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1. “The Origin and History of the Sacred slaves of Israel.” 2. “ Critical enquiry into the route of the Exodus.” 3. “On the Parables of the New Testament.” 4. “History of Christ to the commencement of his Mission." 6. “On Atheism and Superstition.”
This explanation is important to both of us;-to Mr. Constable that he may not be suspected of opinions of which he may not “approve ;"' to myself, because (while fully appreciating Mr. Constable's unwearied industry and zeal in the cause of Biblical exegesis,) I have never yet been able to concur in any of his various theories, and see much to object to in all his arguments.
THE “TE DEUM." It is rather hard to be scolded as one of a class of men, who “seem ready to throw their opinions of all kinds, as it were, into the melting pot, and watch with a great deal more curiosity than anxiety what is to come forth,” by a person who says my misgivings and those of Lamed lie so much upon the surface, that he is surprised at their appearance in your pages, and yet leaves the most important part of the matter entirely unnoticed. Such a mode of proceeding does but lead me to infer that he cannot find the requisite answer, and therefore wishes to set down an inconvenient enquirer.
It would be much better if correspondents would confine themselves to the matter at issue, instead of indulging in sneers at the supposed motives of those who ventilate points of scientific criticism in pages expressly set apart for that purpose.
The main point in this enquiry is undoubtedly the first versicle, “Te Deum laudamus, te Dominum confitemur ;” and I cannot feel satisfied as to the genuineness of the three versicles naming the persons of the Trinity, until I receive a satisfactory explanation of it, which shall be consistent with the introduction of those names. This I have not been able to discover for myself, nor has any one else as yet been able to furnish me with it. Let H. P. try his hand at this, and if he succeeds, he shall have my warmest thanks.
I am not concerned to justify theologically the expression “Patrem æternum” as applied to the Son, but merely to prove it reasonable to suppose it is intended to be applied in the same sense, whatever that may be, in which he is called “Father of eternity” in the Hebrew, and “Pater futuri sæculi” in the Vulgate and LXX. The term need not be absolutely, but relatively applied ; and after all neither H. P. nor any one else can deny that the term “ Father” may, at least, be fairly supposed to be applied in Isaiah to the second person of the Trinity.
I do not think it worth while to argue the question of the “Sanctus” with H. P., as he says nothing to make it an unreasonable supposition, that it was addressed specially to the second person, whether that supposition be absolutely correct or not.
I am not at all frightened at the confusion of persons, with which H. P. threatens me, since the same person may surely be contemplated as a Father with respect to many inferior beings, and as a Son with respect to one superior being. Although Christ is the eternal Son of the Father, he may nevertheless be venerated as an everlasting Father by the whole earth. And there is also a difference in the Latin words made use of, which I have a fair right, at so late an epoch of Latin literature, to interpret in my favour. The “ Father everlasting,” which I suppose to be predicated of the Son, is “Patrem æternum ;” the epithet which is acknowledged by all to be applied to him as the Son of the Father is “sempiternus.” A difference is clearly intended, whatever that difference may be; and, from the acknowledged meaning of “sempiternus in this case, I may fairly claim for “æternus only a prospective meaning, equivalent to “Pater futuri sæculi.” Sempiternus was currently supposed to be derived from semper and æternus (=semper æternus), and thus the distinction between the two words, which I have just drawn, becomes somewhat more than probable.
It is from manuscripts that we amend the texts of all works written previously to the discovery of printing; I cannot see on what ground H. P. refuses to accept their testimony in the case of the “Te Deum.” Surely if ancient manuscripts omit a portion of a work, it is a probable indication, that that portion is of later origin. Would H. P. make a holocaust of codices A., B., etc., and the Codex Sinaiticus into the bargain, on the altar of the textus receptus?
I must also remark on H. Pi's use of the words “the church universal." He uses it to represent simply the Latin church, which receives the three heavenly witnesses of John, one of the most barefaced forgeries ever known. It would surely not have scrupled to introduce a similar interpretation, where it might, perhaps, fairly claim a right to do so.
