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obstacles to a rapid improvement, bear no proportion to the prospects of success, and experience shews that settlers have more to dread from indulgence than labour, in a country which yields spontaneously all that contributes to the wants and the luxuries of
By the united efforts of an increased population, however fertile, this region may be rendered a mart for the supply of other parts of the globe with corn, wines of all sorts, brandy, dried fruits, honey, gums, olives, salted beef and fish ; hides, ivory, cotton and raw silk, with many other valuable articles of commerce. This trade on the coast, will of course open new channels of traffic in the interior, and extend to an indefinite extent through Africa.
BY JAMES MONTGOMERY, ESQ.
From the · Literary Souvenir' of 1826.
Are felt, and heard, and seen;
My heart,—with sighs between;
Childhood, its smiles and tears,
Youth, with its flush of years,
Like May-flowers in the vales;
From thorns, like nightingales ;
There falls to manhood's lot
A joy which youth has not,
for the past,
Life's burthen down to cast,
Like wine well kept and long,
Heady, nor harsh, nor strong ;
INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE: -SOURCES OF INTERPRETATION—
THE LANGUAGES, TRANSLATIONS, CHRONOLOGY, GEOGRAPHY, POETRY, HISTORY, AND RELIGIOUS RITES OF SCRIPTURE—QuoTATIONS EXEMPLIFIED AND RECONCILED.
The interpretation of Sacred Scripture is the most important subject that can engage the mind of man. The Scriptures contain the words of eternal life : and if there is a subject in the whole universe that deserves our individual attention, without all doubt it is this. That the study of the Scriptures is not free from difficulties, is frankly acknowledged, but what subject, in the whole circle of human knowledge, is free from difficulties ? or what object of human desire can be attained without labour and exertion? It has long since been remarked that there is no royal road to learning. The man who wishes to acquire useful knowledge, must labour for its acquisition ; and in proportion to the value and importance of the object, should be the exertion which be employs, and the energies which he puts forth.
There is a prejudice to be encountered at the very threshold of our inquiries, which it is desirable to remove at the outset. It is supposed that the Bible is a book peculiarly difficult, and that the biblical student must proceed in a manner totally different from what would be allowable and proper in the study of any other ancient book. This prejudice is altogether unfavourable, for although it is true that the Bible is the Word of God, given by the justification of his spirit, and delivered by Him who spoke as never man spoke, it does not by any means follow that it is either obscure or unintelligible. It is also not less true that its contents are more important than those of any other communication that ever was made to the human race.
Yet it will be granted a priori that, if God intended to convey bis mind and will to mankind, it must of necessity be in a language that is intelligible to them. Were he to address us in a language that could not be learned, the inference would naturally be that he did not intend we should understand it ; that we were not bound to understand it; and consequently that the revelation was of no use, or rather that it was not a revelation at all. But the absurdity of such a supposition is evident from the whole history of revelation. Before the confusion of tongues, God made known his will in the only language then existing. Afterwards he continued to make it known in that language, which the people for whose use it was intended were acquainted with; and when that peculiar people were captives in Babylon, and had become better acquainted with the Chaldee dialect than with their own, in that new dialect a portion of divine revelation was communicated. It is worthy of remark, in further illustration of this truth, that the message which God commissions the captives to deliver to their heathen masters, is given in the Chaldee dialect, for the very purpose that it might be intelligible.—Jer. x. v. 11. But what is still a stronger proof of this intention is, that, after the Greek language came to be more generally known than any other, it was in the Greek language that the last and best revelation of the will of God was recorded.
Much has been said, and much still needs to be said, with regard to the necessity of divine teaching. But let it be remarked that this necessity does not arise from natural causes, but from the moral state of our inds. “Men love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil.' A similar cause produces similar effects with regard to every branch of study. The mathematics are peculiarly a demonstrative science; and about the conclusions of mathematics there is seldom any dispute, for this plain reason, that it is no man's interest to controvert them. Never can it be the interest of any man to maintain in theory, that the three angles of a triangle are more or less than two right angles ; or that the square of the hypothenuse of a right angled triangle is not equal to the square of the base and perpendicular. But let these indubitable and demonstrated truths be applied to the mensuration of a field, or to any other practicable purpose, where there is room for the play of human passions, and where the interests of dishonest men come to operate, and you shall find that principles universally acknowledged in theory, give rise to endless disputes in practice.
The rules of arithmetic too are abundantly plain, but their results are often disputed. Attend to the conduct of a dishonest man in settling a long account, the balance of which is against him. I shall venture to predict you will find him as difficult to be convinced of his error, as the most obstinate theological polemic that ever you encountered ; and for the very same reason because his interest, whether real or supposed, steels him against conviction. I have borrowed this illustration from Hobbes, the Atheist, which,
may remark, affords an illustration of another important truth, that even the greatest enemies of religion are sometimes compelled to make concessions in its favour.
