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“Yet notwithstanding I have him
To be my King appointed;
I have him King anointed.” The Hebrew word means setling apart, by anointing, as it was usual in ancient times to set prophets, priests, and kings apart to their offices : so that here is no paraphrase, but a more accurate translation than the prose.
Another thing to be considered is, are these things, which it has become fashionable to introduce instead of Scripture, agreeable to Scripture? At present I shall only take notice of two of the paraphrases usually bound up with our Bibles and Psalm-books. The very first, although there is nothing in it contrary to Scripture, has yet scarcely any resemblance to the first chapter of Genesis. That chapter has been quoted by writers on taste, as an example of the sublime; but they would look in vain for sublimity in the paraphrase. In the description of the creation, we read of a firmament, but not one word about clouds; the paraphrasist does not seem to have been aware, that the first heavens and the first earth were not the same with “the heavens and earth that now are, and
are reserved unto fire.” But the more exceptionable one is the forty-fourth, which I understand is often sung at communions:
« Behold the Saviour on the cross,
A spectacle of woe!
The blood incessant flow! Is this Scripture language? or is there a single word to countenance it from the one end of the Bible to the other? The writers of the gospels give a plain history of the sufferings of Christ, without using any expression to draw forth our pity or commisseration, This is a soul-ruining delusion too much practised from the pulpit. When the apostles speak of the cross of Christ, they do it with joy and triumph, without a single word to work upon the hu. man sympathies. If a sinner be really awakened to a sense of his sin, he will be able to estimate the load of suffering which the Saviour endured, without such artifi. cial excitement; and if he be not awakened, this tragic emotion will soon wear off, without producing any permanent good. Mankind in their natural state are so selfish, that unless they feel wants or danger to themselves, the sufferings of any person, whether divine or human, will make little impression upon their hearts, The peo. ple of God under the first dispensation were taught to take the same view of the sufferings of the promised Saviour, by the rejoicing over the substituted sacrifice; for, while the sacrifice was offering up, the priests were singing around the altar. We have a minute account of this rejoicing in a time of revival of religion in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, 2 Chron. xxix. 27, 28, where it is recorded, that the priests and singers praised, and sounded with trumpets all the time the offering was consuming upon the altar. But we find this very people so far degenerated afterwards, as to turn this rejoicing into mourning in the days of Malachi, in whose writings (chapter ii. verse 13) we hear the Lord's reproof, by his prophet, for this as well as other sins :-"And this have ye done, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, in so much that he regardeth it not any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hands."
To sum up the argument between Psalms on the one hand, and Hymns and Paraphrases on the other, in one word-Can faith rest on any thing but the word of God alone? If we then sing any thing else but the words of divine inspiration, we lose the comfort and delight of the evercise.
Christians of the present day, in a great many places, bave also degenerated in their manner of singing. When singing, instead of being viewed as a high privilege and delightful exercise, is looked upon rather as a prologue or epilogue to the discourse of a preacher, it does not matter much what is sung. A person accustomed to worship along with an assembly of Christians, joining with one voice and apparently with one heart, feels very unhappy, as I can testify from experience in one of those meetinghouses where the new-fashioned refinements are intro. duced, where the precentor in his official robe, with perhaps a choir along with him, stands up and sings a few verses, while the congregation, with the exception of a few in the gallery, remain as mute as the seats they occupy. Such a person is almost tempted to say--"Is this a church of Christ ? or can these be Christians ?" If Christians assemble together only as spectators or hearers, without desiring to worship the Lord with all their heart, with all their strength, and with all their soul, it is no wonder that they reap little benefit.
That these few hints may call the attention of Christians to this important subject, is the sincere wish of
THE TRUE METHOD OF STUDYING THE BIBLE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN. SIR,
I KNOW not how I could more usefully occupy one or two of your pages, than by a notice of an edition of the Bible which has lately issued from the Oxford press.
As to externals, it is handsomely executed ; it contains an excellent selection of marginal references, its size is not inconvenient for the pocket, and its price is so low as eight shillings. These are its principal features, and they require only to be known to make it the pocket companior of every sincere student of the word of God.
