Imatges de pàgina
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The second chapter treats of Theological Reasoning;' and is divided into four sections, 1. “Of the grounds and method of reasoning in divinity. 2. Of the study of the Holy Scriptures. 3. On their general interpretation, which is distributed into subdivisions, on the learned languages, the scripture Styles, the analogical style, and the parabolical style);' and, 4. On the particular interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.'-Here we arrive at the valuable and important part of the work: for though, as the author justly observes, those who expect entertainment from his labours will be miserably disappointed,' he must mean to confine the term to that lighter order of readers who require mere amusement of the imagination.

Allowing what Dr. Tatham ftrenuously contends, that theology supersedes not the exercise of reason, that the province of this faculty is merely confined to the ascertainment of dates and facts, without the power of reasoning on fublimer subjects, we are happy in acknowledging, as some counterbalance to our former censures, that his second chapter is a valuable compendium of theologic instruction, abounding with ingenuity and research. The following are, without doubt, very interesting questions: whether the witnesses of the Chris tian miracles were competent judges of their reality, whe-, ther their credit is to be relied on, as faithful and honest relators; whether the autographies of the written record were the genuine production of these witnesses, or their friends, whose names they bear, whether these writings were inspired, and whether they are faithful transcripts of the originals ?

In discussing these points, our author is very diffuse on the pernicious purposes to which the indiscriminate use of logic continues to be applied; and, in the plenitude of his zeal against the ancient system, declares—what, addressed to the university, all the doctors and both the proElors, must have had a strange effect on their countenances—that it is time to shut up, or pull down, the schools, those monuments of ignorance !! Diruit, ædificat. :

The notes attached to some excellent remarks on the Greek language are worthy of transcription : though we pledge not ourselves to support the conclusion...

When young men are sent to the university without having been well grounded in the rudiments of this various and extensive language, it is seldom indeed that the industry of a college-tutor, if he will stoop from the higher departments of his office to this necessary talk, can produce the desired effea : for, whilst they have before their eyes fuch frequent and popular instances of men admitted, firit into the sacred offices, and then into the best benefis ces, of the church, much more ignorant and unqualified than them.

Selves, selves, the tutor may employ his labour and exhortation to little purpose. They will rely upon the interest which will be made for them with the bishop; or, if they have not friends on whom they can ground this hope, they can, however, advance with confidence, encouraged by the band of Reverend Caplains and others, who have so successfully taken the field before them. And this indolence is confirmed by the cruel and mortifying reflection, that, whilst they behold these men seizing the first emoluments of the profesion, they would be themselves destined, without friends, to languish away their lives, with all the Greek of Cyril, upon a cure of 40l. a year.

· These are evils, which have too long been a fain upon the credit of the church of England, the support and glory of our conftitution, and which are not entirely removed. But, if too many of its clergy are deficient in this fundamental branch of theological learning, what are we to say of that formal and pompous class of men, the Dissenting Ministers, who maintain, upon all occafions, the utmost folemnity of profession, and, on all subjects, the profoundest affectation of learning; whilft, the smell of Greek has scarcely passed upon their garments :' - Instead of waiting their time in breeding civil mutiny and fomenting diffenfion in the state, if these superficial and often fible, but ind:strious, men would make the Greek grammar the subject of their labours, the nation might be more free from faction for fifteen years to come.'

In his review of bishop Lowth's critique on the sacred poete ry of the Hebrews, Dr. Tatham displays much judgment and acumen. Yet, though he beżows on its intention and composition the most lavish encomiums, he censures it as reduce ing the divine writings to the standard of human judgment, and as a classical rather than sacred work. He contends that the scriptures are above all canons of criticism, and must be julged by laws peculiar to themselves, or rather by no laws at all; for reason is expressly excluded from this province. The memory of the learned prelate, however Dr. Ta. tham may differ from him, is, in our opinion, rather indecoroully treated by such expressions as 'fanciful and sentimental criticism-vain and visionary criticism founded on classical and sentimental taste.'— The prelections have surely their use and importance. It is one part of sacred criticism to display the external garb, or language of prophecy; and another, to illustrate its internal or parabolic meaning.

The fourth section contains a fund of instruction as to the mode of translating the scriptures. In this employment, Dr. Tatham obferves, we are to hold in awful recollection, that the volume of inspiration is divine in its original, and mysterious in its form ;' and must be interpreted by rules different

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from all which direct the judgment in deciding on human come positions. These rules he discriminates according to the above favourite maxim; in which he finds himself supported as usual by Bacon, but at variance with the elegant attempts of Cafe talio and Lowth. Dr. Tatham admits that a new version, or rather revision of the sacred originals is, by means of the unavoidable difficulties under which the ingenious translators laboured, and of the numerous obscurities which time has of necessity induced on their labours, become very desirable. His language on this subject is liberal and judicious,

.. One of the many blessings which providence hath bestowed on this favoured country, in different periods of its history, is the English Translation of ibe Bible appointed to be read in Churches, which for some ages it has enjoyed : and, whilft gratitude compels us to put a high value upon a work by which our forefathers were instructed to serve their God, justice will oblige us to think and to speak favourably of its intrinsic merit. They, to whose learning and labour we are indebted for this translation, were men selected for the talk by the discernment of a pious and learned prince, endowed with every qualification of heart and understand, ing, and poffefred of every advantage of learning and erudition for the execution of the work, that the state of biblical knowledge, and the religious complexion of the times, afforded. They avail ed themselves largely and judiciously of the learning and labours of former translators, both Latin and English : and it may be confia dered as an encomium adequate to the best efforts of human abi. lity, if we say, that, upon the whole, they excelled all that went before them. Their language is plain, nervous, and dignified ; and, whatever the defects of this translation may be in other respects, this in general will ever remain the object of our admiration and imitation.

