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husband, Thomas Sclater, M. D. senior fellow of Trinity College, and afterwards of Cantley in Cambridgeshire, Baronet.
Though dean Comber was a man of great learning, and contributed much to the literary pursuits of others, there is nothing of his own in print. The compilers of the Biographia Britannica, indeed, have ascribed to him á piece in defence of Tithes; but this was in reality the production of his namesake and relation, the learned and pious Dr. Thomas Comber, dean of Durham, so well known by his excellent writings on the Liturgy of the Church of England,
ON JEPHTHAH'S YOW,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
your number for December last, p. 432, speaks of my publication, in which, under the article of « Promises,"mention is made of Jephthah's. Vow, deserves my grateful acknowledgments. With respect to the case of Jephthah's Vow, I had no predilection for any particular. interprétation ; and I hope I have no desire to defend the interpretation which I have espoused, merely because I have espoused it. It is, however, a fact, that Dr. Watkins's ingenious dissertation has not altered my opinion; and perhaps I ought to declare this, lest it should erroneously be thought, that I accede to his. I stated what I conceived to be the strongest argument against the interpretation of Cappellus, and this still remains a difficulty. With respect to the fresh objecțions, which are alledged by Dr. Watkins, I think myself able to remove them.
My positive reason, independently of the narrative in Judg. xi. for thinking, that Jeph thah actually put his daughter to death, is founded, as I have already observed,
on Levit. xxvii. 28, 29, where it is said, “No devoted thing that a man shall devote unto the Lord, of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed : every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord. None devoted, which shall be devoted of man, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.” Dr. Watkins thinks, that our translation of Judg. xi. 31, would have been more agree. able to the sense of the original, if the latter part of it had been expressed, asit is expressed in the margin of that translation, thus : “ Shall surely be the Lord's, or, I will offer it up for a burnt-offering;” by which he supposes a distinction to be implied between what it might be proper to give to the Lord, and what it might be proper to offer up for a burnt-offering. I differ from Dr. Watkins in thinking, that this reading would be more natural than that which our translators have preferred. But, besides this, the reading so preferred is supported by the express authority of the Septuagint, which is, εσται τω Κυρίω, ανοισα avlov onorautwas,” shall be the Lord's, I will offer him up a burnt-offering ; where the latter part of the sentence is evidently put in apposition to the former, is in explanation of it, and means the same thing. Dr. Watkins also thinks, that the word rendered lament, in the last verse of the chapter, would more accurately be rendered " talk with,” as it is indeed rendered by our translators in the margin. But here also, the reading, which our translators have received into the text, is supported by the authority of the Septuagint, which has the word, Spuere.
It appears, therefore, that I have in my favour, not only the testiniony of Josephus, who lived not above twelve hundred years after the event, but also the testimony of the Septuagint translators, who lived not more than eight hundred and sixty years after it, and who, no doubt, translated according to the sense in which this part of sacred history, as well as others, was then understood by the generality of the Jews. The edition of the Septuagint from which I quote, the only one I have the opportunity of quoting, is that of Roger Daniel, 1653. : If the representation which Dr. Watkins has given of V. 38. i. e. " that, after her father had done with her according to his vow, she knew no man,' were correct, it would be decisive against iny opinion. But that verse,
as it stands in our translation, and as, I believe, it ought to stand, is this :- And it came to pass, at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow, which he had vowed ; and she knew no man.” I cannot understand this to be the same as saying, that, after her father had performed his vow, she knew no man. It appears, from v. 35. that Jephthal considered his vow as having brought upon him a very heavy affliction ; and it may justly be doubted, whether the mere idea of devoting his daughter to perpetual virginity could have produced such a strong perturbation of mind, as to occasion him to rend his clothes, and to exclaim, “ Alas, my daughter, thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me.''
