Imágenes de páginas

readers. The common version was never more popular than now. It is in greater demand, more abundantly supplied by the press, more elaborately adorned by Christian art, and more widely spread abroad, than ever before. This among a people so intelligent, and cultivated, and eager for progress, is an unexampled popularity. There must be an inherent and amazing excellence in a work which keeps such fast hold upon the respect and veneration of a race of men, who shew but little conservatism in regard to any other object of general interest. While all else is falling away, the word of the Lord "liveth and abideth forever."

The enduring popularity of the English translation may be in part accounted for by the personal character, the eminent scholarship, and the exalted piety, of its authors. The way had been well prepared for them by a succession of older translations, some of which were so excellent, that our Translators modestly say, in their Preface, that they did not " need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one; but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones one principal good one." Still, their work, though much assisted by the labors of the good men and martyrs who had wrought in the same line before them, is essentially original. And it was executed with such deliberation, diligence, and scrupulous care, that even the men who would fain supplant it with some production of their own, are compelled to extol it, as Balaam did the tabernacles of Jacob. Thus Dr. Geddes, in his Prospectus of a new translation issued in 1786, expresses himself as follows: "The highest eulogiums have been made on the translation of James I. both by our own writers and by foreigners; and indeed, if accuracy, fidelity, and the strictest attention to the letter of the text, be supposed to constitute the qualities of an excellent version, this of all versions must, in general, be accounted the most excellent. Every sentence, every word, every syllable, every letter and point, seem to have been weighed with the nicest exactitude, and expressed, either in the text or margin, with the greatest precision. Pagninus himself is hardly more literal; and it was well remarked by Robertson, above a hundred years ago, that it may serve for a lexicon of the Hebrew language, as well as for a translation."

Other testimonies equally explicit can be given, from scholars who yet aspired to substitute for the common version something of their own. To these might be added authorities from the most

eminent scholars and critics, both lay and clerical, who have ever adorned the English name, extolling this incomparable work in the highest terms. A volume might be filled with such testimonies. Not that any one pretends to regard our version as absolutely perfect, or incapable of improvement in many detached particulars. But, taken as whole, our Translators have done the work so well, that the Christian public will not endure to have it tampered with. It would be impossible, at this day, to collect a body of professors and divines, in whose learning, soundness, and piety, the churches would feel sufficient confidence to entrust them with a commission to revise the work, or to do it over again. Another volume might be added, to exhibit the immense influence exerted by the common translation, on the language, manners, character, institutions, history, religion, and entire development of the Anglo-Saxon race in either hemisphere.

Taking into account, the many remarkable events in divine Providence which led to the preparation of this version, and aided in its accomplishment, and also that to uncounted millions, and to other millions yet to be born, it is the only safeguard from popery on the one side and from infidelity on the other, we are compelled to claim for the good men who made it the highest measure of divine aid short of plenary inspiration itself. We make this claim, regardless of the supercilious airs of fashionable Sadducees, or the pitying smiles of literary pantheists. Not that we regard the translators as at all inspired in the same sense as were the prophets, apostles, and other "holy men of old," who "were moved by the Holy Ghost" in drawing up the original documents of the Christian faith. Such inspiration is a thing by itself, like any other miracle; and belongs exclusively to those to whom it was given for that high and unequalled end. But we hold that the translators enjoyed the highest degree of that special divine guidance which is ever granted to God's true servants in exigencies of the utmost concernment to the kingdom of heaven.

Such special succors and spiritual assistances are always vouchsafed, where there is a like union of piety, of prayers, and of pains, combined to effect an object of such inconceivable importance to the Church of the living God. In such a juncture, God has never forsaken his people, nor left them to struggle on in their unaided weakness.



And the nature of their duty was such as to throw the transla tors, in a peculiar manner, upon divine support. It was their awful task so to render the Word of God, that it should faithfully speak his will to living millions, and to many millions more as yet unborn. Through their endeavors, the medium of communion with God was to be opened to multitudes whom no man can number, and who must avail themselves of it as their most reliable resource for ascertaining the way of eternal salvation. The necessity of a supernatural revelation to man of the divine will, has often been urged in favor of the extreme probability that such a revelation has been made. A like necessity, and one nearly as pressing, might be argued in favor of the belief, that this most important of all the versions of God's revealed will must have been made under his special guidance and his provident eye. And the manner in which that version has met the spiritual wants of the most free and intelligent nations in the old world and the new, may well confirm us in the belief, that the same illuminating Spirit which inspired the originals, was imparted in rich grace to aid and guard the preparation of the English


