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ably with a like liability to error. That the Hebrew, the Septuagint, and the Sain some sense the Holy Scriptures contain maritan Pentateuch, and that it would be something of a buman element is clear, as hazardous to claim for any one of them to the New Testament, from diversities of the sanction of a Divine revelation : while reading, froin slight conflicts in the narra- an historical argument may be deducible, tive, and from an insignificant number of on the other hand, from the fact that doubtful cases as to the authenticity of their variations lie within certain limits. the text. We have also the Latin Vulgate No doubt there will be those who will partially competing with the Greek orig- resent any association between the idea of inal on the ground that it has been more Divine revelation and the possibility of or less founded on manuscripts older than even the smallest intrusion of error in its any we now possess. As regards the Old vehicle. But ought they not to bear in Testament, we find the established. He mind that we are bound by the rule of brew Text to be of a date not earlier than reason to look for the same method of I believe the tenth century of our era, and procedure in this great matter of a special to be at variance in many points with the provision of Divine knowledge for our Greek version, commonly termed the Sep- needs as in the other parts of the manifold tuagint, which is considered to date wholly dispensation under which Providence has or in part from the third century before placed us. Now that method or principle the Advent of our Saviour. Thus the ac- is one of sufficiency, not perfection ; of curacy of the text, the age and authorship sufficiency for the attainment of practical of the books, open up a vast field of parely ends, not of conformity to ideal standliterary controversy, and such a question ards. Bishop Butler, I think, would as whether the closing verses of St. Mark's wisely tell us that we are not the judges, Gospel have the authority of Scripture and that we are quite unfit to be the must be determined by literary evidence judges, what may be the proper amount as much as the genuineness of the pre- and the just conditions of any of the aids tended preface to the Æneid or of a par- to be afforded us in passing through the ticular stanza in Catullus.
discipline of life. I will only remark that Toward summing up these observations, this default of ideal perfection, this use of I will remind the reader that those who twilight instead of a poonday blaze, may believe in a Divine Revelation, as per- be adapted to our weakness, and may be vading or as contained in the Scriptures, among the appointed means of exercising and especially who accept the doctrine of our faith. But what belongs to the presliteralism as to the vehicle of that inspira- ent occasion is to point out that if probation, have to lay their account with the bility, and not deinonstration, marks the following among other) considerations, Divine guidance of our paths in life as a which it is hard for them to repudiate as whole, we are not entitled to require that inadmissible. There may possibly have when the Almighty, in His mercy, makes been—
a special addition by revelation to what 1. Imperfect comprehension of that He has already given to us of knowledge which was communicated :
in Nature and in Providence, that special 2. Imperfect expression of what had gift should be unlike His other gifts, and been comprehended :
should have all its lines and limits drawn 3. Lapse of memory in oral transmis- out with mathematical precision. sion :
I have then admitted, I hope in terms 4. Errors of copyists in written trans- of sufficient fulness, that my aim in no mission :
way embraces a controversy with the mod5. Changes with the lapse of time in erate or even the extreme developments of the sense of words :
textual criticism. Dr. Driver, the Regius 6. Variations arising from renderings Professor of Hebrew at Oxford,* personinto different tongues, especially as be- ally as well as officially a champion of the tween the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, doctrine that there is a Divine revelation, which was probably based upon
MS. has recently shown with great clearness older than the compilers of the fiebrew and ability that the basis of that criticism text could have had at their command : 7. That there are three variant chro
* Contemporary Review, February, 1890, nologies of the Old Testament according to pp. 215-9.
