Imágenes de páginas

The principal, if not the only theological works of Grotius, are his voluminous commentaries on the Old and New Testaments, and a small treatise " On the Truth of the Christian Religion.” Both these are written in good Latin, but the former is liable to many objections. One of the greatest of these arises from the too great regard which he pays to Talmudic fables and Talmudic interpretations, which may be productive of very bad consequences to the incautious. It was obviously the view of the later Jews to insert in their Talmuds such interpretations of the scriptures as might justify their rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah. For this reason they appropriated a great number of the most striking prophecies which were fulfilled by different circumstances of the life of Jesus, to David, Hezekiah, Zerubbabel, Judas Maccabæus, and others, rejecting, for the most part, all typical and secondary applications. And in this unfair and erroneous manner of interpreting prophecy, Grotius generally agrees with them, and quotes these writings as authority; although none of them were extant prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and some of them even disagree with their oldest Targums, of which that of Jonathan, at least, was published before the coming of Christ.

Misled in this manner, even one of the clearest as well as most celebrated prophecies, contained in the fifty-second and fifty-third chapters of Isaiah, Grotius applies almost wholly to the prophet Jeremiah; nor does he ever mention the name of Christ in his notes on it, but in the first verse of the fifty-third chapter, when he says “ Hæ notæ in Jeremiam congruunt prius, sed potius in Christum,” and then proceeds to explain the whole chapter as relating to Jeremiah. And this is the more extraordinary, as in his book on the Truth of the Christian Religion, published afterwards, he expressly affirms that this prophecy can agree to no one but to Christ.*

But the limits of this paper will not admit of all the passages being pointed out in which this eminent scholar contradicts himself. His work on the Truth of the Christian Religion, which was written subsequent to his Commentaries, is much more valuable than they are. It has always been much and deservedly esteemed as an excellent manual, urging in a clear, forcible, easy, and popular style, the principal arguments which establish the certainty of the divine origin of the religion of Christ; and many of these are such as he does not allow in his Commentaries to relate to him. In the fifth book of this work he mentions a very remarkable anecdote which has puzzled all his various editors, as he quotes no authority for it. He says, in speaking of the time foretold by Daniel, for the appearance of the Messiah, that it agreed so exactly with the coming of Christ, that a Jewish doctor, named Nehumias, who lived about fifty years before the birth of our Lord, said that it was impossible that the coming of the Messiah could be delayed more than fifty years from that time. Leclerc observes, in a note, that Grotius ought to have mentioned from whence he had this story; but he thinks, that in one of his letters to his brother, he says, that he was told it by

* Quis potest nominari aut regum, aut prophetarum in quem hæc congruunt? Nemo sane. De Veritat. Lib. V. 19.

a Jew. Dr. Jenkins, however, in his book “ On the Reasonableness and Certainty of the Christian Religion,fifth edition, 'says, that Grotius took it from the Talmud, and he also refers for it to • Surrav. Epist.” a work with which I am entirely unacquainted. If, however, it had been in either of the Talmuds, it would hardly have escaped the researches of the learned as well as industrious Dr. Lightfoot, who makes no allusion to it. Yet it is surprising that neither Leclerc, nor his translator, Dr. Clark, should know that this circumstance is to be found at length in Purchas's Pilgrimage, p. 144, first edition, who quotes for it the authority of Petrus Galatinus, a Franciscan monk, who wrote a book against the Jews in 1520, “ De Arcanis Catholicæ veritatis." But Galatinus himself is said by Moreri to have been indebted for the substance of his work to Porchet, who also borrowed it from Raymond Martin.

I have never been able to meet with any of these three last mentioned works, and shall think myself much indebted to any of your learned readers who can tell me, through you, what authority any of then give for this curious and interesting anecdote. Your deep-read correspondent who writes under the signature of S.* may, possibly, be able to afford me this satisfaction; which would be very gratifying to many others as well as to myself.

As a conclusion I send you Grotius's Epitaph, which I copied in 1791 from his tomb at Delft, and which, I believe, has never been in print.

* This inquy will be found answered by the above learned Correspondent S. (viz, the late Rev. Mr. Howes of Norwich) in the xth vol, of this work,

Epitaph on Grotius, at Delft, in the New Church. “ Prodigium Europæ, docti stupor unicus orbis,

Naturæ augustum se superantis opus,
Ingenii coelestis apex, virtutis imago,

Celsius humanâ conditione decus;
Cui peperit Libani lectos de vertice cedros,

Defensus veræ religionis honor;
Quem lauru Mavors, Pallas decoravit oliva,

Quum bello et paci publica jura daret;
Quem Tamesis Batavæ miraclum & Sequana terræ

Vidit, & adscrivit Sueonis aula sibi,
Grotius hic situs est-tumulo discedite, quos non
Musarum & Patriæ fervidus urit amor."


No. XXXVII. Story of an eccentric Character.

A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown:-
And melancholy mark'd him for her own." GRAY.


SIR, As you love to ruminate on the energies and varieties of the human character, you will not perhaps dislike the account of a very extraordinary one, that came within my observation a few years ago, of which I shall be glad if this communication draws forth any further intelligence.

In the skirts of one of our few remaining ancient forests, near which however were several venerable mansions, still inhabited by respectable families, stands in a recluse dingle a solitary cottage, which

yet exhibits marks of neatness and elegance superior to its rank. I never pass this cottage without many mingled emotions of anxiety and respect. I think ten years have elapsed this very spring, since I was in the habits of meeting almost daily in its environs a young man of most interesting but neglected appearance, whose air had every appearance of education and high birth. He seemed reserved, and desirous to avoid notice; but my curiosity was awakened, and I traced him, without being seen, to this cottage, where I soon learned that he had taken up his abode.

I gradually insinuated myself into his acquaintance; and in some degree won his confidence, though there were many parts of his story, which I never could penetrate. The name he assumed was Longford; but that undoubtedly was not his real name. His countenance was uncommonly handsome, except that it was somewhat sévere and

“ Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

His eyes, though generally gloomy, reflected at times every variation of the soul. He was dark, tall, muscular, but rather thin; and, if his mien was too often languid, it occasionally displayed vigour and activity.

For what purpose he had sought this retreat, and whence he had immediately come, I never could entirely satisfy myself. He discovered at times the strongest marks of pride and ambition of any man with whom I have ever conversed. Indeed the fragments of mysterious story, which I gradually

« AnteriorContinuar »