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lent system of religion, which the world ever beheld, a system to the excellency of which its enemies have often subscribed, a system so well calculated to advance the glory of God, and promote the temporal and eternal happiness of men, should be a cunning fable, invented by such men for such purposes, with no other prospect before them but that of rendering themselves of all men the most miserable, is such an extravagant hypothesis, as could enter into the mind of no man, unless of one who, disbelieving his Bible, was condemned by the just judgment of God to believe every thing else, however absurd and ridiculous. Great is the truth and will prevail.
The following Letter is from a respectable Layman in one of the Middle States, to his friend in Massachusetts, dated Oct. 28,
1807. DEAR SIR,
KNOWING your situation in the church, and the opposition too successfully made by many able men in the Eastern States, against the precious doctrines of the gospel, I am led to take the freedom of communicating to you, the late republication of a small 12mo. volume of about 150 pages in Philadelphia, written by Greenville Sharp, Esq. of London, which, in my opinion, is a great acquisition to the Christian world. You perhaps have seen it, and if so, this letter, though vain, as to you, will yet show my desire of disseminating the knowledge of this important, little work.
It contains remarks on the use of the definite article in the
Greek text of the New Testament, and I think is one of the most valuable additions in support of the important doctrine of the divinity of Christ, that has appeared for many years.
He establishes six important rules of construction, which, though heretofore often hinted at by former divines, yet have never been SO completely brought to a point, and applied so effectually to this essential doctrine, as by Mr. Sharp. Added to this, is the substance of Six Letters, addressed to the author by a very able hand, (the learned and Rev. C. Wordsworth) proving the truth of the conclusions from the writings of the fathers, and even from those of the Arians and other opposers of this doctrine, as early as the 4th and 5th centuries.
The first rule is of the most importance: "That when two personal nouns of the same case are connected by the copulative xa, if the former has the definite article, and the latter has not, they both relate to the same person." I would willingly give you an abstract of this useful work, were I assured that you had not seen it. But at all events the substance of the review of it, in the Orthodox Churchman's Magazine and Review for February, 1803, cannot be disagreeable. It follows:
"The principal object of Mr. Sharp is to deduce from the New Testament, an important rule, with regard to the structure of the Greek language, and afterwards to apply that rule to the correction of the translation of several passages in our established English version of the scriptures; which passages will
be found, when rendered according to Mr. Sharp's ideas, to contain the most express testimonies to the divinity of our Saviour. The rule in question is as above stated. A large collection of passages from the New Testament is here exhibited to afford sufficient and satisfactory instances of the rule thus laid down. The texts referred to by Mr. Sharp, and which bring with them, according to his system, the very important doctrinal conclusions, which we have briefly mentioned, are the following Acts xx. 28. (if we follow the reading, rov Okov xxi Kugiov.) Ephesians v. 5. 2 Thes. i. 12. 1 Tim. v. 21. 2 Tim. iv. 1. (if we read, του Θεου και Κυρίου.) Tit. ii. 13. 2 Pet. i. 1. and Jude 4. All of which are therefore to be rendered severally in these significations: 1st. The church of him, who is Lord and God. 2d. In the kingdom of Christ our God. 3d. According to the grace of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord. 4th and 5th. Before Jesus Christ our God and Lord. 6th. The glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, our great God and Saviour. 7th. Of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 8th. Our only Master, Jesus Christ, both God and Lord.
The importance of this rule, especially on account of the very striking conclusions to which it thus leads us, will, we trust, sufficiently recommend it to the strictest investigation and scrutiny of the learned world. For ourselves we freely declare, that having given the subject a considerable portion of our attention, we find daily fresh instances and exemplifications of the rule, and as yet have met with
nothing, which in any respect tends to impeach its certainty and universality.
Let the thousands of readers of Greek, produce a few instances to contradict the rule, and then will be the proper time to consider, whether or not it must be given up forever. The conclusions however seem in general to be secured within a second wall, by the interesting, and we will say, surprising result of the investigation of the laborious author of the Six Letters, the general object of which is, to arrive at those same conclusions by another road; to establish the same truths by a second, perfectly distinct train of reasoning. "It occurred to me," says the author, 66 that I should probably find some, at least, of those texts, the vulgar interpretation which you have called in question, cited and explained by the ancient fathers; not indeed as instances of any particular rule, but expounded by them naturally, as men would understand any other form of expression in their native language.
If these interpretations, thus discovered, should differ from Mr. S. it would seem to follow, that his rule would not be true; if they accorded with his, it would then seem that those conclusions must now, for a second reason, be admitted. This inference, however, would be still further secured, if we should discover from our investigation that those heretics, who were most pressed by these passages of scripture, while Greek was understood as a living language, never devised so ready an expedient of eluding their force, as modern ages have perpetually
had recourse to, viz. a pretended ambiguity in the form of expression in the original. This investigation presents us with an example of well directed patience and perseverance, which has seldom been surpassed. Almost all the vast remains of the Greek fathers, and a great part of the Latin, appear to have been closely examined. This contains, as far as materials could be found, a history of the interpretation of the texts in question, from the earliest times, nearly to the age of the reformation.
It is an important advantage of this history, that we learn from it, not only what is true, but we discover also the origin and progress of the false modern interpretation. In the last letter, a long series of instances is given, tending to show that from the very time of the apostles, the identical forms of expression, used in these texts of St. Paul, &c. were applied perpetually and invariably, in the sense which is agreeable to Mr. S.'s rule; and
hence proving sufficiently in what sense even those writers, who have not quoted them, did understand and would have explained and interpreted the passages in question.