is sound and undeniable. It compares part of a primitive revelation, simultaneous consistencies and inconsistencies of text, or successive. The forms of expression not simply as would be done by an ordi- may have changed yet the substance may nary reader, but with all the lights of col- remain with an altered literary form, as lateral knowledge. It pronounces on the some scholars have thought (not, I believe, meaning of terms with the authority de- rightly) that the diction and modelling of rived from thorough acquaintance with a the Homeric Poems is comparatively modgiven tongue. It investigates and applies ern, and yet the matter they embody may those laws of growth which apply to lan. belong to a remote antiquity. guage as they apply to a physical organ- Further, our assent to the conclusions
of the critics ought to be strictly limited It bas long been known, for example, to a provisional and revocable assent; and that portions of the historical books of the this on practical grounds of stringent Old Testament, such as the Books of obligation. For, firstly, these conclusions Chronicles, were of a date very far later appear to be in a great measure floating than most of the events which they record, and uncertain, the subject of manifold conand that a portion of the prophecies in- troversy, and secondly they seem to ebift cluded in the Book of Isaiah were later and vary with rapidity in the minds of than his time. We are now taught that, those who hold them. In editing and reaccording to the prevailing judgment of vising the work of Bleek,* Wellhausen the learned, the form in which the older accepts in a great degree the genuineness books of the Old Testament have come of the Davidic Psalms contained in the down to us does not correspond as a rule first Book of the Psalter. But I underwith their titles, and is due to later though stand that this position has been abanstill, as is largely held, to remote periods ; doned, and that, standing as he appears to and that the law presented to us in the do at the head of the negative critics, he Pentateuch is not an enactment of a single brings down the general body of the date, but has been formed by a process of Psalms to a date very greatly below that growth, and by gradual accretions. To of the Babylonic exile. It is certainly unus who are without original means of judg- reasonable to hold a critic to his conclument these are, at first hearing, without sions without exception. But, on the doubt, disturbing announcements. Yet other hand, it may be asked whether they common sense requires us to say, let then ought not to contain some element of be fought out by the competent, but let stability ? The opening of new sources not us who are incompetent interfere. of information may justify all changes J utterly, then, eschew conflict with these fairly referable to them; and in minor properly critical conclusions.
matters the fine touches of the destrucBut this acquiescence is subject to the tive, as well as the constructive, artist may following remarks. First, the acceptance complete his work. But if reasonable of the conclusions of the critics has refer- grounds for change do not determine its ence to the literary form of the works, and limits, there must be limits on the other leaves entirely open every question relating hand to the duty of deference and submisto the substance. Any one who reads the sion on the part of the outer and uninbooks of the Pentateuch, from the second structed world with respect to these literto the fifth, must observe how little they ary conclusions. The most liberal estipresent the appearance of consecutive, mate can hardly carry them farther than coherent, and digested record ; but their this, that we should keep an open mind several portions must be considered on the till the cycle of change has been run evidence applicable to them respectively, through, and till time has been given for and the main facts of the history they the hearing of those whose researches may contain have received strong confirmation have led thein to different results. from Egyptian and Eastern research. In the present instance we have an ex. With regard to the Book of Genesis, the ample which may not be without force in admission which has been made implies nothing adverse to the truth of the tradi- Einleitung in das Alte Testament," tions it embodies, nothing adverse to their Haupttheil I., C. Die Psalmen. [The edition
published and adopted by Wellbausen, to antiquity, nothing which excludes or dis- which I refer, is (I think) dated 1870 ; but the credits the idea of their haring formed book had been published in 1860.]
support of this warning. Mr. Margo- surely require some reconsideration, or at liouth, the Laudian Professor of Arabic least have to be harmonized in some way at Oxford, and a gentleman of academical with the history of the language, before distinctions altogether extraordinary, has they can be unconditionally accepted.” published his Inaugural Lecture, * in which . Hence the spectator from without, perhe states his belief that, from materials ceiving that there is war, waged on criti. and by means which he lucidly explains, cal grounds, in the critical camp, may surit will be found possible to reconstruct the inise that what has been wittily called the Semitic original, hitherto unknown, of the order of disorder is more or less menaced Book of Ecclesiasticus. It was written, in its central seat ; and he may be the he states, by Ben Sira, not in the Hebrew more hardened in his determination not to of the Prophets, but in the later Hebrew rush prematurely to final conclusions op of the Rabbis (p. 6). I understand that the serious, though not as I suppose vital, there are three great stages, or states, of question respecting the age and authenthe Hebrew tongue-the Ancient, the ticity of the early books of the Old TestaMiddle, and the New ; and that of these ment in their present literary forın. the earlier or classical Scriptures belong to There is such a thing as mistaking the the first, and the Book of Nehemiah (for indifferent for the essential, and example), to the second. The third is slavish adherence to traditions insuffithe Rabbinical stage. The passage from ciently examined. But the liabilities of one to another of these stages is held, un- human nature to error do not all lie on der the laws of that language, to require one side. It may on the contrary be a very long time. Professor Margoliouth stated with some confidence that when finds that Ben Sira wrote in Rabbinical error in a certain direction after a long Hebrew, and the earlier we find Rabbini- precedence is effectively called to account, cal Hebrew in use, the farther we drive it is generally apt, and in some cases cerinto antiquity the dates of books written tain, to be followed by a reign of prejin middle and in ancient Hebrew. Sup- udices or biassed judgments more or less pose, by way of illustration, that Profes- extended and in a contrary direction, sor Margoliouth shows Rabbinical Hebrew There is such a thing as a bias in favor of to have come into use two hundred years disintegration. Often does a critic bring earlier than had been supposed, the effect to the book he examines the conclusion is to throw back by two hundred years the which he believes that he bas drawn from latest date to which a book in middle or it. Often when he has not thus imported in ancient Hebrew could be assigned. No it, yet the first view, in remote perspecwonder, then, that Professor Margoliouth tive, of the proposition to which he leans observes (p. 22)—
will induce him to rush at the most for" So students are engaged in bring- idable fences that lie ahead of him, ining down the date of every chapter in the stead of taking his chances of arriving at Bible so late as to leave no room for it by the common road of reason. And prophecy and revelation.”
