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ELIJAH THE TISHBITE. 21
dwell those who cherish a warm desire for goodness; who know a little of the truths of faith; who exercise charity in proportion to their knowledge; and who, in their state of relative darkness and loneliness, yet possess a rational perception of the little truth they have obtained. Unto these the prophet of the Lord is sent; unto these the Word of the Lord is presented; and by these it' is received.
The first operation of the Word of the Lord is to cause these to explore their spiritual condition, and to learn how really poor they are. The second operation is to inculcate upon them the necessity of exercising charity,—using for the benefit of others the blessings they enjoy; and at the same time to teach them to "give up to the servant of God" what little they possess,—that is, to ascribe to the Lord all that they have received. Self-knowledge, self-humiliation, charity, and the love of God are the sublime virtues indicated in the narrative; and these, too, are the important lessons the narrative impresses upon us.
The consequence of doing these things was that the prophet of the Lord entered into her house, abode there; and the meal wasted not, and the oil did not fail; her "soul was kept alive in famine." "He who receiveth you receiveth Me," declared the Lord; and Elijah entering into and abiding in the widow's house, represents the reception of the Lord into the soul, and the blessings thence resulting. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." (Rev. iii. 20.) The "houses" of such become the temples of God, for God dwelleth in them. With the coming in of the Lord into the soul, peace, joy, holiness also come in; and the sources of misery, care, pain, remorse, disquietude, are all banished. Love of God begets "trust in God," and from these springs "hope in God." He becomes "the light of the countenance," and there is no more night.
He feeds the hungry soul, and satisfies the thirsty spirit. Observe, the widow's meal did not become a barrel-full, nor did the oil fill the cruse. They did not waste nor fail. Sufficient for each day's need was provided; no more. It was "daily bread" for daily want. It was as the manna; only sufficient fell for each day's consumption. This teaches continual dependence upon God, and necessitates an abiding conjunction with Him. So the Divine presence in the soul supplies from state to state that degree of strength requisite to discharge its duties,—that measure of truth to light the soul on its way,—that sufficiency of charity to fit the .soul to make the sacrifies of self which every state
22 ELIJAH THE TISHBITE.
requires. The Lord is a spiritual economist; and there is no superfluity in the spiritual states depicted in this narrative. It is a picture of daily spiritual life, and of a daily spiritual supply. The "bread is certain, and the water sure;" and in the midst of the famine around her, the widow's soul is kept alive. "Truly, God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart." (Psalm lxxiii. 1.) J. H.
(To be continued.)
DIFFERENCES IN THE TEXTS OF THE MOST ANCIENT
MANUSCRIPTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
To the Editor.
Dear Sir,—Until lately, in the absence of any special knowledge, I believed that the Greek text, from which our authorised version of the New Testament was translated, was that of the most ancient and reliable manuscript; and that on this point all scholars were agreed. I have recently read "The Texts of the Most Ancient Manuscripts of the New Testament arranged in parallel columns, by G. E. H. Hansell, B.D., Prelector of Theology, Magdalen College, Oxford." Being published by the delegates of the Oxford University Press stamps it, I presume, with the official approval of that University. I have learned from this work, to my great surprise, that there are at least five manuscripts of most ancient character and repute, each having its followers and contemners. They are—
A The Codex Alexandrinus;
B Ditto Vaticanus;
C Ditto Ephrami Rescriptus;
D Ditto Bezse or Cantabrigiensis;
E Ditto Siniaticus.
If I understand it rightly, our authorised version is based chiefly on D of these manuscripts. Davidson writes (Biblical Criticism II. 288.):—
"The text is peculiar; its interpolations are numerous and considerable. It is full of arbitrary glosses and mistakes, especially in the Acts. In this respect no other manuscript can be compared to it. Its singularly corrupt text, in connection with its great antiquity, is a curious problem, which cannot easily be solved."
DIFFERENCES IN THE TEXTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. 28
I also gather that one book (D) contains six hundred interpolations. The Rev. Mr. Scrivener, M.A., of Falmouth, states in his "Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, 1861:"—
"The evidence of these ancient authorities is anything but unanimous; they are perpetually at variance with each other." (p. 398.)
Further on the reader sees they are perpetually divided two against three, or perhaps four against one. Of these ancient manuscripts two, B and E, were unknown to those learned and pious men who framed the received text.
I have troubled you with these facts because, being a believer in plenary inspiration, I am in this difficulty—How can we be certain that the compilers of the Greek text, from which our English New Testament is translated, have chosen that MS. that really contained the spiritual sense, and did not select that one which departed the most from it? — What assurance have we that those men, learned, pious, and honest though they were, yet all of whom were ignorant, and most of whom were despisers of any other meaning than that of the^letter they had built up—were so divinely directed, I may say illuminated, as to choose the right one among three conflicting witnesses, besides never having been able to see two others equally important ?—Are the reasons extant for their choice? and if so, are they valid to the members of the New Church?
