Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

what they are said to be — miraculous. The history, for example, of the deliverance from Egypt, consists of a succession of events, every one of which must be miraculous, at least. I know very well, that attempts have been made to explain their miraculous character away ; such, for instance, as this : Because the magicians withstood Moses, and actually imitated some of his miracles, it must follow, that so far these acts were not miraculous. In this case, I shall not think it necessary at all to dwell on the probability, that all these efforts were the effects of juggling, imposition, or any thing of the sort, which I may very well do; I will only insist upon the fact that, by their own shewing, they were finally unable to compete with their opponent. In like manner, the passage of the Red Sea has been attempted to be explained, by the circumstance that the winds and tides conspire, at certain seasons, so as to leave a certain part of this sea without water. If, however, this was the case, how are we to account for the circumstance of the Egyptian hosts being drowned ? Is it probable that Pharaoh and his generals were ignorant of this? It is no difficult matter to imagine, that the Israelites might have been ignorant of the phenomenon, because their confined circumstances were unfriendly to the acquirement of such knowledge; yet they passed these depths in safety, while Pharaoh and his host attempting to do so were all drowned! In the next place, we have a residence of forty years in the deserts of Arabia ; and are assured that, during this time, the Israelites were miraculously fed with manna and quails. But it is urged, by way of interpretation, The manna is still found, and so are the quails, in those parts. I answer: The first of these statements is not true. * The manna now found is a thing totally different from that described by Moses; and, as to the second, although quails are still found on the coasts of the Red Sea, they are never found in the heart of the desert, where the Israelites must have sojourned during a great part of their time; and no where in any thing like the abundance said to have taken place on that occasion. Nor would any one, either at this or any former day, have undertaken to support an army of six hundred thousand men, upon the strength of any such supposition as that here resorted to by this philosophical school of divines; the man would be treated and well he might-as a madman and a fool, who should think of doing so: and yet we find Moses actually leading the Israelites into that situation; and, what is the most striking, attesting to their faces, -what indeed the nation has ever since believed that they were thus supported ; and even that their garments waxed not old, nor did the foot of one of them swell, during this protracted and remarkable period. Now, I think, we may safely affirm, that whatever else modern philosophy may have discovered, it certainly has not afforded us information sufficient to justify the conclusion, that in all this there was no miracle; if, indeed, it has, let it, for the sake of truth, be brought forward. Hitherto, however, no such statement has been made, at least as far as I know; and, until it shall be made, I must be allowed to maintain, that these, and similar events related by the sacred writers, are miracles in the true sense of that term. Of the attempts made to explain them away, however well intentioned they may have been, I must

saying in what this information consists,) determines otherwise. We next have a very dazzling tirade about the ignorance of ancient times, and the improved state of knowledge, exclusively possessed by this all-comprehending school. And then sentence is pronounced; which is at least a summary, if not a very scientific, mode of proceeding. We have, however, some reasons rendered in the notes. On one occasion, Cicero on Divination is quoted to shew that, the cause of whatever happens is to be looked for in nature; and, on another, to recommend the sentiment, that “it is not the business of the philosopher to trust to testimony, but to shew how any thing may have happened by reason and argument.” Truly this is very enlightened doctrine: it is a wonder, surely, that our courts of justice have not adopted it! In another note, a list of false miracles is appealed to, as found in heathen histories; whepce, I suppose, it is to be inferred, that because something has been false, nothing can be true! We are also told, in the text (p. 182), that a belief in supernatural miracles must be injurious to the cause of virtue, and even break in upon the sanctity of the Divine law. And for proof of this, we are referred to the absurd philosophy of Kant; as if common sense were not sufficient to determine the absurdity of such a position. After this, the doctrine of prophecy is attacked and demolished, with as much ease as any sentence of condemnation can possibly be pronounced : but, as no arguments at all better than those just noticed are adduced, I must be allowed to pass over them.

* This, with several other such groundless and silly statements, has lately been brought forward in a very inviting and popular form, in a work entitled “The History of the Jews,” by the celebrated Professor of Poetry at Oxford. It is greatly to be regretted, that learned and poetical geniuses do not take a little pains to make themselves better informed on these subjects.

affirm, that to reason, science, or philosophy, they can lay no claim whatsoever, and that these absolutely refuse them every species of support; nor, further, will they receive the smallest countenance from the poorest probability imaginable. But it is insinuated, that the heathen also laid claim to the operation of miracles : and these every one knows are not to be believed; and consequently, by parity of reason, those of the Jews ought not to be credited. That is to say: If one man should be guilty of uttering a falsehood, however notorious his propensity to lying might be, and however apparent the object he might have in view, I am for ever bound to believe no other man, under any circumstances whatever! This, I think, contains the principle, and perhaps not a bad illustration, of the case alluded to; and, as the absurdity of the conclusion aimed at cannot but be sufficiently apparent, it will be unnecessary I should point it out.

With this before me, I think I may affirm, that the full authority of the Scripture stands untouched and undiminished, in all the lustre of its primitive simplicity and strength; that it stands on a rock which no human efforts have hitherto shaken,-on an authority which nothing mortal has affected or injured. The facts which it appeals to are not more extraordinary than reason requires they should be, in order to make good the claim advanced to a divine origin : the claim, too, is itself only such as every document professing to afford real and authoritative religious information must necessarily make.