If the versicle, “ Dignare, Domine," etc., is not in the earliest manuscripts, the inference is that it was added after the first publication of the hymn, from sources cognate to those in which we now find it in the Greek. Such an addition is either an improvement or a defacement to the original hymn, but is not part of it. I am quite willing to acknowledge it to be rather an improvement than otherwise. But, unless I am furnished with passages which shew me that I am wrong, I am not willing to consider isto die as a correct translation of try quépav taútov. Translating isto die, according to the ordinary rules of Latin grammar, we cannot make it the same as hunc diem, which is the proper equivalent for the Greek above quoted. And if a person prays to be kept without sin “at that day, ,” he surely means to ask to be kept in such a manner that at that day he will be found without sin, justified freely by the blood of his Saviour. Possibly the alteration from munerari to numerari was made simply to make the “Te Deum” correspond with Gregory's canon.
I had hoped that my letter would have drawn forth a translation of a number of ancient Greek hymns, and other things bearing on this subject; instead of which we have merely a lecture on the appellation
everlasting Father," which is just as difficult in Isaiah as in the "Te Deum,” where it is probably merely meant to represent the words of the Hebrew prophet. I had hoped too to have seen the grand difficulty of Te Deum Laudamus fairly battled with, if indeed it be not insuperable. I am sorry that I have been disappointed.
A. H. W.
JOHN xix. 10, 11. I READ with pleasure the remarks on these verses which appeared in the last number of your valuable Journal. Will you kindly allow me to suggest, through the medium of the same Journal, a possible, if not probable, interpretation, which occurred to me while perusing the said remarks, and which justifies the ordinary acceptation of the word ůvwev, without violating either the grammar or the logic of the passage ? May not the eleventh verse be paraphrased as follows ? “ Thou couldst have had no jurisdiction over me, had it not been given thee by divine providence; and because thy εξουσία is divine, δια τούτο thy responsibility, or rather that of the ở mapaồidoús (for thou knowest that out of envy, and not for any just cause, have the Jewish authorities delivered me into thy hands, and that therefore they are more guilty than thou who art willing to release me) is greater than if the jurisdiction had been merely human ; therefore he that delivered me hath a, not the, greater sin, inasmuch as it is a greater crime to abuse divine than human authority.”
The Jews may justly be said to have abused Pilate's jurisdiction, for the indictment as well as the final sentence was brought about by their influence. It will be seen that the main peculiarity of the above interpretation is, that the comparison instituted by the words uelçova åpapriav, is not between the guilt of the Jews and that of Pilate, but between the responsibility of εξουσία εκ του θεου or άνωθεν, and that of εξουσία εξ ανθρωπων.
This interpretation is also confirmed by verse 12, èK toótov, that is, ever since he had become sensible of the fact that he also was responsible to God, and not to man, for the use he made of his jurisdiction, and that therefore he might be considered to share with the Jews the “ greater sin ;” εζήτει ο Πιλάτος απολύσαι αυτόν, 1.e., he sought to get “ rid of his share of the awful responsibility by acquitting Him whom he believed to be innocent. Llanwddyn, Oswestry, March 7.
THE OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD. Your correspondent S. J. bas touched upon a subject to be approached only with the greatest reverence and caution, and on which I would not venture further remarks were it not that in the too prevalent scepticism of the present day, there are many who are bold to intrude themselves into the "secret things” which “belong unto the Lord our God," and to triumph in any admission which affords them an opening to dispute the Creator's wisdom and power. That such is not the purpose
your correspondent is very obvious. But though writing with becoming reverence, and an evident desire to be guided by the Word of God, he seems to propound a doctrine scarcely consistent with our own reasonable conceptions of divine power, and, as a theory, by no means necessary to account for the phenomena, as I may call them, which he endeavours to explain.
