« EdellinenJatka »
which the Syriac language was formerly spoken, &c.”, p. 526. Schon dadurch gewinnet die Geographie der Laender, in denen die Syrische Sprache ehedem geredet ist. The geography of the countries in which the Syriac language was formerly spoken is thereby improved. We had marked many other passages in which the author's meaning is not given, or imperfectly exhibited, or associated with some variation or additional shade of thought, but neither our object nor our space requires us to point out all the failures which the treatise exhibits.
We regret that this essay is not more attractive and forcible; for we consider the subject important, and invested with claims much stronger than are here presented. The author himself informs us, that it was not his intention to exhibit a full view of the subject, but merely to state such circumstances as he considered important to those who were about to use his book in learning the language. For several important arguments he refers to other works, and his remarks on the facility of its acquisition, and its value as a medium of access to the Hebrew, are omitted by the translator. The character of the language itself; its affinity with the Hebrew and Chaldaic of the Old Testament; its substantial identity with the vernacular tongue of our Saviour and his disciples, and the antiquity of the Peshito version, conspire to render it a subject of considerable importance to every independent and intelligent interpreter of the scriptures. The facility with which it may be acquired, especially by those who are acquainted with the Hebrew, will be an additional inducement to the study. “Of all the oriental languages, ” says Michaelis in the fourth section of the treatise before us, “ the Syriac and Chaldaic are the easiest, and the Hebrew the most difficult. I could wish, therefore, that the Syriac might be studied first. Even those who only intend to learn the Hebrew, and dread the study of all other oriental languages, would thus facilitate their labour, if they would follow my advice; and I believe I could enable a class of the same views and proficiency to acquire the Syriac, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Hebrew in the same time that many apply to the Hebrew alone.” This is probably exaggerated; but other judicious orientalists place it first in point of simplicity and facility of acquisition. The means also for acquiring it are constantly increasing by the publication, especially in Germany, of elementary books of all kinds, adapted to all classes of learners.
The translator has furnished in a brief appendix a list of the most common of these works, but has omitted several recent and valuable publications, such as Oberleitner's Chrestomathy, and the selection of Ephrem's Hymns arranged as a Chrestomathy, with an excellent vocabulary by Hahn and Seiffart. We should certainly recommend the New Testament and Dathe's edition of the Psalms to the early attention of the student, as the language is easier than that of any other introductory work we have seen. We cannot subscribe to the commendation appended to the notice of Tychsen's Elementale, as we happen to know by experience resulting in despair, that it presents obstacles almost insuperable to the learner, who is not furnished with the means of supplying its deficiencies. The want of a comprehensive lexicon, adapted to the whole range of Syriac literature, as far as it comes within the reach of the student, is seriously felt by oriental scholars. For the New Testament, Buxtorf, Schaaf, or Zanolini; and for the Old Testament, and perhaps some other works, Castell's Lexicon in the London Polyglott, and Michaelis's improved edition of the same work in a separate form, may suffice; but no general lexicon adapted to the wants of the student, who would pursue his researches beyond the mere elements and the versions of the Bible, has yet appeared. Quatremere de Quincy at Paris, and Professor Bernstein of Breslau, have long since promised works of this character, which, from their high reputation as oriental scholars, are expected to accomplish for Syrian lexicography what Hoffman has done for its grammar, and Gesenius for the Hebrew.
