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ensuing sentence, and so the last word of the preceding period is the first of the next, and so on. This style can seldom be used in arguing; it is very evident in the first Epistle of St. Peter, and the first chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Colossians.
19. The loose or rambling style is too well known. Lest it should be thought, that this and the seventeenth coincide with the fifth and sixth, viz. the nervous and the languid; I ob
languid style incoherent.
20. The efficacious or powerful style, peculiar to the scriptures; i. e. the inward efficacy and power which is in them to reach and impress the consciences of stupid sinners. By this I mean somewhat different from any yet mentioned, and no other than what these books claim for themselves, and are experienced to have, by those who have felt the power of religion on their hearts. And though I own this style is not of itself visible till the Spirit and grace of God make it so, and consequently cannot (according to my proposition) be made use of to determine certainly concerning any author, as the others may, yet I mention it for the sake of those who allow,
1. That they have a greater aptness and tendency to impress men's minds, according to their intention, than any other books have.
2. That as David says", The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul, &c. or, as Paul expresses its, That the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
r Psalm xix. 7, 8.
s Heb. iv. 12.
CHAP. XIII. Several propositions whereby the spuriousness of a book may be
PROP. XII. That book is spurious and apocryphal, whose idiom and dia
lect is different from the known idiom or dialect of the au
thor whose name it bears, or the country where he lived. THE idiom or dialect of a language is somewhat very different from the style of a writer, inasmuch as all languages are susceptible of all sorts of styles; the idiom of a language being what is common to a whole country, and differing from others only by some accidents; but the style of a writer is somewhat that is peculiar to himself, arising only from the vast and inexpressible variety of nature and constitution. Thus this proposition differs from the foregoing, but is proved by the same sort of medium, viz. that as each particular person has one style, which another cannot imitate; so each country, or the language of each country, has its own idiom or peculiarities, which those of another country can scarcely imitate to that perfection, but that the difference will be discernible. I confess indeed it seems to me a more easy matter to imitate a dialect, than a style; yet notwithstanding this, the critics in languages know well, there is something in the genius of them, which is inimitable by those of other countries; some words, some phrases, or disposition of words, which are never perfectly learnt. Besides, as a writer cannot fully imitate the phraseology of another country, so neither can he avoid the peculiarities of his own, though he be supposed to write in another language: these are what he has from his infancy been habituated and accustomed to, and become almost as natural to him as his own air and style. Hence Peter was discovered to be a Galilæan at Jerusalem, (Matt. xxvi. 73.) though the language of the Jews and Galilæans was very little different: just as an inhabitant of the southern parts of England would immediately discover one of its northern inhabitants, not by his words and tone only, but his dialect. Hence it seems not difficult, for instance, to distinguish between the Latin wrote by an Englishman, and that wrote by a Roman in Augustus's time. And it would, I believe, be impossible for a person now in
any nation, to impose a book of his own writing under the name of any Roman writer, without being immediately detected. So certain it is, that each nation has its peculiar idiom and dialect; which may be yet further confirmed by the known remark made by all who are acquainted with languages, viz. that it is exceeding hard to do justice to an author, when he is translated into another language ; the translator finding himself perpetually at a loss either for words or phrases, or both, fully and exactly to express the author's ideas.
The rule therefore laid down, must be of great service to us, in detecting the spuriousness or forgery of a book, the imposture commonly shewing itself either in some words or phrases not known in the country, where the pretended author lived, but peculiar to another; or else in an unnatural resemblance and affectation of a dialect he was not sufficiently acquainted with. Instances of this we may perhaps meet with hereafter; yet I cannot but add one remark here concerning the dialect of most of the writings of the New Testament, because it will be a very demonstrative evidence of the mighty power
and force there is in the genius or nature of a language to shew itself: the remark I mean is concerning the Hebraisms of the New Testament. It is agreed on all hands, that most of those books were originally written in Greek; but no one can be ignorant, how different the Greek is from that which was commonly spoke and wrote in the world at that time; so different in its idiom and phraseology, that it must needs have puzzled the most celebrated linguists of Athens to have construed the phrases, if they had understood all the words. The truth is, the books were written by men who were born in Judæa, who had conversed in the Jewish, i. e. the Syriac, language from their childhood, and so had the idioms and
peculiarities of it become perfectly natural to them; and hence, though they made use of Greek words, they conceiving after their former manner, placed their words after their wonted manner; i. e. in the Hebrew or Syriac dialect. Such is the language of most of the New Testament, of which, if it were necessary, it were easy to produce a hundred instances; which plainly shews how great the force of a person's natural language is, and how difficult it is to conceal it, even when he makes use of the words of another. And I dare venture to say, that the idioms of Latin or Greek would be as likely to shew themselves, as those of Hebrew; or that any Gentile writers would find it as difficult to avoid the idioms of their own country language, and imitate those of Palestine, as the Jews did to avoid theirs, and imitate those of other countries. I conclude therefore, that the idiom of the language of any book is a very likely means to judge of its genuineness; and if it be proved contrary to the known idiom of the people among whom its pretended author lived, that it is to be looked upon for that reason as spurious and apocryphal.
PROP. XIII. That book is spurious and apocryphal, which evidences a dis
position or temper of mind in its author, different from the known temper and disposition of the author whose name it bears.
THE truth of this proposition depends upon these two known observations, viz. That there is a great variety in the tempers of men's minds, and that it is next to impossible for a person so to conceal and disguise himself, but that his natural temper will be more or less visible: the pride or humility, the warmth or coolness, the dulness or briskness, the courage or cowardice of the soul, and many other such, are qualities so natural to it, so predominant in it, that a man may as easily alter the cast of his complexion, or shape of his body, as so alter them that they shall become indiscernible. David could not write, but he evidenced his humility: nor Cicero, but he evidenced his pride. St. Paul could not write without shewing the passionate vigour and warmth of his natural temper; nor St. John without shewing the sedateness and mildness of his. I need not produce instances in a case so evident; I only would observe, that of all the tempers of the mind, none are more predominant, and more likely to shew themselves in writing, than the proud or modest, the passionate and warm, or the cold and dull.
scribed or stolen out of another.
I am very well aware it may be here urged, that two of the books now received into the canon, seem to be taken out of, or transcribed from, two of the others; viz. The Gospel of St. Mark out of that of St. Matthew, and the Epistle of Jude out of that of St. Peter.
The objection is indeed specious; to which I now answer only, that as to the common opinion of St. Mark's being an epitome of St. Matthew, I have elsewhere t largely disproved it, and am so vain as to think, the arguments I have there formed against it may be sufficient to convince any one of the falsehood of it. As to Jude's Epistle being an epitome of the second Epistle of St. Peter, I shall defer the consideration of it to a more convenient place hereafter.
See my Vindication of St. Matthew's Gospel against Mr. Whiston, chap. vi-x.