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person more competent to the task to undertake it.
Although the valuable little work of Hopton Haynes, with the more recent and truly excellent works of Mr. Lindsey, Dr. Carpenter and others, may enable persons, ignorant of the Greek language, to form tolerably correct opinions concerning texts of Scripture which admit of different translations, yet, in a study of so much importance as that of the Bible, it seemed to me highly proper that we should depend as little as possible upon the knowledge or prejudices of others. One great motive with me for entering upon the study of the Greek language, was to qualify myself to examine and compare one part of the sacred volume with another. This, I think, cannot be satisfactorily done by the merely English reader, as the same Greek words or phrases are differently translated in different parts of the New Testament.
The reading a translation has been, not unaptly, compared to seeing the wrong side of the Arras; and it has even been said that the being able to read the admirable works of Cervantes in Spanish, is a sufficient recompence for the labour of learning that language. If there be any justice in these remarks, what pleasure may not the student look for, whose aim is to read the sacred records in their original language! This acquisition appeared to me in so alluring and fascinating a point of view, that, in my sixtieth year, I entered upon the formidable study of the Greek language.
ferent word is stated, and its dependence upon the words, and every particular relating to it, of which a pupil would be expected to give an account to his tutor. To this I paid particular attention, writing down a verse or two at a time, and making myself perfectly master of every word; of the declension, the case and number of the substantives, and of every particular respecting the verbs and other parts of speech. In travelling through the praxis in this way, I gained a kind of general knowledge of the Grammar, and with it the knowledge of a number of Greek words: indeed, I gained a knowledge sufficient to enable me to venture upon the Greek Testament.
Instead of bestowing much time upon the grammar, I merely read with attention that part of it which treats of the different parts of speech. With this trifling knowledge I entered upon the study of the Greek Testament. My first and only additional book for some time, and which strongly recommended this study, was a Greek-English Lexicon, printed in 1661, which I met with by accident. To this were added copious vocabularies, English and Greek and Greek and English; also an abridged Grammar. In addition to this summary of knowledge, this book contained a praxis, or explanation of chap. ii. of Romans, of 50 pages 12mo. In this praxis the part of speech of every dif
Whether this may be the best method of commencing the study of the Greek language, I am by no means competent to decide; but I think I may safely pronounce it to be the most pleasant for an adult without a tutor. The common plan of spending much time upon the Grammar at first, appears to be dry and uninteresting. It is something like beginning a journey in the dark, and making a large part of it not only without day-light, but without either moon or star to cheer the traveller. In the method I have ventured to propose, and which is by no means a new one, the journey is begun at early dawn; the traveller has a glimpse of light at the very first, and additional light and pleasure are afforded him at every step. Not only does he gain the knowledge of a number of Greek words, with their grammatical construction and dependence upon each other, but this knowledge is acquired in the most agreeable manner, and seasoned, if I may so express myself, with the most pleasing and useful ideas. At every step the student will find scripture ideas clothed in a new and delightful dress; and, at every step, the knowledge of his native language will be improved, and he will become sensible of his obligations to the Greek language, for words that are useful to him on the most common occasions.
From the remarks I have offered, your readers will perceive that the praxis I have mentioned is an indispensable requisite in the proposed plan. I certainly consider it as such; and had I not met with it, and the old
book I have mentioned, it is probable I should never have entered upon this delightful study. Nothing, I think, would more conduce to facilitate the acquisition of the Greek language without a master, than reprinting this praxis, or one upon the same plan, with appropriate references to an established Grammar. I hope Dr. Jones will excuse me in here suggest ing to him, that if he would do it with suitable references to his Grammar, think he would do an acceptable service to those who wish to enter upon this study. Should he or any of your learned readers, feel disposed to render this service to the unlearned, I shall have great pleasure in sending to him the old book I have mentioned, which is now become unnecessary to me.
