Imágenes de páginas


sulted from our imperfect knowledge of the language. But, however it may be as to the profane writers, it seems hardly possible to suppose that in a composition written under the divine influence any useless or irrelevant words should be employed. We may not, it is true, be able always to perceive the full force of every expression, especially of the less important parts of speech, but yet it cannot be right to overlook them as is too frequently done in the exposition of this part of Scripture. The second fule is, that the construction of the Greek language admits of an ellipsis, not only of single words, but of entire propositions, which are to be supplied from the general scope of the discourse. So many instances of this kind of construction are to be found in the ancient classics that it is needless to particularise them. But as they occur in Scripture, and especially in St. Paul's writings in greater frequency than they usually do in the profane writers, it may be remarked that this compendious mode of expression is suitable to the dignity of the subject; and, moreover, that it is consonant to the general tenor of the Christian Revelation, which requires from its disciples the exercise of patient and assiduous atten'tion as an indispensible condition for improvement in divine knowledge. The third rule by which the explication has been guided is that the conjunctions frequently refer, not to what immediately precedes, but to something mentioned at some distance before. The connexion in this case is to be discovered only by attention to the sense and the course of the argu

ment. The intermediate part in these cases is of the nature of a parenthesis, but as that term properly applies only to one sentence inclosed in another, and these intermediate passages consist sometimes of a great number of sentences, they should be regarded rather in the light of detached observations, such as a modern writer would put into notes; I have placed them between circular lines, in order to mark the connexion of the discourse. The fourth principle is one in some degree peculiar to the sacred writings; namely, the assigning of a new sense to certain words--a sense derived indeed from the primitive meaning of the word, but modified and determined by the connexion and the peculiar circumstances of the Christian Revelation. Of this kind there are some instances which it is generally agreed must so explained, as they admit not of any ordinary interpretation; and what has been done in these cases by common consent, it was thought might, without impropriety, be done in all where the difficulty of the passage required it. These are the chief considerations relating to the grammar and meaning of the words by which the paraphrase has been governed. The illustration of them will be found in the notes on the passages to which they apply. But besides these rules, which are in some measure common to all expositions, there are other influencing circumstances in the present one which are peculiar to itself. Some of these arise out of the view which I have taken of the special nature of the commission entrusted to St. Paul and his isolated condition as a minister;-that to

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

him was confided the delivery of the doctrine of sal vation by Faith in a crucified Redeemer, and that his appointment to the Apostleship being altogether unconnected with that of the Twelve, he failed to receive from them such countenance and support as would give personal consequence to his ministry. These things I have enlarged upon in former publications, which are referred to in the notes. I need, in this place, therefore, only observe that they serve to explain St. Paul's reasoning, in the first part of this Epistle, against human wisdom as opposed to revelation, and account for the little personal influence which, as appears from his own representations, he possessed, and for other particulars respecting him self which are incidentally noticed in his writings, or detailed in the concluding chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Another peculiarity of this interpretation is an endeavour to point out the spiritual view which should be taken of the scriptural doc. trines. It is from a suggestion in the second chapter of this Epistle (v. 13.), that the notion of so viewing them has been derived. It is true, indeed, that this notion is founded on a different rendering of the passage from what is given in our version. But there are various opinions about its true meaning. The translation here given has not been adopted without the fullest consideration of both the passage itself and the connexion, and I have explained my reasons for it in the notes. I may, however, here remark that assuredly this is the appropriate way of viewing the doctrines, and the only one in which

their real meaning can be discerned; moreover, that it is that in which they must ultimately be considered. But doubtless, it is not to be expected that the generality of persons will be at once induced to enter into these abstract and spiritual views of religion. All that can be reasonably hoped, is, that this mode of exposition should be silently and gradually received, and so work its own way on the mind. But I am inclined to think that it is only as Christians accustom themselves to this mode of reflection that they will ever come to an agreement on the great doctrines of the Gospel. The ordinary representations of them, under sensible images, and notions derived from the present life, have necessarily in them so much of uncertainty and imperfection that, while so considered, they will always be open to doubt and cavil. Indeed, the leading object throughout this Epistle seems to be to draw the reader to this spiritual mode of reflection in as easy and familiar a way as the nature of the subject will admit of;" for this is the point of view in which its topics are chiefly considered.

The way of paraphrase has been chosen as by the variety of expression of which it allows, the English idiom may be better preserved in the explanation, which circumstance it was supposed might render it more generally acceptable. It should, however, be observed that no undue latitude has been taken in rendering the text, nothing irrelevant has been introduced, nothing that does not seem to have been at the time in the mind of the Writer, and to be ac

[ocr errors]

tually suggested by the connexion. So that the paraphrase is made as close as it could be consistently with the just explication of the text, being little more than a full translation, according to the English diction. Considering the difference in the idioms of the two languages, and that many words of the one have none exactly corresponding in the other, it is hardly to be expected that a version should be made which would be strictly literal, and at the same timeaccurate. It will, however, be admitted that it is desirable to have the translation as nearly so as is practicable. But perhaps the best means of producing it will be by comparing together different paraphrases of this sort, by which means the sense may be clearly ascertained; and then pruning the language of all redundancy so as to make it as conformable to the original as the difference between the two tongues will allow. Whereas, in an attempt to give at once a close translation the sense is likely to be but imperfectly expressed, and the style to be hardly English. Indeed, I am inclined to think that no literal translation will ever be formed so complete, but that, in both these respects, a paraphrase will be found to possess a special advantage. The chief divisions of the Epistle are pointed out in a table of contents and in the notes. But I have endeavoured also to mark them by the language in the paraphrase, so that the transitions from one topic to another, may be easily perceived. The subdivisions which are in some degree optional, it was thought best not to make too numerous, in order not to disturb the con

« AnteriorContinuar »