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the Bible have tended, by their example, to continue this use of be in the present tense:

"If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."

If, (as we shall afterwards find) is equivalent to give, allow, or grant; and, supplying the necessary auxiliaries, we shall have,


Granting that thou shouldst be the Son of God, command that these stones shall be made bread."

Turn it as we will, there appears a kind of obscure future in the first be, unless we understand it as synonymous with art. In this latter case the sentence would be clear, and so it ought to have been written even as an accurate translation: for the corresponding Greek verb is in the Indicative Mood, and is so rendered by Wiclif:

"Yf thou art goddis son seye that these stones be maad looves."

The use of be in the present tense, throughout the Scriptures, is extremely irregular: being in many cases, a present Indicative common to all the persons singular and plural, and in others a pure Infinitive, an auxiliary verb being understood. The following examples are taken from the Book of Job:

"There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be [are] at rest."

"Call now, if there be [are] any that will answer thee."

"If I be [am] wicked, why then labour I in vain?"

"And if it be [is] not so now, who will make me a lyar?"


If his children [shall ?] be multiplied, it is for the sword."

"If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?"

The last example is rather confused, according to our present ideas of moods and tenses: and the following, written by one who made language his particular study seems also liable to objection:

"But I must observe, in the next place, that, although this part of stile merit attention, and be a very proper object of science and rule; although much of the beauty of composition depends on Figurative Language; yet we must beware of imagining that it depends solely, or even chiefly, upon such language."

We come now to what is termed the past tense of the Subjunctive Mood, because it is formed by means of the past tenses of the Auxiliary Verbs.

As in the preceding case, the Verb to be performs a principal part; and, having also two sets of the singular, in the past tense, one of these is exclusively appropriated to the Indicative, and the other to those Conditional phrases of which we are about to speak.

I was, Thou wast or wert; and He, She, or It was, are then Indicatives; and I were, Thou wert, and He, She, or It were, are Conditionals, or (as they are usually called) Subjunctives. In the other verbs there is no such distinction.

In future Contingencies we suppose that a State, or Action, shall exist; and on that supposition, predict another State, or Action, as a Consequence.

In present Contingencies we predict, or assert, a Consequence of a State, or Action, which may be now in existence.

In past Contingencies (if the phrase is not a contradiction in terms) we imagine a State, or Action, which might have been; and then assert another State, or Action, which, we say, would have followed, as a consequence, had our previous supposition existed. Thus in the following,

"If I had taken his advice, I should have been wiser," though both parts of the sentence are in the past tense, the one is the consequence of the other. The introductory conjunction is not re

quisite in such sentences; for that now given would have been as intelligibly and perhaps more elegantly written thus,

"Had I taken his advice, I should have been wiser."


"Could I have foreseen what was to happen, I

might (or should) have been better prepared." This is in the Subjunctive form, but were we to say,

"I could not foresee what was to happen, and therefore I was not sufficiently prepared," we should have had the same thought in the Indicative.

When treating of the Auxiliary Verbs, we mentioned that Could and Might, the past tenses of Can and May, have the effect of Conditionals. Should and Would, the ancient past tenses of Shall and Will, are also Conditionals. The following investigation will show how they all

become so.

It is to be observed that neither of the words could, might, should, or would, express a past action. They merely denote a state of the mind of the agent at some past period. He was able, he had power, he was obligated, or, he was willing to act as the conjoined Verb specified; and why did he not do so? The reason is to be found either in

the preceding, or the succeeding part of the sen


"I could have done it, "I might have done it, "I should have done it, "I would have done it,

had I not been


Or, transposing the clauses,

"Had I not been prevented, I could, might, should, or would have done it.

Nevertheless, these sentences are all in the Indicative Mood. They are declarations of things that are past. They are four plain and independent assertions: The state of mind, and the action of hindrance are both determined.

"I was able to have done it,

"I had it in my power to have done it,
I was obligated to have done it,
"I was willing to have done it,

but I

was prevented."

Could, might, should, and would are then Conditionals from their significations alone, and Conditionals are much akin to Subjunctives; but it is only when the dependent clause of a sentence is necessarily expressed by forms of the Verbs, different from what are used in the Indicative, that it constitutes a different Mood. This is the case in many other tongues, but there is no choice in English; because there is no

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