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nished by a society, whose members hoped thus to present the theologian with a valuable contribution to Biblical literature; but had neither power nor wish to bind themselves or others to an approval of its criticisms, or a maintenance of its interpretations. That “all the ministers belonging to this Society" were enrolled in the Committee for preparing the Work, is itself a proof of the small proportion which the Association bore to the whole body of Unitarians; and is well known to have been an inoperative form, which had no practical effect in dividing the chief Editor's responsibility. The Version adopts, as a basis, the “ Attempt towards revising our English Translation of the Greek Scriptures,” by Archbishop Newcome, Primate of Ireland; from which, including the smallest verbal variations, there are not, on an average, more than two deviations in a page; and it is a principle with the Editors, that these departures shall be noticed in the margin ; so that any one, having the Improved Version in his hand, has the Archbishop's Revision also before him. How far this translation has authority with Unitarians, may perhaps be judged of from one fact. The clergymen who are holding up this work to the pious horror of their hearers, are repeating charges against it, long ago preferred by Archbishop Magee; who, in his time, reproduced them from Dr. Nares, the Regius Professor of modern history in the University of Oxford; who, again, borrowed no small part of his materials from a Review of the Version, in the Monthly Repository for 1809, by Dr. Carpenter, a distinguished Unitarian Divine. I do not mean that there was nothing but reproduction of the original Reviewer's materials throughout all these steps ; if it were so, I should be ashamed to call that venerable man my friend: fresh objections were added at every stage ; and, by Archbishop Magee, a mass of abuse the most coarse, and misrepresentation the most black; repeated still by unsuspecting and unlearned admirers, who find it easier to acquire from him his aptitudes of calumny than
in criticism. But the principal objections to his acuteness in criticism. But the
srsion were certainly anticipated by Dr. Carthe Improved Version were certainly a
urnished a list of unacknowledged deviations penter, who furnished a list of una
mola revision, and from Griesbach's and the Re
Tests:-who censured the whole system of departure from that text, which seemed to be adopted as a standard ; the license allowed to conjectural emendation; the preference. Newcome's to the authorized version as a basis; the intro duction of any doctrinal notes ; and, what is especially to our present purpose, who vindicated, from the suspicion spuriousness, the initial chapters of St. Luke's Gospel, and consented to part with those of St. Matthew's, only becau at variance with the authority of the third Evangelist. Er
• From the armoury, therefore, of our own church, are stolen
17 very weapons, wherewith now, amid taunts of sacerdotal. rision, we are to be driven as intruders from the fair field. learning. For myself, when the learned labours of Disco ters are ridiculed, and the “ defective scholarship” of heret affirmed, by the privileged clergy of the established chur I always think of the Universities,—those venerable seate instruction, from which Nonconformists must be excluded The precious food of knowledge is first locked up; the ke is hung beyond our reach ; and then the starvelings must laughed at, when they sink and fall. But so is it always with unjust power; the habit of injury begets the propensity to scorn.*
But we are called upon to say, whether we really mean to repudiate the Improved Version. If by repudiate be meant confess the truth of all the accusations brought against it, or reject it from our libraries as unworthy of consultation, we do not repudiate it. But we do refuse to be held responsible. directly or indirectly, for any portion of its criticisms; with which we have no more concern, than have our Reverend assailants with the Translation of Luther, or the Institutes
* See Note A.
of Calvin. If we are pressed with the personal inquiry, “ but, what portion of its peculiarities, especially in relation to the narrative of the miraculous conception, do you as a matter of fact, approve?” I can answer for no one but myself, for we have no theological standards, nor any restriction on the exercise of private judgment, on such subjects. But individually, I have no objection to state, that I consider Mr. Belsham as having brought over the threshhold of his conversion so much of his original orthodoxy, that, like all who insist upon finding a uniform doctrinal system pervading the various records of Christianity, he is justly open to the charge of having accommodated both his criticism and his interpretations to his belief; that his objections to the authenticity of both accounts of the miraculous conception, appear to me altogether inconclusive; that I therefore leave these histories as integral parts of the gospels they introduce.* Whether I receive all their statements as unerringly true, is a question altogether different; nor can the Lecturer who calls on us to satisfy him on this point, link together in one query our reception of these chapters as authentic and as true, without falling into Mr. Belsham's own error of mixing these two things so obviously distinct. It no more follows, because these chapters are Matthew's, that they must be reconcileable with Luke, and so, free from objection to their truth; than, because they are inconsistent with Luke, therefore they cannot be Matthew's. This part of the inquiry belongs to the second portion of our discussion respecting the New Testament; whether, granting that we have the veritable words of the reputed authors, we have, in consequence, the ipsissima verba of God. To this topic let us now proceed.
