« VorigeDoorgaan »
self the pleasure of sending it to you. Pigeons, we know, are not birds of courage. We are not, therefore, to wonder that they take to flight, during an engagement, especially a general engagement of two large fleets, fought by combatants so obstinate as the English and Dutch. But it may be amusing to notice the difference of their conduct from that of the game cock, on board lord Rodney's ship, on the famous twelfth of April. This noble fellow, being by some accident loose, took his station on a coil of ropes, on the quarter deck, near to the admiral, and on the firing of every broadside, he crowed with all his might and main; as if he fully comprehended that this was an effort against the enemy, in which he concurred with all his heart. This champion is immortalized, by being painted in Gainsborough's picture of admiral lord Rodney, by whom he was highly valued :-as who would not have valued him highly? A lady who peeps over my shoulder while I write, desires I would ask, what support these facts may afford to the doctrine of pre-existence and transmigration of souls. She inclines to believe, that in some earlier stage of their existence, the pigeons had been land-lubbers; perhaps haberdashers or men-milliners; whereas the cock had been a jolly tar, a boatswain, or perhaps a captain in the royal navy, and was now doing what he considered as his duty. in attending, and cheering * his honour the admiral.” Submitting this to your discretion,
I am, &c. Hermit. “I cannot here omit one thing which to some may seem trifling, though I am apt think our naturalists may have a different opinion of it, and find it afford their fancies no undiverting employment in more curious and less perilous reflections. We had on board the London, where, as I have said, I was a volunteer, a great number of pigeons, of which our commander was very fond. These, on the first firing of our cannon, dispersed, and few away, and were seen nowhere near us during the fight. The next day it blew a brisk gale, and drove our fleet some leagues to the sruthward of the place where they forsook our ship ; yet the day after they all returned safe aboard ; not in one flock, but in small parties of four or five at a time. Some persons at that time aboard the ship, admiring at the manner of their return, and speaking of it with some surprise, sir Edward Sprage told them, that he brought those pigeons with him from the Straits; and that when, pursuant to his order, he left the Revenge man of war, to go aboard the London, all those pigeons, of their own accord, and without the trouble or care of carrying, left the Revenge likewise, and removed with the sailors on board the London. where I saw them : all which many of the sailors afterwards confirmed to me. What sort of instinct this could proceed from, I leave to the curious.”—Memoirs of Capt. Carleton, p. 11.
FROM THE LITERARY PANORAMA.
Investigation of certain passages of Scripture on principles not hitherto adopted.
IT may readily be granted that any tract published by an apostolick man, in the early Christian church, would be circulated among the Christians
of those times, with great despatch, immediately on its publication. This • is a natural and indefeasible position, since it arises from a principle in
human nature itself. It is natural, too, that, in those limes, it should be copied without delay in such churches as were then extant. And this first edition would be circulated to the widest extent, of course. Churches that where established afterwards were more likely to receive the second edition of such a writer's works; especially, if they had intercourse with
the town where he resided in his latter days, and drew their copies from thence, immediately. But I think we may say, that for one copy of the second edition that was circulated, there would be 20, or 50, or 100 copies of the first edition ; since not only would it have the advantage of priority, but not one reader in a hundred would think of the second as different from the first. And this has led our translators to mark, as doubtful, the first quotation which I selected from the first Epistle of John, in my last ; chap. ii. 23. I have no doubt on the genuineness of the addition; but possibly there may be 50 copies without it to one which contains it.
Admitting, then, the residence of St. John be at Ephesus, or any part of Asia Minor, for the last thirty years of his life, for which we have the testimony of ancient history, we may date his first epistle, early in that period : or even before he came to live there. This would spread first, among the neighbouring churches in Asia Minor: secondly, eastward, to those countries which professed Christianity, Antioch, for certain : Syria, Cilicia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Galatia, Babylonia, &c. Toward these countries, there are caravans which go every month, or six weeks, from Asia Minor ; there is a regular intercourse maintained, between Smyrna, and the internal parts of Asia Minor, and on through Tarsus to Antioch : :-from Ephesus to Smyrna was easy. We have every reason to affirm, that it was the same anciently, and therefore, there was an immediate conveyance of such addresses as the apostle John published for the general use of all Christians, from Ephesus, eastward to the oriental provinces of the Roman empire, where Christianity was settled and flourished. In these churches his writings would be in request. Moreover, these churches would be the first to translate his writings into their current language, for the use of the natives of these provinces, who did not understand Greek (which, however prevalent the Greek language was, must have been many) because here was a great number of professing Christians, who desired to be acquainted with their contents.
It is evident, therefore, that these translations, having for their basis the first edition, can be no evidences of what the apostle thought proper to add in his second edition. The Syriack version, for instance, if we suppose that to be the earliest of all, would represent the first edition, as would also, all versions made from it, and all copies made from those, at that time, received in those parts. Whereas, the Armenian version, because it is much later, would at least stand the chance of obtaining (and being made from) the second edition. The Syriack version, therefore, is no evidence against an addition. The Armenian version is an evidence for it. This version contains 1. John. v. 7.
