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how coarse soever, answered all the essential purposes of clothing: the same may be said of the language which they spoke. And if it be argued, that good language would create greater respect to their persons, and closer attention to what they said, and consequently would contribute to its making a deeper impression; as such may be affirmed, with truth, of a genteel appearance, both of person and of dress. Nothing serves more powerfully to quash curiosity and expectation, and consequently to destroy attention, than such an external figure as generally accompanies poverty and ignorance, and suggests a total want of the advantages of education, and more especially of that indispensable advantage which the fashionable world calls seeing good company.
But these very disadvantages or defects, both in speech and in outward figure, are assigned by the inspired writers as the reason of God's preference, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways his ways. Paul argues, that the success of the preachers of the gospel, in spite of the absence of those accomplishments in language then so highly valued, was an evidence of the divine power and energy with which their ministry was accompanied. He did not address them, he tells us, 1 Cor. i. 17, "with the wisdom of words," with artificial periods, and a studied elocution, "lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect;"-lest to human eloquence that success should be ascribed, which ought to be attributed to the divinity of the doctrine, and the agency of the Spirit, in the miracles wrought in support of it. There is hardly any sentiment which he is at greater pains to enforce. "He used none of the enticing or persuasive words of man's wisdom." Wherefore?" That their faith might not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God," 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. Should I ask, What was the reason why our Lord Jesus Christ chose, for the instruments of that most amazing revolution in the religious systems of mankind, men perfectly illiterate, and taken out of the lowest class of the people? your answer to this will serve equally for an answer to that other question-Why did the Holy Spirit choose to deliver such important truths in the barbarous idiom of a few obscure Galileans, and not in the politer and more harmonious strains of Grecian eloquence? I repeat it, the answer to both questions is the same-That it might appear, beyond contradiction, that the excellency of the power was of God, and not of man.*
Those who desire to see this argument treated as it affects infidels, (who make a handle of the badness of the style to discredit revelation, may consult the late Bishop of Gloucester's Doctrine of Grace, B. I. ch. viii-x. I here consider the question chiefly as affecting some well-meaning but mistaken Christians. It may be proper further to observe, that the opinion of the very acute and learned author of the work above-mentioned, does not, on the subject of inspiration laid down in chap. vii., in every thing coincide with that here supported. A distinction is made by him, not only between the style and the sentiments, but between the sentiments of greater and those of less moment, in the several books. The latter distinction leads to a controversy which is quite foreign from my argument, and with which for that reason I have not meddled.
11. There are some collateral purposes which Providence has effected by the same means. One is, that the writings of the New Testament carry, in the very expression and idiom, an intrinsic and irresistible evidence of their authenticity. They are such as, in respect of style, could not have been written but by Jews, and hardly even by Jews superior in rank and education to those whose names they bear. And what greatly strengthens the argument is, that under this homely garb we find the most exalted sentiments, the closest reasoning, the purest morality, and the sublimest doctrine. The homeliness of their diction, when criticised by the rules of grammarians and rhetoricians, is what all the most learned and judicious of the Greek fathers frankly owned. And is it modest in us, petty critics of modern times, to pretend to be nicer judges of purity and elegance in the Greek language, than Origen and Chrysostom, whose native tongue it was; and who, besides, were masters of uncommon skill, as well as fluency, in that language? I have heard of a French critic who undertook to demonstrate that Aristotle did not understand Greek, nor Livy Latin. There is hardly an opinion so paradoxical or absurd as not to find some admirers. What wonder then that we should meet with people who esteem a Pfochinius and a Blackwall* better judges of Greek than the greatest orators among the Grecians, and maintain that Paul's style, in spite of his own verdict, is as classical as Plato's? The writings of the ancient Greeks have been rummaged for the discovery of words and phrases, which, in the import given them, might appear to resemble what has been accounted Hebraism or Syriasm in the New Testament. The success of such endeavours has been far from giving satisfaction to readers of discernment. It will readily be acknowledged by the impartial, that several idioms in the New Testament have been mistaken for oriental, which may be as truly denominated Grecian. But there remains a much larger number of those brought under that class, concerning which there can be no reasonable doubt.†
* A. Blackwall, author of "The Sacred Classics defended and illustrated."
