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If this be not admitted, nothing is left for me, but, out of honour to the infpired Writer, to bear my teftimony against the abfurdity of the present reading.
The 8th per. the learned Prelate renders thus in his late tranflation :
"By an oppreffive judgment he was taken off;
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
For the trangreffion of my people he was fmitten to death." Upon reading this, I was fo dull as not to comprehend the meaning of it, till I turned to the note. In this note I found quoted one of thofe cunningly devifed fables, by which the Jews of old laboured to overturn the Gospel of Jesus. But the custom there mentioned is fo utterly abfurd, that I cannot believe there was ever fuch a custom. However, fuppofing there was, the learned Prelate's fense of the words cannot be true; because firft, there was at least One, who was instead of a thou fand other witneffes, that declared to the faces of the Jewish Sanhedrim, who accufed Jefus as a malefactor, that his manner of life was innocent, I mean Pilate, his judge. I find, fays he, no fault in him; no, nor yet Herod, he might have added; nor they themselves: for when the Sanhedrim arraigned Jefus, how many crimes did they charge him with? Not one. When they fuborned witneffes, how many? Not one. At laft, for want of a crime, they obliged him to accufe himself. And when, upon adjuration, he declared himself to be their Messiah, and that they should see him come in the clouds of heaven; what did they reply? Did they prove him from their fcripture to be an impoftor? No: all they pretended was, that they were shocked at the blafphemy, hypocritically rended their garments, and, without pretending a crime, condemned him as worthy of death. Thus was Jefus's manner of life fo fully declared, that, if he was Ifaiah's Meffiah, this cannot be the fenfe of the words. Nor, fecondly, will the word dor bear this fenfe. It is used more than a hundred times in the fenfe of generation, and so it is rendered here by all the ancient interpreters; and in no other fenfe, that I know of, except twice in the fenfe of dwelling, So that, if the ufual fenfe of the word be most confiftent with the context, we must return to that, and render the period,
By an oppreffive fentence he was taken off;
And who can defcribe the wickedness of his generation?
For the tranfgreffion of my people was he fmitten unto death.
But the greatest difficulty in this prophecy occurs in the next period. According to the prefent text, it is faid that the Meffiah, as a kind of compenfation for his unmerited fufferings, fhould be buried with a rich man:
He fhall be with the rich man in his death ¿
Neither was there any deceit in his mouth.
But this was too abfurd a thing for an infpired writer to fay in this connection. The great Prelate, to avoid this abfurdity, has divided the period differently, but in my judgment not fo naturally. And then, to make a faulty text fpeak out to his purpofe, he confiders a
prepofition as a radical, and out of the corrupted word makes bametav, bis high places: and tranflates,
But with the rich man was his tomb.
The truth is, this word is used in more than a hundred places, but not once in the fenfe of a tomb. It fignifies a bill, and a high place; but there is no way of making it fignify a tomb, but by faying that the Jewish tombs were frequently built on high places, and therefore the word must here fignify a tomb. The Bishop is not fingular in his interpretation. There are other learned men who have interpreted in the fame manner. But then thofe men lived in times of darkness, when it would have been herefy to fay, that the Hebrew text was corrupted. But fince the collation of the Hebrew Manufcripts, we, regardless of the clamours of the bigoted, or of the displeasure of fuperiors, dare fay fuch a text is corrupted; it is too abfurd to come from the pen of an inspired writer; the ancients found in the copy they tranflated a clear confiftent text, &c. And this is taking no other liberty than the great tranflator himself has taken with feveral texts in Ifaiah, which he has by this means restored, to his eternal honour. Now may we not take the fame liberty in this place? The LXX. tranflated before our Saviour's time, and from a copy as old, perhaps, as Ifaiah (Oh, that we had but that tranflation as it came out of their hands!); and they gave us a plain confiftent fenfe, confiftent with the scope of the prophet and the dignity of the fufferer, 'as follows:
But he fhall avenge his grave upon the wicked,
Because he had done no wrong,
Neither was deceit found in his mouth.