With the above praxis, I should think no other books necessary at the commencement but a Greek Testament and Grammar, and a small pocket Greek and English Lexicon, by J. Bass (sold by Baldwin and Co., price 48). This would be rendered much more useful to the closet student at his outset, by a vocabulary, English and Greek, of the verbs used in the Greek Testament. Without the aid of such a Vocabulary, my difficulties would have been increased. There is frequently considerable difficulty for a beginner to find out which word in a sentence is the verb: this difficulty cannot, I apprehend, be estimated by a person who has acquired the language in the usual way.
With the books I have mentioned, I think any gentleman or lady, or any person in business, might, by dedicating half an hour or an hour a day to it, soon be able to read the Greek Testament. It is now three years since I began my plan at first was to take a verse or two daily, (though with very frequent interruptions,) but I find that I can now get on to fifteen or twenty, and sometimes with very little aid from my Lexicon. My progress would have been inore rapid, but I have endeavoured to make iny self master of the Latin Testament at the same time. Should health and life be spared to me for two or three years longer, I trust that I shall, without any additional labour or time, be enabled to read the New Testament in
Latin or Greek with the same facility as in English. From habit I find this employment rather a pleasure than a labour to me.
If the being able to read the sacred duties and records of our religion in their original language is not a sufficient inducement to persons of leisure to engage in this study, none more powerful can be advanced. I should rejoice to see my beloved countrywomen engage in it with the ardour it deserves; such an event might be regarded as a kind of completion of those important prophecies concerning "when many shall the latter days, run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased," and when "all shall know the Lord."
It was my intention when I sat down, to offer some remarks on the letter of your correspondent Hellenistes, (pp. 205-207,) but I find I must postpone these to some future opportunity, having already intruded more than I intended upon the time of your readers.
Be batus push, sm Trowbridge,
[OT being convinced by Mrs. Mary Hughes's strictures on my last Tract on the parable of the Prodigal Son, (p. 395,) that my views of the parable, and in particular of the character of the elder brother, are erroneous; and thinking some of that lady's remarks to be founded in misconception; it seems proper for me to offer a few words in reply. I have been prevented doing this sooner by several circumstances, and in particular by a dangerous illness, which disabled me for all exertion for some days.
The high respect I entertain for Mrs. He's character, liberality in the Unitarian cause, and benevolent labours for the good of others, leads me to value the estimation in which, she says, she holds me and my works; and nothing but a sense of the importance of right views of what our Lord taught, could induce me to controvert the correctness and propriety of her remarks, and to point out wherein I think her mistaken. My doing this will, I trust, give her no pain, as I believe the promotion of truth and the
good of mankind are her only objects in writing.
own assertion, is it not more natural to think he was one of those whom our Lord addressed in another parable, who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others? His being angry at the conduct of his father, and the language he used to him, can never be reconciled with filial piety; which is the germ of all other virtues. Is it possible for "the most excellent of human beings" to upbraid a good father, and charge him with injustice, even to his face? His assertion, that his father had never given him even a kid, was evidently false; for in ver. 12, we are told that he had his portion at the same time with his brother. Towards his brother he shewed himself unfeeling, and destitute of affection; for he ought to have remembered he was his brother, however he had acted; and, had he not been dead to the best feelings of our nature, the return of his brother must have given him pleasure, instead of his anger being excited at his father's receiving him with kindness. I see not how all our Lord says of him can be taken into view, without his appearing unamiable and selfish; and selfishness is the root of every vice. Could Jesus exhibit the elder brother as an approved character, without seeming to justify the Pharisees in their objections to his own conduct? I perfectly agree with Mrs. H. as to the bad moral tendency of representing those who have been abandoned to every vice, when brought to repentance, as more precious in the sight of the benevolent Father of all, than those who have always been virtuous; but this appears to me irrelevant to the design of our Lord's parable. The question is, whether the truly penitent sinner be not more acceptable in the sight of God, than the self-righteous Pharisee, who, probably, appears outwardly righteous only because he has not been exposed to powerful temptations, and who, with all his boasted righteousness, is censorious, uncharitable, selfish, and inwardly corrupt: and I leave it to Mrs. H. and the readers, to consider whether such were not the characters which our Lord meant to expose and reprove in the parable, while he vindicated his own conduct in receiving sinners and eating with them.
