« FöregåendeFortsätt »
of religion, if it were allowable, as is the practice of several Socinians, to apply critical conjecture, in order to establish the tenets of our own party. For instance: if, in order to force ourselves from a superstitious doctrine, on the supposition that the Divinity of Christ is ungrounded, we were at liberty to change, without any authority, Ocòs ἦν ὁ λόγος (John i. 1,) into Θεοῦ ἦν ὁ λόγος—and ὁ ὢν επὶ πάντων Θεὸς into ὧν ὁ επὶ πάντων Θεός, the Bible would become so very uncertain, that every man might believe or disbelieve, as best suited his own principles."*
Several Socinians have applied theological conjecture to passages, which clearly prove the Divinity of Christ; of which I have given two instances: the one relates to John i. 1, and was made by Crell-the other to Rom. ix. 5, and was made by Schlichting and Crell. But Wetstein, though no friend to the doctrine of our church, in regard to the Divinity of Christ, was too good a critic to admit either of these conjectures." +
It may be said that the Unitarian Editors have not inserted the conjectures under consideration into the text. True; but they have lent them all the weight of their recommendation, as proceeding from "men of great learning and sagacity, and as meriting, to say the least, very attentive consideration."
Let us give that in Romans a little attentive consideration. And, in the first place, we observe, that it contradicts a proposition which the Apostle had made in the preceding part of the Epistle, and which he had laid down as a principal foundation of his argument. He had stated that "God was the God of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews," but the conjecture of these men of great learning and sagacity appropriates the Divine Being exclusively to
* Marsh's Michalis, vol. ii. p. 387.
+ Ibid, p. 418.
the Jews. It does this as far as it conveys the meaning which it is to be supposed its original patrons had put upon it. But as the improvers translate the passage, it is not easy to know what is intended "of whom was God who is over all."
Secondly, the learning and sagacity of these great men did not preserve them from a gross solecism. The structure of the emendation we confidently assert is not Greek. It ought to have been ὧν ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων Θεὸς ὁ εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.
The conjunction xal in the preceding part of the verse also must have been removed, and placed before ův ó éπì, K.T.λ.
"But who does not perceive," I use the language of the Eclectic Review at the time of the appearance of the Improved Version, "that the conjectural criticism of an interested party, in his own cause, and in defiance of positive evidence is little better than subornation of testimony in a court of law?"
With regard to the other conjecture upon John, it is to be observed that Crellius, who was its author, admits, that the received text cannot stand without leaving the impression on the reader's mind that Christ was the supreme God. These are his words. "If Christ had been expressly called God by the sacred writers, and had not always been distinguished from God, they have given an occasion to unskilful men to regard him as the supreme God."
It is, however, strange that the persons who approve of this conjecture, should not see how it militates against themselves. It was invented, in order to escape the difficulty in the verse of which they seem to be insensible. And upon their own principles of translation, if it were adopted, a new difficulty might occur, for what would there be to prevent our translating the new text, "he was a
God's." They have thus translated the centurion's exclamation, at the miraculous accompaniments of the crucifixion-"Truly, this was a Son of a God!"*
Crellius was too good a scholar to have put up with the translation of the Unitarian Version. He knew that the Greek words could not signify he was a God; and he was too honest a critic to remain satisfied with his own rash conjecture. He renounced it ultimately, together with the system which it was invented to support, and died a believer in the supreme Divinity of Christ, and the efficacy of his atoning sacrifice.
Under this head, should be classed, what, in my judgment, is the most wonderful instance of daring corruption of the sacred text; and the most demonstrative illustration, of the pre-determination to make it speak the language of a party, to be found in the whole book.
The criticism by which the reckless alteration is defended, will come under consideration, in the sequel of this discourse. I shall, therefore, now do little more than barely point out the passage." He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." The difficulty to reconcile this text to the Unitarian Hypothesis did not consist in the word "made." That word might have been struck out, and, scholars would not have reclaimed, as far as this text is, by itself, concerned. "The world was by him," would have conveyed the same meaning. The Editors were sufficiently aware of this; and, therefore, "in the present version πεφωτίσμενος,† enlightened, is understood after ἐγένετο, as best connecting with the preceding verse."
* Matt. xxvii. 54.
By the way, who superintends the "UNITARIAN PRESS?" In the first edition, 1808, this word is misprinted TEOWTOμévol. In the fifth edition, 1819, the last I have seen, the mistake is faithfully retained.
Thanks be to the Divine Author of the Record of Christianity, it is not the exclusive property of critics and scholars. No knowledge of Greek is required to detect the gross outrage here committed on the Sacred Text. Any man of plain unbiassed understanding, and for such, principally, this discourse is intended, however illiterate, can confute the sophism. He was IN THE WORLD, ENLIGHTENING the world, and YET the world KNEW HIM NOT! What kind of light is that which blinds the eyes which it was intended to illuminate?
A writer, who will not be suspected of extravagant and unmeasured language, the deeply learned Joseph John Gurney, thus justly characterizes this instance of "uncandid and dishonest criticism." "It may be questioned whether a more palpable dereliction of the fair interpretation of Scripture was ever attempted than by the Editors on this occasion.-We might, in such a case, UNDERSTAND the participle burnt,' or 'destroyed,' with nearly as much critical propriety, as the participle 'enlightened.'
I here close this portion of my discourse.
What I have now advanced is but an inconsiderable portion of the proofs, which I shall bring forward of the defective and uncandid character of the Unitarian Interpretation. In the opinion of those, who estimate arguments, not by their number, but by their weight, even these will have been amply sufficient.
I cannot, however, quit this place without addressing a few words of respectful and affectionate expostulation to my Unitarian friends. If, in the delivery of this discourse, there has been one word, or even a tone, or a look, calculated to give them unnecessary pain, I do as sincerely
* Gurney's Biblical Notes, Second Edition, p. 158.
ask them to pardon me, as I humbly crave forgiveness from God. No hostility to them personally, has induced me to enter upon this controversy. I have, indeed, for personal reasons, most unwillingly been brought into this painful strife. In their body, I number many of the friends of my early days; and the recollection of the intercourse of the past is even now delightful:-Men who dignify and adorn the stations which they occupy in society; some of whom will leave their names to posterity, identified with the improvements of science; the cultivation of the arts which embellish human life; and the grand schemes of philanthropy by which the present condition of man is elevated and purified, have I had the honour of numbering among my friends.
How truly delightful would the recollection of the past be, if the future, as I look onward, were equally bright. But, alas! it would be to deceive myself so to think; and, at the same time, to shrink from the discharge of an imperative, however painful, duty, if I declined, on a fitting occasion, to warn my Unitarian friends, that Unitarianism -let them remember I am speaking of the system-deprives Christianity of all its blessings, while it leaves human nature undefended, and exposed to all the wretchedness implied in the terms, the wrath of a Holy God.
My expostulation is this :-You complain of our want of charity, when we say you are not Christians. He who searcheth the hearts of all men, alone can tell whether that chiefest of the Christian graces, the bond of all perfectness, reign within ours. For myself, and I think I can speak likewise on behalf of my honoured colleagues, I will say, that, if an effort to do good, at the expense of severe self-denial, be a proof of charity, I never performed a more charitable act than that in which I am now engaged.