« EdellinenJatka »
PRECEDING FACTS AND REASONINGS
THE GENUINENESS, UNCORRUPTED PRESERVATION,
AUTHENTICITY, AND INSPIRATION
EVIDENCE OF THE GENUINENESS OF THE SCRIPTURES.
1. From their having been always received as genuine; evidence of which is to be found in
(1.) The earlier books being cited or alluded to by subsequent sacred writers; particularly the Pentateuch by the subsequent writers of the Old Testament, (Jos. i. 7, 8. viii. 31. Jud. xi. 15..26. 1 Sa. x. 18, 19. xii. 8. xv. 2. 2 Ki. xvii. 26. 2 Ch. xvii. 9. xxxiv. 15, 21. Ezra vi. 18. Neh. xiii. 1. Ps. xix. 7..11. xl. 7, 8. lxxiv. 13..15. lxxvii. 15..20. lxxviii. 1..55. cv. cvi. 1..39. cxix. cxxxvi. 10..20. Dan. ix. 11..13. Mal. iv. 4.) and the Old Testament by the Apostles, (Mat. v. 27. xi. 13. xxii. 40. Mar. x. 3. xii. 26. Lu. x. 25. xvi. 16. xx. 42. xxiv. 25, 44. Jn°. vii. 19. viii. 5. Ac. 1. 20. iii. 22. vii. 35..37. xxvi. 22. xxviii. 23. Rom. x. 5. 1 Co. ix. 9. 2 Co. iii. 7..15. 2 Ti. iii. 14..17. Heb. vii. 14. x. 28.)*
(2.) Of the Old Testament by the testimony of Jewish Translators and Writers. Such as the Translators of the Septuagint, Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, the authors of the Syriac Version and the Targums, the Talmud, Jesus the son of Sirach, (in Ecclesiasticus,) Philo, (Vit. Mos. 1. 11.), and Josephus, (Cont. Apion. 1. 1. §. 8.) &c.†; for an account of whom see Introduction to Comprehensive Bible, pp. 72—78. To which might be added, the Samaritan Pentateuch; from which besides its value in a critical point of view, as serving to establish correct readings, we derive one of the most extraordinary and irrefragable arguments in support of the authenticity and integrity of the books of Moses; for, though an irreconcilable enmity
• Comprehensive Bible, Introduction, p. 55.
subsisted between the Jews and Samaritans, and the latter were held in such abhorrence by the former, that they would have deemed it a profanation to transcribe any thing from the Holy Volume which contained all the articles of the Samaritan creed, yet the two copies of the Pentateuch, after the lapse of so many ages, agree in every thing essential.*
(3.) Of the New Testament, by quotations or allusions by a regular succession of Christian Writers; such as the apostolic fathers, Barnabas, Clement, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, Papias, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Melito, Ireneus, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, &c. &c.;t for an account of whom, see Comprehensive Bible, pp. 78-82.
(4.) From their genuineness never having been impugned by Jewish or heathen adversaries, or heretics; such as Celsus, Porphyry, the Emperor Julian, the Cerinthians, Ebionites, Novatians, Donatists, Manicheans, Arians, Marcion, Noëtus, Marcellus, &c. †
For a more detailed account of the genuineness of each of the Sacred Writings, see the Introductions to the several books in the Comprehensive Bible.
2. From the language and style of writing in the Old and New Testament; as
(1.) Their diversity of style proving them to be the work of various authors; which the following evidence will amply evince :
The style of ISAIAH has been universally admired as the most perfect model of elegance and sublimity; and as distinguished for all the magnificence, and for all the sweetness of the Hebrew language. Isaiah,' says Bp. Lowth, the first of the prophets, both in order and dignity, abounds in such transcendent excellencies, that he may be properly said to afford the most perfect model of the prophetic poetry. He is at once elegant and sublime, forcible and ornamental; he unites energy with copiousness, and dignity with variety. In his sentiments, there is extraordinary elevation and majesty; in his imagery, the utmost propriety, elegance, dignity, and diversity; in his language, uncommon beauty and energy; and, notwithstanding the obscurity of his subjects, a surprising degree of clearness and simplicity. To these we may add, there is such sweetness in the poetical composition of his sentences, whether it proceed from art or genius, that if the Hebrew poetry at present is possessed of any remains of its native grace and harmony, we shall chiefly find them in the writings of Isaiah; so that the saying of Ezekiel may justly be applied to this prophet:
Thou art the confirmed exemplar of measures,
Ezek. xxviii. 12.