Mrs. H. appears to me completely to mistake our Lord's design in what he says of the elder brother in the parable; and to have been led into that mistake by inattention to the circumstances which occasioned his delivering the three parables contained in chap. xv. of Luke. We are told, vers. 1, 2-" Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." In consequence of this, our Lord delivered the parables which follow; evidently with the design of justifying his own conduct, and of reproving the Pharisees and Scribes for objecting to his receiving sinners and eating with them. This being his design, it seems natural to think, that, in the person of the elder brother, he meant to expose their unreasonable prejudices, want of liberal and benevolent feeling, inatten tion to the ignorant, and those who most needed reformation, and the contempt they shewed to all whom they called sinners. As the Jews called all men sinners, who were not of their nation, or proselytes to their religion, what is there unnatural in the supposition, that Jesus, by the elder and younger sons in the parable, meant to represent the Jews and the Gentiles?
Mrs. H. takes for granted that what the elder brother said of himself was perfectly correct, that he "had ne ver departed from the path of rectitude, never transgressed his father's commandment ;" and asks, "If, as is most apparent, our great Teacher intends to represent the Almighty under the character of the father in the parable, can the son, who 'ne ver at any time transgressed his commandment,' be other than the most excellent of human beings?" But, I ask, Is the elder brother, as described by our Lord, the most excellent of human beings? Does not his conduct towards his poor lost brother, stand in opposition to that of our Lord, (who was in reality the most excellent of human beings,) towards lost sinners; and strikingly resemble that of the Pharisees which Jesus censured? Instead of giving him credit for perfect rectitude and uniform obedience, on the mere ground of his
Though Mrs. H. " cannot perceive the least affinity" between the two brothers and the Jews and Gentiles, or that the latter can be "figured" by the former; I still think with the late excellent Mr. Kenrick, in his exposition, and many other good writers, that Jesus had this in view in the parable, as well as to repel the objections of the Pharisees to his immediate conduct. To the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles he seems to have frequently alluded, though obscurely, because even his own disciples were not then prepared to hear the subject stated plainly. In what Mrs. H. says of the Jews and Gentiles, she seems not to recollect that the language of a parable is not to be construed strictly, as if every part of it was designed to allegorize something in the subject designed to be brought into view, or to be only obscurely intimated. Whatever the moral character of the Jews might be, they certainly all along continued professedly the people and church of God; they continued to enjoy the privileges of the former dispensation; and to them the promises respecting Christ and the gospel were made; and this I think sufficient to justify the language used to them, as the elder brother in the parable. The Gentiles before they were lost in superstition and idolatry, had the knowledge of the true God, and voluntarily departed from him, his worship, and the enjoyment of his favour, (see Rom. ch. i.,) which seems to me, to render applicable the description given of the younger brother. I do not deem it necessary to say more on the present occasion; but cannot conclude without expressing my high esteem for the amiable writer, whose strictures have called forth these remarks. R. WRIGHT.
Sept. 10, 1823. OUR Correspondent who describes himself as a "Friend to the Quakers," I doubt not very sincerely, unknown as he is to me, inquires in your last Number, (p. 467,) how it is to be accounted for that the language of the last Yearly Meeting Epistle should be so different from the representations of some of your correspondents in former Numbers, and the extracts they have adduced from
writers of eminence amongst the Quakers.
He also appears to consider those Epistles as unquestionably giving the general sense of the large assembly, in whose name they are given forth, as if it was the practice at those Meetings to ascertain what that sense is, in a manner equally decisive of the fact as a show of hands, a ballot, or some other personal declaration of the sense of the majority of persons present on any question that may come before them. Perhaps your correspondent may himself be one of that respectable Society, and of that increasing class amongst them, (if I am not misinformed,) who both purchase and read your Journal. Be this as it may, he does not seem to know that your readers have had within about ten years past ample information on, I believe, every part of his inquiry.
