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prehensive view of the system of redemption and salvation, and be able adequately to defend it against all assailants, whether of Jewish etymologists, who are more solicitous to search out the meaning of words than they are to identify the person of their promised Messiah with one who has already come, who had “done among them those things which none other man ever did," and thus bearing all the characteristics of Him so often foretold by their own prophets, or of the sophistical orators of the Greeks and Romans, who prided themselves on their philosophical attainments, and counted the “preaching of the cross foolishness.” This constant study, and this constant exercise of the intellectual faculties, the apostle deemed essential to the increase of his strength: for however holy he might be, and however much his heart might be fed with the grace of God in Christ Jesus, without this constant application of his mental powers, his understanding would become enfeebled, and he would soon exhibit the imbecility of premature old age.
Two things are essential to a useful and vigorous exercise of the intellectual faculties. The first is a good conscience,—"a conscience void of offence toward God and man." This can be obtained and kept only by an unreserved surrender of the whole man to God, and so living by faith in the Son of God as to derive daily foodspiritual food—to the soul. This is the first, the most important, prerequisite for a minister of the Lord Jesus, as without it the soul will soon languish and die; that is, become spiritually separated from communion with God, and of course can put forth no energetic action in the cause of evangelical truth. The second is a continual application of the mind to some useful subject. We say to some useful subject. By this we mean a subject suited to the soul's immortal powers. A man may accustom himself to dwell on trivial subjects, until he loses all relish for weighty and sober truths, and his mind will gradually lose its elasticity, and will refuse, from mere incapacity, to follow any course of consecutive reasoning, until, at last, it dwindles into second childhood. The truth of this remark has been verified by many an eminent name. It is said that after M’Knight had finished his great work on the apostolical epistles, his friends urged him to proceed in a similar way with the Acts of the Apostles. This he declined, and gave up all study; and the consequence was, that he gradually sunk away into childhood, and finally lost his intellectual powers. The mind, like the body, needs constant exercise, in order to preserve its mental vigour. A suitable application of the intellectual faculties must be kept up, even in old age,—and that too upon those subjects which are best adapted to its condition.
On the other hand, it is wise to avoid over-taxing the mind. As the body will sink under too much physical labour, so the soul will fail under too much mental exercise, especially if it be long continued. Melancholy instances of this might be mentioned. Among others, in modern times, we may notice Walter Scott and Robert Southey, both of whom no doubt over-taxed themselves on the downhill side of life. To escape the like disasters we must avoid both of these extremes, namely,-a total cessation of mental labour on the one hand, and an over-exertion on the other.
Every man, and especially every minster of the Lord Jesus Christ, if he will duly economize his time-rightly divide it for bodily exercise and mental application—may discharge all his duties as a preacher and pastor, and yet have time enough to study all he ought, whether it be in reading or writing; but he must not devote any part of his time to idleness, to frivolous conversation, nor to the study of those books which do not minister to the knowledge and love of God. That he may do this and preserve his health, whenever, in either reading or writing, he begins to feel a weariness of spirit or lassitude of mind come over him, let him instantly lay down his book or pen, and commence to walk,—and walk, too, in the open air, whether it be hot or cold,- and walk till he perspires freely, if possible; and in his walks let him call on the members of his flock—especially the sick and poor, and the delinquents in dutyspeak a word of comfort, pray with them, and then take his departure; and walk thus from house to house until he begins to feel weary: then he will return to his studies with renewed zest; he will feel all his mental energies quickened into new life.
In this way we may suppose the apostle Paul intended that Timothy should employ his time, when he commanded him to study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed.
Ashamed! What a shame for a minister of the sanctuary to be ignorant of any prominent fact in history, whether civil or ecclesiastical; of any important personage who has been conspicuous in the world—whether in the civil, military, or religious world; of any point in chronology which marks an important epoch in the world's history; of any truth in theology which may serve to illustrate the facts and doctrines of the Bible; of any eminent writer on theological subjects who has shed light upon divine revelation, and more especially upon those truths which relate to experimental and practical religion! Other branches of knowledge he may pursue, as time and inclination may serve, such as philosophy-natural, moral, and mental; geography—so far at least as to have the outlines of the
world's map engraven upon his memory; astronomy, if he have a capacity to understand it; and as much of language, or as many languages, as he can acquire. All these things are comprehended in the works and ways of God; and therefore the more we know of them, the more perfectly shall we be able to illustrate the attributes of the Deity, and to demonstrate his superintending care over the work of his hands.
Near the conclusion of this admirable letter, the author, with great solemnity, adverts to the approach of his expected martyrdom. In chap. iv, 6, he says: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” It is hardly possible for a person writing under such circumstances in the near prospect of death, with the cross on which he is to be crucified immediately before his eye, the Judge before whom he is so soon to appear standing, as it were, before him—to be otherwise than serious. These words, therefore, uttered under such circumstances, must have made a solemn and lasting impression upon the mind and heart of Timothy. And lest he should mourn over the remains of his spiritual father after his departure, the apostle reminds him that he had already fought the good fight, that he had finished his course; and so far from looking into the "gaping tomb” with gloomy apprehensions of the future, he comforts himself with the bright prospect of receiving the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give him in that day;" and, as if anticipating the unspeakable pleasure of participating with Timothy and all others who loved or shall love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, he adds, “and not to me only, but to all those who love his appearing."
