« AnteriorContinuar »
You will probably, plange your chil- here, and into everlasting woe heredren, dear as they are to you, and after. yourc bildren's children into infamy
On the Hebrew Vowel Points. gums; the fragments of Aquila, SyroIt is known that the vowel points in version of Jerome; we shall find
machus, and Theodotion; or the Latof the Hebrew of the Old Testament in several places that they read have
furnished matter of speculation the text otherwise than according to among the learned for more than two the present punctuation.”+ It is sufcenturies. During this period, various theories have been suggested, and ficiently evident from this, that the various opinions entertained, respec
points were not then in use. ting them. In the ensuing remarks, various readings of the Hebrew text,
3. The n'y, or anciently noted I propose, 1. To consider their origin ; and, and not at all to the points. This
have respect entirely to the letters, II. To notice some of the conse
is proof, that at the time when these sequences of their use. In regard to the origin of these
were noted, the points did not exist. points, it may be observed, in the all their mysteries from the Hebrew
4. The ancient Cabbalists drew first place, that it cannot be very ancient. Iu proof of this, the follow- Had the points existed in their time,
letters, and nothing from the points. ing considerations are submitted: 1. They are not mentioned by the there can be no doubt they would
have discovered much mystery in more ancient, Jewish and Christian writers. Not a hint of them can be them; as the latter Cabbalists have found in the writings of Philo or Jo
5. The changes which the points sephus among the Jews; or in those of Origin, Jerome, or any of the prim- the Hebrew language, are all of com
are supposed to have introduced into itive christian Fathers. This is the more remarkable in the case of Je paratively modern date. Among rome, as he is known to have resided these changes, may be noticed the a long time in Judea, and to have ap- cording to the pronunciation of the
omission of certain letters, which acplied himself diligently to the acquisition of Hebrew learning.
The labours of And
points are silent. what is more remarkable still"; they
Kennicott and others have evinced, are not once mentioned, nor is the that there are several thousand such
letters in the ancient Codices, which slightest reference made to them, in either of the Talmuds.* From these
in the common Hebrew Bibles are facts it may be inferred, that they
dropped.|| This is submitted as ad. were in those times unknown).
ditional proof, that the origin of the 2. The more ancient versions, points cannot be ancient.
From what has been already esparaphrascs, and fragments of the
tablished, it may be safely inferred, in Scriptures, are often rendered not agreeably to the points. “If we com
the second place, that the vowel pare,” says Dr. Prideaux,“ with the
Prideaux' Connexion. Part i. Book 5. present pointed Hebrew Bibles, the version of the Septuagint; the Tar
See Kennicotti Diss. Gen.
§ Capelli Arcan. Punc. Lib, i. Cap. 5. Capelli Arcavum Punctationis. Lib. i. Cap. 5-10
|| Bib. Heb. Koon. Tom. i.
points are not of Divine origin. If ciation, and as far as possible their ibey are of so recent date as is de- interpretation, of the Hebrew text, termined by the preceding remarks, and to throw perhaps a kind of sacit will not be easily believed that red mystery over their Scriptures and their inventor, whoever he may have their pursuits. been, was divinely inspired. The II. I shall now bring into view honour of inspiration will not be very several consequences of the points. readily granted to any Jew, or body I am aware that the use of them has of Jews, who have flourished subse- recently been revived, by some of quently to the sixth or seventh centu- the best German as well as American ry. But there is another considera- critics. It might be arrogance in me tion, which goes equally to disprove to pretend, therefore, that they have the antiquity of the points, and also been productive of nothing good, their claims to inspiration. The Those who are acquainted with the most sacred copies of the Scriptures, subject will determine, whether I am which the Jews deposit in their syna- justified in attributing to them the folgogues, are, and ever have been, with- lowing evils. out the points.* This fact sufficient. 1. They have been instrumental, ly determines, that the points have in several respects, of detracting from been introduced since the establish- the uniformity, and in this way dement of the synagogue worship,- forming the primitive Hebrew tongue. since the canon of Jewish Scripture The following instances of this are has been completed and introduced observable, on the slightest attention gradually or covertly, without the to the language. In the regular Hevisible impress of the Spirit. brew plurals, and m, the yod and
The invention of the vowel points vau are often omitted. In the verbs has been frequently, and I think just- termed Pe Aleph, the Aleph is not ly, attributed to the Masorites. It unfrequently dropped. Also in the was the business of the Masorites to verbs termed Lamed Aleph and Lampreserve and teach the true reading ed He, the letters Aleph and He are of the sacred writings; as it was that in some instances dropped, and in of the Cabbalists to investigate and others used promiscuously for each make known their interpretation. other. That these irregularities have The Masorites were the Biblical crit- arisen in consequence of the points, is ics of the Jews; as the Cabbalists very obvious; since, according to the were their Theologians. The Maso- pronunciation of the points, the letrites, as they were constantly employ- iers », 1, $, and 11, in the situations to ed with the Hebrew text, in writing which we have referred, are silent out copies; numbering the verses, and useless; and since, in the more words, and letters; and endeavour ancient manuscripts, the irregulariing to preserve what they considered ties of which we are speaking are the true reading, were most probably scarcely to be observed.t the authors of the vowel points. For 2. The vowel points have renderreasons above given, these could not, ed the Hebrew language needlessly we think, have been invented, till sub- complex. Passing over much that sequent to the time of Jerome, and might be offered under this particushe completion of the Talmuds; the lar, I shall only observe, that they bast of which was not completed, be- have added, without any sufficient fore the commencement of the sixth foundation in the language, three conceotury. The design of the Maso- jugations to every regular verb, viz. rites, in introducing the points, was Piel, Pual, and Poel; and have given probably to perpetuate their pronun- rise to some distinctions among the * Arcan. Punc. Lib. i. Cap. 4
+ See Masclef. Gr. Heb. p. 139.