often, even when he has attained it withBut he goes on to add that if, by the out prejudice, he will after adopting detask which he has undertaken, and by fend it against objectors, not with arguthose who may follow and improve upon ment only, but with all the pride and pain him, this Book shall be properly restored, of wounded self-love. And every one of
“ Others will endeavor to find out how these dangers is commonly enhanced in early the professedly post-exilian books the same proportion in which the particucan be put back, so as to account for the lar subject-matter embraces the highest divergence between their awkward Middle- interests of mankind. Hebrew and the rich and eloquent New- What I would specially press upon those Hebrew of Ben Sira. However this may to whom I write is that they should look be, hypotheses which place any portion of broadly and largely at the subject of Holy the claseical or Old-Hebrew Scriptures be- Scripture, especially of the Scriptures of tween the Middle-Hebrew of Nehemiah the older dispensation, which are, 30 to and the New-Hebrew of Ben Sira will speak, farther from the eye, and should
never allow themselves to be won away *“On the place of Ecclesiasticns in Semitic
from that broad and large contemplation Literature." Clarendon Press, 1890.
into discussions which, though in their own place legitimate, nay, needful, yet In a passage which rises to the very are secondary, and therefore, when sub- highest level of British eloquence, Dr. stituted for the primary, are worse than Liddon, * exhausting all the resources of frivolous. I do not ask this from them as our language, has described, so far as man philosophers or as Christians, but as men may describe it, the ineffable and unapof sense.
I ask them to look at the sub- proachable position held by the Sacred ject as they would look at the British Con- Volume. It is too long to quote, too stitution, or at the poetry of Shakespeare. special to appropriate ; and to make exIf we were pressed by the apparent ab- tracts would only mangle it. The comsurdity that any one branch of the British manding enminence of the great preacher Legislature can stop the proceedings of of our metropolitan Cathedral will fasten the whole, or that the House of Commons the public attention on the subject, and can reduce to beggary the whole Army, powerfully serve to sbow that the ScripNavy, and Civil Service of the country, tures, in their substantial tissue, rise far and tbat neither law nor usage make avy above the region of criticism, which can provision for meeting the case, though do nothing permanent or effectual to lower there would ensue nothing less than a frus- their moral and spiritual grandeur, or to tration of the purposes for which men join disguise or intercept their gigantic work. together in society, there are probably not The impression prevails that in this and ten men in the country whose estimate of other countries the operative classes, as the Constitution they live under would be they are termed, have at the great centres affected by these supererogatory objec. of population, here and elsewhere, largely tions. And if we are in any measure to lost their hold upon the Christian creed. grasp the office, dignity, and authority of There may be exaggeration in this belief; the Scriptures, we must not suppose we but, all things taken together, there is eviare dealing adequately with that lofty sub- dently a degree of foundation for it. It ject by exhausting thought and time in ex- does not inean, at least among us, that amining whether Moses edited or wrote they have lost respect for the Christian reihe Pentateuch as it stands, or what was Jigion, or for its ministers ; or that they the book of the law found in the temple desire their children to be brought up in the times of Josiah, or whether it is otherwise than in the knowledge and pracpossible or likely that changes of addition tice of it ; or that they themselves have or omission may have crept into the text. spapped the last ties which, on the carIf the most greedily destructive among all dinal occasions of existence, associate them the theories of the modern critics (so seri- with its ordinances ; or that they have reously at variance with one another) were nounced or modified the moral standards established as true, it would not avail to. of conduct which its conspicuous victory, impair the great facts of the history of after an obstinate contest of many cenman with respect to the Jews and to the turies, and its long possession of the social nations of the world ; nor to disguise the field, have established. It means no more light which those facts throw upon the and no less than this, that their positive, pages of the Sacred Volume ; nor to abate distinct acceptance of the articles of the the commanding force with which, bathed, Creed, and their sense of the dignity and so to speak, in the flood of that light, the value of the Sacred Record, are blunted Bible invites, attracts, and commands the or effaced. adhesion of mankind. Even the moral In passing I may be permitted to ob. problenis, which may be raised as to par- serve that the assent thus more or less tivutor portions of the volume, and which largely withlfeld by the less well-to-do may ncţ have found any absolute and cer- segment of society is still, notwithstandtain solltion, are lost in the comprehen- ing the sceptical movement of the day, sive cor templation of its general strain, its very generally yielded by the leisured and immeas arable loftiness of aim, and the better provided classes. There seems to vastniss of the results which it and its im- be within certain limits some approach to mediate accompaniments in institution and a reversal of the respective attitudes which event lave wrought for our predecessors prevailed in the infancy of our religion. in the journey of life, for ourselves, and for the most forward, dominant, and re- * Sermon preached at St. Paul's on the Sec. sponsille portions of our race.
