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are precisely the same as those we are accustomed to read. The couupt.on of the Bible, therefore, within the past two hundred and fity years, would have been a thing impossible. It could only have been done by great rogues, understanding all the languages in which the Bible had been printed, at a very giet expense, with no adequate motive, and managed so dextuiously, that its thousands of readers and adnirers did not know of the change. Such an idea is so manifestly preposterous, that we should not have alluded to it at all, had it not been for the purpose of establishing a method of argument to be pursued throughout this discouse.
2. We are now prepared to take our second step in tracing the Li'le to its original source. The Bible, which was first priniel in our, and in other languages, is substaníially the same as that acknowledged by the early Christians.
The Maszorites, a sct of learned Jews of the school of Tiberias flourished, it is supposed, about the sixth century
-certainly not far from that time. These men carefully num'ered all the verses, words and letters of the Old Testament. This may, indeed, appear to be a very idle work, but the difficulty of adding to, or diminishing from a book, whose words and letters had been thus carefully numbered, may be readily conceived.
The agreement of the ancient manuscripts, from which our Bible was translated, shows that the primitive Church must have had the same Old Testament we possess. Upwards of three hundred and fifty manuscripts were collected by Griesbach for his critical edition of the Old Testament,
and about eleven hundred and fifty in all have been found. Thirteen manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch have also been found.
The Old Testament was also translated into various languages at a very early age. In the Syriac-Peshito as early as A. D. 100; Vulgate 400; Coptic about 450 ; Ethiopic about 450; Georgiac 600; Anglo-Saxon 706. Copies, in these several translations, were multiplied and widely distributed.
Now imagine the difficulty of supplying a spurious or corrupt versions, from which ours and other modern translations were made. In order for this forgery, it would have been necessary for all the manuscripts in Hebrew, and other ancient versions to have been collected and destroyed, and then for a false book to have been put into the hand of the Church, either with or without their consent. We apprehend that the judgment of every sound mind, will not hesitate to decide that such a forgery could not have been practiced at any period between the primitive Church, and the time when the Bible was printed. Added to this, the Jews held the Old Testament in the highest veneration, and would not have allowed the Christians to corrupt it, without exposure; and any attempt at corruption on the part of the Jews, would not have escaped the exposal of the Christians. In like manner, the different Christian sects, served as a constant check upon each other. They began to arise in the days of the Apostles, and though they greatly disagree, all venerate the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and the Christian fathers, in their controversies, make such a complete transcript of the New Testament, as to occasion the remark,
that if that volume should be destroyed, almost every passage might be found in their writings.
The language of the New Testament is just what we should suppose would have been written, by Jews, in Judea, in the age ascribed to that volume. It is Hebraistic Greek, and could not well have been written in any other day, and by none except persons, who had been educated in the religion of the Jews, and whose thoughts had been modelled according to the Hebrew language.
We have also catalogues, many of which can be traced back to the earliest ages of the Church. Shortly after the middle of the fourth century the Council of Laodicea gave a catalogue, agreeing with ours, with the exception of the book of Revelation. It is wrong to say that this Council gave us our Bible. We might as well hold that any modern religious association, that passes a vote in favor of the inspiration of the Scriptures, gives a Bible to the Churches they represent. It appears to be a fact, that of thirteen catalogues of the New Testament, given us by the Christian fathers, seven precisely accord with the books of our Bible; three of the others differ in nothing except in omitting the Revelation, and it is evident that two of the remaining admitted the authority of the books they do not mention in their catalogues, while none of them deny the authority of those they do not give.
We regard the conclusion therefore as irresistible, that the Bible that was printed, was identical with that used by the primitive Christians.
3. Let us now take our third step. The Old Testament of the primitive Church, was the Scriptures used by Christ and by his Apostles.
Christ and his Apostles are constantly referring to the Old Testament, as a book extant in their day. They make numerous quotations from this volume, which quotations do not essentially differ from the corresponding texts in our Bible.
The translations of the Old Testament Scriptures that existed in our Saviour's day, afford a most unequivocal proof of the existence of those writings. We have already referred to the Samaritan Pentateuch; the five books of Moses written in the ancient character of the Jews. Our present Hebrew character is the Chaldee which the Jews adopted in Babylon. The Samaritans held this Pentateuch as sacred, though they never received the Jewish Prophets into their canon. The Targums are a translation, and sometimes, but a mere paraphrase of the Old Testament, into the Chaldee language, which the Jews had learned while in Babylon, having, to a great extent, forgotten their mother tongue. These Targums were, probably, at first, given orally, as explanations and comments on the sacred text. It was not only necessary that the Jewish teachers should read in the book of the law of God distinctly, to the people, but they “gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”—( Neh. 8: 8.) These Targums were written at a very early age. That some of them, at least, existed before the time of Christ, is evident from the fact that there was a demand for them on the part of the people, which the Jewish doctors would have been naturally inclined to supply; and this idea also accords with our most reliable history. The translation of the Old Testament, which we now call the Septuagint, was rendered into the Greek language for the convenience of
those Jews scattered throughout the Roman empire, and had become more familiar with the Greek, than they were with the Hebrew. That this translation existed in the days of our Lord and his early disciples, and was used by them, is evident from the fact, that their quotations usually accord with the text of the Septuagint, more closely than with the Hebrew.
Here then we have, in the time of Christ, the Old Testament in Hebrew, Chaldee, Greek, and the Pentateuch in the Samaritan ; these four independent versions, and, undoubtedly, thousands of copies of each version, were scattered all over the civilized world.
Now we must either suppose, that, at some time between Christ and the Christian fathers, all these versions and copies were collected, and false ores put in their places, and palmed off upon Jews and Chr'sti ins, as the veritable Old Testament, and that too, without causing the least excitement, or else we must admit that the Old Testament of the Christian fathers, was the Old Testament of Christ and his first disciples.
4. We now come to the fourth and last step in our argument. The Old Testament that existed in the days of the Saviour, must have contained the veritable history of the Jewish people, and the writings of the Jewish prophets.
There is no time between Christ and Moses, when we can imagine the Pentateuch to have been forged. Suppose some novel writer should forge a history of the United States, showing that our forefathers originally emigrated from New Zealand ; that they fought desperate battles with