It seems no good argument against the interpretation I contend for, that the admission of it will imply the guilt of great sin in Jephthah; whó, as Dr. Watkins observes, is praised among the pious persons enumerated by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, Whatever interpretation be admitted, it will be impossible to avoid implicating Jephthah in sin; and the question will only be about the degree of his sinfulness. He at least made a rash vow; a vow, of which he soon had. occasion sincerely to repent. It would be in vain to look for any thing like a perfect character among the persons who are recorded in the Old Testament, ibpugh many parts of their conduct were deserving of great commendation. The name of David has a place in the list of worthies, to which Dr. Watkins refers; and it has a place there very deservedly, for, in his public capacity, he was a “ man after God's own heart," supporting the worship of the true God against the temptation to idolatry, by which he was surrounded, with the most active and perşeveriog zeal; yet he was so far from being praise-worthy in all parts of his private conduct, that he was guilty of adultery and murder. This, it may be observed by the way, furnishes no justification of such crimes; much less does it furnish an excuse for the same crimes in Christians, whose rigliteousness ought to exceed the righteousness of those who lived under a less perfect dispensation. We find, in fact, that the crimes of the Patriarchs were always followed by correspondent pųpishments. Justly may we apprehend, therefore, that the crimes of Christians, which are committed under circumstances so much more aggravating, will at one time or other, unless they be repented of, meet with their proper and appointed recompence. The virtue of Jephthah, for which he is commended by the Apostle, is faith, not Christian faith, by which alone he could be enabled to pay a “ dutiful regard to the whole law of God ;” but such a trust and confidence in God's protection, as made him willing to be his instrument in delivering the Israelites from the encroachment and oppression of their enemies.
Yours, &c. Jan. 20, 1806.
P. S.-I wish to inform your correspondent Clericus, p. 30, of your last number, that, as he will find on having recourse to my “ Annotations on Dr. Paley," p. 63, I did not undertake to explain the passage of Scripture, in which the account is given of Jephthah's Vow, without being apprised of Dr. Randolph's opinion on the subject; which opinion I considered, and still consider, as being by no means satisfactory. Feb. 8, 1806.
On a FUTURE LIFE as a STATE OF IMPROVEMENT.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
your correspondent Philalethes, who, in your number for August last, p. 1:13, wishes me to reconcile the discordancy, which he supposes to exist, between my opinion respecting future rewards and punishments, and what he calls," a favourite hypothesis of his,” namely, " the gradually progressive improvement of human natyre to all eternity.". I am myself by no means an ene
my to this hypothesis ; for I think it perfectly agrees able to what we know of the nature, or rather the operations, of the human mind. The opinion, however, that « each individual will be dealt with exactly in proportion to his deserts, and that the sentence of retribution will operate in æternum," does not appear to me to militate against this hypothesis, though it certainly does not include the proof of it. A person may be placed in a situation suitable to his deserts, and this placing may have an eternal effect on him, and yet room be left for his improvement, and his advancement in happiness; just as we often see in this world, that the mere placing of a person in a particular station has an effect, independently of his behaviour in it, upon his whole life, though his behaviour in it has also an effect. His improvement, and consequent increase of happiness, así well as bis immediate happiness, may be more or less favoured by this placing, but is not precluded by it. Moreover, the conduct and behaviour of every one may give a turn and bias to his character, which will affect it to all eternity; and yet his character may not be so fixed, as to adinit of no alteration. Whether those who. make no improvement here, but rather the contrary, will hereafter be placed in a situation favourable to improvement, and whether, from the turn and bias their character shall have taken, they will be capable of improvement, may, from what scripture says of the future state of the wicked, justly be doubted; but there seems no reason to suppose, that those who make good use of their opportunities of improvement here, will hereafter be cüe* off from the means of further improvement, and of increasing, by that means, the degree of their happiness. On such a subject, I cannot hope to give your correspondent full satisfaction; but it may gratify him, if I transcribe, for his perusal, a passage which I lately met with, and which expresses sentiments congenial to my own. It is taken from an ingenious and useful work, intended principally for the religions instruction of senior classes in schools, and entitled, “ A Catechetical Explanation of the Grounds and Precepts of the Christian Doctrine, &c.” by the Rev. William Sandford, vicar of Castlerea. The passage is this :-" The end of the moral improvement which God requires of us, is, that “ by patient continuing in well-doing," (i.e. by resisting temptations, and by the exercise of all the bene