ond Sunday in Advent, Dec. 1889 ; pp. 28-31.
Then the poor” were the principal ob- VI. That the books of the Bible, in jects of the personal ministry of Christ inany most important instances, and espeOur Lord, and it was their glory to be the cially those books of the Old Testament readiest receivers of the Gospel. They
They wbich purport to be the earliest, so far were then, the
poor of this world, rich from being contemporary with the events in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He which they record, or with the authors to hath promised to them that love Him." * whom they are ascribed, are comparatively They had fewer obstacles, especially within recent compilations from uncertain sources, themselves, to prevent their accepting the and therefore without authority. To this new religion. It was less hard for them assumption most of the foregoing remarks to become as little children." They refer. had by contrast more palpable interests in There are propositions wider still, but the promise of the life to come, as com. wholly foreign to the present purposepared with the possession of the life that such as that God is essentially unknownow is. The apparent change in their able, tbat we bave no reasonable evidence comparative facility of access to the Sav. of a life beyond the grave, and that raiour as respects belief is one to afford tional certainty is conined to material obmuch matter for meditation. The present jects and to the testimony of the senses. purpose is to deal, in slight outline at Passing by these propositions, I confine least, with one of its causes. I mean the myself wholly to what preceded them, and wide disparagement of the Holy Scrip- I shall endeavor, from some points of tures recently observable in the surface view, to present an opposing view of the currents of prevalent opinion, as regards spiritual field. Moreover, as each of their title to supply in a supremne degree these is the subject of a literature of its food for the religious thought of man, and own which may be termed scientific, I authoritative guidance for his life. here premise that what I have to say will,
Among the suppositions which tend to though I hope rational and true, be not produce this disparagement are the follow- systematic or complete, but popular and ing :
partial only, and will have for its imme1. That the conclusions of science as to diate aim to show that there are grave reanatural objects have shaken or destroyed sons for questioning every destructive the assertions of the early Scriptures with proposition, and for withholding our asrespect to the origin and history of the sent from them until these reasons (and, world and of man, its principal inhabitant. as I conceive, many others) shall be con
II. That their contents are in many futed and set aside. cascs offensive to the moral sense, and un- I shall, however, as being in duty bound worthy of an enlightened age.
to follow the truth so far as I can discern III. That man made his appearance in it, have to make many confessions in the the world in a condition but one degree course of my argument to the prejudice, above that of the brute creation, and by not as I trust of Christian belief or of the slow and painful but continual progress Sacred Volume, but only of us, who as its has brought himself up to the present students have failed gravely and at many level of his existence.
points in the duty of a temperate and cauIV. That he has accomplished this by tious treatment of it, as unhappily we the exercise of his natural powers, and have also failed in every other duty. But, has never received the special teaching and as the lines and laws of duty at large reauthoritative guidance which is signified main unobscured, notwithstanding the im. under the name of Divine Revelation. perfections everywhere diffused, so we
V. That the more considerable among may trust that sufficient light yet remains the different races and nations of the for us if duly followed whereby to estabworld have established from time to time lish the authority and sufficiency of Holy their respective religions, and have in Scripture for its high moral and spiritual many cases accepted the promulgation of purposes. For the present, I have ensacred books, which are to be considered deavored to point out that the operations as essentially of the same character with of criticisin properly so called, affecting the Bible.
as they do the literary form of the books,
leave the questions of history, miracle, * James ii. 5.
revelation substantially where they found