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some probability the precise view which the leper and others had of Christ, let us endeavor to make their situation our own. Let us suppose, that we were in expectation of the advent of a wonderful personage, a great prophet of God, to introduce a new dispensation of religion; and, if you please, that we were much in the dark with respect to the character of this dispensation, and of him who was to introduce it. Suddenly he comes, in circumstances of great outward humiliation, but, as appears on inquiry, with unparalleled wisdom and energy. He performs miracles in his own name and by his own authority;-miracles which require as much power as is necessary to create a world. He promulgates and explains the law of God as his He represents himself as saying to the wicked at the last day, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. After all this, when applications for healing are made to him on the express allegation that he possesses power over all diseases, he says, I will; be thou clean. Had we been present at these transactions, should we not have been ready to exclaim, "Verily God has become incarcate;' and should we not have offered divine worship to the Savior? But why need I ask these questions? Many enlightened Christians, perhaps a great majority of the Christian Church, have come to the conclusions here stated from the account of these transactions alone. Per haps no single passage of Scripture has convinced more persons of our Savior's divinity than his sermon on the mount. Was it
less convincing to those who heard, than to us who read it?
I now revert to the original inquiry: What right has a translator to circumscribe the meaning of the original? The word Lord gives the same latitude of explanation as the original; the word Sir is extremely limited. Let it not be supposed, that Dr. Campbell denied the divinity of our Savior; for he was evidently a believer in that doctrine.
Ver. 11. Instead of sit down, the word recline, or the phrase recline at table, would have been preferable. Campbell has an admirable criticism on the original words usually rendered to sit at meat, or to sit down, the whole of which criticism, I should imagine, would be acceptable to the readers of the Panoplist. The fact is, that the Jews and Romans, in the time of our Savior, never sat at table, but were universally placed at table in a recumbent posture. This fact, which is not known to most readers of the English Bible, is necessary to be known in order to understand several passages in the narratives of the Evangelists.
We are taught in this passage of Scripture, that when our Savior came down from the mount, after his sublime discourse had been finished, vast multitudes followed him; v. 1; that he cured a leper, with a word, receiving an ascription of divine power and exerting that power; v. 2, 3; that he commanded the observance of the ceremonial law, which related to restored lepers; v. 4; that on entering Capernaum, he
cured of the palsy a servant of a centurion, receiving an ascription of divine power and exerting that power; v. 5-9, and 13; that he was astonished at the centurion's faith, and pronounced it to be greater than any he had found, even among the Jews; v. 10; that many shall come from all parts of the world and be admitted to the enjoyments of heaven with the blessed patriarchs who were already there; v. 11; that many who had enjoy ed great religious privileges on earth, particularly many of the Jews, will be shut out of heaven, and banished to a place of cheerless gloom and extreme misery; v. 12; that he cured of a fever the mother of Peter's wife, so that she immediately arose and served them; v. 14, 15; that when evening came, (it being the Sabbath as appears from Mark i, 21-32,) many were brought to him possessed of evil spirits, or malignant intelligent beings; v. 16; that he cast out the evil spirits, and healed the sick; and that he thus accomplished a prophesy of Isaiah; v. 17.
Among the implied doctrines, which have not been already specified in this paper, are the following; that great humility attends great faith; v. 8; that our Savior was subject to human passions, and therefore was truly man; v. 10; that no ray of spiritual light beams upon the miserable inhabitants of hell; v. 12; that malignant spirits not only exist, but torment mankind; v. 16; and that the miracles of healing which our Savior performed were illustrative of his vicarious sufferings and atonement.
v. 17. PHILALETHES.
P. S. Within a few days, I have perused, in the General Repository, some animadversions on the numbers of Plain Scripture Readings which were contained in the Panoplist for February, March, and April last.
