« AnteriorContinua »
on the negligence, or incompetency of transcribers.
In the lapse of so many ages, some errors must necessarily arise, not only from inadvertence, but from absolute uncertainty, or unavoidable ignorance. For example, it was doubtless the practice of the Jews, as well as other ancient nations, to abbreviate the names of persons and places; and to use numeral letters, with conventional marks, for numbers, instead of writing them in words at length. This latter expedient, however, was resolved on, sometime in the fourteenth century, for the sake of uniformity, and to avoid mistakes in future. But how could all the assembled doctors of Tiberias, much less a solitary copyist, or scribe, in that dark, illiterate age, decipher correctly every fanciful abbreviation, and every variable numeral? especially when we consider, that, in their mode of notation, a single dot, easily obliterated, or supplied, and the mistake of one nearly similar letter for another, would convert tens into hundreds, and hundreds into thousands?
The consequence has been, that there are discrepancies; and this we readily allów, because we can fully account for them, without impeaching, in the least, either the credibility,
or authenticity, of the Sacred Original. Besides, for our comfort, they are of no real importance; and will be found, on inquiry, to consist, almost entirely, in the variations of names of persons and places, or else in mere numbers.
The few instances, which I have stated, may be easily multiplied; but these will be sufficient to convince us, that, in proportion as we examine the Holy Scriptures with Patience, and learning, adequate to the task, our faith will be strengthened, our comfort in them will be increased, and that hope of everlasting life, which we derive from them, through the merits and intercession of Christ, will shine with brighter lustre, as we approach the evening of our days.
At the same time, these observations will not be without further use, if they serve to expose the petulance and folly, the rashness and presumption, of those cavils, which sceptics and infidels are so fond of raising. It is truly deplorable to reflect on the shocking, and audacious attempts, that are now making to disseminate profaneness and irreligion throughout the land;-to know that there are men outrageously zealous and active, as apostles of anarchy and bloodshed, instead of being ministers of peace
and good-will;-preachers of misery and despair, to the misguided multitude, instead of being messengers of comfort and of hope!
Let us, however, humbly trust, that the watchful providence of our heavenly Father will prosper our own earnest endeavours, for the purpose of preventing the spread of this enormous evil amongst us. We have reason to fear, indeed, from the shameful prostitution of the press, and the scenes which our Courts of justice present, that we are fallen on those perilous times, which the holy Apostle predicted, when he said that "men should be lovers of their own selves," (that is, entirely selfish) vetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy; without natural affection, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God."
It will be sufficiently awful, at the day of judgment, for such men to answer for their own individual sins; but if it shall hereafter appear, that they have, by insidious arts, and delusive promises, seduced the poor and humble, the simple and unwary, from the paths of godliness, righteousness, and peace; that they have ba
nished from their minds chearfulness and content; and, by infusing the dangerous spirit of insubordination, disobedience, and distrust, have rendered them totally unfit to discharge their useful duties in this life, and, at the same time, deprived them of all hopes of a better;-we may say of such men, in the language of our blessed Lord, "It were better for them, that a mill-stone were hanged about their necks, and that they were drowned in the depths of the
There are many so thoughtless, or so ignorant, as not to suspect, that they are made the mere dupes of faction, or the wretched tools of the most wicked ambition, till they are unhappily involved in its snares, and doomed to suffer the punishment of its wickedness and guilt. There are others every where, unfortunately, but more especially in such a metropolis as this, of strong appetites, and ungovernable passions, without the power of gratifying them. They would be rich, without industry, happy without virtue, and are craving for the varied enjoyments of life, without taking a lesson from the ant, or the bee, and providing themselves with the necessary means of enjoyment. Possessing little, or nothing from inheritance, they are not
withstanding averse to labor, and therefore soon lapse into all the wretchedness of poverty, and dependence. In this state, the surliness of discontent is engendered, and their wants and sufferings are attributed to any cause, rather than to their own fault. Hence arise murmurings and repinings in private, riots and sedition in public. If such men are not led to forfeit their lives to the violated laws of their country, they are always ready to listen to the harangues of the factious demagogue, who, by telling the poor that subjection to legal authority is oppression;-by representing their rights as unlimited, but their duties as optional, or voluntary; by insinuating that they ought to live. without the task of daily labor, and that their hardships are not owing to themselves, or the dispensations of Providence ;-such a perverter of Truth succeeds in gaining proselytes without number among the vicious and the idle, in the same manner as the enthusiastic bigot allures the vain, unthinking multitude, by preaching to them, that they are the elect of God, and that faith alone is a sufficient passport for heaven, without any of the efforts, privations, and restraints of Christian virtue.
But, notwithstanding some lamentable ex