine light of Christianity was shaded.

But if we look at Christianity, when it emerged, at the Reformation, from this dark and chilling atmosphere, we shall perceive that learning rose with it since which period, science and literature have ever flourished under its auspices. In theology especially, to which among the ancients was ever assign ed the first place in the ranks of knowledge for its depth, its sublimity, and its importance, the friends of Christianity hold a situation of unrivalled preeminence; and even in ordinary literature, some of the most eminent kings, statesmen, lawyers, patriots, and philosophers, have been persons of decided Chris tian principle.

It is, however, one of the great excellencies of Christianity, that while the most learned can expa tiate on the grandeur and magni ficence of its disclosures, and are constrained to acknowledge them selves unequal to its sublimities and mysteries; its fundamental and essential doctrines are so clear, that the most simple may understand them; and such is its whole character, that the more we understand it, the more fully shall we be convinced, that a strict conformity to its requirements is, in every point of view, conducive to the best interests of man.


Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. I HAVE read the modest observations of your correspondent D.R.N. on the right translation of Rom. ix. 3, and request permission to insert a few remarks in reply. The

rendering which he mentions as
adopted by Doddridge, and refer-
red to by Scott, namely," After
the manner of Christ," originated,
I believe, with the learned Dr.
Waterland; but in vain have I
sought for any instance noted by
lexicographers, grammarians, or
others, (and I have for this pur-
pose consulted books of very copi-
ous reference), in which the prepo
sition dro has ever been so used;
and to me at least it appears abun-
dantly plain, that the single pas-
sage of the New Testament on
which the proposition of Dr. Water-
land is grounded, namely, 2 Tim.
i. 3, cannot with propriety be con-
sidered as parallel to that now un-
der consideration. A form of ex-
pression may involve that which no
one term in that form was meant
by itself to express; or, to come
to the precise point, a phrase may
strongly imply the descent of any
particular custom, sentiment, or
mode of worship, from father to
son through successive generations,
and thus most legitimately convey
the idea of example and conformity
to example; and yet we may not
be at liberty to infer that the term
signifying succession or descent,
may with propriety be rendered,
"After the manner or example."
This I take to be precisely the case
in the passage quoted by Dr. Wa-
terland, (2 Tim. i. 3); nor does
the learned Doctor's position ap-
pear to me to be tenable.

I come now to the rendering pro-
posed by D. R. N., who supposes
that the phraseology in the Septua-
gint version of Gen. iii. 14, and
that of Rom. ix. 3, are strictly
parallel; that is, that avalepa vai
απο του χριστου, is parallel with
ἐπι καταρατος συ ἀπο παντων των
"Cursed art
κτηνων; (in English,
thou above all cattle"); and he
would translate the words of St.
Paul, "Accursed above Christ."
With the theology of the question,
or, in other words, the improbabi-
lity of St. Paul's thus instituting a
comparison, in point of degree,

[ocr errors]

between the infinite sufferings of
our blessed Lord, and those of a
finite creature, especially where
those of the latter are to exceed
(D. R. N. says, "if possible,")
even the intensity and ignominy,
and depth of the former, I do not
at present concern myself; I con-
fine my remarks to the mere ver-
bal interpretation of the passage.
Can then the Greek preposition
dro, as found in Rom. ix. 3, be
rendered by the English word,
"above"? I have no hesitation
in expressing a very decided opi-
nion, that it cannot be so rendered,
with propriety, in that passage.
What I before observed, in sub-
stance, concerning the proposed
version of ano in 2 Tim. i. 3, that
as part of a phrase, and by impli-
cation, it may convey the idea of
that which it can never literally,
and by itself, signify; I would re-
peat of the same preposition, in
reference to the interpretation now
proposed. In respect to the idea
meant to be conveyed by any par-
ticular passage in which it is found,
it may answer, in some sense or
measure, to our word "above;"
but never, as I conceive, was the
English term "above" a literal
translation of it. The meaning of
the original Hebrew in Gen. iii. 14.
when literally translated is, if I
mistake not, "Cursed art thou
among all cattle." So Poole in his
Synopsis renders it, “inter ;" and
so Le Clerc translates it in his Latin
version of the Book of Genesis.
And the idea intended to be con-
veyed, I presume, is this; that
among all creatures, who were now
to be subjected to a curse by Adam's
sin, none should be so cursed as
the serpent, in whose form the
tempter had prevailed. Upon what
grounds, then, did the Seventy use
dro when translating Gen. iii. 14?
They strictly preserved the sense
of the passage, but conveyed the
meaning of it under a somewhat
different form. "Cursed art thou
apart from all cattle," is the literal
interpretation of the Greek words;

that is, Not only shalt thou be separated from their society, be looked upon with dislike, and avoided by them all, but thou shalt also be separated, or distinguished from them in the measure of that curse which shall henceforth attach to thee. If this be, as I believe it is, plainly and literally the sense of the passage, it will be sufficiently obvious, on what grounds translators, who did not always adhere very closely to the letter of the original, were induced to use the word alluded to.