Having thus given a view of the contents of these letters, we shall conclude, with earnestly recommending them to the notice of the public, and especially to those who have imbibed an inclination to Socinianism, to which system, a blow seems to be here given, which must spread a sickness through the whole frame. And though far from being prejudiced in favour of novelties in divinity, we cannot but add, that these works, are, in our estimation, calculated to produce the most remarkable change, which has long been witnessed in the theological world; and as constituting together, though of a small size, the most important defence of Christian doctrines, which this age, by no means deficient in such, has produced." Yours, very respectfully,
ADDRESS OF THE COUNCIL OF CENSORS OF THE STATE OF VERMONT.
"In our inquiries whether the laws have been duly executed, we are sorry to say, that the laws for the punishment of profane swearing are not attended to, as a matter of such importance requires.
"We consider the unnecessary and profane taking the name of God, which appears in proVol. III. No. 6.
fane oaths and horrid impreca tions, to be not only grating and offensive to every pious mind, and ruinous and destructive to community in general, especially to youth; but has a tendency likewise greatly to impair the validity of an oath before the magistrate.
"Considerations like these, on
a matter which so nearly concerns the commonwealth, which are so necessary towards ensuring and continuing the divine blessing and averting the tokens of divine displeasure, have determined us to say, that in this particular, the law is not duly executed.
"The above mentioned seems to have two sources; the deficiency of the law, in that case made and provided, is this, that it does not sufficiently define the duty of the informing officers; but more perhaps from this consideration, the too general neglect of those officers who are appointed to carry this law into execution. Melancholy is the prospect to the state, so far as the neglect prevails; for by reason of swearing, the land
"We can by no means neglect to mention, likewise, the undue execution of the law provided to restrain gaming; a practice by which time is wickedly spent, property foolishly lost, or unjustly gained; and a foundation hereby laid for the introduction of every species of immorality and dissipation.
"That law made for the express purpose of observing the Sabbath, does not appear to have been so executed as to answer the design of the law itself, nor the expectations of the serious part of the community. Perhaps there is no one consideration of more importance to the community, than the due observance of the Sabbath; and it has the greatest tendency to confirm men in the belief, in the veneration and esteem of a Supreme Being, in the conviction of his providence, and their own ac
countability to him; and as the veneration of the Deity, and a be lief in his providence, is inseparable from individual and social happiness, all the blessings of friendly intercourse, of justice, humanity and kindness, are in a great degree supported by a due observation of the same.
"The law against intemper ance seems not to be executed agreeably to the wishes of sober men in generaf.
"No crime is, perhaps, attended with more evit consequences to society and individuals, than that of drunkenness. In proportion as this vice prevails, the morals of old and young appear to be affected. If there be in any degree a reformation on this head, as many think there is, we sincerely rejoice and are glad; for we are sure that the glory of our state must consist in the virtue of her sons."
MR. Pratt, in the second volume of his Gleanings, relates an affecting anecdote of a sailor on board the Venerable, the ship in which Admiral Duncan commanded the fleet in the action against the Dutch, off Camperdown. He received the account from Dr. Duncan, Lord Duncan's chaplain and relative, who, in the action, assisted the surgeon and his mate in binding up the wounds, and amputating the limbs of the unfortunate sufferers.
"A mariner," says the Doctor, "of the name of Covey, was brought down to the surge
ry deprived of both his legs; and it was necessary, some hours after, to amputate still higher. "I suppose," said Covey, with an oath, "those scissors will finish the business of the ball, master mate?" "Indeed, my brave fellow," cried the surgeon, "there is some fear of it." "Well, never mind," said Covey, "I have lost my legs to be sure, and may hap may lose my life; but," continued he, with a dreadful oath, 66 we have beat the Dutch! we have beat the Dutch! so I'll even have another cheer for it: Huzza! huzza!"
This anecdote is rendered more interesting still, by some prior and subsequent circumstances attending this poor sailor. Covey was a good seaman, and noticed among his ship mates for his intrepidity; but he was preeminent in sin, as well as in courageous actions. About a, fortnight before the English fell in with the Dutch fleet, he dreamed that they were in an engagement, in which both his legs were shot off, and that he was out of his mind. The dream made this courageous seaman tremble, and sometimes attempt to pray; but, not liking to retain God in his thoughts, he endeavoured to obliterate the impressions from his memory, and the recollection of his sins from his conscience, by drinking and blasphemous intercourse with the ship's company. His efforts, however, were in vain. The thoughts of his sins, of God, and of death, harassed his mind day and night, and filled him with gloomy forebodings of what awaited him in this world and in the next, till the sight of the
Dutch fleet, and their conversation with each other concerning the heroic achievements they should perform, dispelled the gloomy subject from his mind. As the two fleets were coming into action, the noble Admiral, to save the lives of his men, ordered them to lie flat on the deck, till, being nearer the enemy, their firing might do the more execution. The Dutch ships at this time were pouring their broadsides into the Veneraable, as she passed down part of the Dutch fleet, in order to break. their line. This stout hearted and wicked Covey, having lost all the impressions of his former. reflections, heaped in rapid succession the most dreadful impre cations on the eyes, and limbs, and souls, of what he called his cowardly shipmates, for lying down to avoid the ball of the Dutch. He refused to obey the order till, fearing the authority of an officer not far from him, he in part complied, by leaning over a cask, which stood near, till the word of command was given to fire. At the moment of rising, a bar-shot carried away one of his legs and the greater part of the other; but, so instantaneous was the stroke, though he was sensible of something like a jar in his limbs, he knew not that he had lost a leg till his stump came to the deck, and he fell. When his legs were amputated higher up, and the noise of the battle had ceased, he thought of his dream; and expected, that as one part of it was fulfilled, the other would be so too. Indeed, considering the pain of amputating and dressing both legs, and the agitation of his mind from fearing the full