Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

to prove the Truth of the Christian Religion. It is a noble storehouse of arguments to confound the Jews, by proving that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and to put our freethinkers to silence, who disbelieve Revelation at the same time. But the reason why it should be studied particularly along with the Mosaical law, is, because he shews that the same design goes through the history, the law, and the prophecies of the Jews, with one consent to bring us to Jesus of Nazareth, and when once he appeared to furnish us with invincible arguments to prove, that he was truly and indeed the Messiah. Along with these Spencer de Legibus Hebræorum, Cunaeus de Republica Hebræorum, Outram de Sacrificiis, and Leland's Antiquitates Hebraica may be read. Though Dr. Spencer should, I think, be read with caution ; and the books I mention with him will be good preservatives against any evil impressions, which sometimes an unwary reading of that work of his may cause in the minds of his readers. To them he may with great profit join Surenhusius's edition of the Misna. If he does that, I would advise him to read the respective titles * in the Misna (which are many of them independent upon one another), in the order in which they lie in the Pentateuch, without any regard to the order in which they lie in the Misna itself. As for instance, when the Chapter of the Waters of Jealousy in the fifth of Numbers, or that of taking a Brother's Wife, in the 25th of Deuteronomy, are read in the Pentateuch, then the titles Sota and Jevammoth, which correspond to those laws, should be read in the Misna, and so of the rest. The Misma and its commentators will appear very dry, and perhaps ridiculous at first to men wholly unacquainted with that learning, but use will soon conquer that, and the benefit which will thence arise towards the understanding the Mosaic law, will abundantly colnpensate the pains; and I speak from experience, that all the Christian commentators put together (at least those that I have used) will not give a tenth part of the light to the understanding the law of Moses, that may be had by the help of the Jewish traditions. Now the text of these traditions, which the Rabbinistic Jews hold to be of equal authority to that of the Pentateuch, is the Misma ; and that being designed as a superstructure to the written law in all its branches, the understanding of it will fix the law itself more firmly in our minds. But I would not advise our student to meddle with the Misna the first time that he reads the Pentateuch even with commentators, but to reserve it till he has completed the rest of his biblical studies. It will then be easier, pleasanter, and more profitable.

* The cootents of all the titles of the Misna, are printed with the foremeationed translation of Sabbath and Eruvin.


3. When the Levitical law is well understood, the Prox phets will be read with great advantage. They will then be easy, and the force of their admonitions will be evi,

dently seen. Afterwards the Poetical Books of Scriplure may be studied, and last of all the Prophecies of Daniel and St. John. As to the Revelation of St. John, I'would have every man left to himself how far he will study it; only it seems certain to me, that the spirit of God designed to draw in shades in that Revelation, the future state of the Church, till the general consummation of all things, and not barely to give such temporary predictions as Grotius and Dr. Hammond would inake us believe. If the Bible be read in this order, in a regular way, and with the same application that we read a new book just come out, I will answer for it, the profit will be unspeakable. The first time I would advise our student to use commentators very sparingly, and rather mask down what he does not comprehend, to be examined upon a review at last, than to consult other men as often as he finds himself at a stop. I would also advise him to read it this first time in our common English translation. That is the language in which we are to instruct the people. Its phraseology ought always to be familiar to us. That we daily hear read in the church. To it all our books of divinity are accommodated.' But then afterwards the Old Testament should be read along with the LXX, and the vulgar Latin; and the New Testament with the Greek. The Evangelists and the Apostles formed their Greek style upon the translation of the Old Testament (which if not all, yet at least the Pentateuch was made by the LXXII. interpreters at the command of Ptolemy Philadelphus), and that they generally use when they quote any text out of the Old Testament, for which reason a familiar acquaintance with the text of that translation, will conduce exceedingly to the understanding the Greek text itself of the New. " 4. When the Holy Seriptures have been thus catefully read by themselves, it will be proper to take some com-.