• After paying this tribute of praise, so justly due to our Eng. lish version, truth obliges us to own, that the translators, however able, laboured under unavoidable difficulties and disadvantages, by which they were at that time obitructed in the execution ; but which are now removed ; and if, from the present improved and improving state of biblical learning, the change of circumstances in favour of the present age, and the aslistance of their excellent translation, we presume that, as they improved upon their predeceffors, they may be improved upon in their turn, the presumption, or at least the hope, will neither appear ungenerous towards them, nor unreasonable in itself.'

The first object of the transator is stated to be an accurate and perfect copy.

• Such a copy can only be obtained by a learned investigation,

and

and critical examination, of the most authentic monuments and authorities of the sacred text, by an extensive collation of ancient . manuscripts, and by the collateral elucidations of more ancient versions made from manuscripts more perfect than any that now . exift.

· The uncoltivated state of biblical learning at the time, par-. ticularly grammatical, thwarted the success of our English transa lators; for want of which, they could not have recourse to such monuments and authorities in order to prepare a copy fo correcta. ed and improved. Too confidently prepossessed in the genuineness of the Masoretic text, corrupted by the ignorance and inace, curacy of transcribers, and disguised by the punctuations and finifter practices of the more modern Jews devoted to rabbinical prejudices which it was made to countenance, they translated from false and imperfect originals : and, however exact and scrupulously faithful in rendering them word for word, by depending entirely upon them and neglecting more ancient and genuine authorities, their version must inevitably possess all their prejudices and defects. And by consulting modern lexicons too much, they misrepresented the meaning of many words.'

Attachment to sect and the love of system, inflamed by habits of disputation and school-divinity, are also allowed to have considerably biassed their judgment.

"To these radical and permanent causes of imperfection in the translators of the present version, another may be added, which is, temporal and accidental. In the conftant Aux of the English, as of every living tongue, some of their words have lost their meaning and are become obsolete; others have changed it, and are now antiquated ; and, in many places, the grammatical construction is aukward, and, in some, confused.

. From these causes, and others that might be assigned, parti. cularly the want of uniformity, without any disrespect to the me. mory, or derogation from the acknowledged merit, of these very pious and learned men out of whose hands it came, we need not hesitate to pronounce, that, in our present translation, mistakes and imperfections were unavoidable.

With this sense of these numerous defects, and convinced, as every one must be, of the universal importance of the sacred volume, and of the duty incumbent upon us to preserve the genuine meaning of every word which it contains; it would be almoft as disgraceful to the improved learning and reformed religion of the present age, in which the remains of every classical author are brought forward in elegant versions, to suffer the bible to remain under these imperfections of transation, as it was to that of ignosance and superftition which prohibited its being transated at all.?

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Our author next surveys the different attempts on this important subject, by Capellus, Houbigant, Lowth, Michaelis, Newcome, Blaney, Geddes, and Campbell. The three last are stated not to be perfectly agreed in sentiment on the just and true method of scriptural translation: but that from the liberal, friendly, and unassuming spirit which they breathe towards each other, we may cherish a pregnant hope, that one uniform, rational, and judicious plan will be settled, and invariably pursued.'

But to this purpose Dr. Tatham contends that the moft reverential caution is necessary.

• Presuming ihat human judgment is at all times commensurate to a human composition, the translator, if fitly qualified for his office, lits down to the talk of rendering it in another language on terms of familiarity, and almoft equality, with his author. That the new drels which he is making may fit with ease, and appear with the elegance to which he is intitled; that it may lose the ftiffness which the peculiarities of the original language would entail upon it, he gives both the words and sentences such an idio, matical change, as will enable him to çast the sense freely in the mould of the translation, and to give it an air of originality. In Mort, he takes the thoughts of the author, and presents them in his own expression.

So far from presuming that his judgment is equally commonsurate to a divine production, the judicious translator of the Holy Scriptures will sit down to the work impressed with a sense of this awful truth, thats the thoughts of God are not as man's thoughts, nor his ways, or words, as those of men; that the matter of revelation is more the object of his faith than of his understanding; and that the manner is sacred and frequently concealed. He will not therefore find himself upon the same terms of ease and familie arity with his author, nor represent his words and sentences with that freedom of change, which his own judgment might direct, his fancy suggeft, or which he might think the genius and elegance of his language would require; conscious thai, as they stand in the original, they might be intended to convey a meanirg, which, by such change, might be loft or injured. He will, therefore, endeayour, first, to find the true literal, and grammaticai sense, and then content himself by making choice of such words and sentençes as will, in the new language, most fully and literally ex, press it. In the propriety of this rule our tranfators seem agreed; though, from the difference of judgment in its execution, they vary in the practice of it.'

The topics of liberal and literal translation are next discufied at some length; and the affinity is remarked, which fortu.

nately

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