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this is an advantage or not we cannot decide, but so little fear have we of men becoming students of the Bible for mere gain that we would gladly see those offices increased in number, which would enable students to devote their lives to this pursuit free both from the anxieties of the res domi and the engrossing duties of a pastoral charge. That this sacred study may be made to subserve base ends is no proof that its legitimate tendency is worldliness.

Secondly, biblical criticism may be pursued exclusively, to the neglect of other important duties, and may thus become incidentally a hinderance to piety. Dry and abstruse as the study appears to strangers, it has peculiar fascinations for the initiated. Men of refined minds and elegant tastes will be found eagerly turning over discoloured parchments brought from the monasteries of Syria, and bearing upon them the ravages of thirteen or fourteen centuries, the scattered leaves of portions of the Scriptures or theological treatises of canonized saints, and will devote years to the task of bringing the disjointed fragments into order. Such men are well repaid if by their labours a disputed text is settled, or an important various reading verified. The subject is also engrossing from its inexhaustibleness; there is always much to be done, higher land to be reached however elevated may be our present footing, and there is a danger of that becoming a passion which ought to be followed with sobriety. Like all other occupations this may be loved too much, for it is but the means to an end. Should, therefore, the end be lost sight of, the religious character will suffer, and piety decline, as knowledge increases.

In the third place, it is possible for a biblical critic to mistake his way, and while employed in unravelling that which God for wiser purposes has left complicated, become entangled himself in the meshes of doubt and error. But this only proves that the study is a responsible one, demanding a clear head and a warm heart in its disciples. We presume something of this kind must often occur, as this is an objection brought against such studies more frequently than any other, that it unsettles faith, and conducts its disciples to confirmed scepticism. In proof of this position we are referred to the Continent, where such strange doctrines have been propagated by men confessedly well skilled in the external knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. But when this charge of irreligion has been brought on such grounds, has it been sufficiently considered whether the rejection of portions of an old creed, and the admission of new opinions is necessarily unfavourable to piety? We should be guilty of a gross petitio principii if, when enquiring whether the free discussion of biblical topics is unfavourable to piety, we should reply, Yes, we know it is so, because it has often


led men to become heterodox! The Church has been too long plagued with this illogical mode of conducting the argument against those whose love of truth outweighs their attachment to tradition. Let but this disposition to cry down an antagonist be combined with secular power, and we have in existence that which aforetime sent the excellent of the earth to prison and to death. If a man sincerely searches the Scriptures with a single desire to save his soul and glorify God, who shall dare to pronounce him an infidel and an unholy person because he arrives at conclusions uncommon and at variance with orthodoxy? If there are cases in which a scepticism produced by biblical studies is combined with an irreligious life, let us mourn over the abuse of that which is itself good, and resolve to value more highly and prove more constantly its legitimate purifying results. In this enquiry it should be remembered that men who never have professed serious religion may have become celebrated in this science, and that, consequently never having been pious, their pursuits cannot be accused of making them less so.

While we can discern no evils necessarily following from critical studies connected with the Holy Scriptures, there are some positive and inseparable advantages promotive of an enlightened piety, which must now be noticed. Let but these pursuits be contemplated as duties, not as amusements or learned fancies, and that peace and satisfaction will flow from their performance which always attend tasks worthily executed. In ordinary life, piety manifests itself not by retiring into deserts, or leaving homely and unattractive duties for sentimental meditations, but by diligence in our various callings, and a sanctified employment of our powers in those spheres marked out for us by divine Providence. To be blind to coming perils or existing exigences may secure for a man some present comfort, but his religious principles will have a better arena for their exercise by his grappling manfully with obstacles. Is not the piety of many of this easy and confiding character, seeing no difficulties in the Bible, and becoming willingly blind to all its perplexing questions? Surely that man must do a work more acceptable to God who surveys all that is doubtful with a calm determination to be satisfied respecting it, and thus builds up on a firm foundation the superstructure of his belief. No one doubts that a missionary is in the path of duty who labours year by year among a barbarous people, surrendering his own personal comfort if haply he may win some spirits to obedience to Christ; yet we feel convinced that a biblical critic is discharging an office equally divine in its origin, and as productive of his own religious improvement. To settle a disputed reading by searching in almost illegible manuscripts may not be so pleasing a duty as writing a hymn or preaching a sermon,


but it is a duty notwithstanding, and in reference to personal piety may be equally profitable.


In a healthy mind the pervading principle brought to bear in biblical criticism is a love of truth; and we mention this as the second circumstance indicative of its favourable bearing on personal piety. To bear witness to the truth is the grand object of all religion, and the revelations of the Old and New Testaments are constantly maintaining an antagonistic position against the errors of the times when they appeared. The sequence of our duties approved and sanctioned by God appears to be this :-Search for truth first, then sit down and enjoy its blessings. Some pleasures will be ours in the search, but it is only when that is finished that the highest felicity can be enjoyed.— Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures ; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity, yea, every good path' (Prov. ii. 3, 4, 5, 6, 9). Let the lonely student remember this to cheer him amidst his labours, when depressed by the weariness and watching of his arduous task. Let him follow still in the footsteps of Christ, who was a man of sorrows in this world through his constant advocacy of the truth. In the midst of all difficulties he will have the divine approbation, and at last obtain the joy set before him. Looked at in this light, a sincere biblical scholar may be the highest style of a Christian man.