For the finite to pronounce upon the limitations or restrictions of the INFINITE is manifestly presumptuous, not to say unreasonable and unsafe. I would, therefore, only suggest what seem possible conditions of the exercise of Divine Omnipotence, premising that I entertain an entire faith in the saying of St. Paul (Eph. i. 11) that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” All I would undertake is to point out what may be the will of God, and the counsel of his will whereby he is led to place certain restrictions upon himself in the exercise of an otherwise unrestricted omnipotence. Unrestricted, I of course mean, excepting in such matters of essential impossibility as the making an accomplished fact to have been not accomplished; making the effect to exist before the cause; making the part to be greater than the whole, etc. I would suggest then, first, that the counsel of God may comprehend within its range and purpose objects of which we can form no possible conception, of which there is nothing to give us even a hint. One glance at the heavens on a cloudless night shews even to the eye the vastness of the creation. Telescopic observations, and the calculations based thereon, seem to magnify and expand this vastness infinitely. Is there reason to think that the faintest star in the remotest nebula is either uncreated, or the work of any other Creator than our own? And, if created by our God, can we think it to be uncared for, useless, or without a purpose; as well as a place in his creation? May not every star, every heavenly body, large or small
, planet or comet, sun or satelite, be performing its appointed work, and fulfilling the purpose of its creation in preserving the general equipoise and stability; in regulating the motions, possibly in uniformily diffusing heat, light, electricity, ether, or whatever name man may give to such agencies over the whole material world. If so, and I see not how the possibility of this can be denied, then to argue concerning any one of these innumerable heavenly bodies, that its aberrations, its observations, the occasional disruption or destruction of some one or other, are proofs of the difficulty of the Creator's task in their formation, or of his imperfect success in the regulation of this complicated machine, would surely be unreasonable. Who can say that the original design of the creation did not include all these seeming anomalies? Who can say that some purpose of his, originally contemplated, is not answered by these apparent imperfections? In the physical productions of our own planet, there appears to be not only provision made for much waste, but a latitude permitted
for great diversity, and departure from what we may deem the perfect type. And yet obvious purposes are answered here. An agreeable and often useful variety. is thus secured, and the destruction of a part serves for the aliment, or reparation, or reproduction of what is to survive.
Some short-lived monad might hastily conclude that here Omnipotence is at fault. The Creator has failed to preserve life, however truly he may have given it. He cannot mature all, though he succeeds in maturing some. And yet how plainly can we perceive that he is in this working out “the counsel of his own will!" And if doing this intelligibly to us here on earth, why not possibly doing the same in the grander arena of the heavens? My argument, so far, is of course one from analogy. Your correspondent concedes God's omnipotence over the world of matter; he questions it, or conceives that there may be limitations to its exercise in the world of mind. But why should the perturbations, the antagonism, the apparent defects and blemishes which seem inconsistent with our preconceived notions of perfection in the one, be any more conclusive proof against absolute omnipotence, than similar apparent failures in the other? How many lives, and how much of the Creator's work will a storm, an earthquake, or a pestilence destroy. Yet we do not argue that these instruments of destruction oppose the will, or defy the power, or disprove the omnipotence of God, we are content to believe that the Creator employs them for his own purpose: and occasionally a beneficent purpose unfolds itself to our perceptions. And why not believe the same in the more mysterious and inscrutable government of the spiritual universe? Why not admit that the Creator of all has his purposes to answer,-purposes far, far beyond our penetration to discern them,-in the storms, earthquake, and deadly pestilence, which agitate and make havoc in what your correspondent calls the world of mind,- I would rather say, the world of spirit.
Let me pass on now to this world of mind or of spirit. Matter is more or less visible to the eye, or at least it comes under the cognizance of the senses. Mind and spirit evade our vision, and are cognizable only by mind or spirit. Scripture, however, makes known to us the existence of a spiritual world; and a belief in this approves itself, in most cases, to our natural instincts. Scripture speaks of "a multitude of the heavenly host;” of an “innumerable company of angels;” of “a thousand thousands” who minister to the “ Ancient of days;” of “ten thousand times ten thousand” who stand before Him. Language, perhaps, can hardly express the countless multitudes of these angelic beings; all of them the work of the Creator, like ourselves. There are also “ the angels which kept not their first estate,” which are no longer standing before God, but reserved in chains under darkness.” There are also those evil angels with Satan at their head, demons, unclean spirits, devils, which, as your correspondent seems to think, have resisted with some hope of success the purposes of the Creator, and have made the victory of Christ a genuine victory! hardly won after a really arduous and, for a time, apparently doubtful struggle.