(2.) The advocate of plenary inspiration, having obtained our assent to the authenticity of the Christian Scriptures, proceeds to show their truth. He reminds us that the
• See Note B.
..more no longer anonymous; and that the testiboring been duly signed, we may examine the charac
tnesses. We call them therefore before us. There are plain, plebeian, hard-handed men of toil, who have laboured in the fields and olive-grounds of Judæa, or held ar oar on the Gallilean Lake; who nevertheless have been not without the cottage and the home, the parent, wife and child. belonging, moreover, to a country having something to remember, and more to expect. Addressed by a solitary and houseless wanderer from Nazareth, won by some undefinable attraction that makes them think him a man of God, the follow him awhile, hoping for promotion, if he should prov as they suspect, to be some great one. Daily this bona declines, but hourly the love increases. They hang upon his words; their passions sink abashed before his look; the blindly follow his steps, knowing nothing but that they be the steps of mercy; they rebuke the blind beggar wh cries; but he calls him groping to him, and sends him dazzled away; they go to help the cripple, and ere they reach him, at a word he leaps up in strength; they fly at the shriek of the maniac from the tombs, when lo! he lapses into silene and sits at the feet of the Nazarene in the tears of a right an grateful mind. How can they leave him? yet why precise do they stay? If they depart, it is but to return with jo and so they linger still, for they learn to trust him better the themselves. They go with him sorrowing; with occasional flashes of brilliant ambition, but with longer darkness be tween; with lowering hopes, but deepening love; to the farewell meal; to the moonlight garden, its anguished solitude, its tranquil surrender to the multitude, making the seeming captive the real conqueror; a few of them to the trial; one, to the cross; the women, even to the sepulchre : and all, agitated and unbelieving, were recalled in breathless haste from their despair by the third day's tidings, the Lord has risen indeed! Thenceforth, they too are risen from the
dead; the bandages as of the grave, drop from their souls; the spirit of God, which is the spirit of truth, comes to loose them and let go. Not higher did the Lord ascend to the heaven which holds him now, than did they rise above the level of their former life. They understand it all, and can proclaim it; the things that were to come,—that dreadful cross, that third day, so darkly hidden from their eyes,-are shown them now; a thousand things which he had said unto them, rush, by the help of this new spirit, to their remembrance. And forth they go, to tell the things which they have seen and heard. They most of them perished, not without joy, in the attempt; but they did tell them, with a voice that could summon nations and ages to the audience; which things are this day sounded in our ears.
But I suppose we must endeavour to speak coolly of these venerable men, if we are to save them from being deprived of their manhood, and turned into the petrified images and empty vessels, of a physical or intellectual inspiration. Why will the extravagance of Churches compel us to freeze down our religion into logic, to prevent it blazing into an unsocial fanaticism? If, however, we must weigh the Apostles' claims with nice precision, we must say (at this stage of our inquiry we can say only) that they were honest personal witnesses of visible and audible facts; deserving therefore of all the reliance to which veracity, severely tested, is entitled. To every thing then which comes under the description of personal testimony, their demand on our confidence extends ; their own impressions we believe to have been as they record. But their inferences, their arguments, their interpretations of ancient writings, their speculations on future events, however just and perfect in themselves, are no part of the report which they give in evidence, and cannot be established by appeal to their integrity.
Nor, in this limitation of testimony to its proper province, is there anything in the slightest degree dishonourable to