mentators at the next reading. Our student may get a large interleaved Bible, and there set down such interpretations as strike him, and note parallel places, and particularly (as I advised before), let him set down his own doubts. What he can solve himself afterwards, will give him great pleasure. Of all interpreters, paraphrasts are at first the usefullest. Le Clerc and Hammond have written that way. Here again, I would recommend St. Chrysostom and Theophylact. They may be begun with : and St. Chrysostom's authority, considering the time when he lived, and his excellent judgment, is of more weight than the authority of any writer can be now. But because there are more reasons than one why commentators should be either studied or consulted, therefore distinction ought to be made between them according to the several designs for which they are wanted. Some give . a literal explication, and that too only their own; such are Ainsworth's on the Pentateuch and the Psalms. Others have only short glosses in three or four words upon a passage. These when drawn with judgment are very useful. Emmanuel Sa's Annotations upon the Bible are of this kind. Others, besides a lite.ral explication, give us long theological and moral digressions, which when managed with judgment are of excellent use to a preacher. Of these, since the ancients, I know none to be compared to Calvin, whose commentaries are truly admirable. Joseph Scaglier, who was a very competent judge, speaks of them in the Scaligerana with rapture. Some gather out of the heathen writers both Greek and Latin, proper passages to illustrate the text, and take great pains to shew the phraseology, opimions, and traditions of the gentile world, as they came in their way. In this kind no man comes up to Grotius, and our countryman Pricasus, as far as he goes. Others have taken pains to compare the text of the Old and New Testament,with the various and most remarkable versions, some Eastern, and some European. In this way Lewis de Dieu has done great service; and so has our Mr. Bois, and both with the same design, that they might be assistant to those who were were to translate the Bible into Low-Dutch and English. Mr. Bois was himself one of the translators appointed in King James's time for that work. Others again take great care to produce out of the Jewish stores, what is most valuable in the rabbinical expositors. In this way Dr. Pocock and Dr. lso . . . .” aWe have excelled all others. Out of these, and the commentators already mentioned, our student will easily see what to collect that will be most for his purpose. Mr. Le Cierc's Commentaries I mentioned already. They are in every body's hands, and may be read with great, advantage. But in his exposition of many of the prophecies relating to the Messiah, he ought, as I have already mentioned, to be read with caution. . But Dr. Allix's Reflections well digested, will prevent any sinister impressions, which his Commentaries upon the Old Testament, and Notes upon the New, which he has published in French, may make upon the minds of unwary readers, in that particular. - 5 But one sort of study alone is tiresome. That made me name Spencer, and Reland, and Outram, and Cunaeus to be read with the Levitical law; and Josephus and Usher's Annals with the history of the Bible. . . f also some system of divinity were read at bye-hours, it would be very proper. I would by all means advise our student to begin with Grotius de Veritate Relig. Christianae, and then to go to Pearson's Exposition of the Creed, and afterwards take Bishop Burnet's Exposition of the XXXIX Articles, and after they are well understood, he may read the Institutions of Calvin and Episcopius. Grotius will give him a general scheme of our religion. Pearson will fix him in the belief of the mysteries of christianity. Burnet explains the articles of our church, and therefore such an exposition as his (which is an admirable one) is very necessary for an English divine. The natural desire which is implanted in mankind, to seek after abstruse or hidden things, has driven men in all ages, to busy themselves in enquiries concerning predestination and free-will. The state of this controversy, as it has been debated among the Protestants since the synod of Dort, is there fully and impartially laid down, and summed up at last with equal judgment and accuracy. Dr. Hammond's Practical Catechism is an excellent explanation of the duties of our religion. How far natural religion will carry us is admirably well, explained by Bishop Wilkins. ... The duties of the Christian life, and the grounds upon which obedience to those duties stand, are fully set forth by Dr. Scott and Mr. Kettlewell. I should put The whole Duty of Man in the first place, but that I take it for granted, no man that would study divinity, as a profession, comes to it with-, . . . . . - . . . . . out.

- --- • * * * * * * * - - -
* --

the suland very bly thats

out having read that book over and over again long before, to inake him a Christian, which is a necessary preliminary to the being a divine.

Other books may be read in any order, provided one does not get a habit of skipping from one subject to another, before the subject be well comprehended, which is very mischievous and very common. No man can ever master any thing thoroughly that way. .

6. When our student is thus master of a scheme of the Credenda and Agenda of Christianity, which will be got in a very competent degree by the foregoing, method, I would propose to him to read the Fathers. In reading them it will be adviseable to use a Common Place Book. He that begins to read them without having a body of divinity tolerably well in his head, will not know as first what to observe; he will set down things trivial, and omit things weighty ; but if he comes to them with’ a general knowledge of the several controversies in religion, which have divided Christendom in every age, he may make the tenets and practices of the several parties to be so many heads in his common place book, and to those heads he may refer what he shall meet with in his reading. For other matters he may make heads enough, according to his own inclination, by which (as I said before) every man must guide himself. For that no rules can or need be given; since all men have some particular views in their studies, which they will never lose sight of, the pursuit of which will make their labours more delightful to them. In a great many controversies we have collections of this sort drawn up to our hands, which therefore so far as they go will save us the trouble of collecting upon those heads, and it will be likewise a wonderful satisfaction to find (as we shall frequently) that we observe things that those judicious and laborious men who have made former collections have omitted. Of this sort are Petavius's Doymata Theologica, Bp. Cosin's History of Transubstantiation, and of the Canon of the Scriptures, Bp. Gunning's. Discourse of Lent, Usher's Historia Dogmatica, and Conference with Molone, Dallaeus de cultûs Religiosi objecto contra Latinorum Traditionein, and several others. I mention Forbesius's Instructiones Historico-Theologicae, in the rear of these, as the most valuable book of this kind, that our student can possibly make use of. He will there see a coinpleat history of all the controversies that have distracted the Vol. X. Churchm. Dlag. for March 1806. Ee church

« AnteriorContinuar »