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uniformity of discipline, all the difficulties which are apparent will for the most part disappear. As long as it is left to the desultory efforts of individual presbyters, of course the difficulty is much enhanced. But temper, firmness, and consistency will have their weight, however adverse the circumstances may be.
CHANGING THE LESSONS.
Dear Sir,-In your “ Notices to Correspondents” last month, I find a question pertinently put to one whose communication (it is to be inferred) must have been in favour of “free trade” in the above particular:-“Does the Country Curate' not think that a wilful and regular departure from such authority, to suit an individual minister's sermons, deserves to be brought to the notice of those who are authorized to rebuke it?” Should your correspondent, or any of your readers, feel inclined to be offended by a seeming levity in my illustrative phrase of “free trade," I beg respectfully to assure them that I mean nothing careless or irreverent, but have employed the expression simply as conveying an admonitory hint upon a very solemn subject, at once most graphically and comprehensively. I envy those their innocent simplicity (if any there be) who can believe that feelings and practices of trade have not insinuated themselves into the department of religion among us.
Now, Sir, I most especially hate all manner of altercation, and have perhaps some odd notions upon the kindred subjects of “ controversy” and “elicitation of truth." I do not myself believe that the latter desirable result is generally best obtained by direct discussion (according to the popular notion), or that the former is apt to be most profitably managed by retorts and rejoinders outright. If all men were honest enough to confess when they are fairly beaten, it might be so; but one often sees, in matters of direct controversy, that a champion even fights most stoutly after he is dead. I will not therefore provoke reply from the Country Curate," but try the course of submitting to his fair consideration, not authorities (real or supposed) for meddling with the appointed lessons in church, but reasons sound and good (as they appear to me) for not being "given to change" in that particular. Indulgence must be requested for a certain unwilling air of egotism in what is about to follow.
Will the “ Country Curate” be disposed to agree with me thus far as a foundation,-namely, that, speaking generally, it is of much higher importance to adapt our discourses from the pulpit to Scripture, than to accommodate Scripture to our discourses ? And again, that incidental demonstrations of the wonderful and living power of the Divine word, of its uniform consistency and fitness as a practical guide, may offer more convincing evidences of the force of truth even than the most complete premeditated exhibitions of those qualities ?
I will not ask more questions to a like effect, but at this point refer your correspondent to a former letter which you did me the favour to insert in the “ British Magazine" for October, 1834, where it happens to stand first among the “ Correspondence” of that month. He there may find another strong consideration which I would submit to him, but which it would be a vain repetition to express at large here, in the short paragraph towards the bottom of p. 300. No such objection lies, however, against the statement of a fresh case, of late actual occurrence, calculated to stir reflection on the subject,—of possible advantage to be gained by making the most careful and best use of the routine lessons as they are. If, as I conclude, the “ Country Curate" be a younger brother in the ministry, I would intreat him to consider first, and try what may be often done with existing means, before giving too ready countenance to innovation.
It will be recollected that among the chapters falling incidentally on the new-year's Sunday of this year, was Romans ii. Perhaps no choice could have suggested one more appropriate to such a season; but that is not the special point in question. Undoubtedly the fourth verse of that chapter will be allowed to have supplied a fitting newyear's text :-“Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God calleth thee to repentance ?” What, then, had been heard in unison with this, by Sunday accident, only a fortnight before ? It had been read in the ears of the people," from 2 Pet. iii. 9, that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness ; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The promise here is of Christ's second coming; and, incidentally, it had been heard between these two foregoing admonitions, upon the festival of St. John the Evangelist,"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be." (Rev. xxii. 12.) And should there have been anywhere a doubter, or a scoffer, disposed to ask —“Where is this promise, after all; and can the Lord be rightly said to come quickly?"—that also had been well explained beforehand in the assurance, which must carry with it conviction to every reflecting mind, that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” So that, in these three incidental chapters, compared together, there was to be perceived & rich coherent store of Christian doctrine, peculiarly applicable “unto edifying" at the time of their occurrence.