That there was considerable variation in sentiment on several points of doctrine of more or less importance amongst its authors in high and general esteem with the Society, from the age of Fox, Penn, Barclay, and their contemporaries, will be evident on an examination of their writings, comparing one part with another. It is equally clear from the history, or rather biography, of its founders, and other leading members of the Society, that they then rather encouraged than repressed the free exercise of private judgment in its members, on the momentous concerns of faith and worship. Yet were they, if any thing in their history can be depended upon, as highly distinguished for zeal in the cause of truth, or of what they believed to be such, as they were, for bearing the peculiar badge of discipleship, by which all men were to know the followers of Christ, their love one towards another. They walked, as Isaac Penington said of them, harmoniously together, with different apprehensions concerning truth, and in the midst of different practices.
Your Correspondent should consider, that in the lapse of time, bodies of men, even professing Christians, under the same appellation, gradually and almost insensibly adopt new tenets, and silently suffer others which they formerly held, to fall into ob
livion. With regard to the Arian or Sabellian doctrines professed in the last Yearly Meeting Epistle, the proper question is, not whether such doctrines are advocated in some or other of their early writers; but whether they are scriptural, and have been before so recognized as the faith of the Society in its Yearly Epistles; which have now been annually issued about 150 years, and so far as I know, without any such exposition of their faith.
I grant the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ is to be found in a few passages of their early writers. But I think it is usually plain from the context of such passages, that it was not the pre-existence of the man Christ Jesus, but of that divine power which dwelt in, and acted by him, of which they meant to speak. Had the two sides of this question been fairly stated, and put to the vote, even at this Yearly Meeting, I am persuaded the decision of a great majority would have been in favour of the latter opinion.
But, suppose it to have been in favour of the pre-existence of the man Christ Jesus, who could, he assures us, of himself do nothing, how could such a decision affect in the slightest degree, the genuine sense of the sacred writers on the subject?
The authors of the Epistle say that Jesus Christ" condescended to come down from heaven to effect our salvation." I ask, where does the New Testament say any thing of this kind? In the early part of Dr. Watts's life, he in like manner represented Jesus, the humble prophet of Nazareth, as condescending to sit upon the throne of his God and Father. But in the Doctor's more mature age he deeply regretted having ever used such language, and that he had put it out of his own power to correct it in subsequent editions of his Hymns, having sold the copy-right to a bookseller. Yet those Hymns, containing many sentiments which he afterwards much disapproved, are still weekly or oftener sung publicly by thousands, as having his sanction.
Nor have the compilers of this Epistle given us any explanation of the sense in which they use the phrase "divinity of Christ;" whether they mean the divinity of "the
man Christ Jesus," or of that power by which he was enabled to do such mighty works as no man could do, unless God were with him; or, in other words, of that spirit which was poured out upon him without measure by his God and Father. Or those terms may have been used to express only a belief in his divine mission, or the divinity of the doctrine which he taught and "had heard of God."
So vague and ambiguous are the terms in which this Epistle publicly announces this tenet as the present belief of the Society of Friends, and as no new doctrine" from them. It is true that the doctrine of the personal pre-existence of Christ was many centuries ago held much more plainly by Arius, and that of the divinity of Christ, in far stronger and more sounding terms by Sabellius and his followers. Yet were they both condemned as heretics by the reputedly orthodox churches of the day, then, as now, in strict alliance with the princes of this world. But their decisions are of little or no value with consistent, well-informed Protestants, or indeed with any scriptural Christians, nor were they with the founders of Quakerism. Neither can I esteem this Epistle as correctly representing the general sense of the Society, from what I happen to know of the sentiments of its members; and I have heard many of them express their disapprobation of those parts of this Epistle to which your correspondent has called my attention. Your readers may, however, judge for themselves, how far this Epistle can be justly considered as expressing the general sense of the body, by a brief detail of the manner of its introduction into the Yearly Meeting, and of the substance of what passed there, on these parts of the Epistle.
On the clerk announcing that the General Epistle was brought in by the "large Committee," he thought fit, it seems, to express a hope that Friends would not on its being read remark upon it. It was drawn up by a very large Committee, in which he thought the Meeting might safely place confidence. And if any friend should disapprove any part of it, he might have an opportunity of stating his objections to the Committee to be