It is not my intention to discuss all the objectionable passages in these animadversions; but only to notice a few things, which may serve as a specimen of the whole, and ena ble the public to judge of the degree of credit due to these writers, whom, to avoid circumlocution, I shall call the Review
It is not improper to mention, for the information of those who are not acquainted with the General Repository, that the character of that work is evidently Socinian, though not avowedly so; and that it relies principally, unless I am altegether misinformed, on Sccinian patronage, as it is of late openly disowned, and warmly disapproved, by a large portion of the liberal party.
The occasion of the animadversions alluded to, was the charge contained in my second number, that 'the liberal party in Boston and the vicinity had exerted themselves much to obtain a circulation for the Improved Version.'* In the course of the discussion, various passages in that and the succeeding numbers, as well as the Editorial Remarks in the Panoplist for April, come in for a share of notice.
It will save me some trouble to state at the outset, that the Reviewers, in the course of their
*See Pan. for Feb. 1813, p. 397.
warmly recommend the Improved Version; and that in the first paragraph they have the following sentences: "For ourselves, we consider the charge simply stated, whether true or not, as perfectly harmless. In our opinion, it even gives those, against whom it is made, a title to praise. We certainly therefore have no intention of repelling it, though we are somewhat more than doubtful of its correctness."*
When I made the charge here referred to, I certainly believed it to be simply stated; nor do I see cause to alter that opinion. It is surely very intelligible; it is not connected with any other charge; and there is nothing which detracts from its simplicity, unless the reasons urged to support it may be supposed to partake of that character. But I had always imagined, that to state a charge without facts and arguments to support it, would be more censurable, than to exhibit with the charge the reasons which authorized the writer to make it: and I cannot but surmise, in reference, to the case before me, that if the facts and arguments had been less weighty and conclusive, the indignation of the Reviewers would have been less bitter, and their irrita tion less visible.
A serious charge is brought against a passage in Plain Scripture Readings which states, that the editors of the Improved Version "have expunged from the word of God the passages in question," whereas, in the opinion of the Reviewers, these "passages are not decidedly
*Gen. Repos. vol. iv, p. 195, VOL. IX.
condemned as spurious. The note concerning each begins only with saying, that it is of doubtful authority." All that appears from these notes is, that the editors considered these passages as probably interpolated. It is the expression of this opinion, and this solely, which is made the ground of charging them with a wilful mutilation of Scripture."t
It was stated in Plain Scripture Readings that these passa ges were expunged; and unless I can convince the reader, that they are expunged, so far as the editors could expunge them, I consent to be taken for the author of a hasty unsupported charge. Let it be remembered, however, that I dwelt quite as much on the alleged probability that these passages are spurious, as on the fact that they were actually expunged.
The editors of the Improved Version begin their note on the first chapter of Matthew by saying, "The remainder of this chapter, and the whole of the second, are printed in Italics, as an intimation that they are of doubtful authority." The editors next proceed to argue from the testimony of Epiphanus, and add, "If it be true, as Luke relates, chap. iii, 23, that Jesus was entering upon his thirtieth year (see Wakefield's translation) in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, he must have been born two years at least after the birth of Herod, a circumstance which alone invalidates the whole story." Do the cditors here leave it doubtful, whether the whole story is invalidated? All admit that Luke re
Gen. Repos. p. 199. 22
lates the truth in the passage referred to. The editors make Luke affirm, (what by the way he does not affirm,) "that Jesus was entering upon his thirtieth year in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius;" and then say, 'if this be true, it is a circumstance which alone invalidates the whole story. Let it be observed, that the editors have endeavored to defend their interpretation of the passsge in Luke, with a view to this very conclusion, in their note on that passage. Every man of common understanding can easily determine whether the above positive inference does not expunge the whole story, so far as the editors could expunge it.
Again; the editors say; "If this account be true, the proper name of Jesus, according to the uniform custom of the Jews, would have been Jesus of Bethlehem, not Jesus of Nazareth." Now we know, that the designation of our Savior was Jesus of Nazareth, and not Jesus of Bethlehem, and therefore we are taught by these editors to infer, that 'the account in question is not true. Whether an account, which is represented as not true, is thus expunged from the Bible, or not, I shall not detain the readers of the Panoplist to inquire.