Also, the churches in Africa were not planted till many years after those of Asia; their intercourse with Ephesus, being by sea, was irregular, and could only take place, occasionally, if it was direct If we suppose it to be, on the subject before us, through Italy, then it was subject to the same cir. cumstances as attended the intercourse be:ween Ephesus and Rome. I say Rome, because we have no reason to think that there was any number of Christians, worth mentioning, in any other city of Italy. The apostle Paul, when travelling from Rhegio upward was met by brethren from Rome : which when he saw, he thanked God, and took courage. Certainly, then, he had not met with many friends in places that he passed through, and his courage had been somewhat cast down, for that reason. We find no trace of Christianity in Herculaneum, one of the cities of Italy, of the second size, which was destroyed A. D. 79, though we meet with traces of Judaism there ; and in short, it must be admitted, that, compared with Asia, the western pro
vinces had but few Christians. We have no reason to think that Rome sent out missionaries early. The south of France was christianized from Asia, though so much further off than Rome. The natural inference is, that these parts would receive later copies of any apostolick writing, published in Asia Minor, than those parts which had a regular intercourse, half a dozen times in a year, at least, but probably much oftener, with Ephesus. And what. ever versions were extant in the west, would represent the second edition with its variations, whatever they might be. As to Rome itself
, I infer, that that capital of the empire had, if any place had, both editions. Suppose, for a moment, that the first edition had reached Rome, when Aristobulus quitted that city for Britain, or that it was sent to Aristobulus, in Britain, from Rome, it will follow, that the ancient British copies would not contain those additions which the apostle John inserted in the second cdition. And to this agrees the fact : for Pe. lagianism could hardly have been repressed by any text more effectually than by the one in question. Yet that errour rose in Britain, and it was not so decidedly opposed then, as it is now; minus the testimony of this text. Moreover, the text is not quoted by the venerable Bede, in a passage of his works, where we should expect to find it, at least, alluded to. He, therefore, might have the first edition.
In short, almost all the arguments employed against the authenticity of the text may be admitted. They cease to have any great force, after it is once conceded to those who use them, that the first edition, together with all its representatives, in the first century, suppose, had not the words in debate. They are reduced to the infirmity of a negative argument, at best.
I must now observe, that the African churches being planted long after the Asiatick, they, no doubt, would obtain the best transcripts of the work's of any inspired writer, which could be procured about the time of their being founded ; i.e. the second edition of the letter under consideration. To this agrees the fact; the African bishops quote the passage. Tertullian, Cyprian. Eucherius, Eugenius, with his consistory of 400 bishops, Vigilius, Fulgentius, &c. &c. so that it was undeniably extant in their copies from the second century downwards. The argument, then, is reduced to a point: either these divines found the passage in their copies, or they put it there. The latter alternative is so dishonourable to Christians and to Christianity, that one is willing to accept of any hypothesis which may vindicate professors and teachers from such enormous guilt.—But further ;
I have said, that Rome might be expected to procure whatever was most excellent in Christian literature, as well as in other studies. It had, then, the first edition, because that was the earliest which could be procured ; and the second, because the influx of persons to Rome from all parts was so great, that every thing which was portable of a literary nature, might be expected to be brought there. Rome had an ancient version of the scriptures, known under the name of the old Italick version. It is not of any consequence to our argument, whether this version contained the text of the heavenly witnesses, since it was made very early; but if the revised Roman version of the New Testament contained it, we are reduced to the same dilemma as before, in reference to the African bishops—The reviser of this edition (Jerom) either found it, or forged it. The same arguments that relieve the characters of the African bishops, relieve the character of this father. The accusation is incredible. It is loading the party with a crime so far beyond ordinary culpability, that the mind revolts at the charge. It is admitted, then, that the Latin version reads this verse; that St. Jerom adopted it ; that it was adopted by the learned after
him ; as by our own famous Alkwin, at the time, and in the court of Charlemagne, and has so continued ever since. The inference is, that St. Jerom preferred the authority and text of the second edition, and followed it.
These, moreover, are independent witnesses; for, the African bishops, who wrote before Jerom, could not receive this passage from his revised version : or, if any choose to affirm that the African bishops received this passage from the old Italick version, then the authenticity of the passage follows of course, in proportion to whatever importance is attached to this in. creased antiquity.
Let us now suggest a few thoughts on the nature of the passage itself, as connected with our views of it. We have seen that all the variations in the second edition by St. John, are additions : and we can very easily conceive, from the knowledge we have, of the gnostick and other heresies, then beginning to spread, that twenty or thirty years might see a considerable difference in the opinions, and floating notions of Christian communities. An opinion which was not so much as broached A. D. 70, or 80, might become sufficiently popular to be entitled to notice, reproof, and correction, in A. D. 100. Admitting, then, that the longest liver of the Apostles would endeavour to preserve his readers from the contagion of errour, either incipient, or advanced, he could not do it, by expunging any part of an inspired work; since that would be to accuse inspiration with having been the cause of errour; but he might do it, by adding to his own works, by strengthening former sentiments, or by enlarged or by explanatory expressions so arranged as to meet the mistake in question. This enlargement was the way of our Lord himself. We have seen that it was the way of St John in other instances; and if in others, why not in this?
