Billeder på siden

culty, to send letters to any learned men in the kingdom to obtain their opinions.

In this manner the Bible was translated into English. In the first instance each individual translated each book allotted to his company. Secondly, the readings to be adopted were agreed upon by that company assembled together. The book'thus finished was sent to each of the other companies to be examined. At these meetings one read the Eng. lish, and the rest held in their hands some Bible, of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, &c. If they found any fault, says Selden, they spoke; if not, he read on.

The translation was commenced in 1607, and completed in about three years. At the end of that time, three copies of it were sent to London. Here a committee of six reviewed the work, which was afterwards reviewed by Dr. Smith, who wrote the preface, and by Dr. Bilson. It was first printed in 1611 at London, by Robert Barker.

From this account it is clear that no ordinary care was taken to furnish to English readers a correct translation of the Sacred Scriptures. No translation of the Bible was ever made under more happy auspices; and it would now be impossible to furnish another translation in our language under circumstances so propitious. Whether we contemplate the number, the learning, or the piety of the men employed in it; the cool deliberation with which it was executed; the care taken that it should secure the approbation of the most learned men, in a country that embosomed a vast amount of literature; the harmony with which they conducted their work; or the comparative perfection of the translation, we see equal cause of gratitude to the great Author of the Bible that we have so pure a translation of his word.

From this time the English language became fixed. More than two hundred years have elapsed, and yet the simple and majestic purity and power of the English tongue is expressed in the English translation of the Bible, as clearly as when it was given to the world. It has become the standard of our language; and nowhere can the purity and expressive dignity of this language be so fully found as in the Sacred Scriptures.

The friends of this translation have never claimed for it inspiration or infallibility. Yet it is the concurrent testimony of all who are competent to express an opinion, that no translation of the Bible into any language has preserved so faithfully the sense of the original as the English. Phrases there may be, and it is confessed there are, which modern criticism has shown not to express all the meaning of the original; but as a whole, it indubit:ably stands unrivalled. Nor is it probable that any translation can now supply its place, or improve upon its substantial correctness. The fact that it has for two hundred years poured light into the minds of millions, and guided the steps of generation after generation in the way to heaven, has given to it somewhat of the venerableness which appropriately belongs to a book of God. Successive ages may correct some of its few unimportant errors; may throw light on some of its obscure passages; but to the consummation of all things, it must stand, wherever the English language is spoken, as the purest specimen of its power to give utterance to the meaning of ancient tongues, and of the simple and pure majesty of the language which we speak.

These remarks are made, because it is easy for men who dislike the plain doctrines of the Bible, and for those ignorant of the true history of its translation, to throw out insinuations of its unfaithfulness. From various quarters, from men opposed to tie clear doctrines of the scriptures, are often heard demands for a new translation. We by no means assert the entire infallibility, much less the inspiration, of the English translation of the Bible. Yet of its general faithfulness to the original, there can be no doubt. It would be easy to multiply testimonies of the highest authority to this fact. But the general testimony of the world; the profound regard paid to it by men of the purest character and most extensive learning; the fact that it has warmed the hearts of the pious, ministered to the comforts of the wretched and the dying, and guided the steps of millions to glory, for two hundred years, and now commands the high regard of Christians of so many different denominations, evinces that it is, to no ordinary extent, faithful to the original, and has a claim on the continued regard of coming generations,

It is perfectly clear, also, that it would be impossible now to translate the scriptures into the English language, under so favorable circumstances as attended the translation in the time of James I. No single set of men could so command the confidence of the Christian world; no convention who claim the Christian name could be formed, competent to the task, or if formed, could prosecute the work with harmony; no single denomination could make a translation that would secure the undisputed respect of others. The probability is, therefore, that while the English language is spoken, and as far as it is used, the English Bible will continue to form their faith, and direct their lives; and that the words which now pour light into our minds will continue to illuminate the understandings, and mould the feelings, of unnumbered millions, in their bath to immortal life.




l'e word Gospel means good news, or a joyful message. It commonly signifies the message itself. But it is here used to denote the book containing the record of the message. The title " saint," given to the sacred writers of the New Testament, is of Roman Catholic origin, and is of no authority.

It is now conceded pretty generally that Matthew wrote his gospel in his native tongue; that is, the language of Palestine. That language was not pure Hebrew, but a mixture of the Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Syriac, commonly called Syro-Chaldaic, or Aramean. This language our Saviour undoubtedly used in his conversation ;* and his disciples would naturally use this language also, unless there were good reasons why they should write in a foreign tongue. It is agreed that the remainder of the New Testament was written in Greek. The reason for this, in preference to the native language of the writers, was, that Greek was the Language then generally spoken and understood throughout the eastern countries conquered by Alexander the Great, and particularly in Judea, and in the regions where the apostles first labored.

The Christian Fathers, without any exception, assert that Matthew wrote his gospel for the use of the Christians in Palestine; and say that it was written in the Hebrew dialect. It should be remarked, however, that many modern critics of much eminence do not suppose the evidence that Matthew wrote in Hebrew to be decisive; and believe that there is sufficient proof that, like the other writers of the New Testament, Matthew wrote in Greek. See Lardner's works, vol. V., p. 308-318, London edition, 1829.

The Gospel of Matthew exists now, however, only in Greek. The original Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldaic, if it was written in that language, has been designedly laid aside, or undesignedly lost. The question, then, naturally arises, who is the author of the Greek translation which we possess ? and is it to be regarded as of divine authority ?

