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TO THE BISHOP OF EXETER:
MATERIALS FOR DECIDING THE QUESTION,
WHETHER OR NOT
THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD?
BY C. J. HASLAM.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR, 79 ST. STEPHEN-STREET, SALFORD.
Price one Penny.
A most important fact was that made known to us by Du Pin in my last Letter, viz. that very considerable additions were made to the Word of God, when the correctors inserted into the text the notes which were in the margent; that is to say, the notes which were written on the margin of the leaves, by any sort of people who might possess the manuscripts, containing any doctrine, or any nonsense, according to the mind of the individual who wrote them; these were inserted into the text; and thus the words of man became the words of God. No fact could be more important than this to enable us to decide the question, Whether or not the Bible is the word of God?
Du Pin continues his account of the "rise and occasion of the faults that have crept into the Greek text of the New Testament," in the following passage:---
"It might have so happened that even the orthodox themselves, meeting with difficult passages which they thought to be contrary to the analogy of faith, or to the other Gospels, might through an indiscreet zeal have reformed these passages. 'Tis upon this account that St. Epiphanius observes, That some of the orthodox have struck out that passage in St. Luke (XIX. 41) where 'tis said that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, because this seemed to them to be unbecoming our Saviour: others upon the same motive have added to the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Kings which St. Matthew had omitted, in order to render it conformable to the Old Testament. Lastly, 'tis very usual to find one Evangelist reformed from another Evangelist, and that added to, or retrenched from one Gospel, which is either added or left out in another. By the same motive (if St. Jerome be credited in the case) were these wise men moved who have left out of the 35th v. of the 13th ch. of St. Matthew's Gospel the name of prophet cited in that place; because the name of Isaiah is there inserted instead of that of Asaph, and because that prophecy was not Isaiah's, they were afraid lest the Evangelist should have been supposed to have cited a falsehood, perhaps 'tis upon the same account that in the beginning of St Mark's Gospel, (I. 2) the name of Isaiah has been struck out, because the prophecy there cited begins with the words of Malachy. (Complete History of the Canon and Writers, of the Books of the Old and New Testament. vol. II. ch. III. sec. III. p. 108.)
Here I must stop and offer a few remarks. In the former part of the above extract we are given to understand, that when priests have met with difficult passages in the word of God, or passages contrary to other parts
of the word of God, they have reformed those passages. Ordinary capacities will be struck with amazement at the idea generated in their minds by the expression formed these passages". They are told by priests that the Bible is the work of infinite wisdom, yet priests have presumed to reform that work. Beings of finite wisdom have presumed to reform or improve the work of infinite wisdom! How, my Lord, are people to effect a reduction of this absurdity? How are they to render this acceptable to their understandings?
Would there be any offence, my Lord, in asking, what must have been the condition of the word of God when the human race first received it? Even now some people pretend to discover in it, contradictions and absurdities endless in number, and yet according to Christian writers, priests have been labouring for two thousand years in reforming and improving it. The talents and learning of thousands of priests have been exerted upon the word of God, in the way of correcting it, and yet what is its present condition ? What then must have
been its condition when first it came from the hands of its author? If, my Lord, you are unacquainted with the present condition of the word of God, please to read some of those works which you have been pleased to denounce in the House of Lords as blasphemous, and therein you will find its condition portrayed.
In the preceding extract Du Pin tells us, that the orthodox have struck out a passage in St. Luke's Gospel where it describes Jesus Christ as having been weeping. They thought it was unbecoming our Saviour to weep, at least on that occasion, and therefore they erased the passage, and thus they reformed the word of God. What, my Lord, are people to think of this? again Du Pin tells us, that in St. Matthew's Gospel the name of Isaiah was used instead of that of Asaph. The Holy Ghost it would seem, in writing the word of God, had made this mistake, and the orthodox, whom Du Pin
describes as wise men, fearing that people might suppose the Holy Ghost was guilty of a falsehood, struck out the name of Isaiah, and I see by my Bible that it stands in that condition to the present day. With reflective minds my Lord, all this must have considerable weight. I shall now proceed with Du Pin's quotation.
"There have been some copies, wherein have been inserted several additions taken out of Apocryphal books, and particularly some there were in St. Matthew's Gospel taken out of the Gospel of the Hebrews. Origen produces an instance of this in St. Matthew, (XII. 12) where these words were inserted, "Jesus therefore said, I was weak because of the weak, I was hungry because of the hungry, and I was thirsty for the sake of those who were thirsty. We have already mentioned several other instances of those additions taken out of the Apocryphal Gospels." (Complete History of the Canon &c. vol. II. ch. III. sec. III. p. 108.)
In a subsequent Letter I intend to insert the names of all these Apocryphal Gospels. Du Pin gives a list of some scores of them, which were all in use, and regarded as the word of God by the various Christian sects in the first ages of Christianity. And it appears from the above extract, that various passages from these Gospels were inserted into our present word of God: that is to say, the forgeries of men were inserted into the word of God, and they became mixed up with divine revelation. Du Pin proceeds as follows:
"The criticks have sometimes reformed the text because they have looked upon it as faulty. THEY HAVE MET WITH A SENSE THAT SHOCKED THEM in the text, and which might be reformed by taking away one single word. They have determined that the text ought to be read so, or so, and have boldly corrected the text upon a mere conjecture. For instance, in the first Epistle of St.
Peter, (II. 23,) it is in the Greek, Jesus Christ committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; now because it seemed somewhat odd to say that Jesus Christ was judged by a righteous judge, therefore some have taken out the word righteously, and clapped in the word unrighteously." (Complete History of the Canon &c. vol. II. ch. III. sec. III. p. 108.)
Nothing can exceed the character of the above extract. Here Du Pin tells us, that the critics, in correcting the word of God, have met with a sense that shocked them; that is to say, the Holy Ghost, the author of the word of God, had written something which shocked them, and they reformed it by taking away a single word. And we are told this by one of the highest authorities of the Christian Church. To what extent the critics went in reforming passages that shocked them, I know nothing of, but certain it is that parties even yet consider, that passages of this description are still to be found in the word of God. Is it not strange, my Lord, that the Holy Ghost should use language that shocks people? And only think, as Du Din tells us in the preceding extract, of the critics taking out one word and clapping" in another word. Again the same learned writer says:
"Another sort of additions or alterations are those supplements or illustrations, which do not alter the sense, but render it more clear, or determine it. The copiers or the regulators of the copies having taken a great deal of liberty upon this respect, being persuaded that it was enough for them to keep strictly to the sense, and that they should do some service in explaining it more clearly. But sometimes they have been mistaken, and have determined the text by such words as give it quite another sense, and have not explained it in its full extent and force." (Complete History of the Canon &c. vol. II. ch. III. sec. III. p. 108.)
Here Du Pin tells us, that the copiers, or the regu