The very first words of the gospel, Bichos yevics, for genealogy or lineage, are one example amongst hundreds that might be produced. How many meanings are given to the word cap, flesh, in that sacred volume, for which you will not find a single authority in any profane writer? Beside the original meaning of the word universally admitted, it sometimes denotes the whole body considered as animated, as in Matt. xxvi. 41, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."-This may indeed be thought to be, of all the deviations from the proper sense, the most defensible on classical and rhetorical principles, being not an unnatural synecdoche of the part for the whole.-Secondly, It sometimes means a human being, as in Luke iii. 6, All flesh shall see the salvation of God:"-Sometimes, 3dly, a person's kindred collectively considered, as in Rom. xi. 14, "If by any means may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh :” - Sometimes, 4thly, any thing of an external or ceremonial nature, as opposed to that which is internal and moral, as in Gal. iii. 3, "Having begun in the spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"-Sometimes, 5thly, the sensitive part of our nature, the seat of appetite, as in 2 Cor. vii. 1, "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit;" where there can be
12. The methods by which our opponents on this article support their hypothesis, are, I say, unsatisfactory. There are such negligences in the style, even of the best writers, as to render it unsafe to pronounce on the goodness of an expression which we have only once met with, though in a celebrated author. Much less ought a singular phrase found in one single classic, similar to an idiom frequent in the New Testament, to be accounted evidence that the idiom was in general and approved use, which always determines purity in every tongue. The singularity in the one case, opposed to the frequency in the other, should lead us to a very different conclusion. The evidence cannot be more satisfactory which arises from a particular turn of expression occurring in some poetical work, and coinciding with an idiom current in the New Testament, which is written in prose. We know that the Greek poetry had a peculiar dialect, and many peculiar words; and that their poets were, by the laws of their versification, allowed a latitude in this respect, with which their prose writers were not indulged: nor is there any thing that their critics more loudly condemn, as savouring of artifice and affectation, than what may be called a poetic phraseology in prose. Let it not be imagined that I think the sacred penmen chargeable with any thing affected or artificial in their phraseology. There is no character of style for which they are more distinguishable than the reverse. But what would be justly denominated artificial, affected, and foreign, in a native of Attica, might be the result of the most undesigning and natural simplicity in an inhabitant of Palestine, because conformable to the idioms of his native language. Further, a strong resemblance in an expression admitted to be classical, will not suffice for removing the charge of foreign idiom from the resembling but different expression. In most cases nothing less than identity will serve.*
no doubt that the pollutions of the flesh must be those of the appetites, being opposed to the pollutions of the spirit, or those of the passions:-6thly, and lastly, It is employed to denote any principle of vice and moral pravity of whatever kind. Thus, among the "works of the flesh," Gal. v. 19-21, are numbered not only "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, drunkenness, and revellings," which all relate to criminal indulgences of appetite, but "idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, and murders," which are manifestly vices of a different kind, and hold more of the diabolical nature than of the beastly. Now, for any of the six meanings above-mentioned, except perhaps the first, as to which I will not be positive, we may defy those critics to produce classical authority. Yet no man accustomed to the oriental idiom, and the style of the sacred writers, can mistake the sense in any of the passages quoted.
* I shall illustrate this by an example, in regard to which every English reader can with safety be more decisive, than even men of literature are qualified to be in regard to an example taken from a dead language. In a letter during the late war from the captain of a French privateer to the magistrates of a sea-port, demanding a contribution, and threatening in case of non-compliance to destroy the town, there was this expression, "I will make my duty." No Englishmen, we are certain, would have expressed himself so, unless he had done it for a disguise. Yet I can easily conceive that a foreigner, who has learned our language only by book, might specially maintain, that the expression, so far from being a Gallicism, is unexcep
Recourse to synonymas, analogy, and etymology, is necessary, and often successful, in discovering the sense of an obscure expression, whereof nothing less than the use of good authors will warrant the propriety or elegance. Sufficient evidence in the one case, is often no evidence in the other.
13. Blackwall* admits freely that there are many Hebraisms in the New Testament, at the same time asserting that they are real beauties, which add both vigour and ornament to the expression. In this opinion, if he was serious, I believe that, upon examination, we shall not be found to differ. Abstracting from that lowest kind of beauty in language which results from its softness and harmony, considered as an object to the ear, every excellency of style is relative, arising solely from its fitness for producing in the mind of the reader the end intended by the writer. Now in this view it is evident, that a style and manner may, to readers of one denomination, convey the writer's sentiments with energy as well as perspicuity, which to those of a different denomination convey them feebly, darkly, and, when judged by their rules of propriety, improperly. This I take to have been actually the case with the writers of the New Testament. I speak particularly of the historical books. I look upon the language of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as better adapted to the readers for whose use the Gospels and Acts were at first composed, than the language of Plato or Demosthenes would have been.