There are, however, other passages. in the Septuagint, (Deut. xiv. 2, and xvii. 20; Judges v. 24; 2 Kings xxi. 11, and Psalm xviii. 48,) where the word drо occurs in the same signification; but to every one of them, if I mistake not, similar observations to those just made will be found applicable. The same idea of separation, either in a good or a bad sense, pervades them all: this I take to be the only ground upon which dro is ever rendered "above;" and such an idea, I think, D. R. N. will readily allow would by no means suit Rom. ix. 3, the passage under review. In consulting the passages in the Septuagint just referred to, I have remarked, (and perhaps it is worth noticing,) that dro in all these cases is joined with nouns in the plural number. There is not one instance, so far as I can discover, where such a signification as that suggested by D. R. N., is attached to it, when joined to the singular number of a noun; and perhaps this form of expression is better calculated to express the clear preeminence, whether in a good or a bad point of view, of some one above all others, (as in the case of the serpent, Gen. iii. 14; and of Jael, Judges v. 24), than that which can be ascertained only by a nicer comparison of two individual things or persons with each other. I need not point out. the bearing which this observation has on the present question.

I will only add, that the prepo

sitions most commonly found in the To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Septuagint, in the same senses as we use the word " above," are παρα, ὑπερ, ὑπερανω, ἐπι and sometimes έκτος. I have not searched the Greek Testament for such a meaning of dro as that spoken of by your correspondent; but neither Schleusner, Parkhurst, nor others whom I have consulted, give any thing that even approximates to such a rendering.

[ocr errors]

As to the real meaning of drо TOV XPLOTOV in Rom. ix. 3, the most plausible opinion on the subject that I have ever met with, is that of the learned Dr. Zachary Pearce, (formerly Bishop of Rochester), in a note found in his Commentary on 1 Cor. xii. 3:-" In the Greek version of the Seventy," says the Bishop, dvalɛua is often used to signify that which had been offered to God, and devoted to his service; for so, in Levit. xxvii. 29, we read παν ὁ εαν ἀνατεθη απο των ἀνθρωπων, ου λυτρώσεται, ἀλλα θανατῳ θανατωOnoɛral, and the thing thus devot ed is called dvaðɛμa, in ver. 28. From hence it appears that, when St. Paul, in Rom. ix. 3, wishes he was ἀναθεμα ἀπο του χριστου for his brethren, he wishes not that he was dvadeμa from Christ, but devoted by Christ to death for them, and means that he was ready to lay down his life for their service." The same idea seems, (as I find from Poole's Synopsis, Rom. ix. 3.) to have occurred to two divines of no less reputation than Gomarus and Estius; and Mr. Parkhurst in his Lexicon, on the word dvaleμa, adopts the rendering just spoken of, though without any reference to the opinions of others; and under the word dro he supports it by many citations from the New Testament, and some from classical authors. To these last very many might be added; and Schleusner's Lexicon, on the word do, may be profitably consulted on the point.

. II.

IN these days of missionary exertion, and particularly at the present season, when the Christian public have just been celebrating in this vast metropolis the triumphs of the Cross of Christ over heathen ignorance, superstition, and immorality, as displayed in the proceedings of so many of our charitable institutions, it may not be uninteresting to your readers to learn the sentiments entertained in the sixteenth century, respecting the duty and necessity of Missions, by that elegant and illustrious scholar, Erasmus; who, whatever were his feelings, exhibited a zeal for the extension of Christianity which does honour to his name, and tacitly rebukes the supine unconcern with which too many among us regard our Saviour's precept, "Go ye, and teach all nations." I therefore request your insertion of the following translation of an important passage in the "Ecclesiastes sive Concionator Evangelicus," of that eminent writer, with a fervent prayer that his earnest appeal may be instrumental in exciting a greater feeling of compas. sion for a perishing world among every class of your readers, and more particularly among the pious undergraduates of our universities, from whose ranks the church may expect her ablest and most devoted missionaries. If the length of the passage seem to need an apology, it will, I think, be found not only in its intrinsic value, but also in its literary merit, and the force and spirit of its composition.

S. E. H.

We are daily hearing the complaints of those who lament the depressed state of Christianity, and the circumscribed limits of a power which once embraced the world. If then their sorrow is genuine, their duty is plainly this, to wrestle with their Lord in fervent and continual prayer, that he would send

« AnteriorContinuar »