Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the Greek and Hebrew verity should be cast hi their teeth, and that by and by appear to be a dream, which was by them given out for an oracle.' Accordingly the vicar of Croydon, in Surry, is said to have expressed himself to the following purpose, in a sermon which he preached at Paul's Cross about this time, 'we must root out printing, or printing will root out us!'

Such confessions from the priesthood speak a volume. Let the press be free, let the Bible be universally read and studied, and they will feel similar mortification to a juggler when his tricks are found out. See what the Bible has already done, since the days of the reformation, notwithstanding all the imperfections of the translations which have been made, and the very partial examinations of it. What will it not do, in delivering men's minds from the thraldom of error and superstition, when all shall give heed to it as a light shining in a dark place? The Bible, 'the Bible is the religion of Protestants;' but alas! how many of them care little more about its contents, than they do about the oldest almanack which ever issued from the press! It is a fact, that more critical attention has been paid to the Bible within the last thirty years than in a century preceding, but still a vast number neglect it and implicitly receive religion from their teachers.

These quotations sufficiently show, that the clergy in past times have opposed the free circulation of the Bible among the common people. Prohibiting the reading of it was not deemed sufficient; they must have it entirely suppressed. Afraid lest some rays of its light might be seen through the thick veil of an unknown tongue, they prudently prohibited its use altogether. Anticipating that the light it contained, if universally diffused would discover to the people the darkness in which the clergy had involved them and put an end to their priestcraft, they shut out all light from them. They not only took away the key of knowledge from the people, but it was lost among themselves, for they were grossly ignorant, as the above quotations show.

The worst translation of the Scriptures which has ever been made, has done much good, and would have done much more, had it only been read universally by the people. But the priest prohibited the reading of the Bible, and sometimes the people loved to have it so, and thus gross darkness for ages covered both priests and people. But the times are

now altered. Versions of the whole Scriptures, and parts of them, have been made by individuals. By the wonderful art of printing, copies of the Scriptures have been so multiplied, that a man might as soon attempt to root out every tree and bush on our globe, as banish the Bible from it. It is now sold at so low a price, that the man must be poor indeed who is unable to purchase it. The attention of men ought now to be directed to the study of the Bible, and to obtain a more correct version of it. Attention to the last of these things will lead to the first, for in the common version there are many things offensive, not imputable to the original writers, but to the translators. Above, we have cited the testimony of eminent men of various sects, in favor of a new translation or revised version of the Scriptures. We shall now quote the reasons which Bishop Newton gives in favor of this. He thus writes:

'One argument for such a translation is the flux nature of living languages. The style of WicklifTs version, and Tindalls, differs very widely in the course of 148years; and the English tongue underwent also a great change between the publication of Tindal's Bible and that of king James' translators, in the course of 81 years. Since the year 1611, when the present version first appeared, the cultivation of classical learning, a series of eminent writers, and the researches of accurate grammarians, have communicated to our language a great degree of copiousness, of accuracy, and perhaps of stability. Many words and phrases which occur in the received version are become unintelligible to the generality of readers; and many which are intelligible are so antiquated and debased as to excite disgust among the serious, and contempt and derision among libertines. The strength of the argument from this topic rises in proportion to the frequency of such expressions, and to the importance of the book throughout which they abound. Pilkington has a section on obsolete or ill chosen words, which should be altered in a new translation. Purver has made a laborious but injudicious collection of what he esteems exceptionable words, or idioms, used in the Bible. Dr. Symonds, a writer of real judgment and taste, has furnished a well selected specimen of ambiguous, ungrammatical, mean, and obsolete expressions, in the common translation of the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. Dr. Campbell has , also suggested some useful remarks on terms which are still used, though their signification is changed, and on antiquated words, phrases, and forms of construction, inserted in our translation of the New Testament. Some unusual words, found in the earlier editions of king James' Bible, have been altered bylater editors without any authority but that of use, which will always bear sovereign sway in matters of language. To give a few instances. We read more for moe, Deut. i. 37; since for sith, Lev. xv. 7. xxiii. 38: ed. Oxf. 1769 : impossible for impossible, Luke i. 37; midst for mids, Luke xxiii. 45; the man that owneth this girdle, for oweth, Acts xxi. 11; and, we fetched a compass, for wefet, Acts xxviii. 13. It is not sufficient to suggest, or to prove, that many or all of the exceptionable terms or phrases, enumerated by the writers referred to, had the sanction of general use in the age of our translators. At present, some of them convey no meaning to most readers, and some of them a wrong one. Few know that harness denotes armor; Exod xiii. 18. 1 Kings xx. 11; that to ear the ground, means to till it; 1 Sam viii. 12; and that when Job says 'neither is there any daysman betwixt us,' he means umpire, chap. ix. 33. I believe that, early in the seventeenth century the word carriage expressed what travellers now call their baggage; and that to take thought signified to be solicitous, to take anxious thought. But still, when it is said that' David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage,' 1 Sam xvii. 22; and when St. Luke says, 'we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem,' Acts xxi. 15; the minds of many must be warped to a modern sense of the word; and, which is of serious consequence, the precept,' take no thought for the morrow,' is at present misunderstood by ordinary readers; and, from the sound of the words has been censured by the Deists as unreasonable.'