That is, becaufe Jefus was neither malefactor, as the Jewish Sanhedrim accufed him before Pilate; nor impoftor, as they pretended he was, when arraigned at their own tribunal. How the two readings differ, and how easy it is to account for the blunders of tranfcribers, may be feen in my pamplet. It is more to the purpose, to obferve with what propriety and majefty this tranflation follows the period foregoing. The prophet entered upon his fubject with telling us, that the Meffiah fhould be raised up, and exalted, and advanced very high. And when did the advancement of Jefus take place? Why, not in this life; but at his death, when he was advanced at God's right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour. Now, of this very time the prophet is here fpeaking. The Jews had murdered Jefus. And what more fuitable to his majefty, than when they had rejected fresh overtures of grace made to them by his Apoftles, that he fhould come in the clouds of heaven, as he had told them he fhould at his condemnation, and take juft vengeance on them, who would not have him to reign over them; that he should come during the lives of that wicked generation who crucified him, deftroy thofe murderers, and burn up their city, and take away their place, that is, their temple and nation. I have made thefe remarks, not out of love of controverfy, nor out of want of refpect for the great tranflator; but I thought that the importance of the prophecy required it from me,
Ibid. With God] That is, in the fight of God, and in the deter minate counfels of his Providence. See the Meffage of Nathan to David, 1 Chron. xvii. 11, &c. Pfal. cxxxii. 11, &c.
• Ibid. In him is all my delight] The affix has been dropped, and if ci, the word following this, was not originally read bo, this word has been dropped by the tranfcribers.
Per. 4. A Sun fhall rife] The Sun of righteoufnefs. Out of the two images or characters here applied to the Meffiah (the juft or righteous One, and the Sun), Malachi feems to have formed the glorious title of The Sun of Righteoufnefs. And it appears pretty plain that he had thefe laft words of David in his eye, when he wrote chap. iv. I. and 2.-A Bodleian MS. of note adds Jabuob, Jehovah, the Sun, fhall rife; but as the fenfe is complete without this addition, I have not inferted it in my tranflation. It feems to me to have been interpolated from the margin of an Hebrew copy.
Per. 5. Shall flourish] This word in the prefent text has been divided into two; the former part having been thrown to the former claufe, the latter to the latter; and thus the nominative cafe has been feparated by the tranfcribers from its verb. It is amazing how fuch a mistake fhould at firft be made, or have kept its place fo long; but there it might still have continued, if the metre had not pointed out the corruption and emendation at the fame time, to the conviction, I fhould think, even of the most prejudiced against it. It appears from the context, that Belial is a noun of number, and requires a plural verb. Belial feems to be derived from two words, which fignify rejecting the yoke. The wicked, or fons of Belial, are with fingular propriety put for the enemies and oppofers of Chrift's kingdom; thofe, who, in the language of the fame divine Pfalmift, take counfel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed, faying, Let us break off their bonds, and cast away their yokes from us, Pfal. ii. 2. and 3. refufing to fubmit to that eafy yoke, which they are invited by himself to take upon them, Matth. xi. 29.
Per. 7. Shall be burned] After this word is added, in the prefent text, baffabat, in the feat. That it has no place here, both verse and fenfe demonftrate; nor do the commentators give any tolerable meaning of it. It was probably interpolated from the period below; but if the metre had not fhewn it to be irreptitious, we might still have been perplexing ourfelves about it with as little fuccefs as others.
The Reader owes the elucidation of this beautiful fcripture to that incomparable critic, the late Dr. Grey, as he has already been told in the Preface.'
On the whole, we deem this work well worthy to be recommended to the curious Reader, who will find in it much information, and many proofs of the Author's ingenuity.
ART, II. Philofophical Differtations. By James Balfour, Efq; of Pilrig, 8vo. 2s. 6d. féwed. Cadel!, 1782.
E refpect the Author of these Difcuffions for the good defign of his publication; but we cannot highly compliment him for his philofophical precifion, or his comprehen
five views of nature. The efforts of the Materialists and Neceffarians to establish principles at first view inconsistent with the inftitutes of revelation and the dictates of common sense, have excited this well-meaning Author to vindicate the system which hath grown venerable by its antiquity, and hath moreover been endeared to him by education and habit. But, in fact, we are perfuaded that religion hath received no new wound from the attacks either of Materialifts or Neceffarians. The terror excited by them hath fubftituted dangers which do not exift, and alarmed the pious and the timid with apprehensions, which have no foundation but in the dreams of fancy, finit with enthufiafm, or ftupified by folly.
