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Idei Tov lavatov, to see death, which is a Hebraism for to die, exactly corresponding to , Ps. lxxxix. 49.*
Idwv dov, literally, 'Seeing I have seen;' a Hebraism for 'I have surely seen.'+
Appaßwv, Heb. nay, árabon, from av, árav, to be surety, a pledge, or earnest, of something promised. ‡
EVIDENCE OF THE ENTIRE AND UNCORRUPTED
Notwithstanding a few changes in letters, words, or syllables; such as when we read in 2 Sam. xv. 7, " And it came to pass after FORTY YEARS that Absalom said unto the King," &c. Now as David reigned in the whole only forty years, this reading is evidently corrupt, though supported by the commonly printed Vulgate, LXX. and Chaldee. But the Syriac, Arabic, Josephus, Theodoret, the Sixtine edition of the Vulgate, and several MSS. of the same version, read FOUR years; and it is highly probable that oy, arbaîm, FORTY, is an error for ya, arbá, FOUR, though not supported by any Hebrew MS. yet discovered. Two of those collated by Dr. Kennicott, however, have, yom, ' day,' instead of me, shanah, 'year,' i. e. forty DAYS, instead of forty YEARS; but this is not sufficient to outweigh the other authorities. §
Again, it is stated in 1 Chron. xix. 18, that " David slew of the Syrians seven THOUSAND men which fought in chariots;" while it is stated in the parallel passage, the men of seven hundred chariots;' which difference probably arose from mistaking 1, noon final, which stands for 700, for i, zayin, with a dot above, which denotes 7000, or vice versa: the great similarity of these letters might easily cause the one to be mistaken for the other.||
Notwithstanding these and other instances, the uncorrupted preservation of the Sacred Writings is proved by the following facts :
1. Relative to the Old Testament:
By the long preservation of the originals, the multiplication of copies, and the extraordinary care taken by the Jews.-It appears from sufficient evidence, that copies of the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament were multiplied in abundance from the time of Ezra to the advent of our Saviour. When the Jewish church was established after the captivity, a
• Comprehensive Bible, note on Luke 2. 26.
+ Idem, on Acts 7. 34.
Idem, on 2 Sam. 15. 7.
rule was made to erect a synagogue in every place where there were ten persons of full age and free condition to attend its service; and when we consider that the Jews were dispersed in colonies at an early period not only in the East, but in Egypt, and in the numerous cities of Asia Minor, in each of which they had at least one synagogue, if not more, there must have been numberless Hebrew copies, long before the Greek version of the Septuagint was made. These were corrected by the standard copy which was carefully kept at Jerusalem, till that city was taken by Titus ; when it was carried in triumph to Rome, and laid up within the purple veil in the royal palace of Vespasian. We may judge how generally the Sacred Volume was dispersed throughout Judea from the vain attempt made by Antiochus Epiphanes to destroy all the copies of it. After the advent of our Lord, the Christians as well as the Jews had various copies of the Hebrew Scriptures; which, as well as the subsequent universal dispersion of the Jews, became a double security for the uncorrupted preservation of a volume which they all held equally sacred. Though, after the final destruction of Jerusalem, there was no established standard of the Hebrew Scriptures, yet the various minute and apparently trifling regulations made for the guidance of transcribers, contributed in a great degree to preserve their purity. For this purpose the Masorah,, that is, tradition, was also composed, which is a collection of criticisms on the sacred text by a set of men, hence called Masorites, whose profession it was to write out copies of the Hebrew Scriptures, to criticise upon them, and to teach the true readings; and who continued from the time of Ezra and the men of the great synagogue, to that of Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali. They marked the number of the greater and smaller sections, chapters, verses, words, and letters, in each book, placing the amount at the end of each in numeral letters, or some symbolical word which comprised them; noted the verses in which something appeared to be omitted, the words which they believed to be changed, the superfluous letters, the repetitions of the same verses, the different readings of the redundant or defective words, the number of times the same word is found at the beginning, middle, and end of a verse, the different significations of the same word, the agreement or conjunction of one word with another, and what letters are pronounced, inverted, and hung perpendicularly, with the number of each; and also reckoned which is the middle letter of the Pentateuch, the middle verse of each book, and how many times each letter of the alphabet occurred in the whole Hebrew Scriptures. To some this has appeared trifling and superstitious; while others have seen it in a different point of view; and applauded that pious zeal and industry which they exerted in so many tedious and vexatious researches, in order to preserve the integrity and honour of the Word of God, by putting a stop to the licentiousness, rashness, or carelessness of transcribers and critics. Į
⚫ Josephus, De Bell. Jud. 1. vii. c. 5. Compare Ant. Jud. I. iii. c. 1, and l. v. c. 1.
Idem, Introd. p. 77.
EVIDENCE OF THE ENTIRE PRESERVATION
From the substantial agreement of all the versions and MSS.-Notwithstanding all the care which the ancient copyists could bestow, it might rationally be expected, that, without the intervention of a continual miracle, various errors must have crept into some of the numerous transcripts of the Sacred Scriptures. But the Rabbins asserted, and it was implicitly believed, that the copies of the Hebrew text were perfectly uniform and immaculate, and that in all the manuscripts of the Old Testament not a single various reading of any importance could be produced. At length, the learned Morinus Capellus ventured to call in question this notion, from the various discrepancies observed between the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint version, and the Hebrew text. The result of this was, after an interval of many years, a careful examination of different manuscripts, and the discovery of some thousand various readings. The learned and laborious Dr. Kennicott, with the assistance of Mr. Bruns, and other learned men, collated about 630 manuscripts; and since the publication of Dr. Kennicott's work, M. De Rossi of Parma has published four volumes quarto, to which a supplementary volume has since been added, of various readings collected from 479 manuscripts, besides 288 printed editions. The major part of this immense collection,' says Professor Marsh, 'consists in mere variations of orthography, in the fulness, or defectiveness, of certain words, in the addition or subtraction of a mater lectionis,— of a vau or a yod. And if we further deduct the readings which are either manifest errata, or in other respects are of no value, the important deviations will be confined within a very narrow compass.'
