« ForrigeFortsæt »
has not been wrought-for nothing less would have been sufficient—to prevent the slips and errors of transcribers and printers, yet that the providence of God has manifestly and wonderfully preserved his revealed truth, so that it has remained uncorrupted to the present time. It is well observed by Griesbach that, *
* “ THE WORD OF God is not changed, when a term or two is expunged, or added, or changed for another, in the vulgar text. That which is usually called the Word of God, agreeably to a Hebrew rather than a Latin appellation, is contained in the SENSE of sacred Scripture; and does not so depend on syllables and letters, as that the real word of God, that is, the doctrine of Christ and the apostles, is destroyed, when (on the best reason and authority, and with a perfect preservation of the sense,) a particular term is changed-THE WORD OF GOD ENDURETH FOR EVER! Nor is it rendered uncertain by the labours of modest and pious critics, whose sole aim it is, that by the help of God, they may render the divine word as certain as possible."
In translating the revealed will of God out of the original into other languages, an accurate knowledge of both, as well as the greatest care and fidelity, ought certainly to be possessed by the translators. And these were unquestionably the qualifications, and that in a very eminent degree, of those who formed our common English translation of the Bible. I do not believe they are chargeable with a known or wilful perversion, of a single phrase or word of the original text. After a diligent and repeated comparison, for myself, of the whole of this translation of the New
* Deinde non ideo verbum Dei mutatur, quia in textu vulgari unum alterumve vocabulum deletur aut additur aụt cum alio permutatur. Quod, hebraico magis quam latino nomine, verbum Dei appellare solent, continetur sensu scripturæ sacræ; non autem ita in ipsis syl. labis atque literis consistet, ut mutato (ob gravissimas rationes et auctoritates, ac salvo sensu) vocabulo quodam, ipsum Dei verbum, hoc est doctrina Christi ac apostolorum, pereat.
* * * * * Verbum Dei manet in æternum: Nec incertum sit studiis criticorum modestorum atque piorum, qui unice id agunt, ut, Deo auxiliante, quam possunt maxime verbum divinum reddant certissimum.-Proleg. sect i.
Testament with the original Greek, and the various readings of Griesbach, I do think that it gives one of the best exhibitions of the truth of God, in that portion of his holy word, that ever was or ever can be made. I do not say that the translation is perfect. It is human, and it ought to be considered as fairly open to every real improvement. Particular words and passages might doubtless be somewhat more perfectly rendered. But hundreds of proposed amendments would, if made, be, in my opinion, changes for the worse, and not for the better. And it is not without great regret that I ever hear this translation, or any part of it, spoken of in a manner which is calculated, although it be not intended, to make an unlettered Christian distrust its fidelity and general accuracy. It certainly is both faithful and accurate, beyond what can usually be met with, or hoped for, in productions merely human.
In regard to the Old Testament, although the fidelity of the translators was as great, doubtless, in rendering that, as in the other part of their work, and although they were certainly well acquainted with the Hebrew language, yet they did lack some means of making a perfect translation, which have been furnished since their time. By the aid of these means, Lowth has given a new translation of the prophecy of Isaiah; and some other parts of the Old Testament have been translated by others, in such manner as to be, at least in the opinion of many, a sensible improvement of the old version. Yet even here, the principal improvement lies in removing some obscurities, and bringing to view some latent beauties and energies, of the original writers. So far as I can judge and recollect, they do not exhibit, in the old version, a single error so connected with either faith or practice, as to be important to the common reader.
