Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

18th . For ? ורשע and ואשר should we not read ,לרשע and לאשר

See Gen. i. 4. Bishop Newcome justifies the text, from other instances and from Noldius. But, if the 5 for the 1 was idiomatic, one would think it would have occurred still more frequently; and I cannot help thinking, that what are mere errors of transcribers are sometimes considered as idioms.

SERMON

ON
JER E MIA H,

C. xviii. 14,
INTENDED FOR A VISITATION.

Till a man leave the snow of Lebanon, which cometh from the rock of the field? Or shall the cold floving waters, that come from another place, be forsaken?

Jerem, xviii. 14.

The integrity and perfection of the Holy Scriptures, in their original language, has been maintained and contended for by persons of directly opposite and contrary sentiments, and from motives entirely repugnant to each other. Some, out of the strictest regard and reverence to them, as the words of eternal life, have been inclined to imagine, that, as they were originally given by divine inspiration, it is impossible that one title of them should fail; and that it is a kind of blasphemy to suppose that God has not been as careful in preserving, as in delivering, the sacred oracles of truth. Others, again, having observed not only many improprieties but even contradictions in some parts of the Hebrew bible, have taken advantage of this opinion, strenuously maintaining the genuineness of its present state, in order to depreciate and invalidate the authority of the whole.

But as this supposition of the integrity of the Hebrew text, among the former class of men, proceeds from an unwarranted zeal, and is without any feundation, (witness the authority of the MSS.) so the conclusion, which the latter would deduce from it, of course falls to the ground. For, though it must be granted, on the part of religion, that, through the mistakes and oversights, we might add also the wilful corruptions,* of transcribers, errors have crept into the sacred writings, otherwise God must of necessity be made the author of contradictions, the infidel cannot deny but that these errors are of such a nature, as by no means to be prejudicial to any fundamental doctrines of faith or practice.

[blocks in formation]

Notwithstanding, therefore, the additions, mutilations, and corruptions, which the sacred text has suffered through the ignorance, inadvertence, and malice, of frail and designing men, the word of God standeth fast against all the fiery darts of profane infidels, upon this firm, unshaken, foundation, that it always hath been, and always will be, able to make men wise unto salvation.

So far, then, ought we to be from apprehending that any consequences, derogatory to the honour or authority of the Scriptures, may arise from admitting the errors and mistakes of copyists, that the contrary persuasion has, more particularly within the last century, given birth to a more free and impartial examination of the word of God, and opened a very large field for Scriptural criticism; which has enabled several very learned and ingenious divines to reconcile many apparent contradictions, to correct and supply many interpolations and defects, and to elucidate and illustrate many obscure passages : (witness the incomparable labours of the late learned Bishop Lowth, Dr Kennicott, &c.) And let it not be considered as an instance of affected pride and arrogance in one so far inferior, and so little equal to the task, to attempt to make discoveries which have escaped the discernment of such able critics. For, the well-intended endeavours of the meanest of the stewards of the mysteries of God, to understand and explain the Scriptures, it is to be hoped may meet, if not with approbation, at least with venial indulgence. And, on this presumption, I shall proceed to my designed observations on the words of the text, which, with the application I shall draw from them, may not be altogether foreign and impertinent to the present occasion of our assembling ourselves together.

That the passage under our consideration does not stand in the present text as it did originally, seems very probable for the two following reasons; the various versions of it, and the opposite constructions put upon it by those who have attempted to explain it, which have been as numerous as upon any part of the old testament.*

But, not to trouble you with the recital of these several opinions, I shall only observe that those translators who propose an antithesis in each member of the verse, which is wholly lost in our version, seem to come nearest to the intention of the prophet. To complete which antithesis, it is necessary, as Grotius and others have observed, to suppose a transposition and to supply a prea position; but, notwithstanding these alterations, the sense generally given to the words is not very applicable to the subject in hand, which is, to set forth, in the most striking light, the unprecedented ingratitude of the Jews in their idolatrous worship. If, therefore, we might be permitted to change the position of one letter in the first hemistich, and to add the same in the second, which might be easily dropped from the sameness of that which follows, reading, also, with two antient MSS. wus' for wns', instead of the present reading, Dibond Dimp in 'n wins' ON — peas abu 170 180 2179m, we should have this;

[ocr errors][merged small]

