Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

request, though I was personally a stranger to him, with the most liberal complaisance, but performed it, amidst a multiplicity of engagements, which might well have pleaded his excuse, with such punctuality of attention, and such cordial benevolence, as must for ever oblige me to remember him, as long as I live, with the most respectful esteem and gratitude. It is with pleasure I congratulate the public on their being about to receive from the hands of this learned gentleman a printed Exemplar of the Alexandrian MS. of the New Testament, copied from the Original with such exact imitation, as to extend and perpetuate even to distant ages the Use of this precious Relic; enriched besides, as I am given to understand, with many excellent and valuable observations of the Editor.

It may seem matter of surprise, that knowing; as I must have done, of the valuable Notes of the late Archbishop Seeker on the Bible, deposited according to the directions of his Will in the Library of the Palace at Lambeth, I should have neglected to avail myself of them, till after the greatest part of this work was printed off. But the truth is, I have no such neglect or want of curiosity to reproach myself with. On the contrary, in the summer of the year 1782, before any part of these sheets was sent to press, I took a journey from the place of my residence to London, for no other purpose than to consult those Manuscripts. Unfortunately, when I came there, I learned that the Archbishop was just gone from home; that the MSS. in question were kept under his immediate custody; and that, if I would see them," I must necessarily sarily wait his return; which would have delayed me longer than the circumstances of my affairs at home would have allowed of my absence. Thus disappointed, I was obliged to go back, and to enter upon the measures for printing my book, postponing the examination of the Manuscripts till a more favourable opportunity. At length in November last I renewed my application, and was gratified with the object of my wishes by the permission of his Grace the present Lord Archbishop of Canterbury; whose goodness to me upon this occasion, as upon many others, I am bound to acknowledge with the greatest thankfulness. The principal of these Observations, as they came so late, I have been obliged to insert in an Appendix; * and have added some further remarks of my own, chiefly such as suggested themselves on perusing the Manuscripts.

I should still think myself guilty of a most unpardonable omission, were I not at this time to seize the opportunity of testifying my respect for the memory of another lately deceased friend, the learned Dr Kennicott I mean, whose name the Hebrew Critic ought ever to hold in the highest veneration. I account it a singular honour and happiness to myself to have conversed familiarly with him, and to have derived much solid information and improvement from that fund of knowledge, which his laborious researches enabled him to lay in, and which the friendliness of his mind disposed him freely to communicate. Of such a nature were my .personal obligations to him. His public merit was more conspicuous; being attested by his astonishing Collation of near seven hundred

c Hebrew

Hebrew and Samaritan MSS. and printed Editions of the most early date, anxiously sought out through all the different quarters of the Globe, and examined with the nicest care : a work, of which he was the first that had the penetration to discern the important utility; and which he was at length fortunate enough, after a course of twenty years of indefatigable application and industry, to bring to a happy conclusion,, under the patronage of the greatest names in Europe. From this ample magazine what invaluable stores may be extracted, every day's experience tends to furnish more convincing and indubitable proofs. The various readings that are produced and applied in tlic Notes which follow, though not all of equal importance, will many of them, 1 trust, be deemed far from immaterial. 13ut let me indulge a hope, that the time is not very far distant, when the task of bringing forward these materials to their proper use will not be left, as hitherto it hath been, altogether in the hands of a few well intentioned individuals, but will be undertaken on a more extensive plan by a select assembly of the most learned and judicious Divines, commissioned by public authority to examine into the state of the Hebrew Text, to restore it as nearly as possible to its primitive purity, and to prepare from it a new Translation of the Scriptures in our own language for the public service. This has long been most devoutly wished by many of the best friends to our Religion and our established Church, who, though not insensible of the merit of our present Version in common use, and justly believing it to be equal to the very best that is now extant in any language, ancient or modern, sorrowfully confess, that it is still far from being so perfect as it might and should be; that it often represents the errors of a faulty Original with too exact a resemblance; whilst on the other hand it has mistaken the true sense of the Hebrew in not a few places; and sometimes substituted an interpretation so obscure and perplexed, that it becomes almost impossible to make out with it any sense at all. And if this be the case, shall we not be solicitous to obtain a remedy for such glaring imperfections ? Shall we content ourselves with saying, that neither the errors which have crept into the Original Text, nor those which deform the Translation, have fallen upon any essential points either of doctrine or morals; and therefore there is no great damage to be apprehended from their continuance? The premisses may be true; but are we equally sure with respect to the conclusion? Can we with certainty foresee all the mischief that may possibly and eventually result from an error, of what kind soever, wilfully retained in a book of such high and universal importance? Are we not taught to believe, that all and every part of Scripture is given by inspiration of tJod, and is, according to the intention of the Donor, profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness *? But can any Scripture be profitable except it be understood? And if not rightly understood, may not the perversion of it be proportionably dangerous? Or is it nothing to deprive the people of that edification, which they might have received, had a fair and just exposition been substituted instead of a false one? Do we not know the advantage

i * 2 Tim. iii. 16.

tage that is commonly taken by the enemies of revelation, of triumphing in objections plausibly raised against the divine •word upon the basis of an unsound Text or wrong Translation? And though these objections have been refuted over and over again by the most solid argumentation of private Religionists, do they not still continue to ring them in the ears of the vulgar and unlettered Christian, as if they were owned and admitted to be unanswerable? So that it seems requisite for the honour of God and his true religion, that these stumbling blocks should be removed out of the way as soon as possible by an act of solemn and public disavowal. Influenced by these and such like considerations, his Swedish Majesty hath already set the example, by commanding a new Revisal and more perfect Translation of the Scriptures to be immediately begun in his dominions. And, which may more excite our wonder, we are credibly informed, that a similar work is set on foot in our own language, at the sole expence of a single Nobleman of princely spirit, for the use of the English Roman-Catholics. And shall the British nation, so deservedly famous throughout the world for its magnificence and public-spirited exertions, be less active and forward than others upon so glorious an occasion? Shall the Church of England, ever accustomed to rank with the foremost in learning and piety, be the last to hold forth to her memhers those sacred writings in their utmost perfection and purity, the free use of which she has ever taught them to consider as the most invaluable of their privileges? Or will our Governors, after having in their private capacities contributed so largely above all others to the

means

« AnteriorContinuar »