irregular verbs, which are perfectly church, and was directed to it by an arbitrary.*
old Indian, who knew just enough of 3. The points serve in a multitude English to understand my question, of cases, to fix and limit the sense of and scarcely enough to answer it. i Scripture. They determine, for in- crossed some fields and soon found stance, this verb to be active, and that the church. It is a log house, but passive--this word to be a substan- larger than most of the others ; it is a tive, and that a participle—this to church on Sabbath, and a schoolmean one thing, and that another; house during the rest of the week. whereas the simple Hebrew would The Indians, together with some leave the matter undetermined, and white people, were just beginning to would refer it to the reader, from the assemble ; some of them were sitting connexion and other circumstances, round on trunks of trees; I seated to judge of the meaning for himself. myself beside them, and looked round If this remark is just, and I think no me with much interest, op a scene Hebrew scholar can doubt it, our such as I never before saw, and in all present pripted bibles should be re- probability may never see again. The garded rather as a Rabbinical com- landscape was altogether American; mentary, than as the original dictate the view was bounded by thick forof inspiration. To be sure, the let- ests stretching far in every direction; ters and words are as the Spirit of round us the axe had been at work, God left thenis but the sense of these and for a considerable extent, the words is limited and fettered by Maso- ground was covered by the stumps of retic ingenuity. A Rabbinical com trees; part of it was divided into mentary will not indeed injure us, fields, surrounded by the zigzag rail while it is regarded as a commentary, fences, and crops of Indian corn had but to determine the sense of passa been partly gathered, and were partges merely from the points (and those ly ripe for it.
Scattered around were who are accustomed to the points are the log huts of the natives, and before very liable to this) is to put this me was one devoted to the worship of Commentary in the place of revela God and the instruction of the young. tion, and substitute the wisdom of No bell was ringing, but an Indian at man, for the word of God.
the door was sounding a horn, and P. as it echoed through the woods, a
congregation was assembling, differ
ent from any this country can show. A Sabbath among the Tuscarora In
It was not such an assemblage as dians.
crowd the streets of our populous
cities, or the lanes of a country vil. [The following extracts are taken lage; but the red Indian of the forest, from a little work entitled, "A Sab- stately in his figure, and with a counbath among the Tuscarora Indians;" tenance and dress unknown in our a true Narrative, by John MORISON native country, forsaking the superDUNCAN, of Glasgow, Scotland. stitions of his forefather's, was assemMr. Duncan is an intelligent young bling, with his wife and children, to man, who visited this country in worship the Christian's God. Sure1818. It was in October of that ly here was a scene calculated to year that he spent a Sabbath with awaken in the thinking mind, the ibe tribe above mentioned.]
most lively sensations of delight; and * The Indian houses are generally produce a powerful conviction of the scattered up and down at some little advancing accomplishment of the Didistance from each other. Entering
vine promise, that “His name shall the first I came to, I inquired for the be known in all the earth, his saving
health among all vations." + Stuart's Heb Gr. Sect. 94 and 219. "The personal appearance of thes:
Indians was very different from that and has a singular but very becoming of almost all those whom I had pre- appearance. viously seen, The scattered remnants The exercises of the day commenof these ancient proprietors of the ced by the Indians singing a hymn in soil, which are to be seen among the their native language. The tune was settlements of the whites, present in one of our common psalm tunes. general a pitiable appearance. Ha- Some of them had the music books bitual drunkenness has ruined among before them, and they sang the differthem all that was poble in the Indian ent parts. Their voices were good; character; and they are ofteu to be those of the females particularly seen in rags and wretchedness, squan- sweet; and the effect was very pleasdering at the tavern doors the little ing. It was to me indeed an unmoney they acquire: a deplorable known language, yet I heard it with picture of moral degradation. The emotions of much pleasure. It was Tuscaroras, however, who were the first time in my life I had heard gathering to church, presented a very those who speak another language different appearance. They were than myself, celebrating the praises clean and decent in their dress—they of Jehovah in their native tongue; and bore every mark of sobriety and good reminded me of the day of Pentecost, behaviour--the men walked with the when the strangers from foreign counconscious independence of those who tries collected at Jerusalem, heard know and do their duty; and the as the disciples declare to them in the pect of the women and children, was various languages, the wonderful such as betokened industry, frugality, works of God. It produced on me and domestic comfort.