tionable English. "Is it not," he would argue, "common to say, I will do my duty? Now, if this expression be classical, where is the impropriety in substituting one synonymous word for another?" And to show that do and make are synonymous, he might urge, first, that in most other tongues one word serves for both. Thus each of them is rendered into Latin, facere; into Italian, fure; into French, faire. Secondly, though he had not found in any English book the identical phrase to make duty, he could produce expressions in which there is an entire similarity. To make court, to make obeisance, are both good; nay, it strengthens the argument, that to do obeisance is also used in the same signification. Shakspeare says, "What make they there!" which is equivalent to What do they there? Dryden speaks of "the faults he had made;" though, doubtless, the more usual expression would have been, "the faults he had done." Now, from the first principles of analogy we are warranted to conclude, that if making a fault be proper to express doing wrong, making a duty is proper to express doing right.-All this is very plausible, and would probably be sufficient to convince most strangers, but would only extort a smile from an intelligent native, on whom a thousand such arguments could make no impression. Yet I will venture to affirm, that, if there be no solidity in this reasoning, nine-tenths of what has been so pompously produced, to show that the supposed Hebraisms of the New Testament are in the genuine idiom of the Greek tongue, are no better than arrant trifling. It was to triflers of this sort that Chrysostom said very appositely, 'Iva un καταγελωμεθα έντω διαλεγόμενοι προς Ελληνας, επειδαν ήμιν προς αυτους αγων ην, κατηγορωμεν αποστολων ως αμαθων, ή γας κατηγορια αυτη εγκωμιον· Chrys. Hom. 3. in 1 Cor. i. "That we may not render ourselves ridiculous, arguing thus with Grecians, for our dispute is with them, let us accuse the apostles of being illiterate, for this is an encomium." Origen goes still farther, and says, Oux aσuvaloonTO & ATTOCTORO TUYXAνοντές των εν οις προσκόπτουσι, φασιν ιδίωται είναι τῷ λόγῳ, αλλ' ου τη γνώσει. Philoc. c. 4. "The apostles, not insensible of their own defects, profess themselves to be of the vulgar in speech, but not in knowledge."
Sacr. Class. Part i. c. 1.
I should at the same time think it unreasonable to deny, that the latter must have been more intelligible to an Athenian, and much more pleasing, nervous, and animated, than the former. Nay, if such a one had even denominated the idiom of the New Testament barbarous, I should not have thought it an unpardonable offence. The word indeed sounds harshly; but we know that, from the mouths of native Greeks, it could only mean that the idiom of that book is not conformable to the rules of their grammarians and rhetoricians, and to the practice of their writers of reputation;-a concession which we may easily make them, without derogating in the least from the apostles and evangelists; -a concession which (as was observed before) the most learned and oratorical of the Greek fathers did not scruple to make. In such cases, it is evident that a native of common sense is a much better judge than a learned foreigner."*
14. I expressed myself dubiously of Blackwall's seriousness in affirming, that the oriental idioms, with which the sacred authors abound, are highly ornamental to their compositions; because nothing can be plainer than that he is indefatigable in controverting their claims to the greater part of those ornaments. I cannot think he would have willingly injured them; yet it is impossible not to perceive, that he is at infinite pains, though on the most frivolous pretexts, † to divest them of almost every beauty of this sort ascribed to them by others! I desire only to restore to them the merit, of which he has not very consistently, though I believe with a pious intention, endeavoured to strip them. This critic did not consider, that, when he admitted any Hebraisms in the New Testament, he in effect gave up the cause. That only can be called a Hebraism in a Greek book, which, though agreeable to the Hebrew idiom, is not so to the Greek. Nobody would ever call that a Scotticism which is equally in the manner of both Scots and English. Now, such
Hardly any foreigner of the last century has been more conversant with English men and English books than Voltaire. Yet his knowledge of our language, on which I have been told he piqued himself not a little, has not secured him from blundering when he attempted to write it. In a letter to the Parisians, prefixed to his comedy L'Ecossaise, which he thought proper to introduce to the world as a translation, he quotes the following sentence as part of a letter he had received from the English author: "You have quite impoverished the character of Wasp; and you have blotted his chastisement at the end of the drama." An Englishman might have guessed what he meant by the first clause, but must have remained in total darkness about the second, if he had not explained himself by subjoining the translation: "Vous avez affoibli le caractère de Frelon; et vous avez supprimé son chatiment à la fin de la pièce ;" an explanation not less necessary to many of his English readers than to his French.
The following is a specimen, vol. ii. part i. ch. 2. § 2. “Kaтaßoλn noμou, in the sacred writers, seemed to some gentlemen conversant in these studies unexampled in the old Grecians. Indeed it is very rare; but it is found in the lofty Pindar, (Nem. Od. 2.) KaraBorav isgav aywvwv." A most extraordinary way of proving that the phrase KaraBohn nooμou is not unexampled in the old Grecians. About the noun Karaßon no doubt was ever made, nor was any doubt made about Koops; the question was solely about the phrase.