With these words it seems fitting that we should close our remarks upon this highly interesting epistle.
Art. IV.-DAVIDSON'S BIBLICAL CRITICISM.
A Treatise on Biblical Criticism, exhibiting a Systematic View of that Science.
By SAMUEL Davidson, D. D., of the University of Halle, and LL. D. 2 vols., 8vo. Vol. I, the Old Testament; Vol. II, the New Testament. London: 1853.
The name BIBLICAL CRITICISM, as usually understood, embraces the investigation and discussion of whatever relates to the form in which the sacred records have come down to us—including their language, history, style, authenticity, and purity. In popular phraseology, much that belongs to the meaning of the Bible has often been classed under the same name, instead of under that of sacred Interpretation. Each of the above subjects, however, properly forms a distinct branch of literature, under the special titles of sacred Philology, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, et cetera, leaving Biblical Criticism proper to occupy itself solely with the state of the text of Scripture, or what is frequently termed the “lower criticism," as lying at the foundation of all the other departments. It is with this that the volumes before us have exclusively to do, and to this we shall therefore confine ourselves in the present article. The object of the science is to ascertain, as nearly as possible, what words the inspired authors wrote when they penned the original autographs.
If this, the true design of sacred criticism, had always been steadily and sincerely kept in view, both by the friends and foes of revelation, neither party would ever have entertained such absurd prejudices as have often been expressed against the science by both. The honest Christian, at least, could certainly never have objected to the exercise of any amount of learned labour necessary to arrive at the genuine language of the inspired records, had he properly understood the fact that such studies and examinations constitute the very basis on which the whole truth of his religion rests. Let it once be a matter of uncertainty whether the book which goes by the name of the Bible contains the genuine statements of the Jewish seers and Christian apostles, and that moment our faith falls to the ground. It is painful, therefore, to the liberal and candid mind, to revert to the prejudices and opposition which such inquiries have met with in former times, within the bosom of the Church itself; and it is mortifying to catch now and then from modern Christians an echo of the same narrow sentiments. Even ministers, authors, and editors are occasionally found who openly decry or privately discourage such pursuits, from the mistaken notion that they weaken the popular reverence for the Word of God.* Revelation needs no such
"A striking instance of this illiberal spirit, although not in all respects a parallel case, occurred at the publication of the Latin Vulgate, in the fourth century, which we will give in our author's words. Any one who should under take a similar revision of the Bible in our own day would meet with even fiercer denunciation :
Notwithstanding the timid and cautious procedure of Jerome, the work ex. cited the opposition of many. An excessive and superstitious veneration for the Septuagint, and the vetus made from it, prevailed at that time, so that any one who departed from them could not hope to escape animadversion. Calumnies were freely uttered agninst the laborious translator. He was pronounced a heretic. Detraction and opposition befell him. Even Augustine joined partially
defenders; it seeks no lurking-place; it fears no investigation. Error alone can suffer by an examination of evidence. It is the height of fanatical folly to cling to any system of belief which we are not willing to submit to the most searching test of facts. If the Bible will not bear the closest scrutiny that a fair criticism can apply, then are we free to confess it unworthy of our confidence. On the contrary, it has always triumphed after such an ordeal; and it is these very labours of Biblical critics that have established the substantial and wonderful accuracy of the text of Scripture on a basis of certainty which the cavils of infidels can never hereafter shake.
The materials for such an investigation, so far as the Old Testament is concerned, the first volume of the work before us sums up in the following terms—having prefaced their discussion by several preliminary chapters, not particularly inappropriate, treating somewhat minutely of the nature of the Hebrew language, its characters and vowels, followed by a valuable and extended account of the history of the text from the earliest times down to the present. We have, then, in order, as the means for restoring the text :-I. Ancient Versions-II. Parallels, or repeated passages—III. QuotationsIV. Hebrew MSS.-V. Critical conjecture.
Of all the ancient versions of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, or old Greek, holds by far the most conspicuous place. Indeed, it has often been exalted to an authority equal or even superior to that of the Hebrew itself. Dr. Davidson enters somewhat minutely into the question of its origin, and arrives at the conclusion, drawn from an ingenious, but we think not unwarrantable, comparison of circumstances, that it was made by different persons, at different times; the Pentateuch only having been translated at first for the use of
with his accusers, not daring to go against the stream of popular opinion, though he at first hailed the work with joy. He advised Jerome not to proceed with it, telling him of a late occurrence in Africa as a warning to desist. A bishop there had introduced the new version into his Church ; but when the people heard another name given to the gourd of Jonah, they were excited, and refused obedience till the old Bible was restored. The new translation was said to be a falsification of the word of God. Its departures from the current Greek version, and from the old Latin version, taken from the Greek, were seized as proofs of the danger accruing from the new work. Accordingly it was reserved for the more correct judgment of posterity to appreciate the merits of Jerome as a translator. His contemporaries condemned, when they ought to have approved and applauded. The numerous passages in which he alludes to the unjust treatment he met with have been collected by Van Ess, and form a melancholy exhibition of the unreasonable, injurious prejudices to which good men are exposed in an evil world.”—Vol. i, p. 267.