Having extended our quotations and remarks far beyond our original design, we shall conclude with a single remark. When some people hear of a new translation of the Scriptures, they are alarmed, and say, it is only an attempt to alter and corrupt the Bible. This alarm has less or more prevailed in every age, about new translations. But have translations corrupted the Bible? No; it remains the same; and if such persons would read various translations, they would derive more correct information from them, than by perusing voluminous commentaries upon it. Supposing such persons sent a letter in English to France, which underwent various translations into French, and in various parts the sense they intended to convey, was not correctly given. Would they be alarmed, and say, an attempt to give a more correct version of it, was intended to alter and corrupt it? Surely not. Their original letter remained the same; and if it was one of great importance, they would earnestly desire that a more correct version of it might be given to the public. If an attempt to give a more correct version of the Bible, is to alter or corrupt it, king James' version must be included, for it was nothing more than this. Such persons ought to discard all translations. w. B.

Akt. VII.

Nature Use and Interpretation of Parables.

The prominent place which parables occupy both in the Old and the New Testament, renders it a matter of importance that we should have a proper conception of their nature and use: that we may be able, on the one hand, to give them a just application, and be guarded, on the other hand, against perverting them by attaching to them unmeaning spiritualities.

The word parable is derived from two Greek words which signify to ' cast or place near together,' According then to its strict etymology, we should infer that it simply denotes a comparison, the bringing together of two objects, as mutually illustrative of each other, that by inspection of their respective similarities and relations, we may obtain a more accurate idea of the truth which they are designed to convey. It may be well to present to the reader an instance, as an exemplification of this remark. Our Saviour in the 24th chapter of Matthew, instructing his disciples on the ' signs of his coming,' defines its speedy approach in the following language: 'Now learn a parable of the fig-tree; when his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.' Here we observe the clear light in which this parable places the time of this advent. Near and far are relative terms; an event may be more or less remote according to the idea which the mind entertains of time which is near or far distant; but no doubt cnn exist of its speedy arrival, when it is indicated by a similitude which predicates the approach of summer by the actual presence of the spring, in the 'putting forth of the leaves.'

The common definition which has been attached to the word parable, is, 'a comparison or similitude in which one thing is compared with another, especially spiritual things with natural, by which means these spiritual things are better understood and make deeper impression on the attentive mind.' This definition has been very generally adopted by biblical commentators and lexicographers, as correct. There is no objection to it, unless it exists in the expression 'especially spiritual things.' If by 'spiritual things,' doctrinal teachings are signified, we are strongly opposed to its use, because we feel well assured that doctrines ought not be sought for in parables, and we are not less persuaded in our own minds that much confusion and error have arisen from this method of scriptural interpretation. As an instance of this latter remark, we will refer the reader to the well known parable of the 'sheep and the goats,'as recorded in the 25th chapter of Matthew. It is unnecessary to say how often this parable has been adduced for the purpose of teaching the doctrine of a 'final judgment,' and a ' last judgment.' In this belief we have been 'indoctrinated,' from our earliest years; and it may not be foreign to our purpose, simply to remark in passing, that a judgment in another state of being exists only in the countenance it receives from parabolic representations. A more careful perusal however of this parable and those which precede it, has convinced us that such an interpretation is inadmissible, and that we must look for its fulfilment, not in a future state of existence, but during the generation that was then in being. This parable, therefore, instead of being doctrinal, as far as we are concerned with it, is strictly historical.

The use of parables or moral fictions in conveying lessons of instruction has obtained more or less in all nations; but it was peculiarly characteristic of the Asiatics. They indulged in allegories, fables and similitudes; and the remark has been made with great probability of truth that they could scarcely express a sentiment, without clothing it with metaphor. It has been suggested as a reason for this prevailing custom

« AnteriorContinuar »