Again; our Lord has said—" Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matt. v. 18.) Do not these words mean that heaven and earth having passed away in the advent of the New Jerusalem, the fulfilment of all prophecy, the jots and tittles of the literal Word may now fade away?—that while men knew no other sense or meaning than the letter, while it was all in all to them, it was mercifully ordained by Divine Providence that they would not be troubled with these doubts, but that as soon as they could behold the glory within the cloud, then it should not perplex their faith to see the form of that sombre cloud (the Jewish law) vary, or its many hues grow darker in the gloom of the past?
I feel I am being gradually driven to the conclusion, that some jot or tittle of His wondrous law may have failed to reach me; that although the divine words our Lord spake on earth, in their grand effect on our common nature, can never pass away, what words these were—to state "thus Jesus said,"—is it now possible for anyone
24 DIFFERENCES IN THE TEXTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
accurately to determine? I invoke your aid, and that of other learned and pious men of the Church, if possible, to dissipate my difficulties in a plain and simple manner; and, in the hope that others may thereby also receive a benefit—I remain, sir, your obedient servant,
[A Student is referred to the following note by A. C, in which he will find that the subject of his inquiry is intended to be taken up, when it is likely to receive the attention it deserves.—En.]
To the Editor.
Dear Sir,—The following letter to the Editor is copied from the Guardian weekly newspaper of December 14th. I hope to be able to send you Mr. Burgon's reply; and when I have done this, to offer a few remarks, both upon this subject and that of the various readings recently submitted to the attention of the Christian Church by Mr. Scrivener, Mr. Hansell, and others; in the hope that some of your readers may be induced to give the subject a further and fuller consideration.—Yours very truly, A. C.
"Contradictions in Scripture.
"Sir,—The Rev. Mr. Burgon, in his last reply to Mr. Lake, brings the question as to contradictions in the Gospels to that test by which alone it can be decided—the test of fact.
"He declares that 'there is not one instance of contradiction to be found.' As Mr. Burgon in his letter takes leave of Mr. Lake, I trust he will not deem it intrusive in a bystander, who has watched with much interest the progress of the debate he has now closed, to submit to him just one instance of a large class of apparent contradictions in the Gospel narratives, and to invite him respectfully to shew that these are apparent only and not real.
"In the institution of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, our Lord is reported by St. Mark to have said—-' Touto esti to aima mou to tes kaines diathikes to peri pollon ekchunomenon.' (Mark xiv. 24.)
"In the parallel passages in St. Luke He is reported to have said— 'Touto to poterion, e Koine diatheke en to aimati mou, to uper union ekchunonomenon.' (Luke xxii. 20.)
DIVINE INSPIRATION. 25
"Now I beg Mr. Burgon to observe—
"1. That we have two decidedly different reports of the same speech, that is, an apparent contradiction.
"2. That such an apparent contradiction as this does not admit of the solution which Archdeacon Lee fairly urges may be advanced in the case of apparently contradictory accounts of the same event— namely, that other unrecorded circumstances might, if known, harmonise the narratives.
"In the case of a speech, the speaker must have used certain words and no other. If therefore two persons professing to report the words of that speaker give them differently, they necessarily contradict each other as to the fact whether he did or did not use certain specific words.
"The difficulty, therefore, which Mr. Burgon has to solve in this and in all similar cases is this:—
"The Evangelists are at issue here as to a matter of fact. St. Mark states it as a fact that at a given moment and in a given place our Lord spoke certain words. St. Luke states it as a fact that at the same given moment and place our Lord spoke certain other and quite different words. It seems to me clear, therefore, either that our Lord said the words reported by St. Mark and did not say the words reported by St. Luke, or that He said the words reported by St. Luke, and did not say those reported by St. Mark, or that He said something different from the words reported by both. If Mr. Burgon can show how these apparently contradictory reports can be harmonised, he will have done a great deal towards settling a great question.
"But if he cannot, I fear it will never be settled by the a priori argument which he quotes from Archdeacon Lee—' That if we fully and entirely believe in the divine origin of Scripture, to assert that its statements do not harmonise, is a contradiction in terms.' In spite of all my respect and gratitude to the author of the best treatise on Inspiration yet given to our church, I cannot regard this argument as anything but a mere petitio principii. The question in debate is, whether the divine origin of Holy Scripture (admitted by all orthodox Christians) makes contradiction in it impossible. 'Certainly it does,' argues Dr. Lee, 'because Holy Scripture is of divine origin!' Surely the answer is obvious, 'What do you mean by divine origin?' If you mean ' spoken or dictated by God,' or 'written by men secured from all error by God,' then of course there can be no contradiction in Scripture. Only you might as well say at once, 'If you hold my theory of Inspiration, you will think as I do of Scripture.' But if you mean