Another obstacle to the study of the Scriptures, is an undue respect for human authority; and implicit subjection to the opinions of others. No man can be expected to recommend a study which he has neglected himself; and with which, if worth the trouble of acquiring, he ought to have been acquainted. The critical study of the Scriptures has been too long and shamefully neglected ; and therefore it is not to be wondered that deference to the dicta of others should so frequently occupy the room of enlightened convic
tion. This may be illustrated by a short anecdote. Asking once of a venerable clergyman the meaning of a text which I did not understand, and for the explanation of which I had consulted every book, from which I had hoped to derive information ; be replied by in'quiring what I thought myself, and what books I had read on the subject, all which I candidly stated, and still professed that I had not been satisfied. All the information I obtained from him was in the following laconic answer, ‘Consult Dr. Guise ; it is probable he is of my opinion.'
From that moment I determined to study the Scriptures with more attention than ever I had formerly done, to trust less to the anthority of great names, and to yield assent to the opinions of great men, only when convinced by their arguments. I should ever regret if any thing I now advance should encourage in any one who does me the honour to attend these lectures, that pride of understanding which despises assistance. But I must not withhold my. conviction, that indolence in the neglect of the means, ignorance of the means themselves, and that culpable timidity which makes a man afraid to embrace the truth wherever he finds it, are the greatest obstacles to progress in knowledge generally and in the knowledge of religion in particular, as much as in that of any other subject.
I require only these two essential requisites in the study of the Scriptures; in the first place, that you bring to it a candid and teachable disposition, what our great Master calls 'an honest heart;' and secondly, that you study to know' the will of God in order that you may
do it.' And bringing with you these essen-, tial pre-requisites, and looking up to God for the teaching of his spirit, I exhort you to study the Bible as you would study any other ancient book to which your attention may be directed.
Suppose, for example, that some ancient classic, of which you had never before heard, were newly discovered ; 'and that you had sufficient inducements, to inspire you with the desire to understand its meaning ; what course, I ask, would you pursue, in order to become acquainted with its contents ? Would you not, in the first place, endeavour to acquire a knowledge of the language, in which it is written ? Next, would you not compare together all the copies of the classic you could collect, in order to obtain one as, perfect and correct as possible? If there were translations into languages with which you were better acquainted, you would think it im-, portant to procure them. If there were difficulties which could not be removed by these means, you would naturally direct your attention to other collateral sources of illustration; the geography, and history of the country in which the author lived, or which he, described ; the laws, manners, customs, &c., of the people, for whose use the work was written. If difficulties still remained, you would proceed to a more close examination, and critical analysis of the classic composition itself; comparing one part with another, and, beginning with what was more plain, you would endeavour gradually to arrive at satisfactory results, respecting those passages which were more abstruse. And if after all your painful investigation, you still felt apprehensive of the danger of mistake, you would naturally look up to the Father of lights, to bless your endeavours for the discovery of truth.
Now this is the very course I should recommend to you in the study of the Holy Scriprures. First, it must be evident that an accurate knowledge of the original languages of the Holy Scriptures, is of primary importance ; especially the knowledge of the Hebrew, in which greater part of the Old Testament was originally written, and which gives a tincture and colouring to the language of the New Testament Scriptures. Besides, a variety of words, such as Raca, Corban, Golgotha, Abbaddon, and a number of others, which frequently occur in the writings of the Apostles and Evangelists, are of Hebrew origin. The idiom and structure of the language of the New Testament writers may in many cases be best explained, by a reference to this source. Blackwall and others, have endeavoured to prove, that the language of the New Testament is classical Greek, by producing expressions from the early writers in that language, similar to the peculiarities which occur in the Gospels and Epistles. In laying down these premises, the advocates of this hypothesis do not seem to consider that, in place of adding to the probability of their theory, they are rather affording a decisive proof, that the Hebrew is the most ancient of all languages, seeing that it early gave a tincture to all other languages, and that it is the primitive simplicity of the Hebrew which diffuses that inimitable charm throughout the language of the ancient writers, which constitutes at once their chief excellence and the most infallible criterion for detecting forgeries.
The primitive simplicity of the Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament Scriptures, is also a circumstance which facilitates the translation of them into other languages, and renders them better adapted than any other style of composition, to the instruction of the poor, to whoin the gospel is preached.' The existence of a Greek translation of the Old Testament, for several centuries prior to the dispersion of the Jewish nation, produced what has been called, the Hellenistic dialect, that is, the Greek which was spoken by native Hebrews-baving a strong tincture of their native tongue.
The attempt to explain the Scriptures critically, without the knowledge of the original languages, is an anomaly in science ; and it is only the frequency of it that prevents it from being obviously observed. Allowing that the Scriptures are well translated, (and the excellence of our established version is generally submitted) yet as the words and phrases of different languages do not and cannot exactly correspond with each other, some degree of obscu