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TE VEU pe ce ayrou, as a personal noun, in the second example of your second rule, taken from Luke ii. 26, you cannot but consider this passage of Justin as conforming to all your limitations, and as perfectly unobjectionable every way.
Here, Sir, there is no Alexandrian MS. to draw, letter by letter, for a various reading; no comma, which, by your new theory of punctuation,* you can at pleasure either convert into a full point, or prove to be no point at all, by discovering, with the help of your magnifying glass, that it is nearly three times as long as it is broad it nothing that you can book in; nothing to accommodate you. Alas! alas! will none of those powers, whose aid you are ordinarily accustomed to invoke, come to your assistance at this critical juncture? Must your minion, like another darling, whose cries “ nor cruel Tom “ nor Susan heard," be doomed to prove,
a fasc vourite has no friend?”
* If you will look once more into the Port Royal Greek grammar, you will there see a full confutation of your theory of punctuation. In his introductory observations to Syntax, No. 3, the author of that work will inform you, that the antient Greeks used the point sometimes to denote a comma, and not always * full period, as you will have it to be.
+ This magnifier does not always prove to be, in your hands, the mirror of accuracy. In p. 38 and 39, you tell us that the Alexandrian MS. omits xpiss-in 1 Tim. v. 21., and has xupis without rx before it, in 2 Tim. iv. l. But this is a wrong statement of the Alexandrian readings, in both these texts. And the error evidently arises from your having mistaken the Alexan. drian contraction of gepise for that of xupes. The reading of both texts in that MS, is the same,
What if you make an extraordinary effort in this sad dilemma, and say, that some 'impious Socinian' has expunged the article or before reveupalos, in the passage from Justin? You know, Sir, you have been witness to the wicked tricks of these same 'apos"tates and sadducees,' and have kindly favoured us. with some shrewd hints, (p. 36. 40. 49.), of their omitting words and interpolating points in the most valuable MS. in the kingdom, on purpose to ruin your theory, and the doctrine deduced from it.* Alas! the mischief here would be that, if you say the article has been surreptitiously taken away
from this passage, those confounded fellows, the Socinians, will remind you of what they will call the equity of that impertinent maxiin, petimus damusque vicissim, and will claim a right of thrusting a second article into any one of your inistranslated texts, which they think proper to have on their own side, and so ruin
way. What are we to do? The grand champion of orthodoxy, the mighty magician, he that turns man
* When Sir Roger de Coverley, in his visit to Westminster.abbey, was shewn the figure of one of our kings without a head, be said to the guide, who told him the head had been stolen ;« Some whig, I'll warrant you ;-you ought to lock up your “kings better ; they will carry off the body too, if you don't
take care." But I think, Sir, the good old knight was no match for you at a shrewd suspicion. His whigs, at least had something to get by their attempt, for the head, it seems, was of beaten silver ; but your bugbears, the Socinians, had nothing to hope for from their bungling plots to ruin you, (as you tell us,
. 36,) but certain detection and demonstrated ignorance and • absurditya
into 'God, and yet keeps him man still, making him so perfectly both, that he is completely neither; the great ó, n, to, is at his last gasp. “ Mighty victor,
mighty lord, low on his funeral couch he lies !" And unless you administer something of more efficacy than all that you have yet prescribed," thy son “ is gone, he rests among the dead;" whilo xados Αδωνις, επαιαζεσιν Ερωθες. But you
will administer, I doubt not, some new nostrum, some fresh additional limitations ; for it seems (page 2), your darling has had these ugly fainting fits before now, and successive doses of limitation given, as I conjecture, pro re nata, have already saved his life three several times. Your friend produced some examples against you, consisting probably of impersonal nouns, and your alarm suggested your first limitation. He then produced some plurals, and that called forth your second. And lastly, he produced some proper names, and that conjured up your third. And thus, to combat every new
* What a fine thing greek is! Before men come to the use of their reason, fe, fa, fum serves well enough to frighten them out of their senses.
But the Bible is so very plain and full, from one end of it to the other, for the unity of the Deity, so expressly de. nies the doctrine of a trinity, declaring that no person whatever but the father of Jesus is truly God, (John xvii. 1-3.), that almost any way-faring man, when arrived at years of maturity, reading it according to the apostles rules, (1 Cor. xiv. 20. 1 Thess. v. 21.) would find it more than a match for infant prejudices; and there would be no keeping the common people sound in the mystery of three persons in one nature, and two natures in one person, if og vin to and his brethren were not at hand to carry on the good work which fe, fa, fuum has so happily begun.
example, example, you might go on, for there is no end of these fancies, with new limitations, perpetually giving us“ another and another, to the last syllable of “ recorded time.” The only reason that you
have for making any of your limitations, past, present, or to come, whether you are thoroughly aware of it or not, is, I ain satisfied, this; that
find them very convenient things to disarm your opponents, and to prevent the discovery, and proscribe the use, of all such examples as you cannot convert to your own purposes.
As I know not, therefore, how many or what sort of limitations you may have in reserve, I shall take the shortest way to put an end to limitations of all sorts and sizes, by inquiring into the true import and meaning of those texts of scripture, which, by means of your multifarious devices of hooks, italics, transpositions, accommodations, limitations, &c. &c. you would press into the service of absurdity, and of which, for this noble purpose, you have given us what you call a corrected, and I a corrupted, version.
* “ Men first contrive their religion, and possess their fancies " thoroughly with their private opinions, and then read the “ scripture with no other design, then to find something there to
stamp divinity on their own conceits. Such men found their
religion on obscure texts, or mystical interpretations of plain € texts, and by the help of some arbitrary distinctions and limio " tations, glosses, and paraphrases, by curtailing of texts, or “ transplacing words and commas, or separating a single sentence * from the body of the discourse, make the scripture speak their
sense as plainly, as the bells ring what every boy will have * them. Which is, to deal with the scripture, (as Irenæus ob. serves,) as if a man should take a picture of the king, which
And here we shall come into a little closer contact with your friend the compiler, who has confined his lucubrations to these texts, and to the exposition given of them by fathers and schoolmen ; men who were once thought to be inspired, but whose tapers now burn very dim and blue, and who are in no small danger of having their very candlesticks removed out of their places. But before I descend to particulars, I must say something about the general plan of your correspondent,
His whole fabric rests upon a rotten foundation, or rather it is built without any foundation at all. It is not only “unwieldy and cumbersome,' but quite baseless. He begins with observing, that if your
rule be true, the fathers would be found to adhere to it, by giving 'invariably to the texts in question the
same sense in which you understand them.' (p. 3.) This might be granted; though, if the rule be not altogether mechanical, and wholly dependant upon habitual custom for its application, but require some skill, discernment, and nicety of observation in the use of it, even this might not be altogether true, especially of the later fathers, many of whom were extremely ignorant, and without the least pretensions to accuracy or discernment. But suppose all this be “ consisted of an artificial composition of precious stones, and
transplace all these stones into another form, as suppose of an “ape, and then should persuade silly people that that was the “ king's picture : at this rate we may find the Alcoran in the “ Bible, as well as make so many books, so different and contrary “ to each other from the various composition of twenty-four « letters."-Dean SHERLOCK's Discourse concerning the knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2d. edit. 1674. p. 70.