Lastly, great benefits are conferred on others by the labours of the scholar in this department of knowledge. We have before shown that the possession of Bibles by the mass of mankind is owing to the literary and critical labours of the few; and the far greater part of human beings will still have to depend upon scholars for the certainty and stability of their faith. The Bible is a boon to man in proportion as its positions are undeniable, and therefore he is the best friend of the private Christian who takes care that nothing but what is impregnable shall be put into his hands. We believe with Dr. Davidson in the passage before quoted, that the books of the New Testament are destined ere long to pass through a severe ordeal.' Doubts and difficulties, once confined to a select few, are being unfolded to the many, and the safety and pleasure of a good man will soon require that all that can be said against the Scripture shall be grappled with, and either admitted or authoritatively contradicted and set at rest. We would let the most unlettered person enjoy his Bible in peace, unapproachable by infidel objections, and this will be accomplished


when all that objectors can advance is brought into conflict, investigated, and decided upon. Then indeed will the Word of God look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.' A pursuit which is destined to accomplish this is a noble one, and the most enlightened and fervent piety may be expected to accompany it.

With what a simple grandeur do the great verities of our holy religion erect their head above all the strife and rebuke and blasphemy which for eighteen hundred years have endeavoured to depress them! How untiringly does the Bible still perform its great work of converting the soul, purifying the heart, and inspiring hopes of immortal bliss! If it were not of God, would these sublime objects be accomplished so continuously, whatever changes may take place in ecclesiastical affairs, or whatever fresh assaults may be made upon its bulwarks? Shall we then fear for the future? That be far from us. We will not fear what enemies can do; much less will we be apprehensive that the efforts of friends can hurt this glorious edifice. Every weapon and every friendly instrument brought to bear on this temple can only show the depth of its foundations, and clear from the moss and dust of years the fine chisellings of its entablature.




By the Rev. J. W. DONALDSON, D.D.

No Hebrew scholar needs to be told that the brief account of the first sacrifice mentioned in the Old Testament is beset with many and very serious difficulties. The various opinions, which have been propounded by previous commentators, may be seen collected in Schumann's elaborate edition of the Book of Genesis (Lips. 1829). That editor speaks of the verse referred to above (iv. 7) ' hic locus vexatissimus, quem crucem interpretum, antiquitus et conservatam et propagatam, haud inepte dicas;' and I am sure that no person, thoroughly conversant with classical criticism, will be satisfied with any one of the explanations which have been already given. In stating the conclusion at which I have arrived, I have omitted, as far as possible, all reference to the theological bearings of the question. Acting on the views which I have else


where advocated,a I have dealt with this passage in a purely philological spirit. And I must remark, that, before dogmatic inferences can be drawn from this or any other difficult passage in the Old Testament, we must be prepared to show that our criticism and exegesis rest upon a strictly scientific basis—a caution too generally neglected by divines.

The text stands as follows:

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hă-lôh 'him-teitiv s..’hêth, wě-’him lôh thêitiv, la'-petha'h'hadhâ’hth rôvêtz? wě-'hêleikâ t..shûqâthô wě-'hattâh tim..shol-bó.

That the text was not very certain, or not very legible, even when the LXX. made their version, is pretty clear from their rendering of the passage, which runs thus: οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς, ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς, ἥμαρτες ; ἡσύχασον· πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ. From this it seems probable that the Alexandrine Jews used to read ny lâ-se’hth, and nin? li-ph’thôth, le-nathêah, for ny s'heth, and лn la-'petha'h. They must also have taken ¬¬ for the imperative r révôtz, and probably confused between inpin teshûwqâthow and indṛ těçûwgâthôw. Notwithstanding these indications of ancient uncertainty, all modern commentators, with the exception perhaps of Houbigant, have acquiesced in the text as it stands, and have either not seen or have arbitrarily set aside the internal evidence which proves that the passage is both corrupt and mutilated. Thus they are not only willing to take the feminine non 'hada'hth, with the masculine a rôvêtz, for which there is an obvious alternative, but they find no difficulty in referring the latter part of the verse to the same feminine noun, which not only involves a similar violation of concord, but, what is much worse, introduces an irreconcileable inconsistency in the sense of the words themselves. For in the other passage in which the same collocation occurs-namely, in Gen. iii. 16-the subjection of the woman to her husband is pointedly declared. If therefore the words in the passage before us refer to лn 'hadha'hth, they must mean that Cain would have the dominion over sin, and not vice versâ, as the commentators would have us believe. To say nothing of grammatical difficulties, it seems to me so unlikely that any promise of advantage to Cain

a In a book called 'Maskil le-Sopher: the Principles and Processes of Classical Philology applied to the Analysis of the Hebrew Language.' London, 1848. should

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