Dibond Biopoiny Dina WOS' ON — 11025 asup yw 218 21997, which would give this apposite sense; " shall the rock of the Almighty be left for the snow of Lebanon? Or shall the cooling streams be forsaken for strange waters ?Or, the streams springing out of a fountain; which sense, Taylor, in his Concordance, gives to Dup, deriving it from 7p, fodere fontem. Though it may perhaps be derived from pop or 793, occurrere, in allusion to the waters flowing out of the rock to meet the children of Israel and to relieve them. And, though this transposition and addition of the is not authorised by any MS. it varies as little from the text as any that has been proposed. The construction put upon the latter part of the text receives some countenance from Junius's translation, which we have in the margin of our bible; but the version of the whole, which corresponds most nearly with that now offered, may be found in the learned Mr Lowth's commentary, shall one leare the moisture of the field for the snow of Lebanon? Or shall the running waters be forsaken for the muddy or strange waters?" And, translating the verse thus, says he, it is exactly parallel with Ch. ii. 13, 18. Now, to pass over the objections which may lie against interpreting dyn, the dew, or noisture, the similitude. between the passages here referred to, and that before us, may appear much stronger, perhaps, by giving the words the proposed sense, the rock of the Almighty. For, it is very obvious to observe that this expression has a beautiful allusion to the rock in Horeb, mentioned Exod. xvii. 6, out of which there came a most plentiful supply of water for the children of Israel, when they were just dying for thirst: whence Jehovah is often emphatically styled the rock. And it is also remarkable, that, in Ps. lxxviii. 16, where this wonderful transaction is most beautifully described, the very word obna is made use of, ” he brought streums also out of the rock ;” and, by thus rendering the verse, it contains a most severe sarcasm upon the Jews for forsaking the rock of their salvation, i. e. Jehovah, to follow the vain and empty idols of the heathen; which will appear more fully by a recital of the whole passage. “ Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, thus saith the Lord, behold I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you. Return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, there is no hope, but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart: (a rebellious declaration, very similar to that in Exod. xvi. 3.) Therefore, thus saith Jehovah, ask ye now, among the heathen, who hath heard such things? The virgin of Israel hath done a very heinous thing. Shall the rock of the Almighty be left for the snow of Lebanon? Shall the cold, or cooling, streams be forsaken for strange waters ? Because, or rather but, my people hath forgotten me; they have burnt incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the antient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up.”

That this is not an improbable sense of the words may, perhaps, be farther confirmed from its remarkable correspondence with other passages in the prophet, who, in the preceding chapter, expresses himself thus: “O Lord, (or rather Q Jehovah.) the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me (rather from thee) shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters.” For, if we consult the MSS. with the Sept. Vulg. and Ar. it may appear probable that, for 90 we should read 79907. Again,

in c. ii. God expostulates with the Israelites in a very pathetical manner : “ Pass over the isles of Chittim, and sce, and send unto, Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be any such thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which yet are no gods? But my people hath changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, Oye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be ye very desolate, saith Jehovah; for, my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (But, for vann, which, in this place, does not suit the context, it is probable that we should read 1997; “Be astonished, Oye heavens, at this, and be ye very much afraid, saith Jehovah:” which is favoured by the Syr. version, and for this reading see 2 Sam. xii. 30.) Again, at the 17th verse, “ Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken Jehovah, thy God, when he led thee by the way? (i. e. in the wilderness, when they forsook the fountain of living waters.) And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor ? Or, what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river q» Now, if I may be allowed a farther conjecture, perhaps the snow of Lebanon, in the words of the text, may answer to the waters of the river ; i.e. Euphrates, which was situated in that part of the world, and the strange waters to the waters of Sihor, or Egypt ; which are, most probably, described by the very same expression, 2 Kings, c. xix. where Sennacherib, boasting of his extensive victories, delivers himself in this blasphemous strain; “ With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar. trees thereof, and the choice fir-trees thereof; and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel. I have digged, and drunk strunge waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.Or, as these last words are rendered by the learned Bochart, all the rivulets of Egypt. To confirm which sense of the word 9180, Mitzor, as signifying Egypt, it may not be improper to cite a passage in Micah, c. vii. 12, (where the same word occurs in the same sense, according to the best commentators,') which, rightly translated, gives an exact description of the land of Israel: “ In that day shall he come, even to thee, from Assyria, and the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt, even to the river, (i. e. Euphrates,) and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.” Unless, fornyi, we might read 799; “ from Assyria, even to Egypt:" which is countenanced by the following part of the context.

But a farther reason why the rock of the Almighty was contrasted with the snow of Lebanon might be, that, as snow in the hot countries was deemed a necessary, the snow of Lebanon might be in particular estimation with the Israelites. And the learned Dr Hunt, on Prov. xxv. 13, informs us, that it is the custom to this day, in the East, to preserve snow in vessels under ground. As this mountain, then, lay to the north of the land of Judah, and the strange waters, or Egypt, to the south, the words under consideration might be intended to describe the total defection of the house of Israel from the true God to the gods of the nations.

· Having now finished the observations I designed to make on the words of the text, which, with the greatest deference and diffidence, are submitted to superior judgement, and adding only a

Oo 2

remark

« PoprzedniaDalej »