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often is, by those who have assumed the title of rational Christians, would soon induce us to discredit the reality of miracles, and would at length lead us to acquiesce in that sceptical philosophy, first promulgated by Pyrrho among the Greeks, and since gravely advocated by the sophistry of Hume, and the declamation of Rousseau.'
Is there not, I
faculties, surely no possible reason can be devised why the difficulties involved in the latter doctrine are to be excluded from the scope of the same observation. As it is utterly impossible to enter into any disquisition concerning the being, attributes, and providence of the great Author of Nature, without meeting with inexplicable difficulties, apparent contradictions will unavoidably and frequently occur. would ask, an apparent contradiction in the opinion that creation is coeval with its maker? Does it not convey to our minds a manifest contradiction, to be told that there is an eternity past which is always increasing, and an eternity to come which is always diminishing, and yet that they both ever have been, and ever will be, precisely equal ? Is it not contradictory to our usual notions to maintain that these two eternities added together, will not amount to more than one of them taken separately? And yet the very persons who admit the truth of these paradoxes are the first to exclaim against the difficulties which present themselves in considering the Trinitarian doctrine, and the divinity of our Saviour! Such are the gross inconsistencies of men, who, while they acknowlege the existence of what is incomprehensible in Natural Religion, vainly attempt to exclude every appearance of it in that which is revealed!
· It is undoubtedly a source of pleasure and triumph to the genuine disciples of Christianity, that even its bitterest foes have, in some happier moments, borne testimony to the sublimity of its morals, and to the exalted character of its founder; and that though, as infidels, they have been sufficiently depraved to resist the approach of conviction, they have yet, as men, been incapable of repressing the feelings of admiration. Of this, the eccentric Rousseau furnishes a memorable example. What can be more striking than the language which occurs in that singular combination of paradox and truth, of visionary projects and eloquent writing-his Emile “ Quand Platon peint son juste imaginaire couvert de tout l'opprobre du crime, et digne de tous les prix de la vertu, il peint trait pour trait Jesus Christ : la ressemblance est si frappante, que tous les Peres l'ont sentie, et q'il n'est pas possible de s'y tromper. Quels préjugés, quel aveuglement ne fault-il point avoir pour oser comparer le fils de Súphronisque au fils de Marie? Quelle distance de l'un à l'autre !” The conclusion of the passage contains the following beautiful comparison between the death of the Athenian philosopher, and that of our blessed Lord. “ La mort de Socrate philosophant tranquillement avec ses amis, est la plus douce q'on puisse desirer; celle de Jesus expirant dans les tourmens, injurié, raillé, maudit de tout un peuple, est la plus horrible qu'on puisse craindre. Socrate prenant la coupe empoisonée benit celui qui la lui presente, et qui pleure; Jesus au milieu d'un supplice affreux prie pour ses bourreaux acharnés. Oui, si la vie et la mort de Sucrate sont d'un Sage, la vie et la mort de Jesus sont d'un Dieu." Emile, ou de L'Educatiun. Tome iii. p. 182.
There cannot be a more flagrant instance of human folly, than to doubt the veracity of a religion, and the doctrines it contains, in opposition to the strongest historical evidence ever adduced in favor of facts, because we have suffered ourselves to imagine that a religious system might be framed infinitely less liable to objection, and in many views more consonant to the feelings and experience of mankind. It is this disposition which has given rise to the delusive sentiments of those who expect to find in the world a system of Optimism, corresponding to the theory they have formed in their own imagination, and who undertake to decide on a subject of which they are altogether incapable of judging.
It is abundantly evident that the mode of arguing from the abstract nature of particular points of doctrine, or from the antecedent probability of particular facts, must not be allowed to determine any question affecting the authenticity or the intcgrity of the sacred text. In order to form a correct judgment in cases of this nature, we must have recourse to those canons of criticism which have been established by scholars of the highest eminence, for trying the validity of disputed passages. It is only by the application of these rules that we cau satisfactorily decide whether any controverted portion of the New Testament is to be considered as the legitimate production of an inspired writer, or whether it should be condemned as an interpolation arising from the casual errors of transcribers, or from the pious fraud of infatuated polemics.