The truth is, that almost every language has peculiarities that cannot be perfectly translated. Those who are familiar with the original languages of the Bible, see these peculiarities, and wish to transfuse them into a translation. But when they attempt it,
they often find that they have not succeeded a whit better than others had done before. Dr. Young has remarked, “that the numerous attempts to translate Homer, show that Homer has never been translated.” Those who read the wonderful poems of that ancient author in the original, see some beauties which they do not see in any translation. They try to transfer these beauties into their mother tongue, and they fail, like all their predecessors. It is exactly so with the incomparable originals of the Holy Scriptures. Many attempts at a new and more perfect translation have, on the whole, not been as successful as those which preceded them. For myself, I strongly incline to the opinion, that any new translation of the whole Bible which could now be obtained, would not, take it altogether, be as good as the old. Particular passages would probably be improved, but the defects in other respects, would, it is likely, more than counterbalance all the improvements. If we could have a Bible in which the common version should stand as it is, with the exception of a few places in which critics and commentators are much agreed that changes might be made for the better, and agreed too in regard to what the changes should be, it would, I think, be desirable. But such a work is scarcely to be hoped for; and to one in which the changes should be numerous and extensive, there is, in my mind the most serious objections. As the matter now stands, those who take an interest in revealed truth, although entirely unacquainted with the original languages of the Bible, can, and often do, learn from commentators and preachers of the gospel, what can be said in favour of an improved rendering of certain words and phra
It seems better to leave the matter here, than to attempt something which may not be at once safe and practicable.
In fine, my young friends, let nothing that you hear—and sometimes, I admit, very properly hearabout the import of this or that original word, or phrase, lead you to suspect that you do not read the true sense of the sacred Scriptures, in the common or
vulgar version of your Bibles. Take from speakers, or commentators, every real illustration of the original sacred text, which they may satisfy you that they furnish. This you ought certainly to do. But rely upon it, every thing which goes to invalidate a doctrine or truth, which you find in a plain passage of your Bible, as you now have it—especially if it is confirmed by other passages—is a deception. Here is the true test-Is the doctrine questioned in a particular text, clearly taught in other texts? If it be, let the critic have his way, rather than trouble yourselves much about it. He may be right, or he may be wrong. But the doctrine in question is true, if it is clearly taught in any part of the sacred volume, and especially if it be repeatedly taught. And as to all attempts to make those who cannot judge for them. selves of the original languages of Scripture, believe that the vulgar version does not give a right view of any important truth of revelation, they ought to be regarded as attempts of the most wicked and mischievous kind.
Let me now, in closing this lecture, beg your very serious attention to two or three remarks and advices of a practical kind, arising out of what you have heard at this time. 1. Often think on the treasure which you possess in having the Biblehaving it in your own hands, and being able to read it in your own language. This is not ihought on, a hundredth part as much as it ought to be; nor with any proper measure of that lively gratitude to God, for his distinguishing favour in this respect, which all who have received the favour ought to feel and to express. The Bible is really the sun of the moral system. Take it from the world, and a night of ignorance and vice, of the most awful kind, would immediately succeed. There is not now a people on the face of the earth who are not idolaters, except those whom the Bible has kept from being so. There never was a people that did not run into idolatry, of some kind, unless preserved from it by revelation. The Mahometans form no exception. The Koran borrowed from the Bible the doctrines which keep Mussulmen from worshipping idols. The most learned and refined nations of heathen antiquity, the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, were more various, and more sottish, in their idolatry, than the barbarous nations they despised. The Chinese, and Hindoos, in modern times, are all idolaters, in some form or other. Yes, and but for the Bible, you, my dear youth, in place of coming here this evening to worship the true God, and to hear of this blessed book, might have come here to worship stocks or stones, and some of you to be offered in sacrifice to an idol. Bind the Bible to your hearts. Never open it but with reverence, as the revealed will of God. Never open it without gratitude to God, that he has revealed his will to man; and that he has given you the happy lot to possess this inestiniable treasure.
2. Remember that where God has given much, he will require the more. “ This (said our Saviour) is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. The servant that knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.” It is the greatest of mercies to live under the light of the gospel; but it will prove the greatest of curses to die under that light--to all whom the gospel shall not have made wise unto salvation. Yes, verily, this gospel will either prove “ the savour of life into life, or of death unto death," to all who are acquainted with it. The possession of it is a privilege, a talent, a treasure, for which you have a high and solemn account to render. Now, that you may render up this account, “ with joy, and not with grief,” let me
3. Most earnestly and tenderly counsel and exhort you, not only to read and study the Scriptures with diligence and care, so that your minds may be thoroughly embued with divine truth, but to seek earnestly of God the influences of his Holy Spirit—that same blessed Agent by whom the Scriptures were