The Bible may be studied in two ways, either by the help of commentaries, or by a collation and comparison of its different parts. The former method, while it has advantages which ought to be appreciated, is liable to many objections. It is too expensive to be generally useful among the poorer classes of society, and it is in the humbler walks of life that we find the majority of our most careful readers of the sacred page. Besides, from the comparatively little attention which it is possible for voluminous expositors to afford to any particular text, their remarks are frequently the effusions of the moment, and not the result of degree and patient examination. Accordingly, when we betake ourselves to commentaries for an explanation of some difficult passage, we are not unfrequently driven about from folio to folio until, after being told again and again what we knew before, while the information we are in quest of seems carefully concealed, we give up the search in fatigue and disappointment. Nor is this all. It is the avowed object of some expositors, and the practice of the majority, to quote the conflicting sentiments of their predecessors, and then to leave the reader to make his choice. Now to say no. thing of the cold indifference about the true meaning of Scripture which this not unfrequently implies, it is suffi. ciently condemned by the fact, that it defeats its own object. It may be useful to those who wish to be acquainted with the opinions of different writers, but it bewilders the
simple inquirer after truth. Instead of establishing his belief in the true sense of the text, it goes far to establisb a belief that the text has no sense whatever.
The other method of studying Scripture is liable to none of these objections. By the edition of the Bible under notice, it has been rendered cheap and convenient. And it is as satisfactory as it is easy of access. Search the folios of human expositors, and you will be involved in uncertainty, and taught to doubt rather than to be. lieve; refer to parallel texts, and in them you have the comment of a divine expositor, simple, clear infallible. Here is the ground on which the Christian feels himself
2. , Here is the foundation on which alone he thinks it safe to build.
There is a strong tendency in man to read and study any thing but the pure word of God. This, indeed, may appear strange to some of your readers. Surely, it may be said, "when Jehovah speaks from heaven, the earth is all attention. When lighi breaks forth from the eternal throne, surely man will not shut his eyes. When the pearl of great price has been thrown down from God, surely we will not refuse to stoop and lift it.” These are plausible reflections, but they are founded on a total igporance of human nature. Notwithstanding the paramount claims of the Scriptures to our most diligent and patient research, the fact is, that there is scarcely a book in the world we are so reluctant to peruse. Now this re.. luctance, it is much to be feared, is cherished by the first method of studying the Bible, whereas by the second it is beat down, if not eradicated.
Has it ever occurred to you, that the two ways of investigating the book of Revelation, are analogous to the two principal ways which have been employed in investi. gating the book of nature ? Formerly philosophy consisted chiefly of comments on the various detached phenomena around us and within us. In modern times, however, these phenomena have been brought together, com. pared, and classified according to their common qualities. The former method, I need scarcely say, was found totally unsuccessful, and therefore it was relinquished; whereas the latter has been eminently useful in enlarging the boundaries of human knowledge, and contributing to the comforts and conveniences of life. l'he conclusion is obvious. If we would bring the experience of ages in the
study of natural science to bear upon the study of spiritual science, we must not examine the Bible solely by the help of comments on its detached and isolated parts; but we must bring these parts together, and draw from the comparison those lessons which may be suggested for the regu. lation of our faith and practice. If the only successful way of investigating the book of nature is to compare natural things with natural, surely it is reasonable to conclude, that the only successful way of investigating the book of Revelation is to compare spiritual things with spiritual.”
There is another advantage connected with this method of studying the Bible, which ought not to be overlooked. In teaching a child, the only way of overcoming his carelessness and aversion, is to get his reasoning powers called into exercise. Make him think and judge at every step of his progress, and you will have less cause to complain of idleness or sloth. His task, from being a toil, will be changed into a pleasure, and his tuition will become agreeable both to himself and to his teacher. And what are we all but learners? Let us therefore apply to the instruction of ourselves the same principles, which we would find it necessary to apply in the instruction of others. If we convert our study of the Bible, if study it could be called, into a mere exercise of memory, we will find the task heavy and irksome;-it is impossible, according to the established laws of our nature, that it could be otherwise; but if we employ our judgments and our reasoning facul. ties, this, by God's blessing, will become most interesting and pleasant. In this point of view, the plan of searching the Scriptures, by the help of marginal references, is en. titled to a most decided preference.
Hoping that this communication may be the means of turning the attention of some of your readers to the true method of enriching themselves with sacred truth, and to an edition of the Bible which will assist them in the adoption of this method, I am, &c. &c.
EXPLANATION OF THEIR PRINCIPLES, BY THE BOARD OF
As some parts of the plan of education committed to the commissioners, to be by them carried into effect, have, as