The criterion then to which any such controverted part of the sacred text must be submitted, consists of the following inquiries:-1. Whether the passage in dispute be contained in the earliest of the Greek Manuscripts which have reached the present day :-2. Whether it is to be found in the most ancient and best authenticated Versions; and 3dly, How far it is supported by the Quotations which are contained in the works of the earlier fathers of the Christian Church.
Before, however, I proceed to the direct proof of the authenticity of the chapters which are the subject of these observations, two points connected with the present require to be previously noticed, on which there has existed a diversity of opinion-whe ther the Gospel of St. Matthew was first composed in the Hebrew or in the Greek language: and if in the former, whether the Hebrew original was identical with the Hebrew Gospels made use of by the Nazarenes and the Ebionites.
Respecting the first of these questions, the majority of biblical critics most renowned for extensive erudition in the present
times, are of opinion, that the language in which St. Matthew composed his narrative was the Hebrew; not the Hebrew properly so called, in which the greater part of the Old Testament is written, but the Syro-Chaldaic,' which had become the vernacular language of the Jews after the return of the two tribes from the Babylonish captivity. As the principal argument, observes Michaelis, for determining this point is historical, we must of necessity be guided by the evidence afforded by ancient writers; and of this, a general view will be sufficient for our present purpose. In favor of a Hebrew original of this Gospel, we may quote, in the first place, the testimony of Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, who was the companion of Polycarp,
'The language of the Jews after the captivity was what is usually denominated the Aramaan, which, according to Michaelis, consisted of two dialects—the Chaldee and the Syriac These he has shown to be so nearly allied, as to have scarcely any variation in their structure, and principally to differ in their alphabetical character, and their pronunciation. In the time of our Saviour, the Chaldee, or East Arumæun, was spoken by the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judæa, and the Syriac, or West Aramæan, by the inhabitants of Galilee. The Fathers, however, have chosen to call the former of these dialects, or rather the mixture of the two, in which St. Matthew's Gospel, and, as many suppose, the Epistle to the Hebrews, were written, by the name of Hebrew, and this example has been followed by most subsequent authors. The characters, indeed, in which our present Hebrew Bibles are written, are the same as the Chaldee ; but since the discovery of the Samaritan Pentateuch in the beginning of the 17th century, we have the strongest reasons for believing that the original Hebrew characters were no other than the present Samaritan (making allowances for the alterations of time), and that the books of the Old Testament were transcribed by the direction of Ezra, or some other Jew of authority, from the Samaritan or real Hebrew, into the Chaldee characters, with which alone the majority of the Jewish nation who had returned to Palestine were familiar. It need scarcely be mentioned that this opinion was first maintained by Johannes Morinus, a learned priest of the Oratory at Paris, and afterwards most ably advocated by Capellus, so well known by his controversies with the younger Buxtorf, the strenuous defender of the primeval antiquity both of the Hebrew letters and points. It was the opinion of Bishop Walton, Bochart, Grotius, Petitus, and Le Clerc, that the Hebrew of the Old Testament was in truth the native tongue of the Canaanites, and which the Greeks called Phænician. A strong confirmation that this was the fact, is derived from a passage in the Pænulus of Plaulus. In this play there are sixteen lines written in an Oriental language, of which the first ten are allowed to be Punic or Phænician. They have been the subject of accurate examination by several eminent scholars, and are found to bear so near a resemblance to the Hebrew, as to authorise the belief that the Phænician and the Hebrew were either identical or were at least dialects of the same language.-See Walton's Prolego mena, Marsh's Michaelis, Vol. iii. Bochart's Canaan, Lib. ii.