It has been conjectured by some that Matthew himself furnished a Greek translation of the Hebrew. This conjecture, in itself probable enough, wants human testimony to support it. Athanasius, one of the early Fathers, says that it was translated by “ James, the brother of our Lord according to the flesh.” Papias, another of the early Fathers, says,

* See instances in Mark vii. 34, and Matthew xxvii. 46.


that " each one translated it as he was able.' If James translated it, there can be no question about its inspiration and canonical authority. Nor does it affect the question of its inspiration, even if we are ignorant of the name of the translator. The proper inquiry is, whether it had such evidence of inspiration as to be satisfactory to the church in the times when they were under the direction of the apostles. That it had such evidence, none acquainted with ancient history will doubt.

Epiphanius says that the Gospel by Matthew was written while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome. This was about the year of our Lord 63, about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. It is now generally supposed that this gospel was written about this time. There is very clear evidence in the gospel that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction of the holy city is clearly and minutely told; but there is not the slightest intimation in it that these predictions kad been accomplished; a thing which we should naturally expect if the gospel was not written until after these calamities came upon the Jews. Compare Acts xi. 28. It has been till lately uniformly regarded as having been written before either of the other evangelists. Some of late have, however, endeavored to show that Luke was written first. All testimony, and all ancient arrangements of the books, are against the opinion; and when such is the fact, it is of little consequence to attend to other arguments.

In all copies of the New Testament, and in all translations, this gospel has been placed first. This, it is probable, would not have been done, had not Matthew published his gospel before any other was written.

Matthew, the writer of this gospel, called also Levi, son of Alpheus, was a publican, or tax-gatherer, under the Romans. See Notes on Matt. ix. 9, Luke v. 27. Of his life and death little is certainly known. Socrates, a writer of the fifth century, says that he went to Ethiopia after the apostles were scattered abroad from Judea, and died a martyr in a city called Nadebbar; but by what kind of death is altogether uncertain. However, others speak of his preaching and dying in Parthia or Persia, and the diversity of their accounts seems to show that they are all without good foundation. See Lardner's works, vol. V., p 296, 297.



2 Abraham d begat Isaac; and HE book of the generation of Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacobf be.

Jesus Christ, the son of Da- gat Judas and his brethren ; vid, 'the son of Abraham.

3 And Judas begats Phares and a Lu.3.23,&c. b Ps.132.11. c.22.45. Ac.2. d Ge.21.2-5. e Ge.25.26. f Ge.29.35,dec. 30. c Ge.22.18. Ga.3.16.

I Ge.38.29,30,&c.

1. The book of the generation. This the genealogy of Jesus up to David, beis the proper title of the chapter. It is cause the promise had been made that the same as to say, 'the account of the the Messiah should be of his family, and ancestry or family, or the genealogical all the Jews expected it would be so. It table of Jesus Christ.' The phrase is would be impossible, therefore, to concommon in Jewish writings. Compare vince a Jew that Jesus was the Messiah, Gen. v. 1. “This is the book of the unless it could be shown that he was generations of Adam," i. e. the genea descended from David. See Jer. xxm. logical table of the family or descend. 5. Ps. cxxxii. 10, 11; compared with ants of Adam. See also Gen. vi. 9. Acts xiii. 23, and John vii. 42. 9 The The Jews, moreover, as we do, kept Son of Abraham. The descendant of such tables of their own families, and it Abraham. The promise was made to is probable that this was copied from the Abraham also. See Gen. xii. 3; xxi. record of the family of Joseph. f Jesus. 12; compare Heb, xi. 13. Gal. iii. 16. See ver. 21. f Christ. The word Christ The Jews expected that the Messiah is a Greek word, signifying anointed. I would be descended from him; and it The Hebrew word signifying the same was important, therefore, to trace the is Messiah. Hence, Jesus is called genealogy up to him also. Though Jeeither the Messiah, or the Christ, mean. sus was of humble birth, yet he was deing the same thing. The Jews speak scended from most illustrious ancestors. of the Messiah; Christians speak of him Abraham, the father of the faithfulas the Christ. Anciently, when kings the beauteous model of an eastern and priests were set apart to their office, prince," and David, the sweet psalmist they were anointed with oil. Lev. iv. of Israel, the conqueror, the magnificent 3; vi. 20. Ex. xxviii. 41; xxix. 7. 1 and victorious leader of the people of Sam. ix. 16; xv. l. 2 Sam. xxiü. 1. To God, were both among his ancestors. anoint, therefore, means often the same From these two persons, the most emi is to consecrate, or set apart to any nent for piety, and the most renowned office. Thence those thus set apart for their excellencies of all the men of are said to be anointed, or the anointed antiquity, sacred or profane, the Lord of God. It is for this reason that the Jesus was descended; and though his naine is given to the Lord Jesus. Dan. birth and life were humble, yet they ix. 24. He was set apart by God to be who regard an illustrious descent as of the King, and High-priest, and Prophet value, may find here all that is to be of his people. Anointing with oil, was, admired in piety, purity, patriotism, moreover, supposed to be emblematic splendor, dignity, and renown. of the influences of the Holy Spirit ;

2-16. These verses contain the

geand as God gave him the Spirit without nealogy of Jesus. Luke also (ch. iii.) measure, (john iii. 31.) so he is called gives a genealogy of the Messiah. No peculiarly the Anointed of God. The two passages of scripture have caused Son of David. The word son among more difficulty than these, and various the Jews had a great variety of signifi. attempts have been made to explain cations. It means literally a son; then them. There are two sources of diffi a grandson; a descendant; an adopted culty in these catalogues. Ist. Many son; a disciple, or one who is an object names that are found in the Old Tes. of tender affection--one who is to us as tament are here omitted; and 2d, the

In this place it means a descend tables of Matthew and Luke appear in int of David; or one who was of the fa- many points to be different. From nily of David. It was important to trace Adam to Abraham Luke only has


« ForrigeFortsæt »