Except for missionaries destined to western Asia, and oriental professors, we consider this subject important only in reference to the illustration of the Scriptures. In this we desire the assistance of every auxiliary which ancient and modern literature can supply, and all the means which philology can furnish, to render more intelligible and more impressive the revelations of God. These are the life of our souls, and every thing else in comparison is unworthy the attention of an immortal spirit. However discursive our wanderings in literary pursuits, we must come back with childlike simplicity to the gospel of the grace of God, if we would secure our own comfort and edification as christians, or feed others with the bread of life, pure and unadulterated. For this purpose the oracles of God must be distinctly understood and clearly in
terpreted. The languages in which they were published must be studied. What judicious instructor would attempt to explain any other ancient documents without a knowledge of the language in which they were written? We should ridicule the preposterous pretensions of a public lecturer on ancient literature, who, unacquainted with Latin or Greek, should attempt to expound Homer or Cicero; and is it wiser, with similar incompetency, to engage in the exposition of the revelations of the Bible, on which the everlasting welfare or misery of our souls depends? Can the accredited expositors of this system of truth meet the demands of their own consciences, or satisfy the just expectation of the churches, by relying on the translations and interpretations of fallible men? Oh let us drink the waters of life pure from the fountain, since God by his special providence has kept it open, and given us easy access! But something more than the mere knowledge of the languages, and the amount of reading requisite to acquire those languages, is indispensable to constitute an intelligent interpreter of the Scriptures. The manners, customs, opinions, civil and literary history, and institutions political and ecclesiastical of the favoured people to whom they were given; the kindred languages, literature and history of the surrounding nations; the geographical position and natural history of the regions described or referred to, may all be employed as auxiliaries to illustrate the phraseology and allusions employed by the sacred writers. Profound thought, laborious investigation, and extensive reading are indispensable for the full development of the treasures of God's word. But, at the same time, we would impress upon the attention of students, the necessity of a practical and devotional perusal of the Scriptures. It is not by critical study alone, or principally, that the spirit of piety is nourished in the bosom, and invigorated to its appropriate energy. Let it be ever borne in mind, that the labour of ascertaining precisely the truth revealed by all the critical and exegetical auxiliaries within our reach, is one thing; the practical consideration of the truth thus ascertained, the honest application of it to the conscience, and the continual recurrence to its truths, precepts and promises for direction, instruction and consolation, are another and very distinct operation. If the latter be neglected, the former will prove comparatively useless and often dangerous; leaving the soul to famish in the midst of a “feast of fat things,” or to be led into the devious paths of error by the
unrestrained impulse of an inventive imagination. A judicious combination of both is necessary to the preservation of an enlightened and healthful tone of piety, and indispensable to the formation of a successful expositor of the sacred records. Neither can be neglected by ministers of the gospel without serious disadvantage. Let them never lose sight of the inspired admonition, which spreads before them the pages of revealed truth, and enjoins: “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them: that thy profiting or improvement may appear to all.”
The Works of Dugald Stewart. In Seven Volumes. Cam
bridge. Published by Hilliard and Brown. 1829.
Few men of the present age have received so liberal a share of public approbation as the late Dugald Stewart, and none have manifested a more spotless integrity, or a more sincere regard for the best interests of man. So often have talents and acquirements been sold to vice, or employed wholly in schemes of selfish ambition, that it is doubly cheering to meet with those who have consecrated their high powers and attainments to the cause of philanthropy and virtue. A brief account of the life and writings of Dugald Stewart, and an estimate of his character, will not then, we trust, be unacceptable to our readers.
Dugald Stewart, son of Dr Matthew Stewart, professor of mathematics in the university of Edinburgh, was born Nov. 22, 1753. His early days were passed partly in Edinburgh, and partly in Ayrshire, whither his father retired during the intervals of the academical sessions. At the
seven, he was placed at the grammar school, where he attracted the attention and excited the hopes of his instructors by the quickness of his apprehension, and the facility with which he acquired and expressed in his own language the ideas of the authors he perused. After leaving the school, he entered the university, and attended on the instructions of the distin
guished men at that time connected with the institution. With these, his situation in his father's family allowed him familiar intercourse, which was doubtless of more profit than any public instructions. Nor were his advantages in this respect confined to the officers of the university: he enjoyed the society and friendship of most of the eminent men of Scotland, and particularly that of Adam Smith, the celebrated author of the “ Wealth of Nations."
In 1771, when he was eighteen, he repaired to Glasgow to receive the instructions of Dr Reid. He immediately engaged the confidence and affection of his instructor, and here was the commencement of that warm and continued friendship, which forms so amiable a trait in the characters of both.
He had attended but one course of lectures in this place, when, by the declining health of his father, he was obliged to return and undertake the instruction of the mathematical classes in the university. This task he performed with singular success. Notwithstandirlg the high reputation and acknowledged talents of Dr Stewart, the number of pupils considerably increased under his son.
When he had arrived at the age of twenty-one, he was appointed assistant professor of mathematics, in which situation he continued for a little more than ten years, when, on the death of his father, he succeeded to the vacant chair. During this time, besides instructing in mathematics, he often lectured with great acceptance for the other professors, particularly on moral philosophy for Dr Ferguson, and on rhetoric and belles-lettres for the successor of Dr Blair. These lectures were unwritten, and were composed on the day of their delivery, while walking in his father's garden. These facts, together with the promptness and ability which he ever manifested in assisting his associates during the whole of his academical career, attest the extent of his acquirements, and the facility with which he could direct his attention to the various departments of knowledge.
In the same year in which he succeeded to the chair of his father, an exchange of professorships was effected with Dr Ferguson, by which he became professor of moral philosophy. In imparting to his pupils the principles of this science, to which he informs us he was early attached, and in otherwise promoting its advancement, he acquired his brilliant reputation. He continued to discharge the duties of this office till 1809, when his health obliged him to retire: previously,