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In a succeeding reign the national version underwent a new revisal, or rather a new version was formed, with the view of filencing all just opposition; and it would be an unjuft oppo. sition that presumed to deny, that it was extremely well calculated for that purpose. It was compofed by men of great piety and learning, and what was not lefs necessary, of great temper and judgment. It was performed with great deliberation and circumspection, Verfions of various languages, both ancient and modern, were compared ; all methods at that time practicable were taken, to obtain the moit uncorrupt text. Interpretations in matters of doubt were cautiously and accurarely formed, and not without appeals to the concurrent opinion of the whole number : nothing of fingular fancy was admitted; no indulgence shewn to favourite conceits,'
The author continues his character of our translation in the following strong and lively terms;
• It contained nothing, but what was pure in its representation of scriptural doctrine ; nothing but what was animated in its expressions of devout affection: general fidelity to its original is hardly more its characteristic than sublimity in itself. The Eng. Jish language acquired new dignity by it; and has hardly ac. quired additional purity since : it is ftill considered as a 'standard of our tongue. If a new version should ever be attempted, the same turn of expression will doubtless be employed; for it is a style consecrated not more by custom than by its own native propriety. Upon the whole, the national churches of Europe will have abundant reason to be satisfied, when their versions of scripture shall approach in point of accuracy, purity, and sublimity, to the acknowleged excellence of our English tranfJation.'
This excellence, it is observed, brought disrepute on the former versions, and was even supposed to supersede the neceflity of consulting the original.
• The Hebrew language was negligently cultivated, and did not, as might have been expected in the natural progress of improvement, insinuate itself into the stated course of theological ftudies. It was cultivated with more ardour by the puritans, a set of men not much qualified at that time to recommend any Species of knowlege, either by their manner of treating it, or by the purposes to which they usually applied it. In fact, though there appeared amongst them some men eminent in the knowlege of Hebrew, and some useful works were produced, yet that fpirit of judaical attachment which Mewed itself in some of that party to the law of Moses, and that worse spirit of turbu. Jence, which ended in the destruction of the monarchy and the church, threw a discredit upon their favourite species of literature, and made it obnoxious to the prejudices and the raillery of men of founder principles and purer intentions,
In the performance of our translation the Masoretic text was followed, editions were compared, but manuscripts were not collated. The learned professor takes a view of the advantages which have accrued to sacred literature since the period when our present version was composed, and which were unknown to our translators. An abundant collation of manascripts has been made. The Arabic language, with the other, oriental tongues, was brought into Europe by Erpenius of Leyden, his disciple Golius, and our countryman Pococke. The Persian, and some other dialects of the East, have been more lately introduced. These languages, and the valuable productions with which they make us acquainted, have re. flected new light on the writings of the Old Testament. Our' author enumerates also among the superior advantages which the present times enjoy, the ancient versions that have been : published, the knowlege of oriental customs and manners acquired by travels in the East, and the contributed labours of critics and commentators : he then proceeds in the following words ;
* This audience will remember with pleasure, that much oriental criticism has been frequently and judiciously applied before it, to the elucidation of the ancient fcriptures. Every characieristic of the Hebrew poetry in particular, has been explained in a * learned work, produced in this place, which the theological student will always consider as one of the most important acceflions to facred literature. Other countries have feni other husbandmen into the fanie field--and as the labourers have not been few, the harvest has been ample. Hardly any part of scripture has wanted its critic, its commentator, and its paraphrait. That part which has hitherto been esteemed the most remote in its flyle, its images, and its allusions, has just appeared in a new version, of which it is fufficient at present to observe, that it was but natural to expect, that he thouid be belt able to illustrate the facred prophets, who had, with such peculiar fuc-, cess, already illustrated the kindred character of the facred poets.'
Having thus exhibited to view the advantages which have accrued to biblical learning since the times of our travilators, we shall present our readers with our auihor's sentiments on the purposes, to which those advantages ought to be applied.
• That fo many manuscripts fhould have been collated, and fo many criticisms produced ; so many ancient versions reco
* The Bishop of London's Prælectiones de Sacra Poesi Hebrzorum.
vered, and so much of oriental manners exposed, is undoubtedly beneficial; but it is beneficial only as matter of preparation. The materials are collected ; they have been well collected, wisely and laboriously : but in vain have they been so collected, if they are not applied to their proper end, the final correction of the text, and of a translation composed when these materials 'were wanting
- To our ancient translation proper acknowledgements have been made; and it cannot be impressed too often, that in its present form it is extremely well calculated to answer every purpose of general piety, both for the learned and unlearned Chrifiian. What is wanting, is wanting not for the necessity of edification, but for the improvement of sacred literature. When that which is wanting is executed, it need not innovate the general practice of the members of the church; to them every 'thing essential will appear as it did before; but scholars will rejoice to fee new accuracy in matters not absolutely essential, that are connected with religion ; they will rejoice to see the various emendations and illustrations that have been generally approved, embodied in a new translation. Light will be thrown on many passages, and dignity restored to others : in fine, they will have reason to be grateful, if, by the labours of any of God's servants, as much is executed for the other sacred poets and prophets, as has been performed for the prophet Isaiah in the version referred to.