Will, then, the “ Country Curate” grant, that such a store, well handled, might have supplied a theme more powerful and every way better than any ordinary new-year's discourse, proceeding at once from the mere arbitrary choice of the preacher? But though he should allow this, he still perhaps might argue, “ that these are chapters only of the New Testament." Yet, had a wider range of still connected doctine been either manageable or desirable, were there no tributary rills to be derived from any concurrent chapters of the Old ? Let Isaiah xli. and xliii. be properly compared, in some of their expressions, with Revelation xxii.; fas e. g. “I the Lord, the first and with the last;" or, “ before the day was, I am HE;" not tediously to introduce other verses ;) and with a general drift conspicuously fitted to confirm the awful promise yet in store. My own belief is that we could not easily direct our own free thoughts so advantageously for spiritual improvement as they may here be found directed for us. But let each reader ponder, and then judge.
If he shall so arrive at a conclusion favourable to my theory, then I take leave to press the argument, that any common benefit of thus digesting and comparing Scripture conveniently for any given season springs from, and is essentially dependent upon, a dutiful acceptance of lessons set out for the church's use; and with a wilful change of those it is foregone, and very wrongly taken from his flock, by any individual clergyman's caprice.
It may, however, still be urged, that “none of these are of the kind of chapters in which any clergyman would wish for alteration, but he would only seek to change certain earlier chapters of the Old Testament.” In that case I would earnestly refer the seekers for amend. ment to a most interesting number (No. 13) of “ Tracts for the Times,” by members of the university of Oxford, bearing the title of « Sunday Lessons ; – The Principle of Selection.” It may not carry absolute conviction in every particular, but if it be not felt to shew sufficient reasons against needless thirst for alteration, it must address itself methinks to very predetermined tastes and opinions. I cannot end this letter so forcibly or well as in the two last paragraphs of that very admirable composition. Wise words they are to such as will receive them :
“ These reasons are respectfully addressed to those who, in their anxiety for immediate visible edification, appear somehow to overlook the fact that the church lessons are a series, arranged according to certain general principles. Scruples, and feelings of different kinds occurring to this or that person as to the use of particular passages, must be met of course on their own grounds, except so far as they ought to be silenced by the overpowering advantage which may appear to arise by adhering to the general principle of selection.
" At any rate, it is much to be wished that very free talking and very free publish. ing in behalf of such changes were carefully avoided. Is there not something even cruel in raising scruples, and niceties, and unpleasant associations of various kinds, among those who as yet happily have never dreamed of criticising the Bible? If change is wanted, let proper reasons be quietly submitted to competent authorities. But let us not appeal lightly, and at random, to the sense of an irreverent, presumptuous age, on one of the most sacred of all subjects."
I am, dear Sir, yours truly, January 6, 1836.
BISHOP MIDDLETON, ON THE GREEK ARTICLE.
MR. SHARPE'S RULE. SIR-I was lately led, on remarking the expression my kAñowy kad Éxloyhu, 2 Pet. i. 10, to recur to what Bishop Middleton has said on the case of several words, joined by conjunctions, being included under one article (Greek Art., pp. 76–89. Scholefield's ed.); and a careful consideration of the examples there adduced has given rise to the following observations, which I venture to offer to your notice, with a view to apply the result to the above expression, and others of the same form in the New Testament, which may render them not altogether unsuited to the plan of the “ British Magazine.” The following are the Bishop's canons :
1. “ When two or more attributives, joined by a copulative or copulatives, are assumed of the same person or thing, before the first attributive the article is inserted, before the remaining ones omitted.”
Of the truth of this rule there can be no reasonable doubt.
2. “In many instances, where attributives are in their nature absolutely incompatible, the first attributive only has the article, the perspicuity of the passage not requiring the rule to be accurately observed ;” in other words, in such cases the Greek writers felt themselves at liberty to omit the articles after the first.
Now, a permissive canon of this kind ought to appear a priori suspicious, if we are alive to that delicate accuracy of expression which is the most extraordinary characteristic of the Greek language ; and I think that it may be shewn that the omission is always designed. I would propose the following rule :
Of two or more attributives, joined by a copulative or copulatives, which are either absolutely incompatible, or at least so in the actual case of the writer, the first only has the article, when they are either expressive of joint agents, or of objects of a single action or series of actions, or are subject to some peculiar connexion.*
Before I consider some of the passages adduced by Bishop Middleton, I will endeavour to illustrate the rule by the following examples, occurring in the case of generals invested with a joint command, and taken from the Seventh Book of Thucydides (ed. Bekker.) Sect. 75 and 80. έδόκει τώ Νικία και Δημοσθένει.
69. ο δε Δημοσθένης και Μένανδρος και Ευθύδημος .. έπλεον . 33. ο δε Δημοσθένης και Ευρυμέδων ... επεραιώθησαν.
