Imagens das páginas

opposed a book so holy in its nature and tendency. The bones of John WICKLIEF, the first translator of the Bible into English, were dug up and burned by the Roman Catholics. Tyndal, who succeeded the illustrious Wicklief, in translating the Bible into English, was also burnt A. D. 1451. John Faust, who was the first one who printed the Bible, was able to multiply copies so fast that he was really thought to be in league with the devil.

12. The cost of the English Bible as late as the thirteenth century was about $2250. Wicklief's New Testament A. D. 1429 cost $100. The American Bible Society can now afford their cheapest Bibles for twenty-five cents, and Testaments for five cents. Wonderful progress !What has God wrought!

Now with the Bible so faithfully translated into our own tongue, with the light received from our common schools, and with the aid afforded by numerous excellent Bible dictionaries and commentaries, almost every man, woman and child can read the law of God distinctly, taking its sense without an interpreter, and understand, at least, the vast amount of its reading," without any man to guide him.




We read for the purpose of receiving information; but how can we be informed, unless we understand ? Now it has been seen, from the peculiar nature and history of the Bible, that it must require some effort and some amount of knowledge to enable a person to understand its contents.

Before we proceed to notice those branches of knowledge, which are vastly important to enable one to understand and interpret the Bible, we premise that we do not wish to be understood, that persons of very limited education cannot understand much of the sacred text. They can understand it, especially those parts which intimately concern their salvation.

A sound judgment is of more importance in the interpretation of the Bible, than extensive learning, if only one can be possessed.

We may further add—deep piety, that purity of motive, that love of truth, that veneration for holy things, which enables the reader to throw his whole soul into sympathy with God and with his prophets, is more essential, to a true understanding of the Bible, than any intellectual qualifica

tion. Whatever we may say, therefore, in favor of education, we do not wish to be understood as throwing a single discouragement in the way of the most imperfect English scholar, nor a disparaging word against piety, as a qualification for the understanding of the Scriptures. With these remarks before the reader, we proceed, to point out the advantages connected with a knowledge of certain branches for a proper understanding of the Bible.

1. It is certainly of great importance to have a good knowledge of the language in which the Bible is read. It is absurd to suppose that he who is unacquainted with grammar, and who is a stranger to half the words of the English Scriptures, can understand them like the thorough English scholar.

2. It is of great advantage to know the original languages of the Scriptures--the Hebrew and the Greek. When our Scriptures were translated 250 years ago, many terms were then used which have since become obsolete, and others are used in a different sense from what they then were.

For instance, the word deal, signifies a part,leasing, lies,-let, hindered, -carriages, baggage,-prevent, go before, -wax, become,-trow, think. How shall we understand the true sense of such words, but by a reference to the original, in which all words continue stationary in their signification ?

We have also many obsolete phrases, as well as words in our Bible. For instance—the good man of the house, signifies merely a householder,—we do you to wit, that is, we inform you. Such expressions which are very numerous,

sense, but

one ac

If we

can only be understood by a reference to the original, or to some work explaining the original.

There are also peculiar idiomatic phrases, called Hebraisms. For instance, the words seven and ten are used in a peculiar sense. “ Thou hast changed my wages ten times”

“better than ten sons''—the barren hath borne seven”—“punish you seven times.” The common scholar might take these terms in a literal

any quainted with Hebrew knows that they refer to no definite number.

A thorough acquaintance with the original languages of of the Scriptures, will enable us to distinguish between the original and the New Testament use of words. examine the etymology of any word, we shall oftimes find that it originally signified something very different from its present sense.

The word constable is from two latin words, which signified count of the stable, or horsler; the word esquire is from a Latin word which signifies a shield, or of a Greek word which signifies the hide of a bull, of which shields are made. The word lady is from an Anglo-Saxon word, which signified a loaf of bread. No one will contend that these words as now used have any reference to their original signification. So in referring to the New Testament; no one acquainted with the original, would contend that Gehenna, the place of the damned, was to be understood of the literal Gehenna, South of Jerusalem ; neither would he suppose that the heaven where God resides and where the righteous are blessed, was to be restricted to the visible and starry heavens. Thus a thorough acquaintance with the original Scriptures, will, generally, enable the reader to determine the use of a word,

not merely as it was used when first invented, but as used in the text.

To learn all this, is indeed a task, but it is no greater than that which the doctor, the lawyer, the man of science or literature, has to perform.

In addition to these reasons we may say, we best imbibe the spirit of the inspired writers, when we read their original productions. No translation can fully and faithfully represent them.


3. It is very important for a proper understanding of the Bible, to have a good knowledge of history. Very much profane history corroberates the Bible. It is by the means of history, connected with the existing monuments of its truthfulness, that we have traced the Bible to its original

The principles of the Bible, are gradually developed in their triumph over error, and Ecclesiastical history gives an account of that developement. When, therefore, any species of heresy, occurs, we need not be surprised, as though some strange thing had happened. We may not unfrequently read in history the triumph of the Scriptures over that very form of error. In those who despise all human learning, we see a revival of the principles of Montanus, who flourished A. D. 171. In those who discard the Old Testament, and in workers of miracles, we see a revival of the Manicheans of the third century. In those who deny the resurrection, we find a resuscitation of the doctrine of the Herecites of the third century. In annihilationists, we have the doctrine of certain Arabian teachers of the third century. In those who deny the necessity of divine grace in conversion, we have the doctrine of Pela

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