a feeling very different from that with They talked but little to each other which I have sometimes heard the when they were assembling, for the Papists, in one of their week-day serIndians are remarkable for their qui- vices, chanting a Latin anthem ;etness and decorum. Some of the men that suggested nothing but pity minround the door, awaited the minister's gled with horror; for they, poor crea. arrival; the women walked in and took tures, knew not the meaning of the their seats. In a short tinie, the minise words put in their mouths by the ter, Mr. Crane, with Mrs. Crane, arri- priest, which, for any thing they knew, ved ; some other white people accome might contain curses in place of blesspanied them, and all followed them in- ings; what delusion, to suppose that to the church. Within it had a respec- such service can be acceptable to table appearance. Round the walls God! But these Indians understood were hung the boards used in Lan- what they sung; and, from what I casterian schools, containing the Al- afterwards learned, I have no doubt phabet and Spelling Lessous; from it was with some of them, the acceptwhich the Indian children are taught able praise of a renewed and grateful during the week. Near the head of heart. the room stood a desk for the minis When the hymn was ended, Mr. ter, and forms were ranged round to Crane addressed them on the nature accommodate the congregation. The and importauce of religion-he spoke appearance of the Indians was, in eve- in English, and an old Indian, whose ry respect, pleasing : they sat sedate name, as I afterwards learned, was and attentive, with their eyes fixed on Kusack, stood beside him, and interthe ground. The women, without preted sentence by senlence. He told exception, kept their cloaks wrapped them that the object of God in sending closely round them, and with their the gospel to any nation, was to enlightleft hand brought it close over their en the people ;-to teach them their mouth, leaving only the upper part of true character;—to make known to their face uncovered. This is their them how their sins might be forgivcustomary attitude before strangers, en;-and to leave utterly without ex
cuse, those who should refuse to Whites and Indians! Thus are trihear; those who wilfully persisted umphs of the cross extending; and in rejecting the offers of mercy which thus are the distinctions of race and were sent to them. The old inter- color, falling before the influence of preter made this address intelligible that gospel, which declares that "in to his Red brethren, and was listened Christ Jesus, there is neither Barbato with the most profound attention. rian, Scythian, bond, nor free.” On its being concluded, they united One soag employs all nations, and all sing, in singing another hymn; and after Worthy the Lamb for he was slain for us, the hymn, Mr. Crane offered up a fer- The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks, vent prayer for the presence and Shout to each other. And the mountain blessing of God. He prayed, that from distant mountains catch the Aying his Indian auditory might understand joy; and accept the offer of salvation ;– Till nation after nation taught the strain, that the careless might be awakened; Earth rolls the rapturous bosanda round. --that believers might be strengthen But perhaps the reader may be apt ed; that White and Red might be to suspect, that William had previbrethren in Christ Jesus, and chil- ously committed some form of prayer dren of God by faith. Who, that to memory, and only repeated it as a knows the blessings of salvation, and school-boy does his task ;-Oh, no; has tasted that the Lord is gracious, it was sufficient to hear it to be concould refuse to say Amen, to such á vinced that this could not possibly be prayer, in such an assembly? the case. William's manner showed
After prayer, Mr. Crane gave out that he was giving utterance to the as his text, Galatians iv. 11. “I am emotions of his heart; that he was afraid of you, lest I have bestowed making earnest intercession at the upon you labor in vain.”
throne of grace, for blessings wbich he While Mr. Crane preached, the knew to be needful for himself and interpreter, old Kusack, stood beside for his brethren. He commenced in him; and at the end of every sen- a serious, sedate manner, as one who tence, translated it into the language is impressed with the solemnity of of the Indians. The congregation, addressing God. He became more both White and Red, listened with animated as he proceeded;—his anigreat attention. To me, the style mation gradually increased to ferof communicating by an interpreter vour; and bis fervour to emotion ;was new, and very impressive; and and his emotion became strooger and I felt much interested in the solemni- stronger, till at last it overpowered ty with which truths were expounded him, and for a moment he stopped. in two languages, to instruct people He struggled to repress his feelings who understood not the conversation and attempted to proceed: a few of each other.
words more and he could restrain Mr. Crane, as has been already bimself no longer; his breast heaved; mentioned, prayed in English before his whole frame was agitated; be the sermon: at the conclusion, he sobbed aloud, and the big tears rolled desired Kusack to call on one of the down his dark colored cheeks. Nor Indians, named William, to pray.-- were his the only tears; many of the The whole congregation rose from other Indians were equally affected, their seats, and William lifting up his and most of the Whites, though unahands, poured out, in his native ble to understand the language of the tongue, a prayer to God. Thus had prayer, felt the touch of sympathy at I an apportunity, which few Europe- their heart :-say, reader, could you ans have had, of hearing an Ameri- have resisted it can Indian pray to the Christian's If prayer be the offering up of the God, in his native language, before a heari's desires to God, surely this was public assembly of worshippers, both a prayer. I cannot indeed tell the