35. ο δε Δ. και Ε. .. τάς μεν ναύς παραπλείν εκέλευον. But before Demosthenes and Eurymedon had actually entered on their joint command, the latter, returning from his mission to Sicily, falls in with Demosthenes, and they each detach ships, from their separate, and at that time independent squadrons, to reinforce Conon; in this case we have (31) δέκα ναύς ο Δ. και ο Ε. .... αφ' ών αυτοί είχον ξυμπέμπουσι. . Again, Gylippus and Sicanus (50) return to Syracuse from different missions, and accordingly the article is twice inserted. ο δε Γ. και ο Σ. εν τούτω παρήσαν ες Συρακούσας
1. τον Αλέξανδρον και Φίλιππον. ΑΕsch. c. Ctes. 81. The passage itself stands thus :-ο πολύν μεν τον Α. και Φ. εν ταις διαβολαίς φέρων. Here còv A. kaì o. is “ the subject of A. and P.;" and the connexion which requires the single article is clearly simplified by the single epithet rolüv, forming a collective predicate to A. and 0. Place in contrast with this the words which the orator has shortly before employed ; πυνθάνομαι ... Δημοσθένην ... τον Φ. και τον Α., και τας από τούτων αιτίας ανοίσειν επ' εμέ. There is no adjunct forming a collective predicate to $. and A.
This is, in fact, Krüger's rule, given in his note on Xen. An. vii. s. 16, and mentioned in the preliminary observations to the last edition of Bishop Middleton, p. xxix., as deserving of consideration.-Ed.
2. Τhucyd. Β. 1. in init. τον πόλεμον των Πελοποννησίων και Αθηναίων. “ The war in which the Peloponnesians and the Athenians were the contending parties”-i. e. the joint agents.
3. Ιd. 10. τας μεγίστας και ελαχίστας. The historian says that Homer has mentioned the complements of the Bæotian ships, and of those of Philoctetes, the greatest and the least in the fleet, be supposes-i. e., as jointly affording a ground for estimating the average number of men to a ship.
4. Demosth. c. Lept. (?) τα ψηφίσματα, α τοις θασίοις και Βυζαντίοις éypáøn. The occasions of these decrees were similar, and their pur, port the same, (namely, conferring certain customary rewards on foreign benefactors of the state), and they are therefore brought forward by Demosthenes as the joint and coincident evidence of one point of his speech.
5. Χen. Econ. θεά γάρ αυτους ώσπερ τους τραγωδούς τε και κωμωδούς. Here Tous T. Kai k. is a stage-performances ;" of which tragedy and comedy are the constituent parts.
6. T'he view here taken of the subject at once removes all difficulty with respect to the passage των παλλακέων κ. τ. λ., with regard to which the Bishop appears not altogether satisfied, and is not materially assisted by Scholefield. The oivoxóos, the uáyɛuos, &c., were all involved in the same treatment, in order to the due performance of the rite. So far from supposing Sen. to write negligently, I would maintain that còv ó. kaì tòv u. would, in this case, have been a solecism.
7. Arist. Eth. 1. 8. εν όσοις υπάρχει το πρότερον και ύστερον. το πρ. każ. to implies, that ap. and io. are both involved in each case. The meaning of the form appears to be similar to this in the other extracts from Arist. and Plato, and might be shewn more fully by giving the passages at length.
The Bishop's first rule, and that here proposed, may together be reduced to the following conclusion :—That when the article is prefixed only to the first of two or more nouns, &c., joined by a copulative or copulatives, they are, if compatible, attributives assumed of the same thing; and if incompatible, joint agents, or objects of a single action, or subject to some peculiar connexion.
I can only add, that I cannot recollect any untractable example, though I could at once adduce many to illustrate and confirm the proposed rule ; and the obvious identity of its principle with that of the Bishop's first is an additional evidence. * Similar in form to 2 Pet. i. 10, is tās pedogopíaç kai kevñs drárns, (Col. ii. 8,) but the former passage involves terms of more importance.
I have been induced to transmit to you these observations, as bearing upon a work of established reputation, and no inconsiderable value in sacred criticism.
X. P.S. I add a few selected passages, by way of supplement, which
The examples given under Bishop Middleton's second rule are, to say the least, exceptions to his theory of the article, supposing the second rule correct; in the view here taken of them they are perfectly consistent with it.