The Author's views may be beft collected from his own advertisement, of which we fhall quote a part :-premifing, by way of caution to the Reader, that it is evident that the defects which are complained of arife, not from the fyftem of the Materialift or Neceffarian, when properly examined; but from a mind incapable of combining and harmonizing thofe feemingly diffimilar parts which compofe it, and, viewing them in a partial and detached light, comprehends not the general plan or refult of the whole:
The prefent age boafts of being enlightened. This may be allowed with regard to the arts and fciences, which depend chiefly upon experience. Thefe must receive great improvement from the facility of communicating different experiments by means of the prefs; but the cafe may be very different with refpect to what is called univerfal philofophy, or the abstract knowledge of nature. This knowledge depends chiefly upon the exercise of the mental faculties, and has little affiftance from experience; and the art of printing, of the greatest utility in the former cafe, may in this other cafe have a very different effect.
• This valuable art opens an easy paffage for the admiffion of numberless ideas; but an obvious bad effect arifeth from this. A crowd of ideas in the mind creates confufion: and curiofity, pushing us on in queft of new ideas, excludes that patient attention which matters of importance require. Thus our knowledge may have a very extenfive farface without proportional depth.
• Perhaps another bad effect of this enlargement of our ideas is, that we acquire a peculiar confidence in the powers of our underftanding, and, without due examination, admit that as truth, to which we are determined by paflion and prejudice, more than the cool dictates of reafon. This may lead us in one or other of the two oppofite extremes, fcepticism or dogmatifm. In the firft, if we shall happen to meet with any certain truth, inconfiftent with conclufions which we have rafhly deduced from principles not duly examined. In the other, when not meeting, or not being willing to meet with fach contradiction, we are apt to afcribe a kind of infallibility to our own understanding, and place the rash conclufions of our own reason in direct oppofition to the common fenfe of mankind. Nay, fome are bold enough to pafs the circle which divides light and darkness;
and even in the midst of darkness, take upon them to determine what Infinite Wisdom has done, or rather what it ought to have done. Hence it is, that we have too much caufe to regret that fome ingenious compofitions, otherwife diftinguished for beauty and elegance, are yet disfigured by the mixture of the groffeft abfurdities.'
The contents of these Differtations are as follows: I. Matter and Motion. II. Of Liberty and Neceffity. III. Of the Foundation of Moral Obligation. IV. Of the Immateriality and Immortality of the Soul. V. Of the Evidence of the Truth of Revealed Religion from its connection with Provi dence.
The language is equable and uniform, feldom rifes to excellence, and never finks into vulgarity. It is at once plain, fimple and perfpicuous. The arguments, though not new, are in many places acute and fpirited: and as a proof of it, we fhall prefent the Reader with the first part of the fourth Differtation :
Man is diftinguished from the inferior animals by the faculty of reason and reflection. The other animals are limited in their operations by fenfe, appetite, and inflinct; beyond these they can make no progrefs; but man, in confequence of his active and intelligent powers, is ever advancing in the difcovery of truths, both moral and intellectual. By means of that fingular faculty whereby men can communicate their thoughts to others, though living in different ages and diftant regions of the world, great improvements have been made in the various arts and fciences; and the beauty, magnificence, and order of the works of nature have been laid open, in a manner that must excite our admiration and astonishment. The effect of this, however, has not always been fo happy as might have been expected. It has often filled those who call themfelves philofophers, with a high degree of vanity and conceit; it has led them to believe that nothing was too difficult for their comprehenfion; and that what they could not understand, could not poffibly be true. Others, indeed, who made deeper reflections upon the extent and fubtlety of the objects of knowledge, and alfo upon the weakness of the human faculties, together with the brevity of life, have entered into the spirit of the ancient Academicians, and embraced the modeft principles of that fect. In reality, our knowledge is very limited; we fee but the furface of things; but their intimate nature is covered with a veil which we cannot penetrate. Mind and Matter are the two great objects of our knowledge. With regard to matter, the primary qualities which we discover by our fenfes are, extenfion, divifibility, and folidity; but then, befides thefe qualities, we neceffarily perceive fomething in which they are united, and in which they fubfift: fomething which is extended, different from empty space, as it is alfo fomething folid and divifible; but the nature of that fomething we have not faculties to comprehend; we call it, however, a material fubftance. It is the fame thing with regard to mind. We know the qualities of mind in a more certain manner than thofe of matter, viz. by an inward consciousness. We are confcious of ideas of different kinds, of a power to compound and compare fuch ideas, as to observe the refult and confequence of fuch operations. We are alfo confcious of a variety