VOL. XXX. CI. JI. NO. LIX. E
and the bearer of Aristion and John the Presbyter, both described as disciples of the Lord.' He expresses himself without any ambiguity on this point;a and, with the advantages he enjoyed, it is utterly impossible to conceive that he should not be perfectly acquainted with the real state of the case. It is also inferred from the same passage by many critics, that several Greek translations 3 were in the time of Papias made from the Hebrew original ; and in that case, it is highly probable that the one we now possess survived the destruction of the others, on account of its superior merit. Attempts, however, have not been wanting on the part of those who have embraced the
opposite side of the question, to invalidate the evidence of Papias; and because he is alleged to have been credulous and supersti, tious, they have denied his admissibility as a witness. But allowing, what, perhaps, cannot be denied, that he was chargeable with these qualities, it surely does not follow that his affirmation on a plain matter of fact is to be at once rejected as false. It will scarcely be disputed that a man may entertain many chimerical speculative opinions, and yet may be a very credible witness on any point unconnected with his peculiar tenets. A German divine,+ who, I believe, is one of the latest advocates for a Greek original, not contented with these accusations of superstition and credulity, has endeavored to prove the incompetence of Papias, by renewing a charge which was formerly adduced by Eusebius, of weakness of understanding. This crimination has been examined by Michaelis with his usual acuteness and candor, and he has made it apparent that the assertion of Eusebius originated in his dislike to the mode of interpreting Scripture adopted by Papias. The latter, it appears, interpreted the writings of the New Testament according to their literal signification, and was a decided believer in the mil. lennium: Eusebius, on the contrary, following the steps of his master, Origen, embraced the allegorical and mystical mode of interpretation, and was a strenuous opposer of the millenarian doctrine. This circumstance will amply account for the preju
Campbell's Preface to St. Matthew. 2 Nothing can be more explicit than the language of Papias, as recorded by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, lib. iii. c. 39. Mariaños μεν ούν Εβραΐδι διαλέκτω τα λόγια συνεγράψατο ηρμήνευσε δ' αυτά ως ήδύνατο έκαστος.
3 Bishop Marsh thinks that the words of Papias do not imply that inference, and that there is no proof that more than one Greek transla. tion existed.
• Dr. Masch, the editor of that part of Le Long's Bibliotheca Sacra, which relates to the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Testament, and their versions.
dices of Eusebius; nor can any thing which he has advanced be allowed so far to affect the character and understanding of Papias, as to destroy the credibility of his evidence on so simple a fact as that in question. The advocates of the opposite party, indeed, are the more anxious to establish their severe charges against this ancient father, because they have ventured to assert that he is the only source from which subsequent writers bave on this point derived their information. In the first place, this assertion is literally nothing more than a gratuitous conclusion, as no proof whatever has been alleged in support of it; and it is certain that the authors who afterwards mentioned the subject have not even made an allusion to Papias. And in the next place, it has been well observed by Dr. Marsh (now Bishop of Peterborough), that it would be allowable in no instance whatsoever, to quote more than one ancient writer in favor of the same. fact, if the bare possibility, that the testimony of one author was nothing more than the echo of the testimony given by another who had preceded him, were a sufficient reason for rejecting that testimony. No adequate cause, therefore, can be assigned, why we should withhold our assent to the explicit declaration of an acknowledged companion of the disciples of Christ."
Under the hope that your readers may find some amusement from a few specimens of Classical Improvisation, I send for your insertion the following Latin and Greek lines, which were poured forth at the moment by the Professor Gagliuffi, an Italian Improvvisatore of considerable reputation. Not a word was altered after they were first written down, immediately after the Poet had completed his recitation. I was favored with these pieces by the Marquess Di Negri, in whose presence the two first were delivered. The Marquess Di Negri is a Genoese Patrician, not more distinguished by the nobility of his ancestry, than by the generous patronage which he extends to men of letters. He is himself an Improvvisatore of no common cele
' It is well deserving of remark, that the testimony which proves that St. Matthew and St. Mark were ihe authors of the Gospels ascribed to them, must ultimately rest upon the same foundation as that for the Hebrew origin of St. Matthew's Gospel, viz. the account of Papias, if the latter is to be regarded as the only original evidence.