Isaiah also greatly excels in all the graces of method, order, connection, and arrangement; though, in asserting this, we must not forget the nature of
the prophetic impulse, which bears away the mind with irresistible violence, and frequently in rapid transitions from near to remote objects, from human to divine: we must likewise be careful in remarking the limits of particular predictions, since, as they are now extant, they are often improperly connected, without any marks of discrimination, which injudicious arrangement, on some occasions, creates almost insuperable difficulties.' But, though the variety of his images, and the warmth of his expressions, characterise him as unequalled in eloquence; and though the marks of a cultivated mind are stamped in every page of his book; yet these are almost eclipsed by the splendour of his inspired knowledge. In the delivery of his prophecies and instructions, he utters his enraptured strains with an elevation and majesty that unhallowed lips could never attain; and, from the grand exordium in the first chapter to the concluding description of the Gospel, to be brought forth' in wonders, and to terminate in the dispensation of eternity, there is one continued display of inspired wisdom, revealing its oracles and precepts for the instruction and salvation of man.
The character of JEREMIAH, as a writer, is thus ably drawn by Bp. Lowth: Jeremiah is by no means wanting either in elegance or sublimity, although, generally speaking, inferior to Isaiah in both. St. Jerome has objected to him a certain rusticity in his diction; of which, I must confess, I do not discover the smallest trace. His thoughts, indeed, are somewhat less elevated, and he is commonly more copious and diffuse in his sentences: but the reason of this may be, that he is mostly taken up with the gentler passions of grief and pity, for the expressing of which he has a peculiar talent. This is most evident in the Lamentations, where those passions altogether predominate; but it is often visible also in his Prophecies; in the former part of the book more especially, which is principally poetical. The middle parts are, for the most part, historical : but the last part, consisting of six chapters, is entirely poetical; and contains several oracles distinctly marked, in which this Prophet falls very little short of the loftiest style of Isaiah.' His images are, in general, perhaps less lofty, and his expressions less dignified, than those of some others of the sacred writers; but the character of his work, which breathes a tenderness of sorrow calculated to awaken and interest the milder affections, led him to reject the majestic and declamatory tone in which the prophetic censures and denunciations were sometimes conveyed. The holy zeal of the Prophet is, however, often excited to a very vigorous and overwhelming eloquence, in inveighing against the audacity with which the Jews gloried in their abominations; and his descriptions, especially the last six chapters, have all the vivid colouring that might be expected from a painter of contemporary scenes. The historical part, which chiefly relates to his own conduct, and the completion of those predictions which he had delivered, is characterised by much simplicity of style; and possesses some marks of antiquity that ascertain the date of its composition. Thus the months are reckoned by
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Isaiah.
