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sition that is practiced upon them, as ever actuated the mind of man: and their moral tendency is as evident to my mind, as the proceedings of your Lordship, and the proceedings of the Government, are irrational, intolerent, and immoral.
But, my Lord, in these Letters I mean to declare nothing, at least in relation to the Bible. I can effect my object without it. I neither mean to declare that the Bible is the word of God, nor that it is not. 1 leave all conclusions to be drawn by my readers. If I am not allowed to declare that it is not the word of God, I would scorn the degrading act of declaring that it is, if my mind was hostile to the sentiment.
In my foregoing Letter it was shewn, from the confessions of Christian writers themselves, that the authors of a great number of the books of the Old and New Testaments were not positively known, that none of them, excepting Paul, prefixed their names to the books which they wrote; that they were prefixed by the Church; and as to whether or not they were written by the persons whose names they bear, we are depending altogether upon the Church; and the Church, according to Richard Simon, a Docter of Divinity, and an eminent French Theologian, (as quoted in my former Letter) “ makes no scruple to counterfeit acts, when it has none that are true. These, my Lord, were shewn in my first Letter, and these are of service in deciding the question, Whether or not the bible is the word of God? I shall now proceed to lay before your Lordship, more extracts of a similar character.
The following is from the work of Du Pin, mentioned in my first Letter.
“ The Hebrew alphabet is composed of 22 letters, as well as those of the Samaretans, Chaldeans and Syreans. But besides these letters none of which is at present a vowel, and by consequence they cannot determine the pronunciation. The Hebrews have in
vented paints, which being put under the letters, servo instead of vowels. Those vowel points serve not only to fix the pronunciation, but also the signification of in word is becauses many times the word being differently pointed and pronounced, signifies things wholly différent. This his the thing that has made the question about the-antiquity of the points seem to be of consequence, and hath therefore been treated of very prolixly. Some have (pretended that these points are as ancient as the Hebrew, tongue, and that Abraham made use of them. Others make Moses the author of them. But the most eommon opinion among the Jews, is that Moses having learned of God the true pronunciation of Hebrew words, this science was preserved in the Synagogue by oral tradition until the time of Esdras, who invented the points and accents to preserve it. Elias Levita, à German Jew of the last
learned in the Hebrew grammar, hath rejected this sentiment, and maintained that the invention of points was much later. He ascribes it to the Jews of Tiberias, about the 500th year of Christ; and alleges that this art was not perfected 'till about the year 1000 by two famous Massorets, Ben-Ascher and Ben-Naphtali
Here we are told, my Lord, that the vowel points in the Hebrew language, in which observe the Bible was first written, not only serve to fix the pronunciation, but also the signification of a word; because many times the word being differently pointed, signifies things wholly different. Yet these vowel points, according to Elias L'évita, á learned Jew, were not invented until the 500th year of Christ, and the science not perfected until
year 1040, So that ages upon ages passed away, and scores of versions were made of the Bible into the Greek and Latin languages, and all this before those requisites were attached to the Hebrew words which determined their signification, -or before the Bible was in a condition to be clearly understood. And Du Pin, in
illustrating the necessity of these svowel points, says that the LXX ( the history of whichelJwshalb give in this Letter) translated a Hebrew word chimney which Theodotion rendered locusts, so easy wag it to unders stand the Hebrew text. God, according to one version, said chimney, and according to the other, locusts, and both passed for divine revelation. This, my Lord, isigi of serta vice in deciding the question, Whether or not the Bible is the word of God? But a most striking idea in the above pasşage is, the common opinion among the Jeruk! that Moses learned of God the true pronunciation of Hea brew words: that is to say, God taught Moses thourito pronounce. I merely notice this as something remark able. Let others draw conclusions. · And again Dub Pin says on the subject of points:-
151 1610 "We believe that we have hitherto sufficiently shown," That there is not only nothing which proves the antiquity of the points, but also that there are arguments enough to convince reasonable persons, that they are newer than St. Jerome's time. We must
now examine if they were invented about the 500th year' of Christ by the Jews of Tiberias, as most of the Critics assure us; or, as Father Morin will have it.
From this it appears evident, that the points were pot prefixed to the Hebrew language before the year 500, and even that is sooner than some will allow : 40
consen quently all the copies and versions of the Old Testament previous to that time, were written in such
a manner that it was impossible for any human power clearly to understand them. It was the points that gaye to, the words their particular signification, and without these points the signification was uncertain, and all was guesa Hence Du Pin tells us, that St. Jerome, in his
the 40th ch. of Ezekiel, says: 34370) 46" When we translate the Hebrew words 'into Latin; WE WAREI SOMETIMES GUIDED BYD CONÍ JEOTURES!!! boot-right: 116915 90 o widib
This, my Lord, is of service in deciding the question, Whether or not the Bible is the word of God? The Hebrew language, in which the Bible was written, was so unintelligible that, according to this Father of the Church, when he translated it into Latin, he was obliged to conjecture its meaning. Some might suppose that he would conjecture something suitable to his own purposes, or to the purposes of priests in general; whether he did so or not, his conjectures passed for the genuine word of God. Whether they were so or not, let others determine.
I will now, my Lord, lay before you a passage of greater importance, than any that I have yet quoted. It is from the work of Du Pin,
“ In short, we must confess that there are many differences betwixt the Hebrew text and the version of the Septuagint, which arise from the corruption and confusion that are in the Greek version we now have. It is certain that it hath been revised divers times, and that several authors HAVE TAKEN LIBERTY TO ADD THEREUNTO, TO RETRENCH AND CORRECT DIVERS THINGS; that in the first centuries there were different editions, and that corrections have been inserted from the versions of Theodotion and others; which made St. Jerome say, with reason, that in his time the version of the Septuagint was no where to be found in its purity.”
Before, my Lord, I proceed to comment upon this passage, let me explain, to those of my readers who are unacquainted with it, what is meant by the version of the Septuagint. It is related by St. Justin, a Father of the Church, that Ptolomy Philadelphus, desiring a copy of the Old Testament, to be placed in a library which he was forming in Alexandria, wrote to the high Priest at Jerusalem, begging to be furnished with one, and also with 72 learned men who understood the
Hebrew and Greek languages, for the purpose of translating it into Greek, there being at that time no copies of the Old Testament excepting those in Hebrew. The chief Priest having complied with his request, Ptolomy built expressly for the use of these 72 learned men, cells or little houses, one for each.interpreter, so that they could have no communication one with the other, while they were performing the work. That having laboured for 72 days, each translator finished his version at one and the same time; and that the several versions being examined by Ptolomy, he fonnd not the least variation even in a single word, so miraculously did they all agree.
Du Pin says, that almost all the Fathers who have written since St. Justin, excepting Eusebius and St. Jerome, have followed this narration, and believed it. He himself declares it to be a romance. Whether however the account be true or false, it is generally believed that a Greek version of the Old Testament was made about that time, and it was called the Septuagint because it was believed to be the work of 72 interpreters. This then is the version of the Septuagint, mentioned in the above quotation. And now, my Lord, for the matter of that quotation.
Du Pin here tells us that it is certain, that the version of the Septuagint hath been revised divers times, and that parties have taken the liberty to add thereunto, to retrench and correct divers things. This, my Lord, they have done with the word of God. Thay have added to the word of God, and retrenched from the word of God. And this we are told by one of the highest authorities, that the Christian Church can boast of. Need I ask if this is calculated to inspire us with confidence in divine revelation ? And, says the same writer, they have inserted corrections from the versions of Theodotion and others. And, my Lord, who was Theodotion ? We are told in the following passsage from Du Pin: