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surviving manuscript and the invention of printing. Every one who is very sensitive for the purity and integrity of the evangelical records will feel it to be of the first importance that the English reader should at length be put in possession of the text of the Sacred Volume, purged from the heterogeneous incrustations which its surface has contracted during its passage down the stream of dark and turbid ages. ... It is imperative that we should at length secure and complete what GRIESBACH had begun, by throwing altogether out of the text every thing apocryphal and spurious, and thus attain to a conformity with primitive Christian antiquity. GRANVILLE PENN : Annotations to the Book of the New Covenant, pp. 18, 47–8.
Respectable and excellent as our common version is, considering the time and circumstances under which it was made, no person will contend that it is incapable of important amendment. A temperate, impartial, and careful revision would be an invaluable benefit to the cause of Christianity; and the very laudable exertions which are now made to circulate the Bible render such a revision, at the present time, a matter of still more pressing necessity. It is a failing of the same kind, when the text of the common Hebrew and Greek editions is adduced as indubitably and in every case the divine original, without any previous consideration or inquiry. . . . Every Christian who is moderately informed on these subjects knows, that the early editions of the original Scriptures could not possess a text so well ascertained as those which the superior means and the diligent industry of modern editors have been enabled to attain; that from these early editions all the established Protestant versions were made; and that an accurate and impartial criticism of the published text, as well as of any translation, must lie at the foundation of all satisfactory deduction of theological doctrine from the words of Scripture. – DR. JOHN PYE SMITH: Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, pp. 39-41.
These extracts, which might easily have been increased by quotations from Dr. DAVID DURELI, Dr. JOHN SYMONDS, Dr. GEORGE CAMPBELL, Archbishop NEWCOME, S. T. COLERIDGE, Dr. "THOMAS ARNOLD, and many others, are given chiefly for the purpose of showing, that the dissatisfaction with the received text and common version of the Scriptures, so often manifested by Unitarians, does not involve any irreverence for the word of God; a species of impiety with which they have been often charged. Indeed, none are more accustomed than learned and devout Trinitarians to change the translation of certain passages in the Bible, notwithstanding the superstitious reverence paid by others to the authorized version.
THE SACRED BOOKS NOT INSPIRED RECORDS, BUT
RECORDS OF REVELATION.
The law by Moses came;
But peace and truth and love
Descending from above.
$1. THE DOGMA OF THE VERBAL OR THE PLENARY INSPIRATION OF
THE BIBLE NOT SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE.
If any man is of opinion, that Moses might write the history of those actions which he himself did or was present at, without an immediate revelation of them; or that Solomon, by his natural and acquired wisdom, might speak those wise sayings which are in his Proverbs; or the evangelists might write what they heard and saw, or what they had good assurance of from others, as St. Luke tells he did; or that St. Paul might write for his cloak and parchments at Troas, and salute by name his friends and brethren; or that he might advise Timothy to drink a little wine, &c., without the immediate dictate of the Spirit of God,— he seems to have reason on his side. For that men may, without an immediate revelation, write those things which they think without a revelation, seems very plain. And that they did so, there is this probable argument for it; because we find that the evangelists, in relating the discourses of Christ, are very far from agreeing in the particular expressions and words, though they do agree in the substance of the discourses : but, if the words had been dictated by the Spirit of God, they must have agreed in them. For when St. Luke differs from St. Matthew in relating what our Saviour said, it is impossible that they should both relate it right as to the very words and form of expression ; but they both relate the substance of what he said. And, if it had been of concernment that every thing that they wrote should be dictated ad apicem, to a tittle, by the Spirit of God, it is of the same concernment still, that the providence of God should have secured the Scriptures since to a tittle from the least alteration; which that it is not done, appears by the various readings both of the Old and New Testament, concerning which no man can infallibly say that this is right, and not the other. It seems sufficient in this matter to assert, that the Spirit of God did reveal to the penmen of the Scriptures what was necessary to be revealed; and, as to all other things, that he did superintend them in the writing of it, so far as to secure them from any material error or mistake in what they have delivered. ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON : Sermon 222; in Works, vol. xi. pp. 185-6.
In the selection of their arguments, Jesus and the apostles could not at all times confine themselves to those truths which were most convincing to themselves and other really enlightened men; but they were also under the necessity of employing such reasonings as carried most weight with their contemporaries, and certain of their hearers or readers. ... Hence it is that many of those arguments which the founders of Christianity made use of are not perfectly convincing to us; as, for example, Matt. xxii. 30–32. 2 Cor. iii. 7. 1 Cor. xi. 4-10. Heb. v.-ix.; which contain many arguments of this nature, which were adapted only to the modes of thinking of the Jews. Jesus and the apostles adapted themselves to the modes of thinking chiefly of the Jews, in their citations and applications of passages of the Old Testament, when propounding certain truths of the gospel
. This is designated the special accommodation of passages in the Old Testament to the expression of the truths and objects of the New.... Thus Jesus applied what had been said by David of Ahithophel to Judas Iscariot, John xii. 18. In this manner, in Matt. ii. 15-18, are several passages of Scripture applied to Jesus and his history. ...... As the four evangelists narrate every thing either as they saw and heard it themselves, or as they obtained it from credible eye-witnesses; but as every individual regards an object from his own standing point; so in these narrations they very often vary from one another, so as, however, to coincide in the main. . As to what especially relates to the contradictions which exist between passages of the Old Testament, when it is taken into consideration that the Bible consists of a collection of books, written at various times through a course of many • centuries, some of them composed at the earliest periods of the existence of the human race, and all continually transcribed by later copyists, and frequently corrupted in many passages by the hands of correctors, it could scarcely fail to contain contradictions. ... The religious notions of the primitive race of mankind were universally sensuous and imperfect. They became gradually more pure and perfect. This perfectibility of subjective religion was progressively developed until the time of Christ. When, in the course of time, men had attained clearer and more correct views of divine things, .contradictions must naturally have taken place between men's present and past religious notions. For instance, in the books of Moses, unclean animals are forbidden to be eaten. A voice proclaims to Peter, “ Eat of these unclean animals,” Acts X. .... A round number is often put for a more definite one. Matt. xvii. 1, Jesus took with him his three disciples up the mountain six days after the prediction of his sufferings; but, according to Luke, it happened eight days after (ix. 28): it amounts to one and the same thing. A writer is sometimes accustomed to ascribe to several individuals what took place with respect to but one of them. Thus the thieves on the cross, according to Matthew, reviled Jesus; but, according to Luke, it was only one. The sacred history must be judged of according to the genius of those times. It must be recollected, that their authors were not men of learning; that they were but human beings, and might therefore err; and that it did not seem fit to Divine Wisdom to preserve them by an extraordinary influence from harmless errors in matters of secondary importance. ... Luke and Mark were not present to hear and see all that Jesus said or did. They therefore narrate what they had received from eye-witnesses, or had read in other histories of the life of Jesus then extant. When they subsequently wrote these down from memory only, this might have easily given rise to a difference in the narrations. GEORGE FREDERIC SEILER: Biblical Hermeneutics, translated by Dr. William Wright, $$ 267–8, 302, 323, 325-6.
We have made this large extract from Dr. SEILER, because, though a German, he was so good a man and so orthodox a divine as to receive the highest encomiums of his translator and of Dr. John Pye Smith. These writers say, that his theological publications, one of which was a work on the Deity of Christ,“ are distinguished by their candid and luminous method of examining evidence and discussing difficulties, by their spirit of practical piety, and by their tendency to show the harmony which ever subsists between the highest exertions of reason in all the improvements of science and literature, and the pure religion of the Bible.” See Memoir of Seiler, prefixed to Dr. Wright's translation of “ Biblical Hermeneutics."
With a full persuasion of soul respecting all the articles of the Christian faith,... I receive willingly also the truth of the history; namely, that the word of the Lord did come to Samuel, to Isaiah, to others; and that the words which gave utterance to the same are faithfully recorded. But though the origin of the words, even as of the miraculous acts, be supernatural; yet, the former once uttered, the
latter once having taken their place among the phenomena of the senses, the faithful recording of the same does not of itself imply, or seem to require, any supernatural working, other than as all truth and goodness are such. ... I believe the writer in whatever he himself relates of his own authority, and of its origin; but I cannot find any such claim, as the doctrine in question (that all that exists in the Sacred Volume was dictated by an infallible Intelligence] supposes, made by these writers, explicitly or by implication. On the contrary, they refer to other documents, and in all points express themselves as sober-minded and veracious writers under ordinary circumstances are known to do. ...... Say that the Book of Job throughout was dictated by an infallible Intelligence. Then reperuse the book, and still, as you proceed, try to apply the tenet: try if you can even attach any sense or semblance of meaning to the speeches which you are reading. What! were the hollow truisms, the unsufficing half-truths, the false assumptions, and malignant insinuations of the supercilious bigots who corruptly defended the truth; -were the impressive facts, the piercing outcries, the pathetic appeals, and the close and powerful reasoning with which the poor sufferer smarting at once from his wounds, and from the oil of vitriol which the orthodox liars for God were dropping into them -- impatiently, but uprightly and holily, controverted this truth, while in will and in spirit he clung to it; — were both dictated by an infallible Intelligence ? Alas! if I may judge from the manner in which both indiscriminately are recited, quoted, appealed to, preached upon, by the routiniers of desk and pulpit, I cannot doubt that they think so, or rather, without thinking, take for granted that so they are to think. . . . . All the miracles which the legends of monk or rabbi contain can scarcely be put in competition, on the score of complication, inexplicableness, the absence of all intelligible use or purpose, and of circuitous self-frustration, with those that must be assumed by the maintainers of this doctrine, in order to give effect to the series of miracles by which all the nominal composers of the Hebrew nation before the time of Ezra, of whom there are any remains, were succes sively transformed into automaton compositors, so that the original text should be in sentiment, image, word, syntax, and composition, an exact impression of the divine copy! — S. T. COLERIDGE: Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit ; in Works, vol. v. pp. 583-4, 593–4, 612.
We know that the Catholics look with as great horror on the consequences of denying the infallibility of the church as you (the Rev. John Tucker) can do on those of denying the entire inspiration of the