If it be desirable that this labour of Christian erudition hould be performed, it will not be easy to point out any on · whom the obligation of performing lies more forcibly, than upon
the divines of ihis seat of learning in particular. A work of such importance will be undertaken with the greatest propriety,
where it can be undertaken with the greatest safety, by knowlege acting under the guidance of a reverential caution. And this, quality of caution is no where more likely to be found, than in a seminary which has been always steady in its attachment to primitive truth, and has seen, without any diminution of its constancy, succesive novelties of opinion spring up and die away in the church of Chrift: some weeded out by the vigilance of its members; and others, of feebler texture, that withered before they were plucked up.'
Mr. White takes leave of his learned audience with aserting, that their public library is superior in biblical treasures to any library in Europe ; and with exhorting them to apply their talents to support the interests of religion. He does not, however, immediately take leave of his readers, but gratifies them with an ac, count of the Milan manuscript, mentioned in the title-page, communicated to him in a Latin letter from profeffor Bjornilahl. This manuscript is found to contain a great part of Origen's Hexaplac "edition of the LXX. in a faithful Syriac translation : it is re.
pofited in the Ambrosian library; and is there open (says our author) to the inspection of the curious, and might be employed for the service of the public. It appears, that most of the sacred books in this Syriac version are introduced with prefaces, explaining the subjects of the chapters and other articles; and that each is followed by an appendix, describing the history of its author, the contents of the book, and the date of the version. In a copious preface to the book of Psalms, the history of its authors the pfalmists, ancient music with its inftruments, and the subjects of the psalms, are described by Eusebius and Pamphilus; the Hebrew proper names are then explained alphabetically in Syriac; and the preface is closed by a long history of Origen. This curious manuscript was purchared in Egypt; and had been the property of the monastery of St. Mary, a Chaldean college. Profeffor Bjornstahl conje&ures that it was composed by Thomas Heracleenfis, bishop of Mabug or Hierapolis in Syria; whose edition of the Syriac Philoxenian version of the Gospels, with a Latin translation and notes by Mr. White, is just published, and of which we shall give an account in our next Review.
The present period seems to be a crisis in the annals of facred literature. If something, of a similar nature with what our author recommends in his learned and ingenious performance, be not now, accomplished, much labour has been lost, much learning and industry displayed in vain. Proper materials have been prepared, and a le..ned prelate * has exhibited a model in the translation of the prophet Isaiah, of which we have given some account t. Should a revisal of our national version be now executed under the auspices of authority, men of the greatest abilities are not wanting in both our universities to undertake so important a charge. We cannor help expressing a wish that, should so desirable an event ever take place, our author, who has discovered so much of eru. dition, elegance, and moderate principles in its recommendation, may have farther occasion to display them, and bear a part in the revisal he proposes.
• Dr. Lowth, bishop of London.
+ See Crit. Rev. vol, xlvi. p. 321, 418, and p. 35 of this vo. lume.
A Trearife concerning Heaven and Hell, containing a Relation are
many Wonderful Things therein, as heard and seen by the Author, the Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg, of the Senatorial Order of Nobles in the Kingdom of Sweden. Now forf Translated from the
Original Latin. 410. Tos, 6d. boards. Leacroft. MR.
R, Swedenborg was the author of several other theological
works : viz. Arcana Cælestia, Doctrina Novæ Hiero. folymæ, Sapientia Angelica, De Amore Conjugiali, Apocalypsis Revelata, Vera Christiana Religio, &c.
On a former occasion we have given our readers some particulars of his life, from a letter written by himself, and dated, London, 1769; it will therefore be unnecessary to say any thing here upon that subject.
To this work the translator has prefixed a long preface, on the credibility of an extraordinary communication with the world of spirits, in order to facilitate the reader's belief of what Mr. Swedenborg has asserted of his long and intimate acquaintance with the angels. For this writer informs us, o that he has been allowed to associate and converse with them, as man does with man, for thirteen years together.' And that he might, if pollible, remove the doubts of the sceptic, he solemnly attested the truth of all that he had published concerning these communications, in the presence of a learned physician, and another very credible witness, a short time before his death, which happened at London, in 1772.'
In every part of this work there are repeated attestations to this effect:
• From all my experience, which is now of many years, I can truly affirm, that the angels, in respect to their form, are perfect men, having like faces, eyes, ears, breasts, arms, hands, feet, &c. that they hear, see, and converse with one another ; and, in a word, that nothing human is wanting to them, but these material bodies of flesh that we are invested with : I have beheld them in their own light, which far exceeds our greatest meridian luftre, and have therein discerned all the features and variations of their faces more diftinctly than those of my fellowinhabitants of this earth.'
In the course of these lucubrations the author acquaints us with all the wonders he had seen and heard in heaven and hell; and describes the persons, the mansions, and employ. ments of their respective inhabitants.
See Crit. Rey. vol. XXX, p. 79.