2. With regard to the New Testament, from the agreement of all the manuscripts examined.
There are some hundred ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament which are still extant, many of which have been examined and diligently collated by learned and laborious men. They are written either on vellum or paper, of various descriptions; and either in uncial or capital letters, or in cursive or small characters. They are of course of various ages, and of different authority. Some are mutilated and very imperfect; some have been interpolated and corrupted; others consist of only particular books: and many contain only select parts, under the denomination of Lectionaries and Evangelistaries.†
The total number of manuscripts of the New Testament which are known to have been wholly or partially collated, amounts nearly to five hundred, which forms only a small part of the manuscripts found in public and private libraries. The result of these collations has shewn, that certain manuscripts have an affinity with each other, which has been denominated familia, or family, by Bengel, recensio, or edition, by Gries
⚫ Comprehensive Bible, Introd. p. 69.-See also Remarks on Hosea, p. 39.
bach, and edition by Michaëlis. Four different systems have respectively been proposed by Griesbach and Michaëlis, by Scholz, by Matthæi, and by Mr. Nolan; into which we cannot here enter, nor is it necessary we should; and would merely observe, that the system of Mr. Nolan has our decided preference.
The various collations of manuscripts, versions, and fathers, which have been instituted, prove the inviolability of the Christian Scriptures. They all coincide in exhibiting the same Gospels, Acts, and Epistles; and they all contain the same doctrines and precepts. All the omissions of the ancient manuscripts put together, would not countenance the omission of one essential doctrine of the Gospel relative to faith or morals; and all the additions countenanced by the whole mass of manuscripts already collated, do not introduce a single essential point beyond what may be found in the most imperfect editions. 'Not frighted,' says Dr. Bentley, 'with the present 30,000 various readings, (said to be collected by Dr. Mill,) I, for my part, and as I believe many others, would not lament, if out of the old manuscripts yet untouched, 10,000 more were faithfully collected; some of which, without question, would render the text more beautiful, just, and exact, though of no consequence to the main of religion; nay, perhaps wholly synonymous in the view of common readers, and quite insensible in any modern version.' In fact, the various readings found in manuscripts should no more weaken any man's faith in the Divine Word, than the multitude of typographical errors found in some printed editions.*
EVIDENCE OF THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE SACRED
1. Because the sacred writers could not be deceived themselves, being either eye-witnesses of the facts recorded, or deriving their information from the best sources.
In order that the reader may properly appreciate this species of evidence, I subjoin the following remarks (though not confined exclusively to it) on the Acts of the Apostles, which, independently of its universal reception in the Christian church as an inspired and authentic production, bears the most satisfactory internal evidence of its authenticity and truth. It is not a made up history: the language and manner of every speaker are different; and the same speaker is different in his manner according to the audience he addresses. St. Luke's long attendance
• Comprehensive Bible, Introd. p. 71.
upon St. Paul, and his having been an eye-witness of many of the facts which he has recorded, independently of his divine inspiration, render him a most respectable and credible historian; and his medical knowledge, for he is allowed to have been a physician, enabled him both to form a proper judgment of the miraculous cures which were performed by St. Paul, and to give an authentic and circumstantial detail of them. The plainness and simplicity of the narrative are also strong circumstances in its favour. The writer evidently appears to have been very honest and impartial; and to have set down, very fairly, the objections which were made to Christianity, both by Jews and heathens, and the reflections which were cast upon it, and upon its first preachers. He has likewise, with a just and honest freedom, mentioned the weaknesses, faults and prejudices, both of the Apostles and their converts. There is also a great and remarkable harmony between the occasional hints dispersed throughout St. Paul's Epistles, and this history;* so that the Acts is the best clue to guide us in studying the Epistles of that Apostle. The other parts of the New Testament are likewise in perfect unison with this history, and tend greatly to confirm it; and the doctrines and principles are every where the same. The Gospels close with a reference to those things recorded in the Acts, particularly the promise of the Holy Spirit, which we know from this history, was poured out by Christ upon his disciples after his ascension; and the Epistles of the other Apostles, as well as those of St. Paul, plainly suppose, that these facts had actually occurred which are related in the Acts of the Apostles. So that the history of the Acts is one of the most important parts of the Sacred History; for, without it, neither the Gospels nor Epistles could have been so clearly understood; but, by the aid of it, the whole scheme of the Christian Revelation is set before us in a clear and easy view. Lastly, even the incidental circumstances mentioned by St. Luke correspond so exactly, and without any previous view of such correspondence, with the accounts of the best ancient historians, both Jews and heathens, that no person who had forged such a history in later ages, could have had the same external confirmation; but he must have betrayed himself by alluding to some customs or opinions which have since sprung up, or by misrepresenting some circumstance, or using some phrase or expression not then in use. The plea of forgery, therefore, in later ages, cannot be allowed; and, if St. Luke had published his history at so early a period, when some of the Apostles, and many other persons concerned in the transactions, were alive, and his account had not been true, he would have exposed himself to an easy confutation, and certain infamy. Since, therefore, the Acts of the Apostles are in themselves consistent and uniform; the incidental relations agreeable to the best historians that have come down to us; and the main facts, supported and confirmed by the other books of the New Testament, as well as by
• On these coincidences, see Dr. Paley's Horæ Paulina, where the subject is ably and fully