The editors also say, in the same note, that "some of the facts have a fabulous appearance, and the reasoning from the prophecies of the Old Testawent is inconclusive." And
they close their note by saying, "The account of the miraculous conception of Jesus was probably the fiction of some early Gentile convert, who hoped by
elevating the dignity of the Founder, to abate the popular prejudice against the sect." It may be remarked here, that the probability mentioned in the last quotation relates most naturally to the question, whether the passage was the fiction of some early Gentile convert, or of some other person: and it is presumable, that the editors would not talk of probability, as to the genuineness of the passage, after the assertions above quoted.
The substance of the note here under discussion is as follows: The editors begin with intimating that the passage is of doubtful authority; they admit that it is contained in all manuscripts and versions extant; they argue its spuriousness from the reported state of the Gospel of the Ebionites; they assert, that if Luke speaks the truth, (and they admit that he does,) his narration invalidates the whole story; they allege, that the facts have a fabulous appearance, and that the reasoning is inconclusive; they wish, us to conclude, that the account cannot be true, because Christ was called Jesus of Nazareth; and they close with a conjecture as to the probable writer of the passage, which, if they are to be credited, had previously been proved to be a fiction.
In regard to the two first chapters of Luke, the editors pursue nearly the same course. They begin by saying, that these chapters, (excepting the four first verses of the first,) are printed in Italics "as an indication that they are of doubtful authority: for though they are to be found in ali manuscripts and versions which are now ex
tant, yet the following considerations have induced many to doubt whether they were really written by Luke." They then proceed to state six heads of argument, most of them frivolous in the extreme, as reasons for doubting. Among these reasons are the following:
"1. The Evangelist express ly affirms, that Jesus had completed his thirtieth year in the 15th year of the reign of TiberiAfter arguing from dates and facts, they add, "Herod therefore must have been dead upwards of two years before Christ was born. A fact which invalidates the whole narration." Herod must have been dead, say the editors, and this is a fact
which invalidates the whole narration. One would think this is a curious reason for doubting; although, if well-founded, it is an ample reason for rejecting the passage altogther. Again:
"4. If the account of the miraculous conception of Jesus be true, he could not be the offspring of David and of Abraham; from whom it was predicted, and by the Jews expected, that the Messiah should descend." Now we know, and these editors do not deny, that Christ was the offspring of David and of Abraham; the inference is, so far as any credit is attached to their reasoning, that the account of the miraculous conception cannot be true, and, therefore, that the passage which contains it must be spurious. At the close of their six heads of argument, they say, "There are many other circumstances in the story which wear an improbable and fabulous aspect." They also refer the reader to their "note
upon the two first chapters of Matthew."
A word, in passing, on the care and accuracy of these annotators. In their note on Matthew, they express themselves thus: "If it be true, as Luke relates, chap. iii, 23, that Jesus was entering upon his thirtieth year,' in the 15th of Tiberius, &c. In their note on Luke, they say; "The Evangelist expressly affirms, that Jesus had completed his thirtieth year in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cesar, chap. iii, 1, 23." These men must have had poor memories. When they had advanced as far as Luke, they seem to have forgotten what they said on Matthew, though in the latter note they refer the reader to the former. Certain it is, that these notes do not stand well side by side, as they are both expressed with the most undoubting positiveness; and it is not less certain, that neither of them is correct, as Luke affirms neither the one thing nor the other. But to re
turn from this digression:
Have the editors expunged these passages from the Scriptures? I have no hesitation in declaring that they have; and have no doubt, that ninety-nine out of a hundred, throughout the whole literary and Christian world, would unite in the declaration, It is no violent figure to say, that an author has expunged a passage from a book, when he has declared his belief that the passage is spurious; especially if he states that the passage must be spurious. When I take up a statute book, and read, at the close of an act of the Legislature, This law has been repealed, I should feel myself warrant,