numbers; a mode which did not obtain after the captivity, when they were distinguished by Chaldaic names.*
The character of EZEKIEL, as a writer and a poet, is thus pourtrayed by Bp. Lowth: Ezekiel is much inferior to Jeremiah in elegance; in sublimity, he is not even excelled by Isaiah; but his sublimity is of a totally different kind. He is deep, vehement, tragical; the only sensation he affects to excite is the terrible; his sentiments are elevated, animated, full of fire and indignation; his imagery is crowded, magnificent, terrific, and sometimes bordering on indelicacy; his language is grand, solemn, austere, rough, and at times unpolished: he abounds in repetitions, not for the sake of grace or elegance, but from vehemence and indignation. Whatever subject he treats of, that he sedulously pursues; from that he rarely departs, but cleaves, as it were, to it; whence the connection is in general evident and well preserved. In other respects, he may perhaps be exceeded by the other prophets; but, for that species of composition to which he seems adapted by nature, the forcible, impetuous, grave, and grand, not one of the sacred writers is superior to him. His diction is sufficiently perspicuous; all his obscurity arises from the nature of his subjects. Visions (as for instance, among others, those of Hosea, Amos, and Zechariah,) are necessarily dark and confused. The greater part of Ezekiel, particularly towards the middle of the book, is poetical, whether we regard the matter or the language. But some passages are so rude and unpolished, that we are frequently at a loss to what species of writing we ought to refer them.' Michaelis, however, so far from esteeming him as equal to Isaiah in sublimity, is inclined to think, that he displays more art and luxuriance in amplifying and decorating his subject than is consistent with the poetical fervour, or indeed with true sublimity; and pronounces him to be in general an imitator, who has the art of giving an air of novelty and ingenuity, but not of grandeur and sublimity, to all his compositions; and that, as he lived at a period when the Hebrew language was visibly on the decline, so if we compare him with the Latin poets who succeeded the Augustan age, we may find some resemblance in the style, something that indicates the old age of poetry. But, as Abp. Newcome judiciously observes, the prophet is not to be considered merely as a poet, or as a framer of those august and astonishing visions, and of those admirable poetical representations, which he committed to writing; but as an instrument in the hands of God, who vouchsafed to reveal himself, through a long succession of ages, not only in divers parts constituting a magnificent and uniform whole, but also in different manners, as by voice, by dreams, by inspiration, and by plain or enigmatical vision. Ezekiel is a great poet, full of originality; and, in my opinion, whoever censures him as if he were only an imitator of the old prophets, can never have felt his power. He must not, in general, be compared with Isaiah, and the rest of the old
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Jeremiah.
prophets. Those are great, Ezekiel is also great; those in their manner of poetry, Ezekiel in his; which he had invented for himself, if we may form our judgment from the Hebrew monuments still extant.' To justify this character, the learned prelate descends to particulars, and gives apposite examples, not only of the clear, flowing, and nervous, but also of the sublime; and concludes his observations on his style, by stating it to be his deliberate opinion, that if his style is the old age of the Hebrew language and composition, it is a firm and vigorous one, and should induce us to trace its youth and manhood with the most assiduous attention.' As a prophet, Ezekiel must ever be allowed to occupy a very high rank; and few of the prophets have left a more valuable treasure to the church of God than he has. It is true, he is in several places obscure; but this resulted either from the nature of his subjects, or the events predicted being still unfulfilled; and, when time has rolled away the mist of futurity, successive generations will then perceive with what heavenly wisdom this much neglected prophet has spoken. There is, however, a great proportion of his work which is free from obscurity, and highly edifying. He has so accurately and minutely foretold the fate and condition of various nations and cities, that nothing can be more interesting than to trace the exact accomplishment of these prophecies in the accounts furnished by historians and travellers; while, under the elegant type of a new temple to be erected, a new worship to be introduced, and a new Jerusalem to be built, with new land to be allotted to the twelve tribes, may be discovered the vast extent and glory of the New Testament Church.*
DANIEL, as a writer is simple, yet pure and correct, whether he write Hebrew or Chaldee; and is so conscientious, that he relates the very words of the persons whom he introduces as speaking. Though his style is not so lofty and figurative as that of the other prophets, it is more suitable to his subject, being clear and concise; his narratives and descriptions are simple and natural; and, in short, he writes more like an historian than a prophet. His predictions are the most extraordinary and comprehensive of all that are found in the prophetical writings; for they include the general history of the world, as well as that of the church of God under the Jewish and Christian dispensations, from the period in which he lived to the final consummation of all things; and he alone, of all the prophets, foretold the exact time when the Messiah should appear and finish the great work of human redemption. At the same time his prophecies are so minute and circumstantial, especially concerning the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria, from the death of Alexander to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, that, as Bp. Newton remarks, there is not so complete and regular a series of their kings, there is not so concise and comprehensive an account of their affairs, to be found in any author of those times. The prophecy is really more perfect than any history. No one historian hath related so many circumstances and in such exact order
* Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Ezekiel.