The readers of this admirable version shall do well, if they avail themselves of every help toward understanding it aright, as its authors intended it to be understood. But if they can have no other help than the book itself affords by prayerful study and comparison of scripture with scripture, they may rely on it as a safe teacher, and that they will never incur the displeasure of God by obeying it too strictly. Whosoever attempts to shake the confidence of the common people in the common version, puts their faith in dreadful danger of shipwreck. He is slipping the chain-cable of their sheet-anchor, and leaves their souls adrift among the breakers. Against all such attempts let them be fully warned, who can only hear the "lively oracles" of God address them "in their own tongue wherein they were born." Let them never doubt but that the All-merciful who has spoken to the human race at large to teach them his love, his will, and his salvation, has so cared for the souls of the more than forty civilized millions who now use the English speech, as to repeat to them his teachings in a form most sure and sufficient as to the whole round of faith and practice. The best fruits of Christianity have sprung from the seeds our translation has furnished.


THE ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT UNfoldED, and its points of coincidence or disagreement with prevailing systems indicated, by SAMUEL DAVIDSON, LL. D. London, 1848.

THE author of this work explicitly states in his preface, that his object is not " to explain or defend the opinions and practices of any one denomination on the subject of ecclesiastical polity, nor to identify the polity of the New Testament with modern Congre gationalism; but to investigate the volume of inspiration with the view of unfolding its teachings, and to point out their agreement or discordance, with the principles and usages of modern sects."

Notwithstanding all this, he arrives at Congregationalism, at least in its essential features, as the result of his investigations. Still in some things he widely differs from the theory and practice of New England Congregationalists. Some of the main points of difference we will state. They relate to the size of particular churches, the number of officers in each, the balance of power in each, and the extent to which councils should be used.

"All Christians in a town or city," he affirms, "should be one church, having several teachers and rulers in common, as was the case in Jerusalem." To this he admits no exception, until the size of the church becomes such that it is absolutely impossible to obtain a place sufficiently large to accommodate all, and capable of being filled with the human voice.

According to these principles, Christians in any town or city ought to form one church at least till they reach the number of four or five thousand, instead of being divided into several independent churches, with each its pastor and house of worship. In such large churches, there should be a corresponding number of pastors and teachers, in accordance, as he supposes, with the practice in the apostolic churches. These pastors would form what was called in the New Testament the presbytery of the church.

A large church thus organized might have under its care a number of chapels, in which its ministers might preach the gospel for the conversion of souls. But those thus converted should be added to the one church; and when the peculiar privileges of professing Christians are to be enjoyed, the entire church should. meet in one place, for worship and ordinances.

This he considers as in accordance with Apostolic practice; and he holds, that, under such a system, the people would be better instructed, pastoral visitations be more thoroughly performed, a greater impression be produced on the surrounding population, and the permanence of the pastoral office be promoted.

In a church thus organized with its presbytery, he teaches us, that there should be such a balance of power that "as long as they preside over a church, nothing done by that church in their absence is valid without them, except they have given their assent to such an arrangement." At the same time they cannot make any rules or regulations without the consent of the brethren. He quotes with approbation chapter X. § 11, of the Cambridge Platform: "That no church act can be consummated or perfected without the consent of both." Indeed, in stating the balance of powers between the presbytery and the brethren, he seems to have had his eye on the Cambridge Platform, and John Cotton's Keys, and to have closely followed them.

At the same time it is quite noticeable, that, whilst professing to rise above all present practice, in order to follow the rule of Scripture, he yet sustains those views of the balance of power by no Scriptural authority at all. He does not even refer to one passage of the word of God. The reason is plain. There is actually no support in the Scripture for his views. It results in his mind, in all probability, from a fear of representing the government of the church as a pure democracy. But certainly a power 80 great as a veto-power ought to rest on some better authority than mere human opinion as to what is expedient.

In answer to the objection, that a plurality of pastors could not be maintained in a large church of the kind described, without schisms and envyings, he suggests that one might be appointed as the presiding officer of the presbytery, through whom unity should be preserved. This he calls the incipient episcopal institute, and he raises the inquiry, whether it could not be resumed with advantage. He seems to despair of unity in the presbytery without it; but thinks that in this way a church could reap all the benefits of a plurality of elders without its disadvantages. "Unity and condensation of effort would be attained. A powerful organization, under the wise subordination of one standing at the head of a college of elders, would work with well directed efforts in the accomplishment of important objects. Here would be

« AnteriorContinuar »