Enough, perhaps, has been said on this subject to shew, that wherever the truth is to be found, it is not to be expected in the writings of the rationalists of modern Germany; because, the principles on which their system rests are manifestly false. A few instances of their methods of interpreting the Scriptures have already been noticed : I shall now advert to one, which, as it appears to carry with it very great learning, and is, besides, extremely fashionable, deserves some consideration. It has been laid down by our great Pococke, Lightfoot, and others, that Rabbinical and Oriental literature may be made subservient to the just interpretation of Holy Scripture : that is, the customs, modes of expression, grammar, and even single words, which were in use during the times of the scriptural writers, are still to be met with in the East and in eastern literature. When, therefore, these can be brought to bear upon the Scripture, without disturbing its context and spirit, they may with propriety be appealed to. Others, too, among whom Grotius and Bochart may

be named as the most successful writers, have even had recourse to the literature of heathen Greece and Rome. Our rationalists, as it will presently be seen, avail themselves of these aids, but apply them to an extent, and for purposes, never dreamt of by these excellent men: they will cite authors of the kind alluded to, not merely for the purpose

of solving philological difficulties, but of confirming their own sentiments and results. A Jewish cabbalist, for example, a heathen philosopher, a Jewish Targumist, an heretical Christian, or the author of a spurious gospel, is not cited in order to illustrate the construction of a sentence, the meaning of a word or phrase found in a gospel, or any other book of Scripture; but to determine its origin, meaning, intent, scope; not to act as an assistant, but as an authoritative interpreter. Quotations are then made from some of these precious relics of antiquity with a liberal and learned hand; and the immensity of reading, research, and learning,—which last, however, is not always to be implicitly relied upon,-are made to supply the place of genuine investigation, and to awe into agreement and error, all who may not possess either acuteness or learning sufficient to detect and expose the fallacy. These positions I shall now proceed to illustrate and confirm by a few extracts taken from the Christologia Judæorum of Bertholdt,* and some other works which have

The following is the account given by this author of the materials from which he intended to draw his illustrations and proofs : “In numero fontium primariorum habeantur libri canonis Hebraici seriores, imprimis prophetici

, Apocrypha Veteris Testamenti, Philonis Alexandrini et Flavii Josephi opera, Novi Fæderis libri, quibus multa a Judæis ingenio suo nativo convenienter prolata et a Jesu ejusque Apostolis, præcipue Johanne Apocalypseos auctore, Christologiæ Judaicæ congruenter et adcommodate dicta insunt, nec non nonnulla e Pseudepigraphis Veteris Testamenti, præcipue liber iste, qui sub nomine libri iv. Esdre circumfertur. Accedunt denique, quibus auctoritatem fontium secundariorum adjungimus, libri Rabbinorum antiquiorum, imprimis liber Sohar, utpote qui Christologiam Judæorum sublimiorem continet, neque tamen serioribus, veluti libro Nezach Israel,' qui syllogen vel conge

· This too is a work of the same stamp, compiled from the Gemara and Allegorical Commentaries. (See Wolfii Bib. Heb, vol. i. p. 420. art. 700. n. 8.)

obtained currency in Germany, and which may therefore be considered as approved specimens of scriptural interpretation of this sort.

SECTION III.

ON BERTHOLDT'S CHRISTOLOGIA JUDÆORUM.

The leading principle upon which this work proceeds is that which has been termed “The historical interpretation of the New Testament;" and which Ernesti, Keil, Morus, and even our own Lightfoot, have recommended as of very great value.

“I chose," says our author, “to treat on the Christology of the Jews (which prevailed) during the times of Jesus and his Apostles. And, I suppose, there is no one who will disapprove of (my) reason for doing so; for I entertain no fear that, of those who are truly imbued with a knowledge of theology, so much as one will hesitate (to allow), that from a right and sound knowledge of this matter (which, indeed, from the second century before Christ, if it did not entirely swallow up, did certainly surround as a foss and a curtain, nearly all the sacred knowledge of the Jews) will proceed the

riem omnium diversarum id argumentum concernentium sistit, prorsus neglectis, quibus cunctis tamen ita utendum erit, ut ex iis nec quicquam adstruatur, quod non istorum librorum primi generis nobis cum maxime recensitorum testimonio distinctis verbis exhibito comprobatum, vel saltem vestigiis lucidis et certis in iis depromendis præmonstratum sit.” (Christologia Jud. Proleg. pp. 10, 11.) We have seen, in the preceding pages, how much pains has been taken to make the sacred writers talk like the heathen philosophers, classical authors, &c.; we shall here see the same thing done with regard to the Cabbalists, of which the book Zohar is, perhaps, the most splendid instance of heathenish philosophical nonsense.' We shall also have the Platonic Philo and Josephus, the apocryphal and spurious additions to the Old Testament; and then will follow a host of Rabbins, men as ignorant of the real spirit and intention of the sacred writers as any Hindu, Buddhist, or heretical Christian ever was : and, from these impure and corrupt sources, the pure doctrines and offices of the Messiah are to be ascertained, adjudged, and fixed : a lamentable specimen, indeed, of the great progress made in Biblical learning in Germany during the last half century !

* For a good account of the doctrines of the Cabbala, the second volume of Brucker's Historia Critica Philosophiæ may be consulted, - a work of inestimable value. On the Zohar, see Wolfii Biblioth. Heb. vol. iii. p. 1141, art. 2175; and vol. iv. p. 1012, with the references.

« AnteriorContinuar »