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same vigorous manner “ I have perform'd all ri these things with justice, and care, and great “ labour, and industry above my power". That seeming inconsistency in St. Matthew and St. Mark', as, to him that has not, even that which he has, shall be taken from him, is entirely reconcild by a parallel place in St. Luke, by that equitable construction, and those fair allowances that ought to be made to all good authors. We have the same appearance of impropriety in the most discerning and most exalted writers among the Classics .
In short, great writers, secure of the nobleness and importance of their sense, and the masterly beauties of their language in general, are not always anxious to avoid a little deviation from common grammar, or a small seeming incoherence; when little critics cannot judge or discover either a beauty or material fault; but betray their ignorance and groveling temper in rigorously insisting upon the minutest matters
e Dem. de Cor. 116. 1. pen. Pilotów Unè dúvojiv. i Mat. XXV. 29.
Mark iv. 25.
δς ουκ έχει, και και έχει αρθήσεται απ' αυτά.
8 Luke viii. 18. vi os är uni sxn, xj 6 d'oxcaixav. b Juven. Sat. 3. v. 208, 209.
Nil habuit Codrus & tamen illud
Perdidit infelix nil Her. Gr. 1. 29. I. 21.
mere trifles, and often condemning that for a fault which is really an excellence. People that cannot supply such defects as we have mention’d, and readily excuse and solve such seeming incoherences, have not, I don't say candor but, taste and strength of genius to make 'em capable readers of any good authors.
Y what we have hitherto observ'd, I promise
to my self that I have made good the affirmation of the learned Fabricius', and a great many other very eminent and judicious scholars, That there are fewer mere Hebraisms in the books of the new Testament than several famous men wou'd have; and no solecisms at all. 'Tis probable that it
may be thought by some, that some things I have observ'd, are too little and inconsiderable. But I don't pretend that complete masters in these studies are to be entertain'd after this
poor manner; I write chiefly for the use of younger scholars, and others who may want such helps, till
i Fabricii Bibliothec. Græc. lib. 5.c.5. p. 224.
time and industry shall advance 'em to farther perfection: and I believe I have put nothing down that is entirely useless and foreign to the purpose.
Other Gentlemen are indolent, and entirely unconcern’d whether the style of the new Testament be free from solecisms or no. We are, say they, satisfy'd and assur'd that the holy writers were infuenc'd and directed by the holy Spirit ; and that the sense of the sacred text is very important and noble; and we are not concern'd whether the language be pure Greek or not. Now for this reason that the holy writers were under the influence and direction of the Spirit of infinite wisdom, who does all his wondrous works in proportion, harmony, and beauty, I am fully persuaded he wou'd not fuffer improprieties, and violations of the true and natural reason and analogy of grammar to be in writings dictated by himself, and design’d for the instruction and pleasure of mankind to the end of the world. If we consider God, says an excellent person, as the Creator of our souls, and so likeliest to know the frame, and springs, and nature of his own workmanship — we shall make but little difficulty to believe that in the book written for, and address'd to men, he hath employ'd proper language, and genuine natural eloquence, the most powerful
and appropriated mean to work upon 'em. But solecilm and absurd language give an offence and disgust to all people of judgment and good sense; and are not appropriate means to work and prevail upon
human minds. The notion of folecism is by all means to be remov'd from the inspir’d penmen, because it hinders young scholars from studying that book of such inestimable use and value with that chearful application and pleasure which are necessary to make 'em tolerable masters of its language and sense. When people have conceiv'd a prejudice against the sacred writers, it either entirely takes 'em off from the study of 'em, or if they be oblig'd to read 'em, they do it with reluctance and aversion; and aim at no greater knowledge than will qualify 'em to undergo an easy examination, in order to get a livelihood and worldly profit by a profession, to which such people are generally a dishonour and scandal. 'Tis impossible
to defend our religion against the insults and sophistry of subtil Heretics, or to be a Divine of any considerable value, without a good and intimate acquaintance with the sacred text.
The notion of solecisms, &c. has given some conceited wits and shallow rhetoricians a contempt of those inestimable books.
A worthy Cardinal durst not read the Bible for fear of spoiling his fine Ciceronian style, and has
the horrid affurance openly to condemn and despise St. Paul's Epistles; and calls 'em by a sorry diminutive word which expresses the greatest wantonness of contempt, and scurrility"'Tis easy to name two chapters in the new Testament, even consider'd as a common book, that have more fense and genuine beauty of language than all Bembus's fix books of Familiar Letters. Tho' I think it wou'd be an absurd thing to put natural eloquence, sublimity of sense, and the beautiful graces of clear and eafy language, upon any comparison with a pedantic ostentation of learning, trifles drest up in ftudied periods ; and a flavilh imitation, or rather a ridiculous aping of Tully. Dr. South's fatyr upon such insolence and profaness is just : “ He who said he wou'd not read « the Scriptures for fear of spoiling his style fhew'd (« himself as much a blockhead as an Atheift; and “ to have as small a gust of the elegancies of ex
pression, as of the sacredness of the matter." How many conceited fcholiasts and transcribers, having gotten the whimsical notion of folecism
Bembus epistolas omnes. S. Pauli palam condemnavit, casque deflexo in contumeliam vocabulo Epistolaccias est ausus appellare; cum amico autor effet, ne illas attingeret ; vel li coepisser legere, de manibus abjiceret si elegantiam scribendi & eloquentiam adamaret. Scipio Gentilis in Epist. ad Philem. inter Maj. Crit. p. 4010. Dr. South Serm. Vol. IV. p. 31, 32,