We have seen, also, that the placing of the verses containing other additions, in our present copies, is incorrect: arising, most probably, from the addition being inserted on a first edition MS. in the margin ; but brought in erroneously, as to its true situation, by the transcriber who next copied that MS. The same I apprehend, is the case here; I confess myself to be of opinion that those copies which place the 8th verse before the 7th are right. It is well known, also, that copies vary in the words they introduce: some insert the words “on earth,” and “in Heaven :” others omit them; some omit, “ water;" some omit “the Word :” and, I might, did I not think it would tire your readers' patience, treat them with a long and delectable discourse, on the Greek accents, articles, &c. inserted or omitted in this famous passage: but, it is enough for my purpose to say, that these variations are proofs, in my estimation, that the addition has been made on first edition copies, and introduced with more or less skill, or convenience, &c. &c. according to the ability of the possessor of those copies.
Your readers, sir, will distinguish between what I verily think to be founded on fact, I mean the foregoing statement, and what I am about to submit as conjecture only ; I mean the following view of the passage. Nay, I must even apologize for some of the language I am about to use, by saying, that I use it not strictly, but for the purpose of conveying my meaning. Let us, now, attempt to show the propriety of introducing this addition, in opposition to the sentiments of those who considered the Christ, as consisting of one nature, only, i. e. the human : but who denied the residence of the other nature, i. e. the divine, in the humanity ; which combination we hold to be necessary to constitute the Christ.
Who is he, says the apostle, who overcometh the world, unless it be one who believes that Jesus [the humanity) is the Son of God? This (Jesus the humanity) is he who came into this world by assuming the component parts of
human nature, 1. water, i. e. animal life ; and 2. blood, i. e. a body. (Some copies read caro or carno. Vide Simon, Crit. Hist.) Such is Jesus The CHRIST: who came, not by assuming water, animal life, only, being a mere phantom, as some pretend, but by water, life, and blood, a body, also. However, the assumption of both these two principles, though necessary, yet would not qualify him effectually for his office, which was, to bear witness of God; for an animal may have life and a body, yet it is incapable of bearing witness : no; but the intelligent and immortal spirit, is that part of a man, which beareth witness, since it only is capable of understanding. And these three principles are those which bear witness on earth [i. e. which compose the humanity) the intelligent spirit, and the water, or animal life, and the blood, flesh, or body, and these three agree in one testimony ; (or rather, these three are necessary to be combined into one person, in order to enable that person to bear testimony ; since if you take away either of these principles, you incapacitate the party from all power of bearing witness.] Cor. respondently to [ori] three are those who bear witness in heaven ; the Father, and the Word, and the Holy Spirit ; and these three are THE ONE, the Being of Beings! If we receive the witness of men, on human subjects and questions, with confidence, the witness of God is infinitely greater, both as to subject and certainty, since God is an infinite spirit, and not subject to errour. Assuredly this is the witness of God, which is witnessed concerning his Son, as above. He who believeth in [this representation of ] the Son of God (Jesus, the humanity) hath the witness in himself, not only of the possibility but of the actual existence, of such a combination, since his own nature is an instance of the same combination of principles as was extant in the man) Jesus. He whu believeth not God makes him worse than an honest man, a liar, &c.
Under this view of the passage, let us endeavour to state, and compare the editions.
FIRST EDITION. Who is he who overcometh the world, unless it be one who believes, that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood ; Jesus the Christ : not by water only, but by water and blood : but the spirit is that whicle beareth witness. They which bear witness then, are these three ; the spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three are combined in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; and assuredly this is the witness of God, which is witnessed of his Son, &c.
SECOND EDITION. Who is he who overcometh the world, unless it be one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water, and blood; Jesus the Christ : not by water only, but by water and blood: but the spirit is that which beareth witness. They which bear witness then, on earih, are these three : the spirit, and the water, and the blood ; and these three are combined in one. Corresponden/ly, those who bear witness in heaven are three, the Father, and the Word, and the Holy Spirit ; and these three are THE ONE. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; and assuredly this is the witness of which is witnessed of his Son, &c.
I am justified in affirming, that (as I observed in my former letter) here is no change of sentiment in the apostle. Every thing he said formerly he says again now. He retracts nothing. Every syllable stands untouched ; but he adds, and increases the strength, the beauty, and the correspondence member to member, of the passage, while at the same time, bis addition is in direct opposition to those opinions, which peeped forth toward the close of his long continued life ; and which, most certainly, this passage as it stood in the first edition, was not particularly calculated to repress.